If, like most people, you don’t have a lot of experience selling houses, it can be hard to know whether your home sale is actually going well. It’s easy to underestimate how long it can take. The time between listing your property and receiving an offer can feel incredibly long if you haven’t got lots of viewings all the time.
Understanding what’s an acceptable time to wait and what is not, can help you be proactive with your sale. If you’re finding your sale is dragging on, it’s probably time to make a change to your marketing, or even switch to a different estate agent.
The typical time it takes to sell a house varies by location and type. For example, the current average in London is around 23 weeks, but in Manchester it’s almost 10 weeks quicker. Properties there are taking an average of only 14 weeks to sell.
Certain types of property are always in demand - such as three-bed houses - and these are likely to sell much faster than others - like five-bed townhouses. Knowing what types of property are in demand can help you judge how long a sale should take, and whether yours is taking too long.
GetAgent has a number of nifty tools to help you figure this out. Our area guides are based on an analysis of lots of historic sales data. This means we can let you know the average sales time (along with some other useful facts) of properties in your area.
Will my house ever sell?
If you find that your property is taking longer than average to sell, it might be time to think critically about what you need to change.
One of the most important things influencing the success of your sale is the asking price. If your property is priced too high, it will not attract as much interest. This is because your home won’t look as good value in comparison with other nearby properties. On top of this, many potential buyers will filter their online property search by price. By setting a higher price you won’t show up on these buyers’ radar.
As a general rule, a property listing attracts the most viewers in the first two weeks. If your price is set too high in these two weeks you’ll have missed this vital window - even if you later reduce it.
Should I reduce the asking price?
If you’re not receiving interest in your home reducing the asking price can potentially encourage more viewings. But, be careful. Buyers can be wary of properties that have been on the market for a while, and if the price is reduced, they might think something is wrong with it. Take your lead from your estate agent. A local agent with a strong track record in valuations will know when the best time to change (or not change) your asking price is, to ensure your home remains competitive.
Beyond the asking price, your marketing also has to hit the mark. The first time most people view your home will be online. If your photos don’t show the property in its most attractive light, you’ll find it difficult to generate interest.
If you’re unhappy with the photos taken by your estate agent, ask them to take new ones, and get advice on how to ‘stage’ your home to make it more appealing. An experienced agent will know exactly what small tweaks will make the difference.
For more advice on how to prepare you home for selling check out our guide here.
It’s equally important that your property’s online description contains all the relevant keywords and search terms. If you have a garage, garden or parking space, these should be top of the list of things to include in your property description. Zoopla recently found that these were the three most-searched terms by potential buyers. ‘Bungalow’, ‘detached’, and ‘annex’ also all scored highly. If your estate agent hasn’t included key details like these, make sure to bring it up as soon as possible. This small change could prevent you missing out on lots of potential interest.
If you’re finding that your home is getting a lot of viewings but no offers, you probably need to do some extra preparation before people see the property. According to the HomeOwners Alliance 2019 annual HomeOwners Survey, more than 68% of homeowners say that kerb appeal was important in their choice of home. They found that clean windows and a tidy approach (front garden and driveway) were the most important influencers in their decision.
In some cases it may be unrealistic to attempt to fix everything, so prioritise those that make your home look better value. Redoing a kitchen can be expensive and is usually unnecessary unless it’s completely unfit for purpose. Small changes such as: painting the cabinets, updating the light fittings, and doing a deep clean, can radically improve the appeal of a tired kitchen.
In some cases a property might have issues that make it more difficult for a buyer to take out a mortgage. These could be things that have come up in a survey, such as: cladding, Japanese knotweed, or structural issues. In this case a sale will take longer as you wait for a buyer to find a willing mortgage provider, or someone wanting to purchase with cash.
To speed up the sale in this case you have two options. You could sell to a cash buyer company, who will be able to complete quickly but at below market price. Or, you could fix the issue - likely at some expense, both financially and time wise.
Unsure what work needs doing? Try a simple ‘home audit’. Learn how here.
If you’re thinking about putting your house up for sale, people will often talk about the ‘state of the property market’ and how it will impact you. On one hand, the news seems constantly pessimistic about the state of property prices. On the other, estate agents will often tell you there is nothing to worry about and that now is the best time.
There are indeed some market fluctuations you might want to take into consideration. You’re likely to find it harder to sell if you put your home up for sale in summer or winter. This is because these seasons coincide with the school holidays, and of course, Christmas.
Politics can also have an effect. Policy changes to things like Stamp Duty Land Tax can impact people’s willingness to move house or buy a second property.
However, people need to move house for all sorts of reasons that don’t correspond neatly with seasonal or political trends. In most cases if a property is in good condition, competitively priced and well-marketed there will be demand for it, regardless of what’s going on with the market. The property market is driven as much by people’s personal circumstances as by ‘market forces’.
Access to local amenities, good schools and commuter routes will all encourage interest in your house, year round. Make sure your estate agent is telling people about the benefits of the neighbourhood, both on your online listing and at viewings. Knowing about future developments nearby can also help. Will future owners of your home have access to HS2 or Crossrail? Make sure they know.
If you feel like your estate agent is not performing to the highest standard and this is impacting your sale, you might want to consider switching. The best local estate agents will use their local knowledge and expertise to support you through a smooth sale. The worst agents will have little local knowledge and be unmotivated in their attempts to find a buyer.
Does changing estate agents make a difference?
If you’re looking to change agent, researching your options is key to ensuring you don’t end up with the same results. Studies have found that 35-40% of sales are only successful after a change of estate agent. But, if your new agent plans to market your home at the same price and with the same photos, you’re unlikely to get a better outcome. We recommend inviting at least 3 other estate agents to perform a valuation before you make your decision. Use this time to find out how they would market your home differently to your current agent, and raise any concerns you have.
The best agents can justify their valuation and prove they’re able to reach buyers in your area. Look for the best performers, not just the lowest fee, when picking your new estate agent.
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