However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Even in a dismal market, there are things you can do to maximise your chances of selling your property. Here are our top 10 tips…
1. Choose the right estate agent
Selling a house is a stressful business. So choosing the right estate agent who is going to minimise worry and maximise results, is a vital first step.
You’ll want an agent with proven and up-to-date marketing techniques, who can pull in maximum viewings – all the while remaining good value for money. Look online and research various agents in your local area by asking for recommendations.
The fee you are charged will either be a percentage of the sale price or a flat fee. Either way, don’t be afraid to negotiate and let agents know what you’ve been offered elsewhere.
If you want multiple agents to take the property on, it’s important to note that you may end up paying more than one fee, regardless of who sells the property. Therefore always read the conditions of the contract before you instruct an agent.
2. Take home price indices with a pinch of salt when establishing an asking price
We are constantly bombarded with conflicting reports of house prices rising or falling, and it can be hard to know which one to believe.
However, these contradictions exist because they rely on different data. For example, Nationwide and Halifax house price indices base average property values on mortgage valuations, while the Land Registry records what the home actually changed hands for – though by the time the figures come through they can be a few months out of date. The Rightmove house price index uses asking prices which can be very different to the actual value of a property – which, of course, is what it actually sells for.
And these are all averages anyway – even with regional data, the price your home fetches can depend on the area, the pocket of that area, the street and, in some cases, even which end or side of the street the home is on.
Don’t be too swayed by newspaper reports when it comes to establishing an asking price for your home – and taking an average of three estate agents’ valuations is also a good idea rather than plumping for the lowest.
3. Increase your property’s ‘kerb appeal’
A potential buyer could be put off even before they have set foot inside your front door if they are given a bad first impression. You want them to walk up the drive or path already feeling impressed and excited to see more.
So do what it takes to create that lasting first impression. Make sure the exterior of your home is up to scratch and if your front door or fence is looking tired, brighten it up with a lick of paint. Put up hanging baskets to add colour and if you have a garden plant some bedding flowers. Move bins out of view and clear away anything unsightly.
4. Spruce up and de-clutter
Making your home attractive to a buyer needn’t mean an expensive décor overhaul. Chances are it won’t be to the buyer’s taste anyway and will be replaced as soon as they move in. But you should freshen up rooms with a neutral lick of paint in warm tones.
Make sure your rooms are clutter-free and as light and airy as possible. A mirror hung in the hall can give the illusion of space and a few vases of flowers or some plants can freshen up the house.
A kitchen is a big selling point, so make sure all the worktops are clear and that it smells fresh and clean. If you do have pets, ask a relative or friend to look after them while viewings are taking place. While you love your furry friend, chances are your buyer won’t – or worse still, they may be allergic.
5. Bear in mind that little things count
Don’t forget the detail either. Chances are the buyer will be nit-picking as they will be looking at a number of properties and weighing everything up. So get around now to those annoying little maintenance jobs such as a long overdue light bulb change.
6. Define each room
Buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in the house so it’s essential that each room is shown off to it highlight its purpose. If your dining room is full of work papers or exercise equipment for example, return it to its original purpose. It’s also important to de-personalise, for example by taking down posters in the kids bedrooms – so the buyer can see the potential for the house and where they would put their own items.
7. Stay out of the way!
When potential buyers come to view your property, let them wander freely around the house with the agent. You want them to feel comfortable and as though they can spend time looking at each room freely. Be ready also to answer any questions after the viewing.
8. Make the most of outdoor space
Gardens or any type of outdoor space can be another great selling point – but an overgrown jungle could see your buyer running mile. Not only will the space look smaller and ‘forgotten about’, if paying out for a gardener isn’t in your viewer’s plan or budget, it could completely put them off the property.
9. Choose the best buyer
Once the offers are on the table, your next big job is to choose the most reliable buyer.
Safer buyers include those who have already sold their home and are in rented accommodation, chain-free first time buyers, and cash buyers who do not need a mortgage. Bear this in mind but depending on how many offers you get, this choice might not be a luxury you have.
Obviously there will be other factors you need to take into consideration such as how quickly you need to sell and whether you have found somewhere to move in to yourself.
10. Consider alternatives
Even if you were to employ all these tips, unfortunately there are no concrete guarantees that in the current market you will sell your home.
However, if your motivation for moving is that you need more space, new government proposals to relax current planning permissions could be the answer.
If the plans go ahead, full planning permission (which is currently required for extensions of more than three or four metres from the rear wall of any home) would only be needed for those reaching beyond 8m for detached homes and 6m for other homes.
It would only be for a three-year window but the generous extra space could be a real option for some, and potentially a viable alternative to selling your home.
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