How to sell your home despite Brexit

These may be uncertain times but if you really need to sell there are ways to make it easier

Felicity Hannah
Friday 25 October 2019 11:28 BST
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Prices are up by 0.2 per cent compared with this time last year
Prices are up by 0.2 per cent compared with this time last year (Getty)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

We know Brexit has generated a huge amount of uncertainty that’s affecting people, industries and markets in different ways. But its full impact on the property market has yet to be seen.

A lot will depend on what happens next, however, there are signs that expectations of a final departure may be starting to affect confidence in the housing market.

Prices are up slightly compared with this time last year – up by 0.2 per cent in October, according to the latest Nationwide figures. And data released by HMRC this week shows there was even a slight increase in residential transactions in September, compared with the previous month.

Yet buyers are still nervous.

Online Mortgage Advisor surveyed 2,400 UK homeowners. It found that almost half – 46 per cent – would be nervous about buying a new home in the run-up to Brexit, whether it’s a no deal or orderly EU exit.

Pete Mugleston, the managing director of the website, says: “The fact that almost as many people would be apprehensive about selling as would be apprehensive about buying surprised me as I would have expected the concerns to be related to a house price drop post-Brexit.

“It suggests general uncertainty and a ‘wait and see’ mindset.”

The trouble with such a mindset is that it makes it hard for anyone trying to sell right now.

So, if you are worried that Brexit might put a damper on your property plans, how can you make sure your home will attract even nervous buyers?

We asked the experts for their advice about selling your home quickly and for the best possible price, no matter what the climate.

Price it right

This is such a tricky balance for sellers. On the one hand, you don’t want to sell your home for less than it’s true value – you need that money for your next property.

But also, if buyers are nervous then a competitively priced home could be what ensures you sell.

Lucy Pendleton, a founder director of independent estate agents James Pendleton, says: “Price your property keenly or risk sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else move.

“That’s good advice in any market but it’s particularly important now with prices falling in many areas. Buyers are more price sensitive in times of uncertainty and, until Brexit is a thing of the past, house hunters won’t feel overly confident their new home will retain its value in the short term.

“A steep asking price will just put people off viewing your home and being greedy also gives the impression you’re not open for business and won’t negotiate.

“Get buyers bidding for your home by lowering the price to about 5 per cent below what you think it is worth, and watch a river, not a trickle, of house hunters flood through your door.”

Do your own price checks too

Phil Spencer, a TV property specialist and co-founder of Move iQ, an advice site for buyers and sellers, says it’s never been more important to do your own research into the value of your home.

Otherwise, you risk being misled by agents who want your business.

“Most important of all is getting the price right,” he says. “Fewer sellers mean estate agents may give you an overly optimistic valuation in order to win your business.

“But over-egging your asking price in a slow market is risky. Homes that sit unsold for many months, and where the seller has reduced the price a couple of times – or changed agents – can become ‘burnt’. Buyers will start to assume there is something wrong with the property, which can trigger a downward spiral on price.

“So make sure you get as many valuations as possible, and do your own research into the local market, before setting your initial price.”

Make the most of the season

It’s cold, it’s dark and that can make selling feel more difficult. However, it also gives sellers a chance to make their home appear even cosier and more appealing.

Sam Mitchell, the CEO of online estate agent Housesimple, says: “If you’re organising viewings in the lead up to Christmas, put the effort into dressing your home for the festive season, especially the first room the viewers will walk into.

“For example, throw some blankets and cushions on the couches and beds and light a few scented candles around the house. Fairy lights are also great at making your home look cosy and Christmassy.

“Ideally, focus most of your attention on the first room viewers will see. This, in particular, should be decluttered, smelling fresh, welcoming and homely.”

Don’t despair

Dilpreet Bhagrath, a mortgage spokesperson at online mortgage broker Trussle, says that we may think winter is quiet but Boxing Day is one of the busiest days of the year for online property searches.

“Despite colder weather and longer nights, winter can be a good time to put your property on the market to get yourself prepared for selling and moving in the New Year,” she says.

“In December, buyers might have a bit more time to browse properties online in preparation to viewing them in the coming months.”

Pace yourself

While selling and buying can sometimes happen fast, it is most often a slow process. A recent analysis from estate agent comparison site GetAgent.co.uk shows that it now takes an average of 247 days to sell a home, counting from the day it is listed to the day it is marked as sold by the Land Registry.

Colby Short, the CEO of the website, says it’s worse for the more expensive properties.

“Market uncertainty has certainly hit the top end of the market hardest and the more inflated areas of the UK property market are some of those seeing the longest times to sell,” he explains. “This is largely due to hesitation from buyers but also because home sellers are failing to adjust their price expectations in line with the current landscape.

“At the other end of the scale, the more affordable pockets that have seen little or no reduction in values and where both buyers and sellers are approaching with a ‘business as usual’ attitude, are the areas where the time to sell is at its lowest.”

Selling a home can feel challenging at the best of times, let alone during a period of such economic uncertainty. But, by preparing properly and arming themselves with the right pricing data and a well-presented home, sellers stand the best chance of securing a quick sale and for the best price possible.

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