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kids bedroom

What to do with the kid’s ‘stuff’.

We all know what to do when preparing a home for sale.  If you google ‘preparing my home for sale’, a multitude of websites come up, all claiming to have all the answers to getting your home market ready.  Every agent you speak to will have their own opinion.  Each friend and family member will tell you to do the exact opposite of what you have already spent days or maybe weeks doing.  *sigh*

We know that we need to ‘declutter’.  We’re told to remove our family photos – as if we’re trying to pretend that a family doesn’t actually live here, in this family home.  We know to take all the magnets, letters and bills off the fridge.  We know we need to keep the place clear and clean.  Fresh flowers on the kitchen bench.  Make sure the fruit in the fruit bowl is FRESH.  Grab some top up mulch for the garden.  Is it cliché to brew coffee or bake cookies before an inspection?  And what to do with the kid’s stuff??

One of the most common questions I am asked by my customers when preparing for sale, is what to do with the ‘kid’ stuff?  ‘Stuff’ that in most cases, has usually taken over the entire house.

“What do we do with their toys?  Will their room be photographed?  Does it NEED to be photographed?  There are posters and pictures all over their walls…  I don’t want those appearing on the internet!”  And how do you rationalise with a toddler when their favourite toys, books and crayons are all being packed away and how do you tell them that they can’t play with ANYTHING, for a full FOUR weeks, until the property has sold, and the campaign is over.  Then we can all breathe again.

Let me make it easy for you with these 10 tips:

  1. Family photos tell the story of your home – and buyers love a good story. If your photos are happy ones, leave some around.  Keep it simple and keep it real.  Just put away those that are ‘extra’ personal – YOU know what I mean!
  2. Do put away special toys and anything of sentimental value. If you are selling a family home, chances are you will have families inspecting your home – with children in tow.  ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is best practise in this situation.
  3. Create an art box and a toy box for your children to keep their favourite items organised and easily accessible. These will also pack away easily and quickly in case of a last-minute inspection.
  4. As tempting as it might be to pile the kid’s toys and books into cupboards or a wardrobe – because that’s what cupboards and wardrobes are for – storage, be careful to not over pack. Over-full cupboards give the impression of poor storage so do what the buyers do – open every cupboard and robe.  If anything falls out or the door is hard to close, pull some items out and restack.
  5. Don’t be afraid to use the garage for storage – buyers expect this, so store away. If you are really concerned, then seek out a storage company.
  6. Selling the dream! I was selling a small 2-bedroom unit recently and I knew it would be perfect for first home buyers/couples even though it wasn’t obviously family-friendly.  So, to MAKE it appear family friendly, I asked the owners to leave the toy box and high chair out for inspections so that young couples who inspected the property, could imagine a future for themselves in that home.
  7. I don’t include children’s bedrooms in my marketing photos unless I feel it adds significant value to the campaign. If I have at least 2 other bedrooms that can be photographed, I will leave the children’s room(s) out.  Mostly, for privacy reasons.
  8. If a children’s bedroom MUST be photographed, photos can be digitally touched up to make walls look clean and clear – photos, wall decals and names on walls/doors (was a good idea at the time!) can all be digitally removed.
  9. Be flexible with access times. I know it’s tough when you have a family too, but the more accommodating you are for your buyers, the quicker the property will be sold, and you can return to your normal life.  After hours inspections mid-week can be more practical for busy families.  Consider having two separate open homes on a Saturday – one early morning and another late afternoon.  This will help to accommodate those family buyers who are racing around like crazy on Saturdays, juggling sports, parties, tutoring and other activities with their kids.
  10. When you are selling a home that is going to appeal to families, ensure your inspections are family friendly too. Set aside a few toys that children attending your open home, can play with.   The parents will certainly appreciate it.  I bring balloons, lollies and colouring sheets to my inspections – my cranky child emergency kit!

Selling the family home, running around preparing for inspections and trying to keep things neat and clean all the time, when you have children, is hard.  Trying to buy a new family home, running back and forth between open houses, weekend after weekend, disappointment after disappointment, while juggling kids, is also hard.

Just know that there is light at the end.  And once you have finalised that sale or purchase, and you’ve settled in and gotten comfortable, before you know it, the kids will have grown up, moved out, and it will be time to do it all again.

And make sure you keep my number!  0408 991 855  Because I’ll be there to help you all over again.

 

woman with coffee in front of fire place

Selling this Winter? Here’s 10 Tips You Need to Know: 

Winter is upon us!  Many people have the view that winter is a bad time to be selling a property.  But with property prices still strong, combined with a little real estate savvy, selling in winter – especially this winter – could be a very lucrative idea.

Benefits of selling in Winter:

  • Properties that heat well and are warm and cosy will often make a great impression in the winter months.
  • Fireplaces can create great ambiance in winter.
  • Some smaller properties or double story homes can be difficult to keep cool during the summer months, so a winter campaign can be a practical choice.
  • With the harsh light (and heat!) of summer gone, you can open up all the blinds and curtains and let that beautiful natural light in.
  • Less properties on the market during winter, with many sellers waiting for spring to sell their homes – so less competition!
  • Buyers daring to brave the cold and house hunt through winter, are usually very serious and not ‘just looking’.

If you have found yourself running a winter selling campaign, here are my 13 tips to ensure a smooth selling process.

10 Tips for Selling in Winter

  1. Check your gutters!  Very important this one.  Nothing like a bit of rain to highlight any leaky problems with your guttering.  So clean them out, check for rust and holes and fix/replace as necessary, including down pipes.  Check that water runs away from the house and into the drains.  This is something that buyers do notice and can make them nervous, especially first home buyers.  What can be a relatively inexpensive, easy thing to fix, can appear overwhelming to a less experienced person.  I’ve actually been in the middle of an open home myself, during a storm and watched in shock horror, as the guttering finally gave way to the weight of the heavy rain and sludge that had built up over time!  Ouch!
  2. Check for any cracked tiles. I will never forget the Open Home I was conducting when that horrendous hail storm hit Melbourne back in 2010.  In the middle of the open home, myself and 5 – 6 buyers were stuck inside this house, watching from the front door as the hail hammered down over our cars.  I will never forget that ‘tap’ on my shoulder, by one of the buyers, to get my attention.  I looked around to see it literally raining through the living room ceiling.  Bucket please!
  3. Which brings me to my next point – have a little ‘in case of emergency’ cleaning kit on hand for your agent. A bucket and some old towels would suffice.  Because what could go wrong, may very well go wrong.
  4. Heating is a huge selling point, so make sure yours is working well. Consider the heating levels in different parts of the house.  If a comfortable level of heat downstairs means upstairs becomes unbearable, consider closing off some heating vents or opening a small window to let some fresh air in.  I usually advise for the thermostat to be a little higher than usual to compensate for doors being opened and closed throughout inspections, as buyers are walking through and around your home, letting the heat out and the cold in.
  5. If you have a fireplace, time to show that baby off! Have a nice stack of wood sitting nearby – it adds to the ambiance.  Prepare the fire well ahead of your open home, so that the flames have settled down, the coals are burning nicely and little or no attendance is required by your agent throughout the course of the open.   It may be a good idea to request a second agent at your open homes, so that there is one person keeping an eye on the fire and ensuring that any children in attendance, do not get too close.
  6. For those of you with outdoor entertaining areas, time to show off how winter friendly these spaces can really be. If you have outdoor patio heaters, turn them on.  If your outdoor area is, or can be, enclosed, then close it up earlier and turn on any outdoor heaters so that the space is nice and warm and cozy, by the time your open home commences.
  7. Keep your front path nice and clear and maintain it prior to each inspection. This will help reduce the chance of mud being trampled up to your front door.
  8. Consider evening inspections. If possible, turn on your lights and heating before the agent arrives.  Not only does this make the job a little easier for your agent, it also provides safe access for your open home attendees on dark, cold, wet nights where visibility can be limited.  If you can’t be there to prepare the home yourself, make sure your agent allows plenty of time to set everything up properly, well before the first buyer arrives.  Nothing could put a bigger smile on the face of a prospective buyer on a cold winter evening, than being greeted by a home lit up like a Christmas tree, the smell of wood burning from the fire place and feeling the heat wrap around them as they step through the front door.  Mmmmmm….
  9. Have a ‘no shoes’ policy. I always carry a ‘Please Remove Your Shoes’ sign in my inspection bag, for wet weather days.  Rainy days = wet footpaths = wet doorways = dirty shoes walking on your ‘just cleaned’ floors.  Argh!
  10. If you have an umbrella stand, make it available near the front door for your guests to leave their umbrellas in so that they are not brought into your home. Consider investing in a new, heavy duty door mat for the front door entrance and also have an indoor mat for people to be able to step onto as they remove their shoes.   Do the same at the back door you are using for buyers to access the rear yard.

Time now to sit back and enjoy the stream of motivated winter buyers!

Why wait until spring to put your home on the market? There are buyers out there right now looking for a property just like yours!  Contact me today on 0408 991 855 to talk about your winter selling strategy.

 

 

karen in front of house

Case Study:

Moment of truth –  “What do you think we should do?”

Kevin and Ivy were both in their 70s and approached me to sell their family home in Bentleigh East.  They were extremely anxious about the process, so to put them at ease we decided to proceed via a private sale, with no formal marketing.  The first week brought them 8 buyers and 2 offers, 1 of which was at a level they were both happy with.

Kevin and Ivy asked me what I thought they should do and this was my answer: “Kevin, Ivy, this is your home, your decision.  This offer allows you to do what you want to do, plus a bit more.  But I believe, if we take it to auction, we can get you more.”

Three weeks later, our auction brought Kevin and Ivy an additional $261,000.  Kevin said to me after the auction: “You have changed our lives.”

The moment of truth came when asked by my vendors, what I thought they should do.

Option 1:  To accept the earlier offer and ‘run’;

Option 2:   to spend another few weeks looking for a better offer.

 My question to you is this:  Do you want the option 1 or option 2 agent?

 

 

karen in master bedroom

6 Tips to Creating the Ultimate Master Bedroom Retreat:

If you can create an environment that presents itself as a luxurious haven, your master bedroom may just sell your home.

  • Present a soft, sophisticated colour palette, which buyers will find calm and relaxing. Shades of white, grey, silver and gold are perfect.  Light blue can also be very serene.
  • Matching bedside tables with oversized lamps can add drama and a sense of luxury.
  • Bedding that is one size bigger will make your room feel more opulent. Just add cushions and a luxe throw.
  • If space allows, add an arm chair to create a nice reading nook and a place to sit and enjoy a quiet cup of tea.
  • A spacious and well fitted out walk in robe can make us women feel we’re in wardrobe heaven – make sure you declutter, colour code clothes and use matching hangers to create a sense of extra space.
  • If your room has a view, be sure to show it off. I’ve had a property sell simply because of a master bedroom which featured access to a private garden courtyard.

What to put away:  Personal and family photos, glamour photos(!), trinkets, perfume, clothing/underwear (sorry, but it has to be said!) and of course… dancing poles.  Yes.  I’ve seen them and I mean it.

 

karen in living room with fire place and garden view

Selling In Winter Can Be Hot!

There is always somebody looking to buy a house, regardless of the time of year. However, in winter there are generally less properties on the market to compete with. So buyers who are braving the cold winter days are driven, dedicated and committed to making their next move on the property ladder.

Follow our 5 steps for a successful winter sale:

  1. Maintenance:  Clear your gutters and check for cracked roof tiles.  There’s nothing like a bit of rain during an open for inspection to highlight the flaws of your home.  I will never forget the day I found myself, along with a group of 5 – 6 buyers, ‘hailed in’ as a storm passed through during a Saturday open for inspection.  While we all watched the hail hammering down on our cars out the front, one buyer tapped me on the shoulder to get my attention.  I looked around horrified, to find rain leaking through the living room ceiling.  Not so amazing!
  2. Turn the heat up and let the light in:  Heating is a huge selling point in winter so crank it up and draw buyers in with the warmth of your home.  If you have a wood fire, display some chopped wood.  With the hot summer sun gone, open those curtains and blinds and let in that glorious winter light!
  3. Ambiance:  Yes ladies, it’s time to bring in those extra cushions and throws.  Embellish, decorate and highlight your home while creating a homely and cosy environment.  Nothing says ‘winter’ like curling up in your favourite chair, snuggled safe and secure amongst  cushions and blankets.  BYO hot chocolate – or a nice glass of red.
  4. Take it outside:  Make outdoor entertaining areas winter friendly.  If you have patio heaters, turn them on – and up.  Show potential buyers that this outdoor area is an all year round entertaining sanctuary.  Outdoor spaces can get slippery in winter, so be mindful and make sure walk ways are well lit and clear.
  5. Tools of the trade:  An umbrella stand, heavy duty door mat and a ‘no shoes’ policy is mandatory for winter open for inspections.  What could go wrong, can go wrong so be prepared for the unsuspected.  Keep an emergency cleaning kit on hand for your agent as well as a broom, mop, old towels and a bucket. Better to be safe than sorry!

Now sit back, relax and enjoy the stream of motivated winter buyers!

2 women at computer

How Does a Cooling Of Period Work in a Contract of Sale?  Making an offer on a property to purchase can be quite daunting..

This week I spoke to John Melis from LegalAU about ‘cooling off’ periods and what they mean to both vendors and purchasers..

“Once a contract of sale has been signed by both the vendor & purchaser and consideration (deposit) paid, it is binding on the parties, which means the vendor and purchaser can be legally bound by the terms of the contract.

But can the purchaser end the contract after they have signed the agreement?

Well, the Sale of Land Act 1962 has created a statutory right for the purchaser, in certain situations to end the contract. Section 31 of the Act allows the purchaser to terminate the contract within three (3) clear business days of signing. However, section 31(5) of the Act states that the cooling off period will not apply three (3) business days before or after a publicised auction, or if the parties had entered into a contract before in relation to the property, or if the purchaser is an estate agent or company.

In Victoria a purchaser who cancels the contract within three (3) clear business days is entitled to a refund of the deposit less the greater of $100 or 0.2% of the purchase price.

So what is the meaning of clear business days?

Section 30 of the Act describes three (3) clear business days as, excluding the day you sign the contract, then the first business day following as the first clear business day. So if a contract is signed on a Saturday, the first business day is a Monday, and the three (3) clear business days ends on Wednesday, with Wednesday being the third business day.

The time when the three (3) clear business days’ start, is when the purchaser signs the contract, and the timing calculation commences on the next business day. This is even so if the vendor has not signed the contract at that time. Once the three (3) clear business days have passed the purchaser loses the right to cool off under the Act. If this is the case and the vendor still has not signed the contract, the purchaser can rescind their offer, as the vendor has not signed the contract and communicated the same to the purchaser.

If the purchaser wants to use the cooling off period, notice must be issued in writing to the vendor or the vendors agent within the 3 clear days of the cooling off period.

So always keep in mind before you sign that contract, know your legal rights in advance!”

 

The comments in the aforementioned do not constitute legal advice and are general in nature, and if legal advice is required please contact: John Melis at Legal AU Pty Ltd (03) 9999 7799 www.legalau.com

 

 

key in door

A Checklist for Moving Day:  One of the best parts of my job is helping people get settled in their new home. 

There is nothing quite like it – whether you are a first-home buyer, or whether life has created a need for a bigger (or smaller) home – there is something very special about the new beginning which moving into a new home can provide.

But beyond the excitement are some practical measures that will make your move and transition smoother.

Plan, Plan, Plan..    and then Plan Some More!

Moving day is going to be hectic.  There is no doubt about that.  But with some good planning, things should run relatively smooth.  Start collecting boxes as soon as you know you are moving.  You can also purchase these from storage companies.  If your move is a big one, you may want to consider utilising the services of a storage company or perhaps purchasing or leasing a storage container.  Using a professional moving company may well be worth the money spent.  But if you plan on doing it yourself, start early.  Pack like items with like items and label everything.  Many people are settling on their sale and purchase on the same day and moving day basically involves packing a truck and waiting for that phone call to tell you that settlement has taken place and you can now collect your keys. Sometimes it can be possible to access your new home earlier, either to move in or just to store items.  This is called a Licensed Agreement.  Under the same agreement, there is also a possibility of staying in your old house an extra day or so.  Ask your solicitor or conveyancer about this.  This could save you some stress on the day

Get Connected!

Make sure you connect all your utilities well in advance – gas, electricity, water, phone and internet.  As soon as you know your moving date, you can book in your disconnections and connections well in advance.  You don’t want to be moving in the middle of winter and find that you have no lights or heating, or air conditioning on a hot summers moving day!

Give It a Good Clean…

It’s always nice to really know things are clean – to your standards of cleanliness.  Have some time up your sleeves to clean through or better yet – get a professional!  Don’t forget to ensure carpets are steam cleaned – this will be so much easier before any heavy furniture arrives.  It’s also a good time to freshen up the paint – on walls, rooves, doors and architraves.

Change the External Locks

Unless you are moving into a brand new property… someone has had a key to it before.  It is good practice to change the locks to ensure that your home is secure.   This is a relatively inexpensive insurance policy, and worth it for your peace of mind.  If your new home also has an alarm, there are companies out there that come and reset the codes for you.

Change Your Address

Sure – you can get a mail re-direction form from the post office, but at some point you are going to need to spend an afternoon on the phone just letting all the major organisations – banks, utilities, VicRoads and so on – know where you are.

People often forget to change the following – so make sure you put these on your checklist:

  • School/Kinder/Childcare
  • Newspaper/Magazine Subscriptions
  • Electoral roll
  • Insurance agencies
  • Taxation Office and your accountant
  • Doctors Surgery and Dentist
  • Pet registration and Veterinarian

Figure Out What to Do With Kids and Pets on Moving Day

Moving can be stressful for small kids and the furry loved ones in our life.  It might be best to arrange for them to be with a family member or close friend on the day.

Get kids excited by taking them to the new property and showing them around before you move in, paying special attention to their bedroom and yard – areas that they will spend a lot of time in.

Pets need a bit of quiet time to sniff and look around.  They are always better off to see the house once the furniture is in – this will let them know that they are at home.  Just make sure fences and gates are secure so you don’t have any worried furry friends escaping!

Pack a ‘First Night’ Box

The first night is often crazy – and whatever items you need the most, will, ironically, be the ones you can’t find.  So pack one separate box (or bag) of essentials – pyjamas, change of clothing, toiletries, phone chargers, tissues, toilet paper, basic cleaning supplies, snacks etc and pack them into your own car the night before the big move so it doesn’t ‘accidently’ find its way onto the moving van!  Then you have it ready for the first night and that’s certainly one less worry!  (Extra tip – also pack a kid version of this box/bag and don’t forget to include some toys, games or books.)

Send Out Your New Contact Information

Once you are in – make sure you let everybody know how happy you are!  Throw a house warming party or a nice afternoon tea.  Go and meet your neighbours.  And don’t forget I will be waiting for my coffee invite.   J

Can I help you have that “new home” feeling too?

 If you are ready to make that first home purchase or need a change in your living situation, give me a call on 0408 991 855. We can discuss your needs and I can help you set down the path to domestic bliss! With my years of experience in the field, I can help you find the next perfect place to call home.

 

child and baby

Time For a ‘Big Kid’ Bed? Do you have a new baby on the way?  Congratulations!

A growing family may mean a need to find a new home, or at the very least, make changes to your existing one. Is this you?  Do you need to make room – or at the very least, make change?

A new baby always means a lot of preparation… but when baby number two comes along, not only do you have to prepare yourself and the home, you need to prepare your first child for the changes that the new little cherub will bring.

One of those hurdles you will need to overcome is moving that first child (or second, or third depending on how big your family is!) out of their cot and into their ‘big kid’ bed.  While change can be exciting for adults, children cling to routine, and this change can be a challenging one.

Make sure you start this process long before the new baby is due.  You don’t want the older child to feel that the new baby has ejected them from their personal space! This can lead to resentment of the new addition and potentially lots of tears and tantrums.  Planning ahead gives you plenty of time to get the older child settled into their new bed (or maybe a new room as well!) and adjust to new night-time routines.

A good strategy is to make the move fun – perhaps purchase some new toys or decorations, or even better, make your own – anything to make it colourful and exciting. Help the child have ownership by inviting them to choose colours, toys and so on.

If changing rooms as well as a bed, allow child number one time to spend in the new room before you move them in there to sleep.  Move some toys in and start having playtime there.  You might also go and lie on the new bed to read a book.  Transition some key items into the new room like a beloved blanket or bed-time snuggle-buddy.  Gradually the child will begin to see this space as their own.  You might even throw a “big-bed” party to celebrate! Invite family and friends to afternoon tea in the new bedroom.

Once they begin to sleep in that new room – I’d like to be able to tell you the hard work is done.  But it is just beginning! I’d like to say to you that it’s important to establish a new routine straight away.  But prepared for some long nights with little foot steps running through the home as they discover their new sense freedom, not constrained by the bars of a cot!  As frustrating as it is in the moment, believe me, years later these become some of the best memories.  The running, the chasing, the giggles…

Try having quiet time in the new room before bed.  This might be reading a story or playing with some quiet toys. Then, tell the child goodnight firmly and positively.  Let them know it is time to go to sleep.  Should they get out of bed at night, ensure they go back to bed straight away.  Tell them firmly that it is time to sleep and repeat if necessary.  Resist the temptation to have them sleep with you – then you will have another transition to make!

So when moving a toddler from a cot to a big bed for the first time, ensure the room is secure and be prepared for a few surprises.

Last of all, share your excitement about the new baby, and help make the older child part of that excitement – involve them in decisions and have them spend time with other babies. This all helps them be more prepared psychologically and emotionally for the changes that will take place.

If your home has plenty of space for your growing family, then his transition need not be too difficult if you follow a clear set of steps and work to make sure the child buys into the change.  But if you are short of space and think that a move might be the best option, you might need my help!  If this is you, contact me on 0408 991 855.

 

girl with computer

Creating Technology Free Zones in the Home: Never has technology been more convenient. 

We all have access to the internet, email and social media in our pockets via our mobile phones.  Yet as terrific as this can be when you need to shoot a quick message to a friend or check out that latest new property for sale (!!!) it can also be unhealthy if we don’t set some rules.

For young people – to whom this level of connectedness is the norm – we need to help them set boundaries.  This is particularly true for teenagers. It’s our job to help them learn to put face-to-face communication – with friends and family – ahead of the online world.  We need to teach them how to have healthy relationships – both now and in the future.

In addition to this, being so connected may provide an issue with safety.  Do our younger children know how to protect their information and identities online?  Do they understand not to speak to people they don’t know? Do they know what to do if they are getting bullied online?

All of this means we need to make some clear rules about the use of technology in the home.  One of the best ways to do this is to have clear rules about what happens with technology in different areas.

The Study

This is the most logical place for computers to be used.  A positive habit is to set aside a time and space for children to complete homework.  No only does this promotes excellent learning behaviours, it also allows you to know when and where technology is being used.  If you need to monitor your child online, you know you just have to keep an eye on them whilst working in this space.

Bedrooms

Where possible, bedrooms should be a technology-free zone.  It’s important for children to associate the bedroom with relaxation and sleeping.  Phones and lap-tops should be plugged in and charged overnight in another space – plenty of families designate the kitchen as a space for charging.  Devices must be placed in the kitchen at a designated hour, and left there overnight.

Bedrooms are one of the most difficult spaces to monitor the use of technology – this is why it is so important to ensure you maintain strict rules around when and where devices can be used.

Dining Room

The dining table often represents family time – a time to share news of the day and to show interest in each other’s lives. So it’s great to have a rule of “no phones at the dining table”.  We need to demonstrate to our children, by our own example, the importance of respectful communication in relationships.

Although, the dining table can also be a convenient space to monitor children on their devices, particularly when they are doing homework if your home is not blessed with a large study.  So perhaps rules around this space might depend upon what the family is doing at the time.  (My home does not have a formal study so our kitchen breakfast bench is where the kids set up their computers to do homework.)

Lounge Room

The lounge room is a great family space.  You may be able to afford to be more relaxed about using technology here.  As this is a space that everyone uses, you can be present for any interaction on smaller devices such as mobile phones and iPads.

Monitoring use of technology is so important in modern parenting.  And it also relies upon us to act as good role models.  So when discussing technology with your children:

  • Set strict guidelines as to when and where devices can be used
  • Adhere to these guidelines yourself
  • Insist that children add you on social media so you can monitor their online interactions
  • Talk about internet privacy and safety with them on a regular basis

If you’re worried about how you might be able to navigate your way through the challenging process of selling your home while still maintaining those safe spaces for children to play and study, then give me a call on 0408 991 855.

 

 

heart on green door

What Should You Look For in A Real-Estate Agent?  Selling your home can be a stressful process – or an exciting one.  It depends on so many factors, one of which is choosing the right real estate agent for you.

So what are people looking for in an agent?  And what should you be looking for?  What sort of person will help you make one of the biggest financial transactions of your life?

 I asked Lauren, a recent vendor, to describe the process of choosing an agent, and what she was looking for when deciding to put her home on the market.  Here are her answers….

 What made you decide to sell?

I had been renting out my home for several years, and came to the conclusion that my lifestyle had changed so much that I was never going to return there.  So I decided to move forward with the changes in my life, and look to buy closer to the area I was enjoying living in now.

How did you go about selecting an agent?

I spoke to the agent managing my rental property for a recommendation, and I also spoke to Karen who was recommended by a friend who had recently sold her property.

I spoke to the two agents and focused on who I felt most comfortable with.  The minute I began talking about the process of selling with Karen, I knew she was the agent I wanted to go with.

What qualities were you looking for in an agent?

I wanted someone experienced, someone who had been working for many years in the field and really knew how to get the best out of the sales process.  But perhaps even more importantly than that, I wanted someone I felt was trustworthy, and who had integrity. This is what Karen demonstrated to me during our initial discussion – I felt like I had found someone who knew their business, and who cared about how she carried out that business. I knew Karen was genuine about getting me a good price for my property, and helping me to have a pleasant sales process.

How were you feeling going through this selection process?

Initially I was very nervous – I knew I needed to find the right person, and I knew I needed a fair price to cover the costs of my existing mortgage, and the costs of buying again.  Karen put me at ease straight away, and once I signed with her, she kept me informed at every step of the process and encouraged me to make decisions that suited me.  I felt her advice was honest and stemmed from her knowing my hopes for the sale.

What sales process did you choose?

We chose a private sales process.  As the property was tenanted as the time it went onto the market, there were a number of factors Karen had to juggle – including being sensitive to the tenants’ needs but also ensuring it was presented well for the open for inspections – which can be a challenge when children are involved! We made sure we had the property looking sensational in the photographs taken for advertising purposes, and Karen knew some terrific techniques for this and gave advice on presenting the property to best effect. The property sold quickly – with 28 interested parties at the first open for inspection.

Tell me about your experience throughout the sales process?

I felt very supported through the process and very excited – and it was actually such a short process! Karen had already spoken to many of the potential buyers who came to the first inspection and knew exactly how to negotiate the best price for me with this level of interest. The serious bidders stayed behind afterwards and each put in their top offer through secret ballot.  The selling price well above the price we had decided was the minimum.  I was delighted.

In addition to this, Karen was wonderful in communicating with my tenants.  They were understandably disappointed to hear the property was going on the market, and this could have created a real challenge given how important it is to have tenants on side when presenting a property for sale.  But Karen’s friendly personality and professionalism made the process easy and less stressful for them too.  She even helped them to arrange their new property too!

How did you feel about the process overall?

Karen kept me fully informed and I felt very confident with her professionalism and her sales knowledge. She gave great advice as to presenting and marketing the property and really assisted me to focus on excitement rather than stress.  She certainly had the ”personal touch” – we shared a lovely glass of wine to celebrate the sale.

If you want the personal touch and an agent you can rely upon, contact me today on 0408 991 855. Whether you are looking to sell or buy, I can help you too to have an easy, successful transaction.  Let’s chat over a cup of coffee about your property needs today.

mothers day 2

For Our Mothers… And for Those of Us Who Are Mothers:  This week my household has been a bit noisy with the sound and commotion of my cheeky two kids running around whispering and giggling between one another. 

They are obviously trying to hide the Mothers Day cards and pictures they have made, and it made me think of my own childhood.  I grew up with my mum and dad and was the eldest of 6 children.

I remember the Mothers Day stall at school and some of the gifts I purchased then – usually soap, shampoo or a flower of some sort.  I also remember making my own cards for mum and drawing pictures for her, some of them I bet she still has.

I’m lucky enough to still have my mum and dad around, but I know that this time of year can bring a lot of heart ache to those whose parents are no longer with them.  For those of you out there, my heart goes out to you at this time.

So yes, I grew up with 5 brothers and sisters, all of us, with mum and dad, in a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom (and 1 toilet!) home!  All the kids shared a bedroom, sleeping in bunk beds until baby number 5 came along and mum and dad eventually built an extension, giving us 1 extra bedroom – but still 1 bathroom!  We had 1 living area and a tiny meals area.

My memories of spending time with my mum growing up are all related to the home.  Perhaps because most of our memories were created there.  Being a large family, going away was way too difficult and there weren’t play centres or the other types of recreational facilities kids have now.  We made our own tree houses in the paddock across the road.  Our ‘bike track’ was around and through building sites!  We had a swing set and an above ground swimming pool in our own back yard.

All our spare time was spent outside playing in the back yard or riding on our bikes around the neighbourhood.  Mum always made sure that we ‘checked in’ from our bike rides, every 30 minutes.  And when we came home, we all spent that time together.

I remember how it felt to come home to her after a long day and long walk home from school.  On a rainy day, I would be dragging my wet, heavy schoolbag and younger siblings in tow.  She would have a warm smile and a hot bowl of vegetable soup ready, or even some hot buttery raisin toast.   We’d all be lined up, huddled in front of the single gas wall heater – these were the days of course, before ducted heating was popular.  On that note, I remember how my mum improvised with air conditioning when we were very small, positioning a fan to blow through a towel soaked in cold water which was hung over a clothes rack!

I also remember our crowded little lounge room on grand final day, where on this rare occasion we would be allowed chips and soft drink!  I recall birthday parties in the back yard, sometimes it was a pool party, with loads of screaming kids having fun, playing ‘pass the parcel’ (back in the day when there was only one prize!), eating frankfurts and birthday cake.

Even with a husband and six children to give time and attention to, Mum also took time to care for others, taking in other children from the area, giving them a place to stay when their own families weren’t doing so well.

But time alone with her – that was the best.  I remember when she would plait my long hair, exclaiming how lucky I was to have such long, straight, dark hair. I think she knew even then that I would cut it all off as soon as I could!  I was always very self conscious of my skin colour, being an olive brown, thanks to my English/Irish heritage, but she always made me feel like I was special for being the way I was.  I wanted to be like her.  I would sneak into the bathroom and use her make-up, paint my nails, go through her things because it made me feel closer to her.

I still remember the warm spring days when Mum took her ironing outside on the back deck where she had a view of the Dandenong Ranges.  She would turn on the record player, usually to listen to Connie Francis while she hummed and ironed.  We all joined her in a song whilst doing our chores… sometimes it was Abba, other times Elvis or some other old Country and Western music.

Home is the house that we live in and the lifestyle that it affords us to have with enough space to grow and enjoy time as a family together, but without those we love in it, a house is surely just that. A house. To me, my Mum made it home.

This powerful feeling is one I hope I also inspire in my own children – that wherever life takes them, wherever in the world they might travel one day, whoever they make company with, that when they think of me, that they will feel that warm sense of home.  What I realise now as a mother is that I too feel it in them.

I look around my house early in the morning enjoying that first cuppa, and in the quietness I have a chance to look around and think to myself.  The first things I see are those little gifts they have bought me or made for me over the years for Mother’s Day and other special occasions.  Then there are the photos and the memories of when they were taken. Such as Christmas time when they were four and two years old, getting their first trampoline.  Long, hot, summer days enjoying time together in our pool.

Until they have their own children one day, mine will probably never know how much those little treasures mean to me.

But ultimately, it’s not about the things we have, but how we make our loved ones feel.

So I too try to recreate some of those wonderful memories I have of my own mother.  We have our own Grand Final Day celebrations, and I love to spoil my children on their birthdays.  I may not always be home waiting for them when they get home from school – but I know what baking together on the weekend means to us all.  Fighting over who will lick the cake mix from the bowl – priceless.

Times have changed, as have the roles of women – in the home and outside of it.  So let’s take this time to celebrate all mothers – young and old, step mothers, grandmothers, aunties, godmothers, teachers, colleagues, friends and many other women (and men also) who have become mother figures in our lives.

Let’s be inspired by those great people, and remember that every day there are little eyes watching us, wanting to be like us, every day creating their own special memories of home.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all.

coffee and book in bed

8 Ways to Balance Family Life When Working From Home: We are so lucky to live in the day and age we do… 

The internet and mobile phones bring the world to our fingertips with the touch of a button and nowadays we can work anywhere and at any time.  This opens up a whole new range of possibilities for our working lives.

For many of us, the idea of working from home seems like a dream.  We imagine ourselves conducting serious business in our pyjamas, and making the most of quality time with the kids. We imagine being able to schedule in that weekly game of golf or that great yoga class that starts at 9.30.  We think it will make our lives so much easier than the day-to-day grind of getting up and heading into work in peak hour traffic. And much of the time, we are right.  Flexible work hours are soon going to become the norm.

However, when you have children, working from home only works if you manage it effectively. Even if you have a partner at home part of the time, or have the children at home only for part of the day, working at home requires discipline – perhaps even more discipline that you need working in a formal office.

To make it work – you have to be super organised.  Here are some tips to help you manage the work you need to do, and still have the kind of lifestyle you dreamed of.

Create a Designated Work Space

Sometimes you need to separate work spaces from family spaces.  This will train children to learn the difference between times when Mummy or Daddy are available and when they are working.

A designated office also keeps you away from temptation.  Everything you need to work is there – and nothing else. No house and garden projects, no jobs to be done.  No television to watch.

Figure Out What Work Times Work Best for You

Part of the joy of working from home is making your own hours – so figure out what is best for you.  You might like getting up early and working for a few hours while the house is quiet.  You might power through nap times or kindergarten classes or school hours.  Set your own schedule and stick to it where possible.

Also schedule family time that work can not get in the way of – weekend trips out and family dinners are also an important part of your week.

Figure Out What Your Key Distractors Are

Sometimes – we are the problem!  The kids might be at school or day care…. But we get caught up surfing the net or watching the TV or tinkering in the garden or shed.  Although this kind of flexibility may be what appeals to us about working from home, we still have to get work done!

Be honest about where your time goes and put systems in place to avoid these during your routine work times.   Put aside the mobile phone while you are working, or lock yourself out of the internet if that helps.

Get Your Partner On Board

When you are at home during the day, it may be tempting for your partner to assume that you will be available to take care of all the little jobs that need to be done… the cooking, cleaning, gardening, school drop offs and pick ups and the running of errands.  You need to stand firm that working from home is still working, and while you can manage your share of all of those things, you cannot manage it all.

Have a frank conversation about what you can and cannot achieve based upon the hours of work you are going to commit to each week, and create a plan for all those little jobs that can easily suck up your day.

Keep the House Tidy

Nothing is more distracting than dirty dishes, broken light bulbs and piles of laundry.  Keep the house tidy and finish each day with a quick clean up so you can get back to “work” in the morning without feeling like you should be doing other things.

Involve Your Children

My job allows me the flexibility to work from the office or home.  So when the kids are sick, or there’s a student free day, school holidays etc, my home turns into my office.  When coordinating work and children, I find that involving the kids in planning out the day is the best way to keep the stress away.  The kids know I’ll be on the computer from 8am.  We leave the house for some activity (movies, park, lunch etc) between 11am and 2pm.  Then the afternoon I’m back on the computer, setting the kids up with a home activity, which might be just playing outside or doing arts and craft.  It’s not perfect, but it works for me.

Find Ways to Create More Time

During busy periods – or if you are starting to fall behind – you may find you need to create some childcare options.  Find another parent to swap play dates with – you help them out one afternoon, and they can help you out another time.  It’s also great for young kids to be social and learn how to share with others.

You may also need to invest in some childcare – either paid childcare or the type that a family member gives to help you out.  Occasional Care Centres can be a great solution here.  Contact your local council for more information.

Be Ready for Anything

Anything can and will happen – you will be the first parent on call when an accident occurs at school, or when a door-knocker comes by or when tradesmen need to be called.  Abandon your dream of working in your pyjamas and make sure you are up and dressed each day. This also means you can make the most of any unexpected or spontaneous coffee breaks too.

Working from home and balancing family life can be tricky.  The solution is to know how to give both of these things the time and respect they need.  Treat work at home like a job and you are halfway there.  Ask for help when you need it.  And remember that family is the main priority.  That important paperwork will still be there in the morning.  Watching your child practice for that school play or helping them master that Maths concept won’t be.

I would love to hear how other parents juggle working from home! Feel free to give me a call on 0408 991 855 or email me at karenchernishov@gmail.com.

 

 

girl with autumn leaves

6 Tips For Getting Your Green Thumb Out In Autumn:  So the change of season has finally arrived.  Gone are the sweltering hot days of summer and now cooler days are here to stay!

If you have been avoiding gardening in what has been a scorching summer – then now is the time to put your green thumb to work!  We all know a well-maintained garden is a part of any appealing home – whether you are buying, selling or just looking to enjoy the outdoors while you can.

Autumn is a terrific time for gardening – and not just because it is much more comfortable for you to be spending time outside.  The soil is still warm, but not too dry in this climate, making the Autumn months the perfect time to maintain and make improvements to your garden. Read below your autumn gardening checklist.

Clean Up The Leaves

Cleaning up the leaves is one of the constant battles of Autumn gardening. It may not be a battle that you can ever entirely win, but it is an important one.  Cleaning up the leaves not only makes the garden look better, but it ensures drains and gutters do not become clogged up.  Cleaning up fallen leaves from the ground can be a terrific activity for the kids too – so make sure you employ their services!  I know my two kiddies enjoy collecting beautiful Autumn leaves and using them for art activities.

Start Planting!

Autumn is a wonderful time to plant so many things. Without the harsh sun, you have a much higher chance of success, and regular rain creates the perfect conditions for new growth. Do a little bit of research about the types of plants that do well in Autumn.  There is a wide range of plants that are perfect to plant right now – winter flowering plants such as pansies and marigold are best planted now to maximise their flowering time. It’s also a terrific time to plant bulbs – and daffodils and jonquils make a perfect gardening project for children, as bulbs work well in pots.

It’s also a great time to start planting fruits and vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, beans and strawberries do well if planted at this time of year. Planting now means for a great harvest for your family come spring.  Again, another great activity for kids to get involve with – perhaps giving them responsibility over their own little garden patch.

Get Mulching

This is a great time of year to do bigger jobs such as mulching the garden beds.  Mulching helps the soil keep moisture locked in – and now that the harsh sun is behind a cloud, this task will be much more pleasant and will be even more effective!

Start Cutting Back

Although we traditionally “prune in June”, get started on cutting back hedges and other plants now, so that they have a better chance of thriving before winter.

Look After Your Lawn

Refresh lawns with a good fertiliser after the harsh summer sun.  We all know Australian lawns dry out in the heat – now is the time to give them a bit of TLC and get them looking green again.

Start Your Compost Heap

If you are serious about your garden, autumn is the perfect time to start a compost heap.  Start with all those fallen leaves and lawn clippings that you want to get rid of, and add food scraps, manure and anything else that will rot.  Watch your garden bloom under it’s rich nutrients.

Autumn is also a terrific time to sell with a lot of new buyers entering the market place after a busy start to the year.  Autumn offers much needed relief from the hot summer, kids starting at school, numerous public holidays and long weekends, Easter etc and buyers are all ready to start house hunting!  If you are thinking of taking advantage of the Autumn selling season, give me a call first on 0408 991 855 to discuss how to get your home and garden ready!

 

woman holding balloons

Tips for Making Settlement a Breeze:  In my recent blogs I have been exploring the excitement and practicalities of moving in together. 

Finding the right property that is just begging you to make it a home is such a great feeling.  So is signing on the dotted line.

But what about after that?  All the legal stuff and bank paperwork can be a gigantic headache.  While we enjoy the fun stuff, it can be easy to overlook the huge responsibility of organising ourselves for settlement, especially when you are a first home buyer.

Settling a property is a complicated process involved legal paperwork and banks – a small hold up by any one person can impact several settlements – it starts a chain reaction of problems that can affect multiple sellers and buyers.  Having a good conveyancer to manage the paperwork is crucial to a smooth settlement. Choose someone with whom you can communicate freely. If you are unsure, ask a family member or friend who has recently sold, or perhaps your real estate agent can offer a recommendation. I always know exactly who to recommend to my clients. Then all you have to do is make sure you are up-to-date with your finances and paperwork. When settlement is delayed, it is usually due to an issue with the paperwork somewhere.  So make sure you sign everything straight away and that you give your conveyancer the details they need as soon as possible.  That’s the best way to ensure smooth sailing come settlement time!

A buyer is entitled to a final inspection of the property within the last 7 days prior to settlement.  To be fair to the seller and to the agent, give everybody plenty of notice and call in to the agency a week earlier to book this in. Now for all the buyers out there, remember that the vendor still owns the property and may also still be living there, so expect that the house will probably look quite different than when you first inspected it (think boxes everywhere!) However, this inspection gives you an opportunity to ensure the property is in the same overall condition, and that everything that the property was to be sold with is still there.  Take note of unruly gardens and any damage that may have occurred in the meantime.  Report these to your conveyancer as soon as possible to give them adequate time to follow up. The property must be in the same condition as it was at the time of sale.  Never be afraid to speak up if you have concerns.

Once you have secured a property and a settlement date is confirmed, you may find it helpful to start preparing for any renovations, maintenance jobs or even furniture purchases that you might need to do.  It doesn’t hurt to ask the agent if the vendor would allow an extra inspection for you to take some measurements or obtain some quotes from trades-people.  While the vendor is not obliged to accommodate this, many will, especially if the settlement is a long one.  If they are kind enough to allow an extra inspection – try to get everything you need to do done at once and be mindful of not taking too long.

There are also lots of little practicalities to take care of – like arranging connections and disconnections for internet, phone, gas and electricity etc.  There are a handful of companies who will arrange this for you such as Direct Connect, or you can simply take the time to call provider yourself to ensure you walk into a house that is ready to live in.  Don’t leave this until the last minute as some service providers will have a short waiting period and you don’t want to be moving into your new home without heating, cooling or cooking!

While you are making those phone calls, don’t forget your insurance!  You do not want to to wait until after you are in your new home to insure it.  Once you have purchased the property, your bank and/or coveyancer will recommend taking out building insurance to protect your investment.

Changing your address with Australia Post is crucial to ensure you get the mail you need.  Mail redirection is available for periods of several months for a small fee – you just have to fill out some simple paperwork that you can access in your local post office.  I recommend getting six months of mail redirection – you will be surprised at just how many places send you mail!  It’s hard to remember them all.

During settlement week, you should also be on the ball. Contact your financial representative and conveyancer – do they have everything they need?  Contact the agent and check out the process for collecting the keys. Will they meet you at the property, or at the office? If you will be working, perhaps a family member could help you out? Is the agency ok with that?  Check out what time the property settles, so you know what time you may legally take possession. This may be important in terms of arranging removalists.  Also remember that these times assume everything goes to plan, so it can be wise to have a back-up plan.  If settlement does get held up, try to be patient.  Take a deep breath and trust that the conveyancer you so carefully chose is taking care of things for you.

Last of all, pay it forward.  If you have sold your property, think about the kinds of helpful things you could leave the next property owner.  A folder with receipts and warranties for appliances, alarm codes and small details like the dates for rubbish collection can really make a difference. And pop the bins out! Nothing is more frustrating that a full bin and nowhere to dump your packing materials.

Finally, have a chat to the neighbours, and let them know when someone new will be moving in.

Settlement week can be one of the most stressful parts of purchasing a home if you are not properly prepared.  Follow these tips for careful planning and preparation and you will find that all there is left to do is crack open the champagne!

 

dog face

Buying, Selling and Renting With Pets: Pets are a part of the family – whether you are a dog person or a cat person, we wouldn’t be without them.

But pets can cause issues when it comes to your property.  If you are renting, it can be nerve-wracking to apply for a property and worry about whether your beloved pet will put you at the bottom of their preferred tenant list.  Also if you are selling a property, traces of a pet can put some potential buyers off.

Over the years I have been asked by tenants and vendors alike for my top tips for dealing with selling and renting with pets.  I thought I would put them all together here for you, so that you (and your pet) can approach the property market with peace of mind!

Tips for Selling with a Pet

You love your pet – but if you are selling or renting out a property, you need to be aware that a potential purchaser or tenant may not be as animal friendly as you are.  The best way to approach this is to hide all traces of the pet while the property is open for inspection.

Here are a few simple tips:

  • Make sure the pet is out during inspections
  • Put away toys and dog bowls
  • Clean up poop from yard
  • Although you may not be able to smell it, pets (particularly dogs) can leave a distinctive smell about a property. Invest in a good quality scented candle to help cover this.
  • It is courtesy to have all carpets cleaned before leaving the property

Tips for Applying for a Lease With a Pet

Renters with pets often feel like they may be at a disadvantage – but many landlords understand the important role animals play in our wellbeing.  If you are renting with a pet, why not try the following?

  • Apply for properties even if they don’t say pets allowed
  • Be honest – landlords have a right to know if there will be an animal on their property. And it will save you a lot of time and trouble to simply be clear in your application.
  • Ensure the property suits your pet’s needs. Is the garden big enough?  Is there adequate fencing? Is there a main road that might be dangerous to pets who are escape artists? Make sure your pet will be as happy at the property as you are.
  • Offer to pay more rent in lieu of any extra wear-and-tear caused by your animal
  • Offer references that discuss not only what a great tenant you have been – but that the pet has been well-managed
  • Introduce the pet to the agent – surely they will fall in love with him/her too! Or at least, see that they are well-trained.

The benefits of pet ownership are well-documented. And many landlords and some buyers will agree with you and share your passion for “fur-babies”.  But if you are marketing a property, don’t let pet traces put off potential buyers.  Follow these simple tips for better selling, leasing and applying and you and your pet can navigate the property market with ease!

 

Bride and groom in runners

Getting Married?  Congratulations! Here’s How to Handle The Move!  An engagement is a wonderful thing – and it means a lot of changes. 

One of the biggest might be your living situation – as a married couple cohabitation is a must, whereas when you are dating, you can easily keep separate residences.

But before you get to experience the bliss of married life in your ‘together’ home, you need to know what to do about the business side of living together – especially if you have never lived together before.

Nowadays it is not uncommon for many marriages to occur after one or more partners has begun paying off a mortgage.  As a real estate agent I get a lot of questions about how to handle properties bought or leased as singles when it’s time to tie the knot.

Whether you have been renting or are chipping away at a mortgage, there are a few basic things you need to know about your options for moving in together.

Leaving a Rental Property

If you are at the end of your lease before your big day, then good timing! If you need a bit of extra time you could consider renting on a month-to-month basis until you are ready to move.  Many landlords will be happy with this option.

It is more complicated to leave a rental property before your lease has been completed. According to your lease agreement, there will be a number of costs you may be up for, including reletting fees, advertising fees and rental payments until the new tenants take possession.  If this is the situation you are in, my best advice is to let the agent know your plans early, and make sure you present the property well for open inspections.  The sooner it is leased by someone new, the less rent you will need to pay!

Options for Home Owners

If you are both savvy enough to have invested in the property market, you certainly have options when you move in together.

One of the first decisions you will need to make is about keeping both properties, or selling one.

If you choose to sell to free up some money, put the property on the market as soon as you can. Most sales result in a 60 – 90 day settlement, and you may be uncomfortable leaving the property empty all this time.  It could also be a waste of resources to pay mortgage on an empty property while you are living together in married bliss in another home.

Meet with a number of agents and ask their advice about how to make the property market-ready.  A small investment now could make the sale price a lot higher later.  You’ll be surprised how improving the front garden, bathrooms or parking options will improve the value of a property.

Alternatively, you could keep the second property as an investment and rent it out.  This can really help you pay off your home loan fast, and signing up with a real estate agency means that you wont have to look after the day-to-day details of maintaining the property. They deal with the tenants, leaving you free to get on with married life.

Once you tie the knot, it’s important that a lawyer protects your assets by adding the names of both husband and wife to any existing properties. This includes situations in which one partner has a mortgage and the other doesn’t. Whenever property is involved in a marriage, it’s great to get some straightforward legal advice.  Make an appointment with a conveyancer to ensure all the legalities are covered.   You may also want to chat to a financial adviser about the costs and benefits of any decision you make.

Keep an eye out for future posts on how to manage the move itself (and even what to do about all that extra furniture).

 

woman holding sparkler

What were your New Year’s Resolutions for 2016?  For most of us, our resolutions focus on improving the quality of life for ourselves and those we care about – our family and friends.

While many people begin to consider their resolutions as New Years Eve approaches, let’s be honest here, most of the resolutions we make over this period are usually forgotten and lost in the hustle and bustle of the season’s festivities.  In fact – I bet you have forgotten one or two already!

I actually find that January is a wonderful time for myself personally, to take stock of where I am at and what I want to build towards for that year.

So ask yourself, what are your personal goals?  What do you want to achieve professionally?  How do you want to show your love to those closest to you?

Aren’t these all questions worth asking and worth spending some time thinking about?  Now is a great time to do so.

It’s also a great chance to take stock of your living situation.  Are you happy where you are living?  Does your current home and location meet your needs?  Do you want to expand your property portfolio? Or are you about to put your property on the market?

If buying for the first time, talk to your financial adviser or bank to get advice on what type of loan is going to suit your situation best.  There is no ‘one size fits all’ here!  If you are not on the property market already, perhaps 2016 will be the year to get started.  Remember your first home does not have to be your dream home – some advice from a clever real estate agent can help you make a smart and manageable investment that might help you buy that perfect property in the years to come.

This advice also applies for those of us lucky enough to be building a property portfolio – while the rates are low you may want to consider an investment property in a growth area with plenty of demand for rentals.  Speak to your accountant or financial planner for their opinion on what the best areas are to be buying investment properties in 2016.  Establish and build a relationship with a good agent in your chosen area – their local area knowledge will become invaluable to you when it comes down to making the big decision to actually putting in an offer on a property or making the decision to sell.

If you have questions as to whether or not your current home meets your needs, you have two options:  Renovate or sell.

Renovating can be a great option if you just want an extra bedroom for a growing family, or if you love the location and layout of your property, but just want to modernise a few details.  A good renovation can also add value to a property, increasing its saleability in the future.

But a renovation can’t solve every problem with a home.  It can’t change the location for instance, making it closer to the hustle and bustle of the city or making it easier to be near loved ones who live too far away.  A location that is no longer convenient for you might be just what another family or single buyer is looking for.

Perhaps you don’t have room to expand?  Or even the opposite… a smaller and more manageable property may be what you are looking for.

It all starts with informing yourself.  All good change is informed change.  Give me a call if you would like to discuss a valuation on your current property or options for buying and selling in 2016.

Start the year with a great resolution to improve your lifestyle!

 

family water fight

21 Ways to Keep the Kids Entertained at Home on the Holidays.  Is anyone else thinking…gosh, aren’t these summer school holidays long?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to have time to spend with family, but after the excitement of Christmas and New Year, and when all the relatives have left and the new toys have been played with… the kids are asking, “what’s next?”

There’s just one problem… the holiday budget is already gone!

We all need a bit of inspiration towards the end of the holidays to make sure the time we still have is enjoyable and doesn’t cost much… and also gets our kids away from their electronic devices.

Fortunately, each and every room in the home could be the location of a wonderful holiday activity!  So parents – band together and see what you can achieve from this list!

Lounge Room

This is probably one of the biggest spaces in your home – just perfect for active indoor activities!

  • Set up the living room for a party at home – it’s amazing how a few balloons and streamers can put a smile on a young person’s dial. Any day at home is more special if it is called a ‘party’.
  • Movie Marathon – is it time your children watched the original Star Wars trilogy? Or maybe the Disney films you loved as a child?  Make healthy bowls of popcorn and settle in for the afternoon.  Everyone can have a turn at picking the movie.
  • Dance Party – Nothing gets me up and moving like some music. Turn your lounge room into a dance party.  You could even ask kids to freeze whenever you stop the music (those old-fashioned party games can easily be made new again!)
  • Karaoke Competition – if you will dance, then singing is just one step further. Grab a hairbrush and pretend it’s a microphone. Give Justin Bieber a run for his money.
  • Pillow and blanket fort – If you take all the pillows and blankets in the house, how big a fort can you make? Drape around couches, chairs and tables.  It’s amazing how even a humble sandwich is tastier if eaten in a fort.
  • Play or Magic Show – now how the kids entertain you! Ask them to script a show, and work with them on all the production elements – costume, music, props etc.  Great fun for kids of all ages – and for a day when they have friends over.

Bedrooms

Typically considered “alone spaces”, bedrooms actually provide plenty of opportunity to engage kids with things they already have!

  • Dress Ups – who doesn’t want to pull out their best dress (or Disney princess dress) on a more regular basis? Alternatively, a quick trip to the op shop could make the start of a dress up box that helps kids explore their creativity and keeps them entertained for hours.
  • Redecorating – once a year, allow kids the opportunity to change and update their bedroom.  They might re-arrange the furniture or toys, paint or collage to create some new artwork, stick on some decals or update whatever is on their door.  What a great way to allow young people to express themselves.
  • Quiet reading after a visit to the library – need a quieter day? Remember that books and movies are free at the library.

Dining Room

That big dining room table is the perfect space for a whole bunch of activities.  Picture you are your kids spending an afternoon keeping hands busy and hearts light.

  • Introduce a ‘Crafternoon’ – I love this term! Introduce your kids to the concept by buying some supplies for construction, scrapbooking, jewellery-making, knitting, crocheting, collaging, invisible ink etc.  Need ideas?  Pinterest can help you there.
  • Creating costumes – remember that play the kids were going to put on? The dining room table is a great place to create costumes and props.
  • Board games – go old school! Fish out your games from your childhood and introduce kids to Uno, Monopoly, Scrabble, Operation and more!
  • Story writing games- Imagine writing as a fun activity! It works on two levels – writing is fun, and sharing stories is fun too.  Challenge each  other to make the whole table laugh.  Or, pass around and add on to each other’s story starters.

I play a similar game with my son – but we don’t use pens and paper, just our voice and imagination!  One of us begins the story with the first sentence, then we each take it in turns adding to the story, one sentence at a time.  It definitely gets a bit crazy sometimes!

Kitchen/Bathroom/Laundry

An area you can get wet and messy?  What could be more perfect for kids!  When spills can be wiped up quickly and easily, our options as parents multiply.

  • Baking – Kids will do just about anything if there is the promise of tasty food afterwards! Sweet treats like cupcakes, cake pops and biscuits are good because these can also be decorated, making it an activity that carries on.  Mini-pizzas are also a tasty option, as are sandwiches if you ask for the most creative fillings.  You could create the next Junior Masterchef!
  • Tie-dying – update old clothes with a bit of dye and know-how
  • T-shirt painting – ditto.
  • Science experiments – again, check out Pinterest for inspiration. You can create all sorts of fun products like play dough, bath salts and more from scratch and challenge children to test a hypothesis.

I had my 2 entertained recently making bottled tornadoes that they had also experimented with at school.  You will need: used soft drink bottles filled with water, a squirt of dishwashing liquid, 1 teaspoon of bi-carb soda, some food colouring and glitter.  Mix them all up in the bottle(s), add whatever food colouring to achieve the desired colour.  Make sure the lids are put back on tight!  Twist and spin the bottles round and round and watch those little ‘tornadoes’ light up! 

The Backyard

Fresh air – what could be better!  If the skies are blue and the sun not too searing, how about getting the kids outdoors for a few hours?

  • Backyard sports – Nothing is as simple as a game of backyard cricket. Alternatively, you could introduce kids to a new sport like bocce, or set up an Olympics with simple games like egg and spoon races. Also remember how great sprinklers were on those hot days of your childhood.
  • Gardening – See if your children will take an interest by allowing them a section of garden bed for flowers, cacti or vegetables. If you lack space, try little pots instead.
  • Treasure Hunt – It works at Easter! Why not hide some lollies or little prizes around the backyard.
  • Picnic – This is an old failsafe. Lunch is never so enjoyable is on a blanket, in the outdoors.  Even a vegemite sandwich tastes better!  And it encourages children to take their time to eat and talk to each other.

If all else fails… many parents have invested in an “I’m Bored!” Jar.  It’s a motivational tool – both to stay entertained and to not complain about being bored! The jar is full of things to do – some boring tasks like chores or sorting and some that are fun.  You could add in a few from this list, or include spending time talking to grandparents and neighbours.  So whenever a child complains of boredom – they simply take a slip out of the jar and follow what it tells them to do!

A little ingenuity and you can ensure even days spent at home can be amongst the fun ones on the holidays.

 

grass with sprinkler

Keeping Your Garden Green in Summer. Recently, I published a blog about buying and selling at Christmas, exploring how Christmas can actually be a good time to put your property on the market or make the move into a new home. 

But it’s not just the holiday break that makes people unsure about selling around this time of year – it’s also the weather.

One of the most common concerns I hear from vendors in summer is the havoc that our scorching hot temperatures wreak on their beautiful gardens.  The grass looks dry, plants wilt and it is easy to avoid getting out in the hot sun to do the routine maintenance that is needed to really present a property in the best light. And as one of the biggest selling points for a home is what we call ‘kerb appeal’ (how the property looks from the street – which relies a lot on your front garden), sellers should be motivated to keep their green thumb active – even in this hot weather.

With a few simple tips, you can ensure your garden is looking it’s best – whether you are looking to sell or not!

Lawn

Mow your lawn regularly to keep it looking neat – and give it a regular water.  Watering is actually best done early in the day as grass needs sunshine in order for photosynthesis to take place and be healthy – so check what time the water restrictions begin in your area, and embrace an early morning watering routine.  A good long soak 2 – 3 mornings per week will help keep your lawn healthy.

Aerating your lawn will also allow water to be absorbed more effectively.  This could be as simple as pushing a garden fork into the ground at 15cm intervals.  However, if you have a lot of lawn a machine would be a much better option!

Garden Beds

Help plants thrive in hot weather by adding a wetting agent to your garden beds, which help soil absorb water more readily.  Using an organic mulch or fertiliser will also help reduce the amount of watering you need to do.

Mulch can also assist to reduce weeds, absorb water and retain nutrients in your soil.  It also makes garden beds look neater and more attractive.

Plant Choice

If you are doing a bit of planting to help the property get ready for sale, pick plants that last well in the heat.  Look for durable grasses and robust flowers. Even certain kinds of vegetables such as sweet potato, corn and snake beans thrive in hot weather.  Natives are always a good choice as well.

With a bit of know-how, you can make the most of your time spent gardening in summer, so that your outdoor areas are lush and inviting even in the heat.

Also remember to schedule inspections for the beginning of the day so that the house stays cool and inviting to prospective buyers – and so that the heat doesn’t put them off coming to look at your beautiful – and well-maintained – property.

 

Coffee in a modernist white china cup next to a coffee color orb.

A Reflection for the New Year:  As another year passes by once again, and things have settled down from all of the Christmas and New Year celebrations, it is a timely opportunity to reflect upon what that past year has meant to us and how this might impact on our lives for 2016. 

So grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee and let’s ponder what 2015 has brought us.

Start by thinking about all the things that you have learnt over the year – the positive changes you have made.  For me, I made some powerful career and lifestyle changes that have allowed me to move closer to the kind of life I ultimately want.  Has the year brought you closer to the kind of life you want to live?  Or do you need to create some goals around this in 2016?

Next, consider everything that has brought you joy… family, good friends, time spent with children, missions accomplished.  Each year should be comprised by a good number of these.  And not just for ourselves – but for those around us.  I have been fortunate enough to share the joy of starting anew with so many families who have purchased new homes in 2015 – and this makes all the work worthwhile. Thank you to each and every one of you who allowed me to be a part of your journey – and for remembering me and acknowledging this with the many lovely messages and gifts that make their way to my desk.  It really is much appreciated and valued.

Perhaps your work has reached out and touched others as well?  Or perhaps it is the love and care you show for those around you.  Make a difference in someone’s life and your time has been worthwhile.

Finally, think about the things that could have gone better for you in 2015.  Do you have any regrets?  Are there things you would have done differently?  I once heard hindsight described as “foresight without a future” – but I think this is wrong.  Hindsight is the wisdom we take with us into the future.  Without these understandings, how can we ever expect a future that is different to our pasts?

Although sometimes we need to take the lessons of the past into the future, at other times it is best to just let them go and move into 2016 without any doubt or regret.  Accept the things you cannot change. Forgive yourself for silly mistakes or risks that didn’t turn out so well.  Life is boring without a little risk. Something to think about!

That’s the big things covered – but never forget about the power of little things as well.  Look after the little things and sometimes the big things look after themselves.  I aim to look after the little things in 2016 – spending quality time with family and friends, contributing to the community, meeting new people and appreciating the good things that come my way.

I hope 2015 has been a wonderful year for you, and that you have learned so much to take into 2016 to make it an even better year.  Thanks for your support!

 

bedroom

Presenting the Master Bedroom as a Haven.  While in practical terms, a modern and stylish kitchen or bathroom can sell a home, the bedroom remains one of the most important selling points as well.

The master bedroom is the ultimate retreat – a place to rest and relax away from the often hectic pace of the day.  If you can create an environment that presents itself as a haven, your master bedroom may just sell your home.

To feel like a haven, your master bedroom needs to have a clean and uncluttered layout. All that needs to be in here in terms of furniture is a bed, a dresser if the room size permits, two bedside tables and a wardrobe (if one isn’t built in already).

Take out any other items of furniture and most of the knick-knacks to make the room look as simple and serene as possible.  This also makes the room look larger, which can be an important selling point.   If there is anything in your bedroom that should not belong in a bedroom – a lap-top or a piece of exercise equipment for example – take this opportunity to get your packing started and put it into storage.

Make sure wardrobes look uncluttered too – buyers will surely look there. Full cupboards suggest there is not enough storage.  A handy design tip is to never fill cupboards more than 75%.

The bed should always be the focal point in the room – this puts sleep and relaxation at the forefront of the buyer’s thoughts.  Consider installing a headboard to draw even more focus to this area.  Using a white bedspread gives you a great neutral base for decorating, and you can simply throw on some pale coloured cushions and perhaps a throw rug to keep the colour scheme calm and relaxed. Go for soft, calming colours like pale blue and green – but try to ensure these aren’t too feminine in order not to alienate male buyers.

A great designer tip?  Buy bedding that is one size bigger than the bed you have.  That means, if you have a queen-sized bed, buy a king-sized doona and bedspread.  This makes your room feel more opulent.

Make sure you use matching bedside tables – this makes the room feel finished and is a great place to put lamps. Lamps create extra light, which also makes a room feel more spacious. Bigger lamps make more of an impact than smaller ones – and are a much more luxurious.  Make these a real feature of the room.

Re-paint the walls if they need it or are not a neutral colour and keep window dressings simple to make sure they tone in with the bed linen while also letting it as much natural light as possible.

You can follow some of these tips for presenting any other bedrooms the property might have too.  Especially children’s rooms!  Make sure you clear up the clutter by purchasing some clever storage tools.

First impressions always count when selling a home – so make sure your master bedrooms grabs buyer attention!

 

paint roller with red paint

Renovating – The Smart Way.  Our TV screens are full of renovation shows, making renovating properties definitely the flavor of the month.

Renovating can be hugely rewarding – both on a financial level and a personal level. But before you embark on your own version of The Block, make sure you know enough about what makes a renovation a good investment.

Renovating success depends on a number of factors – including the location of the property, the age, size and price range.

Only got a small amount of money to invest in your renovation?  It’s still easy to improve the look of a property on a budget.  If you are looking to “flip” a property (buy, renovate and sell for a profit in a short space of time), focus initially on first impressions – what we call “street appeal”.  Buyers make initial decisions about a property as soon as they see it, so make them more disposed to like it from the outset.

The garden – especially the front garden – is a great place to spend money updating a property.  Make sure the garden is both attractive and low-maintenance – everything a prospective buyer is looking for.

Painting is also one of the cheapest ways to improve the look of a property, as well as to add value to it. This is particularly true of outdoor painting.  A fresh coat on a weatherboard home costs about $10,000 – $15, 000 but could add much more to the selling price.

On a budget, simple improvements to the interior such as updating and modernizing the light fittings and polishing floor boards can make a huge difference to the feel of the home.

If you are up for a slightly bigger job, focus your efforts on key areas that sell homes.  The kitchen is one of these.  A kitchen renovation immediately makes an older home look more modern, and can often add three times the value that you spend on it to the home’s selling price. Update the quality of the fixtures, fittings and appliances and think about how you can create more space.  This is what buyers are looking for.  Replace or paint cupboards and add new knobs for a more contemporary feel.  Walk in pantries seem to be quite sought after at the moment as well, so keep this in mind when planning your kitchen layout!

Updating the bathroom has similar financial rewards but can actually be done more cheaply than the kitchen.  Painting and new tiling are not expensive, leaving you with more in your budget for a new bath or a new sink and cabinets.  Sometimes, a quick re-spray of these is enough to improve the look and feel. Replacing old-fashioned taps is also an easy way to make the bathroom feel more up-to-date.  Quite often I come across homes where owners have enlarged the bathroom by combining it with the toilet.  For a one bathroom home this can seem a bit impractical to the modern buyer.  If you do have your heart set on that luxurious family bathroom, think about how you can add a second toilet or powder room somewhere else to the floor plan, therefore keeping everybody happy.

If you have a larger budget for renovations, you could tackle much bigger projects that will definitely add value such as extensions, knocking out walls to create bigger spaces and adding additional bathrooms.  Outdoor entertaining areas will definitely add value to your home if done well.  Also, don’t forget car accommodation – it’s kind of a boring area to some, I know, but super important to others.  Central heating and cooling are also regularly asked for features by buyers.

Don’t forget to consult an expert tradesperson to help you with these kinds of jobs.

If you are looking to “flip”, make sure you get a building inspection before purchasing – often it is the things you can’t see that cost you the most money.  Also make sure you talk to an experienced agent in your area about where to buy and what local buyers are looking for.

 

Christmas decorations

So…  You want to Buy or Sell a Property at Christmas?  The year is quickly ticking away, and with Christmas right around the corner, many people ask me if this is a good time to be putting a property on the market – and whether or not it is a good time to start your hunt for your new home.

If you keep a few hints and tips in mind, Christmas doesn’t have to hinder your real estate dreams!  You just might want to consider a few factors in order to get the property – or the deal – that you want.

Tips for Selling Around Christmas

Getting on the market as soon as you can is one of the best tips your real estate agent can give you.  People are certainly looking at properties in the last few weeks of December – but the Christmas period will mean that they take a break to spend time with family.  Getting your property listed sooner means that you have more opportunity to sell before that Christmas break.  Lots of buyers will be happy to have their search over before Christmas as well, so they can tell all their family and friends about their wonderful new home.  On a practical note, getting their new address sorted before the holidays ensures they can enrol in schools, local community groups and child-care centres before they close for the year.

So while we are all busy at Christmas time, this only means that as sellers we need to think creatively about how to work within the Christmas frenzy.  Try to make open for inspections in the early evenings – twilight openings around 6 – 6.30pm and 7 – 7.30pm work well in the summer weather and can be worked around our many Christmas commitments.  While Saturdays may be the ideal time for an open at other times of year, often we feel the pressure to get our Christmas shopping done then instead.  How about Sunday opens instead?  Or if you can commit the time to it, schedule more opens a week at different times to make sure there is one everyone can attend.  Your potential buyers will thank you for it.

If you are considering auctioning your property, keep in mind that the weekend before Christmas will mark the final auctions until next year.

Tips for Buyers Around Christmas Time

While you are keen to purchase your property before Christmas, remember sellers will be keen as well! Take advantage of the opportunities this brings.  If you are serious about buying, this is a great time of year to make a purchase. You may be able to get a good deal if you promise them a sale before the silly season really gets underway. Make a strong and realistic offer, and that property could easily be yours.

If you are still looking for the best property to match your needs, make sure you get to those inspections, and resist the lure of those Christmas sales. Be on the lookout for those extra opens I mentioned above, which might give you a chance to get into a property you are keen on sooner. Also, numbers may be lower at inspections mid-week or on weekends, so take advantage of the chance to have a really good conversation with the listing agent.

Remember not to lose your Christmas cheer when it comes to real estate.  Make and consider good offers over the Christmas break and Santa might just bring you the brand new home – or the sale – that you have been looking for!

 1

Making Open for Inspections work for you: Whether you are looking to rent or buy, looking at properties can mean a long Saturday or Sunday of visiting properties open for inspection.

Let’s be serious about this – opens for inspection are almost like a competitive sport.  You have to get around to every property you are interested in – it’s the only way to make sure you are in the running for the property you want.  So if you want to be in the race, make sure you get organized before you even leave the house!Whether you are looking to rent or buy, looking at properties can mean a long Saturday or Sunday of visiting properties open for inspection

Firstly, make a clear list of all the properties you want to see, including their open times.  Then use an app like Google Maps to determine the best order to see these in, and the best routes to take to get to each.

You could also schedule reminders into your phone to let you know when you need to leave each property in order to make your next appointment.

It is also handy to have the phone numbers of the estate agent on hand.  If you are running a few minutes late, a quick phone call to let the agent know you are interested and on your way may result – if time and appointments allow – in an extension of the inspection time.

If you are house hunting with children, consider finding a baby-sitter for the day.  This will make rushing around and looking closely at the property much easier.  If not, again preparation is key. Have plenty of healthy snacks and cold drinks on hand, especially with the warmer weather coming up. Also make sure you bring something for children to do in the car.

A simple tip – and one easily forgotten – is to consider your footwear.  Many homes will have a “shoes off” policy.  Choose slip-on shoes or similar so that the repetition of “on again, off again” is relatively hassle-free.

Remember to bring your ID when you enter a property – some agents will ask you to show this before entering.  They may also ask you for your contact details.  Agents do this for everybody’s security and is kept private.  You could certainly understand wanting a record of visitors if it was your home open to the public! It’s just a precaution.  The agent will also use it to keep in touch with you about the property. There should also be a privacy statement on display at the home which outlines how the information you provide is to be used.  This is required by Consumer Affairs.  If you are a ‘don’t call me, I’ll call you’ kind of person, simply explain this when you provide the details and the agent should respect your privacy.

Also don’t forget to make a list of your non-negotiables.  It’s easy to get caught up in the lure of a beautifully presented property – but you may come to regret quick decisions if you are not clear on what you really need in terms of location, space, parking and so on.  This list will also help you have the kinds of conversations you need to have with the agent on duty.  Even if the property you are inspecting does not meet your needs, you have just let the agent know what you are looking for. They may just contact you when something right pops up.

Make a plan of action like this, and a day of open for inspections can be a breeze!

cupcakes on rack

What Not to Do When Preparing Your Home For Sale:   In my last blog post, I looked at some basic styling tips for presenting your property to prospective buyers.  It’s amazing how a few simply styling tips can really help a property look fresh, clean and inviting.

On the other side of the coin though, a few styling faux pas can create the opposite effect – switching buyers off from what might otherwise be a great property for their needs.

So here it is – what NOT to do when presenting your property for sale!In my last blog post, I looked at some basic styling tips for presenting your property to prospective buyers.  It’s amazing how a few simply styling tips can really help a property look fresh, clean and inviting.

Faux Pas #1 – Baking just before the inspection

A lot of people assume that the smell of freshly baked bread or cookies will be inviting and make a property feel homely. On the contrary, this is an old trick that buyers will be only too familiar with. They will see right through you!  Stick to clean and fresh fragrance instead.

Faux Pas #2 – Assuming People Will Like Your Taste

When presenting a home for sale, it needs to be a fairly clean palate.  Don’t go overboard with the designer features.  Just because you like lots of throw pillows or accents of leopard print, doesn’t mean everyone else will. That red feature wall might seem like a good idea, but ultimately will make the space seem smaller.

Go neutral in your soft furnishings and keep knick-knacks to a minimum. Put a few of yours away while the home is on the market.

Faux Pas #3 – Leaving Up Your Family Photos

You love your wonderful family – and probably many other people will too.  But you need prospective buyers of your home to see THEMSELVES in it.  Limit the number of family portraits you keep around the property.

Faux Pas #4 – Fake Flowers

Real flowers are not expensive and just add a touch of freshness to your home.  Go to a local market and get a fresh bunch each week for just a few dollars.

Faux Pas #5 – Pushing Furniture Up Against the Wall

Pushing furniture to the edges of the room creates more space, right?  Wrong!  This makes a room look crowded.  Furniture should be displayed in the centre of the room with room to walk around it.

If the room looks crowded, put some non-essential pieces in storage while your property is on the market.  Grandpa’s favourite chair may be a sentimental piece to you, but buyers wont understand why it is shoved into a corner of your living room.

The advice I give to all my clients is to keep the home looking clean and light.  It’s not about selling your lifestyle and relationship to the property – it’s about inviting buyers to see how it will work for them.

Avoid these five major faux pas and you will be in good shape for your next open inspection!

Have you ever seen any of the styling tips in this piece when house-hunting?  Have you been guilty of a few yourself? Comment below and let me know what you think.

 

rose petals

Creating Ambiance:  Have you ever admired the homes in magazines?

The way we present our home reflects our lifestyle – so when we present a property for rental or purchase we are not just selling a home, we are selling a lifestyle.  There is no denying that where we live has an influence on our emotions and behaviours.

Clients often ask me about the best way to present their home, so I have decided to write a series of posts around how to create the right kind of atmosphere!

What you want to do is make your home warm and inviting to the people who enter it.  Here are my initial tips to help you present your home in the most positive way.

Lighting

Showing off the natural light is one of the best ways of selling your home.  Make sure all windows are clean and curtains are open fully.  Leave all internal doors open to get the most out of the sunshine of the day. This will also help your property look bigger.

Rooms that don’t get much natural light will need additional lighting sources such as lamps.

Smell

Smell is an under-rated sense, and can really assist to make a property more appealing. One of the best ways to do this is to simply wipe down benches and other surfaces with lemon-scented cleaner.  This gives the impression of a ‘clean’ house, and is very appealing to women – who do a lot of the decision making when it comes to real estate!

The smell of fresh paint can also be a great incentive to buyers.  If you can’t afford a re-paint of the whole property (which is a great way to refresh and update the look) how about just painting architraves and wooden doors?

You may also choose to light fragrant candles. It is worth spending the money on good quality candles – and make sure to keep the wicks trimmed so that they don’t burn black smoke.  Choose your candle fragrance carefully.  Avoid strong or floral fragrances and opt for soft woody tones or the clean lemon (lemongrass?) scent I mentioned before.

Music

Music can really assist to create ambiance as long as you acknowledge that not everyone will share your taste in music!  Soft music can be played on a low volume to make the property more inviting.  I always bring my own selection of modern classical or jazz to play at my open homes.

Personal Items

A general tidy is essential before prospective buyers arrive. Many vendors forget to put away common everyday items such as dog bowls.  These should be hidden away with any pet toys and litter trays.  Not everyone who walks through your home will share your love of animals!

Make sure you also take a page out of Marie Kondo’s book and put away any unnecessary knick knacks.  Cluttered homes look confused and promise too much work.  They also do not best demonstrate the space on offer.

However, a few selected personal items can make a property look loved and homely.  They can indicate to the purchaser how you are using a space in a way they might not have realised.  Ask your real estate agent for advice on this.

Stay tuned for more styling tips – or subscribe to the blog to receive updates as soon as they come out!  Just hit the button labelled ‘Follow’ in the bottom right hand corner of the page!

 

pool and balinese hut

Summer Means Swimming!  Some Tips For Buying and Selling with a Pool: On my list of things for my dream home would definitely be a pool – and with weather so gorgeous, many of you out there must be thinking the same thing!

This means sellers – if you are considering listing a property with a pool, now is the time to get on the market.

Make sure your pool is spotlessly clean – buyers want to see clear blue water and focus on how relaxing it will be lounging by the pool – not the effort that goes into cleaning it.

Keep this in mind as well when presenting the outdoor area surrounding the pool. Display your outdoor furniture to best effect – perhaps even borrow or purchase some new furniture that will encourage buyers to see how comfortable they will be by the pool on weekends. (Just make sure you don’t position furniture too close to pool fences, encouraging little kiddies to climb!) Definitely uncover and clean up the BBQ and dress up any outdoor tables.  You may even throw a pool lounge onto the water that will have them imagining themselves lying back on a Sunday afternoon this summer…. in your pool.

Another tip for sellers – ask for a second real estate agent to be present when selling a property with a pool.  Not only will this make it easier to ensure the safety of all visitors around the water, it means that the outside agent can speak to clients freely about the benefits and possibilities your outdoor area offers.   The other agent can be selling the features of the house itself. Choose an agent who is happy to go with this strategy.

A pool is a tremendous drawcard for families – but only if safety regulations are maintained.  The most basic safety regulation concerns pool fencing.  Any pool with a depth of 300mm (just 30 centimetres!)  or greater must be fully enclosed with appropriate fencing.  This applies to in-ground spas as well, and the government regulations around this apply to both owners AND occupiers, so everyone needs to work together to ensure pool fences are secure and maintained.

If you are in the market for a property with a pool – much like the divine recent listing pictured in this post – make sure the area is a secure one before making that final commitment.  Then you know you can enjoy the lifestyle every Australian dreams of!

Want to know more about government regulations regarding pools?  Check out the following helpful websites that will give you everything you need:

Victorian Building Authority.

http://www.vba.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/19386/Swimming-pools,-spas-and-their-safety-barriers.pdf

Kidsafe Victoria (Has some great tips for rental properties too)

http://www.kidsafevic.com.au/water-safety/pool-fence-safety/pool-fencing-laws

City of Melbourne

http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/communityservices/communitysafety/documents/swimpoolspasafety.pdf

 

frog stretching

The Power of Positive Change:  Change can be such a positive factor in our lives.  Whether we are changing our work situation like I have recently, or changing where we live, taking steps to improve our lives is one of the most powerful things we can do.

I work with a lot of families who relocate to create positive change in their lives – and this is what makes finding the right property so important.  Whether you are looking for access to good schools for your growing family, room to expand, a new and better lifestyle or even if you are downsizing after the children have grown up and moved out, a new property represents a new and exciting stage in your life.

If you are looking to make a change, you need the right agent to help you manage that transition.  This is just as important when selling as it is for buying.  No matter how much we look forward to new things in the future, it can be hard to let go of the past.  Although your new townhouse will be modern and spacious, the family home you spent so many years in may still hold a lot of memories and sentimental value.  The right real estate agent acknowledges this.  It’s important to know that even though you are choosing to leave this home you have loved, that it is going to be treated with respect and care.  You want it to go to a new family who understands all that it has meant to you and all that it can offer them.

And when purchasing, you need an agent who is sensitive to your needs, who listens to what this change means for you and helps you embrace it.  When I work with couples, families and even individuals who are looking to enter the property market, listening is one of the most crucial things I do.  As your agent, I work with you to find the right property for your new lifestyle.   I share your excitement about the positive changes you are making – and that helps make the process of finding a new property that much more enjoyable.

I know how exciting – and sometimes daunting – change can be.  Let’s work together to embrace it, starting with your next great move!

 

bee in flower low res

What You Need in an Outdoor Area: All this beautiful sun we have been experiencing has got me thinking about how important the outdoor area is when purchasing a home.

Whether you have children already, or plan to in the future, a great backyard is a must. And with weather as good as we have been having lately, who doesn’t want a private space to get out and enjoy the sunshine? All this beautiful sun we have been experiencing has got me thinking about how important the outdoor area is when purchasing a home.

If you are shopping for a new home, make sure there is plenty of space in your backyard to create the haven you are looking for. If you are selling – think about how buyers will imagine spending time in that yard.  For the adults, a shaded area to put a table and chairs for glasses of wine of a spring evening is just perfect.  If you have an apartment, make sure the balcony includes a cosy sitting area for two.  If you have more space – make the most of it!  Whether it is a pergola, a sail or even natural shade from trees, sometimes enjoying the outdoors means an escape from the sun!

Can’t you see yourself out there now, winding down from the day?

For the kids, grass and plants are essential for luring them out from in front of the television and computer.  It’s so important these days to make sure they are active and outside enjoying a healthy dose of Vitamin D.  But you need a bit of space to make sure there are plenty of offerings for physical play – how about a swing set?  Trampoline? Cubby house?  Will you have room to provide your children with all these things we had back in the day?

If you fancy a bit of gardening, you’ll need to make sure there are some existing plant beds, or space to dig your own.  There is nothing like growing a few fresh herbs of vegies in your own backyard.   It’s a plus for any kitchen connoisseur  and can be great to get children to enjoy and respect nature.  Draw them in with pretty flowers they can tend or ad hoc fairy gardens or safari parks that they can create adventures in with their plastic figurines.  You can find plenty of ideas for these on Pinterest.

You don’t have to have an established garden – just the space to create one and a little imagination. Even a terrace can host a thriving little garden.

It could be a project to get the whole family together – and a space that you will enjoy in the years to come.