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If you want to sell, price it right

"If the asking price puts the property out of the buyer’s budget it may be that the very person who would have bought it never gets to see it."

One of the things I really love about being a buyer’s agent, compared with the role of an estate agent, is not having to endure endless telephone calls with sellers who insist on maintaining a sky-high asking price for many months or even years. They call to ask the same question they asked on the previous call: “Why haven’t you sold my house?” and the answer is always the same: “because you are asking too much for the market”. They tell the agent to persuade someone to view, who will then fall in love with it and pay them their price and the agent tells them that it doesn’t work like that. The conversation goes round and round for half an hour and ends with nothing resolved.  One overpriced house languishes unsold for another 18 months because the agent pushes it to the back burner and gets on with trying to sell something that is priced for the market.  Then a couple of months later the same conversation happens all over again.  But as I am working for the buyer I have the luxury of being able to tell a seller than I won’t even recommend their house for shortlisting, much less actually show it, if the price is off the scale.  

The most common reason sellers give for pricing high is that buyers will always make a very low offer without taking on board the fact that a sky-high asking price often acts as a deterrent to view so no one sees the property anyway. And if the asking price puts the property out of the buyer’s budget it may be that the very person who would have bought the house never gets to see it but sellers just don’t seem to understand that. An asking price should act as an indicator of what the seller is willing to sell at and in my opinion should be no more that 10% above that level.

As an example, I recall a search for a client with a budget of €500,000 maximum. I knew there was a house in the right area that matched the criteria. However, I didn't even inspect it because the asking price was not only well above his maximum but the house wasn’t worth it. But ten days before he was scheduled to visit to view the few houses I had found within budget I got a call to tell me the seller had reduced the asking price to within 5% of my client’s budget. So I went to see it and of course, it turned out to be great and starting to look like a good deal.  My client loved it, we got an agreement at 7% below the new asking price and the contract was signed fourteen days later.  And, as further proof that setting the guide price correctly sells houses, someone who had seen the house six months previously turned up again when they heard about the reduction but they were a day too late. My client had already transferred the 10% deposit. In fact, my client was the first person to see the house at its new price and had it been at that price six months earlier I have no doubt that he would not have bought it, it would have already been sold before I started my research.

Sellers achieve nothing by hanging on to their daft prices. They run the risk of losing someone who would have bought the property and the market would be much less confusing to buyers if asking prices across the board were much closer to what the seller will accept.  

For analysis and information about the current markets in our locations please check out our Market Reports.     

About the author

Barbara Wood

Barbara founded The Property Finders in 2003. More than two decades of experience and her in-depth knowledge of the Spanish property market help buyers get the knowledge they need to find the right property for them.

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