With the housing market in the doldrums at the moment, buyers unquestionably have the upper hand. But while conditions outside sellers’ control might prevent them from getting the price they could have done a few years ago, they can still take active steps to making sure the sale at least goes through quickly. A transaction that moves fast is far less likely to fall through so read on for our ten steps to selling a house fast.
Work out your market
If you are planning on selling a house, it is really important to ask yourself who is going to want to buy your home? Buy-to-let investors might want decent-size bedrooms, a family could be sold by outdoor space and young professionals might be most excited by transport links and a space to throw a party. The characteristics of your house or flat will make it a better option for a certain type of buyer so it should be marketed and presented to appeal to them most. But make sure not to put other types of buyers off too much.
Timing is crucial
The general lack of buyers in the market means those with access to finance can call more of the shots nowadays. That’s all the more reason, therefore, to bring your home to market at the right time. People selling a house in late autumn and during the winter will find there are less potential buyers about . All that changes in spring when people get back to searching and demand goes up relative to supply, giving buyers more of an advantage and increasing the chance of an acceptable offer being made. There is also another mini-rise in late summer/early autumn.
When selling a house, always get at least three quotes for the job and go through them closely. A conveyancer who seems too cheap to be true quite often is. They should be able to provide a pretty good breakdown of costs, as the process of selling a house is quite standardised. But it isn’t just about price, how good a conveyancer is at communicating can be just as important. And always make sure they operate on a no-sale-no-fee basis. If you get your conveyancing sorted early, they will be able to leap into action as soon as you have accepted an offer. Provide them with as much of the information they will need as possible and you can keep the conveyancing period short.
Tidy up and be ruthless
Most of us have shelves and cupboards full of stuff we don’t really need. Not only is clutter bad for us, it is also an obstacle to a successful sale. Buyers want to imagine a room with their possessions in it, and it is difficult to do that with books, DVDs and mementos from the four corners of the globe jockeying for space. Getting rid of superfluous belongings increases your home’s appeal to buyers and also helps you identify any area you might need to touch up. You’ll also be relieved when you are packing up after you have sold successfully.
Get the decorators in
Inevitably a home suffers wear and tear. Living there every day it is hard to appreciate that process but you should objectively think about what a buyer might see that will turn them off your home. Damp is a very common sale killer, and will require months for the effect to be combated, so it is never too early to think about what work you will need doing. Make sure everything has been given a fresh lick of paint before your viewings start. A clean, new-looking property is critical if you are selling a house and want to do it quickly.
Agents will not charge for a valuation so it is a good idea to get a few down to estimate the value of your home prior to instructing any. Always get at least three quotes. It is very simple to just go with the agent suggesting the highest sale price but take the valuations seriously, and combine them with your research on property websites like Rightmove.com and Land Registry data – which can be accessed through a number of sites – to gauge what the actual market value is. When selling a house, it is essential to have a realistic opinion of what it is worth. Otherwise you could turn down a succession of acceptable offers, or accept one that is far too small.
Spread the word
The internet has revolutionised the way people approach selling a house. There are countless sites devoted to finding people their dream homes. The vast majority of buyers’ journeys now begin online but you can give yourself and advantage by thinking outside the box. You can market your house on sites like eBay and Gumtree, tweet about it or just mention to your friends, neighbours and families that you are looking to sell. The future buyer of your home could easily find out about the availability through word of mouth. And always, always have a board up.
Leave viewings to the pros
Your agents are going to charge you when your home is successfully sold so at least make them work for it. An agent will have been on countless viewings and will most likely be better at selling a house to prospective buyers than you. Go out when a viewing is taking place, and make sure you have left your house uncluttered and spotlessly clean – this is especially important if you have pets. Buyers want to imagine living in a place, not feel like they’re trespassing. Air the place out, make sure the heating is on and if you have a parking space make sure it is available for the buyer.
Prioritise the buyer over the price
This is where a good agent will come into their own. They should be finding out as much as they can about the buyers and feeding that information back to you. It could be tempting to favour an offer that beats or comes close to your asking price over a lower one from a higher quality buyer. But the quality of the buyer is the biggest consideration, especially when selling a house quickly. Do they have a mortgage arranged already? Are they a cash buyer? Have they bought a property before? Are they part of a chain, and how long is it? All these questions contribute to how strong a buyer someone is, and a stronger buyer means a much higher chance of the sale going through.
Drive the conveyancing process
So you have accepted an offer and the conveyancing process has begun. Now, if you’ve played your cards right you will have instructed a helpful, communicative conveyancer who will stay on top of everything and get in completed nice and quickly without your input. Realistically, you need to be prepared to be the person that keeps everything flowing, however. Speak to your conveyancer weekly to find out how things are progressing and if there is anything you need to provide. Taking this proactive approach not only keeps less attentive conveyancers on the case, it also makes the better ones aware what kind of client you are and encourages them to be equally proactive. The quicker you can get the conveyancing process done, the quicker selling a house will be.