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When you chose your estate agent, you did so because you believed they could sell your home.
You felt so certain, you even put your name to it when you signed the contract.
However, months down the line, hopes of lots of viewers and competing offers from eager buyers, are starting to fade.
You find yourself wondering if the market has changed, or if your asking price was just too optimistic. Your estate agent seems to have lost confidence in their ability to sell your house for the price they recommended. “Would a new agent do a better job?” you ask yourself.
If you find yourself in one of the following situations, it’s a natural next step to consider changing agents:
- Your house isn’t getting viewings
- Your agent is pressuring you to drop the price
- Your agent is not communicating with you
Maybe you feel that your agent has actually done a pretty good job, but you’re ready for a change and a new approach. Or perhaps they haven’t delivered on their early promises, and you feel disappointed and disheartened. The road to choosing the right estate agent can be a bumpy one, and the idea of doing it all over again can leave you feeling daunted. But don’t worry, you don’t have to make this journey alone. We are here to give you the navigational tools you need to steer your course forward when switching agents, so you don’t take a wrong turn, and end up back where you started.
Step 1 – Use your head and not your heart
Before making a move, look at the facts. How many viewings have you had, over what period of time? Ask your agent how this figure compares with other similar properties on their books. Take a look at the property portals; are homes like yours going under offer, whilst yours remains unsold? Or have other properties remained on the market too?
Ask your agent to share with you your online portal statistics. Do the figures show a steady level of interest throughout the time you’ve been on the market, or a declining number of views? Your agent should be able to interpret these statistics for you, explaining their significance, and how they relate to your property sale.
Once you understand the current state of play, it’s time to check your Agreement.
Step 2- Study the small print
There are three main types of estate agent agreements. Make sure you know what you’ve signed, so you don’t get yourself in legal hot water by making a change:
Sole agency agreement – this is the most common type of estate agent contract. This means that the estate agent is the only agent with the right to sell your home during the term of the contract but if you find a buyer yourself, you don’t have to pay the estate agent fees.
Sole selling agreement – this is more unusual and essentially means that no matter how you sell your home, or who to, they can still claim their commission fee.
Fixed fee – with this contract, you have agreed to pay a set amount on the sale of your home, regardless of the amount you sell it for. Often, fixed-fee agents charge some, or all, of the fee upfront. If you have paid anything up front, it’s unlikely you will be able to get this back if you switch estate agents.
Also check your tie-in period. Most notice periods are 8-12 weeks, but some are longer. There may be a notice period, which you’ll need to factor into your plans to appoint a new estate agent.
Step 3 – Research potential agents
Once you know your rights to switch estate agents, it’s time to look for new agents to shortlist.
Check out reviews on Google and Facebook to get an idea of other homeowner’s experiences of the agents you are considering. Ask friends and family too – which agents would they recommend, and why?
Look at their online presence: if they have videos on Facebook or YouTube, how do they come across? Personable and enthusiastic? Or formal and flat? If they don’t resonate with you over video, it’s unlikely they will do in person.
Step 4 – Become an ‘undercover agent’
A ‘mystery shop’ exercise is a really good way to see how they would sell your home, if you listed with them. Here’s how to do it:
Pick a property in your area, one similar to your own. Call the prospective agent and ask them to send you details on the house you’ve picked, then only give them information based on what they ask you. (Some people find this a really challenging exercise to do – if this is you, ask a friend or family member and listen in!)
- Did they ask for your name and phone number?
- Did they give you their name?
- Did they ask about your buying position?
- Did they offer to register your buying requirements?
- How much did they ask you about your property search?
- How friendly were they? How interested and engaged in your query were they?
- Did they talk in glowing terms about the property you asked about?
- Did they discuss booking a viewing?
- Did they take your email or address?
- Did the details you requested from them arrive speedily?
If the agent scores above eight, they are clearly competent and attentive and worthy of further consideration. Any lower, and they are failing to understand your needs, as a prospective buyer, which does not bode well. If you don’t feel they did a good job of selling the house you asked about, it’s unlikely they’ll do a good job of selling yours.
Step 5 – Invite them to your home
If you have reached stage five, there is a good chance that you’re feeling confident this agent can help you sell your home, and move on with your life.
In this meeting, you need to understand:
- Their valuation – Do they support your current asking price? Or would they recommend a price drop?
- Precedent – which other properties have they sold in your area, that are comparable to yours? How long did they take to sell, and what price did they ultimately achieve?
- Fee – very often, the better, more confident agents will charge a higher fee. Especially if their marketing is of a higher quality. If you do decide to negotiate, see how easily the agent reduces their fee. How they negotiate with you is how they will negotiate with your buyer, after all.
Finally…congratulations. If the agent passes all these stages with flying colours, you’ve found a new selling mate. Hopefully, it’s the start of a positive and fruitful relationship, that will see you selling and moving on with your life, and plans.
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If you have had your house on the market for some time without success, dropping your asking price may seem an inevitable, if unwanted, next step. Your estate agent will often suggest this move if they have run out of ideas, motivation and most importantly, confidence in your asking price.
But is dropping your asking price really the answer to selling your home more effectively?
It’s true that for some properties, reducing the asking price can generate new interest from buyers who would have been previously unable to afford your home. It’s also a step that for some sellers is, unfortunately, necessary – if they have an urgent move, for example, or are facing repossession.
However, with many houses – dropping your asking price is not always the answer, and it can even harm your chances of attracting a committed buyer.
Whilst recent weeks have seen a pause in viewings, the buyers have simply been waiting in the wings for an opportunity to view homes, and now they can once again. Since we re-opened, albeit with safety measures in place, we’ve noticed an increase in buyers who are ready to offer, and willing to move quickly. To take advantage of this current heightened demand, now is the time to review your asking price and decide whether to stick to it or reduce.
To help guide you, we’ve compiled the DOs and DON’Ts of dropping your asking price to help you get the result you want and move on with your life:
DON’T drop your asking price by less than 10%
– Or it just won’t make any difference to the interest you get. Buyers will usually look at homes 10% either side of their budget anyway, so you’ll need to reduce your asking price by at least that to get your home noticed by a new set of buyers.
DO ask your agent why you need to reduce
– Your home was originally valued based on sound research and by an expert in the local property market. What’s changed? Understanding whether your agent misjudged the market, or the demand has changed for houses like yours, will help you make the right decision to either reduce or to stick it out.
DON’T keep making small drops in price
– A price drop can cause suspicion amongst buyers who may wonder what’s wrong with it? Why have you lowered the asking price? A buyer may not want to risk buying a house that seems to be falling in value. A property with lots of historical price drops is inherently unattractive to a buyer, as each drop can signify a red flag, so make your price drop big and impactful, but make it just once.
DO drop to the next Rightmove price band
– You can find these by going to www.rightmove.co.uk and entering a search. The list of price band that comes up is your guide as to the price your house should be marketed at. For example, there’s no point in having an asking price of £399,999 when the Rightmove price band is £400,000. By positioning your asking price in alignment with the search bands, your house will effectively show up in up to twice as many buyer searches.
DON’T try to break the price ceiling for your road or area
– Not only does this make buyers jittery, it will also make a surveyor nervous too. Unless you really can’t avoid it, try to price your home at less than the highest price sold in your neighbourhood.
[Note: we have previously sold homes at prices that have broken the area ceiling, but they do need careful positioning to reassure buyers and surveyors, so please ask our advice if this is your situation too.]
DO ask your estate agent the right questions before you drop your price
– If you’re feeling pressure from your estate agent to reduce, or you have a moving deadline looming and can’t afford to drop your price, ask your agent what else could be done to secure that sale, other than reducing your asking price? Have a review with them and look at your marketing critically. Could it be improved? Maybe new lifestyle photographs would attract new buyers. Or showcase your home better with a ‘twilight’ image or aerial shot, to show your home in a new, imaginative way.
DON’T give your buyers an excuse to make a low offer
– Make sure your home is wonderfully presented, with every room polished and attractive, otherwise you’re literally leaving money on the table. Home styling can dramatically increase the ‘saleability’ of your home, and really helps buyers envision the lifestyle it offers. If you’d like to know about the home styling we offer as part of our marketing, we’d be happy to talk you through it and show you some of our styled photographs. Just drop us an email at %company_email% and we’ll arrange it for you right away.
DO give yourself some negotiation room – but not too much
– On average, you can expect to achieve around 95% – 97% of your asking price, with 3% – 5% ‘given away’ in the negotiations with your buyer. This will depend on other factors of course, like how fast your local market is moving, the confidence in the housing market while you’re selling and how long your home has been on the market. Taking 96% as an average, losing 4% of a £400,000 asking price means you will eventually receive £384,000 on completion. But if you reduce the asking price to £375,000 say, you’ll only get £360,000 – a significant drop. Not only have you reduced by £25,000, you’ll also have lost an additional £15,000 in negotiations, putting your total ‘lost’ sale monies at £40,000, a substantial ‘loss’ of 10% of your original asking price.
DON’T forget to calculate your price per square foot
When your home hasn’t sold and you’re wondering if it’s the asking price to blame, use the above DOs and DON’Ts as a checklist to see if you’re doing everything you can to get your house sold. If your price per square foot is about right, you’re not trying to break the price ceiling for your area, and your home is presented in the best way possible, if your photographs showcase the lifestyle of your home, and you have time on your side to wait for the price you really want, then have confidence in your asking price. Because if you don’t, no one else will.
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Are you buying or selling a home right now? Or planning to? Feeling concerned and anxious about what’s going to happen with the housing market over the coming months?
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With the property market showing some signs of re-opening, now is the time to get ready to make sure you’re prepared for selling your home, and moving on.
Over the past few weeks, house viewings have not been possible. But don’t worry – your estate agent will have been taking registrations of interest from people wanting to view your home, and should have a list of buyers ready to book an appointment as soon as they are able to.
So let’s make sure your home is viewing-ready!
Let’s look at the elements that make up your property marketing, to make sure each one is showcasing your home at its very best.
Do your outside photographs need updating? The seasons have changed during lockdown and now your existing photographs may not reflect the current time. If your photographs are looking a little wintery, ask your agent if these can be re-taken. With the lovely weather we have had recently, your garden may now be blooming and much more colourful. Your images need to really show off your garden to attract viewers, so they probably need updating now.
If you have been cooped up at home over the past couple of months, your presentation may not be at its usual standard! Go through your home checking each room to make sure it matches your agent’s photographs. A spring clean will make your home fresh and fragrant once again, so viewers can see it at its best. Check soft furnishings and carpets to make sure they are spotless, and give your windows a clean to make them sparkle.
Tame your garden
If the spring weather has caused your garden to become a little out of hand, now is the time to tame it. Your lawn needs to be freshly mown, and the edges neat. Your flower beds free of weeds so your plants and flowers can stand out and any children’s outdoor toys washed and tidied. If your patio furniture is looking past its best and you don’t want to replace it, give it a good scrub; if it’s wood, paint, varnish or stain it, so it looks smart and viewing-ready. Add a flowerpot to the centre of the table for a touch of lifestyle polish.
Patios, decks and paths may need a power wash, or just a good brush, to show them at their best. If you have gravel areas, try adding new gravel to freshen them up, or raking over the existing gravel and taking out any leaves and debris.
Shrubs may need cutting back or neatening, and rogue shoots over paths should be removed. Hedges too may need trimming.
Getting clicks online
With several property websites all vying for attention from millions of buyers, your online advert needs to really stand out. These are five key areas that can help make sure your advert gets the click:
- The headline and summary paragraph need to be strong, informative and emotive in order to entice a browser to click to find out more about your home.
- Bullet points – these need to showcase the key features of your home, make them sit up in their chair and give them a reason to view. For example, ‘Downstairs WC’ – is not so much of a wow factor. ‘Panoramic vistas’ – better. But ‘Romantic, rose-filled garden’ will stop a browser and make them read on.
- Photographs – these need to be compelling, attractive and up to date. As a rule, up to 15 images is plenty. Any more and you may find you don’t get viewings, as buyers feel that they’ve seen the whole house. Save something for the actual viewing, and leave a reader wanting more.
- Flow of images – do your photographs flow in the same way as a viewing would naturally do? Starting with a front photograph, followed by a hallway, and then the living room, makes a buyer feel that they can visualise your home.
- Property description – this needs to be compelling and visual, telling the story of your home. You don’t need a whole essay here – Just a few paragraphs should be enough to compel a browser to want to find out more, and pick up the phone.
Buyers getting mortgages
Whilst there was a period of time at the beginning of lockdown when mortgages became difficult to obtain, this situation has, in the main, been rectified. And with mortgage rates the lowest they have ever been in history, many buyers needing mortgages may feel that now is an opportune time to move house.
Family buyers looking to ‘upsize’
Some families have spent many weeks cooped up in a house that is just too small for their needs. What they may be dreaming of now, is a house with more reception space, a large kitchen, extra bedrooms, and of course, a generous work-from-home space. And gardens too have recently become a priority for many families. Those without any lawn space may now crave it, and even families with average sized gardens may be aspiring to rolling lawns, orchards, tree houses and space to build dens. If your home offers a family space that will appeal to anyone who has just spent weeks feeling squeezed and even suffocated, it will probably be in demand from family buyers right now.
Your onward move
If you have found your dream home, and it’s still available, your focus will be on selling your home as soon as you can. By using our handy checklist, you’ll feel confident you have given yourself the best possible chance to sell and move on.
If you have not yet found the house you want to move to, you may find that there are less houses to choose from. We feel that this will only be a temporary situation, as the backlog of homes that have been waiting to come to the market will now launch, and the demand/supply balance is restored. Having a firm offer on your home from a proceedable buyer will give you the buying power you need once the house you really want becomes available, and you need to take quick action.
No interest? Time to go back to the drawing board
Are buyers flocking to view your home when they are able to? If not, why not? If you’ve addressed all the ‘saleability’ factors listed above, and you’ve used our Preparing to Sell Checklist to make sure your home is viewing ready, then perhaps it’s time to reassess your choice of estate agent.
Sometimes, a fresh approach from a new set of eyes will find new marketing angles, and reach a different group of buyers. Let’s face it, you only need one buyer and a new estate agent could be the key to finding them.
As an initial step, we’d like to invite you to have a chat with us – we may be able to uncover the reasons you’re not getting the interest in your home that it deserves, just by looking at your online advert. From there, the rest is up to you.
So you don’t miss something that may be the difference between a no and an offer, we’ve created Our ‘Preparing to Sell Checklist’, which is specifically designed to ensure each and every critical aspect of preparing to kickstart your home sale out of lockdown is covered.
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If you’ve recently decided to sell your home, then you’ve probably been researching all sorts of information and asking for plenty of advice from family and friends on how to get it all wrapped up smoothly and quickly. While there are plenty of great tips out there on how to maximise the appeal of your home, there are also a few myths that seem to be passed around from time to time.
Luckily for you we’re here to fill you in on some of the selling tips that may not be 100% true or just wrong all together. So here are our top 5 property selling myths busted.
You get out what you put in
A property purchase is an investment, but that doesn’t mean you need to sink every penny of your income into it. Upgrading or renovating areas of your home - in most cases - increase the value of your home. However, renovations are not sure fire profit. Just because you put £3,000 into doing up your kitchen, it doesn’t mean you’ve added £7-10,000 to the value of your home. Also, if your taste in design is somewhat ‘unique’ then there may be a chance that you’ve turned one room from a generic blank slate, into a buyer’s worst nightmare. The key to putting money into your home is to focus on function and not fashion. Install any missing modern home features, but don’t burn through cash trying to wow potential buyers with your design skills.
You should always aim high
This one isn’t necessarily specific to the property market, but it’s a fairly mainstream belief that whenever you’re negotiating you start high and let them try and work you down to something more realistic. While this may be a good tactic in some situations, when selling a home, you have to keep in mind just how competitive the market actually is. When buyers search for a home they are most likely to look for properties priced below their maximum budget and try and bring the price down further, if your home is priced unnecessarily high, then it won’t even show up on some buyers' radar and you’ll be harming your chances of booking viewings.
Timing is everything
This is one of those half true tips. It is true that Spring is a good time to put your home on the market, the market is busier that time of year and there are smaller benefits such as the return of nice weather that improves the look of any home. But just because Spring is a good time to be on the market, this doesn’t mean that the rest of the year is a poor time to sell. Realistically, people are looking at homes throughout the year and there are plenty of factors that contribute to someone’s decision to move home. There is a chance you may receive more interest during the warmer months of the year, but if someone is willing to make an offer that’s right for you at another time, then there’s no point in delaying a move 3-6 months.
It’s the interior that really matters
This is another half-truth, the interior of your home is obviously quite important when trying to sell your home. However, the exterior also plays a large role. The exterior is your homes first impression, so don’t just assume that every buyer is going to take the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ approach to property. This doesn’t mean that you need to go all out by laying a new driveway and installing water features, but making sure the front garden is kept in good shape and doors or windows have a fresh coat of paint can go a long way in getting people in the door in the first place.
Buyers love a fixer upper because they’re such a bargain
Although this may seem a bit of a contradiction to our earlier point, when you’re planning to sell your home, it’s important that you invest the right amount of money to help get it off the market. All buyers love a bargain and in today’s DIY world some buyers will consider a fixer upper but that is entirely dependent on what they actually need to fix. There’s a big difference between putting up a few extra shelves and repairing some faulty plumbing. You might get lucky and find a buyer that doesn’t mind getting stuck into all of it, but the longer your list of repairs is, the shorter your list of potential buyers will be.