For last week's Finance Fridays we were looking at the Financial Compensation Scheme and seeing how much money you could claim back if your bank, insurance or investment company goes bust. For this week we're talking about probably the most expensive thing you'll ever own - your house. Everybody knows how stressful it is to sell a house but that stress can get worse if you can't get your house sold. You may find that the dream house you wanted gets sold to someone if you can't get a buyer. Instead of buying a house straight away when you do you may end up renting. This means spending money on rent instead of mortgage payments and the costs of moving twice.
I have only ever sold one house and it went within four days for the asking price! On my daily walks I see lots of estate agents boards. Some come and go quickly whereas others end up showing the 'For Sale' sign for months on end. So why does one house get snapped up as soon as it comes up for sale while another remains on the market? Here are some pointers in today's guest post.
"Your property is a prized asset to be cherished and invested in and, when it finally comes to selling it, you need to make sure you get the best return for your efforts. The good news for sellers is that prices are strong and demand remains high. The problem is that it is a highly competitive market and you need to avoid falling into traps that might scupper your efforts.
If your house is on the market and isn't shifting, then chances are that you may well have fallen into one of those traps.
Here's what to look out for:
You know how good your home looks, but you must share these strengths with the wider world and this needs decent photos. You don't have to employ the services of David Bailey but you do need to make sure you don't put out pictures that make your home look pokey.
A poor set of photos will cause would-be buyers to discount your property without even giving it a second thought and are surprisingly common. Go back through the pictures you've got and make sure you're not underselling your property.
Another issue – which applies to photos too – could be that your listing is incomplete. Buyers must be given all the information they need and if they can't find it they can easily move on to an alternative. If there are no pictures of the bedrooms the buyer might presume you've got a décor disaster that you're hiding, for example. Equally a lack of floor plans, measurements or location details might mean they feel they don't have enough information to proceed.
The pre-digital house buying process involved people leafing through supplements of their local newspaper and pouring over pictures in estate agent windows. Some people are still tempted to rely on this method, particularly if they have sold a house in the past. The fact is that people search for homes online these days and you need to cater for them. Not only that, but sellers should investigate how to sidestep the high street entirely. Online estate agents promise to cut a lot of the time and cost out of the process and are increasingly playing an important part in the market. Using them can help to kick start a sale.
You might also find that your home simply has too high a price tag on it. It's tough to know what price to put on your property but even if you do get this right it's important to keep track of the market conditions in your area as the value can fluctuate. If your home is more expensive than other similar properties in the area it simply won't sell. Changing the price doesn’t mean a huge cut; even a small change could drop you into the search range of a host of buyers who haven't seen your property before. Make an informed decision and you could find the buyer you want.
While it's important to be flexible on the price, especially if the market dictates it or someone wants to haggle a little, you also need to be flexible in other ways as a seller. Be available for viewings and make sure you can be contacted easily with queries. Also be prepared to make little tweaks around the home to make it more appealing, such as the neutral decoration of walls in small rooms or putting some clutter in storage to allow the buyer the chance to visualise the rooms how they'd like them. If people can't get hold of you – or are faced with a property that looks too much like it's still your home – they'll be put off from making an offer."
Have you ever had to sell a house? Did you find it took a time to find a buyer?
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