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How to Sell Your House in a Difficult Market?

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We have been given a reality check that the current UK housing market is challenging. So lets address how you can sell your house in a difficult market.

Firstly, it is vital to discuss with your agent how your marketing will play out and I don’t just mean agreeing on an asking price. There’s much more to marketing than listing a property on Rightmove and Zoopla. Your agent will know the best way to achieve the best deal and minimise your time on the market. However, it is also worth knowing some other tactics to help sell your house in a difficult housing market.

1. Open house viewings

Open house viewings are when your estate agent markets your home as being ‘open to view’. This could be for a specific period – perhaps a morning, a day or a weekend. This is widely used in the US but less so here.

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Your open house is advertised on your agent’s website as well as in local news sites and newspapers. Invitations may also be sent to appropriate buyers registered with the agent, sometimes referred to as ‘hot buyers‘. Then the event takes place with the expectation that it generates a ‘buzz’.

The advantage as a seller is that you only have to host one busy viewing period and can prepare accordingly. Prepare your house for sale by ensuring that it is clean tidy and presentable.

2. Home staging to sell your house

If you need to move out of your home before you find a buyer, it will look empty. The danger is that photographs of bare walls and floors will lead to your property being sidelined by potential buyers scrolling online.

Unless, of course, you get your home ‘staged’. This involves leaving some of your furniture or hiring furniture to help would-be buyers imagine what it’s like to live in your property.

You should still abide by the golden rules of ensuring there’s no clutter and nothing too ‘personal’ in the décor. A staged property, with a table and chairs in the dining room, beds in bedrooms and so on, will be much more welcoming than an echoing empty house.

There are professional home stagers, but good estate agents should advise you on what to do, and where you can hire furniture for a sensible price. 

3. Home styling to sell your house

Even if your property is still fully furnished, an interior design or home staging expert could likely suggest some improvements to make it more sellable.

Your agent probably has the skill how to present a property most effectively but if something extra is needed, your agent may well know an expert to call on.

It’s key that the improvements are low-cost but make a high visual impact. This might include throws over worn-looking furniture, or simple accessories to spruce up large wall areas.

4. Beware of offering incentives

When the market was tough, over a decade ago, some homeowners offered incentives to buyers, like some fixtures and fittings.

It’s worth knowing about this but sellers must be level-headed. Today’s market is nothing like as difficult as in, say, 2008 to 2011 when incentives were more commonplace.

And there are dangers to this tactic. You may look too desperate to sell, and there may be issues concerning stamp duty liability if you are seen to be giving fixtures and fittings without the buyer having to pay for them in the normal way.

Will I need to use these tactics to sell my house?

Our housing market update uses data from the respected estate agent’s body Propertymark and shows that the current market is more resilient than many expected given the economic headwinds that exist. But the UK housing market is polarised, so it’s not the same in every local market

It’s hoped, of course, that you will sell your home quickly, however, if you need to go the extra mile to find a buyer, there are some options here for you to consider. My advice is, as ever, to discuss it all with your local Propertymark estate agent.

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Last Updated: November 28th, 2023

Phil Spencer

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