Tag Archives: Estate agent

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

Table with magazines on top Dropping your asking price when your house won’t sell

Table with magazines on top Dropping your asking price when your house won’t sell

If you have had your house on the market for some time without success, dropping your asking price may seem an inevitable, if undesirable, 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 in fact it can even harm your chances of selling your house effectively.

I’ve compiled these 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 by at least that to get noticed by a new set of buyers.

DO ask your agent why you need to reduce

– Your property was originally valued based on sound research and by an expert in the industry.  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 among 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. Each drop can signify a red flag to a buyer, so make your drop big and impactful, but make it just once.

DO drop to the next Rightmove price banding

– You can find these by going to www.rightmove.co.uk and entering a search. The list of price bandings that comes up is your guide as to the price your house should be marketed at. For example, there’s no point at having an asking price of £399,999 when the Rightmove banding is £400,000. You can read more about this subject here.

DON’T try to break the ceiling for your road or area

– Not only does this make buyers jittery, it will also make your 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.

DO ask your agent the right questions before you drop your price

– If you’re feeling pressure from your agent to reduce, or you have a moving deadline looming and can’t afford to drop your price, ask your agency 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? A new twilight image or drone shot could show your home in a whole new light and generate new interest from motivated buyers.

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 staging can add thousands to your asking price and making a few small changes now can help you reap the rewards when you do get an offer.

DO give yourself some negotiation room – but not too much

–  On average, you can expect to achieve around 95% of your asking price, with 5% lost 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 95% as a benchmark, losing 5% of a £400,000 asking price means you will eventually receive £380,000 on completion. But if you reduce the asking price to £375,000 say, you’ll only get £356,250; quite a drop. Not only have you reduced by £25,000, you’ll also have lost an additional £23,750 in negotiations, putting your total ‘lost’ sale monies at £46,750, a significant loss of 12% of your original asking price.

DON’T forget to analyse your price per square foot

– it’s a far more accurate way to value a house than other methods. 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. Read more about this way of valuing here – Price per square foot – a more accurate way to value

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 and you’re not trying to break the price ceiling for your area, and your home is presented in the best way possible, and you have time to wait it out, then have confidence in your asking price. Because if you don’t, no one else will

Happy selling

Sam

In a tricky market like this one, it’s difficult to keep up the momentum that perhaps you once felt when you first put your home on the market.  Now, many months down the line and still no sale in sight, you may be losing heart.  When once you might have changed the bedding, banished the dog and bought fresh flowers for each and every viewing, now it all seems like too much effort for what you’re sure will be another timewaster.

However, it’s not all about doing what you can to make your house look as appealing as possible, though obviously this is important; you also need the right mindset.

Think of something difficult you have tried to do: perhaps you’ve given up smoking, lost weight or passed an exam.  Maybe you tried several times before you actually achieved your goal.  If you look back on your previous attempts, why did they fail when achievement was clearly in your grasp?

It’s all to do with mindset; any dietician will tell you that you have to be in the right mindset to lose weight, otherwise you’ll keep failing.  Those friends I know who have successfully given up smoking after many years of ‘trying’ tell me that eventually they just set their mind on their goal, and that made all the difference.

But when you’re selling your home, it’s not in your control whether your viewers actually offer or not, right?  Wrong.  Of course, you can’t force them to make an offer, but you can make sure that you are totally focused on your goal of selling.

When you are focused, you will call your agent more often, research the competition, keep your home looking beautiful, make suggestions to improve your marketing campaign; and all this because your mindset is that of a seller.  When you give up, you lose the fight.

To help you get into the seller’s mindset, make a list of all the reasons you want to move.  Write them in two columns:  one list for your motivations to move out, and the other for all the reasons you want to move to the place or home you have chosen.  Keep this list taped to the inside of a kitchen cupboard you use every day.  Read it often, and use it to motivate you to get out the vacuum cleaner one more time for a viewing; or polish the bathroom taps, or clean the front door.

Stay focused, stay motivated, and the buyer will come.  All because of your mindset.

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.

I had an enquiry recently from a rather cross man who has had his house on the market for six months.  In that time, his agent has only managed to produce one viewing.  Given that his asking price seems at first glance to be perfectly fair for the size and location, I listened carefully to his tale of woe in order to discover the reason for the total lack of interest in his house.  I didn’t have long to wait….

I asked him to talk me through what had happened so far, and he began his story with his negotiation on the agent’s fee.  “She wanted 1.75%!” he exclaimed with disgust.  “No way was Ia prepared to accept that,” he sniffed, “I told her I wouldn’t pay a penny more than 1.25%, and she eventually caved in” he added proudly.  I think he wanted me to congratulate him, but I moved swiftly on to his photography, which I thought was pretty awful.  The rooms looked dark and poky, and the outside of the house was very shadowed, and had been photographed at some very unflattering angles.  “I was offered professional photography”, the seller explained, “but the agent wouldn’t include it in his fee; she wanted another 400 quid for it!” he exclaimed,  astounded.  “I told her to take the pictures herself, and she did”.  So what about the brochure, I asked.  “That was another thing”, he said, heatedly, “the agent wanted me to cough up for that too!”

“What was he proposing?” I asked, but I knew what was coming….. “Well she expected me to pay £250 for a glossy brochure but everyone knows they don’t make a difference” he said, pleased with himself.  “The one she’s done on the office printer is pretty impressive actually”, he added.  I could just imagine it….

Had he noticed anyone driving slowly past the house, looking interested, I asked.  “They can’t”, he explained, “we live behind big gates; you can’t see the house from the road”.  So the photography and brochure were going to have to work hard to tempt viewers to pick up the phone.

So far, this seller had cut the agent’s fee to the bone, and used a cheap brochure and poor photography to market his house.  He’d fallen into The Seller’s Trap.  Is it any wonder that to date, only one viewer had been tempted enough to come to the property?

It’s a tough market out there at the moment, and your house really has to stand out from all your competition.  Here are the 3 golden HomeTruths’ rules to get you sold:

  1. Don’t negotiate on your agent’s fee, unless it’s upwards.  Incentivise them by offering over his commission fee, by at least 0.25%
  2. Always always always use professional photography.  At an average of £400, it can return 100 times your investment in your eventual selling price
  3. Pretty brochures DO sell houses!  Look at the types of brochures premium brands use to sell their goods, and compare the value of the product to your house!

Look at the commission fee you’re paying your agent: are they really being paid enough to want to sell your house?  Don’t forget 1% of nothing is nothing! You need to create an ally, and keep them onside, so pay them well.

And if you’re not sure your photography and brochure are up to the task of selling your lovely house in an very challenging market, give me a call.  I’ll tell you whether they are good enough, and if not, what you need to do about it.

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: Sales Progression Management – what is it?

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

Bedroom with comfy chair and pillow Does your estate agent

For those of you that have been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that the subject of property brochures is close to my heart, and one that I really feel passionate about.  I believe wholeheartedly that a beautiful brochure with expert photography and well-written and enthusiastic descriptions can add thousands, and even tens of thousands, of pounds to a house.

However, some agents (in fact most of them) don’t believe in brochures, or so they say.  They tell me “but it’s the 21st century”, “no one wants hard copy brochures any more” and even “we’re trying to be eco-friendly”.  Without going into my opinions on these particular objections (and believe me, I have a long list of answers) in this post, I am only going to ask you to consider one question: is he telling the truth?

Think back to when he first came round to give you his expert market appraisal.  I’m sure he showed you some comparable properties, explained his commission rate, and talked you through the contract.  Did he also leave you behind some company information? Perhaps in the form of a glossy folder or brochure?  Aha!  Not so 21st century eco-friendly after all then.  Thought not.

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 kind of car do you have?  Is your driveway garnished by a gleaming Mercedes or understated Audi?  Perhaps you figured your estate agent’s car was more appealing to show off your home, so he left his BMW on show for the photographs.  Or maybe your muddy Mini was already parked and no one suggested you move it.

Over the years, I’ve seen property photographs with skips, broken down cars and driveways with weeds so high it’s impossible to park a car.  I’ve also seen ‘Butterflies’-type parking (remember Butterflies, with the four car shuffle?) where removing a car is more difficult than the Krypton Factor.

On the other hand, I’ve come across very modest dwellings with a Ferrari or Lamborghini parked outside.  I once knew an agent in Cheshire who always insisted on having his silver Mercedes C-Class in every front shot.  His window display looked like an Autotrader feature.  Having a fully-branded agent car plonked on the driveway is also quite common in the agency’s quest for brand awareness.

So what should adorn your driveway for your main image?  The answer is very simple: nothing.  Any car you park will lead a buyer to make an assumption, or draw a conclusion, and that may not be a positive one.  The agent’s car will do you no favours either; if you are lucky enough for the sun to shine when the front photograph is taken, and the result is a lovely image of your home, the agent’s car is only going to spoil the shot.  It also means you can’t use it if you decide to move agents.

Keep your driveway empty, clean, free of weeds and looking smart, and your front shot will look the better for it.

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: In the bleak midwinter; staging your home for a winter sale

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

Comfy red lounge chair Photography tips for selling your home PART FOUR_ PICTURE PERFECT IN 5 DAYS (1)

Whether you’re taking the photographs yourself, or enlisting the help of a professional, you want your home to look it’s best when picture days rolls around. Because when your home is listed on Rightmove, great shots attract more buyers. Let’s put your homes best features forwards, and showcase the unique qualities of each room. That way, we can tempt more people to step inside, and take a closer look. So here’s how we do it:

Five days to go

Home styling and staging are great ways to prepare for your house photography shoot. With less than a week before you’re planning to shoot your home, it’s time to get prepared. Take a walk through each room, and take a picture.

Now nip outside to shoot the front and back garden, before finding a comfy spot to flick through the album. Try to imagine yourself as a potential buyer. What do you notice in each room? If anywhere looks a little cluttered or busy, your home is in great company, as almost all homes have that comforting lived-in look. But, sadly, not many people choose to view a lived-in looking home. Because moving into another family’s ‘lived-in’ space isn’t all that appealing.

Four days to go

Let’s take another look at the pictures with fresh eyes, and take note of anything distracting. Because great home photography showcases the home, not the things inside the home. And there’s only so much a photographer can do.

So, let’s tick off the lounge. Are the sofas positioned just right? With a little straightening and shuffling, furniture can frame a fireplace, or draw your eye to an elegant bay window. Textiles shouldn’t be the main focus, so if the curtains are clashing with the cushions, it’s worth indulging in a few new accessories. In your lunch hour, have a quick browse on a few Homeware websites. John Lewis and The Little White Company are great choices; opt for any neutral tones, and steer clear of clashing patterns. And with a few clicks, you’ll have a fresh new look for your lounge delivered to your door-step.

Three days to go

If you have children or pets, give the grandparents a call and do some sweet talking. A family visit is something for the children to look forward to, and it would be ideal timing for the upcoming shoot day too. The sounds of little pattering feet are lovely, but your photographer will thank you for keeping them out of shot.

Two days to go

Let’s look at the master bedroom shots. This room should look like a sanctuary; it needs to appear peaceful, calm and indulgent. But this is the room that often falls short. Most people like to show a little personality with their bedsheets and throws, but unfortunately, not everyone shares the same taste. Keeping bed linen plain and fresh is key. So if all your sheets are wonderfully loud and garish, you’ve just got time to order a calmer alternative. Throws and cushions should be in keeping with the decor, and complimenting curtains complete the ambiance.

One day to go

Head to the kitchen, and remove any appliances off the worktops. Having microwaves, mixers and coffee machines to hand is convenient, but they’re off-putting to potential buyers. Having chopping boards, tea towels and bins on show makes a room appear cluttered. So, with just one day until the shoot, it’s best to find them a temporary hide-away home.

The day of the photoshoot

So, the photographer is on their way, and you’ve got just enough time to grab a bag, and double-check that each room is ready ahead of their arrival. File away any paper-work on the office desk, pop the childrens’ beakers in the dishwasher, and tidy away any rogue clothes. Because a photographer may be a professional, but there’s only so much they can do. A good rule is: anything you can pick up and pop in the bag, pick up and pop in the bag.

Straighten all bed linen, and smooth over curtains, because clean lines and crisp edges make a surprising difference. And once you’ve finished checking each room, leave the door open to create a sense of space.

When the photographer arrives, don’t be afraid to work with them. Yes, they are skilled and experienced, but you know your home better than anyone. Point out all the features you love about each room, and remember the things that made you smile on your first viewing. Make sure to point out any nice fixtures in the bathroom, and encourage them to take close up shots of any original features too. Standard, wide angle shots give a sense of space, but a few snaps of artful details is memorable too. Because if the pictures of your home are memorable, potential buyers are sure to get in touch.

So it’s as easy as that! Happy selling 🙂

Sam

flower and statue on top of the table Lego doesn’t sell houses

flower and statue on top of the table Lego doesn’t sell houses

If you’re selling your home and have children, have you considered their impact on your home viewings? As much as you love your little ones, there are a few things you need to consider when selling up.

Noise and clamour. If there are people over viewing your home, the last thing they want is to be interrupted by screaming children. Yes, children make noise, but it will dampen a home viewing and could leave viewers feeling negative. Ideally get the children babysat during viewing times, or have your partner take them out.

Toys and clutter. No one likes to see clutter during a home viewing. Your home might be lovely and tidy in the majority of the space, but with piles of toys elsewhere mid-use, and Lego pieces lying around to get caught under shoes, it can make a space look smaller.

Lifestyle. We’ve talked about it before; buyers are buying into a home’s lifestyle. If your viewers are a couple with children, they might appreciate a child centred home. People without however, can sometimes lack the imagination needed to see past the Batman duvet and picture their private study. Try to make any children’s spaces as tidy and neat as possible, and put the toys in a wardrobe to have a clear floor.

Pink. Magnolia sells, deep pink walls don’t. Explain to your little ones that you’ll paint their new bedroom pink/with Superman wallpaper in the new house, but for now the walls need to be painted for the new buyers. Your house well sell quicker.

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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As home stagers, we are often accused of staging the personality out of  a house.  In the 1980s when home staging first came to the UK from our friends across the water, the trend was for neutral floors, neutral walls and generally neutral taste throughout.  Bland and boring was definitely the order of the day, though when you think about the décor in those days – peach bathroom suites and flowery borders everywhere – perhaps it’s understandable!

However, home staging has moved on.  It’s far more sophisticated these days, and having a home with personality definitely doesn’t have to mean it’s ‘unsellable’.

Here are my top DOs and DON’Ts for home staging in the 21st Century:

DON’T just paint every wall Magnolia – choose a sophisticated colour palette with different but complementary shades for each room.

DO clear away anything you wouldn’t see in a show home: toys, pet paraphernalia, laundry, coats and shoes, all need to be put away out of sight.

DON’T have carpet in your bathroom – the 21st Century buyer won’t be impressed!

Bathroom--Victorian-House-

DO replace any carpet in high traffic areas that is over 10 years old, or 5 years if you have pets and children.

DON’T choose patterned carpets – this is one area where boring is best!

Pastel-floral-hallway

DO shop for modern accessories like lamps, vases and ornaments from a well-known brand like Next or John Lewis, to ensure quality and good taste.

DON’T keep your collection of teapots, fluffy toys or scarily realistic dolls on display.  Time to pack them away for your (hopefully) forthcoming move.

Pale-Green-and-Cream-Dining-Room

DO set the dining room and kitchen tables using dining sets, good glasses, flowers and mats.

DON’T be afraid to use colour, but stick to an overall colour palette for the whole house, with different shades and accents in each area.

DO be careful with strong colours and prints: they can be a bit overwhelming.  Best to keep them to small items like cushions, rugs or throws.

DON’T forget the bathroom when you stage – fill it full of special toiletries and hide away the Pantene, the Colgate and the half-worn soap

DO visit your local show homes for more ideas for staging in the 21st Century, and browse through Pinterest, which is a fabulous free source of inspiration.  You can even create your own boards to keep your ideas together in one place.

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.