Things have changed a lot since I started in the estate agency industry over 20 years ago, writes Jamie Langley, MD of Red Key Property Services . Finding your new home on the Internet was a long way off in those days, interest rates had recently come down from 10% to a far more manageable 6%, the average house price was around £50,000 (a quarter of what it is today) and it was much, much easier for younger people to get on the housing ladder.
But a few things remain constant, and when we get a prospective client talking to us about the best things they can do to get their home sold fast – and at the right price – here is the advice we give.
1. This is not personal… it’s business.
Forget that this is YOUR home that you are selling. Treat this as a business transaction and try to depersonalise it. In business, you think of the customer first – what THEY want to see in order to persuade them to buy. And what they want to see is a home they can move into that’s not knee deep in someone else’s personal belongings. So all those lovely knick-knacks from your holidays abroad and pictures of the kids just have to go. In a box in the garage, in your mum’s attic… anywhere but in your front room.
2. Go into neutral
The same is true of the décor. You love bold reds, emerald and purple in your life? Fantastic. But until you’ve got your home sold, it’s best to confine those tastes to your wardrobe. Imagine that you're creating an empty canvas for your prospective purchaser to paint THEIR picture of domestic bliss. Light, neutral colours will also make your home look bigger. You might even have to persuade your youngsters to lose their wallposters of 1Direction and Spiderman… cajole them, bribe them, whatever works…
3. Spring clean – whatever the season
No one wants to imagine moving into a home where fluff and food lurk beneath the cupboards and fridge, and even worse terrors possibly await in the darkest recesses of the bathroom. So getting it spotless will be the best day(s) work you will spend – not just before the photo shoot but every time you get a viewing. In particular, make sure the entrance to your home feels right: light, clean, tidy – no shoes to fall overin the hallway either. The old adage of fresh flowers holds true, but don’t feel you have to go mad on leaving pots of coffee brewing and loaves of bread baking in the oven. Fresh and clean wins every time, with the heating on if it’s a cool day.
4. Remember: gardens sell homes…
For many people, the outdoor space is as important as the indoor area – and even if you only have a modest courtyard or tablecloth of grass, you can maximise it by making it tidy and sorted looking –even adding a few pots and a garden chair and table can help to inspire the dream of long summer evenings spent relaxing out there! If you have a larger garden, simply taming the jungle areas will prevent purchasers imagining they will be walking into a mountain of work.
5. Picture yourself in a home like this…
The vast majority of people looking at your home for the very first time will be doing so on the Internet. That means having a good selection of images on there showing it in the very best light. An awful lot of estate agents sites are littered with pictures of homes in half darkness, or with clothes hanging over the furniture. Stop! That won't work. Make sure the agent you use takes professional quality images that are properly staged. If someone comes in with their smartphone and takes half a dozen shots in half an hour and disappears again, they will not be doing your home justice.
6. Videos are even better
There are a few of the better agents now who go to the extra trouble of having professionally made videos to view as well. It is a real bonus and will make a big difference to the number of people who show genuine interest in your home.
7. Not everyone loves pets…
Yes, your pooches and pussies may be the love of your life and very sweet, but having them there for viewings is not going to add anything to the experience of someone who comes to your home and isn't so keen on pets… especially if the home has a distinct odour of wet dog or four day old cat litter. Do your best to park them elsewhere while the viewing is going on, and invest in some odour neutrialisers if you need to…
8. Stay out of sight!
Quite possibly the single biggest piece of advice I would give home sellers is to not be there while the viewing goes on. It makes a viewer feel they are intruding rather than eyeing up a major investment, and will certainly reduce the time they spend. Having an agent there with whom they can have a frank discussion is also helpful – not least because a good agent will be able to judge just how ready these people are to make a decision, and whether they are just being polite when they say how lovely it all is…
9. Get yourself ready to move
OK, so you’ve taken all our advice above and secured a purchaser hot to trot. You, however, are still just casting your eye around for your own next home. Chances are, they won't wait – especially in today’s market. At the very least, get a meeting with your building society so you have a mortgage in principle lined up. That way you can make a purchasing decision more quickly with peace of mind; and even, if you need to, move into rented if your purchaser won’t wait. Remember that having no chain can radically improve your negotiating position for your next home.
10. Make sure your agent is up to the job
Ah yes, the tricky decision of who to appoint! Remember that the Internet has changed everything in the home buying and selling business now, making a High Street presence irrelevant for mostbuyers and sellers. Having an agent who places your property on at least two (ideally three) major portals is crucial as that is where everyone goes to view first.
An agent who does all the things we mentioned above – taking professional photographs and videos, being there for the viewings – is also essential. And so too someone who has their ear to the ground to know precisely what price to ask: there can be enormous variations between the ends of different streets, not just between streets themselves, so going on Zoopla to see what other homes have sold for locally is not enough.
They will also give helpful advice on getting your property ready to sell, as well as judging a prospective purchaser’s readiness to move… and then keeping sure all parties are moving towards a successful sale. Consider asking several agents to tender – but don't be lured into thinking the one quoting the best price is the one to go for. Too many agents overestimate to win the business, leaving their clients struggling to sell and having to lower the price… never a good signal. And the fee? Yes that’s important too! Just what will these people be doing to earn that chunk of YOUR money?
For independent, expert advice on selling YOUR property in South Wales, just give us a call.