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How to ensure a speedy sale

Words by Tim Wenning

Even when the process runs smoothly, selling a house can be a lengthy endeavour. In 2019, those looking to sell their home could expect their property to be on the market for an average of 69 days in total, compared with an average of 61 days in the four years prior. However, in the first month of 2020, UK house prices rose at the fastest rate on record for this time of year. Nearly 65,000 new properties were marketed over January, with rising prices suggesting a greater confidence in the outlook of the housing market for 2020.

Fast-forward three months and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cast a shadow across the housing market. But with the announcement on the 13th May that the ban on moving home is now lifted, those of us considering selling property can turn our attention once again to ensuring our home is sale-ready.

Capitalising on potential

Identifying and harnessing the unique potential in a property is crucial for helping to set it apart from neighbouring competition. If there are two houses for sale on the same street in varying conditions, the home in need of modernisation will appear less valuable a prospect than the home upgraded to a contemporary style.

One of the most lucrative ways to capitalise property value is to look for opportunities to maximise internal space. In a terraced row of houses, for example, properties that have sought to open up interior passageways, remove interior walls, create basements or extend garden space will be instantly more desirable to potential buyers

Any obvious renovations that could help to maximise internal space should be considered a worthwhile investment when looking for a speedy sale. It is important to remember that buyers are generally happy to pay a premium for a house that is finished to a high-standard, while many will pay more than the cost of works for the ease of convenience.

"Capitalise on the thing that makes your house different". If there are easy improvements that can be made to your home, make them, then feature them in photographs and styling to really set your property ahead of the competition,” says Edward Church, Head of Strutt & Parker Canterbury.

The question of price

Seemingly comparable houses on the same road may not be the same value for a variety of reasons; perhaps some have south facing gardens, whilst others are closer to a main road and suffer from noise pollution.

Property agents should offer a detailed knowledge and understanding of the local market, providing homeowners with realistic, informed guidance on the price of their property. However, sellers should not be afraid to set a new record for their street. Whilst some real estate agents may be adamant that houses never exceed a certain price on a particular road or in a particular area, it is important to remember that things move forward and streets can improve. It should also be noted that the nearest comparable property might not lie a couple of doors down; it might be one around the corner. Window shopping around the local area is the best tactic to get privately informed guidance on the true value of your home.

“In the current market, the way to sell your house in the face of competition is to price sensibly at the outset. Set the guide price close to the amount you are likely to accept,” says Paul Machell, Senior Associate Director, Strutt & Parker Chichester. “The aim is to draw in several potential buyers and create competition. Competitive pricing, particularly at the top end of the market, is key when market conditions are challenging.”

The benefits of vacant possession

Vacant possession refers to the rights of a purchaser to have exclusive access to a property on completion of sale. The previous occupant vacates immediately once money has changed hands.

Making the buying process as smooth as possible for any interested party is essential for selling a property in any market, but is all the more prevalent when there is direct competition. Selling with vacant possession comes with obvious benefits from a buyer’s perspective; it allows new owners to move into the property as soon as they’ve committed to buy. Not only that, it also benefits the seller, speeding up the overall sales process and cutting ongoing legal expenses.

“Vacant possession is a great way to make your property more appealing,” says Machell. “Either make sure you’ve got your new home lined up, or be prepared to move into rented accommodation after selling. You should also make sure your agent emphasises the vacant possession opportunity when doing viewings, as it might just seal the deal for anxious buyers.”

Photographs and styling

When it comes to the marketing visuals, using a professional photographer can have a huge impact on initial interest and viewing requests. Sellers should also consider the suitability of the photographer they use to photograph and style their home, as some properties with particularly high-end interiors will suit more lifestyle and feature-led shots to reach the ideal buyer.

Homes that feature a particularly good use of space and light may enjoy further benefits in paying for a ‘virtual viewing’ tour to highlight these unique assets.

“At Strutt & Parker, we’ve been using a 3D tour facility and have seen a significant increase in both viewing numbers and telephone enquiries,” says Machell. “Drone photography can also help with a property in a really special location.”

View our previous articles on preparing your home for sale and read our tips for further insights how to get the most out of your property.

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