When property prices boomed, buyers would look past the 1970s bathroom and the untidy garden, but with prices coming down, those looking to sell this Spring need to go the extra mile if they are to maximise the sale price.
As prices move down and buyers become more fussy, real estate agents and buyers' advocates say vendors risk not getting the price they want by not putting in the effort to present their property well.
Figures from property researcher CoreLogic shows for the year to September 30, house and unit prices were down a combined 6.1% in Sydney and 3.4% in Melbourne.
Scrimping on fixing-up the front fence or giving the property a lick of paint can mean the property is passed by.
“Buyers are very fussy at the moment. I've seen buyers not want to buy a property over the smallest things like a feature wall that you could paint over a weekend,” says Peggy Willcox, the founder of Mooney Real Estate in Penrith in Sydney’s west.
Bradley Willmott, the founder of Pursuit Property Advisory in South Melbourne, says the market has changed.
Willmott, who represents both vendors and buyers, but never on the same property, says: "If a [property] is not spot-on, buyers will keep looking because there are more out there."
Looking for something bigger
Nolan Singh, 36, a finance director and his wife Mandy Singh, 37, who works in human resources are selling their four-bedroom house in Jordan Springs, north of Penrith in Sydney’s west by private treaty, through Mooney Real Estate in Penrith.
They are looking to buy a larger house in the same area, not only because of their growing family of three boys - Tristan,13, Ethan, 11, Jaiden, 9, but because the family hosts a lot of visitors from overseas.
“The house is big enough, but we would like to have something even bigger and we would like to have a swimming pool,” Nolan Singh says.
The house is only a few years old and the couple has not had to do that much to prepare it for sale. Singh repaired the post box, re-stained the deck, cut the grass and hedges and fertilised the lawn.
The couple took the opportunity to throw away things they didn’t need to declutter the main rooms, such as lounge room, and store everything else into the garage.
Spruce-up to get an edge in "lumpy" market
Christine Roughead, who is semi-retired who works in human services policy, is selling her terrace in Richmond in inner Melbourne where she has lived in for 27 years.
“I bought it as an unrenovated terrace and had it renovated in 2000,” she says.
“The kitchen and bathroom are in really good shape; I had to update the appliances within the last 18 months anyway with a new oven and dishwasher."
She describes the property market as "lumpy".
"Houses are still selling – and they are still selling for reasonable prices, but a lot of houses are being passed-in but are selling pretty much straight after auction, sometimes on the same day," she says.
Roughhead is selling her house by private treaty. "It could take longer to sell or it could be quicker," she says. Roughhead is working with vendors' advocate Bradley Willmott who gave her some tips on how to present the house, which is being sold by agency Whitefox.
“I have only had to make some cosmetic changes like having the inside and outside painted," she says.
Roughhead is moving to another terrace in inner Melbourne with a little bit more land as she intends to spend more time in the garden as she transitions to full retirement.
Willmott says it is important to make the house appeal to as broad a market as possible.
Almost every house needs a coat of paint on the inside and outside, he says.
"[Inside] it's important for colours to be neutral so that potential buyers can more easily imagine putting their stamp on the property with their own furnishings," he says.
The focus should be on decluttering of the key interior spaces, like the living room, he says.
Alan Yeung, a property consultant at Location Property Group in Sydney's St Leonards, says making a house feel like a home is very important.
"This might include having some bread toasting or coffee brewing when potential buyers come to view a property."
This article was originally published by The Sydney Morning Herald on 13 October 2018. It represents the views of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the views of AMP.
Under a new scheme, individuals (who've never owned a home) are accessing a portion of their super savings to do so.