Tactics in a tough market
Selling your house is a massive step and one that involves many big decisions that can have a major impact on your finances and lifestyle.
To add to this, selling in a ‘‘buyer’s market’’ means you need to provide extra care and attention to present and market your house in the best light possible. You also have to be realistic with the conditions of the market and how that may affect your sale price.
Here is some advice for selling your property in a buyer’s market.
When selling in a buyer’s market, the likelihood is that your property has been worth more than what it is worth today. So it’s important to do an honest assessment of your property’s value at the outset.
Use recent sales as comparisons. When property prices are declining, you need current sales to provide a realistic picture. Local real estate agents are a wealth of knowledge, typically knowing the most about sales in your area.
Do your own online research and arrange a valuation for independent certainty. Don’t value your property at what you ‘‘could have’’ sold it for – you need to operate in the current market.
In a rising market, selling a property is easier and much less skill and experience is required.
However, in a buyer’s market, a good agent will really stand out. There is a lot more hard work and time needed to sell.
To find the right agent, try to: ■ Get referrals and recommendations on agents, ideally from someone you know.
■ Find someone who is active and experienced in your local market. Check their sales record.
■ Find an agent who is prepared to work with other agents and agencies.
■ Find someone trustworthy and realistic. You want to feel comfortable that they are open with their communication and updates and will work hard for you. Someone who will be honest and realistic but won’t try to force you to accept an offer you’re not happy with.
Work with your agent to pick the right sales strategy for you and your property.
Auctions have been the preferred sales method during recent years in a seller’s market when demand for housing was high and competition for one property was the norm.
Buyers are now wanting to have an indication upfront on pricing, and many will only place conditional offers, with asking prices becoming the preferred sales approach.
Your pricing strategy can play a decisive role in whether a buyer will even come to view your house.
Consider a plan B if your house is not sold within a certain time frame. Would you lower your price? Take a break and relist at a later point?
Houses take longer to sell in a buyer’s market, so factor in what you might do differently if you aren’t receiving any offers.
You need to do all you can to make your property appealing. These days, the first impression takes place online, so your marketing needs to draw people in and get them to view your property in person.
Have professional photographs taken and then create an attention-grabbing listing with attractive key photos to draw people in.
Digital marketing and premium listings on sites such as Trade Me will get more exposure and eyeballs on your listing. Consider who your likely buyer markets are and tailor your marketing to appeal to them.
When buyers have the power, they become more picky in their house hunting. Before you market, view your home from a buyer’s perspective.
Think about what might put a buyer off and what can you do about it beforehand. Address maintenance issues before listing.
You might receive offers that are conditional on a builder’s report, so dealing with items that could be flagged means less reason for a buyer to say no.
One characteristic typical of a buyer’s market is the increase in listings – which means more competition.
That means you need to make sure your property will stand out from the rest. Here’s how to do it: ■ Do a deep and thorough clean of your property – inside and out. Water-blast your exterior, sweep your drive, clean your windows, wash marks off interior walls, dry-clean your
drapes, have your carpets shampooed, shine your stainless steel, mow the lawns and get rid of the weeds.
■ Remove excess ‘‘stuff’’ to make your house feel clean and spacious. Get rid of personal items to help buyers visualise the house as theirs, rather than feeling like intruders in your home.
■ Consider the best placement and layout of furniture, and present it in a style to showcase your house and appeal to buyers. If you have some extra in your budget, consider partial or full professional staging.
■ Before open homes, ensure your house has a welcoming environment. Make sure the house is warm (if it’s winter), turn lights on, open doors to showcase open-plan living, play music, and light a scented candle.
Declutter: Staging: Finishing touches:
When negotiating with buyers, whether a sale is achieved or not can often come down to small margins. It can take extra effort to make the final step to close your sale. As with any negotiations, it’s often unclear what the other party’s limit is, and it’s a fine balance between testing their levels through counter-offers without risking them walking away.
When you initially price your property, consider allowing room for negotiation, to make buyers feel like they get a win.
Or offer sweeteners, such as leaving appliances or additional chattels, or agreeing to complete maintenance concerns prior to settlement.
Further, be aware that you can still negotiate with your agent right up until a contract is signed. Some agents may reduce their commission if it means getting a sale secured.
Husband and wife team Caleb and Alice Pearson won The Block NZ in 2013 and are the founders of Pearson + Projects, a home for projects, ideas and inspiration for DIY enthusiasts, homemakers and renovators.