Commercial insurance article archive
How sell property in a slow market
Widespread reports of an economic downturn and ensuing instability in the housing market make distressing reading to homeowners desperate to sell their properties.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs recently claimed it expected house prices to fall by five per cent this year followed by a further two per cent next in 2009.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has fuelled this uncertainty by revealing mortgage repayments now account for more than a fifth of a new homeowner's income.
According to the CML, figures are similar to those in 1991 before the housing market crash of 1992.
The organisation has called for the chancellor to make changes to the stamp duty threshold after discovering only 40 per cent of first-time buyer properties fall under the current tax-free limit of £125,000.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) reported a decrease in property prices in January with 54.7 per cent more chartered surveyors reporting a fall than a rise in house prices, representing an increase from 49.1 per cent in December.
In addition to this, banks may be set to take early action against mortgage defaulters after judges cleared the debt of a man who had not paid anything towards his arrears for more than 15 years, the Times reports.
So with all the increasing pessimism surrounding what appears to be a slowing market, is it possible for homeowners to make a good sale and move on to pastures new?
According to the Telegraph a falling market highlights the recession-proof factors of a home. The newspaper cites the case of Nicola and Ross Gleghorn whose extended kitchen and eating area made their two-bedroom ground floor flat stood out among other properties for sale in Clapham, South London - so much so it sold within 24 hours.
Mrs Glegorn said: "We put the flat on the market for £415,000, had three viewings that day and sold it at the asking price the next day, Everyone is talking about doom and gloom, but people have to live somewhere."
"It also has a little terrace and its own front door, which are important to buyers," she added.
In a slow market, prospective-buyers can afford to be more particular about their housing needs.
The newspaper regards location as crucial to the property's ability to sell in a slow market.
The Gleghorn's flat is in a conservation area ten minutes' walk from Battersea Park and Clapham Common and seven minutes from a mainline station.
A list of "recession-proof addresses" has been drawn up by County Homesearch. Postcodes where properties are continually bought at the asking price or above include the historic town of Tenby in West Wales, the Surrey commuter towns of Esher, Oxshott and Walton-on-Thames, Oxford and York.
Properties with a good view can also command good prices. The news provider reports that research by Hamptons International shows that properties with a view of the Thames add 20 per cent to their overall value.
"Buyers can now afford to hold out for those 'icing on the cake' features such as having a great view," Jo Whincup from estate agent William H Brown told the news provider.
Homes in desirable school catchment areas are also popular. In York, family homes can fetch £50,000 to £100,000 more than similar properties in Selby where the schools are not as good, the newspaper reports.
But for sellers whose properties are not in prime locations steps can still be taken to boost the attractiveness of their homes.
Property website sell-your-house-quick-help.com has come up with some tips for sellers hoping to make a quick sale in a slow market.
The pricing of a property must be adjusted to changes in the market. If a property receives few visits from prospective-buyers it may well be too expensive, the website advises.
It is worth looking at other properties in the area to compare prices and where else is competing for buyers' attention.
Website findaproperty.com also urges sellers to get their price right and recommendations obtaining evaluations from several estate agents.
Property website Rightmove announced in December that asking prices had fallen by an average of 3.2 per cent over the month.
Sam Radford, manager of the York branch of Reeds Rains, told findaproperty: "A lot of people think house prices go up £20,000 a year, but if you really want to sell you need to be realistic.
"Everybody wants to achieve the maximum but if the house was worth £190,000 last year, and you really want to sell, put it on for £190,000 this year."
The website also advises sellers to ensure their property receives good coverage both on the internet and in the local press.
Gazundering, whereby buyers reduce their offer at the last minute in the buying process, is also something to be avoided, the website urges.
House doctor Tina Jesson from Homestagers, who has added thousands of pounds to the asking prices of homes, has given some tips for a quick sale on the website.
She advises sellers to catch-up with 'deferred maintenance' by oiling door hinges, replacing washers on dripping tap and missing curtain hooks and emptying bins.
As home-buyers often drive past the house before they view it, she advises painting the door a bright colour or planting window boxes with tubs of colourful flowers.
Clutter is distracting to prospective-buyers who want to be able to visualise living in the property so Ms Jesson advises sellers to take unwanted possessions to a charity shop.
Dry or steam cleaning the curtains can lift the room and remove odours. In addition adding a mirror to a dark hall can make it seem lighter and bigger.
Sellers also need to create a lifestyle that will sell, which according to Ms Jesson includes made-up beds with good quality linen, no dirty washing, fresh towels and a clean bathroom.
And as buyers use internet photos to narrow down their choices sellers should make sure only the best photos of their properties are published.
02 Mar 2008