Posted: Oct 25, 2016
Some properties are snapped up within hours. Others might take a few weeks, months or even years to find the right buyer. But whatever the market, you want your property to sell quickly.
So how do homeowners’ fast-track this process? Choosing the right agent will always help. Personal chemistry plays an important part. Sometimes you just know when the agent will do a good job. Setting the price just below the market value will help, too. Yet there are many more tips and tactics to consider before you hear those magic words: “we would like to make an offer”.
We asked leading property professionals for their advice. Here agents, buying agents and industry experts from the UK and around the globe share their expertise in our new mini guide. It’s a more proactive and pragmatic approach to moving, which might just help to sell your home faster this autumn.
Whether you are selling or buying this autumn, tell us about your selling or buying tips. Email us at [email protected].
1. Tom Maidment, partner, Lucas Fox (www.lucasfox.com)
“First and foremost, be satisfied that you have pitched your property at the correct asking price. Arrange a meeting with your agent and get the necessary comfort that the price is realistic. This is a key time of year for property sales and you don’t want to miss the boat. Ask for examples of properties sold in the area and compare with similar properties currently on the market. There is no public record of transaction prices in Spain, so your agent’s in-depth market knowledge and advice is vital.
“First impressions are everything. Ensure that the property is well prepared for viewings. If it’s a second-home and has been closed-up since the summer, ensure that your agent or your local property manager gives it a good airing before a viewing. If it’s your primary residence, then make sure the house is clean, tidy and properly staged: fresh flowers are always a good idea. De-cluttering can also help enormously, so hide away all those personal effects.
“It’s autumn, so expect the garden and pool to be full of fallen leaves. Give the garden a once-over before the viewing. Never underestimate the difference that a well presented garden can make to the value of your property.
Finally, if you have sufficient confidence in your agent, then make yourself scarce during the visit. Buyers are much more at ease viewing properties if the seller isn’t present. They can ask the awkward questions and express opinions without fear of offending. If you don’t have confidence in your agent, then better you seek an alternative agency to market your property.”
2. Zoie Hawker, Fine & Country Portugal (www.fineandcountry.com/pt)
“Cost-effective renovation can sell your home faster. The most important thing is to bring older villas that were built more than 15 or 20 years ago, up to modern standards. In some cases, this can be as simple as installing a new kitchen, re-tiling a swimming pool, fitting new bathrooms and maybe even replacing old single-glazed windows with modern double-glazing. Other things to also consider are central heating and air conditioning, which are not usually fitted in older properties, but can be an important fitting to include when buyers are looking around their future homes.”
3. Viki Lander, Creative Director, Ensoul Interior Architecture (www.ensoul.co.uk)
“Here is my selection of design tips, some quick and inexpensive, others are refurbishment ideas which would help increase value and appeal.
Power of the façade / first impressions
Additional floor space = more value
Adding mirrors and mirrored panels on walls can give the illusion of space, particularly in bathrooms.
4. Stuart MacArthur, Owner of Living Oak (http://www.livingoak.co.uk))
“To make your home stand out from the crowd, it's important to consider who your target market is and present your home accordingly. Clean, well-presented homes with plenty of light and space always show well. Consider making home improvements or extending your property, as this will often increase its value and desirability. At Living Oak we create bespoke Oak framed extensions which incorporate nature, light and space.”
5. Jo Eccles, Managing Director, Sourcing Property (www.sourcingproperty.co.uk)
“Firstly, get your paperwork in order. In other words, make sure your service charge payments are up to date, and, if you’ve done any work to the property, make sure that permissions are all in place and so on. You don’t want to agree a sale for it to fall through due to paperwork issues. Not only does this aggrieve a buyer, but your flat will sit on the property websites, listed as ‘under offer’ for longer. This makes other buyers think there are issues with the flat and becomes a problem if your first buyer pulls out and you need to re-market.
“Then you need to look at your property, in terms of how it is presented. De-cluttering sounds like a cliché, but it really is important. To achieve the highest possible price, present the space as best you can. So, if you love collecting knick-knacks, or have golf clubs and bikes in the hallway and cupboards, this may well put people off. First impressions count and you want buyers to be able to float in and have the feeling of space, rather than them squeezing through the hallway past bulky objects. However, this doesn’t mean hiding things in the loft or cupboards, as buyers will want to see inside those spaces, too.
“You also want to remove your personality to a certain extent and make the property fairly neutral. I know this isn’t ideal as the property is still your home until it’s sold, but you want a buyer to be able to imagine their own belongings in the space, rather than being distracted by your own interior style.
“Next you need to ensure that your home is being used in the way that another buyer might want to use it. For example, if you have a third bedroom which you use as a study, but most buyers would use as a bedroom, make sure they can see that room as a bedroom. It might be a good (and lucrative) idea to put a bed in there temporarily to show potential buyers how the space can be used, even if this means removing your desk or pushing it to one side. Remember that empty space can look smaller than if furniture is in situ, so an empty room or hallway might give the feeling of less space than if it is furnished.”
6. Vivienne Harris, Heathgate(www.heathgate.com)
“During autumn when there can be dark skies, rain and sometimes snow, selling or letting a property can be challenging. It’s often about getting the ambience right to help sell a home.
“We all know about keeping a property clean and tidy for viewings. Keep any pets away in case a potential buyer is allergic or frightened of animals and not to cook anything too spicy or smelling of fish, but there are also other things we can do to enhance the viewing experience:
“Make the home as welcoming and warm as possible. Not just in terms of ambient heat, but create a friendly and hospitable environment. It’s always a good idea to have the lights on in each room, even if they are side lights or dimmed spotlights; to keep the temperature at around 21 degrees or slightly higher, as this is a very comfortable level. The curtains should be open during the day, allowing as much light in as possible, and, if you have a working fireplace, have the natural flame burning in the grate. This makes prospective purchasers feel at ease.
“Aromas can be another important aspect. Some people enjoy the smells of coffee or baking bread, while others prefer more perfumed scents. As a word of warning, it is best to have light fragrances, gently sprayed, as anything too pungent can have the reverse effect. Whatever you choose, a home that smells good is usually a winner.
“Soft music can also enhance the experience, but keep it gentle and in the background with muted tones.
“If viewings are taking place at dusk or later make sure that your outside lights are on, in the front or rear garden. If your agent is showing the property, let him or her do so and stay in another room. It’s very easy to get drawn into conversation and sometimes over-sell yourself to a purchaser or tenant. Be ready to answer any questions that the agent or viewer may have, but otherwise remain in the background.
Always remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression – so make it count. Imagine that you are viewing the property. If something looks tired and paint is flaking off the walls – remove the object, remodel it or repaint those areas.
“For those rooms painted in a dark or very bright colour, I would recommend that they are repainted to more neutral tones. Storage is also a must, so make sure that you have installed some cupboards and wardrobes. Remove any clutter. If it doesn’t belong on the floor, it shouldn’t be on the floor.
“Keep in mind that the people viewing your property are not just looking at the rooms, but making a lifestyle choice. They want to see if it fits with their aspirations. It about accommodation and whether they can see themselves living there.”
7. Sophia Jackson, Senior Negotiator, Myddelton & Major (www.myddeltonmajor.co.uk)
“The outside of the house is the first image prospective buyers look at to entice them to view the property. It is important to tidy the garden, fix any fencing or gateway that might be broken. Make your home look like a film set – get rid of all the clutter, less is more. Decorate your house with fresh flowers particularly in the main reception rooms and master bedroom”.
8. Caspar Harvard-Walls, Partner, Black Brick (www.black-brick.com)
“The property market has, without doubt, shifted in favour of the buyer, so sellers need to make sure that they give themselves every opportunity of achieving a sale. The most crucial point is price, so owners need to look at their local market and honestly gauge whether they are listed at the right level.
“Owners who are looking to make a quick sale should make sure that they understand what their target audience demands. If they have a family house, then they should focus on making sure that the kitchen looks its best, rather than focusing on whether the surround sound system works. If, however, the property is likely to appeal to a professional couple, the priorities for the master bedroom and bathroom become much more relevant.
“As a seller, you want a buyer to aspire to purchase your home. If the property is not taken care of, then this becomes so much more difficult. The first impression really does matter; try to think about your home through the buyer’s eyes. Just because you don’t mind your underwear all over the bedroom floor and the bath full of hair doesn’t mean that everyone else does. If in doubt, keep everything neutral, so that the buyer can imagine what it would be like if they moved in.”
9. James Robinson, General Manager, Lurot Brand (www.lurotbrand.co.uk)
“Make sure your home is furnished and furnished well. Empty houses appear far smaller than they really are. Furniture gives scale, for example, while an empty medium-size double bedroom always looks like a single.
Find the specialist
“If you have a grand or niche property, there is normally an independent specialist, who can give you the very best advice. It is worth searching for your type and style of property on the portals to find the agent most active in your sector.
“An owner being present on a viewing more than halves the chance of a sale. Regardless of the size of your house, you being there will make many buyers feel claustrophobic. The feeling is similar to a shop assistant chasing you around a clothes store.”
10. Merton Croisdale-Appleby, Director of Sales at Maskells (http://www.maskells.co.uk)
11. Simon Barnes, property consultant, H Barnes & Co (www.hbarnes.london)
“Work with the vendor and be flexible on exchange/completion timescales. Be ready to move quickly if required. For example, have all legals and finances in place, so there are no unnecessary delays.
12. Jamie Hope, Managing director, Maskells (www.maskells.com)
“We operate a system of ‘property launches’ in central London, which can produce a lot of interest. Buying agents often represent the best buyers in the market. As such, when a landmark property is for sale or being sold away from the open market, we will offer prominent buying agents the opportunity to view the house.”
13. Richard Bernstone, Director, Aston Chase ate Agents (www.astonchase.com)
“All things being even, if your property doesn’t sell within three months, it’s either the agent or the price. That’s the old anecdote that rings true today. Clearly in recent years, the market hasn’t exactly been ‘even’ and has shown extreme volatility especially for larger houses, burdened with high SDLT (Stamp Duty Land Tax) charges. So my top tips for larger houses which are not selling are as follows: