Nothing in life is more frustrating than getting to the end of the exhausting house selling process, only for the whole deal to fall apart. Moving and buying a home is already stressful enough without having to face lost time and money as well. And did we mention all that paperwork?
According to a recent study by Quick Move Now, the fall-through rate in the UK rose in the last quarter of 2015, with more than one in four home sales failing – up 8.32 per cent from the one in five recorded in the previous three months.
While the UK market figures will be affected by the mortgage restrictions introduced recently, the problem of a transaction falling through is universal and can be a problem for anyone selling a house in any country.
Hoping to avoid annoyance in your own transaction? Here are four steps to stop your home sale falling through:
1. Get your survey sorted soon
One of the biggest problems found by Quick Move Now occurred at the survey stage, with more than a quarter of cancelled deals down to problems identified in an inspection. For many buyers, especially when supply is low and competition is high, making an offer on a property is their priority, which means they could make compromises to secure a potential home sooner. However, if the property costs a lot of money, or they find themselves concerned about a particular flaw in the home that they underestimated initially, a survey can give them cold feet. Organising your own survey soon and being able to present them with most honest account of your property possible will help to deter disappointment further down the line.
2. Organise your paperwork
Over one in five failed transactions were simply due to the pressures of the chain. You know the chain. That endless buying and selling string that underpins almost every property purchase. Take too long and someone further down the line finds themselves too late to complete things on their end and suddenly, your buyer has disappeared. To speed up your side of the conveyancing, organise your paperwork as early as possible.
3. Negotiate for time
Another key obstacle can occur just after the survey: the negotiation phase. Agreeing on a new price, taking into account any problems with the property, is a tough challenge, but in addition to the first step, it’s important to remember that time is as important as price: be flexible and agreeable and you are not only more likely to retain your buyer, but you are also more likely to complete your sale quickly, which will help to avoid any pressure from the chain. On a similar note, be open to offers from other buyers. They may not always offer a higher price, but if they can complete a sale at a faster pace, do not be afraid to switch offers and negotiate for the fastest completion date possible.
4. Communicate with your buyer
The most important thing at all stages of your sale is to communicate with your buyer. Make sure that you are available and you are on good terms – this will not only make negotiating easier, but also make you aware of any other personal problems that may affect the buyer’s ability to complete the transaction, avoiding any nasty surprises.
Christmas means one thing: decorations. From trees and tinsel to lights and log fires, everyone wants to make sure their home looks as festive as possible. But if you’re looking to move home soon, Christmas means another thing: selling season. Yes, the nights are drawing in, but so is the end of the year and most people want to be able to sign and seal the deal before the New Year rolls around. On the one hand, that’s good news, as a wave of house-hunters will have their eye on your property. On the other hand, you don’t want your Christmas tree blocking their view – or, even worse, potentially offending someone with different religious beliefs.
Here are some steps to stop your decorations disrupting your home sale.
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There are only 49 days until Christmas. It may sound sound like a long time, but for those trying to move house, it is not nearly enough: those having luck with marketing their homes will find themselves already in the thick of negotiating with buyers over the final sum to be paid for their property.
According to new research by Which? Mortgage Adviser, haggling for a home is more common than sellers might like: in the past five years, 66 per cent were successful in buying a home for less than the advertised asking price. Buyers were particularly successful at haggling in Wales, Birmingham and Manchester. But sellers should be wary whatever town – or, indeed, country – they are in.
To help secure the best possible price for your property, here are six tips to successfully negotiate with buyers.
1. Be fair with your pricing
The most important step of all is to make sure that you have fairly priced your home to begin with: without a fair starting point, you will not have a leg to stand on when the negotiating begins. Get your home valued by several estate agents, check your local market, bear in mind wider financial conditions and whether you will need to accept a loss in order to shift your home. With luck, you may be able to price your home at an attracting enough price point that a buyer will stump up the sum without questioning it.
The chances are, though, that you will not be this fortunate: Which? Mortgage Adviser’s survey found that 73 per cent of buyers have made an offer below the asking price of a home in the past five years. The best response? Make a counter-offer. After all, buyers will most likely start with a price that is less than what they are actually willing to pay.
Rather than counter with your own discounted figure, why not counter at your list price? It will reinforce your property’s value and make it clear that you are not to be trifled with. If someone walks away, they probably were more interested in nabbing a bargain than buying your home – sparing you time and effort trading offers with an incompatible or non-serious buyer.
Alternatively, counter only a small margin below your asking price, maintaining your stand as strongly as possible, while still appearing reasonable.
3. Don’t counter
Why counter at all? Just reject their offer outright and leave the onus with them to submit a new offer – a technique that is more aggressive than counter-offering, but can also be more effective at getting the best price for your property.
4. Hold off offers until a set date
If you allow offers immediately, you could find yourself with several irrelevant offers to bat away – or none at all. Why not try refusing all offers until a specified date? That not only builds a sense of event surrounding your property listing, but also creates a sense of demand, which could spark a profitable bidding war: 25 per cent of Which? Mortgage Advisor’s report said that paying the asking price or more was due to competition for their home, while 21 per cent said it was due to a bidding war.
5. Giver buyers a deadline
Not unlike the previous option, a fixed date can work wonders for your negotiating technique. Giving buyers deadlines with each of your counter-offers will force them to make a decision quickly, leaving you in control of the back-and-forth. At the same time, it also stops your home from being on the market for longer than necessary – something that can make your property seem undesirable to buyers further down the line. In six months’ time, if your home hasn’t sold, you will have to factor that into your selling price and, most likely, lower it.
6. Make sure your home is in prime condition
If pricing your property correctly is the key to fetching the best sum for it, the second most important thing is to keep your home in prime condition: nobody will want to part with their cash for a property that looks like it’s worth half its price.
Everyone knows roughly how much it costs to buy a home, but selling a home? That’s affordable, right? After all, you’re not the one paying for a new pad. But there are a number of hidden costs involved when selling your home that can easily be overlooked or underestimed.
Before you start budgeting to buying and moving home, let’s break down the costs you can expect to encounter first when selling.
Estate agent fees
Estate agents work on a commission basis, so you can expect the firm you choose o charge a fee that works out as a percentage of the sale price – typically, around 2 to 3 per cent. In other words, the more your house is worth, the ore you can expect to pay.
Private advertising fees
Want to avoid paying high estate agent fess? Selling your home privately is a popular option, with FSBO services such as Sell My Property able to save a lot of money through either fixed fee or subscription charges in advance. Whether they are expensive or not, the most valuable thing is not having a surprise fee to deal with later.
The other option for selling your home is going to auction. This is similar to an estate agent, financially speaking, in that a commission will be owed to the auction house helping to put your home under the hammer. However, you may have to pay additional fees for services such as promotional activity and cataloguing.
One unavoidable cost however you sell your home is the fee charged by your solicitor or conveyancer: costs can vary depending on the level of legal work required and the prestige of the legal company used, but will start from around£200.
Insurance for a property sale may sound odd – this is far from the contents or building insurance you will be used to – but an indemnity policy will cover any defects in the title of a property, such as a missing document. If that is a problem, the insurance would pay the buyer compensation and save you from being saddled with further costs. Insurance is, however, an optional expense.
You may well be sick and tired of paying your mortgage, but for those planning to pay off the loan early, be warned: repaying can cost up to 4 per cent of the outstanding volume. Exit fees for those planning to switch lenders can also apply.
An Energy Performance Certificate is now a legal requirement for a UK home when it is being sold. Estate agents will usually arrange this for you, but if you are selling privately, you will need to organise this. Ordering a certificate costs approximately £60. Use an authorised service only.
Add the above to your budget sheet for moving home, along with removal vans and cleaning companies, and you have a good idea of how much it can cost to sell your property.
Between the property listing and the legal complexities of conveyancing, staging a home is something theat sellers can often overlook. The process, which involves presenting rooms in your home for viewings, can take time and money, but can also provide a significant pay-off.
According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, 49 per cent of realtors believe staging usually has an effect on the buyer’s view of the home. Only 4 per cent said it had no impact whatsoever.
81 per cent said staging helps buyers visualise the property as a future home, with more than one in three realtors using staging on all of their homes. The common consensus is that can add between 1 and 5 per cent to a property’s value.
But what should you do and where? We round up the top five rooms for sellers to stage and give some tips for each.
1. Living room
The living room is the number one room to stage. Consider upgrading your sofa, or suite, so that your property looks new instead of old and worn out – especially if you plan to buy a new suite for your new home. If your home is particularly valuable, spending several hundred pounds on a brand new carpet may be worth the potential uplift you can expect in your price. Neutral wall colours should also be considered, while overhead lighting should be avoided if possible: lamps can make a room cosy, while uplighting can make it appear dramatic.
Affordable tip: Buy some new cushions to make your suite seem more luxurious.
Kitchens are the most expensive room in your home to remodel, but they are also the second most important when trying to impress a buyer: it is no coincidence that many sellers improve their kitchens before moving home. Simple steps can involve dusting your ceiling fans and vacuuming all the corners, as well as wiping your surfaces, cabinets (inside and out) and – yes – make sure your dishwater has no dirty dishes hiding in there. Replacing doors or even door handles on your cupboards can also create a new feeling without having to shell out for new units.
Affordable tip: Organise everything in your cupboard alphabetically. This gives the impression of someone who has taken care of their home.
3. Master bedroom
Bedrooms are similar to living rooms: everyone wants to be able to feel comfortable and relaxed in them. Therefore, neutral colours are again the first thing to consider – make sure you dress the bed in linen that coordinates with the wall and also use matching curtains. Remove extraneou furniture from the room: if it’s not a bed, a cabinet, a wardrobe or a bedside cabinet, it’s only taking up floor space and making your room seem smaller.
Affordable tip: Place a lamp on the bedside table to add a sophisticated finish to the room.
4. Dining rooom
Dining rooms are tricky. After all, what can you do with a table and chairs? The answer is a surprising amount. Start by adding any light that you can – a mirror to reflect any daylight coming in from windows is an easy way to do this. Make sure the dining table is a clean, clutter-free centre piece for the room. However, don’t make it too big: remove the middle-section from the table, if possible, so that it requires fewer seats. Setting the table, though, can sometimes be a step too far.
Affordable tip:A vase with flowers, instead of full plate and cutlery service, is a quick way to bring colour and style to your dining table.
Paint, paint, paint. That is the first thing a bathroom needs: a fresh coat to give the room a clean, crisp look. Complement it with a new shower curtain and fresh towels, which, if possible, should be rolled and put on display to create a spa-like atmosphere. A simple piece of art can also add class to a usually un-classy affair.
Affordable tip: Close the toilet lid.
Not keen to stage your home room by room? At the very least, you should thoroughly clean the property and remove any clutter.
Photo: Kendyl Young
Christmas is coming early for many homeowners this year, as new research reveals that if they want to up sticks and move by the end of December, they need to act now. In the UK, it takes an average of 83 days to sell a home, but with conveyancing included (an average of 12 weeks), the overall process, from listing it to moving home, typically takes 167 days, a total of over five months.
July, therefore, is the best time of year to start thinking about listing your home, if you’re hoping to complete the selling and buying process before the year is out. Not able to list your property for sale until you’re back from holiday? Want to find a buyer even sooner? Here are our fool-proof tips to speed up your property sale:
Research your agent
Researching the market is normally the first thing a homeowner will do before listing their home, but it is equally important to research the estate agents in the nearby area: you can be sure of having more than one to choose from and they can prove a useful way to value your home. Instead of trusting the first valuation you’re given, or plumping for the agent who promises the highest asking price, ask for several valuations from different companies. Find out how many of them have had successful previous sales – and whether these sales fetched their asking price – to determine which is the most reliable. Another measure of trustworthiness is whether they are registered with the National Association of Estate Agents, or other industry body.
Prepare your paperwork – or remove it entirely
Contact a solicitor in advance of selling your home to determine what paperwork you will need. Any that can be sorted in advance, prepare as soon as possible so that they will not cause any delays further down the line. There are also ways to reduce the amount of paperwork involved, with online conveyancing services making it possible to carry out all the legal procedures without the time taken required by pen, paper and postage stamps.
Improve your first impression
You may be very familiar with your property, but a buyer will likely make up their mind on whether they would be prepared to purchase it within the first moments of seeing it. To avoid deterring people, and to increase the likelihood of receiving offers, create a good first impression: tidy the outside, consider giving a fresh lick of paint to your front door and ensure that your listing photos are as attractive as possible.
Don’t put off repairs
Putting off problems will only slow down the overall sale: sort out your repairs immediately and you will avoid any unexpected obstacles, from undetected structural obstacles or messy breakages to workmen not being available to carry out the relevant work. This will also ensure that your valuation is as accurate as possible.
An unrealistic price is the biggest cause of a sale falling through. Pricing too high is a common trait among sellers, who hope, at the very least, to negotiate to a lower fee. Do not fall into this trap: obtaining multiple valuations and considering the current market conditions will help you to price your home at a fair, reasonable price that will prove difficult to resist.
Staging your home is an essential part of making your property as attractive as possible to any buyers coming to view your home. While the term sounds scary, though, the act itself can be suprisingly easy – as long as you know the secrets that the professionals don’t tell you.
Can’t afford to hire someone else to stage your home? Try these six tips:
1. Make room
Space is the biggest selling point of any home and at no time is that better showcased than during a viewing: a smooth, uninterrupted tour with no obstacles will highlight how much room there is. Make sure that you make room for you and your guests by moving furniture (or removing furniture). Now that you have that space, you have more opportunities to accessorise with vases, fruit bowls and cushions.
2. Depersonalise and declutter
When was the last time you bought a person, or their family? Buyers are there to view your home, not your personal life: removing photos and other possessions will keep their focus on your property. Decluttering will help to avoid distraction further, emphasising the amount of space available for them to leave their own personal mark on the home.
3. Fresh linen
Fresh linen is a small gesture that can often be overlooked by sellers, but fluffy towels add a subtle air of luxury to a bathroom and fresh sheets add a clean atmosphere to a bedroom. Spotless tea towels also avoid spillages and stains making your kitchen look anything less than perfect.
4. Light up
Natural light is good photos, but once your home is being viewed in person, odd shadows from your electric lamps will add character and dimension to a room: even if is the afternoon, do not be afraid to turn them on.
5. Go green
Flowers are crucial to building a welcoming, positive air: even a well kept front garden can create a cheerful first impression, setting an upbeat mood for the rest of their visit. Potted plants in your porch or hallway can reinforce the vibe, while clean windows will bring out the colour.
6. Clean, clean clean
Your furniture is out of the way, your personal items are hidden: all that is left is to make the rest of your home as clean as possible. Scrub the grout in your bathroom, vacuum (or steam) your carpets, bleach the sink: you never know where buyers will look. That includes your spare room too: if you have used it as a storage space for the above objects, make sure you place them somewhere else. Why not turn it into a study or a bookcase? Emphasising the potential of a spick and span extra room can be a major selling point for families.
“Pension freedom day” has been and gone in the UK, leaving elderly pensioners with the freedom to cash in their entire pot for a lump sum. The money is predicted by some experts to be invested in buy-to-let property, as retirees seek a steady income from continuing rental demand.
For others, though, it could provide the stimulus downsize their home or even move abroad. For those planning to move, buying a new property will also mean having to sell their current one. With many homes dating back a number of decades, the selling of an old home can throw up a number of unique obstacles compared to a more recent existing home or new build property.
We provide six simple tips to help pensioners sell a home:
Prepare to say goodbye
Everyone has belongings in their home that are not yet ready to bid farewell to. As someone who has been in their home for potentially most of your life, this will make moving out even harder. The first step, before putting your home on the market, is to sort through your belongings and work out what you would like to take with you to your new property. Once you have a list of things to part with, see if your family or friends are in need of new items of furniture (or, for items you cannot bear to leave behind but do not need, if they have any storage space). Then, consider a garage sale or auction.
Stick with who you know
Before you try selling to a stranger online or through an agent, check with friends, family and other acquaintances to see whether they would be interested in buying the property. This could save a lot of time, effort and cost.
Inspect the property
All homes have things that can be done to improve them, particularly when it comes to boosting their sales value. For older homes, though, there is also a high likelihood that things are broken or in need of repair: hire a professional to inspect your home so that everything is assessed in detail, from your boiler to your gutters. If you can do minor repairs yourself, this can help you to secure a better price.
Don’t DIY if you don’t have to
DIY can be intimidating, both physically and financially, but you do not have to perform home improvements before selling your home. One simple solution is to include a quote for possible work with the materials advertising your home, which will give your buyers an idea of costs to be factored in with their purchase price.
Homes can be dark places, especially if your property was built years ago with smaller windows. Replacing wallpaper with a lighter, more neutral colour, trimming back any bushes blocking the windows or replacing large curtains with small blinds could make your home more appealing to modern buyers.
Pay attention to changes in the area
Your area will have changed since you first moved in. Perhaps there is a new school nearby, or a nearby train station that has been built. Take time to familiarise yourself with such new features: they have become more important than ever to buyers trying to choose between a large volume of listings on the market.
Photo: Ben K Adams
Property prices continue to climb in the UK, turning many homeowners into unwitting real estate millionaires. In the past 12 months alone, according to Savills, the value of property in the UK has jumped £543 billion to reach a total of £5.75 trillion. Continue reading »
The property market is a race that never stops. With more homes coming on to the market every day, it is important that you do not fall behind and end up in last place on buyers’ wishlists. Your listing needs fine tuning to keep it as efficient as possible.