Published: 03/01/2019 By Jane RobathanIf your agent suggests that you lower your home's asking price, should you take it on the chin? There are ways to establish if your home is pitched at the right value and if your agent is giving you the right advice.
A good agent will get you the best price the market will bear. They will talk to you regularly and market your property at every opportunity. But how can you tell if you really need to reduce?
Is your agent marketing your property well?
Your home should be advertised on property portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla and On the Market. Has your agent advertised your home in the local press and displayed it in the shop window? All help generate viewings, but your agent should also be phoning suitable applicants registered on their database and encouraging them to see your home.
Are there enough good quality photos?
We know from experience that around ten photos are perfect for a flat or small house while about fifteen to twenty-five perform best for larger homes (not thirty to forty). These figures produce maximum click-throughs on the portals—too few or too many aren't good. Another thing we know is to avoid using several shots of the same room at different angles unless it really is a very large, interesting space. We're often surprised to find that people don't fully prepare their home before the photographer arrives. Make beds neatly, clear clutter and remove everything from kitchen worksurfaces—by far the easiest way forward is to pack everything into boxes for the shoot. Viewers are buying your home and your lifestyle, so imagine you're a stylist getting your surroundings ready for a magazine shoot. We are happy to come along and help you get each room ready and assist you and the photographer.
A floor plan of your home is essential, people really do love to see them. You also need an accurate, positive write-up that highlights unique things about your home or explains selling points that may not be obvious from the photos and plans; perhaps the kitchen has an integrated wine cooler, or the cellar is full-standing height. The copy should let readers know what will benefit them if they bought your home and lived in your area. Once key selling points are described, our descriptions are composed to target your appropriate audience and explain how your place meets their needs. Families want to know about schools and parks, young professionals are more interested in bars and nightlife while almost everyone in London is curious about transport links.
Have you had enough viewings to test the market effectively? Viewing totals vary according to your location, the time of year and market conditions. For those in our patch of south east London, if your home is being effectively marketed and you've had around ten to fifteen viewings but are yet to receive an offer, you can start to question your asking price. To guide and inform you, your agent should explain the present property market to you, give you regular feedback from viewings and keep you updated about competing properties coming to market or going under offer nearby. From time to time, clients amass forty or fifty viewings yet refuse to adapt to the market they're in. It would be far less damaging to your sale to either reduce your price or take your home off the market and rest it before a relaunch. If you're resting your property, this is the ideal time to heed advice on presenting your home and timing a relaunch to maximise your reach. In the meantime, your place can be shown to buyers as an off-the-books property. Secret viewings can help a property appear far more desirable than homes being advertised, and this is often an excellent sales tactic.
How long have you been on the market?
If you've been on for a month, then you have been seen by all of the accrued hot buyers (those under offer, chain-free buyers and cash buyers) registered with your agent and registered with property portals. The most effective portal sends email alerts to registered users for two weeks after your property is uploaded. Your agent will be calling everyone on their books to encourage them to view, we usually start this as soon as possible. Hopefully there means you'll have a glut of viewings during the first couple of weeks of marketing and after that it depends on how buoyant the market is. In a tough market, things may be slow for two reasons: there are fewer buyers making enquiries or there is far more choice than usual (i.e. there are more competing properties) and as a result, buyers take longer to make decisions.
Strategic selling (and buying)
There are tricks to help encourage leads in a slow market. If you're not getting the offers you were hoping for (if any at all), our advice is to talk to us. By understanding your needs and reasons for moving, we can advise you accurately to help you navigate the market and get what you need to move on. People trading up locally, i.e. selling to buy a larger home in the same area, will likely find that a price reduction is relative to their ongoing purchase. People who aren't in a rush can choose the best season to sell in or perhaps sell off the books, while those selling houses can organise their launch to fit perfectly with families. Our secret selling technique is very successful and we also offer a free finding service that scours the streets you like, for properties that aren't already on the market.
If we think your home is overvalued, we will let you know. You're welcome to test the market at a higher price than we recommend, but our advice about reducing is always the same. Reduce as quickly as possible and react to market conditions. That two-week window that produces a glut of buyers will have passed, so reduce after two weeks to avoid appearing stale. It's not really a reduction if it wasn't priced correctly in the first place.
Can I hold out for a better price?
If you can afford to hold out for a higher price that your agent suggests, be prepared to wait. Imagine being valued by your agent, putting your home on for higher, getting an offer at the level your agent valued you at, rejecting it, sitting on the market for months and then selling maybe a year later for less than your original offer. We see this a lot with clients who insist on inflating our valuations. It's far better to price your home accurately from the beginning, using recent sales data and experience, rather than drop a punchy price tag too late. Marketing for longer than necessary often devalues a home to a far lower level than if the price was pitched accurately to begin with.
How do I know if the price is right?
Many homes are reasonably straightforward to value; estate agents use the figures from recently agreed sales prices of similar properties in the area and their market knowledge to inform a valuation. Go to the sold prices section on Rightmove or nethouseprices.com and see what neighbours' homes have sold for. You can use a square foot calculation to get an idea of average prices too. Take the asking price of your home and divide it by the entire square footage to get the square foot indicator. Family homes in East Dulwich might fetch between £600-750 per square foot, for example. But looking up recent sales data is by far your best comparison and exactly what surveyors use when they sign off a valuation for mortgage lenders.
If you'd like us to let you know what we really think your home is worth, email us or call 0202 8299 3021 and we'll get started. If you're in a hurry and want some figures now, try our online valuation tool.