Rightmove estimates there are still 175,000 sellers ‘missing’ from the market and many commentators have forecast a significantly reduced number of transactions in 2020.
The problem has been exacerbated by some lenders withdrawing 90% mortgages for the time being and with the furlough scheme winding down from next month, as I said in a recent blog post: “there is only one certainty – and that is that there will be more uncertainty!”
So, over the coming months, how can agents help their clients take advantage of increased buyer demand without coming unstuck by the complications of a post-Covid-19 market?
Ensure properties appeal to new wishlists
If mortgage withdrawals and the economic impact of the pandemic lead to fewer offers from buyers, helping sellers to make their homes as appealing as possible will be crucial for agents.
Although it's clear people are looking for homes online, the current circumstances mean they may be tentative when it comes to taking action so it will be those homes that standout most which are sold in the shortest timeframes for the best prices.
The impact of coronavirus and lockdown on property hunters' wishlists should not be underestimated. All the evidence points to people looking for homes with outdoor space, good work from home space and facilities and in many cases, the opportunity to enjoy a greater work/life balance.
Therefore, while the usual rules of preparing a home for sale will still apply, new emphasis should be placed on these new desires which are unlikely to be a fad.
As people are still being encouraged by the government to carry out as much of their property purchase online as possible, amazing marketing listing photos are a necessity and the ability to host professional and useful virtual viewings remains highly valuable.
You can see our advice on first impressions to share with prospective vendors here.
Brief sellers on the realities of the market
As always, agents need to be honest and upfront when advising their clients – helping them to see through the headlines and understand how the hyper-local market is operating.
If sellers know that there is likely to be lots of interest in their property but the potential for a reduced number of offers due to the reasons outlined above, it will be easier to manage their expectations.
The post-pandemic market will be built on consumer trust, which is why agents need to take an advice-first approach. If that means advising a seller to sit tight and wait for a couple of months, then so be it.
It’s better to have that business in your pipeline than lost through poor communication and overpromising.
Realistic asking prices are the order of the day
Some agents may be tempted to overvalue properties in order to secure more instructions. This approach, however, is ill-advised and likely to lose you the instruction in the long-run if the property doesn’t attract the viewings and doesn’t sell in the vendor’s timeline.
Online demand from buyers may be there, but the combination of a contracted mortgage market, consumer caution and lower confidence means buyers’ ability to haggle upwards on price is likely to be limited.
The Nationwide has reported average price drops in its last two indices and this is the sort of data agents will need to use to temper vendors’ expectations when it comes to asking prices.
During this period of market readjustment, realistic asking prices can be a key contributor towards helping buyer demand convert into done deals for sellers and agents. With this in mind, sellers will need to choose their agent wisely – here are some tips you can share with prospective vendors who are yet to make their decision.
Agents can stand out with a responsive approach to the market. You can impress vendors while at the same time encouraging tentative buyers to make offers so the market can keep rebuilding that full recovery we’re all hoping for.
*Phil Spencer is a presenter, author, businessman and property investor. Phil’s consumer advice platform Move iQ, is a website, YouTube channel and podcast. Each preserve and reflect the same impartiality that consumers trust and base their property moving plans. Coming soon: Move iQ Pro, Phil’s resource to support the property community. Stay tuned ready for launch – sign-up here.