Your house for sale in autumn – how to get ahead PART 2

When you are preparing your house for sale, you have worked hard to get the place looking pristine.

You have arranged all the ornaments to just the right angle and have the cushions plumped just so. Your house for sale is ready. But this is the time to relax the rules. Let your prospective buyers sit, walk (with shoes on if they whish – if this is not too extreme for you), and set their mug down where they like. If you are hovering in the background with a critical eyebrow-raise and a cloth to wipe up water rings from the coffee table, they may get the impression that you are not quite ready to hand over the keys to your precious home.

Of course, this means that you do have to run around cleaning up and plumping cushions again after each visitor leaves. When the next people arrive, they need to be made feel special and don’t need to be reminded by dirty cups in the sink that they are just one in a string of people (hopefully) coming to view the place.

Another hosting trick that can put you ahead of the game is to learn a little about prospective buyers before they arrive.

This can give you an idea of what to talk about and what might be especially appealing to them about your home or its location. If you learn that their mother tongue is different to yours, you should learn a few words in their language. This really helps a person to feel appreciated. The key ones are obviously “hello”, “thank you” and “goodbye”. If you can manage “Would you like a drink?” that would be very special.

It can also be helpful to know a little bit about their cultural background. Some cultures love to talk and chat, others respect silence. Of course, individuals are individual, but you can be prepared so that you don’t seem disappointed or offended if your efforts at small talk are not reciprocated.

It is challenging to sell at this time of the year but these few simple tips can give you an advantage.

Be ready with the kettle on for tea and hot chocolate or, if you’re feeling really brave, even some mulled wine!

Selling your house in autumn – how to get ahead PART 1

It’s getting cold outside and the children have settled back into a new school year;

perhaps not the optimum time for upping sticks and moving house. Property tends to move slowly as the weather worsens since people feel less inclined to go to viewings and it’s more difficult to see the potential of a beautiful south-facing garden through the dreariness. For many people also a move may involve new schools, a difficult task when the kids are already settled into their existing one. So how can you get an advantage with the people who do want to get unpacked into a new home before Christmas?

When it’s cold outside, you need to make sure your home is warm and cosy on the inside. Have the fire lighting and the heating on.  Place a good mat by the front door to control the wet footprints and an umbrella stand to catch the drips. Make sure you have plenty of soft furnishings to make the rooms feel more warm and inviting. Get a big shaggy rug for the sitting room and an extra throw for the sofa. And as always…. ensure there is something baking in the oven!

When it’s dark outside, get it bright inside.

Let in as much light as possible by opening the blinds. Make sure the windows are clean and the low sunshine really shows up any dirt. Turn on all the lights and get some lamps to brighten up any dark corners. You don’t want people squinting to see inside the storage areas either – some strip lights under the kitchen cabinets and inside closets can really help. Mirrors are also helpful in making a place feel bright and airy. Whilst these things may cost a bit it really can make all the difference and the money spent may seem negligible when compared to the overall sale price of the house.

If you have a garden, it can be difficult to make it shine at this time of the year.

But there is no reason you cannot keep it clean and tidy. Sweep the leaves and clear away any deadwood. If there is snow in your part of the world, make sure the footpath is kept clear. You don’t have anything flowering in the garden this time of year (which you can by getting some winter bedding)? Buy a nice colourful pot with something flowering in it to have by the door to give potential buyers the idea that the garden can be beautiful too.

If you are showing people around the house yourself, it is vital to hone your hosting skills. You need to make people feel relaxed and comfortable, as if it is already their own home. Be ready with drinks and snacks and give them space and freedom to roam around at their own pace.

To be continued tomorrow…

Are you a city mouse or a country mouse? PART 2

This is the reality of city life.

You’re doing well if you have laundry facilities in your apartment building. You really have it made when you have a washer and dryer in your apartment. Life is different here. You carry your shopping home by hand rather than load a week’s worth into the back of your car in a spacious car park. An elevator is definitely a bonus when you’re living a few floors up. I never knew what the term ‘walk-up’ meant before living in New York city. It is a nice way of saying your building does not have an elevator and if you live on the 5th floor…. well let’s just say you will have strong calves!

After looking at numerous apartments in the city, we visited an open house just a short drive away. It made me feel a little ill. The contrast was stark. Here was a monstrosity of a house.

It had a dramatic double stairway in the front entrance hall leading up to a balcony and then an upper mezzanine decked out with wing chairs and windows looking out over the lawn and trees. There were four or five sitting rooms. A massive deck at the back had a full outdoor kitchen and space to seat about 40 people. There was a lawn and a pool. The basement could fit about three New York City apartments in it. The house was so big that the realtor showing us around couldn’t even find the entrance to the basement! The master bedroom was just ridiculous with a Jacuzzi bath, balcony and walk-in closets. I actually think the master bedroom had walk-in bedrooms off it…that’s how ridiculous this place was!

So what do you look for when you want a new place to live?

A washing machine in your own kitchen or a home that can double as a wedding venue? Or just the simple pleasure of a place to take off dirty boots and hang your jacket when you come in from an afternoon’s gardening?

The city is a crazy place where people pay high prices for small spaces crammed together in high-rise buildings. But as our friend put it – if you are living in the city and spending time in your apartment, you’re doing it wrong. City life needs to be lived in the parks and cafes and bowling alleys of the city – not in your small pokey apartment, whether or not you have your own personal washing machine.

Are you a city mouse or a country mouse? PART 1

What do you look for in a place to live?

Are you a city mouse or a country mouse? I think location, location, location is definitely near the top of the list no matter your circumstances or situation.

But I was recently made rudely aware of how the rest of the list may differ wildly for different areas not so far from each other.

In Ireland (my home for much of my life), I think people are concerned about light. We love open plan kitchens, garden and a spare bedroom/office. A separate utility room is a handy thing to have too. We want south-facing gardens and lots of windows to bring in light. There is a very popular TV show in Ireland which involves an architect travelling around our country and placing big glass boxes (rooms) onto the back of people’s properties to create a ‘wonderful sense of light and space’. In a country where it is so often cloudy it is not a surprise that we crave light so much. Also we typically prefer to have a games room than a garage, as we are not usually plagued by extreme weather. Generally, we can get much of our list if we are willing to pay as we are not a densely packed country.

We were recently looking at apartments in New York City.

Now this is a completely different beast. The right location is still a priority consideration – how far is the subway? Being close to transport links is essential for city life. But no longer are we thinking about spare beds and TV rooms. The new questions are about washing machines and storage space. It had never occurred to me before spending time in New York that you might have to bring your dirty clothes in a bag down the street to a Laundromat. Or that I’d be using my suitcases that I’ve previously stored empty in the attic as a box to keep my towels in because I don’t have enough space in the cupboards.

Another thing that was new to me was the idea of building amenities. When you have so many people living on top of each other, each building becomes its own mini neighborhood. And many provide their own services. Some offer just a small fitness center. Others have beautiful roof decks with grilling stations, swimming pools, basketball courts and one of the most popular toys– golf simulators. You can potentially also find libraries, poker tables, arcade games, cinema rooms and even a climbing wall. All without leaving your building. Of course you pay handsomely for these facilities. It could be up to $200 per month in prime Manhattan locations for the privilege of being able to scale a climbing wall before breakfast.

To be continued tomorrow…

 

Go on – give a hook.

It’s the first thing I look for when I come into a house or a hotel room – the simple hook.

I like to hang my jacket on a hook. Nobody wants to have piles of coats loaded on the banister or on the bed in the guest room or taking up valuable space on the sofa. And perhaps I’m lazy but I don’t want to have to take out a hangar to hang it up properly every time I come in.

Hooks are also bathroom essentials.

I don’t know how many hotels have the towels beautifully folded or rolled beside the sink. But what do you do with a towel after you’ve dried your hands on it? You can’t roll it back up and put it back where it was. You need a hook! I’ve resorted to hanging towels over the edge of the sink, over the shower rail, on the cupboard door. None of these are satisfactory solutions, however. And who has the time to hang a dressing gown properly inside the wardrobe and take space away from dresses and shirts that need this treatment? A hook is the only answer.

And hooks are not just for coats and towels. They are for keys and aprons, jewelry and mops, utensils and handbags, dog leads and oven gloves. So if you want to make your life a little more organized and your guests a little more comfortable, invest in a few hooks. I stay in a lot of Airbnb’s and I am sure the presence of hooks has been a major contributing factor to a good review for these properties! Anyway, whether you are a house maker or a host it’s a simple upgrade, which will be much appreciated. Go on – give a hook!

How do you like to spend your Sunday afternoons?

How do you like to spend your Sunday afternoons? Take a nap or walk the dog? Serious brunching or more serious biking? Window shopping or online browsing?

We recently were driving on a Sunday afternoon and saw a sign for an open house so we stopped to have a look around, as we weren’t in much of a hurry to get to where we were going. We spent maybe half an hour walking around this place purely for our entertainment. When we got back on the road, we noticed more and more of these open house signs and we wondered if we had stopped too early and if we had chosen the most interesting house to judge.

This is the thing about Sunday afternoons. I think even people who have to work have a different attitude about Sunday than about any other day of the week. It’s a day to be relaxed and refreshed, exercised and entertained. Of course this concept does not carry through to Israel where we lived recently. There, Shabbat is over on Saturday evening and everyone is back to work and school on a Sunday morning, the equivalent of Monday in the rest of the world.

Another thing Sunday afternoons are great for is big ideas. You’ve had a great weekend but now you start thinking about your routine starting up again the next day. You’re one of the lucky ones if this gets you more excited than disappointed. So maybe you have a dream to do something different – travel, set up your own business, start a movement, or buy a dilapidated property to renovate. This could be why Sunday is the busiest day for propertyunder20k.com: a combination of time off and escapism. We aim to cater to all these Sunday afternoon dreams.

How to register my short-term Spanish property let?

This is a follow-up to our last article which examined the new requirements for short-term holiday lets in Spain.

In brief there are new regulations coming into place in Spain. This requires properties being let for less than 2-month period to be registered with the authorities. Here we will briefly discuss the process for register the property:

The first thing to note is that, in typical Spanish fashion, it is not the same for the whole country. Regional differences apply. Already each region have different laws and guidelines regarding tourist rentals. Check what laws are specific to your region.

Continue reading How to register my short-term Spanish property let?

If you let short-term Spanish properties then it’s time to register for taxes

In an effort to raise taxes (and apparently the quality of short-terms lets) the Spanish authorities are now going to begin inspecting unlicensed short-term rental properties.

This applies to Spanish properties that are let out for a period of less than two consecutive months. It does not apply to longer-term rentals.

It has all the appearances of a simple revenue-raising venture. But the authorities are also attempting to improve the quality of rentals. This means inspections will begin; likely in the upcoming busy summer season. As is expected the inspections will be unannounced. Continue reading If you let short-term Spanish properties then it’s time to register for taxes

Buying a property in a different currency – when to make the jump!

A good friend of mine recently bought a property in the US. He lives in Ireland and the property was as an investment. The property value was $360,000 US Dollars. He began the process of buying the property in question 6 months ago. At this time it was expected to cost him €310,000. This was based on the currency exchange rates at that time.

He closed the property 2 weeks ago (it took very long to complete the transaction due to it being a foreclosure property) and the actual cost was €288,000; a saving of €22,000 based on the exchange rate movement.

Whilst this worked out strongly in his favour I can’t help feel someone from the US who was buying a property in Europe and ended up paying far more than initially expected. It raises an interesting question though. Continue reading Buying a property in a different currency – when to make the jump!

Property prices react badly to wars – even a trade war

The big world news story at the moment appears to be regarding a trade war that has broken out between the US and China (although it could be argued that it is between the US and the rest of the world). Of course such a war will have an effect on many key elements of each world’s economy.

Being who we are, let’s talk about how it might affect property prices.

Generally speaking property growth relies on a stable local and world economy.

Continue reading Property prices react badly to wars – even a trade war