MAM: Selling your home in a downturn (don’t do it!)

White front door of a red brick English town house. Manchester.

Brexit, the EU, Boris Johnson’s private life (not the latter) have been the excuses from estate agents over the past several months when we have been trying to sell our home in the Home Counties. What started as quite a happy process, back in April of this year when I started de-cluttering has turned into one, slow, long, drawn out process culminating in us shelving plans to move.

What is the reality of the matter? Should I be blaming the local estate agents I employed (all three of them) in those months when our home was listed on all three property portals – Zoopla, Onthemarket, Rightmove? Should I be blaming Brexit? Should I be blaming myself and the unrealistic pricing of our house?

There could be some truth in all of the above. But pricing could be key. There is no escaping that the area we live in is an affluent one in South Bucks.- Beaconsfield (although we live in a village adjacent to this town) has the largest percentage of property millionaires in the country (according to the Telegraph) – topping 47%. This statistic has led to most sellers believing that their house is worth more than it actually is, or it is worth the same as it was at the height of the UK property boom, pre-Brexit.

Throw into the mix, that estate agents are desperate for your business and will list your home at any price to boost their books, you are left with a lethal combination. In fact, you are left with a stalemate. As although some sellers are dropping the price of their homes – more due to personal circumstance – divorce, separation, probate – by £50,000, £100,000 or even £200,000 – for a ‘quick sale’ – properties aren’t budging. I can count on my hand the same number of properties in our village, that was listed in January, still for sale now nine months later – all with their beleaguered sale boards rigidly standing to attention.

From my experience, I can safely say the only ones ‘who are making a killing’ or selling or buying anything are local or bespoke property developers, who are scooping up low valued ‘probate’ properties – sub-£500,000 – knocking them down and building two houses (then selling them for £1 million each) – making a nice profit. The larger developers, in the area, however are resorting to buying incentives, like an ultra-high definition TV, paying stamp duty, paying for legals if you buy their new-build, which on the surface is fine, until you find out they want to credit check you first with their own mortgage broker before proceeding. No thanks!

There seems to be no joy for a small family who simply want to upscale and be nearer better secondary schools, and at least have a garage! I was told by one estate agent, however, that families don’t want garages any more. In fact people now convert their double or single garages into home gyms, and also ‘orangeries’ are all the rage, forget about your bog-standard conservatory. Heck! I am not a Tory MP of yesteryear. Maybe I should request a moat too!

For us, we are going to wait before embarking on our property journey again, when Brexit has passed, and there is some semblance of political stability – not if comrade Corbyn is elected through.

I will definitely be wiser next time round. Oh and to those estate agents who try and send me flowers in order to get my business. Don’t!

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