The Value of Check-Lists When Selling Your Home
Make a check-list of the agent's recommendations and while you are at it you might draw up another list for the agent's benefit.
This should emphasise any features you think enhance the value of your home, like central heating, insulation etc.
It should also refer to any reports you have obtained from builders or engineers or architects on the structure of the house, pest control reports, documents and receipts on pool care (if you have one) and the same for any landscaping or gardening works you may have had done.
On the same list you also write down the things you and your family like about the house and the neighbourhood and list convenient local amenities.
But perhaps the most important list of all is the one that is going to help you sell your house for the best possible price.
This is the list of things you and your family should do to make sure your house or unit is presented in the best possible light. It should contain the following:
Check lawn and landscaping. If necessary, re-seed the lawn and get advice gtom a landscaping expert on how to make your garden look as attractive as possible. Bedding plants in flower will help lift a run-down border.
Paint any part of the house that needs it. Your local paint store should have plenty of brouchers on colour schemes. Make sure yours is approproate to the style of house and area.
Check all windows and fly-screens. Make sure that they are in working order. Fix any cracks or holes. Replace broen or cracked panes.
Clean barbeque and outside entertainment areas. Make them look attractive and as inviting as possible.
clean and tidy your garage and storage areas. If you have a workshop, make it look clean and efficient - even if you aren't a handy person. Remove any oil stains from the garage floor and the driveway. Make sure the garbage and recycling bins are unobtrusive and tidy.
Replace any cracked tiles on the roof. Check the guttering to make sure it is sound and not clogged with leaves. Replace rusted or sagging sections.
Check all fencing. Replace any pailings that have fallen down and repair holes, which may have been made by pets or children.
Check brickwork. Make sure that the pointing is sound. If your house is cement rendered, make sure there are no cracks. Check your pool and its surrounds. Make sure there are no cracks and that it meets the legal requirements for safety fencing.
o Check walls for blemishes in paintwork or wallpaper, for signs of damp, & loose plaster.
o Make sure all doors operate quietly and smoothly and that all latches and locks work.
o Ceilings can make a room look small and shabby. Make sure cornices and ceilings are clean and uncracked, if necessary repaint them.
o Examine floorboards and replace or repack any that have undue movement.
o Check floor coverings and get carpets cleaned, if necessary, or replace if badly worn or stained.
o Check the plumbing and replace any leaking tap washers.
o Make sure water in bath and sink drains away quickly. Have a garage sale. Get rid of unwanted toys and all the other paraphernalia families tend to accumulate. You don't want the house cluttered up when prospective buyers walk through. And if you're moving it doesn't make sense to pay removal costs for items you don't want or need.
o Make sure all electric appliances in the house are working. Check the electrical system and replace any broken switches, frayed wiring, or broken light bulbs. Check the gas system. Finally, make sure the house is well (but not harshly) lit and comfortable. Turn on the central heating and have a fire going if it's cold, or the air conditioning if it's warm. Make sure that the house is well ventilated.
o The expense and time involved in doing all of these things may seem a little daunting, but if you do it properly the dividends will come back in the form of a higher price and quicker sale.
Remember that if they are not taken care of, many of the items listed could be used by a potential buyer to try and force you to reduce your asking price.
Have a final look around before the first potential buyers are due to arrive.
n Check any indoor plants to make sure that they look healthy. Some colourful cut flowers will brighten up darker rooms.
n Board out your pets for the day. Some people don't like animals in the house, even if you regard the cat or dog as a member of the family.
Send the children off to stay with friends. Some buyers might not take kindly to having boisterous juveniles around when they're thinking of spending large sums of money.
n Check for dust - cleanliness counts everywhere, not just in the toilet and bathroom.
n Open the drapes and curtains. Let prospective buyers see as much of the house in natural light as possible.
n Let the agent do the talking and keep in the background as much as possible. Some prospective buyers may make remarks about your house - or your handy work if you have done some renovating - that could upset you. It is sometimes very difficult not to take offence particularly if people start commenting adversely on the state of your kitchen or bathroom.
Remember, some buyers will not deal direct with the owner.
Closing The Contracts
If you and your agent have assessed the market correctly and the house has been properly presented you will soon have a firm buyer.
Unless you have sold at auction (in which case the contract will already have been drawn up and signed after the successful bid) the contract will have been drawn up before your house or unit was advertised.
If a prospective buyer expresses interest in the house or unit the next step is for your agent to secure an agreement. At this stage the buyer also has the right to organise any inspections he or she may want - ie pest, building, and can go ahead with raising or confirming the necessary finance.
Your solicitor can now proceed to finalise the duplicate contracts of sale by inserting any extra conditions you have agreed with the purchaser.
The contract should specify any fittings or fixtures - blinds, light fittings, awnings stoves, etc - which are being purchased with the property.
It should also include a specific date on which vacant possession of the house or unit will be granted.
When the buyer and buyers solicitor are satisfied that all the necessary surveys and searches have been carried out satisfactorily the contracts are signed and exchanged.
The exchange normally takes place in the office of the vendor's solicitors and from this stage on after a 'cooling off' period of five business days - both parties are legally bound, unless there are exceptional circumstances, to go through with the sale. The purchaser pays a deposit which usually amounts to 10 percent of the purchase price. This money is normally paid to the real estate agent and kept in a trust account or invested in an interest bearing account in the names of both parties, and the interest shared between them.
The purchaser is responsible for paying the stamp duty on the contract and, when it is signed the onus for insurance rests with the seller until settlement or after completion of sale. After settlement or completion the new owner is responsible.
The transaction is completed on Settlement Day - the day when the purchaser pays the balance of the purchase price. Usually the settlement meeting is attended by the vendor's and purchaser's solicitors and, if necessary, a representative of the organisation with whom the buyer has arranged a mortgage.
At this meeting the balance of the money owed is paid and the vendor's solicitor instructs the agent to disperse the moneys he has held on behalf of the vendor and purchaser.
The purchaser will also pay whatever 'adjustments' have been agreed. These normally cover the proportion of water and council rates the vendor has paid beyond the date on which the house or unit will change hands.
The Nuts & Bolts of Conveyancing
The vendor's solicitor is responsible for drawing up the contract.
Both the vendor's and buyer's solicitors are responsible for making sure that the contract is fair and reasonable for both sides.
The vendor's solicitor will normally be involved in the conveyancing only to the extent of making certain documents available to the buyer's solicitor.
Conveyancing is basically the business of transferring the legal ownership of the property from one person to another.
It involves land title searches to ensure that the vendor is the legal owner, and searches to determine whether any other bodies have an interest in the property.
For instance, the Roads and Traffic Authority has an interest in the property (perhaps for a road widening scheme) or whether any other authorities (power, water, sewerage and the rest) might be involved.
Buying An Investment
Residential property remains a secure and profitable investment, for both owner occupiers and landlords. Renting a
property can stretch investment dollars because it allows investors to take advantage of a wide range of taxation benefits and deductions available.
Those which can be claimed each year against the rental income of the property include:
• Land and water rates
• Insurance cover
• Bank charges and accounting fees
• Travel expenses incurred for repairs or inspections
• Legal costs if you even have to collect outstanding rents or evict tenants
• Depreciation e.g stove, light fittings, carpets and floor coverings, hot water service, curtains and other non removable items
Repairs to the property are deductible only if they are not improvements or structural alterations.
Purchase At Auction
• Ensure you are prepared to bid—have your deposit organised (cheque, bank cheque or deposit bond), finance
organised, the contract checked, settlement time agreed and price estimates set.
• Be confident, you want to buy so make a good effort, no point being timid, show that you are determined.
• When bidding you can either nominate the bid you desire verbally, using hand motions or following the auctioneers lead
• Check our a few auctions in the Locality, you will see a variety of styles from auctioneers, so be prepared for the event.
• The auctioneer will make it very clear how bidding is progressing, if you are unsure of the status don’t hesitate to seek clarification particularly if you are unsure if the reserve price has been reached, but remember when that hammer falls the property is sold—but don’t worry we give you plenty of time.
• If a property fails to reach the reserve price, the auctioneer will ‘pass the property in’ to the highest bidder. Negotiations will commence with the highest bidder immediately and a sale often eventuates, so it is essential to ensure that you are the highest bidder. If negotiations do not conclude in a sale, negotiations can then be opened to other bidders
• If you are successful you will need to sign the contract and pay the deposit immediately following the auction, so check that all contract details and conditions are covered.
• Often interested buyers are unable to attend an auction of a property they hope to purchase, if this happens to you, don’t worry it is easily fixed. All you need is a friend or relative to bid on your behalf. You will give them a limited authority to bid and sign the contract on your behalf and they will have either a set limit to go to or you can instruct them over a mobile phone, but remember you will need to have the deposit organised in advance and have a written authority to hand to the auctioneer.
Purchase Prior To Auction
• Many properties are Sold prior to their scheduled auction date. Don’t get caught out by missing this buying opportunity, make sure the agent is aware of your interest, don’t play it so cool that you miss out. Request that the agent notifies you if the vendor will be considering pre-auction bids and if so you would like to be involved in such negotiations
• Check all details and conditions as normal, take the contract to your solicitor, do your inspection as you see fit, ensure that your finance is approved and that you can act immediately you get the go ahead
• Any offer submitted prior to auction will only be considered if you can prove that you will be in a position to proceed to an exchange of contracts within 24 hours of acceptance
On 1 September 2003, the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 and the Property, Stock and Business Agents Regulations 2003 came into effect. The new laws have changed the way that auctions of residential property and rural land are conduted in New South Wales.
For more information visist www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
How To Survive An Auction
The golden rules of bidding at auctions are to be confident and be prepared. Some research done prior to the day, along with the right advice, will secure your property with a minimum of stress. Here is a step-by-step guide:
• If, after inspecting the property, you are interested in buying it, let your agent know. This ensures that you will be advised if any other offers are made by another party prior to the auction day.
• Prior to the auction, check the sales contract. Ask your solicitor or legal representative to advise you on the details and any special conditions of the sale.
• Organise your finance. If you will be moving, its advisable to have an agent inspect your current property to establish a likely sale price
• Will you be attending the auction, or will someone else be representing you? If so, they will need a letter of authority to do so.
• Taking into account recent sales in the area, set a price which you are prepared to bid to . When bidding, speak clearly and confidently. Try not to be carried away by the excitement of the event, remember, once the hammer has fallen, the property is sold.
• You will also need to arrange a cheque for a deposit on the day of the auction. Personal or Bank cheques are fine as are Deposit Guarantee Bond in most cases.
• Passed in at auction, means bidding has failed to reach the owner’s reserve price. Your agent will confer with the owner and normally the highest bidder will then have the right to negotiate the sale price of the property. Most passed in properties are sold rapidly after an auction.