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Wednesday Jun 15, 2016

Get higher offers on empty homes

Empty houses make buyers suspicious - and generally inclined to make lower offers than they would on homes that are still occupied and furnished.

However, says Jan Davel, managing director of the RealNet estate agency group, there is much that owners and agents can do to make an empty home more appealing.

"Of course there are all sorts of reasons for a home to be sold unfurnished. The owners may have had to move in a hurry for work, for example, or may have been letting to tenants who have moved out.

"But buyers don't know that, and will be much more likely to think that the property has been on the market so long that the owners had to move anyway, or that there is something wrong with it that has kept it from being sold.

"And this can quite easily lead them to the assumption that the seller must be desperate and will accept even a really low offer - especially if the property is dirty or neglected and is surrounded by a dying garden."

In addition, he says, buyers who do get past the front door of an empty house will often struggle to visualise how they will live there.

"In short, it is really worthwhile for absent sellers to ensure that their homes will still make a good first impression by enlisting the help of an experienced estate agent who understands their situation and agrees to oversee all the work necessary to keep their properties looking good for prospective buyers.

Davel says that if you are an owner in this situation, things to discuss with your agent include:

Having the house dusted and cleaned at least a couple of times a month.

Hiring a garden service or gardener to come in regularly and keep the lawns mowed, the driveway swept and the plants watered.

Making sure the pool is kept clean.

Making sure the post box is regularly cleared of any junk mail.

Renting some furniture if necessary to stage the property to create a sense of size and proportion.

There are also several things you can do before you leave to improve your home's appeal. These include:

Repainting, inside and out, in neutral colours.

Making your front entrance look inviting by repainting or revarnishing the door if necessary and removing all clutter from the front path, steps or porch.

Getting the property professionally cleaned top to bottom as you move out.

Leaving curtains or blinds in place to make it look more lived-in.

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