Ingredients of a selling success

PUBLISHED: 10:25 23 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:05 22 October 2010

Sensible pricing, perseverance and optimism are important ingredients for a successful sale in today's housing market, according to one of Norfolk's most experienced estate agents.

Sensible pricing, perseverance and optimism are important ingredients for a successful sale in today's housing market, according to one of Norfolk's most experienced estate agents.

Chartered surveyor Nigel Steele has sold some of the finest houses in the county and says the exceptional is still selling exceptionally well. But beneath the cream, there is more competition and realistic pricing is essential.

As a partner in the Norwich office of Jackson-Stops & Staff, he is on the frontline in both valuations and sale negotiations and says there are good buyers in the marketplace. However, they can hold out for the property that is right for them, which ticks all the boxes, because there is plenty to buy above £250,000.

While lower-priced property is doing brisk business, with first-time buyers competing with investors, it is a different story at middle and upper levels.

“The market is holding up well, but we have seen quite a change this year,” he tells me. “It is not the boom market we had several years ago where everything and anything would sell. Buyers are much more choosy and vendors have got to be a little bit cautious and not stick out too strongly for the asking price.

“So if you are selling your home and you receive an offer, even one which may be slightly below what you anticipated, give it serious thought because it could be the one and only offer.”

He does not expect any significant movement in prices for the second half of the year. “It is a very flat market in terms of prices, with no sign of increases in the middle and top end sectors, and there may have to be some further adjustment on overpriced properties. If a house hasn't sold, vendors might have to trim their price to become more competitive.”

Mr Steele keeps a keen weather eye on the national economy and international stock markets. Last week's words of caution from the governor of the Bank of England about more difficult times ahead are, he believes, timely and could herald rising interest rates and more expensive mortgages.

“While we have had a strong economy for the past five years and interest rates pegged for 10 months, this situation could change. Any sizeable increases in interest rates, in the order of two percentage points for example, would have a severe effect. That said, I do not believe we are going to have a market crash, but that the slower conditions now evident could be with us for some considerable time.”

A surplus of unsold middle market property and shortage of buyers, coupled with the high cost of moving house (anywhere between £30,000 to £50,000 for more expensive properties) is making many potential vendors decide to stay put.

“With fewer buyers in the market, vendors have to get used to longer selling times. Anyone looking to sell currently has to accept it will take three to six months and if they can do it quicker they are fortunate.

“The bottom end of the market is doing well and up till earlier this year the top end was doing well, but we have seen a slowdown. There are quite a number of million pound plus properties on the market in Norfolk, some of which may be overpriced. But with the others, it is a question of waiting for the right purchaser and having patience and confidence that your agent is doing everything he can.”

He thinks the introduction of Home Information Packs (HIPs) from June 2007 will have a significant effect on next year's market.

“I don't think half the population know about the packs, or understand them, but they will certainly have an effect next year, when I suspect a lot of people will decide to sell ahead of their introduction. They are going to be a nasty shock to an awful lot of people and I think we shall certainly see a feast and famine situation.”

Despite HIPs, he remains confident about the long-term future of the local market. “We are getting offers on properties practically every day and I am optimistic this situation will continue,” he says. “However, it is a market where pricing is key and property condition terribly important.”

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