'Buyers like to add value': Tips and tricks to get the best price when selling your house

According to Ray White chief operating officer Daniel Coulson, kitchens, bathrooms and wardrobes sell houses.
According to Ray White chief operating officer Daniel Coulson, kitchens, bathrooms and wardrobes sell houses. Photo credit: Getty.

It’s a seller’s market: Due to COVID-19, record-low interest rates have made it cheap to borrow and unattractive to save. Expats returning home and increased activity from first home buyers and investors have put pressure on housing stock, driving up prices. 

Although skyrocketing house prices make it difficult for buyers, they also put pressure on sellers. Homeowners selling to upgrade or downsize are usually selling and buying in the same market. Some commit to purchasing a new home before selling their existing one.

Homeowners wanting to get the best price on their home should focus on the fences, gardens, kitchen and bathroom/s. They also shouldn’t be afraid to leave a job for the new owners to do, real estate agents say.

Ray White chief operating officer Daniel Coulson, said it’s important sellers don’t go overboard personalising their home. Leaving a job for the new owners also isn’t a bad idea.

"The trick with preparing a property for sale is staying away from personalising the home too much: it should have as broad appeal as possible," Coulson said. 

"Most buyers like the idea of being able to 'add some value', it can actually be beneficial to leave something for the next owner to do," he added.

Focus on street appeal, the kitchen, bathroom/s and wardrobes

As first impressions are at the curbside, there are a few simple ways sellers can add value.

"Affordable options for maximising value include tidying gardens and paving, fixing up the front fence and painting the front door," Coulson said. 

Homeowners with bigger budgets and more time could focus on upgrading the kitchen, bathroom/s and wardrobes.

"Kitchens, bathrooms and wardrobes sell houses...at the more simple end, simply replacing cabinet fronts and handles can make a big difference to a kitchen (and bathroom) with a relatively small investment."

Barfoot and Thompson Auckland residential salesperson Wendy Sadd agrees that in addition to a clean and declutter, freshening up kitchens and bathrooms is a cost-effective way to add appeal.

"Whether it be a cupboard paint for a fresh look in the kitchen, a new kitchen or a new vanity and fresh grouting and sealant in the tiles, it makes a big difference in whether the house looks like it’s ready to live in or needs modernising," she said.

During COVID-19, pools became popular. But Sadd says not all people see a pool as an asset. Sellers should focus their spending on changes that add value.

"Turning a carport into a garage can be seen as an asset...adding a minor dwelling on a large site making a home and income can also be a way to up the yield of the property which is attractive to investors or buyers wanting a home and income," Sadd added.

How sellers can estimate their home’s value

Homeowners can get a feel for their home’s value by looking at current selling prices of comparable homes in their area.They can also get an appraisal or registered valuation on their existing home.

A property’s capital value (CV) was once used as a price guide. But Auckland CVs are now over three years’ old and don’t reflect current market value. In the Auckland suburb of Onehunga, homes recently sold up to 53 percent above CV.

"[For example] 51 Alfred Street in Onehunga was brought forward on $920,000 and sold under the hammer for $936,000 - $156,000 over the CV [and] 8 Ingram Road sold for a whopping 53 per cent over its CV at $4,525,000," Coulson said.

Homeowners considering buying a property before selling their current one should talk to their bank or mortgage broker first. They can look at how long homes in their area take to sell and try to negotiate a longer settlement date on the new one.

"Requesting a longer settlement when purchasing can provide you some time to get your property sold prior to settling on your new home," Coulson said.