The stage is set, your house is looking immaculate, and you’ve got a line of potential buyers at your door ready to view their next home. The only thing between you and a swift sale is a whole host of questions that your purchaser needs answering before saying a big fat YES. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back – here are some of the most common questions asked at house viewings, and your cheat sheet to answering them.
· Why are you selling and how long have you lived here?
This is the chance to really sell your home. First off, you could be selling for a number of reasons. You may need to find a home for your growing family, maybe you need to relocate for work or to be closer to family. If the reasons for moving on are positive, then make sure you emphasise the fact that you aren’t moving due to any limitations of the house or the area.
On the contrary, if you have only lived somewhere for a short time, be honest about why. If you have found your house isn’t quite as commutable as you had first thought, make this into a positive – your home will be perfect for someone who can work flexibly, or isn’t reliant on commuting distance. If you find the area too busy, this may be the perfect location for a younger buyer or someone who needs easy access to local amenities.
· How long has the property been on the market?
This is probably the most common question asked and if your house has been on the market for a while, there is usually a good reason for that.
We’re still living through a pandemic which has meant that the housing market has seen its fair share of ups and downs. This has meant that many vendors have experienced some level of difficulty in selling their home.
However, you can address the other reasons that you may not have sold as quickly as you’d like. You may initially have priced your house slightly too high – it's fine to be honest about this, and admitting this to potential buyers allows them to see that you are open and honest, and therefore more likely to be reliable when it comes to selling.
If your house has been on the market for a while, you need to assess your options. If you are looking for a quick sale, make sure any purchasers know you could be willing to strike a deal. Alternatively, if you’re in no rush, your answer can be based on wanting to make sure you sell to the right people.
· Is the property part of a chain?
We're currently in a sellers' market (at the time of writing Oct 21), and it hasn’t gone unnoticed that in today’s landscape, it’s particularly important to be chain free - or at least part of a chain that doesn’t include Tom, Richard AND Harry! There’s nothing more attractive to sellers than avoiding lengthy chains that could fall apart at any moment. If you are lucky enough to be chain free, this is a real selling point. However, if you are in a chain, all is not lost.
It’s important to be flexible – if you can avoid a chain, it may be worth taking the small financial hit of renting a property after your sale to avoid the sale stalling. If that isn’t an option, we think that the best answer is to demonstrate that you are savvy in keeping a chain moving along. Chains are so reliant on getting all of the appropriate people upholding their end of the bargain – be it signing documents on time, getting their money in the right place, or simply making sure an estate agent gives you an alternative contact if they are on leave. If you can show that you are adept at ensuring everyone plays their part in the process, you will be able to instil confidence in a potential buyer.
· How can I add value to this property?
This is actually a great question in terms of giving you the opportunity to address any slightly negative issues about your home. If you are looking to downsize and haven't touched your property in years, it may be ripe for an upgrade – a massive bonus for some buyers.
If you have a garage to convert, it’s worth letting viewers know that this can add up to 30% to a property’s value. Going into the loft or even into the cellar is also going to add a new dimension to a property. Even really simple changes like installing more modern windows or adding a conservatory have the ability to add value to a home.
If you believe you’ve reached your home’s limit in terms of upgrades, additions and renovations and there really isn’t much left to be done, you can focus on how marketable the house is, and how it’s likely to retain its value – the message here is that you’ve done the work so that they don’t have to.
· What's the local area like? Schools, public transport, crime...
With questions about your local area, it’s important to have the facts at your fingertips. Even if you don’t need your local schools, having an idea of their proximity and their Ofsted rating is useful knowledge to have at your disposal. Similarly, knowing the distance to your nearest train station and the commuting time to major cities will allow buyers to imagine what their commute will be like. Think about all of the things you love about where you live – green spaces, access to amenities, being close enough but not too close to an airport – all of these answers will really help give a purchaser a feel for where you live. In terms of crime statistics, you can look this up on https://www.police.uk - if you live in a low crime area, fab! If you live somewhere known for higher crime rates, just make sure you address how you have made your home as safe as possible.
· What's the parking situation?
Off-street parking is obviously the dream scenario, but for many of us that’s just not possible. If you live somewhere with street parking, be clear on ease of parking, whether permits are needed and if so, what you can expect to pay for them.
If you don’t have parking, be sure to have a decent knowledge of local public transport, or do some research about renting parking spaces nearby.
You should also be aware that more and more people will be beginning to convert to electric cars – do you have an accessible charging point, and if not, what are the alternatives?
· Do you get on with your neighbours?
There’s a saying that you can change your friends, but you can’t change your neighbours. Some people just love a good natter over the fence, but some prefer their privacy – so if you aren’t that close to the people next door, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.
If you have noisy or nuisance neighbours who could harm your chances of a quick sale, the trick is to deal with the situation quickly and efficiently before going to market. You legally have to declare if you’ve had issues with neighbours, so it’s better to tackle the issue head on. Whether you take your neighbours to court, or you decide to drop your house price, we’re afraid there isn't an easy fix for this one. It may be best to get some legal advice and as usual, proceed honestly with any potential buyers.
When selling your home, it’s likely that you may have a few sticky questions. The key here is honesty. No matter what, transparency will always pay off. Buyers are more likely to proceed with a sale if they have all of the facts at their disposal. A hidden issue is bound to rear its ugly head at some point and will only lead to distrust, and potentially, a lost sale.
With our help, you now have the tools to address the good, the bad and the ugly about your home and its surrounding area, to offer potential solutions and to make sure you are a vendor that can be counted on. Bon chance!