Readying your home for sale isn’t something you should aim to do in a weekend. It usually requires small repairs – inside and out, paintwork, decluttering, finding the right estate agent and assembling the necessary documentation.
All this takes about three times longer than you think so take plenty of time to prepare and the following pointers should help along the way.
1. CHECK OUT THE COMPETITION
Sign up to property portals and receive digital alerts about houses for sale in your area. This gives an idea of what the competition in your area looks like, the prices being sought and which estate agents are most active in your area. MyHome.ie's handy neighbourhood guides section will also give you a steer on prices.
2. LOCATE YOUR HOUSE DEEDS
Assemble all the documents you need before bringing it to market. The first thing you need is to locate the deeds, says solicitor Mark Killilea, consultant with law firm Purdy FitzGerald. “These will either be with a bank, a solicitor or in your possession. It can take weeks for the bank to release them. Without them you can expect delays and it could even lose you the sale.” Having your solicitor already engaged with contracts prepared will also expedite matters.
3. CHOOSE YOUR ESTATE AGENT
“Invite agents who are most active in your area for their thoughts and recommendations. This service should be free if you’re thinking of selling,” says Simon Ensor, chairman and auction director of Sherry FitzGerald. “Ask each what you need to do to maximise the appeal and value of the property.” The mean average of the valuations given by a selection of agents is probably the most realistic asking price.
4. IDENTIFY YOUR BUYER PROFILE
The property needs to be attractive to the buyer profile active in your area, says Susan Slevin, partner at DNG. “If we think your home is best suited to buyers with young families then we will suggest that the third bedroom that you’re using as a home office is set up as a bedroom with the home office situated elsewhere within the house.”
Before you instruct an agent ask for a complete breakdown on fees and then negotiate on the rates charged. It may be possible to incentivise the selling agent with a higher fee if they achieve over a certain value for you. A Clear Guide to Selling A Home is a very helpful booklet published by the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland that can be downloaded from the site.
Solicitors fees will also need to be factored in. These vary. For a list of firms in your area contact the Law Society of Ireland.
6. FORESEE PROBLEMS
"Consider arranging a condition survey and make it available to all prospective purchasers so that any unforeseen issues are frontloaded prior to the negotiation of sale," says Edward McAuley, of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland. Their Property and Land Boundaries booklet is worth reading, particularly in relation to executor sales of family homes and farms.
7. GET AN ENERGY EFFICIENCY RATING
All homes marketed for sale require a BER certificate. You can improve yours with some simple upgrades; replacing an old boiler with a more efficient one; installing modern heating controls; insulating the hot water cylinder, pipework, attic, walls and floor and changing light bulbs to energy-efficient models. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has a full list of measures on its website.
8. CAST A CRITICAL EYE
Ask a trusted friend – whose style you admire – to cast a critical eye over the property highlighting its weak points. Do this in good time before going to market so that you can implement as many suggestions as is financially possible. Agents DNG produce a good booklet, Getting Your House in Order, as part of their valuation package, that is freely available to would-be vendors from any DNG branch.
Houses that present well create competitive interest and bidding, says Simon Ensor.
"Staging a house for sale is expensive but works especially well with executor sales and empty homes, in the former where the furniture and furnishings may not be modern enough for buyers' tastes and in the latter it lets you see how the house will look like furnished so you're not just looking at vacant rooms." "It's what you take out that really makes the difference," says architect Caroline Irvine of Irvine Nash who works on high-end homes and charges a percentage. House & Garden Presentation Services also offers staging as a service.
Is it worth it? “This is a very intangible service but we frequently encounter vendors spending up to €10,000 and getting another €50,000 to €70,000 for the price achieved,” Ensor says.
10. WHAT SELLING PRICE CAN I ACHIEVE?
Time spent on the Property Price Register and on the price register pages of MyHome.ie will provide a good idea of a going rate in your area. "Be realistic about what your home is worth. A good agent will have seen other houses that are like yours and has detailed knowledge of where yours sits in the price ranges being achieved," says Simon Ensor.
11. MOBILE ACCESS
Choose an agent whose site works well on mobile devices. “Mobile traffic now accounts for about 53 per cent of overall traffic on MyHome.ie,” says David Dolan, IT operations manager at the property portal. “During the day desktop usage hits about 65 per cent but from 5.30pm onwards the balance tips more towards mobile sites and apps.
“Google also gives higher ranking to sites that are mobile responsive and we’ve already seen a shift in the number of agents requesting upgrades to their sites as a result of this.” Also ask your estate agent about page impressions and its ranking on property portals.
12. ONLINE PROFILE
Would-be buyers will probably first view your home on Google – before they ever cross its threshold, says estate agent Owen Reilly who specialises in docklands and city centre properties.
“They have already noted its pros and cons. The history of the house may also be online if it sold in the last 10 years and there may be chatter on sites such as The Property Pin, Ask About Money and Boards about it. From an agent’s point of view any profile is positive as it creates awareness about the property.”
13. KERB APPEAL
Ensure the garden to the front is immaculate, says Clodagh Murphy, branch manager at Quillsen, Ranelagh. When selling her own house she cleaned up any litter or broken glass all along the pavement in front of the house.
“Sweep up any rubbish or dog droppings outside the physical perimeter of your property and that of your neighbours to create a better first impression. Power-wash the front and back too,” she says.
“And don’t forget to polish the door brasses, it looks like the house has been well-loved and cared for.”
14. FRESHEN UP BUT DON’T GO OVERBOARD
A fresh coat of paint on the walls, ceilings and woodwork can transform the look of a home. Decluttering is important too but there is a fine line between decluttering and removing all of the property’s personality to its detriment.
15. KITCHEN CONUNDRUM
Should you replace a tired kitchen? Simon Ensor doesn’t recommend it.
“Replacing a kitchen can be expensive and tastes and styles can be very subjective. The home sales market is rife with tales of people investing large sums in an upscale design only to discover it consigned to the skip by the property’s new owners.”
Freshen up the existing design with new doors or a fashionable paint colour, contemporary door handles and possibly new countertops.
16. CLEAN HOUSE = DREAM HOUSE
A professional deep clean will transform the house and help remove cooking and/or animal smells. Pink Lady Cleaning is just one of many companies offering this service. Rates start from €390 for a three-bed semi, and include windows and oven cleaning. For an additional fee front and back gardens can also be tidied. A grubby bathroom really lets a property down.
Steam clean grouting and floors or you could enlist the services of a professional cleaning company like Simply Clean Dublin. When done, close all toilet lids.
17. BEDROOM ELEGANCE
Kitchens and bathrooms may sell homes but bedrooms are often overlooked. New bed linen will make rooms look fresh and crisp. Go for hospital corners if you own beds with legs. For divans match a valance to the linen. John Lewis sells a really good range in 25 different colours. You can order them through Arnotts where a double will cost €36.
Smart on-trend duvet sets can be picked up at Penneys or Debenhams. Put the new linen on the beds for viewings only and keep crease-free when off the beds by hanging over the banister on the landing.
18. FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Serious buyers will snoop during open viewings. Declutter cloakrooms and wardrobes to appear two-thirds full. This gives the illusion of ample storage. On the viewing day open windows to air the house. Don’t burn strongly scented candles as it may put some viewers off. Fresh-cut flowers in the hall or kitchen are a nice touch.
Have the fire burning in main reception rooms. In darker months make sure all table lamps and accent lighting is on during a viewing. Step back and let the agent do his/her job. Don’t hang around. You will be in the way and you don’t need to overhear viewer critiques of your own home.
19. WHAT ASPECT IS MY BACK GARDEN?
While most agents agree that a property with a south or west-facing garden may command a higher price all is not lost if you live in a north-facing back garden as it too can get sun. You just need to be able to convey this to buyers. To determine the aspect of your garden use the SunScout app, about €10, to show that while not south or west facing the back of the house can still get sun. It may be also helpful to illustrate this in the brochure.
20. MAKE A VIRTUE OF ALL IMPROVEMENTS
Be specific in brochure text about any work you’ve done to improve the property, says David Leyden director of LHA Architecture.
“If you insulated walls explain that you’ve ‘applied x amount of thickness to achieve much greater levels of thermal efficiency’. If you’ve installed a new boiler then explain what type it is. If you invested in high spec windows then reference them by their brand name.”