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Selling strategies for Spring

Gardens are beginning to bloom and there are more sunny days, but it can still be difficult for those trying to sell their homes. House Move Pro talks to three estate agents who give their top tips for putting spring in your house move: Gary Marples of Stevens Estate Agents, Sussex; Ben Stream of Bishops independent estate agents, Hampshire and Daniel Coombes of Southdown Property Solutions, Sussex.

Price realistically

Get at least three valuations to sell your property at a realistic price in the shortest time. “Don’t get sucked into over-valuations,” said Ben who warned some estate agents give false, over-optimistic valuations to get people to choose them. After they are tied-in to long agreements and the property doesn’t sell, they then try and talk people down, “chipping away at the price until it is more reasonable,” he said.

Maximise internet traffic.

Check your agent publicises your home in the best property portals; Right Move and Zoopla lead the way. Advertising in local papers can drive people to websites too.

Gary said: “Price bands on property portals like Right Move are very important because you might miss potential buyers if you market it over a cut-off. We have just reduced one property that was £545,000 to £499,000 fixed price, no offers and we now have two people who want to buy it.”

Pictures worth a thousand words

Would-be buyers are more interested in photos and floor plans than long, written descriptions, said Gary. Look for what might spark interest in your property. This could be a stunning kitchen, well-kept garden or beautiful stained-glass window in the front door. Don’t settle for dull or poorly staged photos.

“Some of the photos I’ve seen online are more likely to put people off -– unmade beds, clothes on the floors, TV on, toilet seat up. It’s not rocket science, but people are too snap happy,” said Gary.

Daniel agreed quality of photos is key. “Some agents hire professional photographers and it’s worth finding out if they do because photos can go a long way to selling your property.”

Mystery shop

Call in anonymously, look at the quality of brochures and see agents in action before you decide which one to instruct, urged Daniel. “Do the sales people say hello and someone offer you a drink while they help with your enquiry? Do they have a personable approach? Or do they try to sell you a mortgage?

“A lot of people choose the agent with the cheapest fee and the highest valuation. But it’s not about that. It’s about getting to know the agent you are trusting with your biggest asset. People buy from people.”

Location, location, location

 “If people come from out of the area, they want to know about local schools, bus routes and shops.  All those things are important to people when they view a property. We are not just selling houses, we are selling locations,” said Gary, who recommended choosing a local estate agent rather than online.

Selling your home in Spring
Selling your home in Spring

Present house to suit target market

Think about the types of people who are likely to buy your home and present it accordingly. Ben said: “A lot depends on the type of property. For example, if it’s a character cottage in the countryside, prospective buyers are likely to be families or people buying a second home. Then you want it to appear light and airy – and pray for sunny days for viewings.”

If it is a high-spec apartment in the city centre than buyers are more likely to be young professionals. It could pay to fit it out with a wireless home sound system, for example, he suggested.   

Be absent during viewings (at least the first one)

Go out while agents show prospective buyers around your property. People are more likely to ask questions and walk around freely if the owner isn’t there. “For the first viewing, definitely it is better to be out.  Subsequently, if there are follow-up visits, they may like to meet the owners as nobody knows the property better, “said Daniel.

De-clutter and clean

De-clutter and clean is the standard advice – and what better reason to spring clean than selling your home?   Have a clear-out and get rid of big items you no longer want. Sort junked stuff into three piles: to gift, recycle and dump. Make sure all the rooms and hall are clear of clutter, so people can see the potential and size of living spaces. Clean kitchens and bathrooms. Make the beds. 

But there is no need to keep it pristine. Ben said: “Show homes can be hard to sell because they are too perfect. I tell people it is their home, to be lived in. You can’t put life on hold to sell your house. If it looks too staged, people look for faults whereas homes that are natural but organised tend to be a lot easier to sell.”  

Tidy up the garden

Paths should be swept clean of leaves and patios pressure-hosed or scrubbed. If it’s a sunny day, uncover outdoor furniture so buyers can see how the external space is used. Spring is a great time for colourful bulbs. Brighten up your front door with pots of daffodils or tulips.

Get paperwork sorted

Make sure to get all the paperwork together before you sell, including planning permission, guarantees and insurance. “Make sure you are not putting a house on the market without Building Regulations signed-off. It’s good housekeeping. If you don’t, if could cause delays or even jeopardise the sale,” said Gary.

“Decide what solicitor you want to use before rather than after an offer is made. It’s just as important to have a good solicitor as estate agent.”