Life is in stages and phases. At some point in a person’s lives there arises the need to move from one point or thing to the other. This move could be intentional or by virtue of other external factors. It is the same with owning properties too. Property here refers to Real Estate; domestic and commercial.
In the Real Estate business it is very normal to sell properties. Some of these properties may have sentimental value, especially homes or may not. Whatever connection you have with your property, when the time comes to let it go, make sure it is worth your while. Because, it will come back to you in a way that will make you question your decision.
I have seen many people sell a property and later regretted the value they sold it for. Apparently they could have gotten more value to compensate for their sentimental connection and investment worth. In the subsequent paragraphs we will look at what to do before selling your property.
Every Property Has Value
Take note that every property has value. This value comes in many forms apart monetary. The sum of all the values of a property also includes its location, design, documentation, attraction, usability (purpose) and identity (what it represents). The value also includes former and prospective occupants, quality of building materials, energy conservation, and expandability among others.
The time and circumstances leading to a sale can also affect value. For instance if you are in debt and the property is to be used to offset the debt, the value will vary from selling at your own convenience.
It is for this reason that anyone planning to sell his property must do well to maximize value before putting it on the market. Understanding the various elements that make up the value of your property will inform how you position the property to increase its value; be it a home or a commercial property.
To this end, making changes to your property to reflect its real value before you sell is definitely a great way to increase the value of your home. This will boost the buyer’s interest and maximize the eventual sale price. Do not underestimate the little things because they keep the property from selling. These could range from worn-out carpeting, exotic paint colors or worn-out paints, an old kitchen or washroom designs etc.
They certainly do not affect the structural integrity of your property, but those issues may cause potential buyers to overlook your property and move on to buy another that has a better look. If you’re eager to for instance sell your house and move on to a bigger, better home, you may want to make a few of these changes before you call a realtor or potential client.
If you spend time and effort in improving the value of your property, you will be rewarded with a faster sale as the house will become attractive to potential buyers. Getting a faster sale means you will be getting back the money you spent on renovation in no time.
Invite an Expert to Have a Look
In Ghana, the mention of experts scares many. But truth be told, lack of information and expert advice can cost you more than what the expert takes. The role of the expert is to bring your property to a value position that makes it comfortable to pay for his or her services and still make much more than you would have made on your own.
You can invite a Realtor, Valuer (Licensed Surveyor), Civil Engineer, Lawyer and an Interior Designer over to check out your property. These groups of people have expertise and an eye that can see things in your property that you might not normally notice. The slightest suggestions from them, such as paint colors, switch changes, door replacements, window shades etc can go a long way toward improving the look, feel and value of your property.
They may discover hidden problems that could negatively impact your home’s value. Just as small suggestions can improve value, small problems like a hidden water leak, broken door knob, defaced ceiling boards etc. can also reduce value of your property and turn buyers away.
A good local estate agent can be able to shed light on features that make the most difference when selling in your area. Thus, features that buyers look out for when buying a property like yours. He or she will know what increases the value of a house, and exactly which of these tasks should be prioritized, taking your local market competition into consideration.
A valuer can also tell you which portions of your property need a makeover to increase the value. A civil engineer can suggest the best and cost effective ways of making these changes. With already furnished properties, the interior or property designer can be of great help. While a Lawyer can facilitate the purchase agreement to ensure a win-win situation for parties.
In the situation where you are under pressure, these experts can help you make the most of the little time and peculiar conditions you have at hand. If employing these experts may be hard for you, fall on your network or do enough research to be convinced about what you want to achieve.
After having a professional opinion and concluding your research, list all the things and areas in the house that need fixing. Although the list may be overwhelming, you can decide to tackle one task at a time to achieve your goal of adding value to your house before selling.
You can start with the tasks that do not require much fiscal investment or energy at first and work your way to the difficult ones where you would probably need an expertise to come aboard. There are a lot of DIY (Do It Yourself) materials online if you are a handyman. If not, get some professional assistance.
You can also picture how the house was before you moved in and focus on what features persuaded you to buy the house and work on improving those features. All these improvements should be made to meet prevailing standards that influence property valuation.
Draw a Budget
As the popular Ghanaian adage goes, ‘You can only make more money with money’. Increasing the value of your property requires an investment, which boils down to spending money. However, you may not necessarily want to sink too much more money into the property, else it may shoot the selling price above acceptable levels (over-valuation) and eventually drive buyers away or make you earn less.
The whole point of talking to experts is to help you understand what matters and what does not matter in adding value to your property as well as how much value each upgrade can bring. This information is to inform your value addition priorities and eventually your budget. The idea is to increase value and make the best of the property, hence do not be carried away.
Set aside some money you will use in improving the property you want to sell and make sure every pesewa counts. Budget in a way that it will be able to fix the noticeable places such as balcony, kitchen, bathroom etc. You can also engage in DIYs to cut down some cost. For example, if you can do the painting yourself, why hire someone to do it at an extra cost? Whatever you do, make sure you stick to your budget. With that said, you need to be careful that the cost of renovations doesn’t exceed the value added.
Fix Superficial Defects
While unlikely to be the clinching factor in a house sale, small problems and defects can create an impression of a house being run down or not well cared for. Nonetheless, bigger issues should not be covered up as they will come back to haunt you later on.
Things to look out for include: peeling paints, dirty walls, especially near door frames and light switches, dripping taps, squeaky floors, doors or stairs, moldy sealant in kitchens or bathrooms.
The kitchen and living room are important communal areas in a home. Buyers want a functional workspace that includes good taps, cupboards, doorknobs, tiled floors and bench-tops. Broken light bulbs, bad electrical wiring, untended lawn, rusty gates, broken locks, leakages, unkept toilets among others will only drive potential buyers away. Buyers will want to be satisfied that their new home is safe and built to last. They get these feelings even from these superficial defects.
Thorough Cleaning After Fixing
A heavy, thorough cleaning can work wonders on any property. This part of the process will be cheap, but it will take some considerable time and physical effort to do right. Focus on cleaning all the places of the property that you can see, as well as all those hidden corners that you can’t see. Get behind the stove and refrigerator and move furniture to clean what lies underneath. A clean, tidy home with everything in working repair will help you get the best possible selling price. If you’re going to hold inspections whilst still living in the property, be sure to organize all clutter.
Remove all your personal belongings, such as family photos, that will hinder the buyer’s ability to put themselves in the house or property. Get storage boxes and consider getting short-term off-site storage for all your items that don’t fit neatly into cupboards. Remember buyers will be opening everything and looking everywhere. Neatness (however obsessive) suggests a property that is in good order.
Pitching and Documentation
In a country where documentation can be difficult to assemble, a well-documented property is gold. This is because it gives the buyer some certainty and ensures the process of transfer is stress-free. More so, he or she will not have to deal with any interference when enjoying the property.
A well prepped up property together with appropriate documentation makes a good sales pitch that can clinch the value you will be satisfied with. Be intentional with how you intend to describe and present the property to. Do well, to have a good history or background of the property, the advantages of the location, the various ways the property can be used and the kind of people living in the neighborhood.
You can also talk about the amenities in the area, proximity to the key areas like central business district, schools, hospital, airport, lorry station etc. Views (storeys and hilltop properties), internet connection, water and electricity connection (whether solar or national grid) among others represent good value. All this information and advantages of the property represent savings, which is more value.
These suggestions may not be exhaustive but I hope they are helpful in helping you make the most of your property when you intend to sell. The best way to make more value is to have a good maintenance culture of the property at all times. This will cut down the cost of improvement whenever you are about to sell. Research always and keep talking to experts, that way you stay ahead of the game and gain more value.
The writer is the CEO of CBC Properties Limited, a member of Ghana Association of Real Estate Brokers (GAR) and Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA); Email: [email protected] Cell: +233-20-422-5002