In these troubled and trying times when bankers’ heads are buried in the sand, politicians resemble bunnies in headlights and the media is happily wallowing in all the doom and gloom, the rest of us have lives to lead. For some of us this means we have to find a way to flog off real estate and despite what ‘everyone’s’ saying, it is still possible to get a house to sell.
According to a recent BBC report, British vendors of property in the UK are cutting up to a further 9% off prices that have already fallen 11% just to get a sale, and for those of us with homes overseas, a similar approach can indeed be taken. I.e., the more attractively priced a property in a market environment where everyone’s being groomed to believe they should be bargain hunting, the more likely it is to sell.
However, if dropping the price of your property any further isn’t on your agenda, here are another 10 ways to increase the saleability of your property abroad – some of these 10 top tips are also about increasing the underlying value of your home if you intend to keep it for a we while longer until the market stabilises so that you can sell it and reap the dividends in the medium to long-term.
1) Get the paintbrush out and spruce up interiors and exteriors. According to a recent survey of estate agents in the UK, painting and redecorating a home is the only activity that is actually a cost effective upgrade! What’s more, no one likes to think of all the extra work they’re taking on if they buy a property, so present them with as clean, fresh and blank a canvas as possible so that they can a) see they will not have to move in and start work and b) see that they can actually easily make their own stamp on the home.
2) Remember all that rubbish about curb appeal and take it on board! Your house needs to stand out in a market when there is plenty of property to choose from. So, trim your bougainvillea, clean your pool, polish your door furniture and get rid of any rubbish and put any garden implements, tools and toys away ahead of any viewings.
3) Think about ‘staging’ – i.e., setting the stage of your home so that buyers see an almost show home like finish that is both attractive and not at all overpowering. This doesn’t mean you have to totally rearrange your house – some things as simple as putting matching towels in bathrooms can help. Make sure bed linen is clean and neutral, clear work surfaces in the kitchen and arrange any attractive knickknacks you have carefully and with consideration.
4) Depersonalise the property by removing personal photographs, excessive amounts of soft toys, pictures that your children have painted and that cover the fridge in the kitchen. Again, this is all about presenting as blank a canvas as possible for prospective buyers so that they can imagine just moving in to your home and making it their own.
5) If you own property abroad in a beautiful sunny destination, chances are the majority of your buyers will come at the top or tail of the season or right in-season…so you need to present the ‘dream’ to these people because that is what they are looking for. If they were realists pure and simple, they’d view out of season to see the location at its worst! So, assuming your buyers are dreamers, think about the idyllic dream that they are chasing and stage it. Sit them on the terrace in comfy chairs overlooking the pool or your sea view, present them with a light cocktail and talk to them about all the lazy days and lazy ways you enjoy living abroad and how all that can be theirs once they sign and pay up!
6) Think as carefully about your outdoor space as your indoor space because for the majority of the year your buyers are going to want to be living outside! So, tend to your garden, get traditional plants planted, make your swimming pool look as inviting as possible and present any outside spaces as extensions of your living room to make the whole property feel so much more spacious and impressive.
7) If you’re thinking about spending some serious money in the form of investment into your property to make it more saleable and you don’t already have a swimming pool, if you live in the Med or any other such popular destination with expats, get a pool put in! You need to think carefully about the expense of such a project, about the length of time it will take and the potential money you will reap in returns, and then decide if such a plan is practical. Some people who realise they will not reap back what they pay out still go ahead as they know it will make their home that much more sellable.
8) Make your home child and family friendly even if you don’t have children or the prospective buyers don’t view with family in tow. This is because even those buyers who don’t have children will probably have friends who will visit who do have children, and also because you can show prospective buyers that yours is also a property that can rent easily if they decide to let it out when they are not using it.
9) Don’t forget about the local market – whilst many of the above tips for selling your overseas property have been about appealing to fellow expats or holiday home buyers, you still have the potential to target the local buying market with your property. Chances are they will have easier access to mortgage and finance facilities at a time like this than any overseas buyers will have, and what’s more, by including the local market into your thinking and marketing your property to them too you broaden the base of potential buyer interest.
10) Get the marketing of your home just right – get professional photographs done of the interior and exterior of your home at day and night, think about writing up the benefits of your property, marketing the home on the internet and in local papers, and present a pack of words and pictures to any agent you engage. Insist they use your material as theirs is often poor, thrown together and copied from another similar property. You have to make your home stand head and shoulders above all others if you want to sell it in a market like the one we are experiencing – and likely to continue experiencing for some time to come.