Selling a property is like copying one of Derren Brown's more ingenious tricks: nobody quite knows how it's done, but everyone has a theory.
Ask five people how they sold their house and they'll give you five different theories. They'll tell you that the secret was renovating the kitchen, putting their house on the market just in time for the rush, or baking bread during each viewing.
But while there's nothing stopping you from enjoying these great property-selling myths, there's something you should bear in mind: they're usually nonsense.
Myth 1: You have to catch the 'property season'
You might be told to hold on for months and wait for the spring, when people emerge from hibernation and go househunting. This does tend to be a busy time for the market, but the myth is flawed for two reasons.
First, people look all year round for reasons that have nothing to do with the weather. Those who started job-hunting in the New Year, may be looking to relocate by March; young professionals may look in autumn, when their annual rental cycle finishes; and older people who are downsizing may want to enjoy a last summer in the garden first. If you hold on for spring you'll miss them all.
Second, the best time to sell is the time that's right for you. Anything else risks damaging your quality of life in a fruitless attempt to time the market. If you are ready to sell in November, then that's the right time for you.
Myth 2: You need to spend money to make money
You might be told that new kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, or that a makeover will get you more for your home, but more often than not, you won't make back what you spend on renovations, and if your brand new kitchen isn't to the taste of house hunters, then it's a waste of time and money.
This means that the only work you should do is rectifying problems and finishing projects - which both actively put buyers off - and possibly breaking out a tin of paint or two to make your home look a bit more loved.
Myth 3: Brew coffee/bake bread/make cakes before showing people round
When a technique becomes this well known, it's counter productive to employ it. When someone walks into a house that smells of cake or coffee, they won't think 'Oh I feel positive about this home for a reason I can't put my finger on'. They'll think: "Oh they're trying to manipulate me, can I really trust anything they say? What are they trying to hide?'
Myth 4: Price high and accept an offer
The logic seems reasonable: on average houses sell for less than the asking price, so if you overprice it, you can accept an 'offer' at the level you wanted to sell for in the first place.
In reality, you put people off because the house looks over-priced. It will sit on the market for weeks, making people think there's something wrong with it, and when you finally cut the price to something realistic, the damage is already done.
Price your house at the level you want to sell it for, and tell your agent you won't be accepting offers.
Myth 5: Don't accept the first offer
The age-old wisdom is not to be too quick to sell, because if you hang on, a better offer will come along. With demand pent-up in so many markets, this isn't how it works. When the property comes onto the market, estate agents will show their best prospects round first, who are most likely to make an offer. Don't dismiss any offer without careful consideration - especially the first one.
When you're selling, you don't need to be sidetracked by misleading myths and a bamboozling array of conflicting advice. All you really need is the right price, and effective enough marketing to reach the right buyer. As for who that right buyer might be, unfortunately, you don't need a property expert to tell you that - you need Derren Brown.
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