This might sound strange but often times people bring their home to the market, not really sure if they want to sell or whether now is, in fact, the right time. This is always a recipe for disaster. Uncommitted sellers tend to value their own home disproportionately high, they are generally not accommodating when it comes to viewings and not flexible when negotiations start. There can be no winners in this scenario so the best advice that I can give would-be sellers to to do their research, then make a decision and stick to that decision unless circumstances change. The main challenge of being an uncommitted seller is that if when you finally make the decision to accept any offers, the buyers might be gone. Second changes are rare in a recovering market.
Once the decision to sell has been made, it’s important to figure out who your buyer is likely to be as this will help to determine pricing and targeted marketing. In most areas outside of Dublin, there is very little overlap between the types of property that a home-buyer (first-time buyer or those trading up) or and investor will consider. Budget plays a part in this but the other considerations are property type i.e. house or apartment, or location i.e. town, country or outskirts of town. Knowing who your buyer is likely to be makes marketing the property more straightforward and increases relevant enquiries quickly.
Property valuation is actually quite different to pricing a property to bring to market. There has to be some element of strategic thinking involved. Depending upon the local supply and demand, it might make sense to start at a lower price to garner as much interest as possible from as many different buyers as possible. The higher the number of bidders, the better chance of achieving a strong price. On the flip side of that, it is important not to price too low so that prospect buyers are put off by some perceived ‘flaw’ or reason for the cheap price. This is particularly true when it comes to home buyers, who often equate price with value i.e. a higher price means better quality, but this is not always true.
I mentioned earlier that there are no second chances and this is always true for first impressions. It can be tempting just to bring your home to the market as is just to ‘test the marketplace’, with the intention to carrying out any upgrading works if and when they are needed. My best advice here is to resist this temptation. As a general rule, home buyers will not revisit a property they have already viewed and ruled out due to lack of appeal. The one exception to this is a substantial price drop but this is a very costly mistake to make. You really do only have one chance for your home to make a good first impression, don’t blow it for lack of a coat of paint!
Following on from my point above, if a property needs clearing (most do) and a fresh lick of paint, do it prior to coming to the market. Similarly, small fixes like cupboard doors with loose hinges or dripping taps should be rectified before starting viewings. It is amazing the tiny details that house-hunters focus on when viewing a property. Quality fittings, like new door handles and freshly varnished door/doorstops will generate a positive feeling with potential buyers. I am not suggesting that you need to rip out your bathroom but a new set of mats might just help.
Too many home-owners are confused about the difference between a property with character and a property with the owns personality stamped all over it. Character is good, excessive personality – usually demonstrated by shocking pink bedrooms or nude art painted in the bathroom – will rarely help home buyers imagine their own future lives in the home. There is a time and a place for tasteful minimalism and selling your home is both the time and the place.
Now that you have your home looking great and de-personalised, it’s time to capture it in its best light. Even great properties need great photographs to make them stand out on-line. The trick here is not to try photograph the entire room in one shot but rather showcase beautiful features that would be lost in a wide room shot. Help potential buyers find the beauty in your home.
In the past, property was relatively seasonal in that there were quiet times and busy times; however, since the property crash and as the market recovers, seasons have gone completely out of the window. It is true that investors and ready buyers will buy at any time. Having said that, home-buyers, particularly those with school-going children will generally start looking to the market in March/April time for a summer move. This is a great time to launch a family home on the market to a captive audience.
The most frustrating part of selling your home is that you can do everything right and still the right buyer hasn’t come along. If you find yourself in this position, it is worth re-evaluating the price, presentation and marketing of the property. While it is a cliche to say that you only need one buyer (provided that it is the right buyer!) this is true. Remaining flexible gives your property the best chance of sale.
Finally, have title deeds taken up (if with your mortgage lender) and have them delivered to your conveyancing solicitor prior to sale agreeing your home so that contracts can be prepared and ready for when the right buyer (and the right offer) comes along. This will give your solicitor the opportunity to spot and resolve any legal issues, and essentially to pre-empt any queries that the purchaser’s solicitor is likely to raise, before they become a cause for delay.
Remember that all-important ‘curb appeal’ to tempt buyers in.