A picture is worth a thousand words. Never has that adage held more true than in the case of real estate marketing. Whether you are advertising your home on the Internet or using flyers and print ads, professional photographs are a must.
As an experienced Real Estate Agent, I can tell you that the importance of well-composed photos that highlight your home’s major selling points cannot be overstated. Prospective buyers won’t take the time to drive out to see a property if the pictures in the marketing materials or on the Internet don’t impress them. Your photos are going to be seen by any number of online consumers, so ensuring your property stands out and creates a good first impression is imperative.
In fact, great pictures are so crucial, I’ve prepared a list of ideas and tips on how to get your home ready for your professional photo shoot.
Right Before the Photographer Arrives
- Turn on ALL interior lights – even lights in furniture cabinets.
- Turn OFF all ceiling fans.
- Light fireplaces and candles.
- Open all blinds, shades, and curtains.
- Clear all cars and vehicles from the driveway and the street in front of the home.
- Please secure any potentially aggressive animals in a safe location, away from all rooms being photographed.
Outside the Home
- Have the lawn trimmed, leaves raked, bushes and trees pruned.
- Clean up after any animals
- Put away all rubbish and wheelie bins, hoses, garden tools, toys, bikes etc.
- Remove all washing from the clothesline.
- Hide any “cute” backyard decorations.
- In snowy climates, shovel snow from walkways, driveways, patios, decks when necessary.
- If there is a pool, hot tub, or spa, uncover, and clean.
- If there will be any twilight photos taken, replace any broken lighting on the home, around the landscape, and in the pool.
- Open the umbrellas on any patio sets.
- When in season, uncover barbecues.
- Remove any seasonal/holiday
- Consider adding splashes of bright coloured flowers to the landscape and in pots.
Inside the Home
- De-clutter as much as possible. Put away toys, clothing, dishes, towels, shoes etc. It’s a lot cheaper to put these things away before the photo shoot than to pay to have the photos “photoshopped”.
- Depersonalise to a certain degree. Photos of young children and any potentially offensive art (believe me, we’ve seen it all!) should be put away.
- Remove any seasonal/holiday decorations that can quickly outdate your photos.
- Dust and vacuum.
- Make all the beds, fluff all the pillows, and check the bed skirts.
- Clean the kitchen sink and put away all the dishes.
- Clear all kitchen counter tops and put away toasters, can openers, etc.
- Clear all bathroom counter tops and put away all personal items.
- Remove all shampoos, conditioners, body-washes, etc. from the shower.
- Put out the guest towels and hide all the others.
- Hide all rubbish bins.
- Remove all magnets and decorations from the refrigerator.
- If there are pets, hide all food/water bowls, pet beds, and pet toys.
- Put all toilet seats and lids down.
- Replace all burned out light bulbs.
- Consider decorating the tables with your prettiest place settings.
- Consider putting out vases of fresh flowers.
First Home Buyers
The process of buying your first home can be quite daunting, but it doesn’t need to be! There are a number of things you can do and options available which can help you buy your first home.
Most banks will want to see evidence of genuine savings when you apply for a mortgage. This means that you will need to have money in your account for a deposit for a minimum period of time and sometimes at least 5% needs to be from accrued savings.
So start saving today!
GET YOUR HOME LOAN PRE-APPROVED
Pre-Approval will provide you with a greater understanding of how much a lender is prepared to lend you. It will also help to speed up the process once you have found a home you like.
BUYING WITH A SMALL DEPOSIT
There are ways that you can buy your first home without having saved the 20% deposit that most banks typically require. These include
- Talking to your local Mortgage Broker who has access to a broad panel of lenders, some whom do not require a 20% deposit.
- Using cash gifts or a family guarantee
- Government grants you can apply for to boost your deposit size (not everyone is eligible)
If you have access to money that you have not saved, like an inheritance from a grandparent, or a gift from your parents – you can use it for a deposit for your first home.
Lenders will want to know where the money has come from and you will need to prove that you are able to meet the repayment obligations.
Your parents can provide a guarantee over your loan if you have a small deposit and are able to meet the repayments on your home loan. This is a popular way for parents to help as they can use their assets to guarantee the loan without paying any money up-front.
USE YOUR KIWISAVER
If you are a first home buyer and you’ve been contributing to KiwiSaver for more than three years – you may be able to use some of the money to help buy your first home.
If you’re eligible, you may be able to withdraw some, or all of your KiwiSaver member contributions, employer contributions, returns on investments received or any member tax credits. However you can’t withdraw the $1,000 government kick-start contribution.
In some limited cases, you may qualify even if you’ve owned property before.
Using your KiwiSaver is a great option for first home buyers who want to increase the size of their deposit and want to own more of their first home.
KIWISAVER HOMESTART GRANT
If you need a little bit extra to help get you across the line then you could consider a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant. If you’ve been contributing to KiwiSaver for three years and fit within KiwSaver’s criteria you could be eligible for up to $20,000 of additional grants.
To be eligible you must:
- Have been contributing to KiwiSver for at least three years
- Be 18 years of age or over
- Be purchasing or building your first home
- Have a household income (before tax) f less than $80,000 per year (for one person), or less than $120,000 per year (for two or more people)
- Have a deposite that is 10% or more of the purchased price, including the addition of the grant
- Plan to live in the house for at least 6 months following settlement or completion of the property.
A WELCOME HOME LOAN
While saving a big enough deposit is the obvious way to get on the property ladder – there are additional initiatives designed to help. Welcome Home Loans are issued by selected banks, underwritten by Housing New Zealand, and allow the bank to lend on a lower deposit without any restrictions. For first home buyers it can mean getting on the property ladder sooner.
When buying your first home, every little bit helps – so make sure that you understand what options are available to you.
Talking to your local Mike Pero Mortgage Adviser can help you make sense of all the options, paperwork and processes. And, they have access to a broad range of lenders and loans, so they can help you find a loan that fits your requirements.
Improve Your Outdoors And Get Ready For Summer
Whether you have a porch, patio or pool, there’s plenty you can do to improve your outdoor experience at home and add value when it comes time to sell.
Take a Seat
It is time to liberate your outdoor furniture from storage, and make any necessary repairs to torn upholstery and treat fading wooden pieces to a moisturising coat of oil. If your outdoor furniture has seen better days, it may be time to give yourself an early Christmas gift and invest in a new set. Think carefully about how you use your outdoor areas. Consider a table and chairs for al fresco dining, sun loungers for beside the pool, outdoor bean bags made from quality nautical fabric, and occasional stools and coffee tables for relaxing in the shade. Then consider the various configurations that best allow for high traffic areas, and designate different zones with an outdoor rug.
Clear the Decks
Attending to maintenance at the beginning of the season will stand you in good stead for the rest of summer so you can fully enjoy the good life at home. If you have a timber deck or porch, a fresh lick of paint or stain will revitalise these spaces. Hiring a water blaster from your local home depot is an easy and effective way to refresh concrete patios, driveways and paths. If you have a pool, now is the time to ensure all the pumps are working and the pool chemicals are balanced.
It's that time of year to get planting and re-potting to create the ultimate lush outdoor oasis. Potted plants, shrubs, herbs and flowers can add a burst of colour to otherwise unadorned spaces, and, if space is at a premium, walled or vertical gardens can be created with relative ease to camouflage unsightly fences. Hang trailing plants in baskets or woven macramé hangers to add interest and soften architectural features.
Keep an immaculate lush lawn all year round with a smart automated mowing system, or for smaller areas consider laying artificial grass, which looks as good as the real thing with no maintenance or watering required.
For more substantial, long-lasting additions that will completely transform your outdoor living spaces, you may wish to enlist the services of a seasoned landscape architect. Choose a company that offers the complete design package, from plant selection, to hardscaping, to installation of pergolas, louvres, swimming pools, built-in barbeques and outdoor fireplaces. Or, for the Kiwi DIY approach, there are fabulous design blogs to browse where you’ll find endless inspiration to spark your creativity.
Mike Pero Real Estate Ltd
Licensed REAA (2008)
A Property's True Worth
Understanding the real value of your home, and how it is calculated, will help you establish expectations when it comes to sale time.
Naturally, sellers want top dollar for their homes, but overpricing can prove just as detrimental as underpricing. The old saying ‘you can always come down but you can’t go up’ is somewhat misguided when it comes to effectively marketing a property, and sometimes the cost of a missed opportunity far outweighs a minor price adjustment on your property’s asking price.
Gauging the Market
Assuming you engage a licensed real estate agent to sell your home, you will most likely receive a Comparative Market Appraisal (CMA) to help you and your agent establish the most appropriate price. A real estate agent is legally obliged to produce a CMA; so, in the unlikely event you don’t receive one, bring this matter to the agent’s attention or ask to speak with the manager, as this is a breach of the Real Estate Agents Act.
The purpose of a CMA, which includes a number of recent sales in the geographical vicinity of your property, is to give you a reference point in order to establish your property’s value. For certain categories, such as high-end properties, the scope may need to be widened to include the whole city – to compare, for example, all high value properties, manors or sprawling historical properties.
The value you arrive at will take into account a series of factors including: location, perspective, land size, dwelling size, age, quality, and so on. It is often difficult to be objective with your own home because you know all the extra effort and money you have invested in the property over the years - details that are often overlooked or of no consequence to potential buyers.
No two houses are identical in every respect, so it’s up to you and your agent to work together to reach an agreed value of your home. When you do arrive at an ‘ideal value’, it is important to consider the absolute ‘rock bottom’ price you would accept.
All going well, your eventual sale price will be somewhere between the two, and on a good day it could be even more than you anticipated. The most common, and successful, way to exceed your expectations is by going to auction. You may have a figure in mind before auction day; but if there is fierce competition for your home, and if the emotions of bidders are running high, then it could well be your lucky day.
A Property’s True Worth
There are many things that you can do to prepare your home for sale such as tidying the garden, decluttering, spring cleaning, and carrying out repairs and maintenance.
However, these days the expectations of buyers are very high and if you want to sell your home quickly and for the maximum price, you need to make sure that your home looks great and appeals to the right buyers – remember you only get one chance to do it right!
Why not break the monotony of winter this year by working on some home improvement projects!
Some of these easy and inexpensive winter projects will not only make your home more comfortable to live in and save you money on your utility bills, but will make your home more saleable and even increase your property value.
Adding insulation may not make a difference to the look of your home, but it will make a difference to your power bill, and it will make your home more comfortable and healthy to live in. Today, a well-insulated home is often considered a necessity by many homebuyers so it is worthwhile insulating the ceiling and underfloor of your home, followed by the walls if you can.
Is your carpet threadbare? Are your hardwood floors damaged, draughty and freezing your feet? Installing underlay and carpet is a great winter project because it will increase the comfort of your home dramatically, and you will save money on your power bills.
Re-painting rooms, or re-touching and spot painting walls and interior doors is an easy way to modernise and freshen up the look and feel of your home. Professional painters tend to slow down over winter, so it can be a budget friendly time to consider painting a couple of rooms, or you may have left over paint that you can use for the touch up jobs.
Update the bathroom & kitchen
Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes! There are plenty of ways to update and modernise these rooms on a budget which are easy for the do-it-yourselfer, and can be completed over the winter months. Updates such as a fresh coat of paint, replacing dated cabinet and drawer fronts, handles, lights and faucets, removing or replacing stained or moldy grout and damaged flooring will make a big difference.
Rainy, cold days means more time inside, time which you can be used to declutter and re-organise your home. Put aside some time every week and focus on an area or room at a time so that you get each space looking exactly how you want it.
Make use of unused or redundant spaces
While you are decluttering and organising your home, look at how you can make use of redundant or un-used spaces. These spaces around the home can be transformed, or assimilated into another room to create a wardrobe or a home office niche and will make your home more saleable when it comes time to sell.
So, rather than hibernate in front of the TV this Winter, spend the Winter months working on some easy home improvement projects. It is a great way to keep yourself active over Winter, your home will be more comfortable to live in and more saleable when you decide to put your home on the market.
HOME STAGING IS WORTH CONSIDERING!
Home stagers are similar to interior decorators, except they are not focused on creating a home that suits your personal taste, instead they are skilled at creating the right first impression of your home.
They will work out the right look for your house as a whole, as well as room by room, so that your home appeals to a broad range of tastes, and is perfectly positioned for the type of buyer that will be most attracted to your property.
They may suggest a full staging of your home or simply to replace the odd piece of furniture, and to rearrange the layout, with the focus more on decluttering and assessing what works and doesn’t work.
They may even recommend repairs and help add finishing touches before photos are taken or for open home showings.Some of the reasons why you should consider home staging when selling your home include:MAKE YOUR HOME EASIER TO SELL
Home Stagers will help make your home look its best in photos, and photos are the best way to market a home!
Whether the photos are online, in print, or on TV, if your property looks great in the photos, it will attract more buyers to ask for information, and come along to the open homes.
MAKE YOUR HOME STAND OUT FROM THE COMPETITION
Home Staging will help differentiate your home from other homes for sale in your local area or within a similar price range.
When a staged home looks great and is move in ready, home buyers will be impressed and competing homes will pale by comparison.
HELP SELL YOUR HOME FASTER AND FOR A HIGHER PRICE
Presenting your home at its very best will attract more viewers to your open homes. The more people through the door and the greater the buzz, the more likely you are to get an offer and a higher price.
SAVE YOU MONEY
Yes, a home staged right could help save you money on expensive renovations like removing walls, painting rooms or installing new carpet. A staged home, using artwork and floor coverings can freshen up a tired space, and by putting in the right scale furniture you can maximize space and demarcate specific areas.
Your Real Estate agent will help to guide you. If you do decide to hire a home stager, make sure that you shop around and get quotes, as there are plenty of companies providing this service and they all have different options available. It is also important to check out their portfolio of work beforehand, as every home stager has a different style and different furniture available for hire.
A partial stage could cost as little as $1,000, but the average tends to be around $3,000 to $4,000.
Easy Winter Home Improvement Projects that will add value and help sell your home!
Selling Your Home in Winter has its Advantages
Autumn is here and Winter is not far away so you may be thinking that it is better to wait until Spring before you look to put your house on the market.
Think again, there are some advantages to selling your home during Winter. Your local Real Estate Agent will help guide you, but Winter can be a great time to sell! Here are some reasons why:
There are Buyers, Even in Winter!
There are always buyers in the market. Life changes that cause buyers to look for a new home occur all year round, not just during Spring & Summer – a new job, growing family or downsizing, marital changes.
Fewer Homes on the Market Means Less Competition
There are usually fewer homes on the market in winter which means less competition and a better chance of your home standing out.
Buyers who are out looking during the winter months are extremely motivated. People willing to brave the cold and wet weather are serious about finding a home and are more likely to be qualified and pre-approved for a mortgage.
Better Price For Your Home
Because there are less homes for sale, if you market your home right you have the potential to get a better price for your home.
Here are a few tips to help make your home look appealing during the Winter Season:
- Ensure the outside of your house looks well maintained by washing down the exterior, water blast paths and driveways, clean gates, latches & hinges, clean out roof guttering, wash windows so maximum light comes in, and ensure all outdoor lighting is working and on during viewings.
- Make sure that the garden has been cut back and cleared of leaves & debris, lawns have been mowed and all edges are tidy. Provide photos of what the garden looks like during the Spring and Summer months.
- On entering your home you want buyers to feel warm and cosy. Put on all heating including fires, underfloor and bathroom heating. Make sure there is a front door mat to wipe feet, request that shoes are removed and have storage for umbrellas.
- Turn on all lights in the house to create a bright and welcoming environment. Make sure that any dehumidifiers and washing are put away and that essential oils are used to mask any winter smells.
Six Things to do Before Selling Your Property
The Importance of Marketing Your Home
Your marketing campaign will springboard your property into the spotlight, so it’s imperative that you and the real estate company you choose gets it right! An effectively marketed home will often sell in a shorter amount of time and often for a higher price!
Here are some of the things you need to know when marketing your home.
The most important part of selling your property is ensuring that the market knows it is for sale. The greater the exposure a property has in the market, the greater the number of buyers who will be aware of the listing.
To achieve a premium price for your property, you need to create, a perception that your property is fairly priced, a degree of urgency, competition amongst prospective buyers and emotional attachment to the purchasing of your home.
If you want your property to stand out from other properties in the local area or within the same price range, it needs to be in the limelight – you need to go the extra mile and go to the market with trumpets, flags and the bells ringing!
Advertising is an investment and it will only increase the value of your home. Consider that $1,000 might return an extra $2,000 to your final sale price, or it could mean and extra $5,000 or a quicker sale.
Professional photography, attractive signage, and well written copy all have the ability to alter the way a buyer perceives the property and the value of the property.
As a rule of thumb, most agents in New Zealand are of the view that you should consider investing between 0.5% and 1% of the asking price for your property in your marketing campaign. Views vary here and your agent will advise you on what Marketing best fits within your budget and what Marketing will benefit you the most.
There are many marketing options that will be presented to you, such as:
- Professional Photos
- For Sale Signs
- Property Publications
- Local or community Newspapers
You need a real estate company that not only uses all of the traditional marketing mediums that you would expect, but some innovative ways as well. Marketing online, on social networks or on TV are all great ways to reach extra potential buyers.
Listen carefully to the marketing options that your agent will present to you, and don’t think that advertising is just another cost.
You’ll get one chance to make a first impression, so do it once and do it well. An under-investment in marketing can end up costing you more in the long run. The right marketing campaign will both save and make you money.
Set The Stage
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. So when you’re selling your home, it’s vital that you have it looking its absolute best. Your house matters!
Staging your property successfully can help your home appeal to a wider audience which can ultimately see your home sell faster and for a higher price. Whether you are planning to hire a pro or want to learn a few tricks of the trade, these ideas, as well as tips from Rebeka Raiwalui-Mason from home staging company In-House Style, will lend a helping hand to ensure your home is looking its finest.
Clear the Clutter
When you decide to sell your home, it presents a brilliant opportunity to have a thorough clean out - because your house matters. It’s important that your home is orderly, and there is no better way to achieve this than by clearing out the clutter. A simple tidy up can make a remarkable difference because clutter can not only distract the eye and detract from your home’s major selling points, but it can also make a space look considerably smaller. Once the clutter is out of sight, it will be much easier to showcase certain aspects of your home. Rebeka suggests everything from water blasting the exterior to cleaning the oven, as prospective buyers are going to be looking at everything in detail. She also suggests hiring a professional cleaning service to minimise stress.
Neat and Neutral
You should aim to keep everything relatively neutral - this will broaden appeal with your audience and present somewhat of a blank canvas so prospective purchasers can visualise themselves in the home. A key to assisting in this process is by eliminating personal photos and replacing these with the likes of artwork or other decorator accents, such as a vase, a vessel or candle holder. Rebeka advises that you shouldn’t be afraid to temporarily remove dated, loud or busy window treatments. A room can instantly look more up to date, lighter and neutral just by taking down curtains that buyers may ﬁnd distracting.
Potential buyers are going to be your biggest critics and while you may have become accustomed to the dripping tap, it is something that will appear on their radar. Simple repairs include fixing creaky doors and filling in tiles where grout may be missing. Rebeka’s tip is that you shouldn’t forget the exterior of your property because this is the very ﬁrst thing buyers will see. Walk around your property and make a list of any jobs that need completing. To give yourself more time and to reduce stress, she recommends hiring a gardener before the photos are taken and before the ﬁrst open home.
New Years Resolutions
IT’S A NEW YEAR AND A GREAT TIME TO SET LARGE GOALS SUCH AS BUYING A NEW HOUSE OR INVESTMENT PROPERTY.
The start of a new year is a great time to set some good financial goals such as buying a new house or an investment property. To achieve these large goal’s, you will need to set a number of smaller financial goals and like anything it will require effort and discipline.
As you plan and set goals for the new year here is a list of smaller financial goals that you should consider doing:
START A BUDGET
Budgeting is one of the key things you can do to be financially successful. A budget may sound boring and restrictive however it is crucial to record your money coming in such as salary or investment income, versus your money going out like rent, food and other expenses, and that the money going out does not exceed the money coming in!
Setting up a budget is easy, you simply need to track your finances for a month, by the end of the month you will have a good indication of your regular outgoings and expenses, and you will also see how much money you have left over to put towards saving for a house or investment property.
The key to a good budget and to save money to buy a house or investment property is to plan where you are going to spend your money, then consider which expenses you can live without and where you can potentially make some savings, then work out a realistic amount you can save each month and STICK TO IT ALL YEAR!
GET OUT OF DEBT
Getting out of debt is one of the most important things you can do to help you take control of your finances. By focusing on repaying high interest store and credit card debt you will significantly reduce the amount of interest you pay and it will give you the freedom to do the things that you want to do – like saving to buy a house or investment property.
It may take some sacrifice to make it happen, but it is worth the effort. You should start by setting up a debt payment plan. Sit down and carefully record al your debts, work out how much you owe and how much have to pay each month. Then look at ways to start reducing these debts as quickly as possible.
A good place to start is to limit your credit card spending and pay back existing card debt as quickly as possible, credit card interest rates are high and you’ll often find you might be paying only the interest each month rather than reducing your overall debt.
Some other ways to get out of debt are to sell items, reduce spending, or even get a temporary second job to pay off debt.
CONSOLIDATE YOUR DEBTS
If you are feeling the weight and stress of managing multiple debt repayments, then debt consolidation may be the solution that helps you move forward with peace of mind.
Consolidating your payments is a simple way to keep on top of your finances. You can combine your existing credit, personal and even vehicle debts into one easy loan. That way, you have one interest rate and one manageable repayment coming out of your account each month.
So you’ve set a budget, tracked all of your financial income and outgoings, worked out how you can cut your spending and are managing your debt. Not it is time so see how much you can SAVE!
The aim is to save as much as possible by setting realistic goals and sticking to them. Find ways to save like sacrificing a few dinners or lunches out a month, as well as reducing your grocery bill and household expenses.
Saving will bring you closer to your future goal of buying a new home or an investment property. They will also provide you with peace of mind. By having some extra money set aside, you are able to cover yourself in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
Be honest. Don’t lie to yourself about what you spend or earn each month. Ask a friend or family member for help or seek expert advice from an independent source.
Remember that there are many people in a similar boat – so don’t bury your head in the sand