Mistakes you’re making when selling your house – and how to fix them

By Opinion Time of article published Oct 27, 2021

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By Andrea Tucker

The South African Reserve Bank cut interest rates in 2020 which contributed to significant movement in the residential property market and put property investment within reach of more people.

With interest rates still at record lows, this means that if you have been thinking of selling your home, now is the time to take the leap. If you have been trying to sell for a while, here are some mistakes you may have been making and how to fix them:

1. The price isn’t right

If you want to sell your property in a reasonable amount of time, you need to ensure that the price is market-related from the start. An emotional attachment to your home may cause you to set an unreasonable price for the property, and some sellers inflate the price to make room for negotiation, but this, in fact, just deters potential buyers. Seek advice from an experienced estate agent who works in your area as they will have information on house prices in your area and the accepted offers of recent sales.

2. The exterior has been neglected

However good your home’s interior looks, if the exterior is in bad condition, that is the impression that will stick with viewers. First impressions are important, so take time to spruce up your garden by mowing the lawn, pruning unruly shrubs, and tidying the flowerbeds.

3. There is too much clutter

We all have some clutter in our homes but tend to become blind to it over time. Try seeing your home from a stranger’s perspective and get rid of excess stuff to maximise the perceived space in your rooms.

4. The kitchen is letting you down

When people buy houses, it is often the kitchen that seals the deal. It is one of the most important rooms in the house, and is worth the most per square metre, so it needs to look good. If you’re willing to spend, consider replacing the cabinets if necessary or upgrading the countertops.

5. Bad lighting is putting buyers off

Ensure your house is bright and airy – this gives the impression of spaciousness. Clean the windows, put in brighter light bulbs, add more lamps and trim any trees or bushes outside that may be casting too much shade. Mirrors add to the brightness and make rooms look larger.

6. The paint job is old

One of the most affordable ways to brighten up your decor is to give the walls a fresh coat of paint. If you can’t wash off scuff marks or children’s footprints (while asking how they ended up all the way over there), painting over them works like magic. Light colours also give the feeling of space. However, avoid white and bright colours – rather go for neutrals that will appeal to more people.

7. Small problems are creating bigger ones

Now is the time to make all those minor repairs you’ve been putting off, such as cracked tiles, broken windows, chipped paint and broken doorknobs. Small defects can give a prospective buyer the impression that there are more, perhaps bigger, problems hidden away. If you can justify a handyman for a day because the list is just that long, it is a worthwhile expense.

8. Your home needs a spring clean

Spring clean your home, making sure every element sparkles and the rooms are spotless. Deep clean your carpets and curtains, get rid of limescale in your bathrooms, clean the grouting, wax wooden floors and remove odours. If you don’t have the time or energy to do this yourself, hire a cleaning company. And spend the time getting the house ready and clean for Sunday showdays, even if it means getting rid of mess-makers for a few hours.

9. Not enough storage space

When showing your home, a clever trick is to partially empty your cupboards and then arrange the remaining contents neatly to look tidy and spacious. Buyers are always on the lookout for storage space.

10. Your advertising isn’t attracting buyers

The pictures you post on your listing are the first images of your home people will see. Make sure they are impressive and if you aren’t too skilled in photography, perhaps hire a professional. Consider also adding a video tour to your listing, so buyers can take a tour before they visit.

11. Selling points buyers can’t necessarily see but might just seal the deal

If you’ve spent money on features of your house that you thought were necessary and beneficial, make sure your estate agent has that list and is actively selling these points. These features can be a solar geyser, piped in gas and reliable fibre in your neighbourhood.

Andrea Tucker is director of MortgageMe

PERSONAL FINANCE

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