How to sell your home in a tough market

    23 July 2019

    Whenever you want to sell a house or a flat, there will always be someone on hand to tell you that it’s a bad market. There’s an election looming, the economy isn’t performing, interest rates are on the way up, unemployment is on the rise, Brexit. Blah, blah, blah. It’s all noise. There is nevera good time to sell. Similarly, there is nevera bad time to put your home on the market either.

    If you have the right product. At the right price. It will sell.

    Recent figures by Rightmove confirm that the UK property market fell by 0.2 per cent in the past month. That figure is, of course, meaningless. The UK is not a single market. Every street is different. Every size or age of property has its dynamic.

    Arguably it’s a buyer’s market. Developers haven’t dropped their asking prices. Nor will they. But to get a deal done, you could get as much as twenty percent off if you’re sharp and have the finance in place to go. The more pertinent comment from Rightmove is that there’s less property coming to the market, down 7.7 per cent on the same period last year. This reduction in supply and continuum of low interest rates makes the prospect of a market crash limited. More importantly, they revealed that the average time taken to sell is up to 62 days. This is the highest it’s been at this time of year since 2013.

    So how can you ensure that whatever you’re trying to sell will go?

    1. Be Objective

    I am sure you think your house or flat is lovely. It doesn’t smell and your taste is impeccable. Most people who visit your property will not think that. It stinks, your choice of décor is marginal, and you’ve got too much clutter. If you have children of any age? They smell. A dog or a cat? That smells too. And its hairs are everywhere. I have a dog. And his detritus and accoutrements are littered throughout the house. But I don’t give a stuff because I am not selling. If I was, I’d be doing a lot cleaning, sorting and organising because regardless of a general market, there are things you need to do to maximise your sale price and minimise the amount of time your place is on the market.

    2. Go and see three agents

    Don’t just ask for the asking price but for their view what it will sell for. Ask them to be brutal. And honest. Ask how long they think it would take for the house to sell. Find out what they last sold and whether it went for at, above or below asking. Get your pricing right. At the same time engage a lawyer so you get your side of things sorted out before you go to market.

    3. Kerb appeal

    Get your windows cleaned, inside and out. Get the steps washed and brushed, tidy up any plants, make your home look lovely and cared for. If you live in a converted house, clean the common parts yourself. People make up their minds very quickly, so you need to do everything you can to ensure the first walk through the door is homely and welcoming.

    4. De-clutter

    When you are selling this is no longer your home. This is a place which could be someone else’s. It’s always wise to get rid of every extra piece of clutter you can identify; this is not the time to show off your own taste in furniture. Pay for it to be put in storage. Don’t leave the place empty. Just clutter free. Do not leave shoes in the hallway, nor too many coats on the coat hooks. Reduce the number of photographs and personal items. Ask your cattiest friend to come around and tell you what they think.

    5. Paint the hallway

    Make a budget of up to £5,000 for works to make your house ready to sell. Change any carpet that has stains. Or a bathroom floor that’s grim. Fix anything that is obviously broken and focus on the small details: cupboard doors that don’t close, fridges that smell.  Buy a Dualit toaster. And use it a bit. Why? Because everyone likes a Dualit toaster and the smell of fresh toast is pervasive and delicious. Whatever you do. Don’t burn it!

    7. Go out

    It sounds obvious but ensure you’re out of your home when a viewing takes place.

    8. Remember negotiations take place quickly

    Most negotiations have three rounds. Opening offer. Second bite. Last go. Then that’s it. You have no more chances and be prepared to stick to your guns. However, you’d be wise to remember that very often the first people who come and view the property and make a formal offer are your most likely buyers.

    Hold your nerve and make sure you prepare yourself. It’s hard to accept an offer for less than you think your property is worth. Which is why you need to do that agonising before you start the process. And also, so you can set your budget for buying your new place. And finally, don’t forget to calculate the costs of moving, Stamp Duty, storage and removals and of course estate agency fees. I’d say enjoy the process, but even for a seasoned property professional, selling a home is stressful. So if I were you, I’d promise yourself a holiday when the process is done, completed and the cash is in the bank!

    James Max is a Chartered Surveyor and presents the Business Breakfast on TalkRADIO every weekday between 5 and 6.30am