Experts predict that the housing market will face some challenging times in the months ahead as the number of sales continue to fall. With the average house now taking over 19 weeks to sell, the outlook may appear disheartening if you want to sell.
There are still buyers out there, searching for their next home from a smaller pool of properties, and Philip Taylor, a residential conveyancing expert with Pearsons & Ward in Malton, offers some advice on selling your home in a flat market.
Market data suggests that overall house prices are slipping. There are strong regional and local variations, so it pays to research the sale price your home may realistically expect to achieve.
Local estate agents should have a good idea of how much your property is likely to fetch, and it is a good idea to speak to several. Remember estate agents may have their own agenda, and may be over-optimistic on price to gain your business. Ask them about comparable properties they have sold in your area and the prices they achieved. There are also online tools which can give you an indicative value for your home, such as the one at Homeowners’ Alliance.
Once you have worked out how much your home is worth, you will need to agree an asking price. Discuss your strategy with your agent. Most buyers expect to negotiate on price, so you may want to ask for a little more than you would be happy to accept. The price should also reflect how keen you are to sell your property quickly. A lower price is more likely to attract speculative offers. Price too high and you may struggle to generate interest.
Research suggests that for over three quarters of buyers first impressions are crucial when viewing a property. It is important, therefore, to maximise your home’s appeal. Deep clean, fix anything that needs repairing, and make sure your property looks its best. Experts suggest de-cluttering and de-personalising so that would-be buyers can visualise themselves living in your home more easily. Remember too, that a lot of people decide whether to view a property based on how it looks online. So make sure the photos of your home really do it justice.
You no longer need to provide a Home Information Pack, or HIP, before putting your home on the market. However, you will still need an Energy Performance Certificate which will give your home a rating depending on its energy efficiency.
The idea behind the HIP was to make house buying more transparent by providing a lot of the information a buyer needs up front. Your conveyancing solicitor will deal with the matters previously covered by the HIP once you have accepted an offer. It is a good idea to discuss your plans with your solicitor early on, ideally before you put your home on the market. This way you can ensure that all the information a buyer may require is readily available. For example, if your home is leasehold, would-be buyers may ask about the service charge. Having this information to hand will enable you to answer their questions and help to build confidence.
Discussing your plans with your conveyancer early on will also enable any problems with the title to be resolved so they do not jeopardise the progress of your sale. For example, if there is a restriction on your property’s title which prevents building without a third party’s consent, your solicitor will need to show that there is a relevant consent, or that its absence is unlikely to cause problems. This may be possible by showing a history of non-enforcement and an appropriate title insurance policy.
Remember, any title issue is better actively addressed by your own solicitor rather than coming as a nasty surprise to your buyer.
It is important your estate agent is enthusiastic about selling your property. Before choosing an agent, think about how good they will be at showing your home to would-be buyers.
Ask them how they will market your home. A good agent can suggest different strategies to generate interest and help to speed your sale up. Open house events, where prospective buyers may view a property in a short window of one or two hours, can be an effective way of generating interest in some properties. Others may better suit a more targeted approach.
Remember too that the process of selling your home does not end when you accept an offer. Find out from your agent how they will check progress and help to keep your sale on track.
In a flat property market, buyers may feel more jittery particularly if they are buying a home for the first time. It is important, therefore, to choose a solicitor who will manage your sale proactively and who is a good communicator.
Title issues, unexpected delays, or a protracted silence, can make buyers nervous or encourage them to look elsewhere. An experienced conveyancer, who you can have confidence in and who will give your sale their close personal attention, will help you get to completion even in the most challenging market.