With many people struggling to sell their homes at the present time, DBPR asked agents on why people might be finding it tough to sell, and any tips on they might have on what to do…
Merton Croisdale-Appleby, Director at Maskells
“The most important message to people at the moment is not to panic – they aren’t alone, most people selling are having the same problem. We have been through probably the quietest summer on record as people fled London to have a break from all the politics of the general election and Brexit. Life has now returned to normal and the market is starting to move in a most encouraging way, with enquiry and viewing numbers back to a level we haven’t seen since before Teresa May’s announcement of the snap election.
In this unsettled world, vendors must make the most of this renewed activity and ensure that their property is showing at its best, priced correctly and with an agent who is not simply waiting for a buyer to turn up, but is actively selling the property. Our advice would be to ensure the house is as free of clutter as possible, all rooms are dressed to show at their best to ensure that buyers can see for instance that a bedroom is large enough for a double bed. Keep on top of sweeping up fallen leaves in the garden and make sure the buyer’s first impression is a good one. Viewing numbers are likely to be lower than vendors and agents hope, so each one really matters and maximum effort from both parties is essential in order that the property is seen in its best light.”
Brendan Roberts, Director, Aylesford International
“We are in a ‘soft’ market and whilst there appear to be fewer and fewer properties coming to the market, there is no urgency from buyers and the general lack of confidence means that sales are only achieved where a buyer finds value. With many firms in Central London running offices in several different boroughs, and often several offices within the same borough, a diligent buyer focused on a specific price range and size/type of property may well gain a more detailed knowledge of what is available in the market than the agent, particularly if looking in a wide area such as say Chelsea, South Kensington, Kensington and Holland Park, and find what meets their criteria and offers best value.
Presentation is key in such a competitive market; tackling decorative issues, old water marks, damp patches, and tidying front and rear gardens so that a property looks its best.
The market is likely to remain difficult for the foreseeable future with Stamp Duty slowing the decision making process as it triggers such significant transaction costs, along with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and indications that Interest Rates are finally about to start to rise again. For the best chance of success in today’s climate it is crucial to be sensible on pricing, be aware of exactly what the competition is and what your property has to offer by comparison, along with perfecting the presentation.”
James Robinson, General Manager – Lurot Brand
“Today greed is bad – and today the biggest obstacles to selling houses are the seller’s belief in unrealistic valuations.
Many agents use flattering valuations to win instructions then chip away at their asking prices until they eventually sell often for a lot less than if they had priced correctly at launch.
It’s astonishing how many owners are naïve enough to be duped by lazy estate agents giving un-evidenced ‘snake oil’ valuations. In this market a property will not ‘grow’ into its price, that kind of market has gone for the time being, however price right from the start and you can still achieve an all-time record price. The market is holding but don’t be greedy and remember, when you come to buy, all properties go up and down on the same tide.
The best price comes from the best advice. The best advice is based on the best results. The best results come from the best strategy. A seller should leave nothing to chance, we don’t!”
Alex Newall Managing Director of Barnes Private Office
“The market is less liquid than it once was with circa 100,000 sales taking place annually. So, your sale will take time, and just pricing it correctly will not necessarily lead to a quicker sale. Finding the right buyer in a fixed period of time (could be quickly or it may take a year for higher priced homes at the top end of the market) in not certain if you want the best price. What you can do however is:
- Maximise the initial interest in your property with good photos, an honest description and floor plans.
- Include any development potential in the details.
- Make the most of every viewing – present the property tidy, de-cluttered and smelling pleasant.
- Don’t hard sell – give people time to view your house without hounding them. If they have a question they will ask. Just give them the key details.
- Negotiate with supporting evidence and in good will. It’s a buyers market after all.
- Set a target date for exchange and completion. If this then has to move, so be it – but all parties have something to work towards together.”
Giles Cook, Head of Residential at Best Gapp
“The issue with the current PCL sales market is that there is absolutely no rhythm. Despite a devalued pound allowing for greater overseas purchasing power, buyers and sellers are in reduced supply. Combined with prohibitive entry and exit costs and an uncertain political and economic climate,
transaction volumes are forecast to remain lower than normal. It is therefore vital for any seller to differentiate themselves from the competition. Easy access for viewings, a ‘clutter-free’, clean and tidy environment, the correct exposure to the widest possible audience and realistic pricing are as ever key to success, however the most important variable of all is time. Be patient and let the market deliver.”
David Lee, David Lee, Head of Sales at Pastor Real Estate
“Surveyors continue to be cautious when valuing properties. Unless instructed independently by the purchaser or seller, a residential chartered surveyor is likely to be working on behalf of a mortgage lender or other financial institution. Surveyors who sit on a lenders “panel” of surveyors are therefore obliged to obtain recent comparable sales evidence (i.e. properties that have completed within the last 3 months) in order to justify their pricing decision.
Many valuers are struggling to find recent sales evidence in certain areas (due to reduced transaction levels) in order to compare values, which is making it more difficult to accurately calculate prices (certainly more so than in previous years).
Many surveyors are somewhat downcast about the general market conditions, whilst others are more positive, depending upon their own personal experiences and area of expertise. Ultimately surveyors must try and make an informed judgement on value, often no easy task. They must also protect their own interests and ensure they take responsibility for their decision. It is for this reason why many surveyors are airing on the side of caution when it comes to residential property valuations.
Sellers’ agents should try and gather recent sales evidence to help support their clients property valuations whenever possible. This could make or break a surveyors opinion. Ultimately, surveyors are chartered independent experts who will look at a variety of sources to come up with their own decision, but having additional information to present on the day of the inspection can only be seen as a positive step.
Some purchasers feel they may need to adjust their offer price following the results of surveys and building inspections. However, it is still quite uncommon to find purchasers reducing their offers on the day of exchange. The practice of “gazundering” does exist but there are few sellers willing to accept reduced offers, unless there is some form of justification. Overall, the market in Mayfair remains highly price sensitive, but given the nature of the area, very few clients are under any pressure to sell, due in part to exceptionally low holding costs and record low borrowing rates.”