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Selling in a Difficult Market


Selling houses in a buyers market is never going to be an easy task. Everyone knows that prices are falling at the moment, so the expectation between what the vendor wants to sell at and what the buyer wants to pay, are often poles apart. This situation is compounded by the difficulties in the mortgage market and a shortage of first time buyers. Worse still, property sales rarely happen in isolation and you can find yourself being part of the dreaded chain. Being part of a chain normally means that it only takes one link to pull out and the whole thing falls apart. However, some estate agents can be quite helpful in keeping it together by organising alternative pricing and sometimes even chipping in themselves. It may end up costing you money, but if you really want to sell it may be short term pain for long-term gain.


Before appointing an agent it is good practice to ask them what they will do if the chain that you're involved in hits the buffers. They may be able to provide examples of how they've pulled off dramatic rescues in the past and, if they're old enough, they may even have done similar things in the housing crash of the early nineties. Also good practice when selling is to make sure that your buyer has an agreement in principle with a mortgage company. You could make this a condition of sale so that they provide your solicitor with a copy before negotiations get too advanced. Obviously it also goes, almost without saying, that the larger the deposit put down by your buyer, the less likely the sale will fall through.


If your property has been on the market for some time and no one is making an offer it could be an option to bring in one of the many "house doctor" services that are springing up at the moment driven by the slowing market. These companies concentrate, not just on sprucing the place up, but on selling a lifestyle to the potential buyer. At almost one percent of the selling price, their talents don't come cheap, but it may be money well spent if your home has been on the market for some time. The experts do give a bit of freebie advice though on what to do if your dwelling simply isn't shifting:


An estate agent will tell you to have a rethink on the price.  If the price is too high, there will be a lot of footfall but no offers. To get the price right choose three of the most active agents in your area (the ones that set the price precedents) and instruct them to value your property in an honest and realistic way. You can then apply a margin of increase to these figures, depending on how quickly you need to sell.

Everyone knows how important first impressions are, so curb appeal is vital when selling houses.  When the house goes on the market its time to cut the lawn, trim the hedges, weed the flower beds and generally spruce up the front garden. The old favourite "house doctor" advice is decluttering.  Get one of your friends in to advise you on this is someone whos eyes aren't clouded by the mist of familiarity.

Don't put the junk in cupboards though - potential buyers will want to open them to see how much storage space is available. Stage bedrooms using attractive bedspreads and move out spare furniture.  Don't make them look too barren though because they can look surprisingly small when empty and potential buyers will be left wondering how to use them. Define the areas in the house by staging them for the purpose that they should be used.  For example, a spare bedroom is just that not a store room.



Sometimes it is necessary to do the opposite of decluttering by moving in quality furniture to create an appealing social environment.


Create a snagging list and do minor repair jobs.  These are the little jobs that have often been hanging around for a long time such as resealing in the bathroom, rehanging a cupboard door or filling cracks and holes.  This will help create a better overall impression of the property.


Clean. Speaks for itself really as no one can see themselves moving into a dirty house that doesn't smell very nice.


It is often a good investment to fully or partially redecorate.  Bright neutral properties appeal to the greatest range of potential buyers.


On a final note be patient. The time taken to sell properties has increased; Hometrack put the current figure at eight and a half weeks.