SELLING your home is stressful – but a small mistakes can knock tens of thousands of pounds off the price.
Research from the Homeowners Alliance shows that the optimum amount of time for a property to be in the market is just 14 days.
After that, the price you’ll sell for decreases rapidly. If your house sells within the first two weeks of being listed, you’ll get an average of 99.4% of your asking price; it drops to 98% in the first month and falls to 91% after two months.
According to the Halifax index, the current average UK house price is £281,664. That means two-month delay would cost the average UK homeowner a whopping £25,349.
If your property was worth £500,000, the same two-month delay would cost you £45,000. Even on cheaper properties, delays costs thousands.
A third of Brits are planning to sell their homes this year, data from Samsung shows.
To help you maximise the price you get for your house, we spoke to property expert Terry Fisher from We Buy Any Home to find out the main errors that lead to expensive delays.
Selling at the wrong time of year
Choosing the right time of year to list your home increases the chances of selling quickly and early spring is when you’re likely to have the most luck.
Research from Rightmove, analysing five years of sales data, found that that there are more buyers looking to move in March than in any other month of the year.
Even better, competition between buyers for the homes available is at its peak driving prices higher.
Terry said: “With Spring comes better weather, and more natural sunlight will make your home look its best, after a grey and cold winter.
“Plants and flowers start to bloom, which increases curb value,
and will make gardens and outdoor space more desirable to buyers… as many people will be motivated to buy quickly so they can spend time outdoors in the summer.
“The best time of year might also depend on your property. One- or two-bedroom flats are popular with young couples and first-time buyers, and they might be more interested to buy in January and February, after being motivated to have a fresh start after the new year.
“Larger family homes might quickly in the spring or autumn, but may not do so well in the busy summer holidays, as families will have less time for viewings.”
Setting your asking price too high
Asking for too much is one of the main reasons your home can sit on the market for longer than necessary.
Homes realistically priced in line with market values sell an average of fifty-eight days quicker than overpriced properties.
Of course, the longer a home is on the market, the less you’ll get – seventy percent of interest comes within the first three weeks of a property being listed.
Additional research shows that overpriced properties usually end up selling for £12,000 less than the asking price, so you may end up getting a worse offer than if you’d priced it realistically in the first place.
Terry said: “It’s important to know the market value of the property – buyers will be comparing it to other properties in the area so make sure you do too.
“It can be difficult to price it realistically, rather than how much you think it’s worth, but try changing your mindset from that of a homeowner to a businessperson.
“Rather than putting people off with a price that’s far too high, a fair asking price will attract more buyers and create competition which could lead to you getting more than you asked for.”
Not being prepared
If you want a quick sale, preparation is key. Make sure you gather all the necessary paperwork before you’ve even put the house on the market, so it’s all in place.
Proof of identity is an easy one, but other documents might be harder to find if you’re not so organised. You can even be fined if you’re missing some key documents.
Terry says that some of the main paperwork to consider includes:
Land registry searches
Your Land Registry title documents would have been sent to you by your solicitor when you purchased the house, but you can check with your mortgage company or Land Registry and request a copy if you can’t find them.
You can ask HM Land Registry to expedite your application if a delay would cause significant issues, but it’s best to get these done upfront.
Energy Performance Certificate
If you bought the house within the last ten years, you’ll need your Energy Performance Certificate, and for new builds or properties under ten years old you’ll need your Buildmark or other new home warranty documents.
If you don’t get a new EPC when you need one, you could be fined between £500 and £5000. The cost of the assessment varies by assessor and property size, but is generally between £60 to £120.
Part P Building Regulation Certificate
Gas checks need to be carried out by a Gas Safe certified engineer, and if you’ve altered the wiring in the property since January 2005 you must, by law, obtain a Part P Building Regulation Certificate, which proves that electrical work meets standards, so your solicitor can pass it onto the buyer.
If you don’t have this, your buyer’s solicitor will require you to take out a building regulations indemnity policy.
Otherwise, your local authority could prosecute you or the buyers for not complying with the regulations, with a fine of up to £5000.
FENSA or CERTASS certificate
If you’ve had new windows fitted since you bought the property, you’ll need to prove that they comply with building regulations with a FENSA or CERTASS certificate.
These can take up to four weeks to be issued, so have them ready before you list.
Planning permissions and building regulation approval
If you’ve made other changes to the property, you’ll have to show evidence that you obtained proper approval with planning permissions, building regulation approvals and completion certificates.
If these are missing, you may be required to take out building regulations indemnity insurance.
He added: “Ideally, you’ve kept all necessary documents together in a safe place but ensuring that you track them down before they’re actually needed can help speed up the sale and minimise delays.”
Not tidying up
First impressions count, so when you’re selling a home the photos on your online listing are crucial.
High-quality images, with plenty of natural light will help to attract potential buyers.
On the other hand, a house full of clutter can stop buyers seeing the full potential of a property.
A well-presented house is likely to spend a lot less time on the market. Kerb appeal, and things like a well-maintained garden, fresh paintwork and well-kept windows, have been shown to add up to £55k to property value.
Research in 2017 revealed that nearly a third of Brits would pay 25% more for a freshly painted house.
Terry said: “Painting walls a neutral colour can showcase your home in the best way, as it gives the impression of a blank canvas for buyers to create whatever they like.
Even things like removing family photos when doing viewings can help buyers imagine themselves there, rather than looking at pictures of your kids.
“Tidy up outdoor spaces; you don’t need to do a full re-landscape but mowing the lawn and cutting back overgrown hedges can make the house seem much more desirable to buyers.
“If you smoke in the house – stop. Non-smokers, in particular, will be put off by a house that smells of smoke, so air out the property and remove ashtrays when doing viewings.”
Choosing the wrong estate agent
Picking the right estate agent is vital when it comes to selling your house quickly. Decide whether you want to do it yourself or use an online or high street agent.
There are pros and cons to each option.
DIY is usually cheaper, but unless you’re an expert it can be difficult and often ends up taking longer.
There are extra costs you might not have thought of, like ‘for sale’ signs and paying for an advertising platform.
Some online agents won’t charge anything to market your home, but others cost up to £1,499.
Shopping around could save you serious money, but remember you want your home to sell quickly, or you could lose more than you saved in fees.
High street agents generally cost the most, but they will take care of everything for you.
On average, fees can be anywhere between 0.75% and 3%. On the average UK house, that means a difference of over £6,000 between the cheapest and most expensive options.
Terry said: “Do your research first and find out who other sellers in the area are using, how quickly they sell the properties on their books, and how often they sell for asking price or above.”
Picking the best offer, not the highest one
We’re all tempted to go for the highest bidder when it comes to selling our home.
But it can pay dividends to delve a little deeper. After all, if your buyer pulls out you’ll be back to square one, and as you’ve been listed for longer that could be a costly mistake.
Terry says: “Choosing a buyer who doesn’t have a chain and is least likely to pull out, and be able to move the quickest, might be a better offer, even if their bid was slightly lower.
“Your highest bidder could be a nightmare who is impossible to get hold of and pulls out at the last minutes because they don’t have the money to back up the offer, so take a minute to think about your options rather than automatically going for the top offer.”