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  • Why A-grade properties still fetch top results in market downturns

Why A-grade properties still fetch top results in market downturns

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Real estate agents often talk about A-grade properties—the kinds of homes that everybody wants, that will stir up competition no matter how the market is performing.

What really makes a property A-grade, though? How much of that is something a homeowner can control? And, now that the market is shifting, is that grading going to be especially important in the near future? 

We spoke to one of Sydney's top agents to find out everything a seller needs to know in 2022.

What defines an A-grade property?

An A-grade property is a home that ticks many of the desirable boxes for buyers to a point where the property is going to generate serious competition and fetch high prices regardless of market conditions. 

Shiv Nair, director at Ray White TNG in Sydney's Hills district, explains that location, proximity to public transport, school catchment area and land size are all key factors.

"What I find is that, when property listings have many or all of these boxes ticked, the interest is much higher and we're still achieving those special prices," he says.

"Of course, you can't control the location of the property. What you can control is the presentation of the property when it's listed on the market."

Mr Nair notes that renovated properties will almost always attract a higher number of buyers, too, and even something like cleanliness can have a big impact when coming to market. 

He also points out that, as the market continues to cool, buyers are becoming more selective, making presentation and marketing as important as ever. 

Wherever the property is located, ultimately it's about presenting the home in the best possible light to give buyers confidence that they're looking at an A-grade piece of real estate.

How can sellers bump their property up to A-grade level?

Focusing on the elements that a seller does have control over, Mr Nair says there are a number of ways to give any property a big boost. 

Starting from the most basic changes a vendor can make, he says cleanliness is critical.

"I think people at times forget how important a clean property is. Regardless of how old a property is, if it's clean it makes the world of difference."

Beyond getting professional cleaners in, he also advises decluttering to make the home seem more spacious, then speaking with a property stylist or stager. 

Having a property professionally staged will hugely improve marketing materials like listing photos and videos, which today are the key way to get buyers through the door. 

If you're going to start looking at doing any work to the property, Mr Nair says the list of priorities begins simply. 

"Repainting the internal areas of the property is the most important thing. You could have a renovated home, but if the paint is old it changes the whole feel."

Shiv Nair, director of Ray White TNG in Sydney's Glendale, says there are low-cost, high-reward ways to give your property an edge over the competition. 

Flooring is another cost-effective option. Replacing old carpets and tiles or putting in new floorboards can have a remarkable impact on the freshness of a property. 

And for more serious renovations? "The first thing I would look at would be the kitchen before the bathrooms." 

"The kitchen is the centrepiece of the home where you all spend a lot of time. Buyers look at that, and that at times can be the dealbreaker."

Lastly, he explains that the exterior shouldn't be neglected either. 

"The first impression when buyers drive up to the property—you've got a beautiful lawn and manicured garden, clean driveways. Simple things like that, just making sure it looks sharp and presentable.

The market is changing - so how important is having an A-grade property now?

Economists, industry experts and banks alike are all predicting a slowdown and even reversal of property price growth in 2022 due to expected interest rate hikes and a levelling out of supply and demand

Mr Nair agrees, saying "I believe we are now entering into the next cycle of the property market. We have seen such high growth in the past 12 months, and the market is just levelling out at this moment."

As a result, the fierce competition for properties seen last year will likely be replaced by pickier, more savvy buyers who will be less likely to pay top dollar for a B- or C-grade home. 

"Buyers are definitely more conscious of what they're paying at the moment, unless it's that special house which basically everyone wants," he says.

For that reason, both presentation and timing will be critical for sellers as the year unfolds. 

"If anyone is thinking of selling, this current market is definitely the market I would be selling in."

For now, supply is still low, sale prices remain high, and buyers are "rushing to purchase now before interest rates do increase and their financial situation changes.

"I think what's very important to sellers at the moment is the speed at which they can launch to the market."