Can too much information deter sales?

Do buyers now have access to so much online information about individual properties that they are becoming discouraged from purchasing perfectly good homes?

This issue has been posed in two meetings I had recently with different buying agents: as is so often the case, buying agents pose interesting questions which selling agents have to avoid because of their link to vendors.

The issue, as put to me, is this.

A home may be on the market for, say, six months and does not sell.

A would-be buyer then appears and via several websites realises that property is on sale and has been for some time: the almost-automatic assumption, especially in a strong market such as today’s, is that the property has a problem and/or is priced too heavily.

If that buyer then sees - through another website perhaps - that the house has in fact been reduced in price and nonetheless remains unsold, then the assumption of narrows further: “the property has a problem”.

The likelihood is that at this stage, no enquiry is made about the property to discover whether there is a genuine problem or if, in fact, the house has just been unlucky in not finding a purchaser.

But having won a reputation for sticking, that reputation builds upon itself.

Most of us know examples where this is the case: a home on sale for a year, perhaps two, with both seller and selling agent showing genuine commitment and realistic valuations. One of the buying agents I discussed this with calculated that perhaps 10 per cent of properties above £500,000 may be in that position.

Price, naturally, will cure anything: drop the asking figure low enough, and of course a property will sell. But the problem, as seen by those buying agents I met, was that there was arguably too much information available to the would-be purchaser.

There is another way of looking at this: in other words, perhaps there was too little information available?

Would a freely-available survey of the property not eliminate (or confirm) that there was a problem? Would more transparent information about the prices of comparable properties nearby, if there were some, not allay buyers’ suspicions that the price was too high?

Much as I can see the claim that “too much information” can stifle interest in a home, as a journalist I predictably prefer the “there’s not enough” line.

If agents really want to sell those houses, allay those fears through disclosure.

If you would like to to comment on this article, click HERE to e-mail Graham. Follow PropertyJourn on Twitter