With a little extra effort, home owners can exponentially increase the likelihood of a quick sale, even during tough times. Picture: Supplied

Selling your home quickly not only means you can move on with your life, you don’t have to keep it pristine all the time and constantly juggle your schedule to make time for the agent to show to prospective buyers.

So says Jill Lloyd, area specialist in Rondebosch and Claremont for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, adding that it can also make the difference between being able to buy the home on which you have already put in an offer – or staying put.

Lloyd says that there are a number of aspects which are critical to concluding a quicker sale as well as many that can make a world of difference.

Pick the right time to sell your home

You may not have any choice in the matter, but if you do, spring and summer are typically the best times to sell, as families want to move and settle in before the school year starts, and home viewings and inspections are always easier and more pleasant in nice weather.

Appoint the right agent

In a slow market, this is critical and exuberant enthusiasm is not enough. You not only need an experienced professional but one with a thorough knowledge of the market in your area as well as a good sales track record. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

An agent serves as the main point of contact for both you and potential buyers by scheduling showings, crafting your listing, marketing your property, negotiating on your behalf and navigating an array of potential minefields.

Be smart about the price

Listing your home for the highest possible price may seem like the sensible thing to do as we expect buyers to negotiate it down anyway, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way and, by over-pricing your home, you are shooting yourself solidly in the foot. This is where an experienced agent is worth their weight in gold.

It is critical to price your home correctly right from the beginning. When buyers have as much choice as they currently do, they look for value for money and will usually opt for a similar home at a better price. And, if your home spends too long on the market, potential buyers will begin to wonder what is wrong with it regardless of the state of the market, and they will therefore feel justified in making lower offers, usually below what it’s actually worth.

Don’t leave compliance certificates until the last minute

Property owners are required by law to ensure that the property is legally fit for sale and before the transfer can take place, the transfer attorney must be in possession of the relevant compliance certificates.

These don’t take long to acquire if all is in order. But if problems are discovered then you also have bear the costs of the necessary work to be done before the certificate can be issued, which can delay transfer or even scupper the deal if left to the last minute.

And if you suspect that there is going to be a fair bit of work needed, you can get an inspection done to see what you are in for and this amount can be factored in to what you accept for your house. The work does then not have to be done straight away and can be paid from the proceeds of the sale by the transferring attorney if the seller is short of ready cash.

Ensure you have a current set of council-approved plans

While house plans are not a legal requirement of sale, many buyers are now requesting them, and these can take months to finalise and this lengthy process will almost certainly sour the deal.

Tackle the DIY

There is no need to go overboard and renovate your home, but things like dripping taps, broken lights and chipped tiles will be noticed and a fresh coat of paint on an old front door won’t go amiss.

Get rid of clutter

Viewing someone else’s occupied home is slightly uncomfortable for most people anyway, but when it’s scattered with their personal bits and bob’s it can make them even more uneasy. It’s also a distraction from what they should be looking at – the merits of your home. 

Remember that it’s all about imagined lives – potential buyers must be able to imagine themselves living in the house and it’s hard to do when it’s so obviously your personal space. You want them to appreciate your home’s best features and become convinced of its potential for their family.

Stage your home

Once the personal clutter has been packed away and before the photos are taken, take a step back and look at your home objectively through the eyes of prospective buyers. Cast personal preferences aside and stage your home in a way that appeals to the mainstream market.

Create the illusion of space

Pack away extra seating, unnecessary bits of furniture like too many occasional tables and other unnecessary items that will make rooms seem smaller, especially if your home is on the small side.

At the same time, clear countertops of as much as you can, even the toaster if possible. This allows potential buyers to imagine their appliances in your kitchen – and the meals they will prepare there. Also, half empty wardrobes if they are over-full and untidy so that viewers don’t get the impression that there is too little storage space in your home.

Light it up

Maximise the natural light in your home as good light tops most buyer wish lists and many buyers are happy to overlook other flaws if the home seems spacious and light, bright and airy. Wash the windows, tie back the curtains and, if necessary, change lampshades and increase the wattage of your bulbs.

Amp up the kerb appeal

In this instance, first impressions do count! When potential buyers pull up outside your house and they see a lawn that needs to be mowed, overgrown bushes and perimeter walls in desperate need of a coat of paint, their impression is already tarnished. Charm them from the onset.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Don’t waste all the effort you have gone to by snapping a few pics with your cell phone. Liaise with your agent and arrange for a professional photographer to really do your home justice.

Be flexible with showing times

It can be a challenge juggling a show home (and keeping it pristine!) alongside a busy work and a full family schedule. However, the simple fact is that the more available you make your home for viewing, the greater the chance of it moving off the market.

Lloyd concludes: “Every home is different with its unique merits that need to be highlighted and flaws to be downplayed and an experienced agent will be able to guide you and advise which of these are priorities and the best way to present them.

“And although the market may not exactly be booming at the moment, a well-presented, realistically priced home, especially in a sought-after area, will always find a buyer if you ensure that you have all your required paperwork in order from the start and work with your agent.”