Everyone has a price in mind when it comes to selling their home. In reality, you’ll probably have a range of prices – the amount that you’re ideally hoping to get, and a lower value that you’d be prepared to accept.
It’s easy to think that once you’ve made the effort to stage your home effectively, your work is done. But negotiating a house price is a vital stage in the process of selling your home. Your estate agent will be on hand to advise, but ultimately the decision of whether or not to accept an offer is up to you. Read our in-depth guide for tried-and-trusted advice on getting the best possible sale price for your property.
How much is your house worth?
As we mentioned, you’ll almost certainly have an ideal sale price in mind. But it’s vital that this price is grounded in reality and not dictated by your own circumstances. You might be planning to move to a more expensive area or purchase a larger property, but these factors don’t have any impact on how much your current house is actually worth.
The first step in the process of negotiating a house price should have taken place before you’ve even decided to put your home on the market. Getting an accurate valuation is the only way to understand the value of your property in current market conditions. At Chancellors, we offer two options for valuing your home:
- Our instant Online Valuation tool provides an estimate based on average prices in your area, assuming the property is in typical condition (i.e. without any significant improvements or a need for major repairs).
- For the most accurate result, book a free Market Appraisal. One of our experts will visit your property to give a detailed valuation based on the property’s condition, the neighbourhood, and prices of similar homes in the area.
These valuations should be used as the basis of your negotiating strategy, and should inform the “ideal sale price” that you have in mind when receiving offers.
Tactics for negotiating a higher sale price
Negotiating the sale price of your house is about more than just digging your heels in and demanding a higher offer. There are practical steps you can take to encourage the buyer to move closer to your ideal price.
Don’t get stuck in a property chain
One of the biggest steps you can take to make your property more desirable to buyers – and therefore to help you negotiate a higher sale price – is to avoid getting stuck in a property chain.
According to Which? research, property chains are one of the most common reasons for a sale collapsing once an offer has been accepted. One in five failed deals is caused by the buyer’s inability to sell their own home, while one in eight collapses because the length of the process convinces the seller to pull out. If part of the chain encounters problems, the whole thing falls through.
Of course, no one enters a property chain by choice. But if you can avoid leaving your own sale at the mercy of one or more other transactions, you should. While this won’t be feasible for every seller, consider the following options to avoid getting stuck in a chain:
- Buying your next property before you’ve sold your current home
- Moving into rented accommodation until the sale is complete
Either way, if you’re not in a chain – or have managed to remove yourself from one – make sure the buyer is aware. This advantageous position should allow you to negotiate a higher sale price.
Offer to take the house off the market
Buyers hate being gazumped – that is, having an offer accepted, but then missing out on the sale because the vendor receives a higher price from another bidder. This is a factor in 21% of purchases falling through, according to Which?.
As a result, a potential tactic for negotiating a higher selling price involves offering to take your house off the market. Generally speaking, it works as follows:
- The potential buyer makes an offer that is close to – but slightly below – the seller’s ideal price.
- The seller responds by declaring the price at which they are prepared to take the house off the market.
- It’s then up to the potential buyer to decide whether to meet this slightly higher price – thereby agreeing to the deal – or risk missing out on the property altogether.
It should go without saying, but if the buyer fulfils their end of the bargain and raises their offer, you should follow suit and take your house off the market. Failing to do so could cause the deal to collapse.
Sweeten the deal with extras
We’ve spoken before about the potential pitfalls of striving to make your home “perfect” for a buyer. In short, it’s all-too-easy to sink money into improvements that don’t add real value to the property. This should obviously be avoided.
However, that’s not to say you should ignore the potential of incentivising a deal to get a higher sale price. Furniture and white goods can be a helpful sweetener – if the buyer loves your fridge or antique writing desk, why not offer to include them in the deal if they’re prepared to meet your asking price?
It’s also worth considering the factors that are most likely to dissuade buyers. Research from Gocompare identified the 20 top property turnoffs, many of which can be easily – and inexpensively – addressed. For instance:
- Poor natural light and/or dark rooms – cited as a turnoff by 50% of respondents
- General untidiness or dirtiness – 28%
- An overgrown garden – 19%
Offering to weed your garden, deep-clean the property or repaint dingy rooms in a lighter, airier colour could help to coax the buyer into upping their offer.
Don’t allow emotion to influence the sale
Stubbornness is rarely a useful trait to bring to a property negotiation. It can be frustrating to receive an offer that’s well below your asking price, but remember that the buyer is also trying to negotiate. Don’t simply dismiss it out of hand; consider the steps detailed above and speak to your estate agent about the potential for getting them to increase their offer.
Likewise, it’s important to consider the real-world cost of keeping your home on the market. For instance, if you’ve already moved out – perhaps because you’re moving for work – are you paying two lots of utility bills and council tax? If so, you may have to revise down your asking price over time, as continuing to hold out for a higher offer could end up costing you more.
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Correct at time of publication (2nd October 2019). The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chancellors Group of Estate Agents Ltd or its subsidiaries. References to legislation, best practice and other matters with legal implications such as fees, rules and processes are included for information and editorial purposes only and are not authoritative, nor should they be interpreted as advice. When in doubt you should only take advice from an industry professional or solicitor where appropriate. E&OE.