You might think you can go it alone without an estate agent, but selling a house is about more than simply putting a ‘te koop’ label on your home and waiting for the offers to flood in. In today’s housing market you need to all the help you can get to avoid the sharks and reel in the maximum profits.
A photo of a grey street with a grey sky and untidy garden is not exactly going to get the potential buyers queuing up at your door,’ says Mie-Lan Kok, an estate agent who runs a small team which specialises in helping internationals both buy and their sell their homes. ‘People often don’t realise it, but the first couple of photos that prospective buyers see on the website Funda are crucial – if your home’s best feature is the gorgeous, sunny sitting room, that is what you should be showing, not the front door.’ Dreary photographs aside – if you’ve decided to sell your home – perhaps because you are ready for something bigger, or because you are leaving the Netherlands for pastures new – there are several things you can do to make sure your house is as tempting as possible.
For example, you have to be prepared to make changes to get the best out of your house and that could mean mean starting to pack up stuff right away. ‘If a client says to me “why bother, it will sell anyway”, then they are with the wrong estate agent,’ Mie-Lan says wryly. ‘I know I can get a better price.
The first thing Mie-Lan will do is check out your furniture and get you to declutter your home, putting away personal items, and making sure your home is appealing to everyone. ‘That enormous leather sofa might be a cosy thing to curl up on, but it is not to everyone’s taste. So I might tell you that some of your furniture will have to go,’ she says. A smaller table can make a living room seem bigger, and Mie-Lan has been known to turn an office space into a dining room to emphasise all the space an apartment has on offer. ‘It might take a couple of weekends to put things away, tidy up and do the odd bit of painting, but it is going to bring in tens of thousands of euros,’ she says.
Environmental chemist Jana Weiss, who was a researcher at Amsterdam’s VU university for several years, found herself having to sell her flat in the city when she moved on to Stockholm. ‘I bought my house through Mie-Lan seven years ago and of course I wanted her to sell it as well,’ says Jana. The flat had been rented out to tenants for a while and was in need of some care and attention. Jana came back to Amsterdam for a week to empty the flat and get in ready for sale – with Mie-Lan and her team supplying the furniture and doing the styling. ‘Mie-Lan got me to paint more of the flat that I had been planning to do, but she got such a great price I am not complaining about the hard work,’ Jana says, as she looks back. Questions
Once your house has been decluttered, styled and photographed – which is all part of the package – the rest of the hard work can begin. Mie-Lan does not go for open days, when viewers come in an endless stream through the property. ‘When you are buying a house, you are doing something major, so we think prospective buyers should be able to have a good look around, ask questions and sit on the sofa to get a feeling about the property,’ she says. Furthermore, it is important to get to meet buyers properly. ‘We can see if they are good prospect for our client. Do they have an estate agent, have they been to a mortgage advisor, how well are they prepared? This is all important information which we can use to advise our client about which offer to accept,’ she points out.
After all, as an estate agent, you are involved with people at very important times of their lives. ‘You are there when they buy their first home, are moving in together, or are having a baby. It’s a stressful time. We want to make it as easy as possible for people.