Wednesday, August 10, 2011

10 Great Tips for getting your home ready for sale

With Spring right around the corner, it is a good time to prepare your home to look it's best.

Deciding where to start can often be the most difficult part of preparing your home for sale. Following these ten tips will allow you to turn your home in to a marketable space that will appeal to all buyers.

1. The big clean! De clutter, declutter, declutter. This does not mean make the room bare, but do your best to extenuated the clean lines of your furniture in the room. Perhaps remove a chair or two, and adopt a minimal approach to table and bench tops. The more space you create the more space buyers feel they are purchasing.

2. Get a professional cleaner to come through and clean your house. These guys have the industrial tools that will do more than a vacuum and some Domestos. Consider washing the front of the house with a pressure washer and clean any high windows and skylights.

3. Tidy the garden. Trimming trees, replanting shrubs, adding mulch and mowing the lawn all help make a home look inviting to the buyer.

4. Perform maintenance. Oil squeaky doors, fix locks, change light bulbs, repair chipped benches and stone work. Think of yourself as a buyer and go through your house and point out anything that you think a buyer would find unappealing or in need of repair.

5. Put double or queen beds in all your bedrooms. Buyers associate a good bedroom by having the ability to fit a double bed in the room. If you have a single bed in a room, it is difficult for buyers to imagine a double bed fitting there. By placing a double bed in all your bedrooms, it gives your home a strong sense of private space.

6. Consider getting in a professional stylist. Styling is an underrated part of a sale, but a home with furniture is far more appealing than an empty house. Buyers will be able to visualise their couch size or their bed size by comparing it to the furniture they see, this helps to re-enforce their decision to view the property. A good stylist can amaze you with what they can do with space and design. Plus styled homes look fantastic in the photography.

7. Remove pets. The smell of a pet in a home can be off putting, as can seeing half eaten dog food or a dug up garden. While you may love your pet, the buyers may not and it can put them off buying the home. Some people have a fear of dogs and others have cat allergies, frightening your buyers away or making them sick is not a good way to sell your home.

8. Play some music at the open homes. Music is a great welcoming tool and that is why retail stores use it so much. It draws people into your home and allows them to relax a lot more than if there was silence in the home.

9. Display DA plans. If you've thought about a renovation in the past or have had plans drawn up, it might be a good idea to display these at the open homes. They can inform people on the potential of the property if they do not like the current floor plan.

10. Hide your valuables. Whilst theft at an open home is rare, it is better to keep valuable objects out of sight. This technique can also be used with family photographs, the goal is to let the buyers visualise themselves living in the property and sometimes personal photos can hinder this task.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Haunted real estate stories

Last month the SMH published an article asking the question, "Would you move into a haunted house." It is an interesting topic for real estate agents because while we don't often know if a house we have for sale or lease is haunted (often we don't want to know), we do go through so many properties that sometimes we experience things that don't seem right or a little unusual. I thought I'd share some experiences from some local agents who've been touched by the paranormal during their years in real estate.

One of the strangest haunted experiences I've heard was at a home in Blacktown by a leasing officer I knew. The property was sitting vacant and he was preparing a condition report (where we assess the property before a new tenant moves in). He was in the kitchen and absent mindedly put his hand on the kitchen bench to support his body, however when he did so, he felt his hand touch someone elses hand, as if someone was standing in the room next to him. The hand he felt quickly slid out from under his hand and when he turned to look he saw nothing there. It would have been a very strange sensation.

In an old home in Balmain East, another leasing officer I knew was sitting on the floor of an upstairs bedroom assessing the carpet for another condition report when she suddenly felt a huge weight on her, as if someone had sat on her back. She immediately felt cold and felt as if she was going to throw up. She got up and left the room. When she looked back into the bedroom she saw what looked like a small grey haze silently floating in the centre of the room. She told me that she couldn't get out of the house fast enough!

We had a property for sale and one of our agents was holding an open house at the property which was vacant and styled. She opened up the upstairs master bedroom which had a book and some iron keys on the bedside table. She then went downstairs, put the flag and the open board out before returning to the master bedroom to find that both the book and the iron keys had moved from the table to be sitting in the middle of the bed. She said that she didn't think too much about it at the time until a couple of opens later the same thing happened again and the front door slammed shut on it's own while she was in the hallway.

The Welcome Hotel has a ghost story about a spirit dog that supposedly visits the pub. It is the same dog that is pictured on the pub's coat of arms. Balmain has many old homes and I'm sure there are a few out there that house some interesting spirit stories. If you have one, post the stories on this blog, we'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Amazing Office Designs

If you've seen the movie "Office Space" you'd get a sense at how tedious working in an office can be. But for some people, the office is a second home... so why not make it as comfortable as possible? In this post we'll see some amazing office designs, built to ignite the architectural senses.

TBWA Hakuhodo Offices
The problem with the office is that you can be couped up inside when it's such a beautiful day outside. A Tokoyo Ad Agency thought about this and decided to bring the outside inside. Complete with garden, grass lawn and driving range, this ex-bowling alley has been converted to make the indoor environment replicate the outdoor.
Penthouse Offices by Benthem Crouwel Architects
Hovering above the Las Palmas building in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the Penthouse Offices showcase a large curved glass window facing out to the river. The interior is furnished with wood furniture and sleek white walls that create an open space, allowing for a smooth enclosed design.
Manchester Square Interior
The goal by SHH was to make this office feel more like a gentlemen's club. Spanning five stories in a Georgian townhouse in London's West End, these offices are a mixture of work and play. The furniture has been designed for comfort while the interior still attempts to hold faithful a mixture of Victorian and contemporary elements.
White Mountain Office
With a look straight from a James Bond movie, this spectacular office sits buried beneath the city of Stockholm. Once used as an anti-atomic bomb shelter, the space has been expertly converted to house one of Sweden's top ISP companies. Complete with a floating conference room, a secret stone entrance and the ability to protect whoever's inside from nuclear fallout, the White Mountain office would easily be on the property shopping list of any would-be Bond villain!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Will the Carbon Tax directly affect housing affordability?

The deadline date for the introduction of the Carbon Dioxide Tax is scheduled for July 2012, up until that time there will be much speculating on what the impending tax will do to the housing market. The majority of economists agree that the Cardon Tax will lead to a 0.7 per cent increase to inflation which will undoubtedly catch the eye of the RBA, who would consider raising interest rates to combat the rise. The National Australia Bank is forecasting two rate rises in the next year, one in late 2011 and one in May 2012 just before the Carbon Tax is brought in. While an initial 0.7 per cent inflation rise is considered a minimal impact, some economists like JPMorgan Stephen Walters believe there may be unforeseen economic aftershocks once the tax is introduced: "If we see electricity prices go up by 5 per cent rather than 3 per cent forecast, the unions are going to start to push for higher wages in addition to the compensation on offers. That is a clear second-round effect and that is when it becomes material."

The housing sector too is worried about how the Carbon Dioxide Tax will effect housing affordability. The Housing Industry Association - a body representing builders and suppliers of building products is arguing that the Carbon Tax will add an additional $5000 to $6000 to the cost of a new house and land package. This cost will of course be passed on to the customer which has the further potential to discourage home buyers from building their new home. "Increases in the cost of construction materials including bricks, steel and aluminium will be simply passed on to purchasers, pushing the price of new housing higher," REINSW President Wayne Stewart said, "the knock-on effect of this could see the median Sydney house pushed out of the reach of many prospective home buyers."

However, not all economists think that housing will be adversely affected by the Carbon Tax. Tony Wood of The Grattan Institute says, "Whenever industry is given the incentive, it finds ways to do things that cost less than any economist can ever think of." Some industries like aluminum, steel and cement, he argues, will be compensated under the current Carbon Tax scheme. "They should not be allowed just to put their prices up and pass through a carbon price they're not paying for."

What are your thoughts? Do you think the Carbon Tax will directly impact and hurt housing affordability in Australia? Put your comments below.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Support our team in the Oxfam Trailwalk

Picture this challenge: you must run continuously for 17 hours over rugged, precarious and mountainous terrain to reach your goal 100 kilometres away. Could you do it?

That is what our team at aboutlife...100 are attempting to do to raise funds and awareness in the fight against global poverty. The four person team, which includes our super Sales Agent Lynsey Kemp, our sensational Property Management Administrator Mary Tuka, Terry Tyrell Business Development Manager at Russell Investments and Joel Aurisch part owner of AboutLife Supermarket, are participating in the Oxfam Trailwalker.

It is a 100km track that runs from the Hawkesbury district to Sydney through dense bushland and hilly coastal terrain. It runs from 26th August to 28th August and is an extremely gruelling track even for walkers!
And our team is running it!
And they need your donations!

Help support the team as they train their guts out for one of the toughest tests this year. The goal for the team is to raise $10,000 for Oxfam which will aid the organisation by contributing to long-term development and positive change in needy communities around the globe. To show your support you can donate money to the aboutlife...100 team or join the Sarah Lorden Real Estate team at our fundraising Oxfam stall on Saturday 16th July at Loyalty Square, Balmain.

We will be holding a BBQ at the Oxfam stall with sausage sandwiches dripping in delicious fat, just to tempt the aboutlife...100 team and their insanely fit members!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Man-Cave

The Den, the Shed, the Cubby. Call it what you want, over the last few years we have see the popularity of these "havens of manliness" grow and grow. Once upon a time these venues of virilaty went by the name of the shed or the garage, a place where men could be men and pursue their passions. Some men will claim that it is a place for them to take some time out from the "ol ball-and-chain", others will say that it is a place for him and his buddies, but really its just a place where boys can play with their toys.
And what toys some boys have! In this post is just a small collection of some fantastic Temples to Manliness!

The Sports Man-Cave
Sport is a way of life for a man. If you don't enjoy the competition and the smell of other sweaty men, then you are just not a man!

The Golf Man-Cave
There are many women out there who know curse the day their husband took up golf. It was the day they became known as a "golf widow" but with the Golf Man-Cave, the hubby will always be at home, slicing shots into computer generated woods and putting around the vacuum cleaner to win the Home-bound PGA!

The Nightclub Man-Cave
What man hasn't wanted to turn his humble garage into an asylum for alcohol? This man-cave is worth charging an entry fee for!

Serial Killer Man-Cave
When your man's obsession with guns spills over into a converted bunker, you'd have to wonder if he is really worth keeping. The big brass vault door is to keep him locked in there until he's run out of ammunition... about 4 weeks!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"The Anchorage" - 44 Louisa Road, Birchgrove

Having written about the rich history of "Birch Grove House", Australia's second oldest home, in a previous blog, I thought I would talk about another home still standing in Louisa Road that sits literally across the street from where the old Birch Grove House once stood. 44 Louisa Road - The Anchorage.

Standing to be what some claim as the tallest home on the Balmain peninsula, "The Anchorage" at 44 Louisa Road, Birchgrove was built in 1896 by John Gibson. Gibson was the inaugural occupant of the home and was, according to the State Library of NSW, the chief Engineer of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. Previously known as "Fitzroy Villa" and built in the Italianate style, The Anchorage, has a unique feature - a Widow's Walk situated at the top of the flat roof, towering over the homes of Louisa Road.

Back in the early days of Birchgrove, there used to be a coal mine situated in the spot where Birchgrove Public School now stands. This was the first coal mine in Australia and once the coal was brought to the surface, it was placed on to railed trolleys that ran to a nearby wharf and shipped away. The Widow's Walk (or Captain's Walk) at 44 Louisa Road, played an important role in providing an over watch look out for the shipping lanes to and from the coal mine, as well as, a clear line of sight to Gibson's Dockyards at Cockatoo Island.

While the original architectural plans for the home still survive at the State Library of NSW in linen and paper, the home has recently been restored to its former charm but with modern amenities. Currently up for sale with Kate Lorden of Sarah Lorden Real Estate, the home is five levels of large rooms, all with spectacular waterfront views. It has its own private jetty, pool and the Widow's Walk is perfect for entertaining or watching the boats sail by.

You are invited to view the home at its first open house this Saturday 11th June 2011 between 12.00 - 12.45pm. It is an amazing piece of Australian heritage in Birchgrove's most exclusive street.