Why buyers love home searching in autumn and how you can take steps now to be in your new home by Christmas.
If you are considering switching estate agents, take a look at our latest guide – Switching estate agents: all you need to know to get it right.
When you chose your estate agent, you did so because you believed they could sell your home.
You felt so certain, you even put your name to it when you signed the contract.
However, months down the line, hopes of lots of viewers and competing offers from eager buyers, are starting to fade.
You find yourself wondering if the market has changed, or if your asking price was just too optimistic. Your estate agent seems to have lost confidence in their ability to sell your house for the price they recommended. Would a new agent do a better job?
If you find yourself in one of the following situations, it's a natural next step to consider changing agents:
Maybe you feel that your agent has actually done a pretty good job, but you're ready for a change and a new approach. Or perhaps they haven't delivered on their early promises, and you feel disappointed and disheartened. The road to choosing the right estate agent can be a bumpy one, and the idea of doing it all over again can leave you feeling daunted. But don't worry, you don't have to make this journey alone. We are here to give you the navigational tools you need to steer your course forward when switching agents, so you don't take a wrong turn, and end up back where you started.
Step 1 Use your head and not your heart
Before making a move, look at the facts. How many viewings have you had, over what period of time? Ask your agent how this figure compares with other similar properties on their books. Take a look at the property portals; are homes like yours going under offer, whilst yours remains unsold? Or have other properties remained on the market too?
Ask your agent to share with you your online portal statistics. Do the figures show a steady level of interest throughout the time you've been on the market, or a declining number of views? Your agent should be able to interpret these statistics for you, explaining their significance, and how they relate to your property sale.
Once you understand the current state of play, it's time to check your Agreement.
Step 2- Study the small print
There are three main types of estate agent agreements. Make sure you know what you've signed, so you don't get yourself in legal hot water by making a change:
Sole agency agreement this is the most common type of estate agent contract. This means that the estate agent is the only agent with the right to sell your home during the term of the contract but if you find a buyer yourself, you don't have to pay the estate agent fees.
Sole selling agreement this is more unusual and essentially means that no matter how you sell your home, or who to, they can still claim their commission fee.
Fixed fee with this contract, you have agreed to pay a set amount on the sale of your home, regardless of the amount you sell it for. Often, fixed-fee agents charge some, or all, of the fee upfront. If you have paid anything up front, it's unlikely you will be able to get this back if you switch estate agents.
Also check your tie-in period. Most notice periods are 8-12 weeks, but some are longer. There may be a notice period, which you'll need to factor into your plans to appoint a new estate agent.
Step 3 Research potential agents
Once you know your rights to switch estate agents, it's time to look for new agents to shortlist.
Check out reviews on Google and Facebook to get an idea of other homeowner's experiences of the agents you are considering. Ask friends and family too which agents would they recommend, and why?
Look at their online presence: if they have videos on Facebook or YouTube, how do they come across? Personable and enthusiastic? Or formal and flat? If they don't resonate with you over video, it's unlikely they will do in person.
Step 4 Become an undercover agent
A "mystery shop" exercise is a really good way to see how they would sell your home, if you listed with them. Here's how to do it:
Pick a property in your area, one similar to your own. Call the prospective agent and ask them to send you details on the house you've picked, then only give them information based on what they ask you. (Some people find this a really challenging exercise to do,if this is you, ask a friend or family member and listen in!)
If the agent scores above eight, they are clearly competent and attentive and worthy of further consideration. Any lower, and they are failing to understand your needs, as a prospective buyer, which does not bode well. If you don't feel they did a good job of selling the house you asked about, it's unlikely they'll do a good job of selling yours.
Step 5 Invite them to your home
If you have reached stage five, there is a good chance that you're feeling confident this agent can help you sell your home, and move on with your life.
In this meeting, you need to understand:
Finally - congratulations. If the agent passes all these stages with flying colours, you've found a new selling mate. Hopefully, it's the start of a positive and fruitful relationship, that will see you selling and moving on with your life, and plans.
If you are thinking about switching agents, we'd love to hear from you – call us for a chat on 01364 652652, or send me an email at email@example.com. Whatever your plans, chatting them through, confidentially, can help. We'd be proud to be part of your moving journey.
If you have had your house on the market for some time without success, dropping your asking price may seem an inevitable, if unwanted, next step. Your estate agent will often suggest this move if they have run out of ideas, motivation and most importantly, confidence in your asking price.
But is dropping your asking price really the answer to selling your home more effectively?
It’s true that for some properties, reducing the asking price can generate new interest from buyers who would have been previously unable to afford your home. It’s also a step that for some sellers is, unfortunately, necessary – if they have an urgent move, for example, or are facing repossession.
However, with many houses – particularly premium homes – dropping your asking price is not always the answer, and it can even harm your chances of attracting a committed buyer.
If you’re considering reducing your asking price, make sure it’s necessary and the reduction will make a positive difference to your chances of selling your home quickly.
To help guide you, we’ve compiled the DOs and DON’Ts of dropping your asking price to help you get the result you want and move on with your life:
DON’T drop your asking price by less than 10%
– Or it just won’t make any difference to the interest you get. Buyers will usually look at homes 10% either side of their budget anyway, so you’ll need to reduce your asking price by at least that to get your home noticed by a new set of buyers.
DO ask your agent why you need to reduce
– Your home was originally valued based on sound research and by an expert in the local property market. What’s changed? Understanding whether your agent misjudged the market, or the demand has changed for houses like yours, will help you make the right decision to either reduce or to stick it out.
DON’T keep making small drops in price
– A price drop can cause suspicion amongst buyers who may wonder what’s wrong with it? Why have you lowered the asking price? A buyer may not want to risk buying a house that seems to be falling in value. A property with lots of historical price drops is inherently unattractive to a buyer, as each drop can signify a red flag, so make your price drop big and impactful, but make it just once.
DO drop to the next Rightmove price band
– You can find these by going to www.rightmove.co.uk and entering a search. The list of price band that comes up is your guide as to the price your house should be marketed at. For example, there’s no point in having an asking price of £399,999 when the Rightmove price band is £400,000. By positioning your asking price in alignment with the search bands, your house will effectively show up in up to twice as many buyer searches.
DON’T try to break the price ceiling for your road or area
– Not only does this make buyers jittery, it will also make a surveyor nervous too. Unless you really can’t avoid it, try to price your home at less than the highest price sold in your neighbourhood.
[Note: we have previously sold homes at prices that have broken the area ceiling, but they do need careful positioning to reassure buyers and surveyors, so please ask our advice if this is your situation too.]
DO ask your estate agent the right questions before you drop your price
– If you’re feeling pressure from your estate agent to reduce, or you have a moving deadline looming and can’t afford to drop your price, ask your agent what else could be done to secure that sale, other than reducing your asking price? Have a review with them and look at your marketing critically. Could it be improved? Maybe new lifestyle photographs would attract new buyers. Or showcase your home better with a ‘twilight’ image or aerial shot, to show your home in a new, imaginative way.
DON’T give your buyers an excuse to make a low offer
– Make sure your home is wonderfully presented, with every room polished and attractive, otherwise you’re literally leaving money on the table. Home styling can dramatically increase the ‘saleability’ of your home, and really helps buyers envision the lifestyle it offers. If you’d like to know about the home styling we offer as part of our marketing, we’d be happy to talk you through it and show you some of our styled photographs. Just drop us an email at KATIE@SAWDYEANDHARRIS and we’ll arrange it for you right away.
DO give yourself some negotiation room – but not too much
– On average, you can expect to achieve around 95% – 97% of your asking price, with 3% – 5% ‘given away’ in the negotiations with your buyer. This will depend on other factors of course, like how fast your local market is moving, the confidence in the housing market while you’re selling and how long your home has been on the market. Taking 96% as an average, losing 4% of a £400,000 asking price means you will eventually receive £384,000 on completion. But if you reduce the asking price to £375,000 say, you’ll only get £360,000 – a significant drop. Not only have you reduced by £25,000, you’ll also have lost an additional £15,000 in negotiations, putting your total ‘lost’ sale monies at £40,000, a substantial ‘loss’ of 10% of your original asking price.
DON’T forget to calculate your price per square foot
– It can be a more accurate way to value a house than other methods. Not only this, but a surveyor will use a price per square foot analysis to provide a valuation to your buyer and to your buyer’s lender. If your agent hasn’t already done this for you, make a spreadsheet of the other properties for sale and sold in your area and calculate the price per square foot of each, then compare it to yours. If you’d like our help to create your price per square foot table, or you’d like our template to get you started, just email us on KATIE@SAWDYEANDHARRIS.CO.UK and we would be glad to do this for you.
DO remember that sometimes it’s more valuable to you to be able to move on with your life, than to hold out for months – and sometimes years – for a few thousand pounds more. If time is not on your side, whether it’s a selling deadline, or a pressing personal reason for selling in a particular timescale, it may be time to let go of your price expectations, and time to start your new life chapter. Only you can make this challenging decision, but if you’d like to talk it through with us, we’re here to listen and guide, if that would help. You can reach us on 01364 652652- just ask for Katie, for a chat in confidence.
When your home hasn’t sold and you’re wondering if it’s the asking price to blame, use the above DOs and DON’Ts as a checklist to see if you’re doing everything you can to get your house sold. If your price per square foot is about right, you’re not trying to break the price ceiling for your area, and your home is presented in the best way possible, if your photographs showcase the lifestyle of your home, and you have time on your side to wait for the price you really want, then have confidence in your asking price. Because if you don’t, no one else will.
Your asking price isn’t the end of the story; it’s the opening chapter. Having a strategy in advance will save you emotional stress throughout the process and offers the reassurance of having a plan to fall back on when and if things get tough. Uncovering the reasons your home hasn’t yet sold can help you make the challenging decisions at the right time for you and your personal circumstances, and we can help you discover these reasons with an initial chat. Just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01364 652652 and ask for Katie – and let’s get you moving onto the next chapter of your life.