Once you’ve made the decision to sell your house, waiting for the right buyer to come along can be a frustratingly slow process when selling on the open market. The average time to sell a house in the UK was over four months at the start of the year.
Vendors are currently being warned that sales are taking a month longer to complete due to a surge in buyer demand after the first lockdown and a race to beat the stamp duty holiday deadline on 31 March 2021. Forecasters are predicting an end to the mini-boom in house sales and prices over coming months, which could see an increase in the number of homeowners struggling to sell.
For some sellers, it can take months or even years to find a buyer and see a sale through to completion. If you’re one of those shouting, “Help! My house won’t sell”, don’t despair. Our property experts at House Buyer Bureau have created this guide to help you identify why your house isn’t selling and to give you some handy tips on what you can do to improve the chances of securing a sale.
How Long Does It Take to Sell a House?
Before you start panicking, “My house won’t sell!”, consider whether your expectations are realistic. The average time to sell a house in the UK stood at 4.2 months before the pandemic, but this varies significantly between geographical regions and types of property — even the time of year you choose to sell can have an impact on the time it takes to sell.
Have a look at similar properties locally — are they taking time to sell too? The housing market is in a constant state of flux. If you’re trying to sell in a “cold” market, where more people are trying to sell properties than there are potential buyers, you may have to accept a slower sale. If, as is the case currently in many areas, fewer properties are being listed for sale than there are eager buyers — a seller’s market — there may be something amiss if houses similar to yours are being snapped up but you’re getting little interest. It may be time to review how you’re presenting, advertising and showing your house.
Why Isn’t My House Selling?
The time it takes to sell a house will depend on a number of factors. Some, such as the health of the housing market, are out of your control. But there are plenty of things you can do to boost the appeal of your home in the eyes of potential buyers. First, you need to determine why your house isn’t selling.
- You’ve Set the Asking Price Too High. According to recent research, putting your home on the market for the right price when it is first listed doubles your chances of finding a buyer. Properties that are priced too high and then reduced take considerably longer to sell and often sell for a lower price — buyers who see that a property has been reduced are more inclined to haggle.
Tip: Do some research into local sold prices for properties like yours and consider whether the asking price is a barrier to securing viewings and getting offers.
- Your Home Lacks Kerb Appeal. According to the 2019 annual survey conducted by the HomeOwners Alliance, more than 68 per cent of homeowners say kerb appeal affected their choice of property. In particular, the condition of windows, the roof and the garden or driveway impacted their decision to buy. First impressions really do count.
Tip: Ask a friend or family member to look at your house from the outside and give an honest opinion about the impression it creates. Does the lawn need mowing? Could the window frames do with a lick of paint? Small changes can have a big impact.
- Poor Photography. Most buyers start their property search online. Your property advert will give a potential buyer their first impression of your home. Adverts with a decent number of professional photographs that highlight a property’s best features will stand out and attract more viewings. If your ad only includes images of the outside or the photos are low-quality, a potential buyer will skip to the next ad.
Tip: Invest in some professional photographs and focus on features that today’s buyers will love. Since the end of the first lockdown in May, buyer trends have changed and the most in-demand features include fast wi-fi, proximity to green spaces, gardens and home offices.
- Limited Information in Your Property Listing. The property description can impact the level of interest in your home. Have you included details about the area? Proximity to good schools and amenities will be important to families, whereas young professionals may be more interested to know that your home is a short walk to city bars and restaurants. Have you included a floor plan? According to research by Rightmove, 78 per cent of vendors rated the importance of having a floor plan when selling as “seven out of 10” or higher.
Tip: Think about who your ideal buyer is and write an advert for them. If you don’t have a floorplan, ask your estate agent if this is included in their commission and if not, consider adding this as an extra service — it could pay off in the long run.
- Your Estate Agent Isn’t Pulling Their Weight. Not all estate agents are created equal. If you opt for a low-cost online agency, they may lack the local knowledge that can help to sell a property. If you’re using a high-street estate agent, results may be just as mixed if they have more work than they can handle or you’re unlucky enough to be assigned an agent who is unmotivated or inexperienced. Have you been receiving a healthy number of bookings for viewings? Is the agency you use responsive when you make contact?
Tip: Shop around and ask people you know for recommendations — there’s a reason that word-of-mouth continues to be one of the most powerful forms of advertising.
- The House Isn’t Presented Well for Viewings. Clutter, mess and dirt do not create a positive first impression of a property. Too much clutter can make it hard for a buyer to imagine themselves in the space and can even prevent them from being able to view your home properly. A long list of DIY jobs can be off-putting too.
Tip: Give your house a thorough tidy and a deep clean. Put clutter in drawers and make sure that potential buyers can access and view all areas of the property. Invest a little time and money to put right any niggling problems such as dripping taps or broken curtain poles.
- You’re Not Receiving or Acting on Feedback. One of the best ways to find out why your house isn’t selling is to ask the people who view it why they chose not to make an offer. If you’re using an estate agent, they should follow up with a buyer after their viewing, ask for feedback and pass this information on to you. There may be some valuable insights that you can work on — if everyone who views says that the bright pink wallpaper in the second bedroom is an issue, there’s an easy fix for that.
Tip: If your estate agent is not delivering feedback regularly, you may need to give them a nudge and make it clear that this is an expectation. Keep a record of the feedback you receive — if several people make the same comment, it may be worth putting the effort into some home improvements if the problem is something you can change.
How to Sell Your House Fast
If you’re fed up waiting for the right buyer to come along or you’ve had the stressful and costly experience of a failed sale, contact House Buyer Bureau for a fast, hassle-free sale. All we need is a little information about your property and we will give you a fair cash offer. We have the funds to buy any type of property in any condition in as little as 7 days.