Ways to secure a sale in hard times

Sellers must wake up to reality or fall victim to 'brickor mortis', writes Laura Howard

Everyone knows the statistics by now: property prices have fallen almost 10 per cent in the past year and the market is at its quietest since the 1970s. More gloomy figures published on Tuesday by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) show an average of 192 buyers registered on estate agents' books in July, which compares with a peak of 620 in those hazy property days of summer 2003.

So are people right to hold off buying or selling?

Charles Smailes, president of the NAEA, says: "Fifteen months ago my Barclays shares were worth £10.80 and today they are worth £2.40. Occasionally during my working life – and right now is one of those times – this is what property does too, but many sellers are failing to grasp this. But so long as you are selling and buying in the same market, you won't suffer a loss."

That may not be enough to convince potential buyers. Faced with a tightening of lending criteria by the banks and building societies, and probable further falls in property prices, they are holding off in the hope of landing a rock-bottom bargain further down the line.

Something else deterring buyers is the recent confused message from the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, suggesting the prospect of an autumn stamp duty "holiday" or the abolition of the lowest 1 per cent tax band altogether. A quarter of an already pitiful number of sales fell through after his remarks, suggests a survey by the NAEA.

And according to an online poll of 1,500 people from the house-moving service Moveme.com, 83 per cent of people thinking about selling up were considering changing their plans as a result of the uncertainty. The firm's managing director, Charles Wasdell, says: "There was no clarity, no commitment and the Government managed to kill the market entirely. Now I don't see there being any pick-up this year."

The website Rightmove last week christened this state of affairs "brickor mortis" – the property equivalent of rigor mortis.

The site now has a ratio of one successful sale to every 15 homes. "But in 2007 there was one for every seven, which is an indication of the speed at which the market has deteriorated," says Miles Shipside, commercial director at Rightmove. "It has therefore become twice as hard to sell, which means sellers and their estate agents have got to work twice as hard to improve their odds."

Rightmove advises sellers to remember the three Ps rule: price, promotion and presentation.

Market your property at a competitive price, says, Mr Shipside: "Otherwise brickor mortis will take hold." Most experts agree that asking prices should be in the region of 10 per cent lower than sellers initially intended.

Interestingly there are some signs that homeowners are facing up to the new market reality. Figures from the property search engine Globrix show the average UK asking price fell to £210,000 in July from £214,950 in June.

Once the price is right, sellers will need to look at promoting their property by pushing it straight into the path of prospective buyers. They might, advises Rightmove, want to pay extra for premium-rate advertisements or, if the home has been on the market for some time, ask the agent to take new photographs and redraft particulars.

Sellers will also need to to advertise more widely than the estate agent's window or local newspaper. "Make sure the agent you instruct knows internet marketing inside out," says Daniel Lee, director at Globrix. "Online is where people look for property."

You will need to put some effort into the presentation of your home, but that doesn't mean having to spend a lot. "It could include decluttering, repainting in neutral colours and tidying the garden," says Paul Fincham at Halifax. "It's also a good idea to take each room back to its original purpose – putting exercise equipment out of sight, for example – so buyers don't have to use their imagination too much."

On the market since May, 'but at least we can afford to stay put'

Sian Smith, a public relations consultant, bought a property with her twin sister back in December 2002 as a "now or never" jump on to the first rung of the property ladder.

The pair paid £125,000 for the three-bed semi-detached house in Cardiff. They intended to sell in a few years, split the equity and use it to buy separate homes – but that's not how it's worked out, says Sian, 29.

"We had the property valued at £175,000 in the summer of last year," she explains, "but we actually ended up putting it on the market in May for £179,950. We knew this was the higher end of the price scale but we'd decorated and made improvements to the garden. The house is very well kept, in a desirable part of Cardiff and in the right catchment area for the best schools."

But all this is not enough. To date, the sisters have had just two viewings despite having lowered the asking price to £174,950. "We won't take less than £165,000 as we believe that's what it's worth," says Sian. "We may have to take it off the market but I feel fortunate we're at least in a position where we don't have to sell."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Ricky Gervais performs stand-up
people
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Business Anaylst

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

    SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

    Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

    £85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

    Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering