Finding the sweet spot

It seems as if there are a host of factors which have an impact on selling a house. Some are completely beyond your control, like the national state of the market. Others may be within your control but hard to define. Some are definitely in your control (sadly rather less of those). On top of that some of these factors you won’t find out about unless someone in the know tells you, and most of them won’t, because knowing makes them the ‘professionals’. So I’m going to list and explain the one’s I’m aware of. There are undoubtedly some I’m not, so don’t consider this list exhaustive.

1 The state of the housing market in general.

It’s easy to imagine that any difficulties you may have selling your house are about no more than your house. That’s rarely, if ever the case. Not only is it affected by  how buoyant the economy is in general, but on other factors you may not be able to see. Some are obvious, like the fact that Brexit put the housing market into a sort of suspended animation for a while, which has now created a backlog and therefore far greater competition for buyers. But there are others which mean it has it’s own rhythm and times of lull. I wouldn’t be aware of that lull if one of the estate agents I’m dealing with in Narnia wasn’t somewhat loose lipped. He told me only yesterday that the market is fickle, and can get very sluggish, as it is now, but can unpredictably pick up and start to fly for no apparent reason. When you’re in the business you’ll see that. When you’re not it may appear that you’re doing something wrong. You probably aren’t. But you might be…

Setting the right price, saying the right things, presenting it well (SEO)

For those of you unaware of what SEO is, it’s ‘search engine optimisation’. It’s the bread and butter of marketers, and some of it is well defined and clear. Most of it isn’t, and is as frustrating for them as it might be for you. Of course if you’re with a traditional estate agent the game is slightly different. They set the price (though may get that wrong, for all sorts of reasons), they do mailshots and have a collection of buyers on their books, and are salesmen familiar with leading people by the nose. But many of them are very poor at online presentation, despite the fact its how most people will find a house to buy. They don’t understand how important SEO is, so their blurb may be dreadful, their pictures poor, and various inaccuracies or technical mess ups are very common. But ultimately, putting a reasonable product online which matches not only what viewers want, but at a price they find fair and comparable with other similar properties, in a way which is appealing, is absolutely key. So, here follows a set of elements to consider:

I’m not an expert in this field, and my terminology will probably use incorrect terms , but the essence of it is this: There are two basic elements in whether what you put out there results in a viewing. In real SEO terms conversion is to a point of sale, but with a house there’s the additional element of whether the house fits in real life, so the comparison falls down there.

However, you have a click through rate, which is compared to others in the same area and price bracket. If you’re outperforming others your main pictures and blurb are good. If they’re not you might want to consider improving them.

If you’re getting lots of viewings, then your price is set right and your blurb is good. Here’s where it gets complicated. Online estate agents will tend to assume that if there aren’t (m)any viewings the price is too high. And it might be. But it might also be that the way you’ve worded your description has hidden negatives, or is clumsy, or not detailed enough, or too detailed. If you’re doing well on click throughs, but not on viewings, it might be worth tweaking these for a little while before you decide to drop the price.

Building evidence

Selling a house has so many factors that it’s risky to make assumptions or speculate without building evidence on whether what you imagine is actually real. You might not be getting viewings or offers for various reasons, and while it may be tempting to take on board what agents or viewers tell you, and it’s certainly worth factoring that in, people often say what they think won’t offend, or don’t have any clear reasons for their decisions. So it’s a good idea to keep building the information you have. Try and stay pragmatic, and don’t take it personally. People are looking for an ideal fit, somewhere that feels like home, and there’s not a great deal you can do to make that happen other than:

Present the house well

Seems obvious, but there are ways and ways of doing that. Estate agents like you to dress a house, make it look as impersonal as possible so people can imagine their stuff there. Some even tell you it’s no longer your home. I think that’s rubbish, and of course it’s still your home. People aren’t stupid, and most of us don’t want to live in a show home anyway. But it needs to be tidy, clean, homely but without stuff scattered everywhere, and prior to putting it on the market doing a bit of painting and deep cleaning and general preparation. For eg, for viewings I tend to remove toothbrushes from the bathroom, clutter from tables, crockery tidied away, hide cat bowls, but leave most things as is. People are quite capable of imagining items gone so they can put some treasured item where they want to.

Don’t take it personally

People are strange. They have their own motivations and ideals, and as mentioned, they’re looking for a home. That may or may not be your place. If they hate it that’s not because there’s anything wrong with it, any more than if they love it it’s because of you. There’s an alchemy, a magic to that sweet spot, where walking through the door you immediately feel at home, that the atmosphere suits you. Usually, if that’s present, the more people see the more they’ll love it. But the same applies if they don’t feel it, ie whatever they see it’s just lacking. Somehow finding a home is like finding love. You don’t get to choose, it happens or it doesn’t. And nothing you do or don’t do can change that.

Trust the process

Hard to do. But not doing just gets in the way. Don’t be bullied into doing it the way someone else thinks you should, try not to make rash decisions based on fear, make reasoned adjustments based on common sense. Eventually you will sell. It might not be at quite the price you’d like, or at the ideal time. It’s better to get on with your life so you don’t have to be patient. Don’t waste time being offended by some not loving your house as much as you do. There are so many things you can’t change, but your attitude and approach you can adjust to benefit the entire process, and therefore you.



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