Is stress-free home selling even possible? Can it really be that challenging to do? Only when you begin the process of selling a home do you realise the tremendous amount of stress this can bring. A recent survey of 2000 UK homeowners saw moving home (40%) voted the most stressful situation, ranking higher than divorce (34%), having a baby (31%) and starting a new job (27%). In the same survey, a staggering 66% confirmed they experienced sleep deprivation during the process. Unsurprisingly, other issues such as depression and physical illness were also highlighted by those who responded.
There are several ways in which you can create a stress-free home selling process. This approach takes on several different issues which individually help, but cumulatively can make a huge difference.
Be realistic about your asking price
There is a common misconception that listing your property towards the higher end of the valuation leaves you more scope for negotiation. Unfortunately, the statistics suggest otherwise. A survey by RightMove, looking at 300,000 newly listed properties across four months, discovered some interesting figures:-
• If the property is listed at the right price, the average selling time is 21 days
• If the property price needs to be reduced, the average selling price is extended to 47 days
• Where the price was reduced, the chances of finding a buyer fell to 32%
• Where the original price was realistic, there is a 63% chance of finding a buyer
One of the main problems with a relatively high asking price is that people may not even consider negotiating. If a property in the same area with a similar spec is priced “realistically”, buyers will automatically be drawn to those homes.
Do your research to achieve stress-free home selling
It goes without saying; you need to do your research on the local property market before listing your home for sale. We know that the Internet is an invaluable source of information, but nothing beats knowledge from somebody “on the ground”. Consequently, it makes sense to not only do your research but also speak to estate agents. This is yet another misconception, the idea that those looking to sell a property are now happy to “miss out” estate agents altogether.
A report by the UK government from October 2017 casts a fascinating light on the use of estate agents. While the Internet continues to chip away at traditional sales methods, the consensus in 2017 was as follows:-
• Only 20% of homeowners trusted estate agents
• While 83% sold their property through an estate agent
• Older sellers involved in complex chains were more likely to use an estate agent
In hindsight, while 83% of homeowners felt the need to use an estate agent, only 20% trusted them. This indicates the majority of those using an estate agent were “waiting for issues”, not an ideal situation to control stress. Consequently, it is essential to do your research, employ an estate agent where applicable but maintain a degree of control. The more control, the less stress, in theory!
Prepare to negotiate
Now we move on to one of the most stressful areas of a property sale, negotiation!
At this moment in time, according to the Nationwide House Price Index, the average UK property is worth £248,857. Therefore, the purchase of a property will be the most significant investment by most people. So, while the idea of negotiating may be stressful, you should expect below list price offers. However, you might be surprised at the number of people who are uncomfortable negotiating.
A survey by This Is Money shows that 30% of homebuyers did not carry out any form of negotiation on the sale price. A lack of knowledge (20%) was the main reason not to negotiate, but the age mix of negotiators was interesting. Those aged between 25 and 34 experienced the most significant anxiety and stress across the age ranges. However, those aged 65 plus were said to be the most comfortable with the idea of trying to negotiate a better price.
Should you take the first offer?
Whether you are selling property, cars, or any other item, this is the eternal question: Do you take the first offer. In theory, many believe that the first offer is merely a means of testing the water and maybe trying to “grab a bargain”. But, on the other hand, such is competition in the UK property market that there may well be other similar properties available at a slight discount.
Figures from property platform WiggyWam, suggest that one in four property sales fell through in 2020. This equates to a staggering 225,000 transactions (although this estimate may be conservative). When you bear in mind the costs incurred, this is a significant financial loss. The average fees for an aborted property transaction are £2700, which equates to a total of £607.5 million in charges. This doesn’t help with stress-free home selling!
Even though you should always expect a degree of negotiation regarding your listing price, it is essential not to “give your property away”. We can only imagine the stress of whether or not to accept a borderline offer or wait for an improved price. But, again, this is where professional advice can be invaluable – an understanding of the local market.
Make your house as presentable as possible
When selling your home, in reality, it is impossible to find that perfect style of presentation. However, the further away from the “traditional” look you go, the smaller the potential pool of buyers. The fact that first impressions last can add to the vast stress associated with the selling process. So what can you do?
Amidst the stresses and strains of the selling process, it is easy to forget that many buyers will put their stamp on the property after completion. It is scarce that a buyer would acquire a property and make no material changes to the decor. There is nothing wrong with making your house “presentable” without undertaking potentially expensive redecorating. A simple decluttering of your home can make a huge difference. Show off the highlights!
Some agents believe that “staging a home” can increase the offer price by between 1% and 5%. However, if you take a step back and look at the situation, much will depend upon how you have maintained the property in recent times. There is no point in doing work for the sake of it, although a subtle staging, decluttering, etc., may catch the eye of some buyers.
Address any short term financial issues
As most people selling a home already have one they would like to move into, this can be doubly stressful. Trying to juggle completion dates for both properties, the one you are selling and the one you are buying, is not easy. If your property sale is held up because of problems further down the chain, you may miss out on that dream home. So how can you address this issue?
Many people are now looking to bridge loans to give themselves more breathing space when moving home. While a little more expensive than traditional mortgages/loans, they can be a valuable means of purchasing another property just before the sale of your original home. A typical bridging loan could last from one to 12 months—the shorter, the better when it comes to interest payments.
Couples and individuals will need to consider the stresses and strains of missing out on that dream property against the stresses and strains of taking on additional short-term debt. For many people, bridging offers a valuable buffer. It is also worth noting that the UK property market is highly fluid. Even if an agreed sale fell through at the last minute, assuming the listing price is reasonable, the next offer may be just around the corner.
Sell within a timeframe, take the stress away
One of the main issues regarding stress and the sale of your home is the feeling that you are no longer in control. Potential buyers may come and go, transactions may fall through, and sometimes it feels like a never-ending nightmare. So, how can you take back a degree of control?
Whether formally announcing a timeline for the sale of your property or keeping this in your mind, it can prove helpful. It means that you can make alternative arrangements such as selling to cash buyers, rent out the property or postpone your move. We also know that potential buyers will be more focused if they see that a property may be withdrawn from the market at a specific date.
We can only imagine the stresses and strains of those who have listed a property for months on end, to no avail. In many ways, your life is suspended, you cannot make long-term plans. You are literally at the beck and call of potential buyers.
Play an active role in speaking to buyers
As we touched on above, the vast majority of those looking to sell their home will do so with the assistance of a local estate agent. These parties effectively act as the middlemen and will convey information and requests between different parties. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, negotiating the sale price is a stressful process. However, many negotiations can be more stressful going through the agent.
More and more people now play an active role in speaking to potential buyers and negotiating prices. This ensures that you are more in control of the tone of the conversation, the flexibility of the sale price and good old-fashioned chemistry between parties. Information ping-pong, where everything goes through the agent, can be tedious for all parties. There may be a chance of a potential buyer walking away if they experience unwelcome delays in response times.
Again, while you may wish to play an active role, it is advisable to take advice on the actual value of your property. After all, you don’t want to give it away and live to regret it.
Let estate agents show people around your home
Have you ever shown anybody around your property? Maybe friends, family and acquaintances have had the guided tour? This is a process that can be extremely stressful because the decor and look of your home are very personal to you. What may be a focal point for you may be of no interest to others. What may not interest you may be vital for a potential buyer. So how can you reduce the stress of showing people around your home?
Simple, let your agent do the hard work. They will have shown potential buyers around hundreds if not thousands of different properties. They know the questions that buyers will ask and the answers they want to hear. It also depersonalises the sale to a certain extent which should hopefully reduce stress.
Have a plan B
To assist with stress-free home selling, it would be helpful to have a plan B in case you weren’t able to sell your property. Depending upon your circumstances, there are several options such as:-
• Take out a bridging loan
• Acquire new property and rent out the old property
• Take property off the market and remain there for the short-term
• Consider the cash buyer route
Depending on your financial situation, mortgage liability, etc., it may not be possible to put in place some of the suggestions above. Even removing your sales listing in the short term, to reduce the stress, can help. However, this will impact your intended move.
If you have not received any sensible bids for your home for some reason, it may be time to go back to basics. First, check out the comparative pricing to other properties in the region. After that, you may have to reset your expectations.
Maximise advertising options
Whether you use a traditional estate agent or an online agent, your property must be advertised in the most appropriate areas. Scrimping and saving on advertising does not help; this will extend the sales period. Many people fail to realise that the longer your property sale takes, the more interest you will be charged on your mortgage. If you are downsizing to a property with no mortgage, this will have an even more significant detrimental impact on your finances.
In years gone by, when using traditional estate agents and, to a certain extent, online agents, many homeowners took a step back from the sales process. However, the power of social media is something that all sellers should consider.
Use your own social media channels, as well as those of friends and family, to reach out to potentially hundreds if not thousands of people. The chances are the majority of your contacts are local, and they may well be interested in your property. Don’t be shy!
Keep house viewings professional, don’t have your favourites!
There are various elements of the home selling process that can be stressful and very uncomfortable for many people. One such area is that of house viewings, which can be full-on if your property is popular. It is debatable what impact your “sales pitch” will have on selling the property, but every slight advantage should be considered. Consequently, many people now leave home viewings to estate agents and others acting on their behalf.
They have been there, done it, bought the T-shirt and know about stress-free home selling. They know what potential buyers are looking for, what they want to hear, and this could be the difference between further delays and an immediate sale. In reality, most of those who reach the stage of viewing a property tend to be genuinely interested. As we touched on above, it might be helpful to consider home staging services. These are probably more applicable to expensive properties. The cost can run into thousands of pounds!
On a passing note, sometimes it isn’t easy to remain neutral when showing several parties around your home. There may be some parties you have a connection with, some which you don’t hit off, which can impact a potential sale. Leaving viewings to the professionals ensures a neutral and unbiased approach focusing on the sale and nothing else.
Go down the cash buyer route
Over the last few years, we have seen a massive increase in the number of websites that bring together sellers and cash buyers. The opportunity to sell your house within 30 days is eye-catching. It has caught the attention of many of those who struggle to sell via traditional channels. The process is simple:-
• Check to see your property qualifies
• Receive an offer within 24 hours
• Surveyor will visit the property to formalise an offer
• Paperwork handled by intermediary including fees
Cash is King in the world of investment, and those looking for stress-free home selling have certainly benefited. These intermediary websites have a very clear and concise structure to their property transactions. For example, here at Cash House, we have a range of third parties ready and waiting to start work. As soon as the price is confirmed they will start the ball rolling. We look after the paperwork and update you on the transaction from start to finish. Normally completed in one month or less, settlement will be swift.
One of the main benefits of a cash buyer is the lack of a transaction chain. Instead, the process will begin when a price has been agreed. Thereby reducing the average sale time from nine months to less than a month.
While many of us know of the stresses and strains of selling a property, the reality can be even more challenging. When looking at stress-free home selling, it is essential to retain a degree of control. Some prefer to play an active role in negotiations, while others leave everything to the professionals. We are all different, although there are numerous ways to reduce the stresses and strains of selling your home. The role of cash buyers, ready and waiting on the sidelines, has come more to the fore in recent times. Cash still sits at the top table, the King of investment markets.