This article first appeared on the Churches Estate Agents blog at Churches.ie/blog. Visit Churches Estate Agent’s page at IrishHome.ie to read more about the Irish property market and guides to buying, selling or renting a home.
Testing The Market?
You might be thinking about selling your house or you might already be on the market… But are you REALLY serious about selling it?
Many people stick their property up for sale to ‘test the market‘. And that’s fine. It’s a good gauge to see what buyers would pay for your house but you have no commitment or obligation to move (just make sure you are only paying your agent if/when you sell and not before).
Maybe you will think about selling if you got the right price, or if the right dream home came along to move to. But in the meantime you are just letting it sit on the market or biding your time – without letting it effect your lives too much.
Now, Let’s Get Serious…
But if you are more serious about moving and you want to make it happen, you have to act like it. You have to go out of your way to make your sale happen, to prepare your property and yourselves for your sale and to really make the move this time.
Here are three things you MUST do if you are serious about selling your property:
1. Tidy and declutter
If you are really serious about selling the house you will go to the extra effort to prepare your house for sale.
Of course it’s your family home and your possessions, clothes, personal items, toys etc have a right to be wherever you want them to be (all over the floor if you are my daughter…) but do you really think buyers want to see that (and step over it) when they are trying to look at your property?
Many half-hearted sellers just leave their house as it is, mess and all. They see it as their home until the end and don’t want to go to the effort of making it tidy and keeping it that way. Well that half-heartedness may keep your property from selling, or at the very least selling at the best possible price!
But, if you are a serious seller you have to get the house looking presentable.
That means clearing out the clutter, removing personal items to the attic or storage, throwing out junk and tidying the place up. After all, if you are serious about moving then you are going to have to do a complete clear out anyway – why not get a jump start on it?
Here are some of the things we would suggest to make your house look more presentable to a potential buyer:
- Curb Appeal – First and foremost, tidy your front garden. Remove any junk and rubbish. Hide the bins. Get your front garden trimmed and neat. It’s the first impression homeowners will get when they arrive at your property.
- Kitchen – Clear work surfaces so there is the bare minimum on them. We want to see your nice worktops, not half a packet of bread, a dozen condiments and a pile of damp teabags. It’s time to have a sort out and throw away anything out of date.
- Living Area – Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to completely remove traces of yourselves from every room. Don’t take down all the family photographs, buyers actually like to see a happy family home so they can imagine themselves living there. But clean up the trinkets, old magazines and empty coffee mugs.
- Bedrooms – Get all your clothes into the wardrobes, there should be nothing laying about. Ladies, clean up that vanity unit. It’s always a good time for a clear out, dump or donate all your old clothes – it will save you precious space when you move anyway.
- Kids Rooms – Keeping a house with kids tidy is a constant battle anyway, let alone trying to keep it ready for visitors. Why not reduce the number of toys available to your kids, pick their favourites and put the rest in storage so it’s easier to keep in order.
- Garden – We often forget the garden but it is still important. Get it cleared out, weeded and made neat. It’s not expensive to hire a man to do this if you don’t have the time to do it yourself. It’s well worth the investment.
You don’t have to go as far as staging your home but just a simple clear out can make the world of difference. Think about how you would see your home as a visiting buyer. Be critical.
Think about how you would see your home as a visiting buyer. Be critical.
Finally if there is anything that needs repairing, get it fixed! You don’t need to update or renovate your property, but if that handle has been broken or there’s a bad stain in the carpet, do something about it now. At most a paint job and a carpet clean will make your property feel like a more attractive place to be for potential new owners.
You’ve not only increased your chance of selling, you’ve also increased the speed at which your property will sell and hopefully the price as well!
2. Think of the end and not the means
You are moving house for a reason. Whether you are upgrading, downsizing, moving area, or as part of a probate. Your reason for moving is the end result. That’s the new home, getting out of debt or whatever your plan is.
What it’s NOT is “I must get €400,000 for my house“. The price you get for your property is just the means that gets you towards your goal. If it’s a new home then you need that money to purchase your next home, but there are other ways to skin a cat.
“The money is just a way of keeping score” – Donald Trump
Many homeowners have a preconceived idea of what their property is worth, and refuse to hear talk of accepting anything less. But if the market is not playing ball and getting you that price, you have two options – (1) Continue to hold out for more; or (2) be flexible with your pricing to ensure your property sells.
The serious seller is flexible with their pricing. If there are too few enquiries about the house or no one is making an offer then the price is too high. Period.
Better to drop your expectations (hopefully your agent has been honest with you and not set them too high) and get a sale agreed, otherwise you are not moving at all.
Don’t get hung up on the value you are going to get for your house. Instead keep an eye on what it allows you to do. If you don’t achieve the price you were aiming for, let’s rethink the situation.
- Perhaps you can negotiate a lower purchase price on your next home?
- Or get a better mortgage deal?
- Or even lower your target price range or area?
There is always a way to make a successful move that works for your family, rather than dragging on the sale of your current property for years to come and not getting anywhere. Be flexible and open to ideas. But above all this depends on ensuring you are getting the correct advice…
3. Trust your agent
Finally, this all comes down to receiving the correct advice from your property advisers. You are being guided by the experts at all stages in your property sales process so you need to make sure you trust the person giving it.
If you are serious about selling, the most important first step is getting an honest valuation. Many agents will overprice their quoted values just to get a sale – either out-pricing their competitors or giving you an exciting value that pushes you to sell sooner.
The problem is this leads to a higher asking price, less buyer enquiries, a slower sale and in some cases no sale at all. Most of all it frustrates and infuriates you the vendor and creates huge distrust and bad-will between you and your agent.
Better to have an honest, sober valuation from the start. Your agent has been honest and there’s no bad feeling down the line – plus the house will attract the optimum number of buyers and hopefully sell successfully without months of stress and difficulty.
If you’re not serious and will only sell at a certain high figure, then by all means you can put your house on with an agent at an inflated price. But it won’t sell fast. And your agent will get fed up and let your sale stagnate. And later if you do decide you are serious about selling, your property might even be tainted with people thinking “Why did this property sit on the market for so long? Must be something wrong with it.“
Finding an agent you like and trust is so important – you can’t miss this step. And especially avoid choosing the agent with the highest valuation (or the lowest fee) – they are not to be trusted!
Three things you don’t have to do…
We’ve given you three things you should do when you are serious about selling your house. Now here are three little things that you don’t actually have to do, despite common myths:
- DON’T pay for big marketing expenses – 90% of buyers find their properties online today. Don’t believe the agent that tells you that you must have an advert in The Times. It doesn’t help sell your house, only the agency. Don’t trust the agent who charges you for basic marketing services (online listings, printed brochures, professional photography) – choose an agent who doesn’t charge you for these standard expenses.
- DON’T find your next home first – we are constantly advising people to “sell before you buy”. By that we mean it’s best you get your house sale agreed first, before you go seriously house hunting for your next home. With a deal agreed on yours you know the exact budget you have to buy your future home and you are in the strongest position to make offers for it.
- DON’T choose the agent with the lowest fees & highest valuation – As we’ve discussed before, the agent with the highest valuation is probably over-quoting you to win your business. Likewise the lowest fee has no other competitive advantage to win your business other than to slash their prices. Choose a middle ground agent who is honest with their valuation but charges a reasonable fee. You get what you pay for and a good agent at a incentivised fee with fight harder to get you the best result than a bargain-basement agent.
Churches Estate Agents are the only agent who don’t charge you any marketing expenses to get your property on the market. In fact, they don’t charge any marketing expenses at all, just a performance fee for successfully selling your home.
If you are thinking about selling your home and want to test the market, they are your perfect agent. Go to www.Churches.ie/selling to find out more…