Planning to Sell

Presentation may not make up for any inherent shortcomings of a property, but first impressions should not be underestimated. By taking a fresh and objective look at your home through the perspective of the viewers’ eyes, you can greatly increase your chances of a swift and satisfactory sale.

Let me please explain how one can create that extra advantage at each stage of the sale process and, although this is written in the context of selling a Spanish property, here on the Costa Blanca (Moraira) those looking to sell in the UK and relocate here could adopt many of the following ideas, to their advantage.

A STRATEGY FOR SALE: There are basically three options available to vendors at this point: Private sale, Fee only agent, Conventional estate agent; let’s briefly look at these options:

Private Sale: There seems to be an obvious appeal to a vendor as he saves an agent’s commission fee, but this could also be lost again by not having an experienced mediator handling negotiations between the two parties. In terms of promotion, the vendor is ‘Playing golf with just one club’, by dangling an orange day-glo cardboard ‘SE VENDE’, written with sun-faded felt-tip pen – not a good impression! Any private advertising will be a direct speculative expense for a private vendor, with no guarantee of any result.

Fee Only Agent: Will offer to sell your villa for a modest, once only fee; but you pay this regardless of whether they achieve a sale, or not. Their job is complete at this stage – they have sold their service to the vendor – not a villa to a buyer! Where is their incentive to perform, once they have received their up-front fee?

Conventional Estate Agent: How often does employing professional guidance not prove to be right? Do not sign an exclusivity deal with any agent, no matter what the enticement may be; several heads are always better than one! I would always suggest a vendor enlists perhaps two, three or even four well-established agents with well-placed prominent offices, specialising in your local area, to compete with each other. Do check on their promotional abilities. Do they have sufficient window space to guarantee your property details proper exposure? Do they use this window space to promote their clients’ properties currently for sale, or to boastfully display those previously sold? Do they have multiple websites to promote your Spanish villa both locally and throughout Europe, and beyond? A good agent will use their full and varied means to promote the property, not just locally, but throughout the UK, Europe and worldwide. Do they treat you with the prompt and efficient care and courtesy you would want for your perspective purchasers?

PRICE: The most important element for a vendor in what remains an essentially ‘Buyers’ Market’! Beware any agent who asks you, the vendor, what price to market the property at; this key issue is one which the vendor should be able to rely on, in terms of the accurate and professional judgement of the chosen agent(s). Any variance in price estimates between agents will need an average consensus price to be agreed, as it is most important that all agents involved market the property at the same price.

Of course, it is always much easier to reduce a price than to increase a low one, but it is imperative to start at a price which is reasonable and achievable. A property which has sat on the market for a year or so will have become totally stigmatized. Please bear in mind: an overpriced property will, by comparison, only enhance the competitiveness, and help the sale of other better value villas. Also remember, that what one paid for a property several years ago, at the top of the market, or how much mortgage is owed on it, is not a sound basis for a valuation!


MAXIMISING VALUE: A little attention can often go a long way, and this is never truer that when looking to sell one’s home.

Presentation: This is a key factor; even before engaging an agent, try to cast an objective eye over your property. Beginning from across the road, does the front wall or gate need a re-paint, are there weeds which require dealing with, does the stone paving or the pool coronation need pressure-washing? Also check on the exterior paintwork and any missing or broken roof tiles etc. Is the garden looking its best? Trim those hedges, trees and shrubs – especially if doing so will open up a nice view – but check carefully before trimming any foliage which screens neighbouring windows etc., to ensure privacy is maintained.

Listing: Prior to engaging any agents, they will need to visit, evaluate and photograph the property. It is always a good idea to have available photocopies of the Copia Simple, Cedular, Licences and details of any later works - especially extensions etc., together with a note of annual costs such as IBI, basura and community fees etc.

Remember that this is how your property will be represented in the agent’s promotional photographs – please ensure the home interior, garden & pool are looking their very best, especially bathrooms and kitchens, which need to be as de-cluttered as possible. Ensure that window blinds are fully raised and curtains are arranged neatly, and that any blown light bulbs are replaced, as interiors photograph better when lit. Ensure the pool is clean, the garden tidy and clear of drying laundry, hose-pipes and water-cans etc.

Viewings: Now things get ‘Up close and personal’! PLEASE, PLEASE, leave us to conduct the viewings; we are (or should be) the professionals, we know our viewing clients, and we know what best to say and what not to say. Please remember that the viewers are looking to buy a lifestyle, not just the bricks and mortar. Our most effective recent sales have been greatly helped by homes being superbly presented, with the owners welcoming us then retreating poolside, or to the naya to sip an ice cold beer or a coffee and read a magazine, whilst we get on and do the job for which we are being paid. We are happy to make any particular point or explaining any particular feature, if we don’t know an answer to any particular issue, you shall be there for us to consult. If you are not permanent residents, please arrange for a labelled set of keys, and PLEASE keep us informed if you are temporarily absent, or when you have rental clients! For our part of the bargain – it is our strict company policy to provide our resident vendors with accurate viewer feedback, within 24 hours.

Offers: In the current market conditions, we feel any offer achieved within 5 – 10% of an asking price is a realistic target and a good result. There are several other bargaining tools which can be employed: offer some/most/all furniture to be included, by negotiation, maybe your Spanish registered car will be of interest if you and your buyers are effectively ‘swapping countries’. One final point: if you happen to have a mortgage on your property, this could be another advantage, as you can usually subrogate (transfer) the existing mortgage – or part of – to the prospective purchaser with cost savings for both parties.

Author:  Chris Garwood – Partner, Estate Agents Moraira, Select Villas of Moraira
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