Summer is the season when the interest of property buyers is usually at its highest, but that interest doesn’t necessarily translate into sales.
“People who are away on holiday at the end of the year, for example, might well take the time to look at some properties wherever they are staying with the idea of buying a second home there, or even relocating. But if they don’t see anything that really grabs their attention, they will probably have given up on the idea totally by the time they go home and back to their busy schedules,” says Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of BetterLife Home Loans, which is SA’s biggest mortgage originator.
Similarly, people whose children are leaving home after the summer might start looking around in anticipation of downsizing to a smaller, more manageable home, but if you don’t have great listings to show them right away, they will very likely also just shelve their plans and ask you to contact them again “sometime next year, after the holidays”, he says.
“And those who are considering an upgrade to a larger home – and more expense – are likely to be even more cautious about making a purchase decision now, and to possibly drop right out of the market again once the festive season bills and annual fee increase notifications start to roll in during January.”
That would leave only those who have “no choice” but to buy now because they are relocating for work or for family reasons - and even they might decide to rather rent for a while if they don’t see anything they like right away.
“In other words,” notes Rademeyer, “you could actually be facing a significant drop in your income after summer, which is when the transfers of whatever you sell now should be registered. In addition, you run the risk of losing your current mandates because owners are disappointed that their homes did not sell in the high season.”
So clearly, you need to take charge of your listings now and give them the best chance of selling within the next few weeks – even if you have to put in a lot of extra effort to make sure the properties “show” well. Here’s where to start:
Ask your sellers to ensure that you are able to show potential buyers a clean and clutter-free property. Explain why this is vital and if necessary, connect them to your favourite cleaning company and removal crew so that excess furniture and goods will be gone before you schedule your first viewings.
Help your sellers to make their property aspirational – suggest how they can best present the lifestyle the property offers, and make buyers want that lifestyle, as well as the rooms on offer. If necessary, bring in an expert to style the property on show days and give them guidelines for other viewings.
Manage the first impressions. Have figures on hand to show sellers how much difference a neat exterior could make to their bottom line and that a fresh coat of paint is always money well spent. Once again, if necessary, you should be able to connect them to a reliable painter, a good garden service and an excellent handyman who can quickly and affordably effect any repairs necessary to the roof, gutters, outdoor lights and garage door, for example.
Showcase functionality. Buyers also want to be able to see how a home would actually work for them and their family, so listen to their needs and try to show them listings that match these as closely as possible. Don’t show them properties that are much bigger or smaller than they want, or which are older when they asked for a new home – unless the older home has been completely renovated and you check with them first.
Add value. If there are any awkward or unused spaces in a property, for example, try to suggest how they could be turned into useful areas that would add value for a buyer. Similarly, if you are showing a home to out-of-town buyers, make sure you have a fact sheet available that lists the advantages of the area as well as the details of the property – and gives the distances to good schools, shops, sports clubs, public transport, hospitals and places of worship. They are much more likely to buy your listing if they can immediately see that this is an area that would suit them.