UK: Going Round The Houses

Last Updated: 9 August 2011
Article by Caroline De Vries

(some perhaps less conventional marketing ideas for selling property)

Difficult times call for smart strategies. The current housing market can be a rather harsh environment for sellers of certain properties in some parts of the UK.

Baking bread or brewing coffee may not be enough to persuade a potential buyer to part with their money. If prospective buyers are not even viewing, then the bread coffee ploy is well and truly redundant.

So each marketing effort needs to have the primary aim of reaching potential buyers and getting them interested enough to view your property.

1 The conventional route to the market is for your chosen selling agent to agree an asking price with you, then to advertise widely and also to ensure that your property details are sent to all buyers registered on their own list. Consider perhaps enhancing this 'going public' approach and ask your selling agent about arranging an 'open house' day. This option is not for everybody but can be very effective at drawing in serious buyers along with the inquisitive. Invite all your neighbours and acquaintances – they may know of someone who is looking to buy in the area and can pass on the word.

2 The reverse option to an 'open house' would be to instruct your agent to 'sell quietly' which is generally attractive for the top end/country house seller. Such properties are in short supply and buyers are often represented by professional Home Finders. Ask your agent to approach all the local Home Finders (they will know who to contact) to check for a potential match.

Such buyers often have cash readily available and will have given their Home Finder a set of very specific requirements. This method can result in a premium sale price being achieved.

3 Consider whether your property value and/or its appeal could be enhanced by seeking planning consent for an extension, a loft conversion or other small improvement. Official Planning Consent may not be required – your architect will know. This option may well entice more interest in a slow market as buyers can see the potential to maximise their investment at a later date.

Building on that idea, consider carefully whether your 'plot' could (perhaps with co-operation from neighbours) be suitable for a larger scale building project. Might part of the gardens of two adjoining properties for example be enough space to build another house? Many developers are able and willing to invest in smaller development opportunities in the current climate.

4 Sellers with a pressing need to move out quickly (such as a change of job) may consider a 'try before you buy' marketing strategy. This is not for the seller who needs a quick sale though. Potential tenants would need to be vetted carefully to ensure they are genuinely interested as likely and able buyers. The minimum letting period for Landlords is currently six months although the agreement can allow for the Tenant to terminate the rental period earlier.

This method of marketing is sometimes used also by developers of the larger estates. The rentals produce income and give the estate 'lived in' appeal which prospective buyers can find reassuring. Something for a Seller needing a quick physical move to consider whilst marketing and/or letting his own property.

Remember, there are still not enough properties to meet demand. The National Association of Estate Agents believe that, on average, there are five buyers out there for each house and each seller needs only to capture one. That said, buyers believe they are in a 'buyer's market' and will expect the price they pay to reflect their own scarcity value.

Some agents may, for certain properties, recommend going onto the market at a low guide price to attract more buyers who will then find they have some healthy competition amongst themselves.

After the long cold winter, spring has arrived. As any agent will agree, spring is traditionally an excellent season for the successful marketing of property. Perhaps we share the nesting instinct with our feathered friends.

The contents of this brochure are intended as guidelines for clients and other readers. It is not a substitute for considered advice on specific issues. Consequently, we cannot accept any responsibility for this information or for any errors or omissions.

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