Woo house buyers with prices they can’t afford to ignore
It’s a buyer’s market and sellers are facing an Olympian challenge to secure a sale on their property. Sharon Dale reports.
NEW sellers outnumber successful buyers by an average of nearly 2:1, according to Rightmove.
The property portal’s figures also show that vendors coming to market last month dropped their asking prices by 2.4 per cent – an average of £5,837. This is the largest monthly fall Rightmove has ever recorded in August and follows a fall of 1.7 per cent in July.
Those who put homes up for sale in the summer holiday season often have an urgent reason to sell and traditionally set their prices aggressively lower.
With buyers distracted by sport and the recession, sellers are competing hard to win attention in the upcoming autumn selling season so they can move before Christmas, according to Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst.
Attractive pricing is one of the best ways to get a buyer through the door.
“Estate agents are always aiming to win new seller instructions, but if what’s already on the market isn’t shifting then the best advice they can give to potential new sellers is to undercut those properties already failing to sell. It seems agents are being a bit blunter on valuations in markets where summer buyers are scarce. With the average time on the market being 92 days, any seller hoping to move before Christmas needs to get their skates on to tempt someone who can proceed,” says Miles.
Presentation is crucial and that begins with good pictures. Rightmove research also reveals that buyers rank dirty kitchens and bathrooms as major turnoffs, along with grimy internal decoration. The importance of kerb appeal is highlighted, with untidy front gardens, poorly presented façades and external decoration deterring more than one in five viewers.
Miles Shipside says: “If buyers think a property’s price is too high and the advert fails to tick their dream property checklist, then the chances are they may not even travel to have a look. It can be really hard to get a potential buyer to visit.
“However, if it has tweaked a buyer’s emotions enough to visit, then sellers need to get the Marigolds on. Dirt in the kitchen and bathroom is the number one off-putter. Ironically, a sparkling clean finish can cost less than many other aspects of a makeover. Whilst it is hard to keep a property in constant show-home condition, developers of new homes have proved the concept sells. To get the best possible price, a seller is well advised to cover all the bases and get both interior and exterior in tip-top condition.”
Research into buyer behaviour on the Rightmove website shows that potential buyers spend an average of just 2.7 seconds looking at a seller’s summary advert before deciding whether to take their interest further, or move on to look at other properties.
The perfect combination for attracting maximum interest is an attractive price, compelling photographs and alluring description.
Good photographs are crucial to create initial interest. Agents operating at the top end of the market usually use a professional photographer. If your agent does not offer this service consider employing a professional property photographer yourself.
It’s hard to be objective about your own home. Ask your estate agent to be brutally honest about areas that might turn a prospective buyer off, then act on his or her advice.
Declutter and ensure the house is tidy for viewings, even if it means decanting your “stuff” into the car for a few hours. Never have suitcases and boxes on top of wardrobes, kitchen appliances on top of cupboards and bottles of shampoo and toiletries on the bathroom window sill. Make sure you have defined areas for storage. This is becoming much more of an issue for buyers.
Cleanliness is key. Scrub everything from skirting boards to light shades and make sure your windows sparkle.
Make your property the best it can be. Quality homes with good finish and layout are easier to sell. Poorly cared-for property is harder to sell, unless the price or potential it offers once improved is extremely attractive.
Open house viewings are the norm in America and can be very effective as they can create a sense of competition between buyers. Consider an open day and serve refreshments.
If the house has lingered on the market have a price check. Look at what similar properties have sold for. Zoopla, www.zoopla. co.uk, has a sold prices section. A price drop may reignite interest.
If you want a quick sale and certainty then consider putting your property into auction. The process from listing to sale takes about four weeks and once the hammer comes down the buyer is legally bound, so there is no chance the sale will fall through. You will have to make the guide price and reserve attractive, as auction property prices are generally around 20 per cent less than market value.
Another strategy is to price low and then put the house to tender. Inviting sealed bids encourages competition and the highest bid wins.
ALL IN ONE: This property offers a multi-faceted business and a four-bedroom home all under one roof alongside a large garden.
ACTION PLAN: Don’t let your home languish on the market.