Tag Archives: property marketing

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

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.

Window and a beautiful garden outside What’s your house brand

Branding is a symbol or mark that distinguishes one product from another, just as it was originally intended to ensure farmers and ranchers knew which herd was theirs. It’s now a kind of short-cut; think of the Nike swoosh, or Red Bull’s wings; all the brand personality and attributes are delivered through that one graphic: perhaps you think of ‘Just do it’, and the message of hard work and commitment when you see the Nike logo, and fun, energy and people jumping out of space ships when you see the Red Bull logo.

Of course, a logo doesn’t make a brand, it just carries its ethos and message in a little, efficient package.  Large companies have a ‘brand bible’: a dossier of exact colours, fonts and basically rules, for every use of their name and logo in print or online.

People can be brands; just think of Lady Gaga, or Princess Kate. And so can houses. In fact, the stronger and more defined your house brand, the more likely you are to appeal to your buyer. But how? Let’s break it down:

Colours: the most visual of a brand’s personality, colours need to reflect the lifestyle and the tone of a house. So, muted, natural colours may accurately reflect a Georgian townhouse whereas a palette of white, black and even red may fit a bachelor apartment and convey its tone.

Mood: or atmosphere, is how your house makes someone feel when they walk through the door. Homely, impressive, calming, vibrant, cosy, minimalist; these are all feelings that a house can convey very quickly. As well as décor, music and lighting, and even smells, play a huge part in conveying a mood.

Furnishings: large squashy sofas and chunky wooden furniture will give your house a completely different feel to modern leather suites and glass and chrome pieces. What’s the style of your bed? Traditional or modern? Style above comfort? Or a huge wooden sleigh bed that all the family pile onto at the weekend?

Accessories: how is your house dressed? Is it formal, with tall, elegant vases and carefully chosen coffee table books? Or is it full of vibrant rugs and cushions in a jumble of colours? Look at your mugs – they can be a dead giveaway! If you are happy giving your guests mismatching mugs, then you probably have a relaxed attitude to your house style, and it may well be reflected in a casual, homely feel. A perfectly matching tea set could indicate a more reserved, uniform style that is apparent throughout the house.

Position: no matter how hard you try to overcome your location, some of it will seep into the house. So if yours is the only ‘Grand Design’ on a road full of sixties’ bungalows, it will diminish the overall wow factor for someone walking in. Unless they’ve been blindfolded…. So, muddy lanes feel the right way to approach a farmhouse, whereas a smart tree-lined avenue can really ‘pre-sell’ a period townhouse to a buyer as they approach.

A brand is like a jigsaw: it needs all the pieces to fit in order to work. In a house, one piece out of place, like an incongruous colour, an inconsistent piece of furniture or an ill-fitting neighbour, can detract from the overall impression you’re trying to create. By being aware of what your house brand is, or could be, may well help you to attract that buyer more effectively. Take that one step further, by commissioning a graphic designer to create your house name or number as a logo, and use it on your brochure, to really push that message home to a buyer. If it resonates, and it’s authentic, it’ll work.

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.

table with book on top Headlines that sell homes

table with book on top Headlines that sell homes

Crafting the right Rightmove headline is an art, and it might just be the key to selling your home too. As you scroll down a never-ending list of homes online, you’ll find a sea of dull, generic descriptions. Nothing catches your eye, or tempts you to find out more. Then you see a thoughtfully drafted description. It’s considered and personal, and invites you to click on the home to take a closer look. Let’s take a look at why the words you choose are so important.

When you take a walk down the high-street you see a patchwork of shop fronts. The Little White Company catches your eye. Its clean frontage and thoughtful window display is inviting. Two carefully placed posters catch your eye; the first reads, ‘Think timeless style, not fashion, quality, not quantity, and attention to detail in everything we do.’ The other reads, ‘Precious moments of uncomplicated happiness…We believe in making the most of life’s simple pleasures- it’s the little things that matter.’

Considered, delicate words, but there’s no mention of what you can actually buy; instead, it simply it asks you to think about ‘precious moments.’ Picturing how the treasures inside can bring your family happiness is far more personal; it creates emotional ties that are difficult to ignore. These headlines don’t sell the homeware and clothing products inside, they sell a lifestyle. Because everyone wants to make happy memories.

This little treasure sits alongside Matalan. The garish red sign sits above a cluttered display window; the clashing colours are off-putting, and the chaotic design is a harsh contrast to the elegant white and creams next door. There are lots of posters, but the biggest reads, ‘New rug collection. Delivering quality and value always.’ The words are concise and functional; they tell you exactly what is inside, but it’s generic. This poster could exist in the majority of homeware shops, and it would suffice. The words are far from offensive, but they are forgettable.

The words on the posters speak of the shops inside. Both offer homeware and clothing, but only one creates an environment you really want to browse in. Getting lost in The Little White Company is an indulgence. And the treasures inside are more than just products. What lies within the clean, thoughtful space is a lifestyle, an ideal.

Matalan offers functionality. It’s busy, cluttered aisles are well utilised and practical. But it’s a place you go if you have to go. Not because you have the luxury of time and choice. The Little White Company schmooses. And it’s thoughtfulness is memorable.

Shop headlines and home descriptions both fall into the same two categories: the functional, and the emotional. Most adopt the former. These are the generic, copy-and-paste jobs, littered with cliché phrases and adjectives. Yes, they are quick to write, and yes, they probably describe the home to some degree. But when you take a leaf out of The Little White Company, and craft a considered headline, it makes people pause and want to find out more.

Now let’s compare two property headlines. The first reads, ‘*ESTATE AGENTS* are pleased to market this substantial property in a HIGHLY DESIRABLE location. The property is WELL PRESENTED and in brief comprises three reception rooms…’ It goes on. And there is nothing wrong with the description. Just like the Matalan sign, it’s practical, reusable and informative. But, except tweaking the number of bedrooms and reception rooms, it reads like every other headline. The generic capitalized adjectives could be used to describe most homes, and the overall tone is dull and forgettable. It doesn’t tell the story of the home, and it doesn’t help people to picture the lifestyle that can be enjoyed inside.

Alternatively, here’s a schmoozy Rightmove headline, ‘Is this the best view in the Lake District? Victorian splendour, views to make you swoon, and a wine cellar to boot. Welcome to the Old Vicarage.’ The opening sentence talks to you. It invites conversation, and it’s warm. There is just enough personality, and just enough detail, to make you want to find out more. The language and tone is elegant yet friendly, and the description is unique to the property.

Much like The Little White Company posters, this headline is less focused on functionality, and captures a lifestyle instead. Why? Because emotions sell homes. And everyone wants a home that is special.

So, to pinch a few words from our friends at The Little White Company, ‘It’s the little things that matter.’ Let’s take all the little things that make your home special, and invite families to see for themselves.

kitchen dining table and countertop with chairs Loft Conversion

kitchen dining table and countertop with chairs Loft Conversion

Maybe you’re looking at your little ones, and you realise they’re just not that little anymore. Or you’re fed up of shifting essentials from room to room, because there’s not really a place for them to call home. Either way, the spacious home you once lived in somehow just feels a little squishy now. Perhaps your brood is made up of a baby or two more than expected? Or maybe you now work from home, and an office wasn’t on the tick list when you bought. We’ve all been there. The home was once roomy, but now there’s simply no room. Let’s look at the options, and figure out your best move.

Extensions

Extensions always seem appealing. It’ll be the same home you fell in love with, just bigger. No compromise, right? Let’s see…

Perhaps you’re thinking of a modest 5mx5m addition. Nothing indulgent, but just enough to turn your humble kitchen into a more sociable space. What’s the cost? Outside London, expect a bill of around £30,000. And that’s just for the build. Now let’s add on 10-15% for professional fees, because the architect, structural engineer, building regulations and planning permission won’t come for free.

Yes, extensions leave behind a long list of receipts, but what’s the real cost? The council typically takes eight weeks to consider planning permission applications, and longer for more complex builds. So that means two months of thumb-twiddling before the project has even had the thumbs up. And to what extent will your family-life be compromised if the builders do ascend? In amongst the dust, noise, and mess, you start to wonder if it was really worth sacrificing your garden for a larger kitchen. And was turning the children’s playground into a construction site really the right move? To extend is to compromise.


Loft conversions

Now let’s consider creating more space by moving up, not out. Loft conversions don’t usually require planning permission, so that’s one headache less than extensions. And unless you’re set on changing the properties exterior, creating a straightforward loft room is, well, pretty straightforward. From a legislation perspective anyway.

It’ll create a new room without nibbling into your gardens, which again, makes it more appealing. And it’s the least disruptive member of the extension family too, since all the work is contained to one unused space above. So as the new room takes shape, mess, dust, and noise is kept well away from family life.

And while grub is kept out, heat is kept in. On average, a home loses a quarter of its heat through the roof. But when converting a loft space, reinforcements are made to the walls, ceilings, and floors. This naturally packs in extra installation, so in the process of creating a functional space, you’re trapping warmth inside the property. This means friendlier heating bills, and a toastier house.

It sounds promising, so let’s consider the finer details. Like floor plans. Architects design homes based on the plot size, and to optimise useable space. So, since your home wasn’t designed with a loft room in mind, how much wiggle room is there for an extra flight of stairs? Spiral staircases are an option, but they’re not in keeping with most interior design and styles. Then there’s the building legislation to think of; the width and headspace of the staircase all need to be in compliance.

Now let’s talk money. A loft conversion isn’t cheap, but it’s generally cheaper than an extension. And it can increase the value of a home by up to 25%. So what does it cost? Like extensions, it varies, but expect a modest conversion to set you back upwards of £20,000. And an elegant master bedroom, complete with an en-suite? £45,000 minimum.

But, again, what does enduring an extension or loft conversion really cost? Let’s take figures and statistics out of the equation. Because mathematics doesn’t have the answer to a happy home.


Time for a move?

Growing your home to accommodate your changing family, or circumstances, seems appealing. Romantic, even. But how many romances end in tragedy? You may gain an extra room or two, but dust, disagreements and dissatisfaction are other likely add-ons too.

A home is a retreat. It’s the place you should look forward to returning to, and it’s a place that can make or break family time.

Perhaps you could put up with turning your kitchen into a construction site. And maybe you could sacrifice some of the gardens to accommodate the new kitchen-diner. The build is temporary, and the garden is plentiful after all. But once the build is complete, will it be just right? Compromising for planning grants, pinching floor space from gardens, and fighting the restrictions of the original house design. When you bought, you bought a home that was built for your needs at the time. It was comfortable, and it was just what your family needed. But when your circumstances change, perhaps it’s time to look for a property that was designed for your family as it is now.

To extend or convert is a compromise. It’s making the most of what you can do with what you’ve got. They both come with limitations and restrictions. And compromises, limitations and restrictions aren’t the homeliest adjectives around. Choosing a new home is an indulgence. It’s a fresh start, and a new beginning. And this time, you know exactly what your family needs.

So if you’re constantly looking for extra room, maybe it’s time to reassess. Families change with time, and if the home can’t keep up, it’ll start to drag you down. When you bought the home, it was right for you and your circumstances. But with time, your tick-list of priorities will naturally change. Write down the things you’d like to stretch, rejig or knockdown in your current home, and it’ll help draw a picture of what your next home looks like. So don’t compromise, move!

sofa set with pillows Your online property advert

sofa set with pillows Your online property advert

The online advert for your property must paint a flawless picture of your home to generate attention. We’ve touched on imagery and brochures, but what if your advert is a bit of a chatterbox? As in, what if your advert just shares too much detail?

It is a common misconception; surely someone interested in a property, wants to know it all? Well, not always. People simply want to know enough detail about a property to decide whether to rule it out, or to go for a viewing. If they are drenched in a sea of text to rival JK Rowling’s first draft of Harry Potter, it is superfluous, very puzzling and can be quite counterproductive. On the other hand, provide too little information, and people will be trying to work it out for themselves. So where is the fine line between providing too much and too little information?

If potential buyers have to scroll continuously down a property listing, this is too much material. If they are looking for anything in particular, they could get frustrated with the massive clump of black words and move on to another listing. If the rest of the property information is perfect, you might get away with it. If not, you’re running the risk of losing peoples interest.

When too much information is provided, there is always the chance of misinformation being provided too. For example, a window is listed as double glazed when it is actually single glazed. Something like this can be used by a buyer to come back to you as being misleading. However, if it wasn’t in the listing in the first place, they could have simply asked about minor details like this at the viewing. If too much information is provided that is really non-essential until the viewing, don’t include it. Buyers don’t need to know minor details until later.

When it comes to too little information, if buyers have to try and guess what’s going at the property, this is a no go. If they have to try and guess what rooms are in the house based on the images and very limited text, this again could tempt people just to look elsewhere.

When it comes to property text, potential buyers need the details that are important. They want to know what the property is like without delving into the depths of the houses’ cupboards or knowing how many plug sockets are in the kitchen. By providing simple detailed information about the house, its location, its size, condition and price, you’re on to a winning listing. Couple the description with floorplans, brochures and fantastic photography, and you’ll have buyers queuing at the door.

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.

bed with colorful pillows This is your year to sell

bed with colorful pillows This is your year to sell

How long has your home been on the market? More time than you’d like it to have, and more time than it really should have been? If you’re beginning to lose hope and faith, don’t. This is time for a review, and to refresh the strategies that you’re currently applying, which clearly aren’t working. It isn’t the time to drop your asking price; this isn’t the magical solution, because buyers don’t buy on price.

So what can you do? Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be looking at how you can refresh and review what is currently happening with your home, and how you can revive your tactics to sell, sell, sell. Your home can and will be sold, it just needs an evaluation of what might not be working for it in the current market. Is your marketing tired and weak? Is your estate agent right for you?

We’ll be looking at these questions and more in the coming blog posts, so stay tuned. Can’t wait for the next few weeks of advice?

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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rest room New kid on the block

rest room New kid on the block

There’s a lot to be said for using an established estate agent. You know what you’re getting; you probably know friends who have used them; their services have been tried and tested over several years.  You could see them as the safe option.

But what if there’s a new agent in town? Would you trust them to do a good job of selling your home?

The established agents would warn you off, for sure. They would tell you that these agents are untested, inexperienced and even desperate for your business. They will accuse them of over-valuing, under-valuing and under-delivering.  But then they would, wouldn’t they?

Maybe it’s time to rethink that point of view.

New agents can be a breath of fresh air.

Let me introduce you to Victoria Green from V-Move. She’s relatively new in the area, and before she launched her estate agency, she’d never even been an agent.

Victoria Green

What makes Victoria different?

Originality – because she hasn’t come from an estate agency background, she brings no preconceptions or bad habits with her. She is simply determined to do the best she can for every client, every time.

Client-first attitude – many established agents have a ‘property-first’ approach, which doesn’t always fulfil the support needs of their clients. Victoria always puts her clients’ needs first, because she doesn’t know any other way.

New innovations – have you checked out Victoria’s photography? It’s head and shoulders above her competitors’. And look too at how her clients’ homes are presented; she drives around with a car boot full of staging accessories to make sure every image she takes makes her client’s houses look amazing. She also blogs and has even written a wonderful book, packed with selling tips. Not bad for a newbie!

Selective – Victoria’s strategy is about quality, not quantity. She doesn’t simply list as many houses as she can; she only takes on the clients and properties that she feels are the right fit. Because it’s her business, she takes a personal pride in making sure that fit is as good as it can be. And she has some beautiful properties, doesn’t she?

Enthusiasm and passion – Victoria is an agent because it’s what she’s always wanted to do. She’s living her dream, and helping her clients to achieve their dream moves to dream homes too. Her enthusiasm is infectious and her passion means that people trust her, easily and gladly, as they know she will look after their home sale as if it were her own.

The need to build a reputation from scratch – if a big agent in Victoria’s area upsets a client, it’s just one of many, and may not be too big a deal to that agency. But to Victoria, the idea of a client being upset is a very big deal. She has a brand new reputation to build and protect, after all. That’s why she works harder than most other agent I know, often working seven days a week, answering her phone early and late, to make absolutely certain that every one of her clients feels like a VIP, because that’s what they are to her.

Time for a rethink?

Next time you see inexperience, remember that they have a reputation to build, and they want to do that on your success; if you see they have a small portfolio, remind yourself that they will have more time for you; and if you wonder if using an agency with only a tiny team will be up to the task, think about how you’ll feel calling the office and always speaking to someone who knows who you are, without your having to give them your address, postcode and inside leg measurement…..

Is there a new kid on your block too?

I often work with agents like Victoria. They are a breath of fresh air in an industry that is often stale and complacent. Here are some new and innovative agents I’ve had the pleasure to call my clients:

Angela Westgarth

Angela Westgarth

The Personal Property Shop, Bishop’s Stortford

A bundle of energy, Angela is dedicated, determined and a real dynamo!! Check out her Property Selling Tips and fabulous Facebook page.

Lucie Wishart

Lucie Wishart

Wishart Estate Agents,York

With beautiful branding and an elegant website, Wishart looks like it’s been around for years. Award-winning and super-focused, with a keen eye for detail, Lucie Wishart is definitely a new generation agent who is taking agency to a new level.

Perry Power

Perry Power

Power Bespoke,Reigate

Not so much the new kid on the block any more, but one of the most different looking agencies in his area. Everything Perry does is with style and panache, and his content marketing – blogs, videos and tutorials – mean that clients flock to him to find out more, attracted by his flair and originality.

Do you have a new kid on your block?

If you know a new, (or newish) agent in your town, who is determined to make a difference, and isn’t afraid to innovate and disrupt, I’d love to know about them! Tell me in the comments.

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.

When you’re selling your home, it seems that everyone knows something you don’t. Why that viewer didn’t buy, even though they gushed over your new lino; why your estate agent isn’t returning your calls; and why your next-door neighbour sold in a week for over the asking price, yet yours has been on the market for months without a bite?

It’s not a grand conspiracy, honest. Over the last fifteen years or so I’ve worked with over 1000 homeowners, and talked to at least 5000, and from all those conversations, I’ve compiled a list of all the things you should probably know when you’re selling, then distilled them to the top five. And I’m telling you them, because no one else will.

Here are my top five selling secrets you need to know when you’re selling your house. (Don’t shoot the messenger.)

Selling Secret Number 1:
The first offer you get will probably be the best offer you will ever get

Did you decline an offer in the first month or so that, in hindsight, you now would take? It’s a familiar story.  In fact, around 75% of sellers who contact us would now accept that offer – gladly – and now regret having rejected it.

On average, 100,000 house sales transact every month, and there are currently around a million homes on Rightmove. That means that it would take ten months to sell all the properties on there. But of course, new properties are coming to the market every single day.  On average, only about half the properties on the market each year actually sell. This figure is higher in urban areas, where properties tend to sell within the first ten weeks or so, and much lower in rural areas, where it’s not unusual for a property to languish on the market for years.

A property is never more desirable than when it first goes onto the market.  The initial flurry of interest can even occasionally generate an offer in excess of the asking price, such is the draw of a newly-marketed home.  The interest curve for those all-important first few weeks looks something like this.
However, once all the buyers who have been searching for a while for their next home have seen it, then it’s only the new buyers coming to the market who are around to show any interest, and this may be only a handful a week, at best.  This just isn’t sufficient to instil any sense of urgency in a buyer, who may view 15 – 20 or more properties before making an offer on one.

Once your property has been on the market for more than a couple of months therefore, the interest curve looks more like this:

If you drop your asking price, and keep dropping it in an attempt to counteract this downwards trend of interest, all you’re doing is ‘chasing the market down’, in effect.

So what’s the answer?  Here are my top five tips for keeping your property marketing fresh, and avoid it becoming stale and forgotten:

  1. Don’t dismiss out of hand any offeryou receive in those crucial early weeks of marketing.  It will probably be the best offer you will ever receive on your home.
  2. If you’re several months (or years) down the line, you need to break the vicious cycle that is no one wants a house that no one wants.  Take it off the marketcompletely for at least two months, and preferably up to six months.
  3. Re-launch at the right time of year for your property, ie at the time of year when your buyer is most likely to be searching.
  4. Don’t scrimp on your re-launch: engage a professional home stager, commission a professional photographer, and choose a proactive agent who believes in quality marketing.

If you get an early offer when you go back to market,take it!  Within reason of course…. As a general rule of thumb, anything in excess of 90% of your asking price is definitely worthy of consideration in this market, and over 95% is a terrific offer.

.

Selling Secret Number 2:
Your estate agent (probably) isn’t good enough to photograph your house

Most agents think they are: believe me. But interior photography in particular needs a pro on the task.  Interiors are fraught with challenges, just waiting to trip up the amateur – blown windows, strange angles and dark shadows are all evident in most of the amateur property images I see every day on Rightmove.

External photography is much easier, as an amateur blue-sky shot is always going to have the edge over a professional white sky image.  Some of the best external front shots of properties are actually taken by the homeowner themselves!

If your agent really can’t be persuaded to use a professional to photograph your house, you need my help to make sure that your images look as good as they can do, under the circumstances.

Here are my five secrets to getting great property images:

  1. Clean and clear – clear surfaces and floor spaces, take up rugs where necessary, and clean everything until it sparkles.  Light and reflected shine are the best ways to show off the size of your rooms – NOT wide-angled lenses!
  2. Go shopping! Shop for staging accessories and give your home the star treatment:

Kitchen – croissants, champagne, flowers
Living rooms – candles, flowering plants, lifestyle magazines and coffee table books
Bathrooms – fluffy white towels, luxury toiletries
Outside – flowering plant for patio table centre, pretty tealight holders

  1. The better you brief the photographer,the better the images will be!  Go round the house making a note of any particularly attractive angles or features, then call him as close as possible to the day he is due, so your requests are fresh in his mind.
  2. Make sure the photographer knows what time of daythe sun will be on the front of the house.  Think also about evening shots, and when the sun will be on the garden.  This may necessitate two separate visits so make sure the photographer has allowed for this.
  3. Follow him round!  Plump cushions, move chairs, take away any distracting objects, remove bins and washing.  Make sure you can see what he’s photographing so you can anticipate any potential for the room not looking its absolute best.  Put lamps on, or turn lights off, to keep the ambient light at the right level.  A good photographer will really appreciate your help and will guide you throughout.

Keep your images seasonal– it’s very telling to see a house advertised in September with daffodils in the garden, or in January with Wisteria in full bloom.  Keep your property photography as close as possible to the current season.  This often means asking your agent to revisit to refresh your images with new ‘foliage’ shots.  After all, you may not want your viewer to know how long your house has been for sale – and why give them an excuse to make a low offer?

Selling Secret Number 3:
If your house doesn’t sell quickly, your agent will assume it’s the price

If not the asking price that is preventing a house from selling, then what else could it be? An agent is much more likely to blame the price than his marketing, but in my experience, a few tweaks in the marketing can have a more positive impact on interest than dropping the asking price of a property.

Here are my top three reasons not to drop your asking price:

  1. If you don’t believe in your asking price, why should your buyer?  Be confident your home is worth what you’re asking.  Your confidence will be infectious, and be transmitted to your viewers via your agents.
  2. It’s a downward spiral – where will it all end?  You don’t want to give it away.  Make sure you sell on value, not on price.

Most of the time, it doesn’t work – sellers who contact us have almost always already dropped their price, sometimes several times, but they still haven’t sold their homes.  Who wants to buy something at a falling price?

Selling Secret Number 4:
Your agent doesn’t want to call you when he has bad news or no news.

It’s difficult for both you and your agent when the market is slow; they don’t have anything to tell you, so not only will they stop calling, they may even start avoiding your calls too.  Meanwhile, 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.   But when you’re in a locked loop of your agent not calling because there’s no interest, yet you need to know what you can do to improve the situation, it’s easy to become despondent.

Here are my top five communication tips when you’re trying to sell your home, to ensure the relationship doesn’t degenerate irretrievably:

  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.  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.
  2.  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.
  3. If you’re in town, near your agent’s office, pop in.  Take them cakes, or flowers out of your garden for the office.  If they offer to make you a cup of tea, even better.  Agents are just like me and you; they have favourite clients, so make sure you’re one of them.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Selling your home should be a team effort, and anything you can do to help your agent will in the long run, only benefit you even more.  So be nice, be friendly, and be kind.  They are all big softies really!

Selling Secret Number 5: The mailing list doesn’t really exist
The Mailing List Myth

Once upon a time, when estate agents didn’t have the internet, they had to actually talk to potential buyers on the phone – or in person – to discover their house-buying requirements and budget. All this information would be carefully kept and meticulously matched against new properties as they were listed. This record was called a mailing list.

If you were a buyer, you would need to register on the mailing list of every agent in your chosen location, or else miss out on any new and potentially desirable properties coming onto the market.

In those good old days, an agent was only as good as his mailing list. So, the Knight Franks and the Savills had long lists of big spenders wanting county piles, and the little independent agency offices would mop up all the first-time buyers, as well as the pensioners looking for sheltered accommodation.

Then along came the magical World Wide Web. Now, buyers no longer had to phone each agent’s office and laboriously give all their details over and over; instead, they could enter their requirements in the simplest form – no contract details needed – and see instantly what was available for them. Fantastic! But what about the agent with his precious database of buyers? Is he redundant?

Well yes, and no.

Yes – because buyers don’t need him anymore, because the information they need that was previous held captive by the agents, is now publicly and freely available.

But no – because the agent still needs the buyers. really good agent will understand that the internet is just a filtering device for buyers, who will often screen out properties that may actually be suitable, judged purely on an unflattering photograph, or an optimistic asking price. The agent’s skill is in matching houses to buyers, and that takes experience, enthusiasm and a genuine liking for his clients.

Buyers need to trust their agent to guide them through the complicated maze that is house hunting, and accept coaching from him to make good decisions. These skills and this experience cannot be replaced by an internet search.

No matter how detailed and comprehensive property portals become, the vast majority of us will still look to a real person when it comes to making one of the largest purchase decisions in our lives.

The mailing list may be dead, but the proactive estate agent is still very much alive and kicking.

Beautiful sala set I can’t sell

Beautiful sala set I can’t sell

I had a call today from a client of ours who is considering all his options, and wanted to ask my advice. He is currently building a home in Greece, and having invested heavily, needs to start recouping his investment from his current home. His original plan was to use the funds from the sale of his family home to finish his and his wife’s dream home in Greece. However, 18 months later, and his house is still for sale. So he wanted to know, “Should I rent it out instead?”

There are merits and demerits of renting your home out, and speaking as a landlord myself, (albeit accidental!) here are some points to consider before taking the plunge:

  • Becoming a landlord is not a short-term fix.  You need to commit to it for at least 3 – 5 years in order to fully realise the benefits and avoid losing financially;
  • If yours is a unique home, perhaps period and/or rural, you may find your target market to be very limited: tenants are often looking for convenience and practicality, which your home may not offer.  Therefore the rent you set needs to account for this;
  • As well as convenience, tenants nowadays want all the mod cons: not only will they be looking for a property with contemporary kitchens and bathrooms, you’ll be expected to provide good quality white goods too; dishwasher, washing machine and often a tumble drier are all considered necessities by today’s tenants;
  • Allow at least 10 – 15% for maintenance costs, and also repair and renewal costs for the end of the tenancy.  I write this on the day that I’ve just had to write out a £2000 cheque for a new boiler in one of my properties – ouch!  Most importantly, do not expect to receive your home back at the end of the tenancy in a fit state to try to sell it; you’ll need to invest several thousands of pounds in replacing the carpets, repainting the walls, renewing any worn out fixtures and fittings, and getting the garden looking its best again.

So – lots to bear in mind! Before you reach for the tenancy agreement, think carefully. If you don’t really want to become a professional landlord, and all that it entails, focus on getting your home sold instead. Ultimately, you’ll probably be very glad you did.

Winter is on its way out of the door, and the spring is gradually tiptoeing in. With buyers eager to see the best homes of the bunch, this is the best time to act and get rid of any lingering signs of winter from your home. Follow our tips to greet your buyers with a little spring sunshine…

Winter garden waste – The remnants of autumn and winter can still be clearly visible in your gardens. Remove things like dead leaves, and trim bushes and plants. If you have a pond, get rid of winter sludge and leave it looking tidy.

Household jobs – Remember that job you put off all winter? It’s time to do it now. Things left undone will stand out so much more in the light of spring; don’t disappoint your buyers with a half-finished chore.

Christmas Décor – It seems an odd one, but it’s surprising how many people still have random seasonal furnishings lying around the home, from festive lights to Santa ornaments. Put them in a box, and store in the attic for next year.

Update your photos – Was your house put on the market over the winter? It can be quite easy to leave seasonal shots on your online advert. If your property ad shows your garden in the depths of the winter snow, update immediately. No one is going to think spring when it’s still winter online.

Getting rid of the winter blues is definitely worth it for spring. Read additional tips for your spring property here!

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.