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Australia’s sluggish property market is a boon for buyers who’ve struggled to get a foothold. But what can sellers do in a down turn in order to nab themselves the best price?

It’s currently a buyer’s market out there with Australian home prices slipping for the 11th straight month in August. The taming of 2017’s runaway prices and tighter lending criteria have been welcomed by many first home buyers who are finally getting a tentative foot on the property ladder after years of being locked out. However, what if you’re a seller?

CoreLogic reports that the national home price index dropped 0.3 per cent in August, leading to an annual fall of two per cent, and the combined capital city final auction clearance is now around 53.3 per cent.

With no real sign of an upturn yet, State Custodians general manager, Joanna Pretty says it’s important to try and put the situation into perspective. "Whilst a property downturn can be a more challenging time for sellers it’s also important to note that the property market will always have its ups and downs and these periods are often beyond anyone’s control," she says.

Discussing your property needs with trusted experts will help you to understand what steps to take. Focus on things you can control, such as improving the property’s condition, selecting a trusted agent and setting a good price.

Joanna Pretty - General Manager, State Custodians

Analyse your property and your target market

  • Firstly, analyse your property’s strengths and weaknesses before placing it on the market. You’ll soon be able to identify unique selling points and problem areas. If you’re in a family area then a large garden will be appealing to people with children. However, if you’re trying to market to busy inner city couples, then a garden that requires ongoing work may not be so enticing. Make sure your sales strategy is adjusted accordingly.

Be wary of buying before you sell

  • This depends on the area you are in, as some suburbs will always have strong demand which makes this less risky. You need to speak to several reputable agents in the area and get their honest take on the situation. However, in the current sluggish market the general thinking is to be cautious and sell your own place first.

    One particular pressure in buying before you sell is that you may be forced to sell your property for a cheaper price in order to settle the deal quickly. You may underestimate buyer demand for your property and end up servicing two mortgages for an indefinite period.

Even though you may not get the ideal sales price you're after, you may just bag yourself a bargain looking for a new place.

Make sure your price is realistic

  • It’s time to do some thorough research and see what similar homes in your area have been selling for. Study sales results over the last couple months in your area by using the sold section of online property websites such as realestate.com.au, domain.com.au and reports from property analysts like CoreLogic. Consult with agents and ask to see their recent sales records.

    Remember, buyers are currently looking for a bargain and will probably want to start negotiating way below the price guide or asking price. This may sting, but bear in mind that price is largely dictated by market forces, and on the flipside you also may pick up a bargain when hunting for your own new place.

Choose a good real estate agent

  • Choosing an agent who’s right for you can be tricky. For starters, many agents on a personal level seem quite similar – friendly, approachable and willing to work hard. They may all quote you similar prices for your home as well. Or else they might just agree with the value you want for the property so they can sign you up. Then they may come back with an excuse to drop the price, often down to market value, to clinch a sale!

    You are primarily looking for someone honest, realistic and down to earth so eliminate anyone who you don’t feel sure about or doesn’t seem enthusiastic. Speak to neighbours, family and friends and see who they recommend. You also want a good marketing campaign that doesn’t cost the earth so find out what their commission and advertising plans are.

    One good test is to contact several agents well before you plan to sell. Then see who keeps in regular touch with you as it’s a sign of someone who’s prepared to put in the hard yards and take a real interest in your property.

Put effort into property presentation

  • Sellers are always hearing how important good presentation is and in a sluggish market it’s even more critical to make your place stand out from the pack. It’s worth putting in time and a bit of cash, particularly with the front yard. When there’s a range of good properties to choose from, some buyers won’t even bother walking in the door if the front yard looks shabby. So make sure this area is tidy, remove unattractive foliage and consider re-painting.

    Inside scrub like there’s no tomorrow! Erase dirt, mould and replace anything that looks dirty or worn. Also pay careful attention to the kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom and family room as they’re usually the most important rooms to buyers.

    Grubby walls and worn out woodwork are also a big turn off so a fresh paint job or sand will do wonders. Ensure that any cracks in walls are also filled in and painted over, the same goes for old water marks on the ceiling.

  • Use a calculator to get an estimate of how much you can borrow.
    Try one here.

  • See if you qualify. To get a more accurate idea of how much you can borrow with State Custodians,
    click here.

  • Call our Lending Specialists and they can do the calculation for you over the phone plus answer any questions you have at the time. Talk to us on 13 72 62.