How to resurrect a languishing property sales campaign
As Australia’s property markets recalibrate, how do vendors supercharge their sales campaign if they're not receiving the desired level of interest?
Australia’s major property markets are recalibrating as we move into a more balanced state of affairs, after the surging demand and prices experienced in late 2021.
That may suit buyers who saw the market run away from them last year but the reduced demand means a more competitive space for vendors.
Many vendors may find their sales campaign not receiving the desired level of interest from buyers within a more discerning market.
That makes a successful property sales campaign even more crucial. So how do you resurrect one that’s lagging?
In a perfect world, you would have chosen a great real estate agent who is on their game. But what if the sales campaign is two-to-three weeks in and you’re getting a horrible feeling things aren’t going well?
First off, check these signs for the state of the campaign — the numbers attending the open-for-inspections; return visitors; requests for contracts; requests to do building and pest inspections; and calls to discuss contract terms. If these vital signs are flatlining, it’s time to act and sit down with your agent.
While there is an abundance of skilled and experienced real estate agents, they aren’t all created equal. Sometimes the agent is ill-suited to selling a property because it is located outside their area of expertise or is different in size and style to their typical work.
On other occasions, the agent is overworked, inexperienced or even lazy and they don’t devote the requisite effort or judgment in delivering your property to the market. And finally, you can just be plain unlucky. There might be an unexpected glut of similar properties listed on the market just days after yours is and suddenly your prospective buyers are spoilt for choice.
Truth or despair
A property usually struggles for one of two reasons. It’s either been mis-marketed or it’s overpriced. Let’s start with the marketing. Revisit the advertising. Ask yourself, is it really compelling? If not, consider a wholesale change to copy.
The problem may be an overstating of the amount of accommodation. For instance, in a misguided attempt to maximise price, you sometimes see an ad for a three-bedroom house which is really just a two-bedder-and-a-small-study.
Those looking for a three-bedroom house dismiss it as soon as they see the floor plan, while the group most likely to buy the property - those after a two-bedder - never see the ad in the first place. If this is the case, you may need to commission new photography so you can present the faux third bedroom as a genuine study area.
The agent shouldn’t just be relying on advertising. They should be engaging their database of known buyers. Make sure they are.
Should you lower your quote range or listed price? It is likely the agent will want you to. And indeed, there are agents who, as a matter of course, push clients to lower their price expectations as soon as they sign the sales authority.
But push back if the quote was based on the original valuation by the agent. Grill them on why the price no longer holds. Escalate the matter to a principal of the agency if necessary.
Ultimately, reducing the asking price may be necessary. It’s usually less awkward in private treaty sales, where vendors are often negotiated down from the initial list price.
For auctions, which are breaking records in some markets, it tends to be a glaring signal of a struggling campaign.
Ultimately, vendors should not necessarily fear a property being passed in. This is when a good agent earns their fee, through an intense process of engaging all those who showed an interest in the property and by identifying what will get one person over the line, such as offering a longer or shorter settlement period.
Auctioneers are a diverse bunch with their own tricks of the trade and it’s worth watching them in action to see if they engage an audience.
Sometimes, more drastic action is required.
Propose to the agent that a second agency is engaged to support the campaign, with fees split 50/50. Known as a conjunctional sale, it can often quickly throw up a willing buyer who simply didn’t move in the first agency’s circles.
Your incumbent may not be thrilled at the prospect of losing half their fee, but a wise one will recognise that half the fees are better than nothing from an aborted sale.
Finally, consider taking the property off the market, resting it for a few months, and then relisting it with a completely refreshed listing - new copy, re-arranged furniture and new photography - and possibly with a new agent.
It can be better to retreat and regroup rather than make too many concessions just to sell the property. You’ll have learnt a lot from the first attempt and be the stronger for it.
Questions to ask a prospective agent
- What is your preferred method of sale for my property and why?
- How much is my property worth? What comparable data did you use to establish this estimate and why are those properties comparable?
- What properties have you sold recently in my area? Please provide some examples of quote ranges and hammer prices for recent auctions.
- For private sales, what is the average number of days properties are on the market before they sell? Please provide examples of recent private sales results.