Tips for Home Sellers Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic

The current COVID-19 crisis can be compared, in some aspects, to past economic crises, like the Global Financial Crisis in 2007. However, what we are experiencing now is very much a first.

For the real estate market, what is important is how to overcome the uncertainty some people are experiencing due to COVID-19. 

There have been many changes that agents have had to work with including the ban on all real estate auctions and open for inspections. This was part of the Federal Government’s continuing clampdown on social gatherings.  Thankfully this has now been granted back to agents with physical distancing and the practice of good hygiene including alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.

What’s interesting is that during this time many agents, including myself, reported a flurry of qualified buyers ready to purchase immediately and with many sellers deciding to hold off launching their properties to the market, buyers were competing for limited stock which resulted in the majority of listings selling quickly and above the asking price.

Now more than ever, it is important to give buyers the information they are seeking.

What are some of the things that your agent should be doing differently? Let’s take a look.

Provide the whole address – Buyers like to be able to conduct a drive by and if there is no address they are likely to pass over the property altogether.

Add a sale price to your listing – Research conducted by realestate.com.au says that seeing listings without a sale price is a common complaint among prospective buyers.

Add complete floor plans – Include room dimensions and as much information as possible. Buyers like to know if their furniture will fit.

Use video tours – This will let buyers see the location and dimensions of features like windows, soft closing cabinetry, etc., which may not be on display in photos and floor plans.

Describe topography – Provide photos of the gardens and lawn, and displaying the topography specified in the video tour.

Include details about nearby amenities – Prospective buyers are interested in information about what is close by and how it will effect their lifestyle. 

Tips for home sellers amid COVID-19

Your agent will be a big help in getting your property sold fast and for the best price, but there are things that you, as a seller, can do to make sure the process moves without a hitch.

Consider having a building/pest inspection and independent valuation – This is another way to make the buying experience pleasant for prospective buyers. It can also increase transparency for the transaction and help to speed the process up.

Present the property in the best possible light.  Remember that once you launch your property to the market, you are in the market in competition and not isolation.  You are not the only one!

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, agents and sellers really have to think ‘outside the box’ about how to best showcase a property.  Work together!

 

 

 

Styling

Put your Home on Centre Stage Through Home Styling

Styling

A selling method that vendors use to achieve a faster sale, lessen price cuts and drive up values is property styling, or home styling.

Developers, agents and retail stores like Ikea and Freedom use it. “Home Staging” is tantamount to merchandising. It involves styling a space to emotionally attract a target audience to eventually realise top consumer dollar. And it works.

When it is a sellers’ market a competitive advantage is needed to attain the best possible price, and a makeover is not the sole option.

Increasing the sales price

The reason for home staging is to style a house to copy those that are found on the pages of fashionable home magazines. This is a means to boost the price and buyer interest.  Home staging can really make a major difference. In terms of price, it can add $20,000 to $25,000 to a normal sales price compared to a similar home on the market that is not furnished.  Another benefit is it mitigates price cuts. It is all based on emotions for owner-occupier buyers, resulting from what they see and feel in the first 27 seconds.

Neutralise, de-personalise and the wow factor

Sellers should make the effort to neutralise and de-personalise everything in their home. Store away old trophies, get rid of everything off the fridge, put bills and other personal contact information out of sight, remove photos of family members because that can make people feel awkward and just store it away to make them feel they are purchasing something new.  It is also important to declutter. Think about the direction buyers would take to inspect the house and eliminate any obstacle from their path.  Home staging is taking the methods of depersonalising and decluttering to the next level by putting display furniture and furnishings to evoke a certain feeling.

Additional tips for sellers include economical cosmetic changes that deliver a little bit of wow factor like: changing the knobs or handles of the kitchen cabinets, installing a new mailbox, putting up new blinds or curtains, putting new kitchen appliances if they are very old or on the verge of breaking down, polishing the deck, adding mulch in the garden, pruning hedges or shrubs to make the yard look bigger, putting potted plants around the exterior of the house, or removing the  feature wall and either replacing it with a fashion piece or adding a bookshelf or a wall storage in its place.

To get the best possible price, implement a holistic approach as you prepare your property for the market. Home staging should be combined with inexpensive makeover techniques to increase the sales price. If the property has no furniture and furnishings, small things like peeling wallpaper or crackers become obvious. It is important to repair these because any noticeable maintenance issue can significantly impact a buyer’s decision.

It is important to remember that people are purchasing a lifestyle, not just a home. If there is nothing for them to determine whether their king size bed will fit in the bedroom, then it makes it more difficult to envision themselves living in there.

 

Buying a home during COVID-19

There’s no doubt it’s an unusual time during this global coronavirus pandemic. But, fortunately, we can find some positives in buying property!

Almost everyone suspected that buying a property while in isolation would be almost impossible however, at the end of the day, we all need a place to live. So while some buyers probably wouldn’t have chosen to be looking at purchasing their next home during an unprecedented lockdown, it might not actually be as bad as you might think.

If you’re thinking of buying now, here are some tips how best to approach the situation.

1. Assess your own situation

While the outbreak is one matter, the economic aftershock of the pandemic is another and conditions can change rapidly, both positively and negatively, so you’ll need to take it day by day.

If you find yourself working in an industry that is currently affected or will possibly be affected, then you need to assess the likelihood of continued employment.  If you feel comfortable, or as comfortable as you can be, then now could be a great time to find that dream home.

2.  When it comes to your money,  plan for the worst

It’s impossible to know what the future holds but you can plan for the unexpected by making sure you can access a financial buffer if you need it.  The more money set aside the better, but this isn’t always possible – especially for those working in industries affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns, such as travel and hospitality.

If you’re thinking of taking out a new loan, you should do your best to make sure you’ll be able to service it especially if someone else in the household loses their income.

On a positive note, companies will need to rehire once the pandemic eases and the economy comes back.

The other unusual thing to consider is, the record-low interest rates.

Owning your own home is still the great Australian desire, and as we are seeing at inspections, many owner-occupier buyers are pushing hard to secure their home in the face of the global pandemic.

3. Seek out the best advice

If you have any doubt about anchoring yourself to a long-term relationship with the bank then search for knowledgable experts.

The adjective we’re hearing around this current situation is “unprecedented”, so it’s highly likely you’re going to get a wishy-washy answer. But the more informed you can be, the better decision you’ll make.

I also recommend you only focus on accurate and timely sources as situations in the property market are changing almost daily and what was relevant 4 months ago is not now.

4. Remember, property is for the long term

An important thing to remember is that property is a long term purchase. Experts agree that owning the family home is a great way to ensure long-term financial security, and while markets can dip in the short term, property values will generally increase over the long term.

To be in the best position to buy be pre-approved, confident and informed and don’t be afraid to make an offer.

“Be greedy when others are fearful, and be fearful when others are greedy.”
Warren Buffet

 

 

Ban Lifted on Auctions & Open Homes

 

 

As reported last Sunday, the NSW property market will be rolling out the welcome mat from May 9th 2020 with agents  able to hold traditional property inspections and on-site auctions after a six-week limited shutdown due to COVID-19.

Now as we make the move back to a more normal mode of operation Real Estate agents will have the following health guidelines to adhere to:

Key health guidelines include:

  Ensure physical distancing of greater than 1.5m is maintained;

  Promote good hygiene on premises and at auctions including hand sanitiser;

  Use digital platforms where possible to discourage physical contact;

  Keep detailed contact records of people attending open homes and auctions;

  Ensure people with any symptoms of illness do not attend a property;

  Manage the number of people entering small spaces;

  Consider extended times for open house viewings and inspections;

  Use outdoor venues for auctions wherever possible;

  If auctions are held indoors, use large venues where physical distancing

between household groups of one person per 4m2 equivalent is possible.

AS PER MEDIA RELEASE:
Trevor Seymour – Treasurer  & Julie Garvey – Minister Hazzard

 

One Agency Pinkerton Properties feel the need to continue to offer our clients, both sellers and buyers, the option of private inspections as well.  Especially for those who may still feel uncomfortable about attending open homes.

Plus for the sellers who have been sitting ‘off market’ or waiting for the return of auctions, we are offering a HALF PRICE Auctioneers Fee until June 30th 2020.

Coronavirus: How COVID-19 will impact Real Estate

From the start of my real estate career, I believed that this business should move in the direction that negates the need for a shop front or an office for agents to work out of, especially as agents spend most of their day in someone’s home either discussing coming to the market or with buyers selling it.

So when I started my own real estate business in 2013 it was created and still operates remotely without the need for a shop front!  And, because of this, I have not had to worry about implementing remote work procedures in response to the current Covid-19 pandemic other than implementing work practices to ensure the health safety of all involved.   These include increased sanitation, maintaining social distancing, cancelling all open homes and auctions and limiting the number of people allowed at an inspection at any given time.

Since One Agency Pinkerton Properties is a full-service real estate company, and that I have been operating remotely from day one, my business is one of the better-placed agencies to respond to the current crisis.

My business already provides a video on every property that is marketed for sale and has always offered private inspections.  Worth noting, is that I have successful sold to interstate buyers who have never seen the home in person until after settlement and likewise to interstate tenants who are unable to view personally.

Working from a remote workspace has other hidden benefits too – the biggest one being productivity.  A boost in efficiency has been credited with not having to attend numerous meetings that consume around 7-8 hours in any given week.

Despite widespread closures and restrictions now severely impacting the way businesses can be run, I’m not fazed, as I can literally do virtual inspections,  appraisals and negotiations over the phone.  The exchange of contracts and documents via online programs like PEXA means you can buy or sell a home without having to visit a  ‘bricks & mortar’ office.

And so with the majority of real estate services able to be accessed and carried out online, I believe that Covid-19 might just be the one thing that wakes up traditional agencies and gets them thinking about how they are positioned to respond in a way that won’t impact upon the services they provide for their clients!

But it can’t happen over night for these larger agencies.  It will require training and changing some facets of work culture “to efficiently carry out change industry-wide”.

A reminder that “bigger is not always better”!!!

4 Important Lighting Tips to Use During Covid-19

 

Looking for some lighting inspiration while working from home during Covid-19 isolation? Use these tips as a guide when redesigning your home’s lighting.

  1. Use layers

Three layers of light is essential in all rooms.  Minimise wattage and size to maximise space and don’t overlook the accent layer, which helps to draw attention to the added details you’ve used to complete your spaces.

  1. Scale is essential

Lighting should not overwhelm a space and it also should not get lost in a space. Consider both the length and the width of the space.

  1. Focal point matters, too

Not all fixtures – lamps, sconces, chandeliers – should be of similar size because the eyes look for optical clarity. What lighting can be used as a focal point? It could be a chandelier in a big space, or a unique floor lamp or  vintage-looking sconces flanking a wall art for smaller spaces.

  1. Dimmers

Install in all rooms and with as many fixtures as you can add.  Dimmers change the mood and offset artificial light with natural light.

 

 

 

Tips to Control your Emotions When Selling

It is completely normal to have an emotional connection with your home. However, you can’t afford to let feelings hold you back when you are selling your home.

It doesn’t matter if you are a baby boomer downsizing, an owner-occupier upgrading or an investor aiming to profit. You must keep your feelings in check in order to sell your home quickly and for the highest possible price.

Most people feel that their home is not just an asset. It is a space they associate with family, security, happiness and comfort. This is the reason a mounting body of research states that selling a home can be one of the most stress-inducing experiences of a person’s lifetime.

Depending on your situation, there are various reasons for your attachment but the following are the most common:

It is the place of your childhood memories

Our home is the setting of our lives. It is where we grew up, spending many blissful moments with family and friends. These memories are an important part of your identity and give us the feeling of connection to the place where the memories happened.

It links you to family history

In certain situations, a home has been handed down through generations, or has played a major role in family connections. Thus, some people find it difficult to let go and can feel like they are losing a family member.

It is the place where you celebrated milestones

Celebrations at home are a huge part of life including birthdays, barbeques, engagement parties and even the occupational backyard wedding. We frequently reminisce about these special times with our home starring prominently in the memory.

You made your home your own

It is seldom that people move into a house and not make any changes. Whether it is getting new furniture, applying a fresh coat of paint, or adding a new deck, you may have done something in your property. This brings out a feeling of pride and a powerful connection that can be hard to ignore when it is time to move on.

Use your emotions or ignore them?

Though it seems counterproductive, there are some instances when sellers can channel their love of their home towards helping in finding a new owner by thinking like a buyer.

If you feel pride in your home, you are more likely to pay more attention to it and make sure it is ready before putting it on the market.

Homeowners who are emotionally involved are more likely to choose a real estate agent who cares and will make an effort to highlight all the major features when leading prospective buyers on open inspections.

These are constructive ways to utilise your emotions to get better results, but many sellers will let their emotions get in the way. This could lead to rush decisions that may cost massive amounts of money.

Emotional reasons for selling your home

Death, a serious injury and other major life events in the family are typical reasons for selling a home, often creating more emotional burden for the sellers.

In other instances, family relatives are so advanced in age that they can no longer care for themselves and their home.

Certainly, divorce is one of the hardest situations that can trigger strong emotions. Selling can be made complicated when one or both parties don’t want to move or agree on the price.

However, the emotional toll is not only felt by owner/occupiers. Investors can also feel a roller coaster of emotions when selling an investment property. This is particularly true when there is a deadline they must meet, a tight budget, or the need to offload in a declining market.

Tips to prepare yourself emotionally

The best way for sellers to move forward is through detachment. Say goodbye to your home and begin viewing it as a “product” at the early stage of the process. It is also vital to do market research and to keep an open mind.

Tips to keep your emotions in check when selling:

  1. View your house not as a sentimental asset but as a product
  2. Conduct research to make sure you price it correctly and be familiar with market trends
  3. Bid your house farewell as you prepare it for sale and ensure you are pleased with what you are putting on the market
  4. Use impersonal items for staging your home, so it starts to feel less like your home and more like someone else’s home
  5. Ensure you hire an agent to list and sell the property – it will be far more emotional if you try listing the property yourself
  6. Place yourself in the shoes of the buyer, think about how glad the next family will be in the home you helped build
  7. Be familiar with what the market is doing and be sensible about its time on the market
  8. Make sure not to be around when prospective buyers visit. If it upsets you to hear feedback from prospective buyers, request for your agent to keep details at a minimum
  9. Keep your attention on your new home. Think about the positives and visualise living in the new home.

Home Buying Tips for First-Home Buyers During Covid-19

2020 was shaping to be a bumper year for property buyers due to historically low interest rates, easier-to-access credit and more properties to become available in the market.  However, with Covid-19 and isolation in full swing, we now notice fewer properties coming to the market.

During this Covid-19 period, first home buyers have found that most of their competition from investors and down-sizers have all but gone but so has the choice of property to buy.  As a result, first home buyers are still experiencing challenges when having to compete for the property of their choice!

Finance can be the biggest challenge. While financing has been made easier for people with low credit risk, anyone with a slight tarnish on their credit history or with a unique way of earning money may experience difficulty in getting approved.

Banks are requiring less paperwork now, but open credit reporting has become available on the web, banks can access 24 months of a person’s history rather than the six months they did in the past. 

This means people have to keep their credit history clean for two years and must save now if they want to purchase in the future.

It is important for first home buyers not to worry about missing out. Real estate should be regarded as a long-term investment. Rather than choosing to purchase in a location that is cool and possibly paying a higher price, buyers should look at areas where there is more supply.  A little further away from the beach, bars and the city.

Suburbs like Kotara, Charlestown, Cardiff and Warrabrook.  Homes near infrastructure, on a train line and shopping centres are good buys. Reasonably-priced small homes or townhouses like 3/8 Jill Parade Charlestown are good purchases.

For apartments, purchase in the inner west like this ‘off market’ home at 1003/11 Charles St Wickham and if on a tight budget choose something smaller or older.

First home buyers are also advised not to panic because more stocks are coming into the market, which will re-balance demand and supply. It means they could rent for another year until prices become affordable.

First home buyers should also consider “rentvesting” as a strategy. Rentvesting means investing in reasonably-priced markets and renting in a suburb they prefer.

The new First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, which lets buyers get a loan with a deposit of only 5%, can help buyers and invigorate the lower spectrum of the property market.

People should seriously address any difficulty they may have regarding raising finances. Banks are known to examine the personal spending much more closely thoroughly for first-time homebuyers.

Use Covid-19 to help get a loan approval by preparing food at home instead of getting take-in.  Now that you’re not going out to coffee shops, cafe’s and bars, you won’t even need new clothing or shoes either.  Banks would look at you more favourably if you are cutting back on your expenses.

Lastly, it is important for you to get pre-approval before you start inspecting new homes. You need this to be in a favourable position when competing for the home you really want and you need to be able to action your intention to buy.

 

 

One Agency Annette Pinkerton

Future lies with individuals, not brands!

One Agency Annette Pinkerton

Competition among franchises for top agents is fierce and it seems they will promise the world and then under deliver!

Now more than ever franchises and independent agencies are becoming more and more irrelevant.  Especially the ones where you see two agents advertised on the one property.  In this scenario, one agent will generally be the listing agent and the other will be the buyers agent.

The real problem here for franchises is that they are forgetting that “People don’t list with companies; they list with individuals.”

“People don’t list with brands; it’s the individual agent that is important.”  In the above scenario, sellers list with an agent they like then hardly get to work with them as the buyers agent often is the one working on the listing while the listing agent, the one they like, is out looking for another listing!

This doesn’t happen when an agent is the brand!

Times have changed, especially with Covid-19 in our lives and the traditional model of being part of a brand and in an office to capture buyers and sellers is now a thing of the past.

The internet transformed the way buyers and sellers engage with agents over 20 years ago.  Now, more than ever, if a buyer wants to buy in an area they just get online. They look through the listings, they contact the agent, and they go and meet that agent at the property.

Sellers no longer need to list with a local agency, either. Sellers can now list with the agent of their choice.  So the question we should be asking is, What’s the actual point of the local office now and what is the effect?

The fact is, there is no point to having a local office.  And while agents and properties managers are now working form home, I hope that our industry embraces the remote model I’ve been working since 2013. Let’s face it, it cost money to run an office and the reality is that someone has to pay for it.  Since buyers don’t pay for agents, it’s the sellers who are footing the bill for the expenses relating to the local office.  I’ve personally only had 2 buyers and no sellers come into my office since I started my career 11 years ago, and both were to register for an auction which could be done on line or in a coffee shop if we chose to.

Let’s face it, franchises and independent real estate offices are struggling to pay expenses in today’s competitive and costly world.  While branding is essential the only brand that’s really imperative is the agent’s own brand!  The smart sellers of this next decade will come to realise that the franchises and independent brands that work from an office are aggressively trying to increase their turnover to cover expenses.  They will do best to choose an agent who works on a lower turnover giving the agent more time to get the best result.