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A great agent will be focused on selling your home at the best price, in a timeframe that suits you. If everything goes well, they’ll put the right value on it, market it effectively, then negotiate and progress your sale so you can move on to your new home as planned – and they’ll make the whole process as pain-free as possible. That’s what we strive to achieve for every one of our clients, and it’s what every seller hopes their experience will be.
But it’s not always plain sailing, and if your home’s been on the market for a while, with no sale in sight, you might be feeling disappointed and thinking of changing agents.
There could be several reasons why things haven’t gone as you’d hoped. Your agent may have seemed like the perfect choice to sell your home in the beginning, but they haven’t quite lived up to expectations. Maybe the viewings you were promised never materialised and now the agent is putting you under pressure to drop the price. Or perhaps they were attentive and positive at the start, but now their phone calls and emails are getting less and less frequent, and you feel as though getting your home sold is no longer a priority for them.
On the other hand, you may think your agent really has done their best, but for some reason things just haven’t worked out, and it’s probably time for a change.
Whatever the situation, if you feel you’ve come to the end of the road with your current agent and you want to switch to a different one, what’s the best way to go about it?
Here’s our handy guide to making the transition from old agent to new as smooth as possible:
Be clear on exactly what’s not working for you
It’s often helpful to make a list of what you’re not happy with and what’s been done to address things to date, so that you’re well prepared for a frank conversation with your estate agent. Doing this will also help you be clear on what you want a new agent to do differently.
Check the terms of your current agreement
The most common contract between an agent and their client is ‘sole agency’, meaning that only that estate agent has the right to sell your home and claim the sale commission. Check if you have a tie-in period, and what notice you need to give, so you can plan accordingly.
Have a forthright discussion with your estate agent
Before you jump straight into terminating your agreement with your agent, have a chat with them. They may have no idea you’re unhappy and disappointed with the way things have gone so far, especially if you haven’t voiced your concerns to them. A good agent will ask for a review meeting with you and suggest ways in which your saleability could be improved. They may offer to re-photograph your home, re-launch it on the portals or suggest a reduction in price.
Whether you decide to give your estate agent another try or terminate your agreement and switch to another estate agent, you’ll feel more in control of your home sale by taking affirmative action now.
Shortlist alternative estate agents
If you’re ready to switch estate agents, ask your friends and family which agents they would recommend in the local area and why. Check out their reviews on Google and Facebook and what their standards of photography and marketing are like.
When you have one or two agents you think would be worth chatting to, call and arrange a meeting at your home.
Ask the right questions
Asking the right questions of a prospective new estate agent will furnish you with the right information so you can make an informed decision, and potentially improve your chance of selling and moving on.
Use this list of questions as a checklist to start an open dialogue with the agent:
Why do you think our home hasn’t sold? Is it the price, the marketing, the presentation…?
Is there anything you think we need to do or change about the presentation and styling of our home to achieve the best price?
What will you do differently to our previous agent? This is a really important question, because you don’t want the same challenges you’ve already faced to reappear with a new agent.
How do you plan to market our home? This should give you an insight into how proactive they are in finding and matching potential buyers, how creative their marketing is and what gives them the edge over other agents.
How often will you communicate with us, and will it be by call, email or text? For instance, will they phone you with feedback after each viewing? In our experience, when clients aren’t happy with their agent, it’s often because of a lack of communication – and that can be a challenge regardless of whether you’ve been on the market for a week or several months – so get a commitment from them on staying in touch and keeping you informed.
What kind of agency agreement do you offer and what is the minimum term? If you weren’t happy being tied into your previous agent’s services for several months, you may be able to negotiate more flexible terms this time.
During the consultation, notice whether the agent is also asking you questions. You want an agent to be interested in understanding your situation, as well as your motivation for moving home, so they can tailor their approach to give you the selling experience you deserve!
Seal the deal
Choosing an estate agent is like dating – do you like them enough to want to see them again?? When it works best, the relationship between you the client and your estate agent is a partnership – one that will last at least for months, and sometimes, years. You need to feel that your agent has your back and will be your biggest supporter when times get tough down the line, especially in challenging negotiations with a buyer.
Whilst our advice is not to jump straight into a relationship with a new estate agent straight away, if you really feel you’ve exhausted the will, patience and skill of your current agent, then moving to a new agent could be just what you and your home needs.
We’d love to have a confidential chat with you about your options, and we’ll tell you frankly and openly why we think your home has not yet sold and what we think the answer might be. We rarely suggest a price reduction and prefer to use our marketing and styling skills as a first approach, but let us tell you more about those in person!
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As an estate agent based on the borders of Essex and East London, we see a mix of Essex Country and Village Homes alongside premium semi-suburban properties near to an Underground station. As such, the types of buyers and sellers we encounter can vary greatly. We have compiled our Top 10 mistakes that sellers experience that are as universal as they come.
Selling a property carries a degree of stress no matter how good your estate agent or conveyancing solicitor is. It’s not a bad thing, it just means that you care. With £100,000’s on the line, I’d be concerned that you’re not concerned about the outcome of selling your home.
That said, it takes a great deal of your and our time and effort, so it’s natural for estate agents and vendors to want the process to end with the best possible outcome. All vendors naturally have the ultimate goal of seeing their property sell quickly and at a high profit. Yet in many cases, houses can sit on the property market for months if not years with little to show for the time and effort. This may be due to your agent and or partially due to common mistakes on the part of the vendor.
There are many factors that go into a successful sale, including the estate agent you choose to work with and your marketing strategy. You can improve your chances of avoiding typical mistakes by working with a very proactive, highly recommended and experienced agent. At Lyttons we have built our business on reputation [read our reviews!] on over delivering to our clients and have become known as the agent for customer satisfaction.
Avoid these common pitfalls below, you can maximise your profits, reduce stress and sell your house more quickly.
Mistake 1: Selling your home on your own
Some sellers choose to sell their own home, hoping to save the fees associated with an estate agent. Yet this can end up being a costly mistake. Without the research that an agent can provide [especially to justify prices on mortgage survey], the experience of negotiating such a transaction with the various types of buyers you’ll encounter at different price point and how to moves things forward proactively to completion - it may be difficult to know where to begin. A good agent will earn their fee numerous times over during the course of a sale. Selling your home alone could end up costing you more than if you had hired an agent, if you don’t know what you’re doing. And let’s say, you do know what you’re doing – the point of having an agent is to keep the process at “arm’s length”. Becoming too involved can sometime be worse than not being present enough throughout a sale.
As an agent, it can be difficult to be on other side of the negotiating table – hence when I sold my Grandparent’s bungalow in Budock Water, Falmouth I employed the services of a local estate agent. And they did not disappoint – under-promising and over-delivering. I was very impressed.
Mistake 2: Working with the wrong estate agent
Another mistake is to stick with an agent who is not delivering, not communicating, not employing the proven best practices that an agent like Lyttons constantly monitors. If you choose an estate agent who doesn’t have your best interests in mind, it could sabotage your sale as seriously as if you had sold it on your own. The wrong estate agent might give you bad pricing advice, pursue a limited marketing campaign, or waste time with buyers who are less than serious. It’s worth taking the time to compare your options and find a good estate agent to work with. My advice would be to ask your friends who they would recommend and look at some online reviews.
Mistake 3: Overpricing your property
Setting the sale price too high on your property can backfire by reducing the number of interested buyers. This is especially true of properties advertised over the £1 million threshold. A trust-worthy estate agent will be able to use their experience and knowledge of the current local market to help you choose an appropriate price for your property. At the time of writing in 2021, it may be more profitable to set a lower price for your home than what you think it is actually worth. In a seller’s market, this can stimulate competition between buyers and end up with an ultimately higher offer.
Please do not confuse the “valuation” of your property with the “asking price” – these are two very distinct figures.
Should you require further explanation regarding this – please feel free to contact me directly.
Mistake 4: Not preparing your property for sale
Although it may seem fairly obvious, a seller who neglects to adequately prepare their home to the standard that the local market would expect prior to marketing is most likely to be met with disappointment. Not preparing your home for sale can significantly reduce buyer interest, and even lead to disappointment when they see your home. It’s best to take a bit of time to get rid of clutter, tidy, and stage your house to make it look its best for viewings, purchasers are buying a lifestyle.
Mistake 5: Ignoring maintenance issues
Along with staging and tidying your house, you must also prepare it by repairing basic problems. Realistically, most buyers are not looking for a property that they will need to renovate. Instead, they are looking for a property that is ready to move into immediately. If your home has a leaking roof, ancient electrics and damp, you will frighten away most buyers. It’s better to spend a bit of money to make repairs before the sale, in order to drum up buyer interest and present a house in top shape. Investing in basic refurbishments or upgrades can also be used as a point of interest when you are selling your house. Before you go too crazy with upgrades, however, it’s best to consult with your estate agent. At the very least, obtain quotes for these repairs for when the inevitable renegotiation post-survey comes knocking.
Mistake 6: Overdevelopment
The reason why it’s important to talk to your estate agent before you upgrade your home is that if you go overboard with repairs or what you would consider improvements, you could eventually lose money. Spending too much on renovations could backfire, and you may never recoup this investment. This may depend on the standards within your local area. It’s a good idea to choose a local estate agent to work with. If your upgrades go above and beyond comparable properties in your area, buyers may not be able to afford your higher price. Worst case scenario, no mortgage lender will agree with the valuation and you’ll effectively be in negative equity.
Mistake 7: Not advertising your house sale correctly
Marketing is very important when it comes to selling a home. You could have the most perfect property in your area. If no one knows about it you won’t attract any genuine buyers.
It is possible to secure a buyer without advertising but you’re sourcing from a smaller pool of buyers than if openly advertised.
Use a variety of advertising methods to help entice buyers, including signage outside your property to help spread the word-of-mouth advertising in addition to internet listings.
Mistake 8: Only using traditional methods of selling
The majority of buyers now turn to the internet first when they are in the market for a new home. To appeal to the widest audience, you will need to use innovative marketing methods. This could include online listings, photo editing and manipulation, floor plans and even virtual /drone tours of the home. Your estate agent may also be able to help you with methods such as social media marketing, press releases and blogging to get the word out about your property if it is particularly rare gem of a property.
Mistake 9: Not being flexible
It’s normal to have some preconceived notion of how your sales process will go. Yet because you are trying to reach out to a wide range of potential buyers, you will need to employ some form of flexibility to close the sale. This could include showing your house at odd times of day or night by arranging easy access for your estate agent. It could also include being flexible when you are examining offers. Instead of flat-out refusing them try proposing a counter-offer to negotiate a win-win situation.
Mistake 10: Not reading the fine print
After you’ve gone through the full process of preparing, marketing, and showing your home, you may think you’re in the home stretch of the sale and get careless. Selling a house can be tedious and rather long-winded when it comes to the financial and legal side of it. Especially nowadays where the mortgage lenders have become more involved than ever and solicitors wish to ensure no-one tries to sue them. Some home sellers may not bother reading all the fine print on their contract of sale. However, this can be one of the worst mistakes to make. After you’ve signed this legal document, you must abide by all of its terms and conditions. Without meaning to, you could agree to fund additional repairs or give up appliances you didn’t mean to. Be sure that you read through the full contract thoroughly, going through it with a solicitor before you sign anything.
Save the link to this page. Read it again to make sure you’ve understood everything and refer back to it to help you avoid them during the selling process.
Selling property can also be far less stressful, dare I even say “fun” when you have an experienced estate agent in your corner.
We can help you avoid these common pitfalls, guiding you through each step of the process.
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Summer is a great time of year to sell your home. With bright, sunny days, gardens at their greenest and flowers blooming, your marketing photos will look fabulous!
More daylight hours and generally better weather than at other times of year give people much more opportunity to view your home at its best and brightest. And there’s nothing like a sunny day to put people in a great mood, which means they’re more likely to have a positive mindset when they’re viewing.
So, how can you best take advantage of the benefits of selling during the summer?
The marketing photographs in your brochure and online advertising play a huge part in enticing buyers to view your home. Importantly, they’ve got to be in line with the season, so if your home’s already on the market and the photos were taken earlier in the year, we’d suggest you replace them with some up-to-date ones.
Have the interior photographed when there’s maximum daylight outside so the sun streams in through the windows, really boosting the natural brightness of your rooms. And if you’ve got a patio, balcony or terrace, open the doors and have a shot taken looking either inwards or outwards – it can create a really captivating image, with a hint of ‘summer holiday villa’, which could be hugely appealing to many buyers.
Two great times to have exterior shots taken in the summer:
- In the middle of the day, in bright sunshine. If you’ve got a good-sized garden, a shot from the end – front or back – looking towards your home and taking in the lush colours of the trees, flowers and shrubs can look beautiful.
- On a clear evening, around sunset. A mid-length shot of the front or back against the twilight sky, with exterior and interior lights on, can be quite stunning.
Styling your interior for summer vibes
The styling of your home is important at any time of year to help buyers imagine themselves living there, and it should resonate with the season. To give your home that summer vibe:
- Pack away any dark, heavy throws and blankets and replace them with lighter fabrics
- Floral cushions bring a summer vibe to any room
- White bed linen will help make bedrooms feel bright and fresh
- Scented candles are a great aspirational and welcoming accessory all year round, so choose some light, floral scents for bedrooms and living areas
- Any aroma that reminds people of being on holiday, such as coconut, can boost their positive mood even further! You could have some fresh coconut cake in the kitchen or a coconut diffuser in the bathroom.
Of course, the glass surfaces in your home should be gleaming whatever time of year you’re selling, but it’s even more important that they sparkle in the summer light. It might be worth having the windows and glazed doors professionally cleaned inside and outside before you put your home on the market and perhaps periodically until you secure a buyer.
Indoor/outdoor living is becoming increasingly popular, so fling open your sparkling doors and windows before people arrive to view, and have plenty of plants and flowers around your home – particularly near doorways – to help the flow of greenery from inside to outside.
Showing your garden at its blooming best
Many gardens are at their finest during the summer, but it’s the time of year when everything is growing quickly, meaning it takes a little more effort to keep everything looking fabulous. Some of our clients choose to get extra help from a gardening services company while their home’s on the market – so why not consider doing the same? It’s one less job for you to do, and you can be confident your garden will always make the best possible impression on buyers. Here’s one we’d recommend: Thornhill's Gardening & Landscaping Services who are based in Waltham Abbey but we've heard good things about them from their clients in Buckhurst, Loughton, Theydon Bois, Epping & Chigwell.
Styling is just as important for the outside of your home as the inside, so think about things you could do to show off how you enjoy the garden. If you already have garden furniture, great; if you don’t, then it might be beneficial to buy a reasonably-priced table and some chairs, as that can really help set the ‘lifestyle’ scene outside when people come to view. Put a vase of flowers on the table and lay out some refreshments – even if that’s just a big jug of freshly-made lemonade and some glasses. The garden will look even more welcoming and inviting, which will encourage people to stay longer to appreciate everything your home has to offer.
Families on the move
For growing families, being cooped up together indoors over the winter months often makes them realise it might be time to upsize! And with school-age children on holiday, summer is a popular time for families to look for a new home, as they can all view together, find something everyone loves and then move in early autumn without disrupting the middle of the academic year.
So, while demand tends to be strong across all types of home in the summer, we usually find the ‘family home’ market is particularly busy – especially for those homes that have generous gardens. As children get older, many families really appreciate having extra space outside, so summer is the perfect time of year to sell homes with large lawns, where viewers can watch their young ones safely running about and enjoying the space.
And with high demand comes buoyant prices, which means you may be able to get more for your home than if you try to sell in the winter months.
Would an open house suit you?
Summer is also a great time of year to have an open house, where different buyers can view at the same time over a period of a few hours. In nice weather, buyers can spread out through your home and garden, take their time to view – and, as long as it’s dry underfoot, you don’t need to worry too much about your carpets getting dirty! While it might not be the right strategy for every home, for some it can be very successful in creating a buzz and encouraging great offers, so speak to your agent about whether it could work for you.
Moving in the autumn
Once your summer marketing has led to a successful sale and you’ve found a new home that you love, you can start planning the next exciting step. Moving in the autumn has its benefits, as it won’t be too hot or too cold when you’re shifting all your furniture and possessions in and out of buildings and vans – which removals companies certainly appreciate!
And here’s a valuable tip if you’re using a removals company: contact them as early as possible, even if you don’t have a firm moving date yet and particularly if you’d like to move on a Friday, as that’s the most popular day. They can come and do their survey of what needs moving, give you a quote and you have the opportunity to negotiate the best possible price. We’d suggest you contact McKellar & Sons in Epping, as they’ve got a great reputation locally – their website is https://www.mckellarremovals.com/
Many of our clients from Epping, Theydon Bois, Loughton, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell & Woodford have used them and have praised them post-completion about the level service they had received.
While some people find moving house one of life’s more stressful events, doing it in the autumn means you’re nicely positioned between the rush of the summer and Christmas holidays, so you should have some breathing space – and you’ve got the festive season to look forward to!
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One way to add value to your home is by renovating it; another is through increasing the amount of accommodation, by either building an extension or converting something like the loft or a garage to create an extra living room or bedroom.
But if you don’t want to undertake that kind of building work, or you’re not able to because of planning or available space, the good news is, there’s another way you can add value – without calling any contractors!
If you invest some time and can spend a little money simply on the presentation of your home, that can carry a huge amount of weight when it comes to securing a buyer and getting the best possible price. The power of first impressions is the reason we have stylists on our team that work with photographers to create the best possible images for our clients’ marketing brochures.
Research carried out last year by The International Association of Home Staging Professionals found that the majority of homes that had been professionally furnished and styled sold for between 4% and 20% more than the asking price. And we know ourselves that when buyers see a home that’s beautifully presented, showing off every room at its very best and suggesting an aspirational lifestyle, they’re much more likely to see its value and make a strong offer.
So, here are our top tips on how to style your home so that you add real value. Not only could that mean securing a higher sale price, but you’re also likely to sell much quicker than other comparable homes on the market that are missing that all-important styling touch.
Maximise light and space
The lighter, brighter and more spacious a home looks, the better buyers tend to feel about it. That’s partly a reaction to rooms appearing larger than they expected and partly because you’re showing them that there’s plenty of space to fit in everything they’ll need to enjoy the home.
The first thing to do is tidy and simplify each room so that the interior space can ‘breathe’. You can still have photographs, ornaments and books on display, but just a few of each placed around a room is enough to show some personality, while still allowing buyers to easily visualise their own possessions in the space. If you’d like some advice on what to keep out and what you should put away while your home’s on the market, just give us a call and our stylists will be happy to help.
Once you’ve created more physical space, it’s then a case of using some optical illusions. Well-placed mirrors can transform a home, bouncing light around and giving an impression of depth, which is particularly helpful in narrower rooms and hallways.
And think about the size and orientation of both mirrors and pictures. The human eye naturally scans vertically before horizontally, so wall hangings with a ‘portrait’ orientation will give the impression of more height in a room. It’s also generally true that larger pictures tend to make rooms feel bigger than if you have clusters of smaller ones. If you don’t already have any larger pieces of artwork, there are many companies that will print images on canvases in a variety of sizes, very cost-effectively. Look through your favourite photographs – something like a unique shot of an attractive landscape can make a stunning feature in a room.
You can also emphasise the size of a room by having something that immediately draws the buyer’s eye to the furthest point from the doorway. That could be a particular piece of furniture, a large plant or a striking piece of art – just something that catches their eye as soon as they walk in. The same trick can be used outside, so that people are immediately encouraged to look down the garden, whether that’s to a lovely seating area or a brightly-coloured shrub.
Given that a home is often the most expensive purchase many people will make in their lives, you’ve got to show that every bit of space they’re paying for is valuable, which means furnishing and styling rooms so that they have a clear purpose.
We find one room that often falls into the trap of looking a little like wasted space is a conservatory. So, if you have one, style it clearly as a peaceful sitting room or a light and airy dining room. Another common challenge is the smallest bedroom. No matter how tight the space, it’s important to style it so it’s functional, so set it up as either a single room or a study. For buyers who work part-time from home or maybe run their own small business, an office space can be just as valuable as a third or fourth bedroom and can make them feel as though they’re getting more for their money.
And make sure you allow furniture to ‘breathe’. In an effort to create more space, some people make the mistake of pushing furniture into the edges and corners – particularly in bedrooms – when this actually has the opposite effect. Spacing the furniture out a little will let buyers see that there’s plenty of room for it to fit properly, without feeling cramped.
Add warmth and colour
While light, neutral décor is certainly attractive to buyers as a basic canvas for your home, make sure you then brighten it up and add some personality with soft furnishings.
Pick a colour scheme for each room and put a few textured cushions and throws on chairs and sofas. You can go for a touch of glamour with velvet or fur, but limit the number and variety of accessories, otherwise it can start to look confusing. The idea is to add a splash of colour and interest, while not intruding on the overall impression of light and space.
Rugs can add warmth to wood or tiled floors and tend to work well in larger rooms. Generally speaking, try to avoid breaking up the flow of the flooring in smaller rooms and keep the number of accessories in proportion with the size of the space. A good rule of thumb is no more than one cushion for every seat and a maximum of two items on any surface.
Finally, make sure you have plenty of lamps around your home. They cast a much more flattering light than overhead fittings and can make rooms feel warm and welcoming, even on a dull day. Don’t forget to have some lighting outside, if possible, particularly if you’re accepting viewings in the evenings. Some solar-powered lights throughout the garden can also create a pretty effect and help make a memorable impression on buyers.
When you’re selling your home, you’re selling a lifestyle, and if you can show people that you enjoy the space in a way that also appeals to them, it’ll encourage them to picture themselves there. And the more ‘at home’ they feel, the more likely they are to make a great offer.
The key is to pick the kinds of accessories that you see in aspirational magazines and boutique hotels, that buyers can easily recognise and identify with. Candles are a really simple and effective way of creating a welcoming atmosphere and, although you don’t have to light them all, some softly-scented candles in the main reception room and bedroom can help buyers to feel relaxed and connect emotionally with the space.
Plants and fresh flowers bring life to a room, so go for a mixture of greenery and colour throughout your home. Peace lilies are easy to care for and look great anywhere, while orchids are perfect for coffee tables and in bedrooms. Hand-cut posies of flowers are great for period and rustic homes, while longer, more elegant stems suit a modern style – and don’t forget to have a few glossy magazines on display as well.
The kitchen is traditionally known as the heart of the home, so make sure it’s beating! Have a lovely big bowl of fruit and a vase of fresh flowers on the counter tops, and then put some fresh bread on a board or cake on a stand before viewings.
Finally, in the bathrooms, have some fresh toiletries on display that have recognisable, aspirational branding such as Molton Brown or L’Occitane. Remember to keep a full set aside that you don’t use every day, then they’ll always look fresh for viewings. Finish the look in the bathroom with some clean co-ordinated towels.
As with soft furnishings, the golden rule with all these lifestyle touches is not to have too many and to place them carefully.
While you may have to spend a bit of money on styling your home, it should only be a fraction of what you’ll get back in terms of pounds on your sale price, so it’s certainly well worth the small investment.
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The stamp duty extension announced by the Chancellor in the Budget last week came as a huge relief to buyers stuck in transaction logjam.
It is thought 300,000 transactions in England could benefit by the end of June from the stamp duty extension announced in the Budget.
However, there was a hope for a more tapered approach to phasing out the stamp duty holiday from what was a “cliff-edge” come the 31st March 2021 when thresholds would return to normal.
The new extension has meant that buyers completing on or before 30 June 2021 will continue benefit from the £15,000 saving when purchasing up to £500,000.
However, beyond this date the only saving made is £2,500 until the end of September for purchases up to £250,000 benefitting from the holiday.
Stamp Duty thresholds at the time of writing return to normal come 1 October 2021.