My house has been on the market a while - what can I do?

Updated: October 18, 2018

Your house isn’t selling. Is there more you could be doing or should you just lower the asking price?

House sale sign

Before you panic and drop the asking price, there are a number of other things to look at first

Failing to sell a property is not (necessarily) down to the asking price, there are multiple factors that can conspire against you finding a buyer. 

Aside from this, a reduced asking price can ironically be off putting; house hunters may wonder what’s wrong with it if you have had to lower the price, especially if it’s been for sale for a prolonged period.

Online property portals like Rightmove actually highlight the price reduction so you can’t hide that you have done this.

If your house has been on the market a while, here’s what to consider.

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Look at your marketing materials

Having spruced things up, do the photographs of your property show it off at its best? There is no excuse for poor photos. If they are not up to scratch, tidy obsessively and get the agent round to take new photos.

Consider:

  • Having pictures taken when the sun is out; house and garden will look brighter
  • Removing anything ugly such as bins or dead pot plants
  • Clearing toys right away if you have children
  • Moving furniture and de-clutter to ensure a feeling of space is achieved.

Once you’re happy with the photos, view them online to make sure they’re presented and ordered well. The first photos you see should be those with the biggest wow factor.

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Is your estate agent letting you down?

You need an estate agent who specialises in selling homes in your area; homes just like yours. Have a look at the track record of the agent you have taken on, and investigate their success rate around local properties like yours. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Is the quality of their marketing material up to scratch? 
  • Does the agent give you comprehensive feedback on every viewing?
  • How many viewings have they arranged 
  • Do they offer helpful advice on how to make your property more saleable?

You could even ask a couple of friends to request a viewing of your home and feed back on how the agent performed. If their experience is poor, consider going elsewhere.

Most sole agency agreements are 3 months long. If you are nearing the end of the agreement or are out of it, it may be time to try a different agent.

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Finding anther agent

Think about how your current agent could do better.

Shop around, meet a few agents and get a feel for who you think has the best track record and is most proactive and professional.

All, agents work on a no sale no fee basis – they earn a commission if, and only if, the property sells.

Agents charge anywhere between 0.5% and 3%.  Most are negotiable.  A good agent could, however, get you a higher asking price that more than negates the higher commission.

However, it may be worth paying more for the best service, and you should be cautious about agents whose fees are very low.

Request details on: 

  • What they’ve sold, when and for how much
  • What their marketing strategy would be for your property
  • Recent sales similar to yours
  • What they would do if you home failed to sell after a certain period.

Don’t be tied into a contract that would prohibit you from taking on a new agent should your home still fail to sell after a couple of months.

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What about multi agency?

An alternative to a sole agency agreement, multi-agency agreements allow multiple agents to market your property simultaneously.  There is a catch however in that the agent that secures the sale will want a considerably higher percentage commission.

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Ensure your house is looking its absolute best

Look at your home through the eyes of a buyer seeing it for the first time, and be hyper critical. If you haven’t done the following already, it could be stalling the sale:

  • Drastically de-clutter to give your buyer the maximum feeling of space
  • Neutralise your walls so they can picture their own colour scheme
  • Make sure basic DIY jobs are done
  • Keep the garden as tidy as possible

When you do get a viewing, put some fresh flowers in the house and where possible put pets outside. The impression you want to give is that your home is ready to move in to: clean, fresh, tidy and comfortable.

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If all else fails, it’s time to consider your asking price

If you have done all of the above and your house is still failing to sell, it could be time to look at the price. Compare it in detail to other properties for sale like yours in your area, and be realistic. 

Talk to a few reputable estate agents and look online to get as full a picture as possible on a price that will lure buyers in.

Final selling prices of properties are in the public domain at the Land Registry.  You can look through these and see what prices have been acheived for properties like yours.
 

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

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