Ask the Agent - Are there tips for selling a vacant home?

Ask the Agent - Are there tips for selling a vacant home?Pooja Shah - Director, Greenhouse Real Estate

- When is the best time to sell a home?

The best time to sell is when you are ready, or when you must. Market conditions also play a role as do seasonal conditions. For example, your chance of getting the top price for your home is more likely in a seller's market when demand outweighs supply than in a buyer's market. But if you are staying in a highly dense area like Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina or Palm Jumeirah, the market might be 10% lower than last year. Families generally liquidate such properties and upgrade to lesser dense areas such as Jumeirah Golf Estates, Jumeirah Park and Al Furjan where the price per square foot is still undervalued. Most agents agree the best time to sell in Dubai is from December to May as, according to Reidin data, more transactions happen during this time. Your home is likely to sell faster and at a higher price although sales begin to pick up as early as February and start to slack off in July, the slowest month for real estate transactions.

- What should I do to prepare my home for sale?

Start by finding out what your property is worth. Contact a valuator for a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on the recent selling price of similar-neighbourhood properties, or get a certified appraiser to provide an appraisal. Next, get busy working on the home's appearance. You want to make sure it is in the best condition so that you can get the top price bracket. This means fixing or sprucing up any trouble spots that could deter a buyer such as squeaky doors, dirty carpets and walls, and broken windows. The curb appeal of your home is extremely important. In fact, it is the first impression that buyers form of your property as they drive or walk up. So, make sure the lawn is pristine – the grass cut, debris removed, garden beds and hedges trimmed. The trick is not to overspend on pre-sale repairs and fix-ups, especially if there are a few homes on the market but many buyers competing for them. On the other hand, making repairs may be the way to sell.

- Should I sell my home first, or wait until I have bought another one?

It will depend on your personal situation as well as the condition of the current market. If you put your home on the market first, you may have to scramble to find another one before settlement, which could cause you to buy a home that does not meet all your requirements. If you cannot find another home, you may need to move twice, temporarily staying in a transit place or a hotel. On the other hand, if you make an offer to buy first, you may be tempted to sell your existing home quickly even at a lower price. The advantage of buying first is you can shop carefully for the right home and feel comfortable with your decision before putting the existing home on the market. On the flip side, the advantage of selling your existing home first is that it maximises your negotiating position because you are under no pressure to sell quickly. It also eliminates the need to carry two mortgages at once.

- What are some costs associated with selling my home?

Besides the costs related to making repairs and improving the overall appearance of the home, as the seller, you will also need to pay the following:

• A real estate commission, if you use an agency to sell
• Costs for advertising and other marketing materials, and miscellaneous fees if you sell the home yourself
• Conveyancing company fee if the property is mortgaged by the bank
• Pro-rated costs for your share of service charge and Dubai electricity and water

The property transfer cost to the Dubai Land Department (DLD) – 4% to the DLD, trustee fee and additional mortgage charge if lending from the land – is borne by the buyer.

To get a better handle on all the costs, ask a realtor. Agents deal with this information daily and can give you a pretty good estimate of the closing costs you can expect to pay.

- Question of the Week: Are there tips for selling a vacant home?

Yes. Of course, this is not always the case, and the opposite can be true.

If a home is jam-packed with stuff, it can be off-putting for potential buyers. But in most cases, having stuff in your house when you are trying to sell it will work to your advantage.

Some smart home buyers can see past the fact that a house is empty, but the reality is, people are more interested in a home they can visualise themselves living in. Looking lived-in is often the most important factor in helping potential buyers see themselves in your home and get that cosy feel that just may prompt them to make an offer.

Once furniture is removed from the home, you will notice all kinds of imperfections you never paid attention to before – rips in the carpet, holes in the walls and dinginess. In an empty house, everything stands out. What you see is what potential buyers will also see. So, you may need to paint, tear up old carpets and replace the kitchen floor.

To get rid of the ''empty house'' feeling, leave a few pieces of furniture behind; simple things like a lamp, chairs and a table will do.

Pay special attention to maintenance. Dust and vacuum. In context to landscaping, the grass must be cut without dry patches.

Watch out for that musty smell, particularly during the summer months, that settles in from having the windows sealed and locked.

Find out if you can own industrial land

Source: Pooja Shah, Special to Freehold

The author is Director - Greenhouse Real Estate

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