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With asking prices in slowdown mode and househunter numbers falling,  sellers need to work even harder to attract attention.
Get the asking price of your home right and you should find a buyer quickly. Get it wrong and you won’t know  how much you’ll end up with or when you’ll sell.

Rightmove/Land Registry research has shown that if a property’s asking price is changed up or down, it can take on average  more than 100 days to sell.  But only 59 days if priced correctly from the start.

Suggesting a higher asking price may secure an agent business – but it will  not necessarily lead to a sale. 

The longer your  house or flat stays on the market, the less chance you have of achieving a good price.

Unless newly built, even two identical terraced houses in the same street can vary in value,  appeal to different buyers and require alternative selling strategies. Condition, décor,  potential, aspect,  history, personal factors, comparable evidence etc. contribute to a constantly changing market.

Around 19 out of 20 sellers still put their faith in High Street rather than online estate agents. Relying solely on portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, valuation tools or evidence of price paid per square foot can be misleading.  Even if a better-than-expected offer is received, reduced valuations subsequently by surveyors  are nowadays more common. This is because fewer  sales are taking place and, therefore, so-called “comparables” are thin on the ground.

Your local agents should tell you what type of property they’ve sold in your area, and why they believe you will achieve their recommended price. Sadly, some sellers believe their home will achieve the same price however it is presented and whichever agent is selling it.  They can be blinded by national price movements or  love of  their home and consequently believe economic realities or subdued trading conditions don’t apply to them. If so, their choice of agent can depend on lowest fees and highest valuation rather than appropriate  asking price, marketing strategy and familiarity with your type of property.

As independent local agents, Jeremy Leaf & Co have always had to fight for market share, selling thousands of properties at excellent prices for over 30 years. Apart from hard work, our secret is to share our ability for achieving best possible price by concentrating just as much on what’s selling as what’s not.

We never forget the first rule of marketing property is – you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Better presented homes sell quicker and for higher prices – irrespective of market conditions.

Most buying decisions are made within a few minutes of arrival. We believe in explaining  how to present your home pro-actively and in the  best possible light, with due regard to budget and timing.

For instance, brightly painted doors and windows as well as a good quality front door may not only make a property look safer but more welcoming, and spread that message to potential buyers. Ensuring your home can be seen well by day or night and trying to build a sense of anticipation on approach are important too.

For the inside what counts are   clean windows, curtains, flooring, blinds, oven, hob, kitchen cupboards and bathrooms. Replace dead light bulbs,  declutter and depersonalise putting surplus contents in a loft, shed or even your car before viewings take place.

Fresh flowers, coffee, linen and good photography may be old clichés but they do work!

Bear in mind too, that there are likely to be far more buyers who haven’t registered yet with agents and who will only do so when we bring an interesting property to their attention online or by phone.

Try to put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. One way is to  ask a friend to provide  “feedback” after viewing your marketing campaign or  “mystery shop”  your agent to confirm you’re happy with the way the  property is being marketed.

Sellers need to reduce the risks caused by delays. Ensure you have readily available utility bills, relevant consents, proof of boundary ownership etc and, if leasehold, particulars of service charge as well as ground rent information.

If too little attention is generated within a few weeks, the property may be over-priced and stick on the market. So consider changing  price, presentation, or agent – or all 3!

Around 1 in 3 sales fall through after terms are agreed, which  is another reason why the overwhelming majority of sellers trust their properties to High Street agents whose expertise in managing matters is crucial.

There are other differences. High Street agents’ commission is generally due only if they introduce the buyer. Online agents however,  charge whether they sell or not. Furthermore,  their quoted fee may not include VAT, accompanied viewings or any right for you to use your own conveyancer/solicitor. Remember, that any references to  ‘local’ property experts in their marketing does not necessarily relate to the physical location of your agent or property!

Around 50% of homes are withdrawn from sale within three months for which you’d probably pay nothing if listed with a High Street agent but would have already paid if trying to sell online! Online agents hope to generate interest from their websites initially but if that doesn’t work their only option is to reduce the asking price so sellers could lose even more. It’s only   cheaper to use online agents  if they sell your home – otherwise you’ve paid for a very expensive listing!  High Street agents know expert marketing is not just important in the first week but until an acceptable offer is secured and the house is sold. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t sign up to a sole selling rights contract where you have to pay commission even if the property is sold to someone the agent did not introduce. Beware too of contracts for more than 12 weeks, add-ons, long notice periods or withdrawal penalties!

In short, there’s  no substitute for professional advice in person from locally based, fully trained and RICS/NAEA qualified High Street agents like Jeremy Leaf & Co, whose unrivalled local knowledge  can add to the value and saleability of your home as well as reduce the risk of problems arising.  Our customers have a single point of contact from appraisal, marketing, viewings, offers  and conduct of the sale through to completion –we’re  a great place to start!

Regular property broadcaster, Jeremy Leaf, is also an  independent North London Estate Agency owner and a former RICS national Residential Chairman – Autumn 2018

NB Selling property successfully probably requires using someone who does it for a living!