If you are planning on developing a property, the very final stage is the sale at the end. No developer wants a long wait to sell the property, no capital or rent is coming in and meanwhile mortgage repayments have to be covered. The longer it stays on the market, the more the developer will financially lose out.
So, to ensure that you have the very best chance of getting the completed property sold, here is a checklist to run through so that you know you are less likely to miss out.
- Establish your position. You have to realistic about selling the property; if the market is currently flat in the area you are selling in you might well have to reduce the price at some point in the marketing process. If you are not in a particular hurry to sell, you might feel that reducing the asking price is not an option you want to consider. Don’t rule it out though.
- Consider the purchaser’s aspect when pricing the property. Clearly it will depend on what the property is valued at but remember that houses are usually priced strategically just below the Stamp Duty Land Tax thresholds. This is not coincidence. If a property is priced just below the threshold and a competing one is just above it, the difference between them might only be a few thousand pounds but the cheaper one is likely to be on the market for a shorter length of time.
- Consider your market. Much is made on TV property programmes of selling to ‘young professionals’; however there are occasionally people outside this category who buy properties. Of course, I recommend buying a development property with a particular customer in mind but you should certainly be selling it knowing who should be buying it. Students for example (or rather their parents), will be considering different things than a young family or a retired couple. Far better to cater for an existing local need than trying in vain to sell a property that’s being marketed to the wrong people. Speak to Estate Agents (several), they should be able to tell you where the local needs lie.
- Ensure that the work that needs to be done, is actually done. If you’ve just had work done on the property then there shouldn’t be any excuse for leaking gutters, damp or mildew on walls or dodgy hinges on doors (for example). Not every developer will be carrying out a complete ‘gutting’ of the property, so if the turn-round is a rapid one to get it back on the market, make sure nothing is overlooked. If someone is having a viewing and looking round the property, if they find one obvious fault they might start to look for others.
- Always have an idea of what the property is worth. Property valuation is not rocket science; it’s easy to get to know a particular area’s property market. After a few weeks you will probably be able to gauge neighbouring property prices to within around 5% of what a professional valuer would put it at. This will definitely help when it does finally get to the stage of accepting an offer, you will be able to distinguish between a silly offer and a realistic one. Having a look on a couple of property websites will help to get an idea of what neighbouring properties sold for (www.nethouseprices.com or www.rightmove.co.uk).
- Choose the right estate agent. Some are good, some are bad but it’s highly likely you will be stuck with them for at least 6 months if the property does not sell. Word of mouth is a good way to get an idea of true reputation, and don’t be taken in by their sales pitch, remain sceptical! If you choose to put the property on the market with a single agent, there’s no reason why you should have to pay more than 1% (plus VAT) of the sale price. If you go with dual agents, it’s very likely you will be charged 2% (plus VAT).
- Once the property is on the market, make sure it’s kept tidy inside and out whenever possible. Potential purchasers will do ‘drive-byes’, where they drive past a property to have a quick, discreet look and get a feel for the area without committing to a viewing. If there’s rubbish or builders waste left outside the property, it can be really off-putting for them.
- If the estate agent has promised you that the property is displayed in their window and being aggressively marketed, periodically check that they’re telling the truth. Speaking from experience, an agent had stressed that the particulars of a house was in their window for all passers-by to see; but upon arriving at the shop, my wife and I found that not only was it not in the window it wasn’t displayed inside the shop either. They were poor agents and this was the final straw in making the decision to sack them.
- Be picky about the property details produced by the agent. Their job is to get your property sold as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you feel that the details are not satisfactory, don’t be afraid of telling them. You will ultimately be paying for this service so they should always be acting in your best interests.
- Pester the agent for feedback on viewings. Agents are not always the most communicative of people so they might need prompting occasionally. You might be fobbed off with a vague comment the agent picked up from the viewee, but after a few weeks of pestering them for accurate feedback, they’ll make sure they have proper answers for you. Some aspects of the property might be unavoidable, such as parking. However some things might be easily solved such as borrowing some furniture to ‘pad-out’ an empty property.
- Consider exactly what you might be prepared to put in the property for the purchasers. For example you could throw in all the fitted carpets if the purchasers pay full asking price; they don’t know that you managed to get a load of inexpensive carpet from a friend. Same for curtains, you (as developer and vendor) might feel that putting up some (decent quality) curtains is of such little consideration as to be next-to worthless to the purchaser. This is not the case, buying and fitting good quality curtains and rails can run into thousands of pounds in some cases. If you can source them cheaply, you might well swing the deal in your favour.
- When an offer does come along, you should have a figure in your mind that marks the border between what would be acceptable and what wouldn’t. This value has to be realistic though. In the current climate, buyers are looking for bargains and if you won’t consider dropping the price at all then it might be a while before the property sells. It’s a difficult market and sellers have to do what they can to keep their businesses running. Obviously a reduction in selling price over what you might have expected will reduce your profit margin, therefore consider this very carefully.
- Do anything possible to increase the exposure of the property. Sarah Beeny’s website Tepilo is very good, and free. You won’t lose anything by making use of it! If you look around, websites and blogs can be free too these days (for example www.wordpress.com), give the property its own site! You have nothing to lose and it should not affect the arrangement you have with your estate agent.