As South Africa’s largest auction house, we frequently provide our clients with selling points and ideas that can assist them in selling their homes. These days, there is so much information on the web about how to stage a home and create compelling curb appeal, that you might think you know all you need to on the subject. However, just when you thought you’d mastered the matter, we thought we’d brief you on 5 more things that can get your home sold, some or all of which might never have occurred to you.
1. Your neighbours:
Most homeowners contemplating selling their homes understand the importance of well-kept neighbouring homes. Many a buyer has pulled up to an amazing house, viewed it, and left shaking their heads with dismay because they just can’t live next door to such a disheveled place with shoulder-high weeds, flaking paint and walls resembling crumbling ruins. We often tell people to always buy a home next door to a great neighbouring property. Conversely, an unkempt neighbouring home can result in a poor sale and are often avoided by prospective buyers.
On the other hand, your neighbours themselves can actually be instrumental in the sale of your home. Many homeowners know people who want to live in their neck of the woods, and this is one of the key reasons that seasoned real estate professionals approach the neighbours first, as well as send them mail drops announcing the sale. Moreover, neighbours who are out and about, chatting, laughing, playing with their kids, or even just offering a friendly smile and helpful area knowledge, can make a very favourable impression on prospective buyers.
If and when you decide to sell your home, it’s a good idea to touch base with your neighbours and let them know. After all, it’s in their best interests to have good neighbours and they may even go the extra mile in showing off the neighbourhood’s biggest asset – themselves!
2. The right sights, smells and sounds:
It’s no news flash that the view of a used car lot, stinky foods, animal smells and the siren song of a police station next door could be deal-killers. What might surprise some people is that the right sights, smells and sounds can help in securing the sale of your home. My experience has been – agents, chime in here! – the more appeasing sights, smells and sounds are to the senses, the more favourably the will be received by the largest population of prospective buyers.
For example, playing a soundtrack of classical musical is fine, but will cause some sceptical buyers to wonder what noises you might be trying to cover up – especially if you’re in a flat or another thin-walled property where neighbour noise might be an issue. On the other hand, birdsong can be attractive to some buyers. Artificial air- fresheners? Not so much. Rather, the scent of the jasmine or lavender growing in your yard or of freshly baked goods can be highly enlightening to the senses, and may completely change the buyer’s outlook.
You might be desensitized to the views of trees, mountains or even water outside your window, but pulling back the curtains so prospective buyers can see for themselves, is an absolute must.
Home buying is a multi-sensory experience and visual staging of the property itself is no longer a just an added advantage, it is essential. Homes which create pleasant impressions that fire on all of a buyer’s sensory cylinders definitely have the edge on their competition.
3. Your dog:
Recently, the New York Times ran a piece about sweet, well-behaved dogs (and cats!) who reportedly helped sell their owners’ Manhattan apartments. In a complete departure from the conventional belief that dogs should be removed and every trace of their presence erased from the home during show houses, the US article featured several buyers and brokers attesting to the belief that the presence of a particular cat or dog, “helped sell a property by making the place seem warmer or more appealing.”
Definitely consult with your agent before you decide to leave your dog at home during showings. Lately, I’ve seen many brokers attempting to capture the best of both worlds by ensuring that the family pet or even the broker’s own pet, is captured in a charming tableau in 1 or 2 of the listing pictures, even if they’re not present at the home during showings.
4. Your happiness:
Videos and even hand-written letters that extol all the virtues about your home, your neighbours and your neighbourhood are contagious to buyers. I have seen sellers assisting buyers in seeing their homes through their own eyes, by posting videos on YouTube and including the link on the listing flyer. I have also seen sellers place a binder containing a letter as well as information about their favourite neighbourhood restaurants, dry cleaners and other local merchants, on the counter during showings.
Wide-open curtains that let light stream in, light and bright paint, decor colors and other home features that have been scientifically proven to make residents more happy and functional, also create this thought process in a buyer’s mind: “Hmm, these people seem happy here, I could be too.”
Similarly, indicators that you have invested a lot of love in your home by keeping it in immaculate order and pristine condition, create the feel that a home was happily lived in – it’s like staging your home with a life well-lived, not just paint and tile.
5. The highway or transport node you thought was too close:
If your home is situated close to a freeway or elevated train tracks, or if it roars and rattles every time a car passes, chances are a potential buyer will view this as a negative selling point. However, homebuyer attitudes toward being located near freeways and bus lines are rapidly changing. Every upward click of fuel prices renders buyers a tiny bit more interested in a location that is more commutable. In Gauteng, we have recently noticed properties near the Gautrain attracting higher prices because of the convenience of having transportation close by.
Where yesteryear’s buyers were all about the posh exclusivity of far-out suburbia, today’s buyers are far more interested in financial and ecological efficiency and convenience. We’ve never heard of so many homebuyers looking to own homes that will allow them to ditch their cars entirely as we have in recent years!