“It’s a pricing war and a beauty contest…”

Another day, another conflicting report on the UK housing market. The July House Price Index released by Rightmove on 15th July, states boldly “First drop in prices this year signals buyers’ market in second half of 2019”. This drop they are referring to is the average price of properties coming to the market, and the staggering amount is 0.2% - the equivalent of £656… This of course is a national average and when you look into regional data, both the East and South-East of England saw a 0% monthly change. In fact when we look at our own data, it is still showing a 1% annual increase in house price growth, and 36% over the last 5 years in Milton Keynes. New homes will naturally help maintain average house prices though (11% of all properties sold in Milton Keynes in the last 3 months were new builds).

What is true though is the following:

- Less property is coming to market (7.8% down compared to this time last year), but it is taking longer to secure a buyer, so estate agents’ average stock per branch is at its highest since July 2015 (53.3 properties)

- Time to secure a buyer is at the longest at this time of year for six years (on average 62 days)

What does this actually mean? Well, according to Rightmove, this longer time to secure a buyer, coupled with higher property stocks, suggest that it will be more of a buyers’ market in the second half of 2019. Frankly, buyers in market sectors where there is an over-supply will have a stronger hand negotiating prices in coming months.

So, what can you do to sell for the highest price in the shortest timeframe? Well, it’s a pricing war and beauty contest…

Your pricing strategy is paramount. Gone are the days of advertising your home for above market value to secure an offer of market value. Time is the enemy of price. You’re better off advertising for market value rather than having to reduce your price and chase the market. Due to this, be wary of choosing your agent based on who provides the highest valuation. Don’t forget, a lot of estate agents’ business models are based on using your home as a honeypot to attract buyers so they can cross-sell financial services and conveyancing. We have personally found a lot of success recently in advertising properties for below market value with an ‘Offers Over’ strategy to look extremely attractive. Remember, the key features of your home that made you fall in love with it can’t help you sell if people aren’t walking through the front door.

“Young, dynamic with new ideas and technology for marketing your house.” S. Decesare

A caveat to this is ensuring your home is marketed to the best possible standard. A strong pricing strategy will help you appear in more searches, but research suggests you only have 2 seconds to grab a buyer’s attention on the property portals. Professional photography is a must, but even with that your home should be staged to make it feel more appealing. Completely de-clutter, return rooms to their intended purpose, spruce up the garden, set the table and buy flowers for every room. Yes, you still must live in the property, it is still your home and it may be inconvenient, but as soon as you make the decision to sell you need to start thinking like a marketer. The harsh reality is that you only get one chance to go on the market for the first time.

“You’ve actually made me want to buy my own house!” M. Baird

It’s not good enough to simply state what your property ‘briefly comprises’ of in your marketing description. This is your opportunity to describe the soul of your home, so it should take longer than one paragraph! Don’t forget, buyers tend to compromise on a property for the location and lifestyle it brings. So rather than stating that your home is ‘close to local amenities’ or that it is in a ‘highly sought after area’, take advantage of this and express your love for your neighbourhood and all the hidden gems that make living there better than everywhere else. This is especially important when a lot of buyers relocate to Milton Keynes and simply do not know the nuances between housing estates.

Do all this, and you stand the best chance of rebelling against the housing market reports. After all, your home can’t be quantified by numbers and figures… it’s unique.

Dominic Marcel, Director at Lion Estates
Dominic Marcel, Director at Lion Estates

For more information visit www.lionestates.co.uk