In a ‘bearish’ property market there are usually more properties available than there are buyers to purchase them and the negotiating power favours the purchaser rather than the seller.
I have to say that there is nothing more effective at ‘cooling the passion’ of a keen buyer than a property that is over priced. It is the biggest ‘turn off’ for serious buyers!
It is not true that ‘you can only go down, but not up’ since if you quote a realistic ‘guide price’, as against the more usual asking price, if there is enough of a ‘frenzy’ from competitive buyers, you could achieve a sum, well beyond the ‘guide price’ itself.
Remember, you can never undersell your property, if it is properly exposed to the market place by a professional agent. If, for instance, you quote half the value, it is impossible to sell at this level, since competitive bids will soon push this figure up to and possibly beyond, the underlying value itself.
Fact: the asking price is the most emotive catalyst or attenuator for any property. If the price is over zealous, you wont even get people over the threshold, you will receive very little feedback from the few who do and you will, probably, not get any offers submitted.
A ‘guide price’ is an approximate territory that you would like potential buyers to take into consideration when bidding. In order for it to work properly, it needs to be set at a realistic level and sometimes, below value, for the seller to enjoy its full mobilising effect.
Think about an auctioneer starting with a ‘bid from the wall’ which could be half of the value, but is never-the-less designed to get the ‘juices flowing’ of the gathered bidders. The job then is to drive the bids upwards, using the power of applied salesmanship and with ‘lashings’ of theatre. Harnessing the forces of ego and emotion is never a bad thing, when you are trying to reach a crescendo.
Alternatively, the auctioneer could start off with a ‘suggested bid’ higher than value and instead work downwards, but this is deflating and certainly doesn’t have the same exciting effect.
So, here are the ten most important factors to selling a property in a slow market:
1. Get the guide/asking price right. It has to be realistic and designed to generate the most emotive response from would be buyers.
2. Interview, if not interrogate, at least three local agents and warn them, in advance, that you want the truth from them and not the inflated value designed to get the instruction over competitors. Appoint the most credible one as ‘sole agents’ for a limited period of time, say six weeks and make sure they have recently sold the most amount of properties in and around your locality.
3. Put a board up outside. This is probably the most important marketing tool in the agent’s marketing arsenal. It attracts ‘eyeballs’ and drives potential buyers to the agent, who may not otherwise have known about it. How would you react if a neighbour said that they were interested in your property but didn’t know it was for sale?
4. Clear clutter from rooms, get rid of piles of books, newspapers or unwanted knick-Knaks etc. and judiciously place flower arrangements in suitable locations. If you have gas or open fires, light them and if the property needs a ‘lick of paint’, do so, all before the photographer arrives.
5. If the property has a garden then try to take the photographs when it is in full bloom i.e. April/May. If you plan to sell at another time of the year, take the photographs yourself in the spring and store them until you are ready to use them.
6. Don’t use an on-line agent. They will cost you money and you may still need a conventional agent as well to do the job which will cost you double the fees. An on-line agent may well undersell the property by an unacceptable margin. Pay your conventional agents the full fee and even give a bonus to the successful negotiator who sells the property. This means you will get the best from them and, one hopes, the highest price at the end of the process.
7. By all means be available for viewings, but never walk around the property with the applicant, as this is the agent’s job – this is what you pay them for. There is nothing more ‘buttocks clenching’ than if an owner is ‘tagging along’ restricting the buyers ability to talk openly and honestly about what they are seeing. This suppression of your natural instincts is worse than holding back a hacking cough at a classical music recital!
8. ‘Cleanliness is close to g-dliness’, so make sure your windows, carpets, fabrics, furniture etc., are all clean and tidy and that the property is well aired. If, the night before a viewing, you must cook a fragrant Indian curry make sure that the extractors are on full and the kitchen windows are open. Scented candles help, as long as they do not smell like toilet deodorisers.
9. Before a deal is struck, always insist on meeting the prospective purchaser in person since you get a far better idea of their sincerity when you ‘look them in the eye’. If you are just reliant on a name passed to you by an agent, you are clueless as to the full picture of the purchaser’s background. At a meeting to agree terms, make sure the agent ‘spells out’ the deal that you think you have agreed and, when everyone is happy, shake hands. Everyone should know that a hand shake is the sealing of a ‘moral contract’ in advance of a formal exchange and is subject only to getting a mortgage and having a structural survey. Let all the parties agree that gazundering and gazumping are ‘forboden’.
10. If your property has been on the market for some while, it may be a good idea to adjust the guide or asking price slightly, since it will then appear on the Portals as a new property. Use the OnTheMarket ‘early bird’ system which gives your ‘sole agent’ a 48-hour start on all the rest.
Good luck with all of this and you should be ‘set fair’ for a successful sale and, if the agent is doing their job properly, you should enjoy the experience.