So, it's the end of the first quarter and we have some basic figures for you from March 2013.
New properties on the market (instructions) are up by an incredible 71% compared to March 2012 and up 30% on February 2013. With all this activity and more properties to choose from, you would expect viewings to be up as well. And they are. Viewings are up 68%, which fits in with the increase in instructions, which is great.
But what about if you’re not getting viewings? Because, in this market, when viewings are taking place on all sorts of properties, in all areas across the country, and you’re not getting any of them, what’s the problem?
What are the factors that sell your house? Well, we believe that there are just three things that will sell your home. In fact, there are three things that sell any product in the world - everything from chocolate bars, to CDs, to cars. And, as much as homeowners have an emptional attachment to their houses, at the end of the day, it is a product that you are trying to sell. And it must be viewed as such. Selling houses is easy. If it wasn’t, then we wouldn’t be here. So, those three things...
Coverage is how many eye balls are you putting the property in front of. All of our properties appear on Rightmove & Zoopla, and we think this is as close to maximum coverage as you need to sell your house. I suppose there are some (high street agents) who would have us (and you) believe that some buyers still rely on a newspaper advert and an agents’ mailing list to be informed of properties, but we just can't believe that this is the case in this day and age. But, let’s allow them this. So, if we say that 99.9% of buyers come through these sites, then there are still 0.1% of people who might not have seen your house – so, not quite 100% coverage.
Lets take Mars Bars here as a comparison: Mars Bars appear on every single forecourt in the country, so the coverage they have is as large as it can be. But, if there was one single forecourt out of the 10,000 forecourts in the UK that didn’t stock any Mars Bars, then they definitely wouldn’t sell any in that forecourt.
So, coverage is probably the most important thing. If it’s not in front of pairs of eye balls, then you will never sell it, even if you get the next two things right…
Now, when we say presentation, this relates to not only the presentation of the property, but also how it is advertised. We believe in as many photos as possible, as well as floorplans and a set of details is the best way to present your property. But something you could do to tweak your advert is to take new ‘Spring photos’ of your property and add them to your advert.
However, we would say that this alone is not likely to sell your house.
If we’re being honest, we can count on zero hands the amount of times that we have sold a property because someone has added the words ‘No chain’ to their advert, or certain schools have been added to the summary description, or the front photo has been changed, or the garden photo is changed to a Summer one - it just doesn't happen unfortunately. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes: If you’re looking for a property, and someone changes the front photo, you would look at it and think “Oh, they’ve changed the front photo”. We don't think it’s going to make you go and view it – you would have viewed it before the photo was changed if you were interested. It’s probably the next thing that would make you go and view it.
Lastly, and most obviously, it is the price. It is the subject that no vendor wants to talk about and the subject that agents hate to approach. It is such a difficult subject.
Vendors have put their house on the market using the advice of an estate agent (normally), so what they have told you, must be right?! Wrong.
Or, the other thing we see a lot of, is vendors put their property on the market and then start to look at properties that they would like to buy based on their asking price, not based on what they might actually achieve for it – one of the directors' at Hatched's own relative did this just a couple of weeks ago…
She had her house valued at £185k by 3 agents and one other agent told her £200k. So, she put it on with us, (obviously), for £195k, which we told her we thought was too high, but nevertheless, we would be happy to try it. Low and behold, after 6 weeks, we hadn’t sold it (although, we had had on average 2 viewings per week on the property), so a couple of weeks ago, the relative approached our director over Sunday lunch and asked why we hadn’t sold it “It’s the price, Louise,” he said abruptly. “But I just can’t accept anything less than £192,000 for it, because I have seen a house I like” Louise said. “Well, it’s not worth £192,000, Louise, so you better find another house” he replied (He can be a little bit abrupt when friends and family are 'talking shop’ when I’m trying to tuck into roast lamb on a Sunday afternoon!)
Some might say he was a little harsh, but it was the truth. The house simply was not worth what Louise had put it on the market for and she knew that on the day she put it on. But hope, possibly a bit of greed, got the better of her and she was sat their thinking “But if I do get £192k for it, then I will be able to afford to buy that house that I didn’t think I would be able to afford when I put the house on the market.” The reality was, that Louise was spending money in her head that she didn’t have and was never going to have in the short term.
So anyway, after the chat over the roast lamb, we dropped the price to £189,995, and sold it for £186k within a week. £1,000 more than the ‘realistic’ valuation of £185,000. I wonder…if we had asked £189,995 from day one, would we have created more of an impact, therefore more viewings, therefore more competition and therefore a higher price, within a shorter period of time? We’ll never know I guess…But We think we might have done...
Your property is only worth what someone is going to pay for it, not what you want it to be worth, or what the estate agent told you it’s worth.
If you have the first two things above right, and you’re not getting viewings, then the only thing left is to adjust the price.
As an estate agent, whenever we suggest a price reduction, the assumption/accusation is that it’s because ‘we want a quick sale’. Well, with Hatched, you can rest assured that this is not the case. If we charged £5k or £6k to sell a house, then I could see that argument. But we charge less than £550.
We want to sell the property, of course, but unlike high street agents who are earning a big fat fee from selling the property, we are not ‘desperate’ to sell the property, we don’t need to sell the property. Because we charge up front, we can offer advice that is honest and not based on trying to earn a big, fat, oversized fee. It is very important for us to sell houses, but it is not the ‘be all and end all’ for us.
In most cases, clients pay us up front to market their home. Therefore, we think it is our responsibility to offer the right advice at the right times. We are in a period now, where if you're not getting interest and viewings at this time of the year, then you're never going to get them.
Once you have had your property on the market for 6 weeks or more, then you should use this as a guide:
- If you are getting 3 viewings per week, or more, do nothing - the price is spot on and it is going to sell
- At 2 viewings a week, leave it for another 2 or 3 weeks, see how it goes and re-evaluate again based on these rules.
- If you’re getting just 1 viewing a week, then you probably only need a small-ish adjustment to the price (when we say small, we don’t mean £500! We mean dropping it into a new price range on Rightmove, for example.)
- And at less than 1 viewing a week, then you probably need to adjust the price by a fairly substantial amount to start gaining more interest.
It’s all about reacting to the market. It is the market that decides the value of your house. And if your price is right, the market will react by enquiring and making viewings. If the price is wrong, the market will react by doing the opposite.
Make sure you get those first two things right before you go messing with the price. But if you have the first two things right, then it is probably the price.