Time to prepare

First published as a guest blog on the excellent Home Truths website on 9th May 2011

Newton St Loe/Bath Spa Uni

Standing in my kitchen at home on a Sunday morning, peeling potatoes one-handed, generic smartphone in the other, I’m being subjected to a courteously phrased but stinging tirade. My crime? I’m “not letting” a buyer view the house she’s just spotted on Rightmove until the day after the Royal Wedding.

 If you’ve ever been in or around estate agency you’ll know that, once in a while, one of those houses comes up that would just sell itself in seconds. After stiff competition on a three-way valuation, I am the proud custodian of keys to just such a beast.

 According to Mrs Polite but Miffed, many agents of her acquaintance will happily sell her a house without marketing the property (one wonders at this point why she hasn’t bought any of them) and this is the Expected and Professional way of doing things. Mrs PbM thinks I’m frustrating her to “artificially boost the price”.

 I disagree. By delaying viewings, I have had time to organise clearance, cleaning, gardening and wait for blue sky photos. A RICS survey has been commissioned for the benefit of both seller and prospective buyers. Laborious newspaper advert deadlines don’t matter, tortuous Rightmove upload speeds are immaterial and the Easter hols are safely out of the way. Even our Facebook and Twitter clientele have been duly informed. By the time viewings start the house will be pristine, with every corner ready for detailed inspection. Unproceedable buyers will have had time to get themselves into a better position and my vendors should have a truly representative selection of prospective purchasers to choose from.

 Is there an advantage to selling core market properties “off market”?  If you’re the shy and retiring type, maybe you don’t want the world to know your business (although in my city, they already do!). Swift revenue generation for agents is a major plus and the chosen buyer is likely to think positively when picking the agent to sell their home the next time.  However, should we be prioritising their interests over the sellers?

 It’s still a buyers market out there but every home deserves a shot at maximum exposure. How many times have we heard owners say with glee that their house “sold to the first person through the door” and we’re thinking “did you get the best price from the best buyer?”

 The answer, as always, is down to time. Time for the agent to agree a proper marketing strategy with the owner, get details right and advertising prepared. Time for buyers to do proper research rather than a quick flip through Zoopla, Mouseprice et al. Time for vendors to concentrate on maximising the saleability of their home.

 Sadly, time is an increasingly rare resource in estate agency these days.

Authors note – happily, the property featured in this blog post exchanged in early July 2011 and achieved considerably in excess of the asking price. We had over 35 viewings in 48 hrs, 5 proceedable offers (as well as 10 unproceedable buyers).

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