Photo of Ian Preston By Ian Preston

We're in a recession so why are houses selling?

Posted 02/03/2012

You will have noticed that there are a reasonable number of sold boards around at the moment, particularly in popular areas.

If you only read the mainstream media, then you would be forgiven for thinking that it is impossible to sell houses in the current market. This is obviously not the case but there are some seriously restricting factors to the market and that is why the majority of pundits seem to be erring on the side of caution.

This misconception was brought into sharp focus by our recent survey of properties in the Selby area. It showed that if you were selling with Preston Baker you had a 24% chance of having a sold board at any moment in time. The nearest competitor was at 16% and the worst was around 2.5%. This data was taken from a survey of properties on Rightmove on 31st January 2012. What this goes to show is that radically different results can be achieved in the same market at the same time.

A few factors that may explain this are:

Sellers aren’t stupid

When you first decide to market your home, you make a decision with your estate agent about what marketing strategy to try. Some will be optimistic and some conservative, dependent on the time scale you wish to achieve, but all must be grounded in what similar properties have achieved within a similar market.

It is not unusual to go on a valuation and find that one or two agents have priced the property £20,000-£30,000 higher than any comparison would justify. There will always be an element of judgement in terms of interpreting the information, hence a natural variation in opinion but not to that extent.

If you find this to be the case, try to be as cool-headed as possible and follow the evidence rather than the highest valuation.

Houses don’t sell themselves

There was a time, when the skill of being an agent was about capturing market share. All of our effort went into winning new business as we could be fairly confident that with a board outside the property would do the rest. Whilst putting new property on to the market is key to the success of any agency, now the art of selling a property is firmly back on the agenda.

It’s agencies who have recognised and responded to this challenge that have thrived in this market and those that have grown complacent or simply don’t know how have gradually been making ever smaller circles towards obscurity. We pay better salaries and rates of commission than the vast majority of the competition and expect our staff to work much harder than they would at the other agencies.

What is clear is that doing the job of a negotiator for Preston Baker requires a very unusual skill set. Excellent communication skills and being prepared to work more than 50 hours per week are all things needed to be successful. We have to push our property harder and more effectively than the competition to sell more of it. Beyond all that, you have to love it.

The excitement of agreeing terms in the best interests of our sellers and getting them a great deal never gets boring. You have to be prepared to put up with a lot of disappointment and frustration in this market as most deals that you try to put together won’t come off.

On average it takes 10 to 15 viewings to sell a house, which means that 9 to 14 times your work ends without success. In some months, at some times, that rate may go to 30 to 40 and for our best negotiators it will be as low as one sale for every six or seven viewings.

I was very lucky to find a job that I enjoy and now I am able to pass those skills and enthusiasm on to others. If you would like to hear more about how we sell houses, I am sure you will get in touch.

Tagged Market Insights; Posted 8 years ago

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