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How Can I Ensure my Property will sell as the London Property Market slows?

Michael Wilson, Mountgrange Heritage SalesDressing

I’ve been asked this question a few times recently as more evidence emerges each month of a slowdown in the London property market. A good piece of advice is to make your property appealing by ensuring it looks and smells good. Make it welcoming. This means clean and tidy – outside and in – with any niggles fixed and a lick of paint where it’s looking tired. And make yourself and any pets scarce on viewings.

However the above advice is what we in the business call ‘dressing’. These are the little things that can make a difference. But let’s talk about the big thing. The price. If the price of your property isn’t right, no amount of dressing will make it sell.

Don’t be deceived by the highest valuation

I believe that a property will always sell at the right price. So my advice to vendors as the London property market slows is don’t be deceived by the highest valuation of your property. With double digit price rises in the last year, you’ll get agents through your door who will big up the price and convince you that they can sell it for higher than you thought it was worth. London is an incredibly competitive market and many agents are desperate for stock so will price high to secure your business. This doesn’t mean they will be able to sell it for that price.

Most clients I meet know in their heart of hearts what their property is really worth – so if a valuation seems generous don’t be swayed by the prospect of extra riches – discount it.

Here’s why – when a property first comes onto the market that is when it gains the most attention and has most momentum – particularly on the portals like Rightmove and Zoopla.

Because buyers have so much access to house price data these days they will notice that it seems expensive and you won’t get viewings. Less viewings means less chance of finding a buyer. The longer a property sits on the portals, the further down the listings it slips and the less appealing it will be to buyers who will question why it’s not selling.

Worse still, if you have to reduce the price after a few months of not selling that will show on the portals and prospective buyers will again wonder what’s wrong with it and be less inclined to want to view it. Not only that but you will have lost valuable time – often months- when the market may have slowed more. It’s a trap you don’t want to fall into.

To ensure your property is priced right, make sure you get several valuations. Go with the one you feel is most sensible. And when you instruct an agent, make sure they are local experts who know what they’re talking about.

Michael Wilson
Director – Head of Sales, Mountgrange Heritage
23 September 2014