Here's a tip: if you want to make a sale - try harder...
Despite the sluggish market, some savvy sellers are finding buyers for their homes...
IT MAY BE a buyer’s market but some properties are shifting, with a few even garnering competitive bids. What are sellers doing to earn that coveted “sold” sign? Homeowners who have been liberated from the “for sale” trenches have some tips.
According to the CSO’s Residential Property Price Index, property prices are down 43 per cent nationally from Septembner 2007, but property manager Deirdre Walshe says there are buyers out there,.
The market is now is a bit like speed dating,” says Walshe, who once worked in advertising sales. “Your property is competing against thousands of other properties out there so you need to try harder.”
She manages her family’s portfolio of 34 properties. This year shesold a two-bedroom apartment and she has put her own family home up for sale.
“You need an agent with experience in your area and in your property type,” Walshe says. Research what properties have sold in the past, for what price, and who sold them. You can also look at the properties that are on the market at present and what their guide price is and again who is the sales agent. If an agent is getting results in your area then they have their ear the ground as to what buyers think of the area, what type of properties buyers are looking for and, more importantly, what kind of price you can expect.”
She employed Owen Reilly to sell her two-bedroom apartment in Temple Bar. It had an asking price of €195,000 and recently sold for €189,000. Her family home in Sandymount, which has just come onto the market, is with agents Sherry Fitzgerald.
Pricing the property to sell is crucial to clinching a deal, she says. “Sellers have to be realistic. The market will tell you what your property is worth. You have to listen to the market. And in this market you should be willing to accept an offer of between five and 10 per cent less than the asking price.”
She also recommends that you are flexible about viewings. “You don’t know when your buyer might appear and in this market you need to be as amenable as possible.”
Prionsais O’Neirigh has sold two properties in the past 18 months. A three-bedroom investment property in Rathfarnham went to the market last August at €395,000 and sold 14 weeks later for €230,000.
The family home in Carrickmines went to market in August of last year at €495,000. A three-bedroom semi starter home, it was purchased in 2002 for €360,000.
The house took eight months to sell. For five of those months he increased the number of viewings from Saturdays only to viewings every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
“It’s a falling market,” says O’Neirigh, “so reduce your price to sell”. He lowered his Carrickmines house price four times to catch the market. He also changed agents.
Even with all this effort he thinks that the buyer actually first saw the house at a family party. The house sold for €340,000, 31 per cent below the original asking price, yet O’Neirigh is delighted with the result “because property prices in the area are still falling in value”.
He didn’t get back the €70,000 he had spent installing a new kitchen, new bathroom and new windows, but he was able to pay off the mortgage.
Retired quantity surveyor George Walsh, who sold his house in Tudor Lawns in Leopardstown in July, agrees with the recommendation to reduce the asking price.
“Purchasers need to feel theyre getting something off the price,” he explains. He discounted his home by €50,000 – that’s 10per cent – and it sold within two months.
He also recommends sellers get a surveyor’s report done on their property before they put it on the market because “some buyers are using the findings of their surveyors report to try and further reduce the property price. If you already have a survey of your own you can allay their concerns”.
Reports of horse trading are rife. One Dublin barrister who sold his three-bedroom house in Sandymount last July had three bidders within its asking price of €525,000.
He went with the highest bidder who then delayed closing contracts. The buyer’s solicitor came back weeks later saying that there was an issue with the title. The barrister didn’t believe the issue raised was genuine and felt that this was confirmed when the purchaser sought a reduction in the price. The house was eventually to one of the under-bidders.
Under-bidders who are cash buyers are not beholden to the bank and are able to move quickly – something to bear in mind in this market, says Tom McLoughlin who sold a large period county house outside Kilcock in Co Kildare.
The house, 511sq mts (5,500sq ft) in size was put up for sale in June 2009 with an asking price of €1.4 million. The price was reduced to €1.1 million and after almost two years on the market sold to a cash buyer for €845,000. “We had several offers but most couldn’t come up with the money.”
If you are lucky enough to find yourself with a number of buyers bidding close to your asking price, one recommendation is to issue contracts to each bidder and tell them that whoever comes back first with signed contracts gets the house.
Emer and Julian Pollard built a three-bedroom bungalow to the rear of their property in Greystones seven years ago. The house was originally built for their daughter. It was rented out but the non principal residence tax and looming property taxes prompted them to put it up for sale. It went to market in March this year with an asking price of €450,000. They instructed their solicitor to start working on the documentation as soon as the house had been valued by their agent. Several parties were interested in the property and competitive bidding saw her get in excess of the asking price. The sale closed within two months.
Communication is crucial if you want to keep all parties happy, says Anne Marie Lynam, who only put her house up for sale because she fell in love with another, a country property in Co Westmeath that she saw advertised in this paper. “I will buy this house if you can sell mine,” she recalls telling the estate agent after viewing it.
One valuation later, her four-bedroom detached town house in Athlone went to market with an asking price of €295,000. That was in September 2010. By November 3rd the sale was agreed for 25 per cent less than the asking price.
The house she bought had tenants that needed to be given notice to quit. She had to wait until March of this year to move in. This slowed down the sale proceedings on her own house as she didn’t want to move out and rent in the interim. This wasn’t a problem because she kept in constant communication with her agent to update her and the vendor.
“Don’t think you’ll close in six weeks,” says Deirdre. “Set your sights on the process taking six months. And get your paperwork in order before you go to sale. That will speed up the process from your side.”
When you go to market you have five or six weeks and then you will lose momentum, she says. “If it doesn’t work, go back to the drawing board. Ask yourself the following questions: Is it the price? Is it clean enough? Most buyers can’t see past a mess.”
Buyers these days are more discerning, agrees O’Neirigh. “They’re even taking the house- hunting search beyond the property pages and websites and driving around areas, noting boards as they go up. A lot of houses are selling very quietly this way.”
Keep your tenants
Do not leave an investment property sitting vacant while it is up for sale, cautions Deirdre Walshe. “The sale may take up to a year to go through so explain the situation to the tenants and reduce their rent to keep them in situ. A property with tenants is not going to be kept in spotless show house condition but an investor will see past this.”
Four properties that have recently sold
Number 16 St Kevin’s Park, Dartry, Dublin 6, sold recently for a figure substantially over the quoting price, according to Keith Lowe of agent DNG. It had been seeking €1.35 million for the bay-windowed Edwardian house on this popular road. It is a 265sq m (2,850sq ft) five-bedroom house with good period details and well-cared for gardens.
Cuanog, Deansgrange Road, Blackrock, Co Dublin is a detached 400sq m (4,500sq ft) property divided into three apartments. It sold in September for close to the asking price of €925,000 says agent Lisney. It has a separate mews and courtyard and one of its main attractions is the large, secluded back garden.
Savills recently sold this 222sq m (2,400sq ft) semi-detached family home at 38 Trees Road, Mount Merrion, Co Dublin, for under the asking price of €995,000 say the agents. Extended and refurbished, it has a large conservatory/sunroom, a 130ft long back garden, and is close to the N11 in Stillorgan.
A 78sq m (840sq ft) two-bed apartment on the seventh floor of Hanover Riverside at Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2, was sold recently for just below the asking price of €330,000 says agent Owen Reilly. The apartment has a balcony with river views, parking, and an annual service charge of €1,850.
Report by ALANNA GALLAGHER - Irish Times