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Money Express with Jill Kerby - Selling your house strategy

A neighbour has put up his house up for sale – again.

The last time didn’t work out too well: it was 2006 when the market was at its peak, but so was his price. He waited too long to drop his price …and then ran out of buyers.

Timing any market isn’t easy, especially one in which prices are still falling (by -15% nationally and by -12% in Dublin) and bank lending is tight.

However, where we live, within Dublin’s canals has very good public transport and amenities including a good primary school and one of the biggest employers, St James’ Hospital.

With demand for three and four bedroom family houses also strongs, (though suburban southside houses are more desirable), my neighbour might just have better luck this time selling his house.

In this still uneasy market, how do you make your home stand out and become even more desirable than any others? How do you achieve that extra financial return?

Estate agents still insist that location is the key, except during a manic property boom phase when people buy in completely unsuitable locations because they fear they will continue to be out-priced.

Assuming your house is in a ‘good’ location – in or near areas of employment, schools, public transport, shops and other local amenities and green space – the next, obvious step is to make your house more enticing, say the experts.

During the Celtic Tiger days, ‘enticing’, took on a whole different definition than the dictionary definition, with owners undertaking renovations and redecorating that included entire new bathroom suites (or the installation of ‘ensuite’ showers and loos), installation of wood floors and redesigned gardens and ‘dressed’ rooms full of rented furniture.

Today, back in the land of tight budgets and lower expectations, estate agents suggest that you return to basics and use elbow grease, imagination and a modest budget to enhance the appearance and desirability of your home. Start with the obvious:

• Repair that which is broken: missing roof tiles, windows, light fixtures, floorboards and banisters, taps, showers and toilets.

• Refurbish, that is, smarten up the front railing or gate if it’s starting to hang off the hinge.

• Keep the grass cut and the flower-beds …in flower. Give the front door a fresh coat of paint. Ditto for the back garden and especially the garden shed.

• Renovate, with an eye on your budget, the kitchen and bathroom(s), the two rooms that estate agents say are key selling points in most modern home.

• Aside from ensuring that they are spanking clean, you should replacing old, tired cabinet doors, broken or cracked tiles, de-clutter the countertops and give the walls a fresh lick of paint. (One agent told me “If your kitchen/bathroom is very outdated – but clean and with potential - you can use that as a selling point by knocking down the price of the house – before they do.” Leave a few kitchen/bathroom brochures around to give the new buyer some inspiration.) If rooms need repainting, do so, in neutral colours.

• Remove and Recycle: declutter, usually excess furniture, broken or unused electronic goods, garden equipment and furniture, bric-a-brac, gadgets, toys, books, etc. Clean, open spaces enlarge any room and let potential buyers imagine their own things in that space. If you can’t be parted with great Aunt Moira’s oversized 1930s armoire, or the four old computers sitting under the hall stairs, see if you can board them out with a friend or relative. (See www.recyclemore.ie)

Is it worth improving the energy rating of your house before you put the property up for sale now that every home has to come with its own official rating certificate? (See www.berenergyrating.ie )

“It depends,” said a local agent I spoke to after they left a note – the third - telling me how in-demand are houses in my neighbourhood.

“Victorian terraced houses like yours, without double or treble glazed windows, high ceilings, open fireplaces in every room, no concrete foundations and huge attics will cost a great deal of money to achieve a top energy rating. It can be done, but you have to decide whether it makes more sense to spend the money in the hope of achieving a top selling price in a very tight market, or to lower your price expectations and achieve a quicker sale with a buyer who is either willing to make these changes themselves…or live with higher heating bills.”

Luckily, the cost of improving the energy rating of a modern, suburban house (with existing decent windows) is considerably less, so ensuring that insulation levels are correct, water tanks and boilers are working efficiently shouldn’t cost you a fortune.

Perhaps the most important selling point (after location) for any property in this market… is its selling price. Get that right (check out the National Price Register via www.myhome.ie/priceregister ) and all sorts of faults and shortcomings can be overlooked or re-sold as ‘opportunities’ - as a way for the new owner to put their own distinctive mark on the property when they redecorate or renovate, or as a way to negotiation a price discount.)

Everyone on our road wishes our neighbour good luck in selling his home…but he might want to relocate the for-sale sign. Or the tree that’s hiding it! jill@jillkerby.ie

 
 
 

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