Selling a property in winter

PUBLISHED: 13:04 02 February 2014 | UPDATED: 13:05 02 February 2014

Monkmead, Rickmansworth, Savills

Monkmead, Rickmansworth, Savills


Selling a property is the biggest financial transaction of most of our lives. Graeme Warren of Savills, Rickmansworth, gives a guide to doing it with the least stress and most success, with special tips for this time of year


Pricing is fundamental to the success of marketing a property. It determines what demographic groups a seller attracts to view a home and how quickly it will sell.

Agents should value a property and be able to justify the figure by comparing it to the price per square foot achieved for properties of a similar size, type, condition and plot size, which have sold recently – not what price similar properties are currently being marketed at. Remember, a property is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it. Applicants have access to information on what a property is worth, what similar properties have sold for and what the stock availability is – all these factors will determine the price they are prepared to pay. To achieve the optimum market value over the fastest timescale, set a realistic price, undertake a short-term marketing campaign and consider an open house to encourage viewings. The result should be offers in place and sale agreed in about a six-week period.

Where price is the paramount objective, many clients choose to market their properties at an inflated price. While this approach may eventually result in securing a purchaser prepared to pay a premium, the vendor must realise it will take more time – maybe a year or more – before the asking price is achieved.

Be prepared.

Preparation before formally launching a property can pay dividends when a purchaser is found. Vendors can help reduce delays by instructing a solicitor to prepare contracts at the earliest possible stage.

If the reason for selling is because of a separation or divorce, the former couple should ensure they are in accordance with each other on value and timescales.

If selling a property from a deceased estate, ensure probate has been granted before instructing an agent – this often fails to happen and causes complications for vendors.

Sellers should ensure all legal documents pertaining to the property, such as the deeds and paperwork for any works undertaken during ownership (guarantees and planning permission), are at the ready for a solicitor to pass on to a purchaser.

If the property is listed and the seller has made alterations during ownership, he or she will be required to provide evidence of all necessary consents before marketing the property for sale. Any changes of use within the property must also carry the appropriate documentation. If any works have been completed on the house, building regulations approval must be proved. We often find that owners (and their builders) gain permission initially, yet fail to have this signed off when work is complete.


Dress and de-clutter the property – first impressions count. It enables a prospective purchaser to concentrate on the benefits of your property, rather than the décor. The key to success is to make a property feel welcoming and warm without being too personal, so that people viewing it can imagine themselves living there.

Autumn and winter are the seasons when homes are laid bare. Now more than ever it really is worthwhile making sure gutters, downpipes and window frames are presented well. A small investment now to exterior paintwork maintenance can make a real difference to a home’s selling potential. There are plenty of other jobs outside, such as making sure fallen leaves are swept away and gravel is raked. Dig over garden beds to give a groomed look and prune unsightly trees, shrubs and hedges to give the property a smart appearance. The pictured property, Monkmead in Rickmansworth (£1.495m), is a good example of how an uncluttered view of a property creates a smart first impression.

Homeowners with fireplaces and ranges can show them off to good effect at this time of year. There’s nothing quite like a gently flaming fire or a slow burning range to warm the spirits of buyers as the seasons change. Do ensure logs are neatly stacked though and that a fire has had time to settle down before any viewing appointments.

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