How to Sell Property for the Highest Price

Naturally you want to get as much as you can for your house. Following these steps will help to ensure you sell your house for the highest possible price:

1. Be clear about your timescales and deadlines

Do you want to sell your house quickly? Or are you happy to wait months or even longer if necessary? This is a vital question that you need to answer – honestly!

Obviously the more time you are prepared to wait, the higher the price you are likely to achieve for your property.

As a general rule if you are happy to wait for up to 6 months, you can expect to sell your house at full market value.

If you need to sell within 6 weeks then the market value for your house is likely to be about 20% below the full market value (the “6 week price”, also known as the “auction price” because this is what you could expect at an auction).

And if you need to sell even faster than that, then cash buyers are likely to want a discount of 25% or even more.

It is unrealistic to expect to achieve full market value for your property if you don’t expose your property to the whole market for a reasonable period of time.

2. Sell at the best time of the year

The slowest time for sales being agreed (as opposed to sales completing) is from November through to February.

As soon as the clocks go back in the Autumn and the cold weather arrives, most people, consciously or subconsciously, put plans to move on hold. With Christmas coming bang in the middle of this period, when of course no-one wants to be uprooted, Winter is the worst time to sell property.

Conversely, Easter, when the days are getting longer and warmer, is when most people think about moving again.

The best two months to sell property are June and September (July and August are affected to some extent by people being on holiday).

The very best time to put your property on the market, and so the best way to get the highest price for your house, is a couple of weeks before Easter.

If you decide to sell, and can time the property coming onto the market for March or April, you give yourself the whole of the Spring and Summer to get a sale. Realistically if you can’t achieve a sale within this window, you need to review the property condition and/or the price!

You should be aware that the most interest generated in your property will be within the first few weeks of it going on the market.

Property portals like Rightmove allow people to set email alerts for new properties that match their criteria as soon as they come onto the market, and anyone interested in buying in your area will be attracted by new listings, For Sale boards and first time press adverts.

It makes sense for the buzz to be created for your property when there are the most Buyers around.

Conversely, if your property goes on the market in November, by the time most people are ready to buy in the following Spring, it will look like “old stock”.

Many buyers will be nervous about a property that has been on the market for several months, possibly even assuming there is something wrong with it.

3. Fix any major issues

If you know there are any issues with your property, get these fixed.

Even if you can hide them from the Buyer, they will inevitably be picked up on by the Surveyor who will inspect the property before the Lender confirms the mortgage for the Buyer.

Leaking roofs, dripping gutters, damp patches, any problems with central heating, any electrical issues and any problems with floors (subsidence, rotten floorboards) all need to be fixed.

4. Refurbish your property

This doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of time and money but it does mean putting yourself in the shoes of potential buyers and seeing your property through their eyes. Consider, in this order:

  • Kerb appeal – a tidy, well manicured front garden and freshly painted woodwork (or if UVPC windows and doors, newly cleaned) will give a good first impression. Human nature means that most people make decisions based on the first 30 seconds of what they see. If they see a property that looks badly maintained from the outside they’ll assume the interior will have problems.
  • Carpets and decor – clean (or if badly stained, replace) carpets particularly in the hall, stairs and reception rooms. Paint any rooms that show signs of wear and tear.
  • Kitchen – the most important room in the house. A modern kitchen, especially with built in appliances, is a big selling point. However if your kitchen is dated but serviceable, consider re-painting or replacing the door fronts, as this can make a big difference for minimal cost.
  • Bathroom – the second most important room in the house. A modern white bathroom suite with a good quality shower is a big plus when it comes to selling. Avocado or pink? Replace if at all possible, you’ll lose so many potential buyers otherwise. White but past its best? Probably worth changing. Bathroom suites can be obtained very cheaply these days (use Google and compare the DIY chains), and if the existing plumbing is in good order a plumber should be able to remove and replace a suite in a couple of days if you can’t do it yourself, so it won’t cost a fortune. New plain white or cream tiles are also available in bulk at low prices.

Even if you don’t have the time or inclination to do the above yourself you will add more value than it costs, as well as achieving a sale much faster. In a Buyer’s market there will be other properties in good condition and these are the ones that will sell.

It might be tempting just to market yours at a slightly lower price on the assumption that the Buyer can do what they want to enhance the property once they’ve moved in.

However don’t make the mistake of thinking that if there is £5,000 of work to be done that you can market your house at a £5,000 discount and expect to sell it. In reality the discount will need to be at least double this because people value their time and comfort.

The only exception to the above is if your property needs extensive work and modernisation throughout. If so, unless you have a lot of time and money, a light refurbishment will make little difference to the appeal so you’d be better keeping your money in your pocket.

These are ideal properties for either Auctions, or for an auction-type presentation via an Estate Agent – i.e. “Offers Above” a low headline price and/or sealed bids.

5. Dress your property

In order:

  • Tidy away all clutter. Anything that should go in a cupboard should be either in the cupboard, in a friend’s garage or in a skip!
  • De-personalise. Remove family photos etc as these make it look like your house. You want the Buyer to envisage it as their house.
  • At the same time, add or enhance what is likely to appeal to the buyer profile. If it’s a family home, make the rooms appeal to a family. For example, if your small third bedroom is used as a study, change it back to a bedroom, with a single bed in it, so that a family can see that it works as a bedroom.
  • A few high quality furnishings can make a big difference. Consider a new pair of off the peg curtains, a new duvet cover and some pristine new white cotton towels from a chain store.

6. Consider staging your property

If your property is empty – for example if it is an investment property, or you’ve moved into another property before selling your own – it can look soul-less if left empty. Consider staging your property to make it appear less of a house and more of a home.

Do this in a way that will appeal to the likely buyer profile – for example, a family home should be staged differently to a modern apartment aimed at a young working couple.

You don’t need to dress every room – a few well chosen pieces of furniture and some pristine accessories such as towels can often make a big difference.

You can either source the items required yourself – places like Dunelm and Ikea are great for this – or use a specialist Home Staging company.

By Richard Watters

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