How to sell your home in a tough market

There's no point in sugar coating it – if you're planning to sell your house this year, it's going to be tough. The PM has spoken out on how too stringent lending restrictions are stifling the market, but until they loosen up vendors may continue to struggle to attract potential buyers.

So it's more important than ever to make your home stand out from the competition. Here's how.

While lenders had little choice but to reign in lending activity when the global crash revealed millions of homeowners had borrowed beyond their means, the prime minister called on lenders to return to 'respectable' lending in order to stimulate growth.

Prepare your home for sale
Despite Mr Cameron's comments, the latest figures from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) suggest that the number of house hunters across the country is on the rise. So how can you attract the buyers that can secure funding?

Clear the clutter
NAEA research shows clearing clutter is the best way to increase salability of your home. No buyer wants to see your messy magazine collection, the kids dusty old sports trophies or a mass trinkets on the mantle piece. Use it as opportunity to sort though your stuff, throwing away junk and storing personal things in boxes neatly stashed in the garage or under the bed, for example.

This will not only improve the photos of your property – the first hook to entice potential buyers – but also enable them to imagine their own belongings in the space when they come to view. It'll also give the illusion of space and size – always a bonus.

Kerb appeal
The NAEA reiterates that the first impression is often the one that counts, so ensure your home looks welcoming from the outside too. You don't want to give potential buyers any reason to dislike the property before they've even passed the threshold.

Tidy the garden, clean the windows and consider giving the front door and external paint work a fresh lick of paint. Simple inexpensive extras like placing a couple of bay trees either side of the door or driveway shows that you care about your property.

Open day
Considering holding an open day to showcase your home to several buyers at once. Open homes are common events in the US and Canada, and present a great opportunity to display your home at its best and mingle with interested parties. Selling a home often has a lot to with creating a desirable lifestyle, so tricks like having freshly brewed coffee or chilled wine in the evening, and serving nibbles is a nice touch.

Consider an extension
If simple measures don't seem to be working, it may be worth considering an extention to make your home stand out from similar properties for sale. More than 40% of NAEA members believe that a well planned and built extension, that creates an additional open living space, is the best way of increasing the value of a property.

Installing a new kitchen is also seen as an effective way of increasing the value, as well as adding a loft conversion. However, sellers should bear in mind that the average price of properties in the local area will dictate the maximum price your home can achieve, so it's worth researching similar properties in your local area first before carrying out any work.

Make a sensible valuation
With so few properties on the market, it is crucial for sellers to ensure that the valuation on your home is competitive in the current market conditions. The value of properties across the board has dropped sharply during the last few years, so it is crucial that you get an accurate valuation of your home and don't just charge what you think it is worth.

As well as decreasing the chance of selling your home, mortgage advisers may refuse mortgage finance for would-be buyers if they believe the asking price is not a sensible one.

Energy efficiency
With the cost of heating homes on the rise, many households are choosing to make their home more energy efficient. Some buyers will use an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) as a bargaining tool to knock down the price of a property, if they are intending to carry out extensive energy efficiency improvements.

Installing draft excluders or improving the insulation of your loft or boiler are simple ways of improving energy efficiency. With the Government Green Deal due to introduce incentives for homeowners to increase the energy efficiency of their home, this issue will remain an important one for sellers to bear in mind.

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