If all other resolutions have been broken…

Alongside the deluge of guidance/direction/admonishments that we are all going to die if we don’t do as we are told (technically speaking, we are all going to die) that rain down upon us at this time of year, that will-if followed-‘guarantee’ that we will live longer, lose half our body weight and ascend to some transcendental nirvana, has come some guidance as to how best to sell one’s home.  In a week where I was genuinely surprised, a litre of Diet Coke Citrus Zest costs more than a litre of petrol and diesel, meaning that the Chesh is now more expensive to fuel than a Bentley drophead convertible-same great chassis though ladies-I was suitably underwhelmed by what the article suggested as “top tips to get buyers queuing up” Daily Mail, Property Section, 16 January 2016. Yes, it did contain some useful information, the same useful information that has been regurgitated in property articles since the Queen Mother was ignoring the limit of her overdraft at Coutts (£4 million if you are interested). Included in the advocacy were:

  • “Don’t ban shoes”.  Absolutely right.  When I turn up at a valuation, I always carry shoe covers and put them on unrequested.  When people are taken to view a property, the agent should provide shoe covers for those doing the viewing so that nobody is put in an uncomfortable position be it vendor or prospective purchaser.
  • “Offer them a cup of something warm”.  What?  This isn’t America, (where by the way agents charge between 5-10% and for that money I would have a tea urn and a selection of snackettes permanently on the go in the Cheshmobile).  Regular readers of the blog will know that at Cheshire & Co we advocate the vendor ideally not being present at the viewing, but if circumstances dictate that they must be in situ, it really is better that they allow the agent to do their job and don’t point out that the established rockery in the garden contains the remains of a succession of family pets and/or the ex-wife..
  • “The right agent”.  Enough said.  This surmises the whole article.  The tips offered should already have been suggested by your agent. If your chosen agent is fulfilling the criteria of their contract-and we are not talking about the ‘Ha, you can’t go to a another agent for at least 18 weeks, even though we have spectacularly overvalued your house just to get the instruction’-type written contract, I am talking about the literal interpretation of a contract, written or spoken, where two parties enter into a agreement that one will provide a service to another for recompense-that the agent will make every possible effort to sell a vendor’s property for the best possible price in a suitable time frame, the agent will have already advised and discussed with the client the ways to maximise the appeal of the property.

As one of my new year’s resolutions was to remain my modest, humble self (most resolutions are for self-improvement, how does one improve perfection…. just asking..), I do have to point out that whatever professional guidance is offered by an estate agent, much of the art of successful house-selling is common-sense.  ‘Price, position and presentation’ (equally applicable for any night time activity),  are what drives a house sale.  The clue is in the title, ‘house sale’.  No amount of baking bread or mugs of coffee will result in contracts being exchanged if the price is too high.  This is reflected again and again when vendors succumb to the pressure of an agent who has to meet their monthly target for listings, who tells the vendor that their property is worth £20k more than it actually is and they have 40 people waiting to view the property right this minute with the cash burning in a whole in their pocket.  The home owner signs up, because obviously their property is worth that amount-despite the house three doors down, in better condition having sold for £30k less-seduced by the pound signs promised by the agent.  Fast forward a matter of weeks, with a no-show from the 40 people desperate to buy and the only suggestion from the agent is a price-reduction.  Mmm.  If I may add one further tip to anyone contemplating selling their home, use your common sense.  If I suggested that going to the gym and changing your hairstyle would guarantee you a date with Miss Minogue, would you believe me?  You should be so lucky.