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Top 10 Tips for Selling Property

Nov 24, 2007
Moving house can be a stressful and uncertain time, even when everything goes to plan.

It's a fine balancing act between getting rid of one house, finding another and making the finances add up correctly never mind living your life in-between.

One of the worst sources of stress can be when selling property takes ages. It can be utterly demoralising having few people enquire about your home. Some days it can feel like you'll be stuck there forever.

But no house is unsellable, especially when there is a buoyant property rentals market and plenty of buy to let investors around.

To help you take some of the guess work out of selling property, here are our top ten tips:

1) Pick a target market: When you have anything to sell, you must first decide who you think is going to buy it - your target market. And this is no different when you are selling property. Your potential buyers will be dictated by the kind of property you are selling, its location and a number of other factors. There are some markets you just will not be able to reach. Most families won't buy a one bedroomed flat, just as high spending professional couples probably won't buy a house next to a motorway flyover. Pick your target and then ensure your house fits their likely requirements. Look at how you are using all the rooms in your house and consider them against the likely lifestyle requirements of your target buyers.

2) Get your timing right: Property sells all year round, even at this time of year. An Alliance and Leicester survey has just revealed the 12 weeks leading up to Christmas are some of the busiest in the year for those selling property. Up to 22 per cent of house moves take place now, with one in 12 homebuyers willing to move in December. But the two peak times to put your house on the market are in the spring, around February and March, and September.

3) Clear and clean: It's surprising how many people skip this stage when selling property. You need to go through your house from top to bottom and give it the most thorough clean it's ever had! Don't be afraid to hire professional cleaners, or use services such as carpet steam cleaning. And take the opportunity to declutter: Houses with too much in them will appear to be smaller then they actually are. If you can't get rid of stuff or don't have anywhere to hide it, hire a small storage unit nearby and dump it all there. This approach may also make the process of moving a lot easier.

4) Make it neutral: If you're going to give the house a lick of paint to attract buyers, then keep your personality out of it. Remember when you are showing potential buyers round, you are trying to help them believe they could live there. The more neutral the house, the more potential they will see to inject a bit of their personality and turn your house into their home.

5) Find the right estate agent: Get three different agents round to give you a valuation and pick the one you feel will work best with you for a fast efficient sale. They may not necessarily be the one with the highest valuation. Negotiate the smallest amount of time that you will be tied into an exclusive contract.

6) Spread the word: This is the key to selling property. Your estate agent will focus on this, as marketing houses is what they are primarily there for. But you can also do some work yourself. Make sure a board goes up and tell your friends and neighbours about the sale. You never know who they will tell.

7) Get ready for a viewing: Do a last minute check of the house, ensuring it is spotless and perfect for your intended market. First impressions count, so put out fresh flowers, plants and clean towels. Send pets off on a little holiday, and air the house ensuring it smells fresh and clean (and not of last night's meal). If you have a parking space leave it free for the viewer - it will give them an idea of what it's like to live in your property.

8) Pick the best buyer: Got an offer? Congratulations! Got two or three - even better. You shouldn't just pick the person who puts in the highest offer. Look at who's most likely to complete quickly and easily. Buyers with approved mortgages and no chains are more valuable than people who still have to sell their own home.

9) Hold the deal together: The longer it takes to exchange contracts when you are selling property, the bigger the chance something will go wrong, including the deal falling through or the buyer dropping their price (known as gazundering). Stay in weekly contact with your solicitor and try to gauge how the buyer is feeling about the sale.

10) Don't leave anything to chance: Throughout the whole process, you should look at anything you can do to remove the element of chance from your house sale process. Ask every expert involved in the sale what their advice is for a happy sale! Consider every step and plan ahead. As with any major project, the more you have thought through what's going to happen, the less likely it is that nasty surprises will jump out and bite you.
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