(i) To start, are you confident about your chosen auctioneer? to be clear, I am not nor have I ever been an estate agent but I will play the devil’s advocate here and say that you, as the seller, have a responsibility to manage the agents you hire. There are so many houses/apartments on every agents’ books that the sellers who shout loudest and those who’s houses stand the best chance of being sold are getting priority.
(ii) It is difficult to give an accurate valuation on any property at the moment; however, my professional sense is that most units on the market currently are still over-priced by more than 10% – 15%. I know that it is scary for sellers to hear but what you need to realize is that if you priced it at half, you still might not sell it quickly. It is based purely on demand, which is very low in certain areas at the moment.
(iii) If you are looking to sell quickly, my advice would be to prepare yourself for lower offers, have a bottom line in mind (you do not need to publish that) and instruct the estate agent to really promote/push it. Otherwise, sit tight. Since the budget, first-time buyers are very quiet. Families trading up are set to dominate the middle market in 2011, thanks to the stamp duty reform in part, and they will be attracted to higher quality houses.
(iv) Also, joint agency is a disaster as neither firm tends to bother too much. By all means, talk to all local estate agents, let them know that your house is available and your expected price. Agree that if they have a buyer, they can bring them to you and earn a commission but only contractually engage one firm. You need one dedicated agent and instead of negotiating down on commission, offer to pay more if your home sells within a certain period of time (i.e. 3 months). Simply put, sellers, you must incentivize your agent to sell your home over other competing homes.
(v) In the current market, no agent will show prospective buyers competing properties unless they have to. In reality, they will push one ahead of the others. This is an unfair reality of a contracting market. There are too few buyers to risk losing some so any estate agent worth their salt will try to show each buyer a different selection of properties. This is a credible strategy for the estate agent as they are increasing their chances of multiple sales. As a seller, you need to ensure that yours is the property they push. You can do this by giving sole agency, taking their advice, being realistic about price, being obliging about short notice viewings etc. and paying higher commission than competing sellers (remember, I say that with no vested interest – I am not an estate agent!).
(vi) Coming into the new year might be a good time to shake up things with regards the sale. Freshen up the place, release more photographs, adjust the asking price if necessary or talk to other auctioneering firms that might be better placed to introduce new buyers. Finally, best of luck with the sale of your home, please talk to us when you are ready to start buying again!
– Carol Tallon, Property Buyers Broker