Real Estate

Help! I Want to Sell My Home and Don’t Know How to Start…

One of the most stressful things we do in our lives is to sell the family home.  It affects so many core parts of our world.

♦Financial (“will I get enough money?”)

♦Physical (“I have to get it ready and how do I ever start?”)

♦Legal (“how on earth do I go about a contract or finding the deeds to the house’)

♦Emotional (“I have all these memories here?”)

♦Personal Angst (“what if no one likes my house”)

♦Trust (“Oh wow – I am handing this all to a complete stranger and hope they will do the right thing by me”)

You are not alone.

A trusted real estate advisor does more than just rock up to an open house and hold the door open for buyers. The selling process can start several months before the first buyer even hears about the home.

So here are a couple of stories of people, just like you, who didn’t know where to turn, or how to start, and here’s how a real estate agent can help:

♦ 70 something year old couple Mr & Mrs S. had lived in their house for nearly 40 years and were ready to downsize and have a more manageable garden. They had no idea where to start. We recommended a local solicitor to begin the contract of sale. The house was basically in good condition and had recently been carpeted and painted so no tidy up needed.  Just some specific advice about decluttering, changing the bedding to a fresher, more youthful style, moving some furniture around to increase floor space visibility. Small changes to increase the saleability. Took down the heavy curtains and the nets. We arranged a photographer to take photos and to also measure the house for the floorplan. We discussed strategy and whether auction or private treaty would work best and some advice about the best, cost effective places to advertise. For these clients, no newspaper and private treaty – an advertised price. We achieved their dream price in the first four weeks.

♦ Mr and Mrs D. had a rental property with a sitting tenant who had given notice. We helped the tenant organise to move out to make it as pain-free as possible for the tenant, organised a pest and building report so the out-of-area owner knew the shortcomings of the home and had the rotten deck repaired. They wanted to paint but we advised it wasn’t necessary. Suggested the massive bush at the front door be cut back to let in more light. Styled with a local company, photos and video done for this one. Auction for this one and lots of internet advertising. Sold in the first week.

♦ Mr. H. owned a small 2 bed rental unit and had some ‘harsh’ tenants. We organised the holes in the doors to be patched, the damaged carpet to be replaced and the walls painted (I even brought my own outdoor furniture and cushions to decorate the patio as the home was now empty of furnishing.)  Advised against a new kitchen. The owner wanted a quick sale so we advertised to our extensive data base before the work was even finished. Sold at the first open house.

♦ Mr & Mrs M.  owned two neighbouring properties both used as occasional weekenders, both very stuck in the 80’s. We organised a colour consultant, painter, carpets, gardener, tiler, electrician and handy man. Plus, a styling company and four months of careful hand holding later it was ready to go to market. Even though we didn’t recommend big changes, this owner wanted everything done to a high quality and replaced the dishwasher, the stove, the benchtops, the tiles, the toilets and the shower fittings. A big cosmetic freshens up which helped both properties far exceed the original expectations.

♦ Mr T.  loved his immaculate cottage which was firmly placed in the 70’s. He had an image of how the house once was and was not interested in changing a thing. We assisted with referrals to solicitor and he let me move some of the furniture around. No paint, no new carpet, no fancy stylists, no video, no signboard, no open houses, he wanted to write the advertising copy. I took my own outdoor furnishings, blankets, cushions for the bed, even a pot plant and lamp to help style the home. After a few weeks of gentle encouragement, he trusted me enough to write the copy for him and invite a few people in to see the home. He was thrilled with the result, as was the new purchaser.

♦ Mr & Mrs E. owned a weekender cottage. Little. Unassuming but crammed with 25 years of holiday furniture. And no closets. We suggested moving out some of the furniture and arrange for a removalist quote, and a tip run. They decided to take everything out and we helped with a styling company to bring in a fresh new look. No newspaper advertising, this one sold at auction for dramatically over the reserve.

So massive remodel on one end of the spectrum, to sweeping the front step on the other end, your agent should be trusted enough to advise you how to maximise your result.  Sometimes you don’t need to paint or recarpet because it won’t bring you in any more money.    Sometimes you just need to rearrange the furniture a little and trim back that one shrub.      But call in the agent even before you think it necessary because that big reno you are undertaking just to sell, may not be needed at all.  And whether you need a solicitor, a painter, a landscaper, a handyman, a cleaner, a styling company, a carpet quote, an exterior house washer, or just to think things through your trusted agent will supply all that and more.

And don’t forget, if you are after some advice, do not hesitate to call me on 0438 802 648. I have a myriad of contacts, and experience of course!

Buying My First Home Part One

I’ve recently spent time with my 20- something nieces and nephews and realised they know little about how to go about buying their first house. So, if you are 20-something (or 30-something or even 40-something!) and have a vague idea about stepping on the property ladder, here are a couple of directional arrows.

Start off by sorting out your credit history.

If you have accumulated a massive credit card debt or owe some unresolved student debt and are getting snarky letters, you will have to smooth some of that out. I’m not talking about legit HECS debt, but rather the mean emails that make you cringe. Just stop getting lattes and UBER eats, and pay your bills down. Or preferably, pay them off. And make saving a lifelong habit.

Talk to a financial person about your loan.

This might be changing imminently but in Australia, every sensible person goes to a mortgage broker. You don’t pay them anything (the bank does) and you should be able to find a better loan than you would on your own. They might also have an alternate loan source that you wouldn’t necessarily have explored. And don’t go to six different banks trying to see if you can beat them – every time your credit is checked there is a flag left on your credit history. If a bank sees you have tried to get a loan with five different financial institutions and are now trying theirs, you might find this reflects poorly for you. A mortgage broker will also be up to date with any governmental rebates or first home buyers grants available to you. This could save you tens of thousands of dollars.

Once you have a clue about how much you can borrow start to do some online research.

Don’t be precious about what suburb just yet, just spend some computer time and learn where you can and can’t afford. There is simply no point in setting your heart on the suburb your parents live in, if they have been climbing the property ladder for 45 years and have a mansion on the beach. Be flexible, be reasonable and think a bit about resale and future growth too. You don’t have to be a property guru to know this. If you are the only person in the world who would be okay living next to the city dump, you will probably find this doesn’t bode well for your future capital growth (or profit on the value of the property).

Search the ”sold” portion of the website you are using.

The For Sale section is really a ‘wish price’ for the seller.  The Sold section is actual achieved prices. Not always the same thing and make sure you toggle to put the sales into recent date order. You want to see what sold two months ago, not in 2011.

When you have worked out what sort of area you are interested in, start to hit a LOT of open houses.

Real estate agents don’t care. If they have bothered to open the front door, you are welcome there. Just mention that you are early in your process, not yet qualified and doing some research. Real estate agents – despite the press – are generally helpful and useful sources for you.

Get into as many available properties as possible.

You must stand in the living room, check out the natural light, the location, the outside of the building if you are buying a strata or body corporate home (unit or townhouse). There are some things you CAN change (the grotty lino in the bathroom, the green paint in the hallway) and some things you simply cannot change (the big hill blocking all the sun through the winter, the roar of cars from the freeway). Start to get a feel for what is your non- negotiable, and what could be your compromise items. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince.

Be a bit flexible at this point.

Yes you may have to put in a new kitchen eventually, or redo the carpets but could you suck it up and live there to start with? And when you bring along your mother/best friend/ auntie to ask for their opinion, be mindful that they have not slogged through all the rotten apples so have nothing to compare it to. They think there are there to ‘be the voice of reason’ and I can’t tell you how many excited first-time home buyers get discouraged when their well-meaning cousin points out a hairline crack in the stucco outside and disparages the whole property. You will get a property inspector to tell you about the structure and any faults. You don’t need Aunt Hildas input.

Click here to head to Part Two!

10 Interesting Wordly Facts

Who would’ve thought?

1. The White House in the United States costs around $110 million USD.

2. The current president of the U.S., Donald Trump, has filed for corporate bankruptcy four times for his investment properties.

3. In 2007, the late Leona Helmsley, an American businesswoman known for her flamboyant personality and her tyrannical behaviour, thus earning her the nickname the “Queen of Mean”, left $12 million to her dog, Trouble.

4. According to the 2011 Census for Australia, 67% of Australian households own their houses or are purchasing it through a mortgage. The rest are tenants.

5. In Scotland, homeowners paint their front door red to signify that they had paid off their mortgage.

6. During the Great Depression in the U.S., gangster Charles Arthur Floyd, aka “Pretty Boy Floyd”, was viewed positively by the general public. Dubbed as the Robin Hood of Cookson Hills, he robbed banks and would destroy mortgage documents which freed people from their debts.

7. The popular board game Monopoly was originally designed to teach players about the broken nature of Capitalism.

8. The Great Australian Dream embodies a massive house with extra bedrooms, a media room, a study room, and a family room. Australia’s houses are considered to be one of the biggest in the world.

9. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, rent prices will increase more than the original cost of owning a home in 20 years.

10. By using ready-made modules, some builders in China can build a 30-story skyscraper in just 15 days.

To Move or Renovate

Its an often asked question in the living rooms of the Central Coast…  “Should we move or should we renovate?” Mostly asked when you can’t bear to cook one more meal in that grotty kitchen, or find yourself rolling your eyes at the truck next door that starts at 5:00am.  Every morning.

But before you pull up stumps…

You might need to weigh up some options.  Move or renovate – both have merit, both will cost you money. 

What stays, what goes.There are some things you just can’t change with the house you are in.  If it nestles against a hill and is cold and damp in the winter, if its next to a busy intersection or a raucous pub or is on a steep sloping block you won’t be able to change that even with the best remodel in the world. And you would most likely be throwing money away.    

If on the other hand…

The house is structurally okay, if it’s situated in a bright and sunny cul-de-sac and your sister lives round the corner you should strongly consider changing the layout of the house to suit your lifestyle.If you are intending to renovate just to sell your house for more money, don’t.  Just don’t.   A minor cosmetic freshen-up is one thing.  Painting the purple bedroom wall or getting rid of the smelly carpet will certainly help.  Cosmetic freshen ups should either sell the house for more money(unlikely) or sell it faster (most likely). Physically remodeling and changing your home in the hopes it will make a profit you is fraught with danger.

What if…

What if your changes don’t appeal to the new buyer?  What if they wanted four bedrooms and you have combined to make three or vice versa? What if they wanted the fireplace you just removed?   The costs associated with big changes, just don’t make sense unless you are in the renovation business. And if the market begins to dip while you are in the middle of a major redo, you might just be in a world of hurt.

Moving will have associated costs…

Advertising, marketing, agents fees, then stamp duty for the new house (how annoying is stamp duty?!) will cost tens of thousands of dollars, but you might then get the house of your dreams.  Or at least get closer to the house of your dreams.Renovating will obviously also cost money, and you need to plan really carefully here.  A small kitchen renovation can become a nightmare when you discover that the electrical system needs an overhaul, and that there is some wood rot you didn’t know about.  And BAM! there goes the budget before you have even chosen your granite benchtop colour.

Some considerations:-

  • Do you love the street you are on, the aspect you have, but the bathroom is daggy? Renovate
  • Are you expecting the family to either increase in the next five years (baby-making stage) or decrease (kid-leaving-home stage)? Move
  • Is the sunlight great, but the house just really dated? Renovate
  • Have you just had surgery on both knees and live in a three storey home? Move
  • Are you on a three acre block and hate gardening? Move
  • Do you have the worst house in the best street and ocean views to boot?  Renovate
  • Is the kitchen and bathroom just too small and no where to push the house out? Move
  • Have you got three cars and a boat and a single garage and live on a small sloping block? Move

There will always be purchasers looking for a house like yours.  Just married, just divorced, just had a baby, just lost a spouse, just got a new job, just retired…  always someone looking to move.  

If this is you, and you need some advice, give me a call and let’s talk about your unique, personal options.  

I am not here to make you move, I am here when you are ready to move.

Call Carol Jennings – 0438 802 648

What’s Happening in Home Design Trends 2019

Interior home design is a very personal choice and we all try to be a bit individual and to let our interior decorating Diva shine in the comfort of our own homes…

Or do we?

Remember mission brown and orange? The yellow and blue beach/Scandinavian colours? How about pale apricot and pale green? Yes those ‘individual’ choices were all suggested to us by the juggernaut of the fashion and decorating world. How do you think Dulux and Freedom furniture keep themselves in business. Remember the two seater couch covered in floral prints? The Bali look. Yep! Your individuality was suggested to you by magazines and furniture manufacturers. So – whats the predicted direction for 2019?

Clutter is OUT

Shabby chic and eclectic groupings are apparently out. Thanks to KonMari we are devoiding our homes of extra ‘things’.  Anything new should have a purpose and be useful. Minimalism and clean lines are back, with texture as opposed to clutter.

Matte black is IN

I think you have to tread carefully here but grey is moving out and black is replacing it. Statement vanities in bathrooms, or matte black on the floor is being hyped. Proceed with caution here – it will change in a few years and you don’t want your kitchen completely matte black and find out it dates you as much as orange formica dated your mother! Pewter and gunmetal are being predicted for hardware: handles, taps and so on.

Coral baby, coral

Speaking of orange formica, the Pantone Colour this year  is Living Coral 16-1546 . Think accent pillows rugs and towels. Some past contenders were Ultra Violet (2018) Greenery (2017) and Rose Quartz (2016) Remember how I told you it was an industry!

How green is my valley?

The other ‘big’ thing predicted this year is striking greenery, either as botanical prints on bedding or as feature posters or photos, and of course, in living colour! Lots of live greenery throughout. Big bold plants. This trend towards Biophilia is supposed to calm us by relating us to nature and slowing down our stress levels. Be a bit thoughtful about this. If you have a blazingly sunny spot, don’t spend a fortune on a massive plant and cook it. Then your stress levels will go in the wrong direction.

Velvet no-longer-underground

My mother in law will hate this but velvet is coming. She can’t stand the feel of it. Velvet couches and cushions, pillows and throws. Hard to get your head round this in the heat of the Australian summer but pale blues, pinks and whites, and especially green velvet is coming apparently.

These are some of the predictions. But one of the biggest prediction is individuality.  Take what you like, leave what you don’t. Anytime you are redoing a room, try to keep the fixed major pieces as neutral as possible. Add just touches of the current trend. I mean you COULD change a tap in five years, but you probably won’t want to redo the whole kitchen.

Our home is our sanctuary. A place to relax, entertain, de-tox, reconnect and unwind. It should reflect you and your interests, your travels, your tastes. And if you are thinking of selling in the next year or so, edit edit edit! Don’t add anything new unless you are sure it will sell the house faster or get you more money. I mean, that jewel blue kitchen, with the lapis lazuli benchtop may have been exactly what that past owner loved. But the new purchaser paid less because they knew they were redoing the entire lot and it was in a skip bin within a week. Neutral is best.