I feel qualified to give a little advice to those involved in trying to buy or sell property at this difficult time. I’ve been keeping an eye on both Dublin and Leitrim property markets ever since we moved to Leitrim from Dublin in 2003 our intention being to buy a house and settle permanently down the country when the time was right or when the right house came along. Then the recession happened and while technically it doesn’t really affect us as prices are all relative, ie – they are going down where we wish to buy as well as where we’re selling, it has still caused a few headaches, namely people can’t get mortgages!
I finally put my Dublin house up for sale last November (2009) and there’s been very, very little interest in it ever since. I and my estate agent at the time done what everyone else done and continues to do, list at a price you’d like to get rather than one that is actually likely to sell your house in the real world! Result? No movement at all and every now and then I’d take a few grand off to see if buyers would spring into action, but nothing. Until..
A few months ago my current estate agent suggested we do something radical and drop the price down to rock bottom, undercutting every other house in the area. Madness I thought at first but as the logic was explained to me, I warmed to it a little. The idea was to basically market the house at a price that looked too good to be true and such better value than all around that people couldn’t help but book viewings to see for themselves. Hopefully then, people would start making offers and a few rival bids would be made (a bit like an auction) that would push the house price back up to it’s ‘natural’ or ‘real world’ value and possibly even surpass the new ultra low price we listed it at.
I’m pleased to say that it’s pretty much worked out as expected. We’ve got a ton of viewings over the last couple of months and a few people have made offers against each other and pushed the price up close to it’s listed value which admittedly is nowhere near what I first put it on the market at but it’s got me a big step closer to selling the house which is my main objective. What I get for it doesn’t really matter as long as it sells at a price that allows us to buy something half decent in Leitrim. And with cash in my pocket I’m optimistic that there’s a deal to be done somewhere down here!
Now, not everyone will be in the lucky situation we’re in of course. For a start, we’re moving from the capital city Dublin to a county with the lowest population in Ireland – not the other way round thankfully! Also, my Dublin house was an inheritance and there’s no outstanding mortgage on it. People may have large mortgages that need to be covered by a sale or they may need to achieve a fairly specific amount on sale for whatever reason. You also need to avoid giving your house away for next to nothing! But if you need to sell your house and nothing is happening then maybe it’s time for radical action and thinking outside the box?
If nothing else, lowering your house to rock bottom of what you need or to well below competing, local house sales will be a valuable experiment on just how much your house is actually worth. You can get all the professional valuations you like but ultimately your house will only be worth what people will or can pay. You don’t even need to accept any offers, just watch and learn.
If all sellers and estate agents started from the bottom up price wise instead from the top down, I’m sure houses would sell, the property market would come alive again, ugly, idle housing estates would shift and who knows, maybe even the economy would be re-ignited!?