As we all know; selling a property isn’t much fun. There’s a lot paperwork, you’ll have to let strangers into your home and at the end of it all there’s a lot of sorting and packing, which only odd people find fun.
But, that said, there are a lot of ways to make the whole process smoother and, if done cleverly, a lot more profitable. Below we’ll reveal some simple steps to help you steer your sale towards a profitable and (nearly) stress-free sale.
1. How to choose an agent
Cards on table, we know that some estate agents don’t have the best reputation. But the whole purpose of Brik is to change that perception. We believe there’s no substitute for passion and local knowledge. But with that said, we also believe in democracy, so here are some top tips to help you choose the right agent for the job.
Phone a friend
Who do you trust most? Friends and family, of course, so use them! If someone you know has moved or sold-up recently, ideally to the same area you’re looking in, ask them about their experience. At best they’ll recommend an agent who helped them out massively, and at worst they’ll let you know who to avoid.
We know you’re unlikely to choose an agent from a mailer through the door, but even so, it’s worth asking for credentials. Ideally your agent will be a member of one of the following trade bodies - Guild of Professional Estate Agents (GPEA), National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
Become a secret shopper
Once you’ve found some estate agents you like, go and see them and pose as a potential buyer or seller, ask hard questions and think about whether you would want to work with them.
2. How to price your property
Selling your house starts long before potential buyers have even seen the outside, let alone crossed the threshold. And if it’s too expensive for the area, you’ll find yourself facing an uphill struggle.
Ask for advice
Don’t take your agent’s word as gospel, ask around at different agencies and do your own research. If your agent isn’t based locally, there’s a chance they could rely on third party statistics from sources such as the Land Registry, which will often be averages. Not surprisingly it’s often tempting for estate agents to overvalue property in order to win your instruction in the sale. This is a real false economy and if your agent isn’t being straight with you at this stage, how will you be able to trust them further down the line?
Look in the mirror
Find out what similar properties have sold for in the past and make an honest comparison. One two-bed flat is not the same as another.
Finishing and the amount of work a potential buyer may need to invest are all important. Be honest, would you pay what you’re asking?
The contrarian truth is that getting to the highest price often doesn’t begin with the highest asking price. Ask your agent what their strategy is for getting as close as possible to the price you want.
Speed vs profit
What is your situation? Do you need to sell the property quickly? Or are you in a position where you can wait? This will also determine how much you cost your house at, because a fast sale doesn’t have to mean big reductions. A lot of interest is generated during the initial entry of your property to the market, and timing can play a big part in making the most of this honeymoon period.
Of course, the longer your property is on the market the more chance you have of waiting it out for a buyer that will pay top notch. But, generally speaking, this is not an advisable strategy because the market grows wary of properties that haven’t shifted.
3. How to negotiate
You’ve done your research, found the perfect agent, marketed your property like a pro and you’ve just had a call saying someone’s made an offer. Thing is, it’s not exactly what you hoped, a little too low. So how do you negotiate like a pro?
Listen to your agent
Not all estate agents are the same. Some are much more experienced than others and some are simply better negotiators. Having followed the earlier steps in this article though that’s no problem, you’ve got yourself a great agent.
Listening to them and trusting them in the negotiation period is important and can avoid common pitfalls that they’re all too experienced in avoiding.
Have two prices
In an ideal world, you set a price and that is what’s offered. But this is not an ideal world and that often isn’t the case. So, it may be a wise strategy to have two prices for your property, one that is public and on the listing, and another you’ve discussed with relevant parties that you would be willing to drop to.
Don’t be pressured
Potential buyers and their agents may try and turn the screws, making statements such as ‘they can’t hang around forever’ and ‘this is a one-time offer’. Ignore that, you’re in a powerful position and have something they want. Take your time, a deep breath, and work out a fair counter offer. Or, if the price you’ve set is non-negotiable, politely decline. This may make them up their offer.
Sweeten the deal
It’s worth having some extra incentives in your armoury, outside of the secret base price. Think about any fixtures or furnishings you might throw into the deal, especially if you’re selling to first time buyers or you’ve had any bespoke furnishings made. Sometimes meeting a buyer halfway on minor works or repairs they request can work out a lot cheaper than taking a cut on the sales price.
4. Sales Progression
Listen to any agent with a modicum of experience and they’ll tell you that this is the part of the deal where things can often head south, and fast. This final phase of the process is where an experienced agent will earn you their fee, if they haven’t already of course.
Choose the right buyer
Start right. If you’re in the lucky position of having multiple offers, or even if you just have one offer on the table, it’s important to ensure the buyer is no time waster. Often agents will try and tree-shake a potential buyer to test their commitment to the deal, and of course the best buyer isn’t always the one that has offered the most.
Don’t get too emotional
Easier said than done of course. Many deals can start to unravel fast if their is a lack of empathy between buyer and seller. Silly things like agreements on fixtures and fittings can cause no end of strife between the two parties. Be pragmatic and prepared to give in sometimes to save the deal. After all, a washing machine or a set of blinds are nothing compared to the deal happening or not.
Make sure you’ve chosen a reputable, preferbaly London-based solicitor. Listen to your agent’s advice on which companies to choose if you’re unsure. They’ll know who are efficient and who take long lunches. Slow conveyancing can kill a deal quickly.
Last minute price drops
Sometimes no matter what you do and how diligent you have been you can’t avoid a buyer trying it on.
This can happen for any number of reasons, often it’s issues with a survey, the buyer is getting cold feet, or they just want to earn a quick buck. Sometimes there’s a legitimate reason for it and this shouldn’t necessarily be waved off.
However if your agent is telling you they’re trying it on, the best course of action is to maintain your poker face and kindly decline their re-negotiation and threaten to re-list the property to the market immediatley. This often has the desired effect.
So the actual process of selling is quite simple. But don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Swot up and make sure you have an experienced agent on your side, it’s often just one conversation that can turn a deal around.
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