Don't give up too soon

Seasoned estate agents know that even in a bull property market, about 20% of the homes they list don't sell right away – and some don’t sell even within two or three months.

However, says Neville McIntyre, chairman ofAida, SA’s best-known estate agency group, if your home is one of those that has been on the market for weeks and weeks without generating an offer, you should not despair – or take it off the market just yet.

“According to the latest figures available from FNB,” he notes, “the average time that owners can expect their properties to remain on the market prior to sale currently is just under 16 weeks – which implies that there are many that will take longer than that to sell.

“But if you’re still disheartened, the first thing to do is ask for some feedback from your agent. Is your asking price too high for the current market? What are the main criticisms or objections of potential buyers? What cosmetic changes might speed up a sale?”

Second, he says, you should consider your reason for selling. “If you are really only planning to sell if you get a certain price, and that price is not currently attainable, you are not what the industry calls a ‘motivated seller’, and might indeed be better off taking your home off the market until it improves.

“On the other hand, if you are highly-motivated to sell as soon as possible, you should review and re-plan your marketing strategy.”

McIntyre says the most common reason for a home's failure to sell is still that the asking price is more than buyers are currently willing to pay, and that if that is the case, you will need to make an adjustment right away.

“Having said that, though, a price reduction should always be combined with an increased marketing effort, and you will need to consult with your agent about running more advertisements or holding extra showdays.”

Alternatively, your property may be priced right but need some cosmetic improvements or “make up” to improve its curb appeal. If that is the case, you might want to arrange for a short break in the marketing effort while the work is completed.

“In general, however, it is risky to take a property right off the market once you have decided to sell. Market conditions are constantly changing and you could end up in a worse situation if prices fall while you're taking a breather.

“The best course, in the huge majority of cases, is to follow your agent’s advice and do everything within your power to make your property marketable right now.”

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