Whilst it will be the responsibility of your chosen estate agent to sell your property on your behalf, there is a lot you can do as an owner to help that happen more quickly, often at a better price, and in many cases with reduced levels of stress. So here are a few tips I have picked up over the years:-
Try to get the asking price right. This isn’t an exact science and is easier to achieve in some price ranges and locations than others, but be honest and realistic with yourself when setting your price. Clearly you should be guided by the opinions of local estate agents, but beware of agents flattering you with high valuations designed only to gain your business – your experience will be frustrating, with little interest but regular calls requesting incremental price reductions…this is not a ‘good look’ as multiple reductions suggest desperation to potential purchasers, and desperation will encourage low offers or put buyers off altogether. I suggest conducting your own research of recent sold prices in your area. What other sellers are asking for is almost of no consequence, it’s what they sell for which counts – try using sold price information available on Rightmove and Zoopla. Use this information in conjunction with estate agents’ valuations and their own sold price data to get a feel for what is a realistic price. Don’t be tempted to then add another 10 or 15k as this will most likely make all the difference between selling in good time at an optimum price, or it taking much longer and you ending up accepting less than you would have had you priced it realistically in the first place.
Make an effort. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer and take a dispassionate look at the property and any outside space. It’s very likely you can make inexpensive improvements. A number of ideas might include: improve kerb appeal by tidying up the front garden, driveway and/or façade of the building – weed borders and driveway, clean/paint windows etc. Smarten up your garden and keep on top of it for as long as the property is for sale. De-clutter and keep tidy – put as much stuff as you can out of sight…in the loft or garage; not only is a tidy property generally more appealing, it will also appear larger. Make sure it smells nice – you don’t necessarily need to go to the lengths of baking fresh bread…but try to make sure it smells clean, and where possible free from pet odours or smoking fumes. Facilitate as much natural light in to the property as possible.
Don’t smother viewers. Whether you are conducting your own viewing or your agent is…give the viewers the space to have a proper look. If you follow them around they will likely feel self-conscious and distracted, and may want to leave sooner than they would if they could take a relaxed stroll round. It’s fine to be on hand to answer any questions of course, but maybe wait in one room until required. To be frank, though, even though no one knows your property like you do, the best strategy you can adopt for viewings is to go out and leave it to the agent. This will of course not always be possible, but on occasion when it is, the buyers will generally feel more relaxed and therefore more likely to fall in love with your home.
Keep an open mind. You can perhaps disregard this point if you live on a road or in an area where people are queuing up to live. If demand for your property is significantly higher than supply then of course you can stay bullish on price and to a degree on terms, completion dates etc., but bear in mind that everyone has a deal-breaking point, so try to stay open minded about things – when discussing offers look at the ‘big picture’. Full asking price and above is great, but if it’s from someone who cannot proceed any time soon then it is almost worthless. An offer slightly lower than asking price, but from someone who can proceed with a solid or non-existent chain may well be more valuable to you. Consider that securing a buyer in a great position might also translate to you being able to negotiate a better deal on your onward purchase. Basically don’t act in haste…calmly consider your options before making decisions.
Don’t create unnecessary deadlines. As you probably know, moving home can get stressful, particularly if you are trying to tie in a sale and a purchase at the same time – which most people do. What is not helpful is applying, or having anyone else attempting to apply, a premature deadline. Providing the transaction is progressing at a reasonable rate, and is being monitored properly by your agent and conveyancer, try not to get drawn in to fixing a completion date before you and the chain are ready to exchange contracts. Dates which are set prematurely will almost always lead to disappointment, frustration and stress when they are not met, and on occasion this will jeopardise the whole deal. Don’t book removals, don’t book time off work and don’t set completion dates until the whole of your chain is on the brink of exchanging contracts…any earlier and you are setting yourself up for potential problems.
Pick the right estate agent. Again, do your research. See which agents are selling the most property in your area – look for those that are sold stc or under offer, rather than those that are on the market. Check out where agents advertise – just Rightmove, or Rightmove, Zoopla and On The Market – you might think buyers use them all, but the overlap is much smaller than you might think. Do they advertise in the local newspapers and magazines too? Consider that if you are seeing their brand and listed properties then so will your potential buyers. Reviews and reputation – because it can be a stressful process you will most likely be grateful of a high level of service…so I suggest looking at independent review sites such as Feefo, or an agent’s own website for reviews from actual customers.
So whilst it is of course your prerogative how you approach this process, should you choose to follow at least some of these pointers you will find your chances of selling, and selling at the best price with the minimum of stress are significantly improved.