Seller's Guide Q1 '17


House hunters currently have the upper hand in a difficult market. How does one entice price sensitive buyers?

Most homeowners have become accustomed to prices rising in the capital and although the pace of growth has weakened of late it is easy to forget that the price of property coming to market is still around £250,000 higher than it was in 2010.

Nevertheless, the recent fall in asking prices largely reflects the fact that sellers are becoming increasingly realistic and recognise the fact that values have been somewhat out of kilter with what many purchasers are prepared or can afford to pay, especially in light of the heightened political and economic uncertainty, caused largely by last years Brexit vote.

What’s more, changes to rules around stamp duty, the introduction of levies for company and offshore purchasers, and additional taxes on second homes have acted as a disincentive. All this along with the added uncertainty of Europe’s changing political landscape and the forthcoming inauguration of Trump into the White House.
“Sellers are becoming more motivated to sell with the gap between buyer and seller closing marginally” says our Sales Manager, James Sims, who adds: “There are many that have been waiting for the right time to sell for sometime now and we expect that those who are genuinely motivated will come to the market over the traditionally buoyant first and second quarter. The remainder will likely look to the rental market or sit it out until after Brexit is fully negotiated.” He continues: “Although it may not be a seller’s market, some people, buyers included, have decided that waiting any longer for a move is counter-productive as there are potential deals to be had on their onward purchases.”

But while some sellers have dropped their asking prices to suit the change in market conditions, it is important to note that buyer momentum has not been entirely lost. In fact we see it continuing so long as there is uncertainty in the market. That said with the protracted timescales involved, and short of any major negativity in the press, we expect the market to start turning over again albeit in a more reluctant manner.

Homebuyer confidence
Confidence among home buyers has already returned to levels last seen prior to the EU vote with demand increasing sharply last September compared with the previous month, according to research by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA). But while the NAEA’s latest report proves that buyer confidence is growing, which is obviously reassuring for prospective vendors, it should not distract from the fact that the market definitely remains a lot more price sensitive.

Most perspective purchasers are only willing to jump in where they see good value, good location or both. That said realistic asking prices remain key for generating interest and offers, because buyers are shunning anything that may appear overpriced. “Pitching your asking price too high would be counter-productive in today’s market, especially as buyer affordability is already stretched,” James adds. “Given the existing environment, properties need to be marketed at the correct price to achieve a good level of interest, while it is also important to show your home in its best light.”

Getting to a yes
Outside price there are a variety of ways that you can try to bag the serious buyer in the market that are easy to overlook but should be carefully considered. For example the way a property is presented can make a huge difference; not just to its appearance, but also to the length of time it takes to sell the property and at what price.

In a bid to entice prospective buyers, create the impression of an aspirational lifestyle - somewhere that people can picture living in. This requires careful thought and strategic planning, and ultimately a degree of home staging or ‘dressing’ as interior designers call it.

Actually, home staging is not actually about interior design, but more of a marketing tool designed to ensure that the property appeals to the widest possible audience of relevant buyers and importantly not always to the personal taste of the vendor.

From furniture and lighting to bedding and tabletop items, there is a lot that can be done to improve a property’s internal appearance and give it that ‘yes’ feel; helping to showcase the impressive features available and maximise the use of space, ensuring that the home is pitched for family buyers or busy professionals is also imperative.

Top tips for Selling
1. Complete all necessary DIY jobs. You might not notice those broken tiles at the front but they’ll stick out like a sore thumb to prospective buyers.

2. Depersonalise and de-clutter the property to provide prospective buyers with a blank canvass.
Buyers need to view the property as if it were already theirs.

3. When it comes to aromas, coffee and fresh bread are so 2000 – think lightly scented candles and a clean aroma.

4. Ensure that the property is cleaned throughout. Goes without saying but you’d be surprised.

5. Ask an honest friend if your property is looking tired. Spruce it up with a fresh lick of paint in a modern unoffensive style. It pays to get advice in this area.

6. First impressions are everything. If a property makes a great impression from the outside, home hunters will want to see what’s inside, and you do not want to disappoint.