Put your house in order before putting it on the market

If you are thinking of putting your home on the market now may well be the perfect time to do so. The FNB House Price Index recently reported that the average house price rose by nearly 7% in 2013 over the average price for 2012. Last year was also the second successive year of real house price growth after four years of real price decline.

"Bear in mind, however, that in some cases, the estimated time needed to market the average property can sometimes be fairly lengthy at around 17 weeks, or just over four months," says Jason Shaw, manager of PGP's Fourways/Dainfern office. "It is not often that a potential buyer enters a home, falls in love with it immediately and puts an offer on the table the very same day. That is because certain properties just do not tick all the right boxes at first glance. In fact one of the greatest barriers to selling your home may be the fact that your property may be in need of a simple, inexpensive sprucing up."

"It is important to make the best possible impression when putting your home on the market. You do not want to be confronted with a situation where you cannot sell your property in good time or for the desired price because of a small gremlin or two," says Shaw.

On show day, small things in your home which you often overlook as a resident -- such as chipped paint, a door that won't close properly or small surface cracks on your walls -- may become an unnecessary obstacle when selling your home. "For this reason, it is critical that homes are well prepared for sale," adds Shaw.

It is always a good idea to try and put yourself in the shoes of the prospective buyer. Remember that buyers may already have the perfect house in mind when choosing their future home. A minor chip in a tile or a tiny mark on a wall could cause the buyer to come to the erroneous conclusion that your home needs a great deal of work. It is therefore well worthwhile to look at your home with a critical eye before show day so that you can address small, inexpensive repairs like damaged fittings, imperfect wallpaper and leaky faucets.

"Another step you can take to improve the marketability of your home is to simply remove all the clutter," says Shaw. "The good thing about this exercise is that it doesn't cost anything but can make all the difference in the world to the appearance of your property. Uncluttered spaces appear more spacious and light and will allow would-be buyers to picture how they see themselves living in your home rather than how they cannot. You will do well to remove all those unnecessary items from countertops and tables. Giving your home a good clear-out and getting rid of those items that you have been holding onto for a rainy day is also a good idea as a first step towards getting ready for your move once your house is sold."

Shaw advises sellers to make their homes as light and bright as possible for show days. For example, make sure that all your windows are free of creepers or other obstructions. Pull your curtains as far back as possible and be sure to clean your windows so they sparkle.

Your garden is also important to prepare ahead of a show day. This should be mowed, weeded, landscaped and kept immaculate. Don't forget to spruce up your verge, the area in front of your home, which creates that all-important first impression. "Remember that you are selling not just a property but also a dream," says Shaw.

Shaw also advises sellers to make their front entrances, patios and verandas as attractive and presentable as possible and to ensure that all creepers are cut back. Swimming pools that are crystal clear create an excellent impression, so don't hesitate to call in experts if you need help to get your home in tip-top shape.

And finally, be sure to choose an experienced and trusted estate agency to assist you with the selling of your home. "It is important that you get the advice of experts who know your area, can market your property appropriately and can assist you through every step of the transaction," notes Shaw. "Your estate agent can also recommend an interior designer who can help with home staging if you feel you would like a professional touch when preparing your home for sale. Some estate agencies have partnerships with these designers. We have had great success with this in quite a few areas, particularly in North Riding. Many of our home owners have been pleasantly surprised to see what a difference an expert eye can make to the time it takes to sell your property," concludes Shaw.

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