10 unexpected things that could slow down your house sale

Advice from the experts at HouseSimple.com

Updated: 
House

For many home-sellers, time is of the essence, whether you're upsizing to accommodate a growing family or simply moving on to greener pastures. However, even when all parties are committed to a speedy sale, there are some notorious curve balls that can slow things down – here's a quick guide on how to sell a house fast, brought to you by HouseSimple.com.

1. Smell

It's no surprise that appearances are crucial – but how many sellers will stop to consider their home's unique aroma? Ahead of viewings, it pays to open the windows to let in some fresh air, empty any bins and wash or spritz furniture coverings, as an unsavoury whiff could seriously put off potential buyers.

2. Pricing

While your main aim is to get a good deal, it's also important that your asking price attracts buyers. Overpricing (even in a buoyant market) can exclude potentially interested parties and result in your property lingering on the market. A good agent will help you reach a realistic price using intelligent data, for example from the Land Registry and local house price movements.

3. Listings

Marketing your property as widely as possible, on both local and national property websites, is a well-known way of improving chances of a quick sale. However, it's best not to take a 'fire and forget' approach to your listing: the description of your property is vital, and a sketchy, poorly written or uninspiring write-up could leave your viewing requests lagging.

4. Buyers

If you're in a position to be selective, it's a good idea to choose the buyer that's most likely to complete the transaction quickly – and sometimes that may mean not jumping at the first offer. First-time buyers and buyers who have already sold their home are likely to result in the fastest transactions.

5. Paperwork

Property chains can become long and complicated, and a problem at any point (including a simple piece of missing paperwork) can cause delays for all involved. If you find yourself in a slow-moving chain, you may be able to speed things up by investing in a filing system, so that you can quickly and easily produce documents on request.

6. Defects

If a survey identifies unexpected problems with your property, the buyer may wish to reconsider (or even withdraw) their offer. An important tip for how to sell a house fast: negotiation. If complications arise, work with the buyer towards a solution that benefits both parties.

7. Conveyancing

The conveyancing process requires information from various third parties before contracts can be exchanged. To avoid delays, it helps to stay in regular contact with your agent and buyer (ideally over the phone) so you can quickly deal with any small issues that arise.

8. Withdrawals

It's a disappointing outcome when a buyer suddenly pulls out of a purchase, but the buyer is entitled to change their mind at any point before the exchange of contracts, with no financial penalty. Get things back on track by contacting any other viewers who expressed interest - they may still be keen.

9. Damp

According to 2014 research by GoCompare, the number one turn-off for potential buyers is "damp patches, stained walls and ceilings", with 70% agreeing that they wouldn't buy a property with visible signs of damp. Equally, if a buyer discovers hidden damp at the point of survey, this may cause delays to your sale – so it's wise to get any damp treated before putting your home on the market.

10. Time of year

The market traditionally slows down in winter (particularly just before Christmas) and in high summer, when many potential buyers are away on holiday. Consider going to market in spring or autumn for a speedier sale - although a good agent will be able to advise on specific trends in your local area.

Keen to speed up your house sale? The average property on HouseSimple.com takes just 21 days to sell, versus 65 days with typical high street agents*. Visit HouseSimple.com to find out more.

*As reported by Rightmove.