Thu. Mar 30th, 2023

Buyers and estate agents have been bemoaning a lack of stock while house prices are forecast to fall. Amid the doom and gloom there will inevitably be some people who need to sell this year – quickly and for a decent price. Here’s how to maximise your chances
ith a slump in the housing market and mortgage rates on the rise, it’s potentially bad news for those looking to sell their homes.
Surging living costs, combined with the increased cost of borrowing, has forced some buyers to put their moving plans on hold. As a consequence, trade association UK Finance said it expects the number of house sales to fall from 1.2 million in 2022 to one million this year.
But people are still selling their homes. In fact, a record number of new sellers put their property up for sale on Rightmove on Boxing Day — a 46 per cent jump on 2021. The housing market is still moving, although sellers may need to readjust their price and selling time expectations.
“Overall, 2023 may well confound the more gloomy forecasts made at a time when the outlook for mortgage rates looked much worse,” said Zoopla’s Richard Donnell, who argues that sales will be supported by buyers looking for space to work from home, people retiring and demand for energy efficient properties.
If you’re looking to move in the current climate, how can you sell your home quickly? Property experts offer their top tips.
“London’s property market is still active, but buyers are currently more price sensitive and hesitant as they are observing how the market might be developing in the New Year,” says Matthew Thompson, Head of Sales at Chestertons. “Selecting the right agent is therefore crucial. A local agent will know your area best which will help determining an appropriate asking price for your home, advertising it to potential buyers and assisting you throughout the process.”
Charlie Gibson, Managing Director at Oliver Bernard Private, encourages sellers to “choose an agent who’s accepted that the buyer demographic has changed.” With social media playing an increasing role in property sales, you might want to look for a “rising star” who can fuel engagement with your property online.
Choose your agent carefully
In any case, professional imagery, videography and PR are key, and it is important to select an agent who will invest in these things, says Gibson.
Sellers might also consider using joint sole agents, which allows two (or more) estate agents to market their property. Gibson suggests pairing an agent with international exposure and more extensive property list with a local boutique agency to strike the perfect balance of exposure versus attention.
Getting the price right from the start is important, as it avoids the property “looking stale” on the portals and attracting lower offers, says Gibson. Be realistic with price, and don’t let a higher valuation seduce you into choosing that agent.
In fact, you might want to quote a lower guide price to attract buyers, says Marc Schneiderman of Arlington Residential. This may result in competitive bidding from more than one buyer.
You can do your own research on pricing too. Look at similar properties on the market and check how long they have been available for, advises Jack Reid, founder of estate agency and property investment consultancy Orlando Reid. “If they have been there some time, almost certainly they will be overpriced.”
According to Mark Thompson at Hamptons, you might also want to explore what kind of properties are coming on the market, and how they compare to yours. Are there many properties like yours? What will you be competing against? “All these factors will impact price – and price will ultimately impact how quickly your home will sell.”
Capitalise on good weather to have your property photographed
Tidy up for photos and viewings and prioritise repairs to your property by completing simple ones and booking in any necessary tradespeople.
In a cooling market, Mark Thompson says that buyers may view a property multiple times before making an offer, making them more likely to pick up on details or potential issues that could jeopardise the sale. They are also less likely to compromise if they do not have to so make sure you are showing your home at its very best.
Have your property photographed in the best possible weather and light, even if it means photographing it a few months early, adds Schneiderman. Illustrate your home at its very finest.
Rosy Khalastchy at Beauchamp Estates suggests preparing an additional information sheet on the local area which may be of interest to buyers. This may include: the closest doctors’ surgery, schools information, local markets, green spaces and community groups available.
Matthew Thompson adds: “We would also advise to carry out additional research on any infrastructural plans for your area that buyers could see as a positive update. Your local council can advise whether your area will benefit from improved roads, new schools or other additions to your neighbourhood that your agent should highlight during viewings.”
“I would always suggest that one of the most important tips to give someone to sell their home is to get all your paperwork in place,” says Christian Warman at Tedworth Property.
“A buyer’s lawyer and their mortgage company will want to see completion certificates and building regulations for any works that have been done to the property, along with planning permissions and if necessary listed building consent. If some of these documents are lost or weren’t signed off, it can be time consuming to get them reissued or duplicated.
“Similarly, if you are selling a flat, get your solicitor to apply for the management pack when you bring the flat to the market.” The management pack should include the accounts of the building, what works have been done (and need to be done), as well as building safety certificates.
Get all your paperwork together in advance
Apply for local authority searches well in advance too. These cover charges and restrictions relating to the property, as well as planning agreements and proposals which could affect it. “These can take several weeks and can often delay or hinder a sale if you have a willing buyer ready to proceed,” says Schneiderman.
While you are at it, you’ll also want to check that your property is correctly registered with the Land Registry online. Resolve any outstanding legal matters pertaining to the title of the property, such as unresolved lease, boundary or deed issues.
Bear in mind that if the property is held in a company name, agents will need a certificate of incorporation, memorandum and articles of association, a copy of the current share register of the members, a confirmation of registered office and trading address (if different) and a list of directors, advises Khalastchy.
Technology can help with this. Ben Nicoll at Richmond estate agency Antony Roberts suggests asking your agent if they will use a digital data space like PIP Vault, which allows you to collate all the required documents for conveyancing before you even start the process. He adds: “Those sellers who are especially motivated will even be paying for their own searches to speed things up and minimise the risk of a sale falling through.”
Check whether your mortgage is portable, says Mark Harris of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients. “Remember that even if it is in theory, the lender will still insist that you meet its criteria at the time of porting. If you are borrowing the same amount again for your new property, the lender may be prepared to be more flexible.
“If the mortgage is not portable, or you wish to borrow more or less for the new purchase, there may be a penalty to pay. For example, Barclays will allow the borrower to port up to 25 per cent less than the current mortgage amount without penalty; more than that and a charge will be levied. If you are selling and then delaying a purchase, it is worth checking whether there is a window where any penalties will be refunded if you borrow again with the same lender.”
If you can afford it, consider moving out and renting while your property is on the market. “Chain free properties continue to attract high volumes of buyers as they often promise for a deal to be made faster,” says Matthew Thompson. “If your property sale happens to be chain free, ask your agent to highlight this as it can drastically increase sales enquiries and number of viewings.”
Not being in the property —or being flexible on when viewings can happen— is also an advantage, says Gibson. “Most sales happen off the cuff, so you want your agent to have a set of keys and to be able to take buyers there without any prior planning.”
Being ready for your next move is a huge advantage
Either way, being ready to move to your next property is a huge advantage for sellers and buyers. If you’re in a chain, make sure that all parties are equally prepared, says Khalastchy.
While the property sale might still be in the air, you can get some of the smaller decision-making out of the way, like choosing a removal company or decluttering possessions you don’t plan to take to your next home.
If you’re intent on a quick sale, you can ask your estate agent to prioritise cash buyers or those with a relatively small mortgage, says Gibson. Some will have their own database of cash buyers, as well as strong relationships with local buying agents.
Cash buyers, he explains, are seen as less of a risk for a sale and are able to complete the transaction more quickly.
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