According to the latest monthly survey from the Halifax, average house prices fell by only 1.3% last year. This may come as a surprise to many, who could be forgiven for thinking that prices had plummeted. However, our clients at HomeTruths are telling a different story: the general consensus is that whilst there were far fewer properties on the market in 2011 (around half the number on the market during the peak of 2007), buyer confidence is also low, so fewer people are actually taking the plunge and buying a property.
So what does this mean for property prices? Well in my opinion, not much. In our experience, those sellers who have dropped their property’s asking price often several times, and sometimes dramatically, have seen no additional interest in their home as a result. They simply attract viewers who couldn’t afford the property at the higher price, but are no more willing to commit to an offer at the new reduced price. After all, if they see your asking price dropping time and time again, how can they know what the actual ‘value’ is and how can they be confident they aren’t overpaying?
If you aren’t getting viewings on your home, or the viewers you are getting aren’t making offers, dropping your asking price is probably not the answer. Whilst the market is sluggish, it’s going to take much longer to find a buyer, and longer still to convince them that your property is a good investment for them. If it’s possible, (and I recognise that not everyone has a choice in this respect) take your property off the market until confidence, and therefore activity, returns. In the meantime, keep a close eye on the market, keep in touch with your local agents, and with us at HomeTruths, and be ready to relaunch your property to the market at short notice should the situation improve. Even then, don’t just put your property back on the market and leave it there, month after month, gathering dust and becoming stale. Dip your toe into the property market water little and often; try no more than 8-12 weeks on the market at any one time, withdrawing from the market for 4-8 weeks in between. (My post on the best times to sell is here, which you might find interesting in planning your marketing campaign.)
So, whilst the experts are predicting, at best, ‘stability’ in the market during 2012, ‘stability’ won’t get you the best possible price for your house. If you can wait, then wait; if your house sale is funding your retirement, and every penny counts, it’ll be worth your patience.