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Ten things to do if your house isn’t selling

Home hard to sell?
Home hard to sell?

Once you’ve made the decision to put your home on the market, it’s natural to want it to get snapped up without delay.

But as many a homeowner who’s had their property on the market for the past few months will testify, 2023 has not been an easy time to sell.

Transactions in London are down by 25pc in the first nine months of the year, according to Foxtons, while the number of sales have dropped across the country. 

Some of those dealing with a sticky sale are finding themselves with no option but to take a larger discount as the property market continues to slow down due to high interest rates and ever more expensive mortgages.

Matters have only been made worse by stretched household budgets forcing lots of buyers to put their plans on hold.

But if you’re loath to cut your asking price, what else can you do to try and shift your home?

Here, Telegraph Money looks at some of the ploys to keep up your sleeves which could just help get your transaction over the line.

1. Go on the charm offensive

If your house has been sat on the market for a while, it might be time to cosy up to your neighbours.

Charm those who are nearest-and-dearest to you geographically, so they help ensure that presentation on approach is at its best.

Marc Gregory, sales manager at Antony Roberts estate agents in Richmond,  says: “While any sensible vendor will have tidied up their own garden, the outside space next door can be problematic if it’s overgrown.”

In the first instance, ask if they may be willing to give their garden the once-over.

Mr Roberts adds: “If your neighbour isn’t prepared to tidy their outside space, ask for their permission to work on it yourself. If it requires considerable work, a few pizzas and beers for those living nearby may encourage others to pitch in.”

You should aim to take a similar approach if your neighbours have a front yard littered with kids toys, bicycles and other bits and pieces. First off, inquire politely as to whether these could be put in their garage.

Colby Short, co-founder of GetAgent.co.uk, says: “If, perhaps, they still have some Halloween decorations out – or a flag from a previous sporting tournament – see if these can be taken down.”

Better still, make the sales process a neighbourhood effort, and get lots of people from the local community to muck in.

Mr Short added: “After all, the better the price you achieve, the more beneficial it is for those living around you.”

2. Secure a parking space

Be sure to check potential buyers have somewhere to park.

Dominick Brown, director of buying agency, Prime Purchase in Kent and East Sussex, says: “Ask neighbours – nicely – if they could move their cars away from the house so parking is straightforward on days when you have viewings.”

This is especially important if one household has a number of cars clogging up the street.

Patricia McGirr, from property finance group Finanze, adds: “Ask your neighbour to move the vintage motor he’s been working on for the last 10 years off the driveway. This might be a bit of a relationship killer, but better than your sale dying because nextdoor looks like a breakers yard.”

Approach the matter with as much politeness as you can muster, and there’s a chance the vehicle gets moved without too much friction.

3. Time your viewings

Book your viewings in a day or two after bin day.

Marc von Grundherr, director of London estate agent, Benham and Reeves, says: “It’s almost inevitable that the day before this, bins will be piled high, or rubbish will be strewn around the street where a fox has been searching for its supper.”

This is not a great look for potential buyers. Nor is it a great smell.

Mr von Grundherr adds: “Inviting people over when the bins have been collected will at least ensure you aren’t creating a rubbish first impression.”

4. Create some competition

Another clever little ploy is to ensure appointments overlap by a few minutes.

Mr Brown adds: “It never hurts buyers to see that they aren’t the only people interested in a property.”

5. Set a realistic price

Don’t make the mistake of over-pricing your house or flat.

Charlie Lamdin, founder of BestAgent and presenter of YouTube channel, Moving Home with Charlie, says: “A lower asking price will attract more inquiries. This will lead to competing offers – and ultimately, a higher sale price. Asking prices have little correlation to final sale prices. Having competing buyers is more critical.”

Kim Allcott, partner at Allcott Commercial, favours a similar approach.

She says: “Slash the price to get some competition going. Nobody wants to miss out on something everyone wants. If you can cut the price to the extent you then drive a lot of interest, you may well find people making offers over asking price.”

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6. Steer clear of sole agency

Selecting the right agent is one of the most crucial steps when it comes to shifting your home.

Mr Lamdin says: “Refrain from signing a sole agency contract in case you choose the wrong one. You could unwittingly find yourself locked into an agreement with an agent who is unable to get the job done.”

This is a view shared by Gary Bush, an adviser at MortgageShop.com, a mortgage broker.

He says: “We believe in the more the merrier. Having multiple agents also stops agents from resting on their laurels.”

7. Refresh your pictures

If your home has been on the market for several months, get your photos updated.

Mr Bush says: “If a potential buyer sees pictures of your property that were taken in the summer – and it’s now snowing outside – this gives an immediate ‘oh why has it been on the market so long’ feeling.”

This can be especially the case for new buyers to the market.

8. Tell a story

Think about writing a short summary of why you fell in love with the property, and why you have enjoyed living there.

Mr Gregory says: “This can be supplied to potential buyers. While you’re at it, really think about your neighbourhood and its particular appeal to someone considering moving to the area. Any stories you have about how your neighbours look out for one another will always go down well.”

Either put these in writing – or ask for these to be relayed via your agent.

Alternatively, you could even make a point of being around during viewings so you can chat to potential buyers yourself about how great the area – and the property – is.

Amey Hellen, from digital marketing agency Think3, says: “Don’t be afraid to share the unique story of your home. Potential buyers might like to learn that you were in a similar life stage. This can help enhance connection to the property. Be proud and narrate the story of your home beyond its physical features. Those personal touches can make all the difference.”

9. Do some sleuthing

In a bid to get things moving, it might be worth trying to find out a bit about any potentially interested parties.

Kirsty Wells, director of Blueprint Mortgages & Protection, says: “See if you can get some soft facts from the estate agent, such as whether they have children. If so, then when they come to view your home, you can emphasise features that would benefit a young family.”

This could be things such as well-equipped playgrounds or schools with an “outstanding” Ofsted rating.

Jamie Alexander, mortgage director at Alexander Southwell Mortgage Services, adds: “A pro tip is to play detective a bit. Get the lowdown on your viewers from your agent – kids, hobbies, where they’re from.

“When they’re looking around, highlight what makes your local area a goldmine for them. It’s about selling a lifestyle, not just square footage. Make sure they see their future in every nook and cranny.”

10. Consider auctions or ‘quick-sale’ firms

If your home has been on the market for a while and you’ve had an abundance of viewings but a distinct shortage of bites, you should think about alternatives, such as selling at auction.

This can offer the chance for a speedy transaction, but be aware the price you sell for could end up being lower than the one you might have achieved on the open market.

Another option is to use a quick-sale platform.

Chris Hodgkinson, managing director of House Buyer Bureau, says: “You may take a slight hit on asking price, but you will be able to complete in a matter of weeks. You’ll also be able to plan your move down to the last detail, as it provides you with a concrete timeframe.”

While this may sound appealing, you need to go in with your eyes open, as going down this route can mean taking an even bigger hit on price. Further, as the sector is not regulated, you need to watch out for less scrupulous companies.

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