Has your house been on the market for months with not so much as a hint of an offer? Or have you only received offers far below the property’s market value? Waiting for the right buyer to come along can be a long and stressful process. If you’re thinking, “My house won’t sell!”, read on.
How Long Does It Take To Sell a House?
According to research by The Advisory, it takes an average of 129 days (4.2 months) to sell a home in the UK. However, it can take even longer if your home is in poor condition, located in an unpopular area or is an unusual building. Additional factors, such as the time of year and the “heat” of the market, can also affect how long it takes to sell a property.
The surge in demand from buyers since the end of the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, when many people raced to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday, led to a backlog of house sales and the average selling time leapt to a staggering 295 days a year later in March 2021.
After a surprisingly buoyant 2020, the housing market had been expected to slow this winter, but prices continue to rise, and buyer demand remains high. However, not all properties are flying off the shelf. The “race for space” which saw buyers flock to snap up larger properties after a series of national lockdowns could be over as flat prices have begun to rise more than houses. Furthermore, even if you do find a buyer, the traditional house sale process is likely to be affected by the backlog of transactions for some time, meaning you could be left waiting months for your sale to complete.
Find out how to sell your house fast with House Buyer Bureau or contact us for your free, no-obligation cash offer,
Why Isn’t My House Selling?
Many factors affect how long it takes to sell a house. Buying trends — what’s hot and what’s not — change continually and rapidly. It is almost impossible to predict the duration of an on-market sale, and finding the right buyer is as much down to chance as to preparation. However, the following are likely to impact the length of time it takes to sell your house:
- The asking price is too high. One of the most common reasons homeowners struggle to sell is they have set the asking price too high. This can make it difficult to secure viewings, let alone offers. Properties are twice as likely to sell if priced right first time.
- A poor estate agent. The choice of estate agents can be overwhelming, from traditional high street agents to online operators. But not all agents are created equal. If yours isn’t proactive in securing viewings, has poor customer management skills or has too many clients to handle, your property will take longer to sell.
- Ineffective marketing. Buyers have access to hundreds of property ads online, and if your home isn’t marketed well, they’ll swipe on by. An ad that lacks multiple high-quality images, detailed information and floor plans will not make a potential buyer pick up the phone to request a viewing. Also ensure your home is listed on all the major property portals, such as Rightmove and Zoopla, as well as your estate agent’s website.
- Getting a mortgage for your property is difficult. Traditional mortgage lenders are less keen to lend for the purchase of certain types of property, for example, unusual buildings or flats above shops. This reduces the pool of potential buyers to those who can meet the lender’s stringent criteria or those who can afford to buy without a mortgage.
- Your home is poorly presented. A messy, clutter-filled property sends all the wrong signals to potential buyers. It can make it difficult for potential buyers to conduct a full viewing — how can they see the wonderful storage offered by the built-in wardrobes if clothes are piled high in front of them?
- Potential buyers aren’t given important information. There may be some details about your property that could make it much more appealing to potential buyers. If you fail to share this information, you could miss out on a sale. Is your neighbour a skilled handyperson who helps out with all those little jobs that need doing as well as stepping up in an emergency? Perhaps you’ve had planning permission for a new conservatory approved — this extra space could be just what the buyer is looking for, but they’ll only be aware of this potential if you tell them.
- A “cold” property market. A wide range of events and circumstances contribute to market heat. The UK is currently in a recession, and there is still some uncertainty about the impact of Brexit on the economy long-term. These factors are likely to impact the housing market because people may feel more cautious about selling and buying.
- The property lacks “curb appeal”. An uncared-for home is much harder to sell than one that is clean, tidy and well-maintained. If the property is not well presented for viewings, potential buyers may find it hard to envision themselves making it a home and are unlikely to make an offer.
- It’s the wrong season to sell. Property moves at different rates depending on the time of year. Spring is typically a good time to sell when many buyers are looking for a new home. In contrast, the build-up to Christmas tends to be quiet, with most people putting their moving plans on ice until the new year.
- Your property chain puts buyers off. If you’re in a long property chain, potential buyers may worry about the risk of a break further down the chain causing problems and so can be reluctant to make an offer.
- You’re accepting the wrong offers. If you have previously accepted offers on your home, but the sales have fallen through, you could be focusing on the wrong buyers. If your estate agent allows people to make an offer without “qualifying” them — checking that they have at least a “mortgage in principle” in place — or you’ve accepted an offer from a buyer who is in a long property chain, this could explain why the sales have failed.
If you’re struggling to sell your house via the traditional on-market route, download our “5 Reasons to Sell Off-Market” and start exploring alternative ways to sell your house fast.
Download our Guide -“5 Reasons to Sell Off-Market”
How to Move Out and Move On
If you’ve identified any of the above problems, what can you do to increase your chances of finding a buyer and selling your home?
- Re-evaluate the asking price. Some estate agents inflate their valuation in a bid to get your business. This can result in a high asking price that puts people off. Take a look at similar properties (size, location, condition, etc.) that have sold recently and those that have been sitting on the market for some time. This research should give you a good idea if you’ve priced your home too high. And don’t forget to consider the health of the market — if prices are plummeting across the board, you will probably have to drop your asking price too.
- Switch estate agents. If your estate agent isn’t pulling their weight, shop around and ask friends for recommendations. There are also some helpful estate agent comparison tools online. Try to understand why your current agent isn’t getting results and take your list of expectations to different agencies to find one that can serve you better. Alternatively, ditch the estate agent and go it alone. There is no rule to say you must use an estate agent to sell your property, and selling without one could save you hundreds or even thousands of pounds in fees. Contact us for your cash offer today.
- Improve your property ad. Consider using a professional photographer to take some new photos of your home, showing it in the best light without being misleading. Make sure your advertisement contains details relevant to the target market. If you are selling a large family home, make it clear it has a large secure garden and an excellent school nearby. If you don’t have floorplans in your current marketing, add them. Video tours have become extremely popular in the past couple of years, as people have become less willing to view properties in person for fear of transmitting COVID. Consider creating a video tour for use in your ad. A good property ad will give you the best chance of getting viewings booked.
- Prepare your home for viewings. Whether hosting in-person or remote viewings, make sure the property is de-cluttered and clean. Open curtains and turn on lights to make the home seem bright and inviting. Consider staging the rooms, for example, placing fresh flowers in the lounge and a bowl of fruit in the kitchen. When it comes to house selling, every little helps.
- Ask for feedback. Asking potential buyers for feedback after viewings can provide valuable insight into why the property isn’t selling. Does everyone say the house looks smaller than in the photographs? Add some more accurate images to your ad. Are lots of people put off by the messy garden? Spend a little time or money giving it a good tidy.
- Complete basic repairs. If some small repairs need doing, such as broken window sills or dripping taps, it’s worth spending a little effort checking these off the buyer’s to-do list. Additionally, removing vibrant and very personal decor such as patterned wallpaper and brightly coloured wall paint can make the home more neutral and help potential buyers imagine themselves living in the property.
- Take the property off the market for a while. If the market is cold or it’s a slow time of year for property sales, consider taking your home off the market until things pick up. This will save you the time, hassle and money involved in trying to sell against all the odds. Furthermore, a house that has been on the market for some time may make potential buyers wary or more likely to make a low offer. Put your home back on the market when properties are moving quickly.
- Let buyers know about your home’s potential. Few people buy a house intending to live in it exactly as it is at the time of purchase. A house becomes a home when someone puts their stamp on it. Many buyers choose a property because of its development potential, although this is not always immediately obvious. Make sure you share any information that could make the property more appealing to a buyer. If you’ve had planning permission for an extension or a loft conversion approved, or you know that your neighbours have, let potential buyers know.
- Move into rented accommodation temporarily. Properties marketed as a vacant possession are attractive to buyers as there will be no property chain on one side and no need to wait for the current owners to move out. Equally, by moving into rented property short-term, you will increase your appeal as a buyer because you will be chain-free.
- Vet offers before accepting. If you receive multiple offers, consider the bidders’ circumstances and how much they are willing to pay for your property. Do they have an agreement in principle from a mortgage company? Are they in a property chain, or are they a cash buyer? Opt for the buyer who is most likely to see the deal through to completion over the one who makes a high offer but is part of a lengthy chain or has yet to secure the finance they need.
Alternatives to an On-Market House Sale
If you’ve tried everything and are still struggling to sell your house, it might be worth exploring alternative routes to sale. Marketing your property via an estate agent is not the only way to sell a property. You could consider:
- Selling at Auction
There are two types of auction — traditional and modern (or “conditional”). The former typically happens in person and the latter online. In both cases, interested buyers are invited to bid on a property, and the highest bidder wins.
At a traditional auction, the buyer exchanges contracts on the day of auction and must complete within 28 days. At a modern auction, the buyer pays a non-refundable reservation fee on the day of auction and then has 56 days to exchange and complete the sale.
Selling at auction is an attractive option for people who need a quick house sale or who have a problem property to sell. However, auction fees can significantly add up, and a sale isn’t guaranteed. The process can also be confusing for beginners, making it easy to make expensive mistakes, such as setting the reserve price too low — resulting in the property selling for much less than the seller intended.
If you want to sell your home to buy a new-build property, ask the developer of your chosen property if they offer a part-exchange (PX) service. PX allows you to sell your current property and buy a new home in one streamlined transaction. The developer reduces the cost of their new home by the value of your existing property.
This is a quick and easy way to move house fast. There are no estate agent fees to pay and no need to endure endless viewings. However, part-exchange is only available for buying new properties.
- A Quick Cash House Sale
Selling to a genuine cash house buying company is the only way to guarantee your house sale. House Buyer Bureau has the funds to buy your house in as little as seven days. There are no estate agents or legal fees to pay (if you use one of our recommended solicitors).
Selling to us takes just three simple steps — provide us with information about your property, speak to us and get your free no-obligation cash offer, then get a survey and complete the sale. There’s no need to spend time shopping around for a better estate agent or making home improvements in a bid to find a buyer. If you accept an offer from us, we can complete the sale fast and without the hassle of an on-market sale.
If you’re struggling to sell your home, House Buyer Bureau can help. We are the UK’s favourite house buying service and have helped hundreds of customers sell up and move on. We typically pay 80% of the market value, and with our new 120-day guaranteed sale, we can offer up to 90%.