Updated Jan 2021
Has your house been on the market for months with not so much as the 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, “Your house is not selling” 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. Last year properties took up to a month longer to sell due to the backlog of house sales caused by the first lockdown in March.
2020 was a surprisingly buoyant year for the property market, despite the coronavirus pandemic. But property experts expect a drop in house sales and prices this year as financial support such as the stamp duty holiday, furlough scheme and mortgage holidays are withdrawn and unemployment levels rise. This could mean a further increase in the time it takes to sell your house.
Why Isn’t My House Selling?
- 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 that are priced too high and then reduced take months longer to sell than those priced accurately in the first place.
- 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 that 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 handyman 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. There is a wide range of events and circumstances that 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, despite the trade deal that has now been agreed. As a result, houses may move more slowly, and higher prices could be harder to achieve.
- 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.
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 some 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 recent months, as the government has implemented social distancing measures to reduce COVID transmissions. 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 you’re hosting in-person or remote viewings, make sure that 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 own 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.
- Sell to a house buying service. This is the fastest way to get a guaranteed sale. House Buyer Bureau buys any property in any condition or location. We can provide a cash offer almost immediately and once the valuation is complete and a firm offer made, the completion can take place in as little as seven days. We are set up to manage the entire process remotely. There are no estate agent fees to pay, and although the cash offer will be less than the market value, this makes little financial difference when the costs of a traditional sale are taken into consideration (agent fees, repair work, mortgage repayments).
- 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 compilation over the one who makes a high offer but is part of a lengthy chain or has yet to secure the finance they need.
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%.