How Do Open House Viewings Work?

To some it’s a way to make a quick sale, for others it means paying the right price for a property becomes more difficult. Whatever your point of view, open house viewings are increasing in popularity, particularly in inner city areas such as London where property comes at a high premium.

The way it works is this: Rather than have individuals coming round and viewing the property by appointment over several weeks or months, potential buyers have a short window of opportunity in which to see and then bid on a house or flat, ranging from a whole day to just a few hours. Once they’ve had a look around they are allowed to submit sealed bids to the owner who can then choose the best price.

A London fad?

Whilst it is undoubtedly a favourite way of selling a property down in the south of the country, particularly London and the Home Counties, open house viewings are not entirely the province of the higher cost end of the market. Popularity is spreading across the UK and cities and large towns are adopting it as the way to make a quick sale at the best price. According to recent reports, in London over a hundred people can turn up for one viewing of a single property for a hectic hour or two whilst everyone looks over the place.

This way of selling a house was made popular in the US and Australia and works best where there is a lot of interest, for instance, in an area where housing is in short supply and there are plenty of potential buyers.

Rise in property values

Although we are largely out of the recession, house prices are recovering at different paces throughout the country. The success of open house viewings depend on there being a vibrant, healthy market and even in London, where the market prices have stalled recently, there are more and more instances of estate agents and sellers opting for this quick sell strategy. Whilst the rise in property prices may well be a factor, it is actually the growing difference between the low number of available properties and the high number of potential buyers that has contributed to its success.

The benefits of open house viewings

  • It saves time for the vendor because everyone comes round at once to view the property.
  • It creates a certain level of competition between buyers as they try to outbid each other for the property.
  • Buyers will often pre-empt the bidding process when they know a property is coming up for an open house viewing by putting in a bid for the sale, making the selling process even quicker.
  • In places where there is a shortage of supply it can lead to the vendor getting a much better price on the property than they would under normal circumstances.

The problem for buyers, of course, is that open house viewings put them under a lot more pressure to come up with a better price than everyone else and it can lead them to spend more than they originally intended. Some buyers just find the whole process far too intimidating to take part and there is some debate as to whether the best buyers, those with the right amount of finance behind them, are put off by the free for all scramble.

How to bid at an open house viewing

Even with the average property price in London around £360,000, there is still plenty of competition for properties in the capital, especially when they are close to vital amenities such as rail, work and shopping districts.

With buyers outnumbering sellers by as much as 15 to 1, it’s very important that you do your homework in the first instance – look at the area that the property is in and compare the prices so that you don’t end up bidding over the odds, and check all the estate agent details so that you are sure the place is right for you. You need to put in a realistic bid for the property and whilst going £20,000 or so above the asking price is not uncommon, you will find it difficult to get a mortgage if you are paying way over the odds.

Increasing your chances of success

First of all, it doesn’t help to panic. If you are so desperate to buy a property that you find your bank card twitching in your pocket as soon as you step through the door then you might like to think twice about attending an open house viewing in the first place. Viewing time is going to be limited, even if there are appointment times within the opening period – these often overlap and a viewing can quickly descend into chaos if not organised properly.

Success is not just about putting in the winning bid for the product, it is about making sure that you have a property that is fit to live in. With such a short time to view, you need to keep an eye open for problem areas so that you can assess the property with a keen eye rather than discover at a later date that you have to invest more money to solve a number of problems such as damp or a substandard electrics.

Dropout rates are big

With the panic to get the winning bid on many properties, there is a good potential for dropouts. People suddenly find that they have overstretched themselves and don’t have the finances or can’t get the mortgage, putting you back to square one. Vendors also need to be sure that the property is up to scratch. You are going to have a large number of people visiting at one time and if one of them spots a big problem such as an ill-fitting kitchen then you may find the expected price starting to dip as buyers factor in how much extra they are going to have to spend.

 

Organised properly, open house viewings can actually benefit both vendors and buyers. It gives potential buyers the opportunity to put in a bid and get a quick response compared with other methods of buying a property. For the seller it often offers a fast and convenient way to dispose of a property and perhaps get a better price than would otherwise be expected.

Should You Sell Your House or Rent it Out?

For most people, buying a house represents a significant investment in both time and money and making the most of this profitable asset requires a good deal of thought. Selling your property might be the answer and yield some important capital, especially if you are looking to invest in other areas. Renting out your property, however, can provide a healthy monthly income if you play your cards right whilst the value of your property continues to rise still further.

Unlike our European counterparts, who can quite happily rent a property for life, we in England have long harboured desires to own our home. It was given impetus in the 80s when Margaret Thatcher introduced the Right to Buy policy for council houses and has stayed with us almost ever since. Having said that, with property prices rising quite considerably, more of us are beginning to realise that renting is not such a bad thing at all. It’s become a good way for property owners to make a little extra money on their investment.

Choosing the right option

If you have a house, and are undecided what to do with it, is there a good reason why you should choose to enter the rental property market rather than sell for profit? If you are lucky enough to be able to afford a second home, for instance, it could be a good idea to hold on to your existing property and use it to provide a long term, regular income. This works best when:

  • You are perhaps just moving because of a temporary situation such as a work contract and don’t want to sell the house but want to realise some income from it in the short term.
  • You are confident the price of your house is going to rise in the long term and that it will make a good rental property for a while.

Hanging onto your property is an investment decision and you need to take the long view on it because house prices will naturally rise and fall depending on circumstances such as the local economy. You will also need to take account of the surrounding area – if the economy stumbles again, is the surrounding conurbation likely to take a fall as well, something that could well happen with areas that have recently been regenerated?

Will your mortgage company let you rent?

If you are lucky enough to have paid off your mortgage and are free to do what you want, then the decision to sell or let is entirely in your hands. If you still have a mortgage on the property, however, you will need to check with the mortgage provider to make sure that they allow renting out. Moving into the rental market may well necessitate you changing your mortgage plan and perhaps having to pay a higher rate.

Can you afford to run two properties?

Whilst you will be earning income from your second property if you rent it out, you need to consider whether you have the finances to maintain both. The main problem comes if you are still paying back the mortgage of the rental property. You will need to work out the amount that has to be paid for this on a monthly basis and then take into account the cost of the letting agent and management fees. There may not be a great deal of profit left over at the end of the month once you have paid every one off and most of your hopes will be placed on the value of the property rising over time to make any profit at all.

There are other factors to consider too. For instance, what happens if you are unable to find the right tenant for your property for a while and it sits empty? You’ll have to pay things like council tax as well as finding money for maintenance and upkeep. You may have to invest in having the house renovated if you are intending to attract a number of renters with small flats – something for which you will also need to get planning permission. On top of that, you will have to pay for liability insurance and you’ll certainly incur tax payments on the profit you make. Whilst renting might seem the perfect option, you need to be financially secure at the end of the day if you want to take it on as a serious money making proposition.

Are you in the right place?

The rental market is pretty strong nowadays but it still depends largely on where your property is situated. Having your rental home in an area close to a university which will attract students or making it a suitable property for a professional wishing to commute into the city will ensure that you have a good choice of tenants. There are, of course, certain areas where the rental market is not particularly booming and, if you are located here, this may be the time for you to consider selling and getting the best price possible.

Is your house worth it?

Whilst the housing market is beginning to boom once again, recovering from the slump of the recession, many owners are still finding it difficult to get the full asking price and realise that selling generally involves a compromise on what you get as profit. If you are not getting the price you desire then it makes sense to think about renting out until the market improves. You should understand though that this could be a long term situation and you may be stuck with the property for some time to come.

Finding the right letting agent

How smoothly renting out your property goes often depends on the letting and management agent you choose. As with any industry there are some good and bad companies out there so it pays to shop around and ask for contact details of those who are using the service. Yes, you can do it all yourself but then you have to deal with everything that goes with being a landlord. If you want to just collect the money and pay someone else to manage the property, then you need to employ a reputable letting agent.

There are pros and cons for both selling a property and renting it out and a lot will depend on your circumstances at the time. There are plenty of times when renting out is the obvious solution, particularly if you are moving away for a short while and want to make some profit on an otherwise empty property. Selling a property comes with its own problems, especially if you are having trouble finding takers for the price you want to achieve.

In the end, it comes down to a balancing act of maximising your resources and what you get in return. Renting can produce a decent profit if you have the right circumstances but can be a drain on resources and time if you do the calculations wrong.

In short, it pays to sit back and think long and hard about all the pros and cons before you commit to either course of action.

How Can I Improve the Value of My House?

When it comes to selling a property on today’s market, making sure you get the best price is generally a given. Choosing the right estate agent to handle the sale is a start but you also want to make sure that you are presenting your property to potential buyers in the best light possible.

If you are willing to invest some money, there’s no doubt that undertaking a few judicious home improvements can add value to your home. Keep in mind though, it is quite difficult to gauge how much more is going to be put on the selling price with any renovation and homeowners need to be realistic about the return on investment they are getting.

Changing worn out single pane windows with new double glazed ones can certainly add a good few thousand to the property price. Upgrading from an old boiler to a new energy efficient combi (combination) boiler can also make a significant difference. But does giving the walls a coat of paint and replacing the carpets do anything for the final sale value of your home?

According to the Telegraph, a recent survey by Zopa found that choosing the right home improvements is just as important as the amount of money you spend. As with any investment, it is important that you sit back and consider all the options before you rush head long into any major work.

Get advice from a professional

Most of us are not property professionals and, whilst we may be able to use common sense, it pays to get the right advice when it comes to any renovations. Whether you are planning for your own personal living environment or looking to put your house on the market soon, getting value for the work done is paramount. There is no financial benefit to be gained from putting a £30,000 kitchen into a house that is only valued at £150,000.

A full survey of your property by a qualified professional will highlight those areas that need to be repaired or improved as well as what to invest in if you want to attract the best price and the right buyer in the future.

Repair the problem areas

Roof spaces, damaged guttering, cracks and damp are all problems that houses encounter over the years. For new builds you may have fewer repairs to make, though this is not always the case, but making sure your property is fit for purpose is a good place to start if you are concerned with the final sale value. That can include floorboards which need replacing and updating old electric points to replacing doors that have suffered too many coats of paint over the years.

Which major projects add value?

There are a few big projects that, on the face of it, can significantly add to the value of your home. According to the Independent, building a conservatory or undertaking a loft conversion can add thousands to your property value. Of course, these are significant projects and you will need to offset the initial cost with the amount it adds onto your property price. You will also need to get planning permission for certain renovations and the costs could well mount – a problem if you are undertaking them for the simple purpose of adding value as the final return is by no means certain in today’s market.

One of the most popular and normally the first thing home owners focus on is the kitchen and doing this up can certainly add desirability. Be careful to pick a kitchen that fits with the property though and you should be aware that it will probably not add a great deal to the overall value of the property. The same can be said for the bathroom, which is another room that buyers tend to hone in on when they are having a look round. Both these increase the attractiveness of the property and the likelihood of a quick sale, if not the actual final asking price.

How good is your broadband?

We all need to stay connected these days and making sure you have good broadband and mobile reception is vital for any property. It’s not such a problem for towns and cities but out in the country potential buyers are going to be concerned with how well their mobile devices and laptops are going to work when they move in.

Bad broadband can have a serious effect on the number of buyers who want to take a look at your property and that can reduce the asking price if it cannot be easily rectified. If you believe the Daily Mail, it can cut the cost of your property by as much as 20%.

Become energy efficient

Turning your home into a haven for green energy may well appear a good idea but can cost a large amount of money. If you want to be more energy efficient, start with the insulation and integrity of the building to make sure all those little draughts and cold spots are covered. If you don’t have double-glazing it’s a must to install – the new owners will certainly want it and not having it done could knock thousands off the selling price of your home.

Energy efficiency can be tackled in other ways with the installation of a combi boiler that helps cut down the cost of utilities. The jury is still out on whether putting in technology like solar panels actually adds value to a house but with initiatives such as the Feed in Tariff that pays for the electricity produced they could be an attractive proposition for many potential buyers.

Other energy efficient technologies to look at are switching to infrared heating or LED lighting though it is always best to get some good and impartial advice as to what suits your property.

Don’t skimp on the outside

Whilst many homeowners tend to fixate on the interior when it comes to preparing the property for a sale, you shouldn’t ignore the exterior – after all it’s the first thing potential buyers see when then come to visit. A coat of fresh paint or simply just cleaning the windows and repairing a little guttering can all add a small amount to the sale value of your home.

What to do with the garden

If you have a good size garden then it is an attractive selling point for your home. Always think twice about sacrificing this space for an extension that could cost a lot and not give you a great return on investment. If parking is a problem in the area (as in some cities), getting planning permission to convert the front garden into a place to park your car could actually make sense and add significant value to your home.

Apply for planning permission

Even if you are not planning major developments to your property, if you are looking to sell in the near future it could be a good idea to apply for planning permission. If the people buying your home are looking to expand, it helps to make up their minds if they know that there will be no problems with the local council when they put in that extension.

 

Finally, any renovation to your home is going to depend to a large extent on your initial budget. You will want a decent return on investment in terms of the value of your property and its saleability and that is often a difficult balance to hit. Getting the right advice from a qualified professional is a good starting point but by no means guarantees that you are going to come out with a sizeable profit.

Focusing on the type of buyer you are aiming your home at can also help you with choosing the right improvements that make a difference. Whatever you choose to do, the best advice is always to sit back and put together a well thought out plan rather than rush into anything, which will cost you money and bring no real dividend.

Yours Magazine Feature

CEO of My Online Estate Agent, David Grundy was featured in the latest, Yours Magazine. The article titled ‘How To Sell Your Home In A Fortnight’, provided readers with expert quick win tips on how to achieve a fast property sale.

‘Focus on the positive things such as how you’ve loved living there and all of the happy memories.’

Within the text David was quoted multiple times giving readers advice on the best practices to implement during the viewing process to ensure it is a welcoming, attractive and enjoyable experience for potential buyers.

Always show your living room first. It is, after all, one of the rooms that we use the most, and it’s a nice welcome to the house.

He provided simple but highly useful tips throughout the piece, offering insight into the best time of year to sell your house and the appearance issues you need to tackle. You can read more of David’s top tips online here in our news section: http://www.myonlineestateagent.com/blog/property-news/ten-top-tips-on-preparing-your-house-for-viewings/

‘Spring and Summer are generally the best times to sell.’

Image reference: https://www.whitehothair.co.uk

Selling Your Property During Pregnancy

Finding out that you are expecting the arrival of your first baby is a wonderfully exciting event, but it may also lead you to looking at your current home and finding it lacking. It could be that you currently live in a flat or apartment and now want a house with a garden, or that your current home is lacking in terms of living space and bedrooms. The home that was perfectly acceptable for a couple may not be suitable now you are going to be a family. You may even be thinking ahead to the future and the quality of schools in your local area.

For whatever reason, you may decide to move house. Here are a few things to consider when selling your home when expecting a child.

Timescale – Give yourself enough time

Start implementing your plans as early as possible. The average timescale for the sale and completion of a property is 100 days (or around 3 months), but many issues can make this longer, from issues that pop up on surveys, to being in a chain, and even finding and securing the right mortgage. If you allow yourself plenty of time, you should be nicely settled before baby comes along to check out their new home.

Storing the baby stuff

It is quite easy to start preparing your current home for the arrival of a new baby, but you must remember you are selling a lifestyle choice to someone who may not have children in mind yet. Your home is now a show home looking for a buyer, so keep the baby things out of sight. Maybe a relative would let you store some things at their home until you move? You can also hire storage units relatively cheaply in order to store larger items like cots and prams. This enables you to buy the items you need without turning your home into a nursery.

Avoid Stress

Unnecessary stress is something that all prospective mothers need to avoid, so make sure you are not overdoing it. Keep viewings that suit both partners, ie: weekends or evenings. The mum-to- be can leave the guided tour of the home to her partner if she is feeling a little tired, or you could also talk to your estate agent about what help they can give you in this area.

The nesting instinct may start to kick in and this can leave you feeling a little frustrated, so channel this by sorting and decluttering smaller areas like cupboards and drawers. This will help with packing later.

If you do feel stressed – seek advice from your doctor or midwife immediately.

Contingency Plans

Hopefully, everything will go according to plan, and you will be moved in and settled before the baby arrives but if this is not the case you may need to have a contingency plan in place.

It may be that your house has not yet sold, if this is the case it is a good idea to keep the nursery neutral so that prospective buyers can see this as a multi-purpose room rather than a nursery. It may also be an idea to have a place for baby things if you are still trying to sell.

If you have sold and completed your house, but have not completed on your new home, you will need a contingency plan in place – this may include moving out and renting for a period of time, or it could mean moving in with a relative. Again, storage units will be useful for large furniture and baby items, just don’t pack away your hospital bag in storage!

Having a new baby and a new home can be a little bit exhausting but more importantly it is an exciting and exhilarating time that kicks off your new wonderful chapter!