Selling your Property
Selling your property used to be straight forward, however with the internet, increased uncertainty after Covid 19, tiered rates of Stamp Duty and new “affordability tests” governing lending the property market has fundamentally changed.
Without careful planning one of the greatest risk sellers face in these “all-seeing” times is that a property remains exposed for too long thus destroying confidence and the eventual price.
Every homeowner dreams of a quick and stress-free sale when they first put their property on the market, and some homes do sell in days, however watching poorly marketed properties languish on internet for months can be soul destroying.
Selecting an estate agent
These days your estate agent must be professional: A master of the internet with a strong high street presence and excellent customer service.
Smart phones and technology have changed the property market to one which is “all-seeing” with properties being viewed many hundreds of times a day.
At Potter’s Estate Agents we believe “failure to prepare is preparing to fail” therefore, we spend slightly longer than most agents in preparing your property prior to launch.
The old adage of “you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression” is never truer than with property.
In the UK in 2018 on average, it took 102 days to sell a home according to the Post Office.
If you have not sold your house within this time, then the reality is you and your agent are under-performing the market.
Whilst some parts of the market remain buoyant (for example First Time Buys and Buy to Let Properties) other parts of the market (where stamp duty rates have increased) are now slower than they used to be.
For us the key in in the preparation. A few more days good preparation can save many months and thousands of pounds in the long run.
Instructing the Wrong Agent/ internet
Having the right person representing your home is vital, both in the Estate Agent’s Office and at viewings.
Many of the larger agents will have a more presentable senior colleague do the initial appraisal but then delegate the viewings to the most junior person in the office, only to lose the sale.
How would a 55-year-old buyer feel about being showed around a property by a 19-year-old that is still living with his parents?
Or a retired person looking at sheltered accommodation?
What experience has the most junior person got of Council Tax, Utilities, The Property’s potential, Stamp Duty, Road Connections, Planning Permission, etc’
Does your agent have an “up market professional feel” and “inspire confidence” or are you being short changed by having the wrong person representing your property and conducting viewings.
There are many pitfalls that sellers fall into, not least are having unrealistic expectations – being tempted by an “above market valuation” by an estate agent keen to secure the listing often results in the property languishing for sale on the internet for too long destroying confidence and the eventual price achieved.
It is not uncommon to see a property that has been “over-valued” being discounted, transferred to other agents, or stubbornly remaining for sale years later.
Once the rot sets in and a property has been overexposed it can be very difficult to recover.
Finding a buyer
Marketing (Internet Searches)
Most homebuyers begin a home search online so choosing the right “first go to platform” is essential.
Care needs to be taken in how the property is listed.
The internet is a great marketing tool, but it has some limitations:
Data shows that people set a maximum and minimum price when searching property portals, so if your house is on for just over a threshold (eg £380,000), buyers with an upper limit of £375,000 won't see it in their search results.
Frequently property is marketed as having three bedrooms where an additional room has been used as a study or converted into a dressing room which means it could be four, again this causes elimination on current platforms.
Whilst the internet is very powerful it takes an Estate Agent with experience to be able to demonstrate potential.
Marketing your home becomes easier if you can identify what the current market trends are and focus attention on what excites potential purchasers:
In this “all-seeing” market where properties frequently have 500 + internet hits listings without photos or with only an exterior shot are often ignored.
Fear and Uncertainty
Fears with Covid 19 over Employment and Interest Rate changes can make some buyers more cautious with nervousness about the effects on future house prices.
Although all markets tend to go down as well as up by taking the long term view and having the ability to fix repayments for many years in advance most of these fears can be alleviated.
Does you agent have a positive view of the property market and inspire confidence?
Our experience shows that some homes are best represented with drone photography, especially if they're situated on the waterfront, near a park or a special building.
Other property may benefit from a night shot where the view of the home is illuminated by outdoor lighting.
Some properties are best seen from the inside rather like the internal rooms on a cruise ship that have no exterior views, whilst others are best seen from the outside.
House photos look better without cars, neighbours bins, and evidence of pets and children's toys.
Half an hour removing vegetation from the front driveway, mowing the lawn and trimming the bushes emphases space and can make all the difference.
Some photographs are best close up and others angled.
Poor photographs and laziness mean the little things like leaving shade falling on the house, clutter, or leaving toilet lids open can adversely affect sales.
How many agents will use a compass and choose the best time of the day for the right photos and have this as a priority over a convenient time in their diary.
With modern digital cameras we take photographs of every room even, some of these from angles you don’t normally see. These may surprise you.
Opening curtains, blinds and turning on the lights makes a difference.
Sometimes focusing on interesting details like the condition of a wood floor or a fireplace mantle can excite, whilst wine glasses on the table or floral arrangements in kitchens and dining rooms create a homely image.
In the past virtual tours were just for more exclusive homes, however with digital technology these are now much more accessible.
A good virtual tour with a well thought through script will grab a buyer by the hand and lead them from room to room, whether it's 360 or a video.
People look and re-look at internet pictures, zooming in at different times of the day. Although good marketing doesn’t sell the property it has a profound effect.
Good signage is “free advertising” that encourages enquires but it depends on where the sign is positioned as to what effect it has.
Where homes are situated on busy roads, they can have a lot of impact, and on corner plots two signs will have twice the impact.
However, if they are placed in a widow where they are blocking out light, they can do more harm than good, and the wrong sign can send the wrong message about the sellers.
Some of the internet signs boost “cheap fees,” however if the owner is not prepared to pay for a professional service when selling his home, it can lead to questions over what else has been done on the cheap in the home!
Print advertising in Newspapers fifteen years ago used to be the go-to medium however this has fundamentally changed with the internet.
Where appropriate we will advertise in newspapers and local magazines however there is always the risk of over exposure.
It is not uncommon these days to sell a property before it is advertised on the open market, or to have a direct mail program where potential buyers are contacted before a property is publicly listed.
These direct mailings can be very useful as they give early feedback on such things as price and décor and they allow the agent to change the way property is marketed.
One of the quickest ways to sell a property is to hold an open house. Whilst not every home is suitable for this type of marketing because of location or price if your property is located near a high traffic area where buyers swarm, it's probably a good candidate.
Technology has made it very easy to create and send electronic flyers including multiple photographs of your house.
Selling and buying a house is about money as well as emotion, the numbers must add up for a sale to occur.
Many people need help to understand how things have changed.
With affordability tests, income multiples, deposits required, Lending to Value etc' its beneficial to seek advice from a Mortgage & Protection Adviser.
Record low interest rates mean opportunities arise as property becomes more affordable, however with new tiers of stamp duty so do the limitations.
Sellers need to understand their target market, legal and estate agent’s fees and what they are getting for their money.
A more expensive property by its nature tends to have fewer viewings, and yet with fixed percentage fees sellers often pay disproportionally higher fees for less hours spent marketing the property.
Our uniquely tapering fee structure seeks to re-dress this and to lessen the effect of stamp duty gradually phasing to just 0.25%!
With interest rates at very low levels, the repayments mortgagee’s make these days are considerably less than they were two generation ago, yet we still see people struggling.
By introducing clients to a Regulated Mortgage and Protection Adviser we are able provide someone outside our organisation with the experience and qualifications to help potential purchasers understand the options.
A good Regulated Mortgage and Protection Adviser can recommend specialist lenders. They are at arms length from our business and their role is to help you to obtain the mortgage that best suits your needs.
Accompanied viewings mean we can use our expertise to help sell your property.
Our longer opening hours and flexibility on late or out of hours appointments are essential to maximise viewing opportunities for your property.
The old adage: “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” applies to viewing as well.
Before the property is presented on the market you may wish to pause and think about the state of the Garden, Fences, Windows and Woodwork.
When you make a booking where will the sun be in the sky? Is there a time of the day when your property looks at its best?
Thirty minutes prior to a viewing spending time decluttering, tidying and cleaning can make all the difference.
Little things like air fresheners change the atmosphere within the house. Never underestimate the importance of smell, particularly if you're a smoker or a pet owner.
We would always recommend we conduct the viewing on your behalf. This is a great option as experience enables us to show your property in its best light and buyers may feel more comfortable looking at things in detail and asking questions away from the owner.
If possible, make sure you're out of the house while viewings take place this avoids any ill prepared negotiations or personality issues.
Health and Safety:
In February 2017 an Estate Agent lost a case in Swindon Magistrates Court after a lady fell into an unguarded Well whilst viewing a property.
Unless you have the right legal protection on your home insurance you may not want the responsibility for showing other people around your home.
Potential Buyers are impressed by a well-presented file of paperwork.
The file should contain a copy of the Property title deeds, floor plan and an Energy Performance Certificate.
If you bought the property less than 10 years ago Building Regulations and any details of Planning Permissions and Certificates for Gas and Electrical Work.
Details of recent Utility Bills including Water, Boiler Servicing, Buildings and Contents Insurance Policies are very helpful.
With a unique fee structure that tapers, reducing as the price of the property increases and 40 years of collective business experience, Potters Estate Agents increase the likelihood of securing the asking price.
As soon as a buyer makes an offer we will contact you to communicate full details, plus any special conditions, to help you decide whether or not to accept.
Accept an offer
Once you accept an offer, we Prepare a memorandum of sale confirm the agreed price with all parties
If you have your own solicitor, we will ask you to confirm their details
The next step is for your solicitor will send out a draft contract to the buyer's solicitor who will then carry out preliminary enquiries.
At this stage you will also be able to agree on dates for the survey on your property, the exchange of contracts and proposed date for completion.
We will advise you and negotiate on your behalf throughout this process.
There are no legal obligations until contracts are signed and exchanged
Instructing a solicitor
A successful sale relies on an efficient and experienced solicitor.
We have a close working relationship with many solicitors locally which can help when it comes to expertise, speed and efficiency.
Managing the Chain
Some properties can be hard for buyers to get a mortgage on. Lenders can be less willing to lend on flats above shops, properties with a short lease or homes
If this is the case we are able to recommend a number of local Regulated Independent Financial Advisers who could potentially alleviate the problem, such as recommending specialist mortgage providers or offering to renew the lease as part of the conditions of the sale.
To make it less likely that a deal will fall through, you can ask your agent to ensure buyers have a mortgage ‘agreement in principle’ proving that they can borrow enough money.
If you receive multiple offers on your property, look at the bidders' circumstances as well as how much they're offering. If someone without a chain (a first-time buyer, for example) is offering slightly less than someone with a property that needs to be sold, the chain-free buyer may be the safer bet.
Completion is when the residual monies (usually 90%) are transferred from the buyer's solicitor to your solicitor's account.
Your solicitor will call you when the money has cleared in your account and will inform us to release the keys.
Congratulations, your property is now sold!
As part of the ongoing service we can arrange to read meters and inform various companies that you have moved.
We have connection to removal firms and access to a range of rental properties should you require alternative accommodation.