Updated 03 December 2020
Your home is likely to be your most important asset, so when you come to sell it you'll want to achieve the best possible price. Here are the top tips for maximising the value of your home.
Be as flexible as possible with house viewings. People now have busier schedules, so don’t limit your chances of selling by having regimented viewing slots. If it helps, you can find a trustworthy agent to arrange viewings in your absence.
Certain interior features are highly sought-after and will increase property value. These are often determined by era, but beware not everything will come back into fashion (lest we forget all those wonderful Artex ceilings of the 1970s).
Research current trends in interior design to see if you can emphasise these aspects in your home, like wooden flooring and original fireplaces. Declutter and depersonalise – hide any family photos or dog leads so people can see themselves living there.
It’s worthwhile thinking about the aspects of your home that might appeal to other people. You might have an excellent school nearby or off-street parking, for example. Make sure these are known to whoever is conducting the viewings.
Some people choose to sell their homes online rather than going through an estate agent. If you do this, you’ll have to organise floorplans with measurements, high-quality images and thorough descriptions. Selling your home this way can get you out of paying costly agent fees.
This is particularly worth considering if you have good people skills. Buyers can be more detached when being shown around by an estate agent, but a welcoming owner may help them to relax and warm to the place. Only you know if you’re that person.
Before your property goes on the market, it’s important to decide your asking price. Generally your estate agent will suggest this, based on what they think they could achieve, but be sure to get at least three quotes as different agents vary considerably.
Look for an agent who specialises in your kind of property. One who specialises in much higher-end properties may not give your home their full attention, while an agent who usually sells cheaper homes may not have the necessary experience to do a good job with yours.
At the same time, look for properties similar to yours and see what their prices are – both listed and the final paid price. This will help you to set your own list price. Remember that many buyers like to haggle down, so it can be a good idea to err on the high side. However, an overpriced house can sit on the market for longer, and this in turn can put off potential buyers. So prepare to be flexible.
The alternative strategy can also work: set a lower initial price to attract a lot of interest, and hope that rival bidders lift it higher. But this too can be risky, as you might not get enough offers. Your mortgage adviser may be able to offer some tips.
The rule of thumb when negotiating is, ‘Be firm but realistic’. By all means hold out for your asking price if you simply can’t afford your next home otherwise – but if you can afford some leeway, it may help you achieve a quicker sale.
Also, price isn’t everything. Look at your buyer’s position when considering their offer: do they have a confirmed offer on their own property yet? Do they have a mortgage in principle? Are they are cash buyer, or otherwise chain free? The stronger their position and the more dependable they seem, the more it is worthwhile trying to meet them on price. Conversely, if someone offers you full price but hasn’t yet sold their own home, be wary of committing to them.
If the offers you’ve received have been disappointing, try to find out why. Talk to your estate agent – was the property marketed correctly? Did you get enough viewings? Did you present the house in the best possible way? Have similar properties in the area been meeting their asking prices? It may be worth taking your home off the market for a while and re-listing (perhaps with another agent), as a fresh approach often makes a big difference. Ultimately, it may come down to what’s most important to you: a timely sale, or a sale at maximum price.
This can be very disappointing, but it happens – so just pick yourself up and try again. Buyers drop out for any number of reasons, most of which are beyond your control. All you can do is focus on the things that you do control (see above) to attract a new and more reliable buyer. If you’re part of a chain and the loss of your buyer puts that in jeopardy, be open about it and keep the rest of the chain informed through your solicitor. Sellers are often happy to wait for you, but if they ever feel like they can’t trust you, you may have your own offer rejected.
The price you achieve for you home will have a bearing on how much you need to borrow (or are able to borrow) on your next mortgage. Therefore notify your mortgage adviser of both your asking price and the final agreed price. As soon as your adviser has a definite figure, he or she can go ahead and secure the best possible mortgage deal for you.
Now find out more about buying your next home.
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