Four home selling tricks to watch for – and how to beat them
There’s a lot riding on your home purchase, so it’s important to recognise – and outsmart – the tactics that can be used to present a problem property in a far more flattering light.
Property ads can be very persuasive. However, a quick visit to an Open Home inspection can reveal that a “cosy family cottage” is so small you couldn’t swing a cat (let alone a toddler), or that “close to transport” is shorthand for being right under a flight path.
Seeing through the hype of an advertisement is one thing. Recognising home selling tricks and the strategies a vendor or selling agent can use is also critical, and it pays to take off the rose-coloured glasses when inspecting properties.
We explain four tell-tale signs to watch for that a seller is trying to disguise serious flaws or shortcomings.
1. Covering-up smells during open for inspections
Filling a home with pleasant fragrances such as the perfume of fresh flowers can make a property more inviting. But fresh scents can also be used to hide costly problems such as rising damp, which according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) impacts as many as 10-50% of indoor environments in Australia, especially in coastal areas.
Damp can cause structural problems by eroding the mortar in brickwork, and it can also promote the growth of moulds that can cause health problems.
A simple way to see through home selling tricks like covering up damp with other fragrances is to arrange a pre-purchase building inspection. This can make you aware of the property’s condition and highlight major concerns such as damp as well as other structural defects like shifting foundations that can lead to cracking in the walls or ceilings.
2. Small areas of fresh paint
In a bid to boost the sales price, home owners may complete a few cosmetic renovations like a fresh lick of paint.
Sometimes though a new coat of paint can be a quick fix attempt to cover up more sinister problems like the handiwork of destructive pests such as termites or again, damp.
Peter Georgiev, director of building advisory service Archicentre Australia, says the termite problem is increasing because construction of most homes since the 1960s has involved the use of concrete slabs with little clearance from the ground, coupled with the use of soft wood timber frames.
According to pest service Rentokil, one in four Australian homes are attacked by termites in their lifetime, and they can leave behind an average repair bill of up to $8,000.
So it can pay to look at little more closely at properties that are freshly painted especially if just one area of the home or a specific room smells strongly of fresh paint. It could be masking a bigger bug problem.
A pest inspection can identify whether there’s a pest problem, and spare you the hassle and expense of sharing the place with termites and other unwanted creepy crawlies.
3. Timing inspections to maximise natural light
Shining a light through some home selling tricks doesn’t have to cost anything. Natural light is a key point of appeal for many buyers, and real estate agents may time home inspections to coincide with those periods when a home receives maximum sunlight.
To get a better idea of whether an interior could receive poor natural light or be shaded by neighbouring buildings at different times of the day, consider making appointments to visit the place at a variety of timeslots.
Conversely, some rooms can receive way too much afternoon sun, especially in summer. If you have doubts about whether a west-facing room could become a sauna in the warmer months, time visits for later in the day.
4. Home staging to create an illusion of space and flow
When you’re checking out open homes, chances are you’ll encounter at least one property that’s surprisingly short on personal touches – like family photos, personal memorabilia or even evidence of the household pooch.
In fact, if the place looks more like a high end hotel suite than a lived in home, chances are it’s been staged.
Home staging is designed to show off a home in its best light, and clever selection and arrangement of furniture can make a place appear lighter, brighter and more spacious.
The only way around the impact of home staging is to visualise your furniture in the property rather than focusing on the rented pieces.
Look at the floorplan for an idea of how well the dimensions of each room measure up to your current home and furniture. And take along a list with the dimensions of your main pieces of furniture like a lounge suite (don’t forget to measure its depth, not just the length) for an idea of how much space your furniture will take up. This can highlight whether under-sized pieces have been used by the home stager to make the place appear more generously proportioned.
One area where you won’t have to worry about cover-ups is your home loan. Your Aussie Broker can help you identify the right loan for your needs based on your budget and lifestyle. Talk to your Aussie Broker today for the loan that really is the right fit for you.