One of the questions I get asked most often is “How long it will take to sell my property?”
The answer isn’t quite as difficult to assess as you might think. A reasonable amount of logic can be applied to give the homeowner a clear enough idea, although there are factors that can hugely influence the results.
To start with, most decent agents will keep a record of the number of viewings it takes to agree a sale. Across the marketplace typically this will be between 12 and 15. This figure can be affected by three key factors.
1, Market forces
In all my years in the industry, the 12 - 15 figure has remained fairly constant providing the market stayed the same. That said, in late 2007 through to early 2009, the average number of viewings to a sale agreed ratio literally doubled / trebled. Buyers were loathed to commit to purchases in the midst of the credit crunch, plus falling prices and the general gloom and doom that hung over the Western world meant that securing sales was a thankless task. Thankfully that situation has improved and good agents are heading back towards their previous ratio's again.
2, Quality of the individual agent
The difference in results between one agent and another, given identical opportunity, would probably stagger you. There is a skill to selling properties and to put it bluntly; some people are a damn sight better at it than others. The way viewings are booked, the way clients are looked after and the ability to negotiate tactfully, all have a huge impact on the chance of a successful sale being agreed. This is one of the reasons I always advocate homeowners should actually visit the office of the agents they are considering instructing and see how good they are at selling houses BEFORE signing up with them.
With the best will in the world, you could have the best sales team, operating in the best market, but if the property is overpriced; it’s irrelevant (unless of course the market is rising at rapid speed or you find a mug punter of which there are very few) you aren't going to sell.
A reasonably priced property, in a reasonable marketplace, with a decent agent will normally get at least two viewings a week. This means you can fairly reasonably predict that the average time to find a buyer is not more than 8 weeks or to put it another way; 16 viewings. The current market is still not without its challenges though, so if I was asked the question a week ago I would have been a little more conservative and predicted maybe 10 - 11 weeks in the current climate.
The difference between last week and this week is that I now know the EXACT answer. How do I know this? Because Rightmove has started producing some fascinating figures for agents subscribing to their service, as most do. They have recorded the average time each agent in each area has a property listed for sale. The results are truly eye opening. They graphically display how different locations can vary dramatically and how different agents results vary dramatically. Now this is where it’s time to sit comfortably and I’ll begin….
Let’s start with Watford. The figures include a number of agents from out of the area who are listing just one or two properties out of their patch and I have ignored those as pretty irrelevant. I am looking purely at the established agents. Pleasingly, Imagine comfortably led the way averaging a property being listed for sale for only 9 weeks, with our next nearest competitor being 12 weeks. Most of the names you would recognise were nearer 20 weeks. Being able to genuinely say we sell properties 25% faster than any rival and over 50% faster than most should be a very powerful argument to encourage homeowners to use us!
Now for Bushey. Oh dear!! The main problem we have had establishing ourselves in Bushey has been getting accurately priced properties. We are going to value the same properties as other well-established, long-standing agents who have been, in our opinion, coming up with ludicrously over inflated property prices. Repeatedly telling clients the property values they want to hear and pretending as if the market hasn’t actually taken any sort of drop over the last two years. The lack of desire to have an honest and frank discussion with homeowners and to instead blatantly lead them up the garden path with unrealistic house prices purely to gain the instruction has been truly frustrating.
Understandably, homeowners have thought that as the new kids on the block in Bushey that we either don’t know the market here, or we were looking for quick sales. It meant we either lost the opportunity to the other agent or had to take on over priced properties and provide evidence with negative viewings that a price reduction was necessary.
Well now we can blow this farce wide open. The average time the established Bushey agents are marketing a property for sales is in excess of 26 weeks. Yes, over half a year! The most well known names, with one exception, were all 28 weeks plus. This pointless over pricing scam that has been freezing the Bushey market to a greater extent than elsewhere in our region needs to stop. This highlights that you just cannot buck market trends.
Going on the market at an over inflated price is wasting your HIP fee and limiting the number of viewings and expanding how long it takes to get those viewings. Both of which are detrimental to your goal of achieving the best price and in the quickest timeframe. By the time you react and bring your price down, you may very well be looking a bit stale as potential buyers are aware you’ve been on the market for an excessive period of time at a far higher price and they start questioning what’s wrong with the property.
I lay the majority of the blame at the foot of estate agents who instead of securing properties to sell based on their service record, instead put pound signs in the unwitting eyes of homeowners who should be able to trust the advice they’re given. I train my team of valuers to ask homeowners if they would like an ‘honest’ or ‘polite’ opinion on their property value. They always say honest.
In Bushey it’s a fact these valuations cannot be trusted and I now have the damning evidence to back this up, rather than sounding like a sore loser. We now have this to take on valuations and hopefully will quickly be able to force our rivals to adjust to a more honest approach or look rather silly if they don’t.