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Selling this Spring? You only have eight minutes to make an impression

By Debbie Jessup

A recent study has revealed that it takes only eight minutes on average for house hunters to decide whether or not to buy a particular property. That’s swift! Even more-so if you consider that buying a home is the single biggest purchase a person will make in their lifetime. So if you’re selling your home this spring, you’ll want to leave the best impression on potential buyers to increase competition and give you a better chance of achieving top dollar for your property.

There are some pieces of advice for home-sellers that have been doing the rounds for years. From advice suggesting baking fresh bread or cooking cupcakes in to emit a musk of homeliness, through to simple tasks like opening windows to allow fresh air to flow through, and placing fresh flowers in key rooms. As activity ramps up this Spring following a subdued Winter, competition will be hot, so it is vital that your home stands out from the rest if you expect to achieve the best sale price.

As superficial as these tried-and-tested ideas appear, the trick is in eliminating any possible doubts a buyer might have about your property. After all, this is about marketing to the masses, getting the largest amount of people who see your property to want to buy it, thereby creating competition for it.

A quick facelift: The first thing any buyer will see as they arrive to inspect your house is how it looks compared to neighbouring houses. Work to make your house the most attractive on the street. Look at it from the street with fresh eyes. Are there branches obstructing the facade?  Is the lawn or driveway covered in leaves? Could a couple of pot plants liven up the front? Inexpensive items, like a new doormat, can lift the entrance and touching up any chipped paintwork near the entrance hallway is a worthwhile investment. This is the gateway to your home so ensure it’s in pristine condition. After all, you only get one chance at a first impression!

Your outdoor carpet: Home-owners, take note. Surveys have shown that buyers will pay considerably more for a house with a good lawn. Kiwi summers are made for backyard activities like getting the kids away from screens with some backyard cricket, BBQ’s and quality time with family and friends in the sunshine. Coming out of winter your lawn can be looking pretty rough and beaten down. Laying turf may be one quick, though relatively expensive fix but not always practical but at the very least a good even mow, edge trim and some fertilizer to give it some energy are a good idea.

Your indoor carpet: It may seem nonsensical for you, the seller, to be investing in carpet you’ll never walk on but the reality is that daggy, worn and damaged carpets are a significant deterrent for buyers.  As a seller you want to be particularly cautious about how you invest your pre-sale dollars. You want to spend what’s necessary to make sure your place is show-worthy and in good repair but you don’t want to overspend on super-high-end improvements that will never pay you back. Carpet is one of those significant items that can make or break a sale unless you’re selling it as a renovators-dream.

Paint key parts: Painting is one of the most cost-effective improvements you can make and a neutral palette, however dull it may seem, is key to keeping more buyers interested. People don’t want to see your favourite colours, whether they’re pastels, black or patterns. A nice neutral tone will allow buyers to imagine living in your home with their own furniture, their own style, taste and features. If you are giving your home a coat of paint, make sure you allow enough time before inspections begin for that new paint smell to disappear. There are few things less inviting than a home that smells like a paint shop.

‘Marie Kondo’ your place: If you haven’t heard of television tidying-sensation Marie Kondo, google her now. She’s become famous for her KonMari method; system of simplifying and organising your home by getting rid of physical items that do not bring joy into your life. You can jump on the craze via her television show or her best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you don’t have time to fully immerse yourself in her method, simply remove unnecessary clutter and make an extra effort to impress buyers by making a good first impression. The more of your stuff they can see, the less able buyers are to envisage their life in that space.

Set strategic inspection times: When is the best time to host open homes or allow viewings according to your agent? Ask her/him their opinion on the times and days that will ensure the best traffic of buyer. And then consider if there is a particular time of day that your street looks at its best. When is the street the most appealing? If you’re in an apartment complex, when is the weekly garden and common area maintenance carried out, and your apartment block looking its best? These considerations cost nothing and can improve the quality and number of buyers through your home.

Know your competition: There’ll be other homes near yours, with a similar number of bedrooms, and features for sale at the same time as yours. Make sure you know how the market has responded to those properties. Loan Market advisers have access to property pricing tools that can help you look at the most recent nearby sales results to better understand your property’s value prior to selling, and even provide you with data on property prices for any subsequent properties you’re looking at purchasing once you’ve negotiated your own sale. Whether you’re buying or selling, feel free to get in contact to request a local report on the above and I’d be happy to walk you through the findings to ensure your in the best possible position to capitalise on the Spring selling period.

What to do when you sell well?: The big day has arrived! Congratulations – hopefully you find yourself chinking champagne on auction day after a better than expected result. However, after the celebration subsides, you’ll need to provide serious consideration with what to do with any additional capital from your sale. If you’re selling to fund the purchase of a new home, you may want to consider establishing an offset account on your new home loan to house your property sale profit. There you can link the offset to the variable portion of your loan and this offsets the interest charged on the variable portion of your loan. It can be a handy way to get ahead on your new home loan. I have access to a wide range of loan products from New Zealand’s largest range of banks and lenders, and would be happy to advise on what loan product and features might be most suitable for your situation.


This article was supplied by Bruce Patten, a Loan Market mortgage broker since 2002 who has written over $1 Billion in home loans for his client and is considered one of the most experienced mortgage brokers in Auckland.

Bruce is always on hand to answer any questions you may have about loans or anything around the loan process. Get in touch with him anytime by phone (021 661 114) or email (

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