How to speed up the sale of your home

When a slow sale could mean losing your own chance to buy the house of your dreams, it can be tempting to accept a lower offer just to move things along. According to experts, however, there are far better ways to speed up the sale of your home that won’t cut into your profits, and could even boost your bottom line.

“The speed of a sale generally boils down to two things,” says Tony Clarke, managing director of the Rawson Property Group. “The first is the price-to-value ratio of the property, and the second is good, old-fashioned marketing.”

Clarke says that an overpriced property, even in competitive markets, will always have a higher risk of listing for long periods without being sold.

“Buyers are well-informed. They know what kind of value they can expect in their price range, and if a home doesn’t reflect that, they’re not going to be making generous offers,” he says. “Many overpriced homes linger for months on the market, stagnating, and sell for far below their real market value in the end.”

To avoid pricing mistakes, Clarke recommends getting a few comparative market value estimations from various estate agents, and selecting the one that most closely matches other houses on the market that are similar to yours.

“Don’t be tempted to just go with agents who want to list your house for the highest price – make sure they can back those numbers up with real market information, or you could land up shooting yourself in the foot,” he says.

If your home is fairly priced, the next step towards a speedy sale is to ensure that it’s properly marketed.

“Never underestimate the power of marketing,” says Clarke, “but remember that not all exposure is good. Great, enticing photographs with a detailed and accurate description listed on well-respected property websites will certainly speed up your sale. Bad photographs with vague or ambiguous descriptions, however, can do the exact opposite.”

Clarke says that Rawson agents are trained in photography techniques for professional quality interior and exterior shots, but that this isn’t always standard practice in the industry.

“It’s always wise to approve the photographs and written description of your property before your agent posts them publicly,” he says, “and if you’re not happy, don’t feel obliged to move ahead with substandard marketing material.”

Not all marketing takes place online, however. Viewings are an essential part of the buyer’s decision-making process, and the more pleasant the experience, the better the chances that they’ll leave with a positive impression of your home.

Common advice before a show house is to thoroughly clean, declutter, and depersonalise as far as possible. “You want your home to feel warm and inviting, but anonymous enough that buyers can imagine themselves living there,” says Clarke. “Also clear out any unnecessary furniture so that rooms feel as spacious as possible, clean the windows and open them in summer, or put a few space heaters on in winter to take the edge off the cold.”

Clarke says you mustn’t forget the garden, driveway and approach to your home, as scruffy lawns, mouldering leaves, untidy beds and weed-ravaged paving can give a property an air of neglect.

While most agents recommend sellers vacate the property (along with their children and pets) during the initial viewings with potential buyers, Clarke says that owners being present for follow-up viewings can help buyers to make up their minds faster.

“Being able to talk to the owners and ask questions directly can save a lot of time,” he says, “and the personal touch can be a valuable asset in convincing the buyer that your property is the one for them.”

Although it might not be considered marketing in the traditional sense, having your own home inspection done in advance can also help speed a sale along.

“Most buyers will want a home inspection done as a condition of sale,” says Clarke, “and this can delay things if something unexpected crops up. If you want to sell quickly, get a home inspection done in advance, and make the findings available to potential buyers. You’ll not only protect yourself from any legal liability for latent defects, but you’ll also help buyers feel confident enough to make a faster decision on buying your home.”

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