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Get your home working smarter, not harder pre-sale

Tags: Home Buyers Housing Market Property Property Market Residential Residential Views

As New Zealand’s residential property sector shifts down a gear, both buyers and sellers are looking for added-value in every transaction.

So how do savvy-sellers get their homes working smarter – rather than harder pre-sale, asks property reporter Katharina Charles.

Equal-parts buyer psychology and market intelligence, renovating a property for sale can be a minefield. Between budgets, touch-ups and wall-removing refurbishments, sellers should be selective when it comes time to make improvements, keeping the buyer at the forefront of every decision.

Here we break down the four key categories sellers should use as a guide to pre-sale renovations;

• Understanding the buyer

• First impressions count

• It’s all in the detail

• Using your salesperson wisely

“First and foremost sellers should put thought into who the right buyer for their property may be.”

“Taking a look at the demographic makeup of the neighbourhood and the property’s special features should give a clear picture as to what kind of buyer will fall in love with your home,” advises Bayleys Waikato salesperson Sarah Adams.

Adams, a residential sales specialist and runner-up on the first season of popular reality renovation show The Block NZ adds that the first step is to identify your target market and appeal to them.

“When a buyer can really envisage their life at the property, everything (including sale negotiations) tend to fall in to place.”

“Families seeking affordability and room to grow will value space, flexibility and durability while retirees and young couples typically seek style and comfort through fittings and fixtures.”

“Mapping out a budget for pre-sale work is a vital next step to retain maximum value come sale day and it is imperative that your budget is relative to the value of the property.

“Depending on the property, it’s age and condition, setting aside between five and ten percent of the property’s estimated value can provide a good guideline for how much to spend.

“It’s the old cliché – you’ve gotta’ spend money to make money, however spending on expensive luxuries like a spa or outdoor pizza oven could be money down the drain if you haven’t got the basics right.”


“I have found that buyers are most interested in the functionality of kitchens and bathrooms, and that spending time sprucing up a property’s street appeal can make the world of difference in shaping a good first impression,” Ms Adams says.

Having won both the front-yard and back-yard challenges on the first ever season of The Block NZ in 2012, Ms Adams agrees that creating a good first impression from the curb is an integral part of increasing a home’s profitability.

“And that doesn’t count the several times they drove by last Sunday.”

“Resurfacing a cracked drive-way, investing in contemporary outdoor lighting or adding extra off-street parking can give the feel of clean comfort and convenience.”

“Paired with tidy edgeways, shrubbery and an appealing green entrance-way, the property has likely created a great imprint even before the buyer has walked through the door,” she adds.

From her experience in home-renovation and now as a real estate salesperson in the buoyant Waikato housing market, Ms Adams says that kitchens are at the heart of the modern home and that a little can go a long way to create a warm and inviting communal atmosphere.

“If time and budget are on your side, it is well worthwhile opening communal spaces to create a clear line of sight.

“Removing just one non-structural wall has the potential to transform an entire living space, however sellers are always advised to consult a professional here as mistaking this for a load-bearing wall could be a costly experiment.

“Flooring in the kitchen and living areas can also greatly impact the feeling of space and cohesion and we have found that matching floor finishing’s throughout these common areas adds instant connection, helping the space to feel larger and more unified,” Ms Adams adds.


However Adams says don’t discount the almost instantaneous lift that the little improvements can add to your property’s value.

“Bench-tops, tapware, cabinet handles and splash-backs are amongst the most dollar productive activates you can undertake during your ‘fauxvation’.

“Neutral colour tones throughout the home help buyers to envisage their life at the property, while contemporary fixtures, storage and indoor greenery rarely fail to impress.

Ms Adams equally stresses the importance of getting rid of clutter and personal items which may hinder the home’s potential purchaser from envisaging their life at the property.

“Personal effects such as pictures and mementoes can have a negative impact because the buyer will feel like they’re in someone else’s home, removing these effects will give it the best possible chance for someone to fall in love,” she adds.


With value growth across Auckland’s residential housing sector slowing in recent months, salespeople are working double-time to touch-base with their buyer bases, gaining an intricate understanding of what exactly these discerning buyers are looking for when it comes time to purchase.

This intelligence combined with feedback acquired through open-homes, viewings, knowledge of area demographics and an understanding of market value provides a constructive indication of how sellers can work smarter, rather than harder on pre-sale renovations with the goal of ultimately adding value come sale day.

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