Tag Archives: advice

heart ornament beside window

heart ornament beside window

I often get asked the question, “Should I use more than one estate agent to sell my house?” Once upon a time, this strategy made perfect sense.  After all, before properties were advertised on the internet, how else could you make sure that buyers across different geographical areas would see your home, if you didn’t use two, three or more agents to market it?

But then came the property portals, and everything changed.  Almost all buyers (93% at last count) look online to find their home, often browsing a couple of portals, then simply call the relevant agent to book a viewing on a home they like.

What’s the point in being listed twice like this?

So is there any point these days in instructing more than one agent? The short answer is ‘no’.  If a buyer spies your home listed several times online, at best it’s annoying, and at worst it’s misleading, because if the agents involved have used different photographs and descriptions to advertise the property, a buyer could be forgiven for thinking that the adverts belong to different houses.

And doesn’t this look like a different property? It’s not!

When a buyer enters a search criterion on one of the property portals like Rightmove, properties appear in a list, in descending price order, ie with the more expensive houses showing first.  Any properties that are marketed at exactly the same price will appear in a random order, to be fair and not favour any particular agent. However, one agent I know gets around this rule by adding a pound to his prices, so that his properties will show first, and therefore you’ll see property prices like £300,001 from him!

Another factor to bear in mind, is how does it look to a buyer if you as the seller have instructed several agents? Desperate perhaps? In need of an urgent sale?  This could have the effect of generating some very low offers from those buyers looking for a bargain, whilst genuine buyers may stay away completely, fearful of being stuck with a property that they themselves can’t sell when the time comes.

Finally, there’s the question of cost.  If you instruct more than one agent, depending on the type of agency agreement you have, you’ll either pay the standard agency fee, but only to one of the agents; sometimes called ‘winner takes all’. Or else you’ll pay a higher fee, and it’ll be split between the two agents, typically 2/3:1/3 or else 50/50. The average uplift for a joint agency agreement is around 25%, meaning that if the average fee in your area is 1.5%, you will be paying 2% – 2.25% for a joint agreement.  This could be an extra £2250 on a £300,000 house – not an inconsiderable amount, particularly if it doesn’t actually net you any higher a sale price.

So my advice is to pick one agent, show them your loyalty and let them do their job. Don’t agree to a long contract, and if after say, 3 months, you’re not getting the interest in your home you had hoped for, drop your price, or find another agent and improve your marketing. Or all three….

Happy selling!

Sam

Feeling a little lost looking for the right estate agent? All you need is a trip to Venice and a good coffee!

Selling your home can be an emotional and tiring slog, perhaps even onerous at times. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is such a thing as an enjoyable selling experience, and all you have to do is choose the right estate agent. Read our guide to sell your home and keep your sanity too!

Let’s take a break from house talk, and enjoy a walk through the streets of Venice; after a little sightseeing, you pause at an independent coffee house to enjoy the views of the square. You enjoy the Italian barista’s stories, and they introduce you to the coffee bean farmers sat opposite. They listen as you describe your ideal coffee, and ask about your favourite foods and wines.

The barista leaves you momentarily to enjoy the surroundings, before treating you to your own customised coffee blend. It’s brewed and roasted to your exact liking. The personalised dusting that lays on top is impressively artful, and their efforts are appreciated. They smile as you taste, because they know they’ve got it just right, and watching people enjoy their coffee brings them happiness too. Their experience means that they get every note just right, and the warm crema topping spoils your taste buds.

You make your way back to the airport, but before you board the plane, you fancy one last Italian coffee. There’s plenty of choice, but none particularly catch your eye. So Cafe Nero will do. The cafe offers convenient and cheap refreshments, and the noisy bustle inside is a nice nod to the popularity of the chain. The waitress smiles, and waits for you to place your order. The menu offers a reasonable yet generic selection, but with a growing queue behind, you quickly default to your usual latte.

Personalisation goes as far as a flavoured syrup, before a button is pressed and the end liquid passes through the machine. The ‘to-go-cup’ is promptly popped on the end counter, and in a sea of cardboard blue, you ask the waitress to point out which is yours. Efficient, polite service, but unforgettable all the same. And the coffee? It’s good. You peel off the plastic lid to see a templated bean dusting. It’s trying to be the independent barista, but it’s just not. You don’t finish the cup, but it’s served its purpose. You board the plane, and head back to the UK.

So, on your trip to Italy, you enjoyed two Italian coffees. Each quenched your thirst, but only one made an everlasting impression. And only one experience gave you a story that you’ll share with your friends.

Choosing the right estate agent is exactly the same. Some agents have perfected the art of convenience and speed. Their service is almost templated, and for homes that fall into a particular mould, it can work. Take new builds for example. Developments are plentiful and scattered throughout the UK, and the homes are marketed at the Joneses. Prices generally fall in the lower brackets, and there isn’t too much variant in house styles.

These homes are functional and affordable, but they aren’t unique; so selling these home with a templated marketing service makes sense. But when you see a home with true personality and character, the convenient ‘one-shoe-fits-all’ approach just doesn’t, well, fit. That’s because when a home really is unique, it needs unique marketing too.

If that means that your home calls for a bespoke brochure, or you need the helping hands of a home stylist, your estate agent should have a team of professionals to hand. When they sit down to pen a marketing strategy with you, it should feel unique. Because if every effort is made to approach buyers differently, and to show them all the wonderful features of your home, people will want to step inside to experience it themselves.

So, perhaps you don’t need that trip to Venice after all. Because you may just find a team that can give you a unique experience back home. Make sure you choose the team that will indulge you with an extra special coffee, though.

Happy selling!

Sam

When you first put your property on the market, you were probably full of anticipation and hope that you would get lots of viewings and even an early offer.  But now it’s a few weeks or even months down the line, and the few viewings you had initially have all but dried up, and your agent is on the phone at least once a week listing all the reasons why you should drop your asking price.So what has gone wrong?

Here are my top five reasons why you haven’t sold so far, and what you can do about it:

1. You launched at the wrong time of year – each home has a probably buyer, and each buyer has their own preferred time of the year to move.  For example, retirees tend to plan for a summer move, whereas lots of families move in spring or autumn.  Launch at the best time of year for your buyer, not for yourself, and you have a better chance of getting viewings.

2. You chose the wrong estate agent – does your agent actually like your house? Or you, for that matter?!  Agents are only human, after all, and if they don’t like you, they aren’t exactly going to be motivated to help you move on.  Keep them onside, work hard to make sure your house always looks great, and the result will be a happy, motivated agent.

3. Your house isn’t ready for viewings – take a long, hard look at your house – is it really ready to go public? Or would it benefit from a little tidying up, de-cluttering and perhaps even a lick of paint? Be honest with yourself, and give viewers a well-presented home that they can actually imagine themselves living in.

4. Your photography is unflattering – take a look at the properties on Rightmove – which images catch your eye? Is it the dark, amateurish ones taken on a slant? Or is it the brightly lit, well-composed shots that make you want to keep looking? Unflattering photographs will deter buyers from even looking at your advert, never mind booking a viewing.  Invest in good quality, professional photography and show your home at its very best online.

5. You put it on the market at too high a price – were you swayed by an eager agent, filling you full of tales about how much he could get for your house, despite the precedential evidence to the contrary? The problem with launching to the market at too high a price is that the interest you get in those first few weeks is directly correlated to the price you will ultimately achieve.  Get it wrong, and you risk putting those important buyers off, and perhaps losing them for good.  Price your property right, right from the start, and you’ll get the interest – and offer – you deserve.

If you have read this post and believe you haven’t made any of these mistakes, then why not get in touch? I’ll let you know what I think, honestly and without obligation.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

Picture by Steven Barber


What to read next:
 “What’s that smell?!” What prevents your home from selling?

What to do next: Sign up to my Selling Secrets https://www.home-truths.co.uk/selling-secrets

beautiful sala set with dog Why your pet might be stopping you sell!

If you have a dog or cat, or any other pet, they are probably a very important member of your family. (My lovely collie, Georgie, kind of rules our house…. )  However, even though it’s sometimes difficult for pet lovers to imagine, there is in fact a large proportion of the population that just doesn’t like animals in the house.  In fact, if they see any evidence of pets at all in the photos, they just won’t even book a viewing!

So what do you do with Rover and Moggy (or Georgie) when you have a viewing arranged?

You need to make sure you don’t alienate your viewers and put them off your home from the moment they step through the door, so get rid of all traces of your pets if you can.  If your agent accompanies viewers, then take the dog out for a walk; if you conduct the viewings yourself, and the weather allows it, let your dog have a sleep in the car, or leave it with a neighbour.

Also, don’t forget to hide all pet paraphernalia: litter trays, pet food, dog beds, cat toys, etc.  Close the cat flap, and ask a friend to look after the budgie and the tortoise.. and the snake…..

But you protest “I want to sell my home to a pet lover just like me!” I hear you, and even sympathise, but we’re talking about selling your home here for the most money possible!  Don’t limit your market, instead if you appeal to everyone, you have the best possible chance of a successful sale.  If you only want to sell to someone who has rabbits, rats and an iguana, you may be waiting a while….

Give your buyers the chance to fall in love with your house and your beloved pets will soon have a new home to move to.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch

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What to read next: Are You in the Right Mindset to Sell Your Home?

What to do next:  Sign up to my Selling Secrets https://www.home-truths.co.uk/selling-secrets

 

Moving with children can be a very stressful time.  Trying to allow for their schedules, needs and energy levels can be a huge drain on your own time and energy while at the same time, trying to move home – something most of us only do a handful of times in a lifetime!

Having moved so many times that I’ve actually lost count, and the last 17 with three children, I thought I’d share with you here my own personal dos and don’ts so you can learn by my mistakes!

Do involve children in the move by getting them to pack and label their own possessions.  Turn it into a game and make it a positive, fun experience.

Don’t rush them into ‘loving’ their new home and life.  The move wasn’t their idea and they may not have known about your decision until it was all cut and dried!  Give them time to get used to it, and before long, their old home will be a distant, if affectionate, memory.

Do create a countdown chart on the wall. Make it colourful and fun, and encourage them to cross off the days as you get closer to moving day.

Don’t forget that young children get tired and whiny easily and when you’re stressed out on moving day, your patience may fray! Consider roping in family and friends to look after them, and give yourself the chance to focus on the move without distraction.

Do have children pack their most special items in a small case that travels with you in the car.  You really don’t want to be opening boxes at midnight when you’re tired to look for their cuddly toy, blanket or other favourite thing.  Having their familiar possessions around them will also help them feel at home more quickly and give you all the peaceful night’s sleep you need.

I’d love to hear any of your own moving tips – with children or otherwise! Leave me a comment.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

What to read next:  Are you Ready to Move On?

What to do next:  Sign up to my Selling Secrets https://www.home-truths.co.uk/selling-secrets

Living room with couch. What to do when you just aren’t getting any viewings at all

I spoke to a gentleman this week who has had his house on the market for three years.  And in that time, he has only had three viewings.  Really. He sounded utterly despondent, and no wonder!

So what can you do when you just aren’t getting any viewings at all? Here’s my action list to help you to address the problems, and improve your situation – cut out and keep it!

Presentation – ask a friend to walk round your house with you, and write down all those little jobs you’ve been meaning to get round to doing.  Ask her to point out any area that is particularly personal, like name plaques on doors or a photo gallery.  De-clutter, de-personalise and add shine through dressing and accessories.

Photography – get in a pro! If neither you nor your agent can afford it, then read my Six Secrets to Fabulous Property Photography and get the best shots you possibly can – including some lifestyle images – to make your house look like a magazine shoot.

Description – brainstorm with your family and come up with the best descriptive words to describe your home. Use emotion and feeling to really get across the essence of your home.

Rightmove ad – keep the text in your summary advert short and sweet.  Write a snappy headline of no more than a line, to encourage clicks. Pick the best ‘lifestyle’ image that represents your home and ask your agent to use it as the main shot on your advert.

Estate Agent – is your agent fully on board? If not, get another! Newer agents are often hungry, with something to prove.  Offer them a great commission to incentivise them to sell your house quickly; this is not the time to scrimp on fee!

Prepared? – have a plan that you stick up on the inside of a kitchen cupboard so that as soon as a viewing is booked, the whole family can spring into action.  Whether it’s moving the cars off the driveway, taking the dog out for a walk, or having freshly laundered bedding ready to pop over the top of the beds, having a plan will make sure you have a professional approach to your viewings when they do happen, which they will!

If you aren’t getting viewings, perhaps it’s time to call in an expert – me!

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

What to read next: 8 Tips For Prepping Your Home For A Viewing

What to do next:  Sign up to my Selling Secrets https://www.home-truths.co.uk/selling-secrets

laptop at the top of the side table When did you last speak to your estate agent?

5 Top Tips to keep your estate agent onside.

The market is buoyant right now.  Properties are selling quickly – mostly.  If yours isn’t getting much interest from buyers, you may find that your estate agent has stopped calling. Perhaps it seems they are even avoiding your calls.  You’re left feeling frustrated and powerless, wondering what on earth you can do when no one wants to view your home.

Communication between you and your agent at this tricky time becomes all the more important.  Without communication, there can be no trust, and without trust, there is no worthwhile relationship.   What can you do to keep the channels of communication open, and keep your agent onside?

Here are my 5 Tips to keep your estate agent onside when they don’t want to speak to you:

  1. Pre-empt any issues by agreeing a communication schedule before you launch your home to the market.  This is over and above any calls to arrange viewings, or to give feedback afterwards; this plan outlines your expectations and so your agent has some chance of meeting them.  For example, you could ask for a fortnightly call on a Friday, regardless of whether there had been any viewings in between.  In this call you could ask them about market conditions and trends, recent sales, viewings on other comparable properties, and updates on any of your recent viewers.  With a plan agreed in advance, there are clear expectations and if these are not met, you can refer your agent back to their original agreement.
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  2. Share your plans with them: if your agent knows how important your move is, perhaps to be closer to a special relative, to give yourself more financial security, or to realise your long-held dream of living in the country, they will be able to genuinely identify with your aspirations.  By taking them into your confidence, you are showing that you trust them, and the resulting enhanced relationship will allow them to do the best possible job of selling your home for you.
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  3. Ask for advice: lots of vendors do this, but then they either don’t listen to any suggestions, or else they argue with it.  If you genuinely listen and show that you value any input that might improve the level of interest in your property, you will find your agent much more confident about discussing the issues with you.
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  4. Keep your communication positive – if your agent feels that they are being told off, or held to account, for a lack of interest in your property, they will be increasingly reluctant to pick up the phone to you.  If however, your tone is encouraging, friendly and supportive, they will look forward to speaking to you, and they will be only too happy to have a chat to you, even if there is nothing concrete to report.
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  5. Pop into the office, if you live close enough.  Take them cakes, or flowers out of your garden for the office.  If they offer to make you a cup of tea, even better.  Take the time to really get to know the staff in the office, and you and your house will be at the forefront of their mind when they next receive a suitable enquiry.  Agents are just like you and me; they have favourite clients, so make sure you’re one of them.

Keeping your estate agent onside can have a big effect on the interest you receive on your house.  You may be feeling frustrated, but chances are, they are too.  Add to that the embarrassment they could be feeling, having told you initially that they were sure your house would sell quickly! A bit of kindness and understanding can go a long way, and reassures your agent that you consider your house sale a team effort.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

What to Read Next:  Should I use more than one estate agent to sell my house?

What to do next:  Sign up to my Selling Secrets https://www.home-truths.co.uk/selling-secrets

Playing music to put someone in the mood for buying isn’t new.  Retailers use it, hotels and even hairdressers employ background music to influence our behaviour. It can be quite literal: fast music makes us move quicker, and slower tunes help us relax, and browse.  Music can be a very powerful sales tool.

Music can also help us to make an emotional connection.  You only have to catch a few bars of a song you haven’t heard in years and you are instantly transported back to a place and time when it was embedded into your memory.

How do we use music to sell our home to a viewer? 

Firstly, make sure the music fits not just your home, but the person viewing it.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know how important it is to understand your buyer.  If you can determine the most likely person to buy your home, you’ll know the best type of music to play.

Keeping the music choices relatively neutral, but fitting, here are some of my suggestions:

  • First-time buyers – Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars
  • 30-45 year old upsizers – David Gray, Adele, James Blunt
  • 45-60 year old downsizers – Michael Buble, Luther Vandross
  • Retirees – Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Nina Simone

Secondly, make sure the music itself is down-tempo, and played at a discreet and relaxing volume.  You’re trying to put your viewer at ease, not force them to shout!

Next, choose the music to suit the season.  Some songs are naturally more sunny, while some feel cosier for wintry evenings.

Lastly, plan ahead and make sure it doesn’t run out during the viewing.  A CD is usually around an hour long, so put it on repeat, or use an iPod to play it through, perhaps creating a longer playlist.

Music can be your best friend when you’re selling your house. Use it to set the mood, connect with your viewer, and create the perfect browsing atmosphere for your home, and you might just have an offer before the fat lady sings.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch

What to read next: What to do when you just aren’t getting any viewings at all

What to do next:  Sign up to my Selling Secrets https://www.home-truths.co.uk/selling-secrets

book on top of the table and Fireplace beside Do it your way!

When clients come to HomeTruths because they can’t sell their house, the first place I look for clues as to why this is happening, is their marketing. Now, anyone who has been reading my blog for any length of time at all, knows that property marketing is ‘my thing’ so I usually have lots to say about it! But what can a seller do when none of their local estate agents offer the kind of quality marketing I tell them is absolutely vital in selling their home for the maximum price possible? “Do it your way” I tell them. Let me explain.

There are four key components to a property’s marketing: photography, description, brochure, online advert.

Very few estate agents get all these absolutely spot on, so why not fill in the missing pieces yourself? Let’s look at these components one at a time:

  • Photography – source a good local photographer, asking to see his work. If he’s worked for local estate agents before, don’t use him! You’re only going to end up with more of the same. What you’re looking for, is an innovative and creative photographer, who can really bring the best out of your home, and cares enough to switch on lights, and move your sofa in order to get the best shots.

Expect to pay: around £300

  • Description – you need a copywriter for this. Start off by writing a couple of pages about your home; everything you love about it, and all the features that you think will make a buyer love it too. This will give the copywriter a head start, and something to work with.

Expect to pay: around £150

  • Brochure – a great brochure designer will come up with a creative layout and even a memorable logo. Printing costs depend on the size and number of pages and what paper your brochure is printed on. Most unique homes need at least 6-8 pages in their brochure, to show off all the key selling features of their property.

Expect to pay: around £500

  • Online advert – this is where your photography and description can help your advert to really stand out above the competition. Make sure your brochure is uploaded and both this and your floorplan shown as a link on all the property portals. Give it all to your agent and they will do the rest.

Expect to pay: nothing! 

By allocating around £1,000 to your property marketing, you can create an amazing campaign, that will knock the socks off all the other properties for sale, Whilst it is admittedly a large up-front cost, relatively speaking, I would suggest you negotiate with your agent to make allowances for this in the commission you would be paying. A commission discount of 0.25% on most properties would allow you to recoup your investment, and you’d be doing a much better job than your agent would in selling your house.

Doing it your way is all about taking control of your own property sale; after all, it means more to you than anyone else, so put your passion and enthusiasm into creating a fabulous marketing campaign that will help your buyer to fall in love with your home, just as you once did.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

book on top of the table and Fireplace beside Do it your way!

What to read next: 3 things to do today to get your home sold

What to do next: Sign up to my Selling Secrets https://www.home-truths.co.uk/selling-secrets

Spacious kitchen Am I ready to downsize

Spacious kitchen Am I ready to downsize

Downsizing isn’t the most seductive word. In a society that values progression and achievement, ‘down’ has a sense of backwardness; it’s a term that’s always blemished with some sort of compromise. And no one really like compromise. But what if downsizing is actually a step forward? Let’s explore what it really means to downsize, and reposition it as a new opportunity, and an enviable new start.
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Listen to the beat

Hear that? It’s a gentle metronome, and if you listen closely, it’ll stop its familiar patter when it’s the right time to switch up the tempo, and get moving. Maybe you’re planning to retire, or maybe you’re ready to wake to the sound of the sea. But when do you take the plunge, and make ‘one day’, today? The truth is, that gentle metronome will keep on ticking in perfect intervals, and only you can alter its rhythm. There probably is no ‘right’ time to move, but you can control the patter, and you can switch up the metronome’s beat.
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A new dance

Okay, maybe dancing isn’t your thing, but this is all about embracing an opportunity. Watching your youngest flee the nest can be hard; you’re proud of their newfound independence, and you’re excited for their adventures ahead. But with the change comes a sense of loss too. Here you have two options: to sit still and watch your child enjoy their next dance, or to get up and jive alongside them too. A change in your life simply means a new start. A next dance. And this time, you take the lead.

Without children in tow, you don’t need to consider school catchments, and you don’t need to sacrifice a peaceful conservatory for a stuffy home office. In short, you don’t need to compromise. For once, you don’t need to consider the needs of a brood. Being selective and indulgent is a luxury, and what if that luxury could make you time too?
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Shake the duster

A smaller home means fewer rooms to maintain. It probably means a smaller garden too. Reduced upkeep frees up time, and allows you to enjoy doing the things you actually want to do. Your home choice no longer needs to be restricted by functional, practical considerations; and those necessary yet clinical box bedrooms can be substituted for idyllic cottage charm. Yes – there might be less rooms, but each beam tells a story, and the character oozing from each sloping ceiling makes you smile. The grandchildren love the whistley kettle and creaky stairs too.
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Money, money, money

An oversized mortgage weighs heavy, and freeing up cash is the fastest way to enjoy your time. Fancy travelling more? Maybe you have family overseas, or maybe you just want to explore a little more. What’s more important: spending time cleaning unused rooms, or spending time with your grandchildren? A smaller house means you’ll have friendlier bills, and any surplus can be enjoyed with family.

Downsizing doesn’t mean less; in fact, it means enjoying more of what makes you happy, and losing anything weighing you down. Scaling down your priorities, and creating an everyday that makes you smile, is uplifting. A comfortable everyday is what brings happiness, and with downsizing comes more choice, time and money. And doesn’t that sound appealing?

Sam