About 10% of property sales in the UK in 2022 have been off-market homes. That’s more than ever before, and for a number of reasons.
Off-market sales began to increase because of the shortage of property for sale over the last year. Estate agents have had to get more creative by putting chains together from the top down, finding homes that weren’t on the market for ever-growing lists of increasingly desperate buyers.
More recently, the ill-fated mini-budget and mixed messages around the property market have led some sellers to test the waters first with an off-market launch.
But, if you don’t tell every buyer that your home is for sale, are you at risk of selling for less than you could?
A lot depends on the type of property you own and when you need to move. So with that in mind, our blog this week includes all you need to know about selling your home off-market and whether it’s the right move for you.
Why do people sell their homes off-market?
Historically, off-market selling was exclusively for homes at the very top of the market, or public figures and celebrities who wanted discretion. But there are other reasons why people make their homes available off-market, including:
- a preference for neighbours, colleagues or business associates not to know just yet for personal reasons
- uncertainty over the exact value of a home and trying a test price to gauge response without leaving a digital trail on the property portals
- owning a home that has a unique design, a prime location, or is unusual for the neighbourhood.
These are all valid reasons, but they only apply to a minority of homes. When most people decide to move, they usually want to get an offer and get going as soon as possible. And if you live in a prime example of homes for sale in Redhill, Reigate or Dorking, you’re likely to get the best result by making sure that every buyer knows about it.
Will you get the highest price by selling your home off-market?
Your selling price influences your entire move, from your budget for your next home to how much you can spend on upgrades and furniture. Usually, the best way to get the highest price is to reach as many buyers as possible, but there are some homes where a different approach can pay off, because:
- Exclusivity sells, and some buyers will pay what you want without negotiating to avoid the scrum of the open market.
- You can use the fear of missing out on a one-time opportunity to bolster your selling price and create a sense of urgency.
- Even a small selection of hand-picked buyers can result in stiff competition and multiple offers for an exceptional property.
Of course, it’s impossible to know whether another buyer would have come along a week or month later and paid more, but that’s the same for everyone selling a home. What’s important is that your agent gets you a price that stacks up against other local sales, from a buyer who can proceed to your timeframe.
How can you choose the right agent to sell your home off-market?
For an estate agent to sell your home off-market, they need access to a pool of ready, willing and able buyers. Otherwise, given that your home will be invisible to the public, you’re unlikely to have much interest. So use the following steps to identify the most suitable agents to call.
- Check local sold signs and online listings to see who sells similar homes to yours, as they’re more likely to have suitable buyers.
- Contact each agent on your shortlist to see if they’re willing to list your home off-market (not all are) and whether they’ve done it before.
- Invite your chosen agents into your home to get their thoughts on price, strategy, how many potential buyers they have registered now and how they can generate more enquiries discreetly.
Bear in mind that one or more of the agents you speak to may feel that selling your home off-market is not the best move for you, and they may have a point. It isn’t right for everyone, so be open to any comments and advice before making your final decision.
Are there enough buyers to sell your home off-market?
The vast majority of buyers search for a home through portals like Rightmove and Zoopla, and many never even contact an estate agent unless they get a property alert. The only way to reach them is to advertise your home. However, there are various other sources of buyers that agents have access to, including:
- people who lost out on a property an agent recently sold and are waiting desperately for something similar to come up
- other local sellers who want to stay in the neighbourhood but haven’t put their homes on the market yet
- previous customers whose stories we already know and who told us about their love of a particular location or who might need to trade up or downsize soon
- local business owners, landlords and other contacts built up over time
- buying agents tasked with finding a dream home for their extra-busy clients.
One thing about being an estate agent is that people talk to us about property all the time, and not just when we’re at work. We often hear about someone’s plans to move very early on, and we lose count of the times we’ve been asked to give them a call if something ever comes up in their dream location.
What are the pitfalls of selling your home off-market?
If you remove all the tools and channels that estate agents use to give you the widest exposure, you’ll be reliant on someone from a smaller group of buyers falling in love with your home.
That’s not to say they won’t, but it’s worth considering what selling on the open market gives you:
- Property portals are by far the largest source of enquiries for estate agents, with around 90% of buyers starting their searches there.
- Agents’ websites and social media channels are a handy source of local followers who either know or become buyers.
- For-sale signs alert neighbours, visitors, and anyone passing by that your home is available, including those waiting for homes to come up in your location, either for themselves or friends.
Ultimately, the way you choose to market your home should give you the best chance of success. If you want or need to move by a specific date, there’s little point in keeping your home a secret.
Could selling your home off-market be right for you?
Now that you know how selling off-market works, perhaps it’s time for a chat about your plans.
For some friendly and expert advice on the best selling strategy for your home, call us on 01737 333 677 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to help you get your move underway.