Tips to help sell your properties

Tan Ooi Boon

17 Oct 2021

SINGAPORE - You may have a good property for sale, but you are unlikely to find a buyer if your asking price is way off the charts.

Of course, that doesn't deter some owners from asking for prices hundreds of thousands more than similar properties in the same location.

As agent Nick Tan knows all too well, no amount of savvy marketing will move such a home.

That is in part because most buyers will not - or cannot - pay substantially more than the official valuation because the bank will not provide a higher loan.

That will force buyers to come up with more cash to close the deal.

Here are four tips if you plan to put a home on the market.

Do your homework

If your property is worth a million or more, don't be penny wise and pound foolish - pay a small fee and get a proper valuation done so that you know how to price your home accurately.

Even if you think that the valuation is on the low side because you feel it does not accurately reflect the tip-top condition and beautiful views that your unit offers, you can still use it as the starting point. Most banks will try to match the asking price of owners if the amount is not too far off the valuation.

Another reason why you should get a valuation done is that some agents like to show you the prices of recent transactions at your estate. While prices reflect the state of the market, no two properties are the same.

If yours is on a higher floor and has far better views, you can certainly command a better price than many other units in the building.

Having a good insight into your own property and knowing if the banks will match your asking price puts you in a better position to gauge whether your agents are giving you sound advice on how they plan to sell your unit.

If you are still living there, don't be shy to even increase the recommended price a bit, just to deter bargain hunters from coming as they won't pay for your asking price anyway.

Mind your tenants

If you are selling a unit that is still leased to tenants, have a plan to deal with them if the property is sold.

This is because not all buyers are like you: They may not want to keep your tenants because they are buying the apartment to live in themselves.

So if you are in a hurry to sell, factor in the compensation to pay your tenants if they have to leave before the lease ends.

Keep your property in a good state

Imagine you are the buyer, and the first thing you see when you enter the unit are dark stains on the wall that remind you of a horror movie featuring a haunted apartment.

If such things turn you off, you should know that your potential buyers will also baulk at saying "yes" if they see what a messy home you have.

Some owners actually believe they are being "green" by selling their homes in their original condition - after all, why waste money beautifying it when most buyers will tear it down and renovate it later.

Still, you should know that no one enjoys paying big bucks to buy a dump. Also, it seems hard to believe but some buyers are not that fussy and don't mind moving in after a clean-up, especially if the unit is in good condition.

This is why units that look good usually can fetch a much higher price. So if you do have dark stains all over your walls, a simple paint job costing about $2,000 for a three-bedroom apartment could allow you to reap a return that is 10 times more.

More importantly, you don't want strangers who view your home leaving with the impression that you and your family are a bunch of slobs.

Don't stint on sales commission

It seems like a lot to pay - $20,000 to $50,000 to sell apartments that cost between $1 million and $2 million. But this is an essential cost of property investment that you should factor in if you want to dabble in such assets.

Yes, you can save on this and try to market your property yourself but your limited outreach means you may not find a suitable buyer despite putting in a lot of effort.

But there is one thing you should do: Since you know that the realtor is likely to earn more than your monthly salary by selling your home, choose the best that your money can pay.

Cross out those who don't bother to return your calls promptly - if they can do this to you, it is almost certain that they will also turn off your potential buyers.

Also don't choose those who display a lack of knowledge on what your property could be worth and its potential. This means that they didn't even do their homework before meeting you.

But once you have found someone capable to represent you, leave the professionals to do their jobs.

Mr Tan says: "Some owners are quite obsessive in trying to show the house themselves. What they may not know is that buyers need space and privacy to discuss things among themselves.

"So owners are encouraged to leave their apartments in the realtors' good hands. They can even go and enjoy a cup of coffee while we work our magic."