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.
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