Saturday October 6, 2012
Inexpensive ways to increase your home’s resale value
By EUGENE MAHALINGAM
WHEN it comes to selling your home, the old adage “location, location, location” is the mantra for success.
However, a strategically located property is not the only criterion for getting the best resale value for your home. First impressions can speak volumes for potential buyers when they walk into a house that's up for sale, and for many, appearances can either make or break a deal.
That's where home-staging comes in.
According to US-based property website HomeBuyingInstitute.com, home-staging is the act of preparing a home (and its contents) for sale, with a special emphasis on presentation and appearance.
“Staging a home for sale normally involves things of an aesthetic nature, such as design, organisation and overall appearance (as opposed to mechanical or functional improvements),” it says.
The website says that the goal of staging is to improve the home's appearance in the eyes of potential buyers, with the ultimate goal of selling the home more quickly and for the highest possible price.
The concept of home-staging is popular especially among countries in the West. In Malaysia, however, the idea hasn't quite taken off at least not officially.
“In Malaysia, the mindset is a little different. A seller rarely spends money to spruce up a property before selling it because the new buyer will almost always tear it down and end up making new changes to it,” says Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) deputy president Siva Shanker.
“Sadly, the house is like a tong sampah (rubbish bin) and will just end up being sold in the condition of a tong sampah,” he enthuses.
MIEA president Nixon Paul concurs that the concept of home-staging is rare in Malaysia.
“It's rarely done. In the secondary property market, if the buyer is still staying in the property, then he might clean it up a bit. But if the house is empty (if the seller is not living there), nothing will be done.”
Siva however notes that “home-staging” in Malaysia is done to an extent when estate agents host open houses, or when developers have an official property launch.
“When developers have an official launch, the showhouse will usually look quite amazing. A lot of design and ideas, often worth hundreds and thousands of ringgit, are put into it.
“The prospective buyer will end up buying an empty shell. But when he sees the developer's showhouse, he is fuelled into thinking that he can also do the same thing. In Malaysia, developers have perfected the home-staging concept into a fine art. But among individuals, it's not so popular.”
Still, the smart seller should realise that a cleaner, better-looking house would be more appealing than one that looks dirty or run down. And unlike the developers' version of fine-art staging, individual home-staging doesn't have to cost you a bomb.
The following are some simple, relatively inexpensive home-staging ideas that can help you boost your property's resale appeal.
Clean it up
According to an article by American real estate magazine Homes & Land, when it comes to home staging, less is more.
“Few things are less attractive than clutter and one of the first lessons of proper home staging is to clear out the clutter. Clutter is not only visually unappealing, but it makes the house feel smaller and less spacious.
“Additionally, clutter makes it difficult for prospective buyers to visualise their own furniture and belonging in the home a critical step to making a sale,” it says.
One industry observer says a fresh coat of paint can also help spruce up the appearance of a property.
“It makes your house look clean and new. Also, painting the walls with bright colours, especially white, helps make a room look bigger then it actually is,” she says.
Siva also says anything that's broken should be fixed or replaced as soon as possible.
According to online financial website Bankrate.com, packing away personal items is one of the simplest and cheapest ways one can do to help sell their house.
“The reason you want to de-personalise' your home is because you want buyers to view it as their potential home.
“Prospective buyers won't be able to picture themselves in the house if they're surrounded by dozens of photos of your children and grandparents,” it says.
Set the mood
When inviting potential buyers into the house that you wish to sell, one should strive to make the experience as pleasant and comfortable as possible, says Nixon.
“When you bring in prospective buyers, you should turn on the air-conditioning and play soft, soothing music to make the atmosphere comfortable. This is so that when people walk in, it's a feel-good experience.”
One industry observer points out that the home should not feel “stuffy.”
“If you have no air-conditioning, open up the windows to let in fresh air. If everything is closed, there could be a stale smell and this will put off prospective buyers.”
According to an online article by Canada-based interior design and home-staging firm, Design Decor Staging, the first thing potential buyers feel in a house is the way a house smells.
“It is wonderful if they sense pleasant freshness or light home aroma. Odours are linked to memory and affect our emotions and interpretation of the reality,” it says.
In countries like the United States, smell plays an important role in home-staging.
“Take advantage of the sense of smell to make your home the most memorable,” according to Homes & Land.
A good home-staging technique is to bake fresh cookies or bread to give the house a family home-like feel, it says, while the usage of fresh flowers and leather top the list of indoor fragrances associated with luxury.