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Online House Hunter: Buyers v sellers

Alan Cleaver
houses 300x207 Online House Hunter: Buyers v sellers

Time for serious sales tactics in the housing market

THE April edition of the Rightmove House Price Index contains some fascinating insights into the housing market in the UK at the moment.

In particular, the survey points to a 1.7 per cent month on month increase in asking prices but the paucity of buyers means a jump in agents’ unsold stock.

As always, there are regional variations and in particular London sees buyer demand continuing to push prices upwards.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: “With buyers still struggling to raise the necessary finance, the net result has been the biggest jump in unsold stock on agents’ books that we have recorded in nearly four years. While stock levels normally increase during the first half of the year, this is a larger increase than normal. With government cuts starting to bite and interest rate rises still expected in the second half of the year, those who are serious about selling should look to price more keenly in the spring selling season”.

It’s a spring selling season distorted by Easter holidays, bank holidays and a royal wedding and Mr Shipside has urged sellers to embrace ’serious sales’ tactics if they wish to achieve a sale.

He added: “On a positive note, the fact that many new sellers feel they have the confidence to test the market at substantially higher prices shows that the Damoclean sword of cut-throat competition from distressed sales has yet to fall on sellers’ initial price expectations. This gives serious sellers and in-tune estate agents the opportunity to price below their less realistic competitors and stand out as offering better value to deposit-strapped buyers. The negative consequences for the market are a longer period of adjustment in buyer affordability and lower sales transaction volumes”

So what are ’serious sales’ tactics? Rightmove suggest a low/realistic price – pointing out that in this internet age, it’s quick and easy for buyers to discover the true price of homes in your neighbourhood; pushing the ‘added value’ of your home in order to encourage interest; and “polish till it sparkles” – Mr Shipside advised: “Immaculately prepared and presented property gems not only stand out, but give less reason for buyers to squeeze you on price.”

I don’t suppose I’m the only property writer who has glimpsed with a certain amount of horror the pictures of some homes for sale showing uncut lawns, bare or untidy rooms and even dirty crockery in the sink. If the seller doesn’t realise this will hinder a sale, then surely it’s up to the estate agent to advise.

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