Although the housing market has shown surprising resistance to the uncertainty of the Brexit vote, some homeowners are finding it difficult to sell their properties. The recent vote to trigger Article 50 when the Government still hasn’t presented a credible plan has perhaps fuelled uncertainty and left buyers a little hesitant to make any rash decisions.
Stats provided by home.co.uk show that around a quarter of all homes on Rightmove have been listed for at least six months – with one in seven listed for over nine months. Country sellers are suffering the most, with the current trend for urban living placing these properties on the shelf for the time being. In Cambridge and Bristol, two prime locations, urban homes saw price growth of 3.8% – while rural properties grew by just 0.9%. Estate agent Savills isn’t expecting a turnaround any time soon.
If your property just won’t sell, what can you do?
If your décor is highly individual, it may be putting off buyers. Ask your agent for advice as they will have a good idea what your target market is looking for. Painting a property neutral throughout can sometimes help make it more appealing as would-be buyers can envisage how they would make it their own. Removing any unusual furniture can also help – otherwise the buyer may be drawn to the items they don’t like, rather than fully taking in the positive features of the space.
Some sellers have resorted to stage dressing – carefully preparing each room to represent a lifestyle, making it more highly appealing for viewings. Think ‘Ikea showroom’ and you’ve got the idea. Ask your agent about the type of buyers in the local area who may be looking for a property like yours and ‘dress’ your home accordingly. From tailoring the lighting and accessories to create a mood, through to beautifully setting the dining room table, this is one way you can help buyers picture themselves actually living in your home.
If you’re selling a 4-bed and the market favours 3 beds, ask your agent about the type of demographic that’s buying – this will give you a clue on how to present the spare room (an office, gym, play room or study for example).
If there are any aspects of the property that are putting off prospective buyers, it may be worth spending a little money to get these fixed. You could also ask your agent what sort of properties in your area are selling, and see if you can adapt your own home to meet these demands. As an example, if your property is 2-bed and the market demand is for 3-beds, consider whether you could convert a garage, build a room above your garage or convert the loft at reasonable cost.
If your budget won’t stretch to home improvements, consider whether you can have plans drawn up to either fix an annoying issue, or add to the property. For example, you could plan a room above a garage, a loft conversion or a kitchen extension – all of which would be valuable to prospective buyers. Showing the plans with cost estimates could be very attractive if they view your home but have issues about the size of certain areas.
Lowering the selling price of your home can be painful, but if there are many similar properties in the area, it may be one way to attract attention. The price of your property can always be viewed from both perspectives – and whilst you may feel you’re making a fair offer, a buyer may not agree in an uncertain market.
Holding open days where would-be buyers can just drop in gives people an opportunity to view your home informally. It also means passing foot traffic can take a look.
Before doing anything drastic, make sure your property is listed on the biggest property portals and is showing up in searches. If your home isn’t appearing for your local area on Rightmove and Zoopla, you won’t be getting as many viewings as you should. Also ask your agent for advice about the property price in relation to the price bands on the site. For example, if your property is listed at £121,000, you might want to consider dropping the price to £119,999 so that it shows up in searches for ‘up to £120,000’.
Make sure your property photographs represent your home in the best possible way. Ensure they were taken on a bright sunny day where the blue sky is showing, and include any good views that you may have. Check the text produced by your agent and make sure this highlights any features. These might include features of the house itself (such as views, outbuildings, storage or opportunities for conversion) or of the surrounding area (such as local transport, highly rated schools or visitor attractions).
Finally, if you’re finding it tough to sell a high value property, you may want to consider just waiting it out. Large country homes, for example, will always take longer to sell – they are more pricey, stamp duty rates are high and there are always concerns over maintenance.
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