HOME buyers follow their noses and the wrong scent could cost sellers a property sale, according to research.

Dr Avery Gilbert, a psychologist who studies human responses to scents, nominated tobacco and cat urine as the odours most difficult to cover up and warned the resulting bad impression could carry through to buyers’ cheque books.

Alternatively, baking biscuits or brownies might make buyers feel as though the house belongs to someone else and less likely to see themselves living there, according to Dr Gilbert.

The best bet is a clean, fresh floral scent. Anything non-man-made is a good bet.

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Obtaining best price for your home is the goal. So how do we create competition and increased interest in our property when it comes time to sell?

Renovating or “tricking up” the outside of our home is one way.

Madeleine Hicks of Madeleine Hicks Real Estate Everton Park says, “The key to getting the very best price for your home is to create interest and hopefully competition between interested buyers. Sellers should do everything possible to enhance their property and make it more appealing to the market place.”

“Tricking up” your home needn’t cost a fortune. By following a few rules you can enhance your sale price without breaking the bank.

Trick Up The Outside For Best Result When Selling

Madeleine’s tips on renovating the outside of your home include:

  • Pick a colour scheme that enhances your home and its street appeal. Avoid colours that will clash with others or colours that are “out there.”
  • Choose the right sheen. Glossy paints generally show imperfections, but can look fresher. As a general rule use higher gloss paints for small areas, window sills etc, and save flat paints for the bulk of the house.
  • Replace the front door. The front door is your welcome point. If your door is shabby, warped or worn replace it.
  • Replace the letterbox. Again first impressions count, if your letterbox has seen better days, replace it
  • Install new house numbers.
  • Tidy the garden. Remove weeds and hide the garden hose.

If you are thinking of selling and would like the best possible price in the shortest possible time contact the team at Madeleine Hicks Real Estate on 3355 6845 or visit

A friend is thinking of selling her house. It’s an upmarket place in a swish spot. Would it be appropriate, she asked me, for her to be there during the open homes, keeping the agent company? Maybe serving wine and cheese to tempt would-be home buyers (it’s a nice home, and her buyers are likely to enjoy that kind of thing), and to answer any questions about the property.

It’s generally something not done in Australia but it’s not uncommon on TV lifestyle shows to see the vendors, having spruced up their place, springing forward to open the door for house hunters, and then guiding them around the property while the agent lurks in the background.

Being on site during open houses could go either way. One of the things that makes buyers fall in love with homes is that they can imagine themselves living there, and they might find that hard to do with the owner on hand. Many also like the freedom to open and shut drawers, check if the toilet flushes properly and jump up and down on the floorboards, to see if everything is in working order.

You would have to be thick-skinned when showing your own house because buyers don’t generally hold back in letting their thoughts be known about the state of a property, the choice of paint colours or even the furniture. Sometimes it’s just the house hunter talking through what they might change to make it their own, but for sellers who’ve worked hard on getting the place to be just as they want it, that might not sound so nice. Then again you’re selling and it won’t be yours soon anyway, so you’d just have to grin and bear it, really.

On the plus side, you would get to hear first hand what it is that buyers don’t like about your place, and you might have the opportunity to make a few changes before future open homes.

As a would-be buyer I think I’d be 50-50 about whether I wanted an owner present while I was snooping through their place. Not that I’m rifling through their drawers (honestly) but it’s hard to meaningfully “inspect” something under pressure. It would be great to be able to ask the seller about the ins and outs of the house – however, I would not want them looking over my shoulder every step of the way. I’d be comfortable if they were there, but perhaps confined to the front room or the kitchen, on hand if I had any queries.

Real estate agents might not be so keen to have the owner hanging about either, or would want to set some ground rules about price quoting and impromptu negotiations.

Then there’s the question of whether having an owner on hand would add to the value of the property, or potentially detract from it. And sometimes that might come down to mood and manner because let’s face it, not all of us are people-people, if you know what I mean.

Carolyn Boyd is a property journalist and keen follower of Australia’s housing market.

Buyers are prepared to pay more for a Melrose Place-type environment.

When good neighbours become good friends, it can not only make apartment buildings much more enjoyable places to live but also boost the price of the property.

One of the key things professional strata record searchers look at in apartment blocks or complexes when they’re examining buildings on behalf of potential purchasers is how friendly, harmonious and happy the residents are.

“That’s definitely something that’s included in our strata reports,” says the director of I&D Strata Searching, Matt Trachtenberg-Ray.

“What a lot of people fail to understand when they move into strata buildings is that they are moving into a community and the harmony of a building is just as important as how much they have to spend on fixing the concrete.”

For as well as such harmony making a building a far more pleasant place to live, with neighbours chatting in lifts rather than enduring stony silences and greeting each other on common property, it also means it’s much more likely that disputes will be settled quickly and amicably rather than through expensive legal action.

“It’s the tone of a building that’s important,” says the president of the Institute of Strata Title Management, David Ferguson. “A good building that’s supportive of the social fabric can be like having an extended family and, in turn, not to have a friendly building can be disastrous.

“It’s incumbent on people, and especially office-bearers, to make people welcome and run the building in a positive way. Where a building is known for a good living environment, there’s more demand for apartments and inevitably the competition will force prices up.”

That might mean buildings that host book clubs, wine-tasting evenings, playgroups, social occasions, sporting ventures and even – such as in the case of the city’s Highgate building – group holidays in far-flung destinations, such as Yemen.

At the vast Jacksons Landing in Pyrmont, for example, there are Friday drinks, BYO dinners, quarterly meals in local restaurants, tennis, a singing group, dog-owner get-togethers, newsletters and an annual Christmas charity fund-raiser concert.

“A lot of people now know each other as a result of them and it really enhances the building,” says Regina Knowles, who organises many of the events. “It creates a very friendly atmosphere, which people love.”

Smaller buildings can be just as welcoming. In JoAnn Holloway’s 12-unit complex in Bexley, there’s an affable ambience. In-house dinner parties for residents are a regular occurrence and everyone pitches in if there’s a problem.

“It makes it a very happy place to live,” Holloway says. “Occupants are always happy to help each other with chores, like moving furniture, gardening and even rescuing washing from the clothes line if it rains.

One elderly resident often passes on home-made biscuits and enjoys having a chat, while one time, when I was sick, a neighbour immediately offered to help and dropped off a meal. It’s wonderful.”

It all comes down to attitude, says the vice-president of the apartment owners’ peak group, the Owners Corporation Network, Brian Wood. If people say hello when they pass each other and engage rather than ignoring each other, it oils the wheels of a building.

“A good atmosphere in a building is completely fundamental,” he says. “If you have a good relationship with other owners, then you’ll get disputes or problems being resolved sensibly and practicably rather than escalating stupidly.”

Indeed, friendliness is the very reason that Robert Dodds recently decided to buy into the Motto building in Erskineville. He was happy to buy a one-bedroom apartment for $510,000 – $20,000 over the reserve – because he has friends already in the building who say it’s a very sociable place to live.

“During inspections I got the feeling that it’s a bit like Melrose Place,” says Dodds, in reference to the American TV show about the comings and goings of people in an apartment building.

“I liked this apartment’s big balcony, which will be great for entertaining, but the residents seem to be young professionals who are all pretty outgoing and friendly. It looks like a great place to buy into.”

Midday at the oceana

On a sunny weekend, there can be any number of residents socialising over a glass or two down by the barbecue, cabana and pool at Elizabeth Bay’s 65-unit apartment building Oceana.

“It’s just a very friendly building, with great amenities, which we all share with goodwill during warmer days,” says Ross Appleton, who’s lived there for nearly four years.



“We’re a diverse group of demographics and age groups but we do interact well and socialise with each other.”

There are many formal, organised activities but, every Christmas, everyone gets together over drink and food. And after each AGM – instead of, as in some buildings, trying to tear each other’s throats out over disputes – everyone socialises, with wine, beer and nibbles laid on.

In addition, if there are any major issues happening, such as the proposal to extend the nearby Elizabeth Bay marina, nearly every resident is happy to sign a petition. “If there are any disputes in the building, the sociable, friendly atmosphere enables us to work out a way around it,” Appleton says.

Oceana chairman Paul Johnson says it was a deliberate strategy to create a cordial feeling throughout the building. “We wanted to help people communicate more and it’s often much easier to raise issues when you’re talking over a beer,” Johnson says. “It works very well.”

Ice-breaker at horizon

Having a concierge in an apartment building often provides a pivotal point for residents to get to know each other, says lawyer Richard Gration. At his building, Darlinghurst’s Horizon, people will often stand and chat to the concierge and others will join in, helping to create a friendly atmosphere for everyone.

“The concierge is a significant factor in pulling people together,” Gration says. “It’s almost an ice-breaker that gives people the ability to make contact with one another.

“We also have regular organised social functions for residents, especially designed to facilitate neighbours meeting each other. They are always very well attended, with around 80 to 100 people.”

One resident paid caterers out of his own pocket for cocktail food while, for Horizon’s 10th birthday, a penthouse owner opened up his $15 million apartment for a function, which was attended by about 150 residents. There are also discussions happening about a tennis day on the complex’s court.

“A friendly atmosphere also means that the number of neighbour disputes tends to be a lot lower than that you’d expect from a building with 260 apartments,” Gration says. “People feel they can talk to one another like adults rather than rushing off to the courts or to the CTTT.”

Playgroup the key at Pacific Place

Enterprising apartment residents at one north shore complex have set up a playgroup to enable parents and toddlers to get together in a novel experiment to ensure a friendly atmosphere.

“This is great,” says mum Linda Prankerd, watching her daughter Alexandra, 1, play with her little friends from neighbouring apartments at Chatswood’s Pacific Place.

“I’ve lived in quite a few complexes but people here have worked really hard to make this one extremely friendly.”

The chairman of the 221-unit Epica building in the complex, Gerry Chia, organises an annual social that has now expanded beyond his building to include all four of the strata’s on the site. There’s also been a tai chi group at the complex, a card club, quilting club and all manner of social activities.

In an effort to increase the range — and allow the playgroup to meet even in wet weather — all the residents are now chipping in to pay for a community centre to be built at the complex.

“I think many people expect apartment buildings to be soulless places and that they’ll be lonely in high-rise,” Chia says. “But that’s certainly not the case here. Of course, not everyone wants to be social but we’re ensuring it’s friendly for everyone.”

Story by Susan Wellings –

  • Remove any objects such as children’s toys on the front steps, which might cause accidents.  Keep the front entrance and stairway    clear.  Try for uncluttered appearance.
  • Neat orderly rooms look bigger, especially bedrooms.  Tidy up all rooms for a spacious appearance.
  •  Check and double-check your bathroom.  Bright and clean bathrooms sell many homes.
  • When you are showing your home three is a crowd.  Avoid having  too many people present for inspections.  The prospect will feel like an intruder and will hurry through the house.  If possible go out for a short walk.
  • If you can’t go out, stay out of the way.  Do not accompany the prospect and the sales person around the house.  The Agent knows the Buyer’s requirements and can better emphasise the features of your house when alone.  They will call you if they need you.
  •  Love me, love my dog does not apply when selling a house.  Pets are best kept out of the way, even taken on a walk when there is an inspection.
  •  Never apologize for the appearance of your home.  After all, it has been lived in.  Let the real estate agent answer any objections that are raised, that is their job.

SELLING TIPS: What you can do to help

  •  Switch off the TV during inspections it is very distracting.  Put on some mellow music that will get prospective purchasers relaxed and in the mood for buying.
  •  It is best not to discuss price, terms, possessions or other factors with the buyer.  Refer them to the agent.  Real Estate Agents are better equipped to bring the negotiation to a quick and favourable conclusion.
  •  You and your Real Estate Agent need to work as a team.  If you feel they have overlooked some important selling points, feel free to discuss them once you are alone together.
  •  Sweep all the walkways to create an impression of constant maintenance to your house.
  •  Park extra cars, which do not fit in car parks, away from the property.
  •  Clean windows and window coverings.
  •  Make sure gutter and down pipes are clean and in working order.
  •  Open curtains and turn on lights so the house feels warm and bright.
  • Have an air freshener in the toilet and bathroom to have a fresh, clean smell.

It is important that a home gets a buyer in the right mood to buy, all the above tips and hints will help to do this.  You can also use the season to your advantage. 

 If it is wintertime make sure that the house is warm. It is very welcoming on a cold day and adds extra character if you have the fire burning.

 If it is summer time ensure that the house is cool by using, fans, air-conditioners or opening all the windows to make the most of any breeze.

This is the hardest thing for most people to do because they are emotionally attached to everything in the house.  After years of living in the homes clutter builds up in such a way that may not be evident to the homeowner.  However, it does affect the way buyers see the home even if you do not realize it.  Clutter collects on shelves, counter tops, drawers, closets and garages.

Take a step back and pretend you are a buyer.  Let a friend point out areas of clutter, as long as you can accept their views without getting defensive.  Let your agent help you too.

The smartest way to price your home is to be very competitive in the beginning.  (refer to previous blogs).  Sometimes you’ll get so much interest in that first wave of buyers, you’ll end up with two or more offers at the same time.  If several buyers are interested in your property, it can drive the price higher.

Keep in mind that real estate agents should always advise you to price your home at fair market value.  You should hire an agent based on their qualifications and not on how high they are willing to list your house.  Remember that in the end it comes down to what the buyer is willing to pay and not what the agent is willing to list it for.

Best of Luck selling …ask Madeleine by commenting on this blog for more information.  Cheers.

If you price your home over what the buyers have recently been willing to pay, then your home will not sell.  One of the biggest mistakes homeowners can make is thinking that they will start with a high price and then come down on the price later.

The reason this is a mistake, is that the first two weeks that a home is listed is the hottest time on the market.  Buyers who have been looking for a home for a while are always excited to see a new home listed for sale.  However, most buyers are smart enough to have shopped around and know what houses are selling for in your area.  If your house enters the market priced higher than all the rest the buyers won’t even bother looking at it.

Later, when you decide to lower your price to what other homes are selling for in your area, it will be too late.  You will have missed the initial wave of buyers that a new listing creates. If buyers do look at your home later, they may wonder if the lowered the price because something is wrong with the house.  They may be more careful when inspecting the house, which may bring up more problems to fix.

Time on the market always works against you.  When all is said and done, you may end up having to come down on the price even farther than your neighbours, just to get it sold.

…ask Madeleine for more information by making comment on this blog. I will get back to you asap.  Cheers

Many home owners do not have a full understanding of how the asking price of a homes should be established.  They either base their decision on what the need to get out of the sale in order to buy another home, or they base it on what they paid and adjust for inflation.  Another mistake is that the real estate agent sets the asking price.  The truth is that the buyers are the ones who establish what your home is worth in today’s market.

Who Determines the Price of my Home

When an agent comes to your home and shows you a competitive market analysis, it is made up of homes that have recently sold, homes currently listed and homes that were listed but did not sell.  What these numbers represent are what the buyers were willing to pay for a home similar to yours (the solds), and what the buyers were not willing to pay (the expired listings).  I also gives you a gauge as to what your competition is (the current listings).

It is important to take these numbers into account when establishing the price of your homes.

…ask Madeleine for more information on pricing your home by commenting on this blog.

When you are shopping for a real estate agent it gets very confusing. Below is a list of questions to have ready for your next interview?

1.    Do you personally answer phone calls?  (Phone them at 6pm and see if they are still working?)

2.   Can we cancel the listing if we are not happy?

3.   Do you have a Personal Assistant?

4.   If you don’t call back within 24 hours will you take $50 off your fee?

5.   Do you list my property on the Internet? Which sites?

6.  Are you fully automated with your own personal computer, fax machine, sms, voice mail etc.

7.  What qualifications do you have?

Shopping for a Real Estate Agent

8.  I want to give my home the advantage of the latest marketing Strategies.

9.   How much time and money do you invest in professional training?

10.  Why are you personally motivated to sell my house?

11.  Why should I list with you rather than any other agent who is calling?

…ask Madeleine for more insights into interview an agent by making a comment.  Happy interviewing