The countdown to Christmas – Advice for savvy sellers
Alex Newall, Managing director at Hanover Private Office offers tips for how to sell your property in the run up to Christmas.
Price: Do not over price your house, otherwise it is very unlikely to sell before Christmas. If it has been on the market for a while with minimal interest, it is important to reassess the price, do some investigation into which agents have actually been selling comparable houses and what prices were eventually ‘achieved’ (not asking prices) and then call them in to refresh an opinion on value and revise it accordingly. Make sure your asking price is in line with the sold comparables, not just the local market for sale prices.
Presentation: Your house really needs to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, in other words it needs to be sufficiently ‘neutral’ to entice rather than deter potential buyers. Take a long hard look and perhaps ask friends to give their honest opinion about how your interior space looks, and the impression they get upon going round. This is no time to nurse an ego, but view it as a business enterprise and make the most of your asset. Wherever possible tidy, declutter and de-personalise, reducing the number of personal photographs and effects, yet retaining a sense of ‘real life’ going on there. Do try to keep the property clean and tidy internally. When viewings are underway, (delete try to) keep pets at bay and invest in scented candles to reduce ‘wet dog’ smells; ideally seek childcare for small children if possible and hide endless plastic toys! It’s a nice touch to place a weekly order for fresh flowers for principal reception rooms; a cost effective means of adding colour and ‘life’ to any home. As we move into the autumn and winter months, make sure the heating is on for a reasonable time during the day, there is nothing worse than buyers entering a cold uninviting property.
At this time of year, it’s good to get to grips with both outside and inside space to ensure flaking paint, loose roof tiles, and stained carpets are given a thorough, even professional clean and makeover. Clean the windows to maximize the natural light as the days are shorter. Remember, first impressions count.
If the property is empty, consider dressing the house. It’s a fact that a well-furnished property sells a lifestyle especially to buyers who lack imagination. Professional agents will be able to recommend good companies to either rent or buy furniture and can manage the process for you.
Marketing material: In a tricky or competitive selling environment, marketing material becomes even more crucial. It pays to ensure your brochure and any online advertising really promotes the property’s USP’s and conveys the key selling features. It’s important to remember that less is often more – clear bullet points and a handful of quality photos along with accurate well-presented floor plans. Get a professional photographer to take the photos, rather than relying on your own photography skills, or those of your agent. Bear in mind when you originally put the property on the market, that the images will have reflected the season at the time, so investing in new photography to make it show the current season will create a new perspective. Good high quality images sell a property!
Viewing: As the evenings get darker and people feel like hunkering down, try to make access to the property as convenient as possible and provide your agents with keys. Buyers are generally fickle and need to be shown houses at times that suit them, and not the vendors.
Negatives: no property is perfect. Think about what the negatives are, and how you can address these before viewings take place. If your property is already on the market, get the feedback and listen to why you are not getting offers. Seek advice from your agent as to how to lessen the impacts of these negatives on your property.
Legal: From the moment you appoint your agent, you should have already lined up a solicitor and instructed them to prepare the full legal pack, replies to standard enquiries, a draft contract and have searches done which can be passed to the buyer. It should be ready to go out at a moment’s notice. This is vital to show commitment and enables the momentum of a sale to be maintained, leaving less opportunity for your buyer to lose interest or go elsewhere.
Warranties: Be organized about paperwork relating to the property. Create a file and collate all the warranties, guarantees and service contracts for the house – whether it be an NHBC for a new build house, window guarantee, or for new appliances which you will sell with the house – get them all together and neatly in order. An efficient seller creates a mood of confidence with the buyer.
Employees: Check the status of employees and TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)) – this is especially important for larger country houses and estates.
Managing Director and founder of Hanover Private Office, Alex Newall is recognised as one of the UK’s top real estate advisors in London and has some of the world’s most affluent individuals as clients.
Harrow educated Newall has transacted in excess of £1billion worth of client assets and currently advises on a further £2 billion of real estate across Europe.