HELP! I Can’t Sell My House [3 Solutions]!

I Can't Sell My House

I’ve been there and I feel your crippling pain. In a word, “bloody-freaking-frustrating”

What’s almost as frustrating is scavenging through the “help guides” that rank highly in Google for the key phase “I can’t sell my house”, because they all pretty much regurgitate the same ridiculously obvious potential stumbling blocks:

  • Your asking price is a joke
  • Your photos are a monstrosity
  • Your house smells of cabbage
  • Your house is odd and too quirky
  • Your messy arse needs to declutter
  • Your estate agent sucks balls
  • The market is stone cold

ZzzzzzzZZZZZZ!

I mean come on! That’s terribly unhelpful advice to anyone that has a shred of common sense, am I right? So I’m going to spare you from the same-old, same-old…

First, let’s cover some of the basics…

How long does it take to sell a house?

I’m going to presume that you’re trying to flog your house on the open market via an estate agent, so if that’s the case, the average time it takes to sell a house is approximately 2 months – that’s according to national statistics and the experts [the last time I checked].

But that’s not a hill I’d be willing to die on personally, because at the end of the day, it’s a lottery. Ultimately, it boils down to the right buyer being at the right place at the right time. However, I think it’s important to have a number to work with.

Personally, I’d start feeling concerned if I haven’t locked in a sale around the 4-6 month mark. But my expectations will be dependent on the overall local market’s performance. For example, if every house on my street is selling but mine, then I’ll likely have a panic attack way before the 6 month mark.

When is the best time of year to sell a house?

Statistically (yes, again with the stats), Spring time is the best time to sell a house, which accounts for March, April, and May.

The absolutely worst time to sell is December and January (for the obvious festive reasons).

What I’d recommend to do if you can’t sell your house!

1) Yes, your estate agent might actually suck!

I know, I know, I listed this as one of the potential issues often highlighted by Captain Obvious.

But this is one of those issues that often isn’t the easiest to identify and can actually be the genuine cause of unnecessary delays!

If you’re unsatisfied with your agent’s performance, you may want to drop them like a bad cold and find someone else. Of course, have an open and honest discussion with them first. Ask them what they think the problem is and what can be done to help resolve the problem(s).

Failing that, it might be time to have a reshuffle and recruit new help. But first, you’ll need to check your contract as you may be bound by a tie-in period and you’ll also need to factor in the notice period.

To avoid being completely unoriginal, I’ll throw a curveball your way…

If working with another estate agent sounds as appetising as curdled donkey milk (understandable, no judgement from me), then may I suggest looking into using an online estate agent? They’re literally a fraction of the cost, and they empower sellers to take control.

2) Ensure your house is listed on Rightmove & Zoopla

Whichever estate agent you’re working with, ensure your property is being listed on Rightmove & Zoopla – the two of the most popular UK property portals. They attract the most eyeballs by a country mile, and will therefore massively increase exposure to your property!

Many estate agents don’t list on both portals because the reality is, agents have to pay outrageous fees to get their stock listed on those websites, so many don’t in order to save on overheads. As an alternative, agents will either list only on one of the major portals, along with other less popular portals like Prime Location and OnTheMarket.

I get it, I do, but there really is no substitute for Rightmove and Zoopla (especially Rightmove).

3) Your house is plain nasty!

I didn’t want to be the one to say it, but this really could be it.

Truth be told, this is what I was leading up to. We were always going to get here, friend.

This can be a tough pill to swallow, and a reality that’s inconceivable, because it’s difficult to be objective about a property that we call our home. Alas, my job is to pull the band aid off and offer solutions.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, comes to mind.

For whatever reason, your property could simply be undesirable to the masses – perhaps there’s no rhyme or reason for it – and there’s nothing you can really do about it, other than wait for the right buyer to come along with equally as nasty taste. But that’s the problem, because then it continues being a waiting game, and that’s no fun if you’re in a chain or need a quick sale.

“Plain nasty” is perhaps a tad harsh (but not always), because your property might simply have particularly unique features that appeal to a limited market. Or maybe there is a obvious reason for why you can’t get a sale, like a glaring defect e.g. Subsidence, Japanese Knotweed, you’re a hoarder etc.

In any case, what’s the solution?

Three jump out at me (these options are based on the presumption that you either can’t fix the problem or you simply don’t want to), and granted, they’re not great:

  • Continue waiting, waiting… and waiting!
  • Lower the asking price and continue waiting (I know, I know!)
  • Sell to a “Cash House Buyer” company (often refereed to a “We buy any house” company)!

    No, this option certainly isn’t for everyone and it definitely isn’t pretty, because you’ll have to sell at a discount (approximately 15% below market value), however, these companies will buy any old junk (no offence) and they’ll pay cash, but best of all, they have the resources to complete a sale in as little as 7 days! They take care of the entire process, including all the pesky legal paperwork. My friend recently sold his house to one of these companies recently after being on the market for over a year (the house had Japanese Knotweed in the back garden).

    Often people are willing to take the hit on the sale price in order to get a super quick sale, because a quick sale can often work out cheaper, or at least, reduce the actual loss, to the point that it’s worth it. That’s why and how these companies have become popular over the years.

    One thing is for sure though, it’s one hell of a convenient option, and convenience is a commodity many value highly.

    At the very least, it’s worth contacting a few companies and weighing up your options. Here’s a list of highly rated Cash House Buyer companies.

Like in many of these situations, sometimes the problem is staring us square in the face, but we’re so oblivious due to our own biases that we need someone else to point it out. I’m not saying that is definitely the problem, but I’m saying it could be.

I have no idea if my rambling will actually help anyone out, but I hope it does, or at least provided food for thought.

If you have a story to share or have any additional advice, please feel free to drop a comment.

Happy selling, and best of luck! xoxo

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