Ways to secure a sale in hard times - Mortgages - Money - The Independent

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."

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
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

    Sales Executive

    £20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

    Payroll & Accounts Assistant

    £20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

    SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

    £280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

    Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week