We often visit people who have been trying to sell for a long time, without success. And we know how disappointing it can be to be stuck in limbo, with an unsold house and unfulfilled plans. But what can you do when you just aren’t getting any viewings on your home at all? With little or no feedback, and perhaps some pressure from your estate agent to drop the price, it’s difficult to know what to do.
Rest assured, we’re here to help. In this post, we walk you through our six AshdownJones Saleability Factors that affect how much interest, and ultimately offers, you’re likely to get on your home. Once you know how the saleability of your home ranks, you can make sure you’re in the best possible position to sell your home, in your timescale, and for the price you need.
Saleability factor 1: Your asking price
When you first put your home on the market, who decided on the asking price? Did you take your estate agent’s advice, or did you ask them to put your home on the market at a price that wasn’t supported by your agent? When you have a unique home – as all our clients do – valuing can be more of an art than a science. After all, with no precedent or property comparables, how can you accurately determine the price at which a property will ultimately sell?
Even if you followed your agent’s advice and put your home on the market at the price they recommended, they could be wrong. Some agents currently have fewer homes to market than they’d like to have listed, and this can often cause them to be over-optimistic in their valuing in order to secure the instruction. It’s difficult to choose a lower valuation when one agent seems confident they can get you a much higher sale price, but this can come back to bite you months down the line when, with no or little interest in your home, your estate agent has no choice but to suggest a price decrease.
Do you compete well with other similar properties on the market? How does your asking price compare with other properties for sale in your area? Whilst having a unique home means comparable properties are a stretch, don’t forget that your viewers are likely looking at several homes at around your asking price, and comparing their various features, position and style. Try to see your home through the eyes of a buyer, and critically determine if yours looks over-priced when compared to the other homes available for the same budget.
Are you trying to break the price ceiling for your area? We were asked recently to value a stunning 16th century home in a beautiful little Lakeland village, where no property had broken the £1 million sale price, ever. After having spent a couple of hours in the house, we felt sure that home could actually do this, and in fact, sell for much more than £1 million. But it wouldn’t be an easy thing to do, because even if you can convince a buyer that the house is worth a higher sale price than any home that has ever sold in the vicinity, there is still the surveyor to satisfy. Surveyors get understandably nervous at confirming a valuation that is considerably higher than any house ever sold in the area. To help counter this, one strategy we use at AshdownJones to reassure surveyors is to compile a ‘Price per square foot’ analysis, showing historical prices achieved for comparable properties in perhaps neighbouring villages, based on how much each square foot sold for – literally how much house a buyer is getting for their money. This can be a reliable indicator of true value, and can help both the buyer and the surveyor make a more accurate comparison of seemingly incomparable properties.
Does your home fit into a Rightmove price banding? How to use the ‘Zero pricing’ strategy. We find that homes priced at the same price bandings Rightmove use tend to get more clicks on the platform. As more clicks generally equals more viewings, by pricing your home exactly at a Rightmove banding, you eliminate the possibility of your home being overlooked because it’s slipped below – or appeared above – a popular search criteria. For example, if your home has been valued at a million pounds, it may be tempting to market it at £999,999, thinking this is a ‘psychological’ price point, but this would be a mistake. This is because a buyer looking from say, £1 million and upwards, on Rightmove will simply not see your home. The price bandings on Rightmove are all rounded figures, eg £1,000,000 – £1,250,000, so by marketing your home at an exact price point on Rightmove, your home actually falls into both search results: £900,000 – £1,000,000 and £1,000,000 – £1,250,000. This means you have potentially twice the chance of your home being found in a property search on the platform.
Saleability factor 2: Your presentation
How does the presentation of your home compare with that of your competitors? On Rightmove and the other portals, (Zoopla, OntheMarket, Primelocation), look at homes that are in your price bracket, or that may otherwise be competing with your home. How do they compare in presentation to yours? Does your kitchen appear dated, or do your bathrooms need a makeover? If your carpets are coloured, dark or patterned, those rooms won’t photograph well, leaving you lagging behind your competitors in interest, clicks and viewings. A little updating in the right areas can help enormously in making sure interest in your home is high right from the start, and stays that way.
A visit to a local showhome can help by showing how the professionals style homes to sell, and what accessories work in which areas. Large homeware departments in stores like John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Next showcase new trends in soft furnishings and accessories that won’t easily date, but that can add a refreshed, modern look to your home, without breaking the bank. Home magazines and sites like Pinterest too, can help to give you ideas about how to furnish unused rooms or awkward corners.
Ask a stylish friend whose opinion you trust to walk round your house with you, and write down all those little jobs you’ve been meaning to get around to doing. Ask them to point out any area that is particularly personal, like name plaques on doors or a photo gallery. De-clutter, de-personalise and add shine through dressing and accessories.
Saleability factor 3: Your home’s photography
Most estate agents have great cameras these days and will tell you they can get just as good shots as a pro photographer. After all, cameras have come on in huge leaps and bounds, and yesterday’s pro camera costing thousands is today’s amateur camera, costing less than a couple of hundred. But can an estate agent ever be as good as a professional photographer? We don’t think so.
At AshdownJones, we always use a handpicked and talented professional photographer to photograph our homes. Despite the fact that one of our two directors – Sam – used to be a pro photographer herself. “My specialism was portraits; very different from houses,” says Sam. “So I let the pro property photographers work their magic. That leaves me free to get on with the business of selling houses!”
When we’re talking about the very best photography of your home, we don’t mean wide-angled lens shots that seek to deceive a viewer about the size of a room, nor photoshopped images that hide pylons, wires or broken masonry. In our photography we portray your home just as it is, whilst allowing its true beauty to shine through.
Your property photography also does the very important job of actually persuading buyers to view. As Phil, our director remarks, “with mediocre photographs on Rightmove, you’ll never know why you’re not getting viewings. If your house images are of the very highest quality, and you’re still not getting viewings, you know it must be your asking price that’s putting people off coming to see it.”
Property photography really is an art. It’s why magazines like Elle Décor and 25 Beautiful Homes are such a pleasure to flick through. Imagine those photographs taken by an amateur; sales would plummet.
Your home deserves to have beautiful, artful photographs, and these can only be achieved by a talented professional photographer. These are just some of the reasons why we will only ever use the very best professional photographer to photograph your home:
A pro will see what an amateur won’t. When he has a tripod set up, he can evaluate the shot in a considered way, and move out of the way anything that might sabotage it: a cat bowl, a rubbish bin, even a colourful hairbrush. Anything that may distract a viewer from looking at the main features of a room.
A pro can deal with light levels. How often do you look at a photograph of a house interior on Rightmove, where the windows are just white boxes? This is what a pro calls ‘blown out’ and it is because an amateur doesn’t have the expertise to cope with dark corners and light streaming through the window, at the same time.
A pro sees shots everywhere. Unlike an amateur, who will generally just get one wide-angled shot of every room, a pro will see a creative shot in the turn of a banister, or across a garden feature towards the sunshine. He is trained to look for the shots where they occur, not snap what’s there.
A pro will add ambience. He knows when to turn lamps on, and when to rely on the sun coming through the window instead. He is adept at capturing atmosphere like a roaring fire or flickering candle.
A pro takes his time. He has allocated a certain amount of time for the shoot, often several hours, and will walk round the property and plan the shoot carefully in his head. He takes account of where the light falls, and its path over the course of the shoot.
A pro has professional integrity. He needs to get the very best shots possible of your home – that’s his job. Whereas for an agent, the photography is just part of a very complex, demanding job, a pro photographer can instead dedicate himself to the job of getting those perfect images, no matter what it takes.
A pro will deliver an exceptional finished result. It can easily take almost as long to edit a shoot as it does to take the photographs in the first place. In fact, Sam’s sister, the talented wedding photographer Kathy Ashdown, takes 40 hours to edit a wedding that took her perhaps 12 hours to shoot. White balance, levels, saturation, sharpness, and lots more all have to be accounted for and enhanced so that the finished image is practically a work of art.
To find the very best, most talented photographers, we scoured our region to find the amazing photographers we are lucky enough to now use; photographers we know care passionately about getting just the right shot – just as much as we do. And all that care and attention means that a buyer can fall head over heels for your home, before they have even seen it.
If you’d like to see some before and after photography images, click here and you’ll be taken to our gallery. And if your home is on the market and you’d like an impartial assessment of your images, just drop us a line or call us on 015394 88811 and we’ll give you our honest opinion.
Saleability factor 4: Your estate agent
When the time comes to find an estate agent, you’re spoilt for choice. Almost too much choice. Experience, skills and services differ drastically from agent to agent, and sometimes, it’s difficult to know what you’re actually looking for. Let’s look at some of the factors you may want to consider when you’re asking that very important decision – “Which estate agent should we use?”
People – ‘people buy people’, so the saying goes, and we know how important it is that you get informed, friendly communication as often as you need it. Try calling their office as if you were a buyer – how are you made to feel? Do they give you their name without prompting, and are they interested in your needs? Does it feel you’re interrupting them, or do they seem happy to spend the time talking to you and freely answering your questions? In AshdownJones, ‘mystery shopping’ is a vital part of our team training, so that we always treat every enquiry with the importance it deserves. Try us and see for yourself! Call 015394 88811 and have a chat – see how we make you feel, because that’s how we’ll make your buyer feel too.
Insight – all estate agents have access to the same public and paid databases and information. But when you’re selling a unique home, it’s not data you need – it’s insight. How your estate agent interprets this information and transforms it via their experience and instinct into advice, is where their true value to you lies. You need to be able to trust your agent and know unequivocally that they are on your side, no matter what. If you don’t feel complete confidence in your agent’s dedication and commitment to your future plans, maybe it’s time to move on to another agent who genuinely has your best interests at heart – and can clearly demonstrate their integrity through their actions.
Proof – when you chose your estate agent, was it because they regularly and successfully sell homes like yours? Or just because you bought through them originally, or perhaps you’re hoping to buy a home they’re selling? Because whilst the latter may seem like good reasons to choose an estate agent, we believe that precedent in selling homes similar to yours in quality or price, or both, will have a greater bearing on whether they can sell yours successfully. Just because your agent seems to be good at selling three-bedroomed semis quickly and for high sale prices, it may not mean they have the skills to successfully market and sell your 16th century farmhouse, or your architect-designed lake-front home. Unique homes need unique marketing, and if your agent is simply marketing every home they sell in the same way, it may be time to consider moving to an agent who can show you examples of homes like yours they have successfully sold.
Saleability factor 5: Your property marketing
Whilst we’ve already touched on the importance of a talented photographer to bring your home to life online and in print, there are many other factors that go into determining whether your property marketing will be successful in attracting that perfect buyer – or leaving buyers flat and uninterested in your home. Allow us a little indulgence here in explaining why we take around 21 days to take your home to market, and why that matters to you and your house sale:
Lifestyle photography – to paraphrase a well-known high street brand: “these aren’t just images; they are AshdownJones images”. Some estate agents may invest in a quality camera; some may even use a professional photographer. But our images are really on another level.
Look at how on one image, you can see every feature of a beautiful sitting room, whilst still be able to see the view in crisp and clear detail. That takes a wealth of experience and a deep well of technical know-how. See too how another image highlights flickering candles around a gently bubbling bath. That requires insight and an understanding of the lifestyle a buyer aspires to.
Twilight imagery – we love twilight at AshdownJones; it’s such a warm, welcoming sight to see a home with the lamps lit, the sky behind quietly darkening. It takes a delicate and patient photographer to capture that perfect ‘golden hour’ moment when the house and sky are in perfect harmony, one complementing the other. The result is an image that shows your home in a way no daylight photograph can.
When a buyer is scrolling down the Rightmove feed, discounting house after house, our twilight images can stop them in their tracks, and click to learn more about your home. That’s the power a truly exceptional twilight image can have.
Aerial photographs – these make a powerful trio when coupled with lifestyle and twilight imagery. Using the latest drone technology, our photographer takes his time, and controls the drone perfectly until he finds just the right angle of your home; the one that shows its position perfectly. How a house fits into its surroundings can often only be portrayed from above. A bird’s eye view can show the size and shape of your home, the proportions of your garden, and its proximity to fields, lakes, villages; whatever it is that makes the unique position of your home so perfect.
And then there’s the perfect blend of these two photographic styles: the aerial twilight. What could be better than to show off how your home looks at its most welcoming, and from the air?
Home styling – some homes need a little assistance to show off their very best assets and features. We don’t want to fundamentally change the character of a house, or we’d be losing its very essence – the essence someone may fall in love with, just as the current owners did originally.
But we know not everyone has a ready supply of the accessories that can add that polish to a room for the photos. We love plain bedding, pale cushions and sumptuous throws. So we bring these items with us on your photoshoot. Plus lots of little accessories that we can use if we need them.
We even bring a bouquet of flowers (and leave them for our client, of course), so they don’t have to remember to buy them for the shoot.
We know that sometimes our lovely clients get a little nervous before a photoshoot, so if we explain exactly what is going to happen, and reassure them that the styling will be taken care of by experienced experts, they can relax, and enjoy the experience. And when they see the final results, they are inevitably blown away by how amazing their home can look.
Poetic descriptions – your home deserves to be described in the best way. With the right words. Words that are evocative, beautiful and compelling.
The property industry is not usually known for its literary eloquence; estate agents prefer to use words that are based in fact, not emotion. They like to describe the practical elements of the house like ‘detached’ and ‘gas centrally heated’. They use phrases never otherwise encountered: ‘dual aspect’, ‘briefly comprises’ and ‘viewing highly recommended’.
When a house is described in dull words and phrases, it sounds dull. The reader doesn’t get excited. They don’t feel compelled to view, or even to read to the end.
The right words can turn on a light for a buyer. It can lift the home off the page, or screen, and call ‘view me’ in a voice that seduces and beguiles.
A house is not just bricks and mortar to the buyer, nor to the seller. It’s a home; a family; a dream. It’s full of memories for the seller, and hopes for the buyer.
Here’s how a previous agent described the outdoor space at a property we’ve recently sold:
“There is private parking and a lovely sunny garden area and sunken south facing patio.”
Whereas we described it like this:
“The garden is a treasure-trove of seating areas, sunken patios, hidden paths and bespoke planters, cleverly arranged to create a true haven for birds, butterflies and of course, you. Watch the sun set over the far-reaching views as the sausages sizzle on the barbeque and you share a bottle of wine next to the chiminea with friends.”
Because we know the worth of a word, we don’t try to write a description of your house ourselves; instead, we use a professional copywriter. And where does she get her information from? You, the owner. We’ve found the very best portrayals of the lifestyle your home can offer, come from you. After all, you know it better than anyone. So our writer will spend time talking to you about your home, and what it offers a buyer. She will ask you about walks from the house, the best pub for a Sunday pint, and what your home is like at Christmas. You can tell her all the things you, your friends and your family love most about it, and she will weave your tales into her magical prose. The result is a narrative that will capture a buyer’s imagination, and compel them to come to see your home for themselves.
Visual branding – because every home we market is unique, we decided to showcase this uniqueness by creating its very own visual brand. To do this, we take inspiration from the house name, its location, its style, colours the owner loves, even brands they like. These ideas go into a big idea pot and together with our talented designers, we create some draft designs to show you. A bit of back and forth then ensues, until we have a visual brand you – and your buyers – can fall in love with.
This visual representation of your home can then be skillfully threaded through the brochures and even the for sale board, so that a buyer feels strongly they are buying so much more than simply bricks and mortar. They are buying something truly unique, presented to them in the most special way possible.
Magazine brochure– once we have the most perfect images and visual brand of your home, it’s time for our talented designers to get to work, designing a brochure worthy of your home. Together with our client, we decide what size and shape of brochure will suit your home, how many pages it will have, where the key features will be highlighted, and the overall style of the pages.
You see, every one of our brochures is crafted especially for a particular home. The attention to detail harmonises with a deep understanding of what it means to live in your home, resulting in a breathtakingly beautiful brochure that is so special, you’ll want to keep it forever.
Bespoke for sale board – if you haven’t yet seen one of our unique for sale boards, you’re in for a treat. Because our boards feature something very special; the home they are selling. After all, we’ve never understood why estate agents choose to use their for sale boards to sell themselves, and not the house they are advertising. Instead, we choose to showcase your home, so that every passer-by can see from your board what they may not be able to see from the road; how your home looks at twilight, for example, or from above, or even what a special kitchen it has.
How does your home fare on our Saleability Checklist?
Now you’ve read about what goes into marketing a unique home, the factors you need to consider when choosing the right asking price, and the steps you need to take to choose the best estate agent for you, perhaps you’ve had a lightbulb moment and now understand why your home has not yet sold, and – even more importantly – what you can do about it.
Can we help you to move on with your life?
We’re proud to be the Lake District estate agent for unique homes, and if you too have a home that is unique that is not getting any viewings, we’d love to see it, and let you know if we can help you too to move on.
We can bring excitement, originality and imagination to marketing your home. Obsessed as we are with the detail that brings a home to life in print, and fascinated by the intricacies of online marketing, we know first-hand how extraordinary marketing can capture the attention of a perfect buyer, and seduce them to fall in love with your home. Just as you did. So let’s have a chat. You’ll find us on email at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, or just a phone call away, on 015394 88811. We’d absolutely love to hear from you.