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How to think like a buyer when you sell your home

By George Hadgelias

The first thing to remember when you’re selling a home is you’re not the one buying it.

That may sound obvious, but it’s too important to be left unsaid.

In the lead up to the sale, every decision should be made with the intention of pleasing your hypothetical buyer. Which is why Michael Townsend, principal agent at McGrath St Kilda, believes it pays to spend some time figuring out exactly who that person might be.

“It’s really important to do some research into the buyer demographic that’s going to be attracted to your home, just so you can get that insight into what the buyer might be thinking,” he says.

Painting a picture of your potential buyers will help you present your property in a way that’s likely to encourage them to part with their hard-earned cash. Without researching the market, you’ll be leaving that to chance.

What buyers are looking for

That said, there are some things that pretty much all buyers pick up on during open inspections, irrespective of their personal tastes and preferences.

“Clean windows are really important, because they bring in natural flight. As are the smells of a home, tidiness of the garden… and flow,” says Townsend.

Elsewhere, close attention should be paid to the front facade, as this will majorly influence a buyer’s first impression of your property. Provocative pieces of artwork should be taken down and busy areas should be cleared of clutter.

“A common complaint we hear from buyers during open homes is high-traffic areas being cluttered, which can make a home feel small,” says Townsend.

“Sellers sometimes forget that an open home, based on the average of our marketplace, will welcome 10 to 25 groups of buyers every half an hour. And most buyers bring at least one other person… so when there’s 40 or so people all walking through a property, certain corners and hallways can feel really tight.”

In fact, attending other open homes is a great way to temporarily put on your ‘buyer’s hat’; check out a handful, make a note of what irks and impresses you, and use these observations to make small adjustments to the presentation of your home.

You should also keep in mind that smells and sounds can have a major influence on how buyers perceive a property.

Make sure to eliminate any strong smells by airing out your property prior to your open home. And if you’re expecting a reasonably small crowd, consider playing some background music to make prospective buyers feel more comfortable.

After all, as Townsend rightly points out, “no one likes walking into a silent shop, when there’s one salesperson behind the counter staring at them”.

Ultimately, the key to a successful open home is buyers being able to visualise themselves living in your property. And Townsend say the onus is on the seller to create the space needed for buyers to do this.

“Removing personal photos and things that make it hard for a buyer to connect with the property is almost imperative,” he says.

“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.”

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