Ask An Expert: When Should I Put My (Slightly Rundown) House On The Market?

Collage / Julia Gessler

Harcourts auctioneer and business development manager Travers Smyth helps a reader decide when to sell.

Q: I want to sell my house, but I’m unsure when. A real estate agent told me the lack of houses currently on the market means I’ll get plenty of people through the door, and

But my partner wants to wait until after the election when things are a bit more settled, and we’ve had a chance to do it up, as it needs work! How much should we do to get it ready, and when is the best time to sell?

A: Usually when people ask me that, I say, when’s best for you?

If you have to sell, you have to sell. I’d also ask, who is the likely buyer for your home? With interest rates and loan-to-value-ratio levels being what they are, there are investors in the market, but not an abundance of them. So if your property is geared a little more towards an investor you may wish to wait until after the election.

Traditionally, investors will take a bit of time — they usually sit on their hands and wait and see what happens in an election before they make any purchasing decisions.

If you don’t have time up your sleeve, and you think the house is better suited to a family buyer or owner-occupier, now’s good. I can genuinely say that now is better than what it was two months ago. The Reserve Bank has said they’re not going to be raising the Official Cash Rate, so mortgage rates have stabilised and they’re not likely to go any higher. That’s brought a bit of certainty to the market.

People can now purchase knowing that if they come off their fixed mortgage rate in a year, it’s likely to be the same figure or potentially even a little bit less than what they lock in now.

Over the past two months, we’ve definitely noticed a lot more activity in the market from the buying side. But listing volumes are still really low, which is a big plus for marketing your home at the moment. There’s not as much supply, not as much for buyers to choose from, but buyers are choosing to get on with it now.

We’re seeing a bit more competition between buyers too, which in some instances will relate to slightly stronger prices for some properties, but I think it’ll have more of an effect on reducing the days on market.

As for getting your house ready to sell, it depends on what state it’s in. I recently sold a deceased estate at auction that was pretty rough but there were a lot of bidders. So if it’s a complete do-up, you may be better off leaving it as it is.

Likewise, if it’s just a bit dated, in the current market conditions, I wouldn’t go ahead and do a renovation. You would maximise your sale price, but you wouldn’t necessarily get your money back.

The other risk is, if you go ahead and do it up, it may not be to the purchaser’s liking anyway. I recall selling a house that had been completely redone. The new owners ripped out the kitchen immediately when they moved in and redid it!

Money is best spent on negating any functional things that could lead to damage or further damage. So if the joinery is just a bit dated, I’d tend to leave it. If it was rotted in places, I would get that looked at — a patch-up and repaint would be the suggestion rather than going down the track of getting all new joinery done.

Elsewhere, you get a lot of bang for your buck with new paint and carpet.

Travers Smyth is an award-winning auctioneer and business development manager at Harcourts Cooper & Co.

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