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How to sell your home quickly in London?

The property market tends to operate a little differently within the M25. From Barking to Westminster, house prices can move in different directions to the rest of the country. So, it’s worth knowing how to sell your home quickly in London, whether that’s to take advantage of a boom, or avoid the worst of a slump.

At the top end of prices, the most expensive homes in London tend to sell at the same pace regardless of changes in the housing market. Opportunities will be shared with rich millionaire and billionaire investors rather than relying on high street estate agents and normal listings, and that clientele will always have finances available from somewhere for the right property.

But what if you’re not selling a London mansion? The housing market in the capital has slowed slightly over recent years for a variety of reasons, meaning it could be more difficult to sell your house fast.  

 

Why have London house sales slowed?

Although it has never been put into law, the concept of a Mansion Tax has resurfaced regularly since the Liberal Democrats first suggested it in 2009. It was later included in Labour Party plans for the May 2015 general election, and in 2020 there were hints and rumours that it might reappear from Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the March Budget.

The political interest isn’t surprising, as it was estimated the Mansion Tax could raise upwards of £1.7 billion each year, with 1% charged annually on any residential property valued in excess of £2 million. And considering there are more than 430,000 London homes worth more than £1 million, an increasing number of people would be at risk of substantial bill if prices rose further.

Meanwhile an additional 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax Levy was introduced in April 2016 on second homes and buy-to-let properties above £40,000.  This increased the rate for additional properties between £925,000 to £1.5 million to 13%, with a highest band of 15% for anything above that price. 

Outside of the property market, the main factor slowing London house sales has been the EU Referendum and Brexit. This has created uncertainty for both property investors, and those employed in industries such as finance.

And the Coronavirus pandemic has caused further complications, with lockdowns limiting estate agents and potential buyers to virtual valuations and viewings. It’s also led to a rise in London home owners looking to sell and escape to the countryside. Although the property market has quickly bounced back despite the risk of a post-pandemic recession, the higher prices for homes in London and the South East have caused them to drag behind other areas of the country.

One effort to keep the housing market moving during Covid-19 was the introduction of a stamp duty holiday in July 2020 for homes up to £500,000, which will be reduced back to the normal rates on June 30th 2021. However, the average time for a sale is currently just under four months, which is still around two weeks longer than before the pandemic.

 

How long does it take to sell a house in London?

The average time for a house to sell across London is around 65 days on average, although this varies a lot between different boroughs.

The quickest homes to sell are those priced between £400,000 to £450,000 in the north east London borough of Waltham Forest, which are generally sold subject to contract around 35 days after the initial property listing. It’s followed by £300,000 to £350,000 homes in Barking and Dagenham (39 days), and Bexley (41 days), indicating the stamp duty threshold has played a part in encouraging sales.

This means selling your London house or home could take between 1-2 months depending on your location and purchase price. But as that’s an average, selling your property could take much longer depending on your estate agent, asking price, and location. 

 

When’s the best time to sell your London home quickly? 

An unusual characteristic of the London property market is that it’s not really affected by seasonal changes or national fluctuations. In other areas of the UK, prices generally increase in Spring as buyers have time and money between Christmas and summer holidays, and your home and garden will generally look their best.

But London house prices and sales tend to be ruled by the UK and global economy. Increased confidence in the national finances, or an overseas crisis, can drive prices up. And as Brexit and coronavirus have shown, factors outside the property market are also the main reasons for any slowdowns.

 

How to sell your house fast in London

The general rules for a quicker house sale anywhere in the UK will also apply to London properties. And with higher average prices as an incentive, there’s plenty of motivated competition among estate agents and sellers.

Your efforts will be even more important in helping your property to stand out and achieve a quick sale at a price that’s acceptable. The key steps include:

  • Preparation
  • Advertising and spreading the word
  • Cleaning and improvements
  • Viewings

 

Preparing to sell London property quickly

Around 1 in 5 London homes and properties are snapped up by overseas buyers and investors, often without a viewing. Which means having your paperwork and legal documents in order can make a huge difference in selling your house.

The first step is to ensure your ownership and Title Deeds are in order, which can be done through HM Land Registry. The Title Plan will also give an idea of property boundaries, although the exact details are typically unrecorded, so any disputes will need to be settled via a simple boundary agreement, or a more exact determined boundary.

With space at a premium, any planning consent for expansion will be valuable. Cellar, loft or garage conversions could add 10-30% to your asking price when completed, but having permission in place will offer a great opportunity to buyers looking to increase their investment.

And you could even speak to your solicitor about preparing a draft contract of sale, to ensure everything is ready to move as quickly as possible.

Another key area of preparation is researching the market value of your home and deciding your asking price. Alongside a professional valuation, it’s worth checking house listings for your area to see which details stand out. Part of the attraction of a London home will be the attractions and amenities close by, including schools, shops, and other services.

Anyone working in London will be keenly aware of their commute each day. So, the local Underground stations and bus routes could be hugely important to potential buyers. Alternatively, allocated parking, driveways and garages are big incentives for car owners looking at London properties.

The London Ultra Low Emission Zone came into effect from April 2019, and extends beyond the Congestion Charge area from October 2021. So, if you’re just outside the A406 North Circular, or A205 South Circular, this could be an incentive for car owners looking to avoid the ULEZ fees on older petrol or diesel vehicles. 

 

Improving your home to sell fast in London

Whether you’re selling a flat in Camden, or a detached home in Croydon, investing in some basic improvements can help you to sell your London home fast.

It’s typically not worth replacing kitchen units and bathroom suites, unless they’re particularly outdated or in need of repair. Most house buyers will be keen to replace interior features to their own tastes in the future, and won’t want to pay a premium for your recent choices. But it’s worth replacing handles, ensuring good lighting and making sure surfaces are clean and free of clutter to improve what is already in place.

And you can get a good return on simple and basic improvements, such as painting your home in neutral colours. This makes it easier for buyers to imagine their own possessions in place, or as an easy buy-to-let investment. Especially if it replaces peeling paint or wallpaper.

Refurbishing or replacing doors, fixing leaking taps and solving squeaky floorboards or stairs will all ensure your home appears well-maintained and cared for. 

With space in London homes limited, making the most of any outdoors areas is important. A conservatory or summer house can provide valuable extra room. And a deck or patio can turn a garden into a useful area for eating and entertaining.

Make sure everything is cleaned and tidied up, both inside and out. Pressure washing the exterior, varnishing fences, and keeping gardens mowed and weeded will improve initial kerb appeal. And decluttering the interior to keep it as clean and tidy will help to display your home in the best way. 

 

Advertising your London home for a quick sale

Great photographs are even more important for selling homes in London than in other parts of the UK. With a fifth of buyers located overseas and making purchases without viewing in person, high quality pictures could be your only chance to make a good impression.

While there’s a cost to professional photography, or even bringing in an interior stylist to stage your home, it can potentially add up to 10% in value. And with London house prices so much higher than the national average, any percentage increase can be a significant amount of money.

Make sure you include all relevant details from your research and preparation to find a buyer as quickly as possible. Don’t forget to include information including the council tax band, previous improvements and important cosmetic repairs, or anything else that may help you complete in as little time as possible.

London estate agents need to be fast-moving and knowledgeable about the property market and needs of buyers in the capital. But you shouldn’t leave everything to them. Make sure to share your desire to sell with family, friends, and especially colleagues. If you work for a large London firm, there could be a number of potential buyers within your office every day. 

It’s also worth sharing details online, making use of social media, and any relevant groups or networks you may be part of. From church congregations to fitness clubs, you never know where a potential buyer might appear. And a shared connection can help increase the trust between you for a quick house sale.

 

Make the most of viewings

If someone is travelling across London to view your home, then it’s worth putting in some effort to make the most of their visit, and increasing the chance of getting a good offer for your property.

Noise can be a big issue in the city, so a calm and quiet house will be a welcome refuge from the hustle and bustle of London. And while many people may have travelled by bus or Tube, if you’re lucky enough to have off-street or allocated parking, then leaving it available for house viewings will definitely create a great first impression.

General rules for dusting, hoovering and cleaning apply to London homes as they would in any part of the UK. But de-cluttering can be particularly important to emphasis space as much as possible. Removing bulky furniture, and anything you don’t need, will make your home look more spacious, and could also cut down on your moving costs following a successful sale.

Virtual viewings and video really are key for overseas buyers, who make up a large percentage of the London property market. Even some UK house buyers may still be reluctant to visit in person due to concerns over coronavirus.

You don’t need to be a professional camera operator or presenter to give a great virtual viewing around your London home. Most of the preparation is identical to a normal visit, and you don’t need more equipment than a normal smartphone. Apps such as WhatsApp or Zoom will let you offer live or recorded videos to show off your property.

It’s worth cleaning the lens of your phone along with your home, and make sure you’ve set your device to record at the highest quality possible. Try to keep background noise to a minimum, and lighting is key for a great looking video. 

Make sure to try some practice runs. This will help you to plan a route around your home which makes sense and shows the best aspects of the layout. It also gives you an idea of timings and key points you want to make sure are mentioned. You don’t need to write out every word in a detailed script, but some notes will ensure you don’t forget anything in the heat of the moment.

It’s a good idea to watch your practice videos and check for things you may have missed, or ways you could improve the experience. There may be key selling points which aren’t obvious in a video, or certain issues might be more apparent when you’re viewing your home through a screen.

 

Where to sell your London house fast 

London estate agents are an obvious choice to sell your house or flat quickly. And they’ll typically know the area and property market well. But they aren’t the only option available, and with fees based on your completion price, they may want to take longer to secure a higher value sale.

Working with multiple agents is a little more time consuming, but can help to speed things up. But if you’re looking for a quick house sale, then you might need to encourage them along, and be willing to accept a price significantly below the market valuation of your London home.

Property auctions can work well if you have a London property which is likely to be in high demand. A bidding war on a multi-million-pound Mayfair mansion could result in a record fee, but it’s important to remember that you’re committed to the final auction price. While this tends to work well for properties at the highest and lowest ends of the London property market, it’s a much bigger risk for most sellers.

The quickest and easiest way to sell your London home quickly is to use a reputable house buying company. With a typical sale taking around two months, a dedicated home buyer firm can provide a hassle-free offer based on the estimated market value straight away. And while you have up to 28 days to consider the deal, once you’ve decided to go ahead the cash could be in your bank account within just seven days.

That could cut the sales time on your London property from around two months to less than two weeks. Which is a significant amount of time to save if you need to sell your house quickly.

 

If you are interested in selling your house for cash, ask National Homebuyers for advice. Call us on 08000 443 911 or request a call back from one of our helpful team to find out how much you could get for your property.

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What’s happened to house prices after Brexit?