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How to be first pick in a crowded auction market

By George Hadgelias

For many people, spring time means the beginning of AFL finals – a time when a team’s hard work and preparation is put to the ultimate test.

For sellers, buyers and agents, the longer days also mean another important time: plenty of auctions.

Thousands of auctions are scheduled in these few months, with many Australians bidding on their dream home before rushing to make it to the footy finals.

Here are five things to remember when preparing your home for auction, so you can be first pick this season.

1. Tidy up and stay calm

There’s no point running onto the ground with stress and worry plastered on your face, because first impressions matter. This is why tidiness goes a long way towards staging a successful open for inspection. Not only does it help to present the property in the best possible light, it gives off the impression that you take good general care of your property and you have nothing to hide.

This will help smooth over any concerns buyers might have about underlying structural issues.

Deep clean your home and carry out any essential garden maintenance before you list your property, and remember to give it a good once over before inspections.

Vacuum carpets, scrub surfaces and skirting boards, and remove grease from your oven and stove. And pay extra attention to how your property looks from the street, as this will greatly influence a buyer’s first impression.

“Sellers need to remember that the inspections start from the curb and extend into the house. So they should hide away any bins and tidy up junk mail,” says Michael Townsend, principal agent at McGrath St Kilda.

“If it’s an apartment, make sure the communal letter box and walkways look good, too.”

If you’re short of time, consider bringing in a professional cleaner. It may seem like an unnecessary and expensive cost, but a poor open for inspection will cost you much more.

Leave room for imagination

While watching your footy team run out during a grand final is one of the most surreal moments you’ll ever experience, buying a home is the most emotional purchase many people will make.

Buyers know only too well that where they choose to live can affect their lives in profound ways. Speaking to these emotions is key to a successful open for inspection.

As soon as a buyer walks into your home, they begin to visualise what their life would be like if they lived there. The easier you can make this process, the more likely you are to receive an offer.

Remove personal photographs, notes and provocative artwork, but be careful not to make the house feel too sterile.

“You want a buyer to walk in and say, ‘yeah I could see myself living here’, rather than being overwhelmed by evidence of the current owners living in the property,” says Townsend.

Ask friends to look after pets

Unfortunately, not every visitor is going to like your furry friends as much as you do. See if a family member or friends could take your pets for the day, or stretch it out to the whole weekend so you can head along to watch the footy finals – regardless of whether your team is playing or not, there’s nothing like those roaring finals crowds.

Once that’s sorted, stow away cat litter and dog bowls, and be sure to remove any stray hairs. Many buyers will consider pets unhygienic, and some will suffer from allergies, which means that failing to temporarily declare your home a pet-free zone could alienate a significant number of buyers.

Think of all the senses

In the face of increased springtime competition, sellers need to make sure their homes appeal to all the senses.

In isolation, a bad smell like muddy foot boots may not seem like a big deal, but it will likely affect the overall mood of the buyer, who will then look at everything else in the property in a less positive light.

Air out the property and eliminate any overpowering smells by opening the windows a few hours prior to your inspection. Fresh flowers are also a nice touch.

“They’re visual, provide a pleasant smell and also oxygenate the room,” says Townsend.

“They also show that the sellers are doing things up-to-the-minute… and that sets the tone for the property. It shows the sellers care about their home and are ‘house-proud’.”

Uncomfortable temperatures and poor lighting could also derail a potential sale.

Cool or heat your property to an optimal level hours before welcoming your first guest, and make sure all your light bulbs have been recently changed.

“Sellers need to think of buyers as guests to a party or function,” says Townsend.

“They need to ask themselves, ‘what would I have around my house to welcome my friends for a dinner party or Christmas lunch?’ They’re the type of things they need to be thinking about.”

Provide information

A good agent will be comfortable explaining to buyers everything from the best local school to the nearest train station, and should arrive at the open home armed with most of the legal information needed to push through a sale.

That said, the more information you personally provide, the better.

If you’re selling an old home, consider providing information on the property’s history, as well as more practical information on its current structural health – think building inspection reports, warranties for previous building works and architectural drawings you commissioned but never acted upon.

As Townsend says: “be as transparent as possible.”

Click here for more information.

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