December is a write off as far as property is concerned. It’s a lovely time for beer, presents and good telly and all that. But it’s not so good for encouraging new sellers to the market or for dragging prospective buyers out of the pub to view houses.

But January is a different thing altogether. The previous year forgotten and slates wiped clean, the property market looks upon the New Year as a time to start afresh. An impetus of new listings and buyers searching. Rightmove dusted off and for sale boards straightened.

So what should you do to prepare for the kick start to the market that is just around the corner?

1. If your property is not already for sale then think carefully about the price that you ask for your property (if you are already on the market this applies too but more of that later). Have it valued by agents but don’t just opt for the highest value given as the one that is the most accurate. The opposite will tend to be true. So get three valuations and divide them by three to find the average figure. That will get you close to being an accurate marketing price rather than you plumping for a number that will leave you sat on the market for months. As so many vendors currently are.

2. Choose your estate agent with care. Do you like them? If you are registered as a buyer have they kept in touch with you? Are their properties displayed on lots of property portals and not just Rightmove? Modern opening hours or old fashioned ‘9 to 6’, and closed on Sundays?

Get a fee quote. If they try to justify a percentage, ask them why it costs more to sell a more expensive home? If they quote you an estate agents fee that equates to £thousands then ask them to make it clear to you how they justify so much money. And not just by extolling the costs of their expensive High Street premises. Ask them to clarify what exactly they do for the £3000 or more that they may be asking of you. Listen here for the heads up on what to ask them and what their likely response will be 😉 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=py1hxO4K2DU  It’s a High Street estate agent rip off expose.

Are they Property Ombudsman Scheme members for your peace of mind?

Watch out for long sole agency contract tie ins, additional cancellation notice periods and ‘multi agency’ penalties of up to THREE PERCENT of your sale price even if they DON’T sell your home!

If you decide that paying someone to put your home on a few websites and using ‘high quality card’ for sales particulars isn’t worth the equivalent of a five star holiday or a good quality used family hatchback, then have a look at www.emoov.co.uk. More for less (and no tie ins or penalties).

3. The number of properties that listed with agents that look untidy is astonishing. Hide wheelie bins (particularly when they are overflowing), take cars off of the drive for the agent’s photo, clean up messy bedrooms and cluttered kitchens. Repair paintwork that looks tired and damaged. Make the house look as bright and neutral as possible for each viewing. First impressions count, even if your buyer will inevitably alter the decor to their own taste.

Open windows and banish the dog or cat outside or to a friend or neighbour whilst you’re showing people round. I was bitten by a dog on a viewing once. It kind of put me off…

4. If your home has been languishing on the market for a while, reduce your asking price. Look at www.nethouseprices.com and check to see what nearby properties have been sold for. SOLD prices are a barometer of value, not over inflated asking prices on property websites.

5. Make sure you have a for sale board. Even in these cyber times, they account for around 10 to 15% of all sales.

6. DON’T put your property with more than two or three agents. Buyers seeing your home pop up in lots of search results online will simply think that there is something wrong with it.

7. Make it clear that you are open to offers. ‘Offers in excess of…’, and ‘No offers’ are tactics that are not conducive to the buyers’ market that we find ourselves in.

8. Be prepared to go into rented accomodation. If you get a good quality buyer be flexible and don’t put them off by insisting upon taking ages to find a suitable property to buy. They will just go elsewhere.

9. Have new photos taken and a new write up of your property details. Beware your main picture showing your house covered in snow. A dead giveaway that you’ve been on the market a while.

10. Change your agent. Your home will begin to be forgotten about after a while. A fresh agent will add enthusiasm and focus.

So in a nutshell… Price a nice home correctly, put it with a decent agent that offers good exposure and doesn’t charge the earth. Then you will sell no matter how tough the market. Simple really.

Happy January…. 😉

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