How to sell your house in the Covid-19 environment

Timing is everything – as they say – and for those selling, or about to sell their houses, earlier this year the COVID-19 pandemic raised a unique set of challenges. Should you keep it on the market, or take a break and wait until later in the year? If you choose to sell now, open homes and auctions are allowed so at least that part is easy. Of course, the most important question is, ‘if you sell now, will you get the price you’re looking for?’ In March everyone’s head was abuzz with such questions. Now, as we approach mid-year, many of those questions have been answered and there is finally breathing space to make decisions about what to do next.

In the early stages of restrictions, there was a definite reduction beyond the normal number of homes for sale. With auctions banned for a 4-week period across the country, inevitably auction sales volumes showed significant drops. As May kicked off, however, some states started to ease back into auctions, with the rest expected to follow suit before winter begins. Despite the interruptions to market activity, house prices continued to rise and, according to CoreLogic, may only show a decline of around 10% from peak to trough. This is good news for those vendors itching to get things moving, but anxious to not put a foot wrong in an uncertain environment. “Chances are we will still see housing values remain relatively resilient to this downturn” explains CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless. “As long as Coronavirus is contained within three to six months”.

So, with that in mind, how do you sell moving forward? First of all, contact your agent for immediate support and advice about the next steps. They will be across the updated status of restrictions on a daily basis and can advise you immediately how best to proceed. All states and territories were quick to respond as restrictions were announced, with physical distancing and hygiene measures implemented immediately; along with alternative strategies for viewing properties and interacting with agents, vendors and buyers. Most of these digital strategies are now no longer needed, but you may still find some rental properties are difficult to access physically.

We have had key COVID-19 health protocols in place throughout the restriction period. Adjustments will be made as information about the progress of the pandemic becomes available, but it’s still possible and viable to sell your house, by following the strategies below:

1. Boost your online marketing – Agents are encouraging all prospective buyers to view properties online before requesting physical inspections – and online activity is up by about 40%. This means home staging, professional quality photography, 3D floor plans and virtual tours have become more important than ever. Your agent can refer you to trusted professionals they’ve used previously, and give you some tips about what would work best for your property.

2. Embrace technology to communicate – we are interacting online now like never before and avoiding unnecessary in-person interactions will continue to be a more sensible choice. Embrace phone and video calls, video conferencing and an estate agency’s online systems to manage discussions and negotiations.

3. Understand physical distancing at inspections – When you do visit an open home inspection, all First National Real Estate agents will have strict protocols in place. Attendees will be asked if they have recently returned from overseas, if they have been living with somebody who is self-isolating, and if they have any flu-like symptoms. Everyone in attendance will be instructed to maintain 1.5 metres distance between themselves and others at all times and we’ll ask you not to open any cupboards or touch anything.

4. Engage with hand and surface hygiene – there’ll be no handshakes like the good old days. Also, no touching of surfaces within the property. This means your agent will need to open things on request for the prospective buyers such as cupboards, doors, ovens, and windows. Although sanitisation stations are not compulsory, consider the risk and decide accordingly. Hand sanitiser dispensers are easier to come by now and a squirt on entry and exit has become commonplace in many businesses across the country. With all of this in mind, it’s worth having a frank discussion with your agent about the risks involved and weighing up the necessity to hold an open home.

5. Know the maximum attendance numbers – as home inspections once again became possible it was still required that the government’s recommendations on a maximum number of people in a given space were adhered to. State by state the numbers have varied, but as of early June, they are as follows:

NSW maximum of 50 people inside the property at once, including the agent
QLD maximum of 20 people inside the property at once, plus agency staff. On the 12th of June, this will increase to 20 people.
SA maximum of 10 people inside the property at once, including the agent
TAS maximum of 80 people inside the property at once, plus agency staff
VIC maximum of 20 people inside the property at once, plus agency staff.
WA maximum of 10 people inside the property at once, including the agent

DISCLAIMER
The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions. 




5 Tips to Puppy Proof your Home

Moving into a new home is an emotional time. After being squashed into a place that was ‘just what you can afford’ for so long, now you have space and permission to do what you like and really make it your own. Once things are unpacked, the pictures hung and your new neighbourhood explored, it’s not uncommon to start to feel like something is missing. Maybe it doesn’t feel quite as much like ‘home’ as you were expecting, or maybe you are ready to take the next step and care for someone else now. A new baby may be too much of a commitment, but a pet can be ‘just the right amount of life changing’ as a transitory step to actual parenthood.

There are plenty of options for pets for beginners – from goldfish and terrapins to cats and guinea pigs. Nothing says home though as much as an adorable puppy dog racing to the door to meet you each day. Dogs offer unconditional love and companionship and are known for being instinctive to human emotions, so can be a great support and company, especially if you live alone. There are plenty of breeds to choose from to suit whatever size home you have – even those with limited outdoor space. Some aspects of your lifestyle will change however as a puppy needs to be trained and supported until it grows into its new family and environment. The rewards are well worth the investment, however, and as long as you keep these 5 tips in mind, the two of you will be well into the happily-ever-after stage before you know it. 

1. Safety first   

Many of the strategies parents use to childproof their home come in handy with puppies too. Before the puppy moves in, go through every room in the house and deal with any things that might present a safety risk. All cords should be well out of reach or firmly secured in chew proof tubing. Doors and cupboards that may be easily accessible should have childproof latches attached and everyone in the house trained to keep the toilet lid down (or just latch it).  Blocking off areas you don’t want them to go into can be useful too – rather than dealing with the mess just don’t give them access. Child safety gates work fine here.

2.  Chew proofing

One of the ways puppies explore their new environment is by chewing through everything that stands in their way. They will also chew anything that smells like you, which in your bedroom is basically everything. From toilet rolls to Prada heels, TV remotes to chair legs – nothing is sacred and the damage can be devastating. The saying ‘the dog ate my homework’ is not a work of fiction after all. Habits such as kicking your shoes off on the floor, or draping your jacket over a chair when you get home, or leaving wardrobe doors open, should be changed immediately. Every new thing or space is a chance for them to indulge their curiosity. Keep lids on rubbish bins and waste paper baskets, and scraps of carpet secured temporarily around furniture legs or edges will prevent them becoming pseudo chew toys. Distraction such as actual chew toys can be a great help.

3. Choke and swallow proofing

Just as you need to remove things so the dog can’t chew them, you should remove things for their own safety too. The condition called pica is common amongst many puppies, causing them to eat things that are not food. Just like children, the list of things dogs will get into their mouths is endless and if they can’t chew it, they may swallow it instead which presents a choking hazard. Buckets of clothes pegs, remote controls with loose backs that could easily release batteries, socks, earrings, razors, light globes, dental floss, sofa cushions and more. There are so many things that get randomly left around the house that can present sincere danger. You only have to google ‘things dogs have swallowed’ to get a sense of the possibilities. As is the case for children you should also keep poisons cupboards locked and dangerous liquids and objects well out of reach. If your puppy has swallowed something they shouldn’t have there are some clear signs, and it may be worth considering pet insurance before your puppy gets into too much trouble.

4. Toilet training

If your dog is inside a lot of the time they will need a routine when it comes to toileting. Start toilet training your puppy as soon as they move in, remembering that consistency is key and establishing a routine will get you both into a good rhythm and reduce the frequency of ‘accidents’ in the home. Your puppy should be taken outside first thing in the morning and last thing at night and be able to access an outside area regularly throughout the day. Identifying a spot in the garden they can use every time is useful too and if they do go inside by mistake, make sure you clean it well so they can’t identify it later for a repeat performance. Never, and we mean never, rub your puppy’s nose in any accidental messes it has made. Reward outside toileting immediately with small treats and plenty of praise.

5.  Dog vibes

Sometimes a dog becomes another part of the furniture and sometimes the dog takes over the entire house, giving new meaning to the term ‘dog person’. Putting protective rugs over sofas can reduce clumps of unsightly hair accumulating and training the dog to go to the toilet outside will minimise smells in the home. The comparison with children is again useful – is it a house that children live in or the children’s house? If toys and dog paraphernalia are strewn all over the house, not only does your house look untidy and potentially put people off from visiting, it also teaches the dog they have some ownership of the space – which they do not. Have a designated box with a lid for puppy toys (this keeps them tidied away and also contains smells that some much loved dog toys can accumulate. Wash soft toys and blankets regularly and get fresh air in the house to minimise the smell of wet dog/dog pee/dog food/hairy dog and so on. Yes, they are adorable but they are also still an animal so pay attention to the basics and the two of you will be loved up in domestic bliss with a long and happy future together ahead of you.

DISCLAIMER

The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions.




Renovation Ideas to Increase Your Property Value

 

When the time comes to sell your home, it’s a good idea to freshen up the place a little. Some simple home renovations can improve the overall property value and ensure you get the best price when you sell. 

Curbside Appeal Improves First Impressions

The first thing to consider with any property is what kind of first impression it gives. Think about what improvements can be made at the front of the house to start with – the fencing, the garden, the entry – then move inside and make a list of what could be updated from room to room. Base your decisions on what you think will improve the emotional appeal of the property; this will become someone’s home after all, so the overall impact should be one of inspiration, that creates a desire to live there. 

Simplify Colour Schema to Increase your Home Value

Changing the colour scheme of your home from dark colours to light colours, or even simply making everything one matching shade can make a huge difference There are plenty of small things you can do that will transform a space for very little cost. Add some contrast by repainting skirting boards, window frames and door frames. Go on, you can even paint the fence over a weekend as well.

Bathrooms often need attention, but a full-scale renovation is not always necessary. Replace small dark tiles with larger light coloured ones to open up space and then change the showerheads and tap fittings to a more modern style. 

Home Climate Comforts

The non-essential luxuries that improve our lifestyle have become a key factor in increasing selling prices for many inner-city homes. A split heating/air conditioning system (which for many IS an essential) is a great addition to one or two rooms in the house, as are simple things like ceiling fans or even heated towel rails.

Smart Home Devices can Modernise your Home

Investing in new appliances and smart technology like a Google Home, ring.com doorbell security system or smart LED lights controlled by your phone will appeal to technology lovers looking to buy your home.

Outdoor Living Areas Increase Property Values

Creating an extra living area by renovating an outdoor space is a great way of increasing your property value, as well as improving its emotional appeal. Adding a timber deck off the back door, or even knocking out the kitchen wall and replacing it with French or bi-fold doors to the garden could be the first step.

Open Up

Lifestyles have changed and the open plan home has become a staple on the housing market in recent decades. Taking out a wall between a kitchen and a dining room to create an open plan family space will almost always improve the value of the house. It will also improve the spatial dynamics of the property as well as bring in more light and air. Consider knocking down walls between two small bedrooms and adding a second bathroom, or a walk-in closet or dressing room, to create a master suite or a parents’ retreat.

Renovations Improve Perceived Value of Property

Remember, any changes you make should contribute to making a great impression and improving the emotional appeal of the property. The key thing to keep in mind is that the actual cost of the renovations creates a much higher perceived value than the budget you allocated. Make sure the choices you make regarding renovations will have a positive impact on your investment – you want bang for your buck so that you can get the best price for your property.

Home renovations are not just about building new rooms, but also about making general improvements. Even small, inexpensive changes can add value to your property and make sure that first impression counts.

DISCLAIMER

The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions.