What to do if your property does not sell

When a property does not sell, the owner and/or the estate agent are quite likely to start looking for reasons - and will no doubt come up with three or four that appear to explain the lack of success.

Such reasons are almost certainly a rationalisation, a ducking out of reality and a refusal to face the true facts says Tony Clarke of Rawson.

"Long experience has shown me that sellers and estate agents are likely to start blaming such aspects of the home as its position or orientation, its design, its neighbourhood, its appearance and condition in relation to its neighbours, its security - or a 101 other factors - but the one basic point, its wrong price, will tend to be overlooked."

"The plain truth is that virtually any home will sell if it is correctly priced. If the price makes allowance for the negative factors which the estate agent has identified and the price is in line with the achieved sale prices of other homes in the area, there is no reason why it should stick on the market."

Quite often, says Clarke, the estate agent will be at least partially responsible for the unrealistic price because he has agreed to - or even suggested - the inaccurate price in order to get the mandate and he may now be reluctant to admit his mistake.

What can a seller do when he finds that his home, after being on the market for four to six months, has still not found a buyer?

"The answers may be painful," says Clarke, "but there are really only two choices: the seller can drop his price to a new lower level and possibly change his estate agent. He must however be warned that at this stage the home is almost certain to have acquired an unfortunate reputation in the neighbourhood with buyers, many of whom would have rejected it due to its unrealistic price, and it will now have to find new buyers. This almost certainly involves lowering the price to below its true market value."

The second option open to the seller (if he has not completely given up the idea of selling) is to withdraw the home from the market for, say, four to six months and then re-launch it, this time carrying out a thorough clean-up so that the estate agent can sell the property in its best condition. Money might have to be spent on repainting, recarpeting, replumbing or relighting of the property and any money spent on replanting the garden will, it has been proved, be worthwhile and will raise the offers.

"Once the rejuvenation of the home has been completed, new photographs will then have to be taken and new advertising be done, possibly stressing the improvements carried out. It is quite likely at this stage that the home will then achieve its quoted price or come close to it, provided once again that this is wholly realistic," says Clarke.

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