In many ways, buying and selling a house is like a game of chess. Making your move and then waiting for the other party to respond. This process prompts the question of when to worry about house not selling as quickly as you expected. How can you speed up the process? Can you afford to wait? Are there any simple mistakes you may be making? Perhaps you should be looking at a cash buyer?
How long does it take to sell a house in the UK?
On average, from the moment you decide to sell your home to the exchange of contracts and receipt of funds, it will typically take up to 9 months. When looking at a traditional sale, the best-case scenario is between four and six months. However, for many people, this is unrealistic. In this scenario, the timetable would be as follows:-
- Listing your property to acceptance of an offer – up to 14 weeks
- Conveyancing process – 12 weeks
- Exchange of contracts and receipt of funds – up to 4 weeks
Before you decide when to worry about house not selling, consider the factors within and out of your control.
Factors out of your control, impacting the sale timetable
It is essential to do your research before even considering selling your property. The Internet can provide answers to a range of questions. Are houses selling in a particular price bracket? Is the overall market challenging? You will also find property hotspots tend to change over time.
The following factors may be out of your control and impact how long you may wait to close the deal.
Timing of your sale
In the UK, spring is seen as the best time to sell a property. Although new trends are emerging with the advent of the Internet. Conversely, mid-November is seen as the worst time to sell a property. It seems that potential buyers and estate agents are preparing for the Christmas break. The timing of the sale may be out of your control, but in a perfect world, spring appears to be the best time.
The domestic and global economy will significantly impact property markets. Sentiment, as opposed to initial price movements, will often dictate the transaction timetable. If the market is “hot”, you may receive an offer within hours as desperate buyers look to visit new listings as soon as possible.
Conversely, if the overall market is depressed, interest rates are rising, and demand is subdued, it could take months. While the Internet has forever changed the estate agency industry, good old-fashioned advice is still critical. This may also help put your mind at rest when considering when to worry about house not selling.
Location, location, location is essential when it comes to selling any house. If you’re in the “right area”, it may be just a matter of hours before you receive an acceptable offer. If you are in the “wrong area”, you may receive a raft of substandard offers or none at all. Where location may be a problem, investors often wait until the property has been listed for some months before making an opportunistic offer. Location may be out of your control, but there are other actions you can take to regain control.
Factors within your control impacting the sale timetable
There are numerous factors within your control when looking to sell a property. How you use this level of control could impact the timetable for a sale and the price.
The timing of your sale
We have added the topic “the timing of your sale” to both sections of this article because most people will be in control of the timing of a sale. Spring is the best time to sell your property, while statistics show that November is when you are least likely to obtain the best price or even sell your property. Planning is the key to any asset sale, and this is even more so when it comes to the sale of your home.
Price of the property
Whether you are buying or selling cars, homes or any other type of asset, prices are always relative to similar products. Potential buyers will see the property price as “indicative”, subject to change, but your degree of flexibility may be limited. To identify a “fair price” for your property, look at similar homes in your area and speak to the experts.
Very often, the initial price at which you list your home will determine whether you are successful in obtaining acceptable offers and closing the deal. While you may have a “fair price” in your mind, the market will dictate the price of any property.
Condition of the property
If you are looking at a traditional sale of your home, whether via the Internet, estate agent or privately, the condition of your home before viewings is critical. We all know the relatively minor changes that can increase curb appeal; you just need to do them.
Conversely, if you’re looking to sell your home to one of the many companies offering cash for a quick sale, they are not necessarily interested in the cosmetics of your home. They will look at the structure and the general condition before deciding their strategy, either reselling the property or carrying out improvements with a focus on the rental market.
There are two main types of buyers, those involved in a chain and those not; it’s as simple as that. When looking at potential buyers, there are other factors to consider. Are they a cash buyer? Do they have a mortgage ready to drawdown? Do they have advisers and legal representatives in place? As we mentioned above, those looking at a fast sale for cash have the option of speaking with companies that already have funds available.
As you’ll see from the following graphic, the idea that they are opportunistic with their offers is outdated. The data regarding a traditional sale may stop you wondering, when to worry about house not selling.
The cash buyer market is also very competitive. Therefore, when dealing with reputable companies buying homes for cash, you can expect transparency and respect throughout the process. While some people may prefer to go down the traditional route, negotiating the best deal, this does bring with it several challenges.
The efficiency of your solicitors
In many ways, the listing and conditional approval of a property sale is the easiest part. It is when you move on to the legal elements that there can be delays. Consequently, it is essential that you choose solicitors and other advisers with a good reputation and ability to deliver on time. Whether you may have to pay a little more for quality in this area is debatable, but the more significant the delay in the paperwork, the more chance the sale could fall through.
Availability to showcase your property
One area often overlooked is availability to showcase your house to potential buyers and agents. If you look at this from an agent’s point of view, it may be challenging to find potential buyers where the seller has limited availability to show people around the property. While many sellers will hand this particular task over to their estate agent, others prefer to retain a degree of control regarding their home.
So, whether you can make yourself available or put this in the hands of your estate agent, do not dismiss flexibility. It is very important. If they can’t get to see it, your potential pool of buyers could be tiny!
The signs: When to worry about house not selling
While there are many reasons why your house may not be selling, it is crucial to put this into perspective. Some issues may require further research, while others could prompt a rethink of your selling strategy. Some of the most prominent problems include:-
Limited or no enquiries after the initial listing
You should be able to gauge the state of your local property market when discussing listing via an agent or an online website. While markets can change instantly, in a relatively active market, you should start receiving enquiries as soon as the listing goes live. Many potential buyers, together with their estate agents, will be on the lookout for new properties. Research shows that you tend to get a flurry of initial enquiries immediately upon listing. Then they can vary significantly.
Few or no showings
The next stage after an enquiry is to arrange a viewing which is your chance to showcase the property. You will come across what are known as “tyre kickers”, i.e. those enquiring but unlikely to take their interest any further, but these should hopefully be few and far between. If you have several enquiries and arrange viewings, if only a small percentage show up, this could indicate that you are out of kilter with local prices. You can contact those who enquired or their agent and ask why they failed to show. This might give you an idea of what you can change to encourage more interest.
Negative feedback from potential buyers
If you receive negative feedback from potential buyers, i.e. those who have enquired and reviewed your property, this could be for several reasons. It may be that the property was not showcased in the best condition? The price was too high? Viewings were limited in scope? Or it may have been difficult to find a convenient time for all parties to arrange a viewing.
As a seller, you must do your utmost to make yourself available. Either directly or via your agent, for times which are convenient for potential buyers. Once a buyer has left negative feedback, rekindling their interest is difficult, if not impossible.
Comparable homes are selling faster
Even if you have conducted an initial investigation of the local market before your listing, this should not be the end of your research. While sometimes it can take a while for interest to grow in any property market, if comparable homes are selling faster in your area, it is essential you are aware of this as soon as possible. Check out the main differences, whether it is down to the condition of your home, price or any other issue, and consider any potential changes which could make your house more attractive.
Drastic market changes
Interest rate announcements can often cause a dramatic change, initially in the attitude of potential buyers and then property prices. There may have been a surprise increase in interest rates. Perhaps issues impacting the mortgage market have restricted the level of affordable finance available in the short term. As we touched on above, there are issues within and out of your control that you need to be aware of when trying to sell a property.
When to be patient
While several indicators may suggest that you need to make changes to your listing to attract buyers or how you conduct viewings, it may be a case of remaining patient on occasion. You may find that interest takes time to develop in different scenarios, such as:-
- Just listed on the market (usually there is a flurry of initial enquiries, but not always)
- Slow market season
- Limited buyers due to economic factors
It is very easy for sellers to lose patience with the market and look to slash their selling price to secure a quick sale. As with any investment, impatience can be an unhelpful and potentially expensive characteristic!
If you are unsure, take advice from a local agent. At worst, check the local press to see how the property market is performing.
When to start considering changes – when to worry about house not selling.
Most issues will iron themselves out over time, but occasionally, you may be forced to consider making changes. The main red flags to prompt change include:-
- The house has been on the market for an extended time with little interest
- Numerous showings but no offers
- Feedback consistently highlighting specific issues
It is difficult to find the balance between patience and reacting to what could be potential issues with your listing. Ultimately, you need to listen to the market. Those who have shown an interest but ultimately walked away, as well as those who have highlighted specific issues. As with any investment, the moment you think you know better than the market could be your ultimate downfall.
Steps to improve chances of a sale
The property market has changed significantly in recent times. The introduction of the Internet making it possible to market your house to a broader audience. However, if after looking at all of the different variables and local activity, you still feel there are problems, here are some practical steps you can take:-
Review and adjust the pricing strategy
In a buoyant market, you can often price your property towards the higher end of the range in the knowledge that there is underlying interest and limited stock. If potential buyers fail to take their interest further, it may be time to look at your pricing strategy. This does not necessarily mean a significant reduction in your asking price. However, perhaps a modest adjustment to increase potential interest.
Enhanced curb appeal
If you want to sell a property to companies that buy for cash, curb appeal is not necessarily a factor to consider. They will look at the house on its merits, in the knowledge they can see potential changes to make and the costs incurred. However, if you’re looking at a traditional type of property transaction, then enhanced curb appeal could be the difference.
It is important to note that enhancing the curb appeal of your property does not necessarily need to be expensive. It is more a means of catching the attention of potential buyers. A new coat of paint, a more presentable garden and even something as simple as fixing uneven tiles on your roof can create a more favourable impression.
Re-evaluate marketing tactics
As mentioned above, the Internet has changed how estate agents operate. It also allows individuals to market their property directly to potential buyers. If your property is attracting interest, but this is not converting into offers, this is probably not down to marketing. However, if your marketing page gets limited visits and even fewer enquiries, it may be down to your marketing tactics. Time to re-evaluate!
If you need help to address issues with the sale of your property, it may be time to bring in the professionals. Whether this is a real estate agent, stager, photographer or some other professional who may be able to help market your property in a better light, it could be worth it. However, it is vital to consider the additional costs against the potential sale price benefits. Is it worth it?
Taking a proactive approach
There are many signs when to worry about house not selling, although, in many situations, it is simply a case of listening to the market. Whether you are looking at stocks and shares, commodities or property, an ability to listen to what the market is telling you about interest and offers is critical. Those who are deaf to market signals are the ones who usually suffer financially because, by the time they do change their strategy, it is often too late.
There are many market signals which, rightly or wrongly, can be easily translated into “when to worry about house not selling”. To maximise your chances of a sale, it is vital to choose your target market, price your property competitively, showcase it to the best of your abilities and make yourself available for viewings. Everything is relative in the property market. Your price will be judged relative to others in the area and similar property types.
When selling your property to companies buying for cash, the situation tends to be more direct. You enquire about a potential sale; they review your property and make you an offer. If the offer is accepted, the company will facilitate both sides of the settlement process, taking on several additional costs to ensure the transaction is completed as quickly as possible.
There are pros and cons when it comes to selling in the open market and transacting with companies that buy homes for cash. It is essential to take advice and guidance on the best course of action for your situation. If you are worried about your house not selling and need to sell on a schedule then get a quote now to see how we can help.