I never want to sell property in England again (Part 1: Finding a Buyer)

Background can be found in: Introduction

One Tuesday back in April, once Mark’s visa interview was scheduled, we contacted some local estate agents. They each valued the flat, told us their fees and gave their pitch. Based on our initial meetings, we confidently chose an agent, who had a better marketing strategy and seemed like he’d get us the best (highest) price for our flat (which we still believe he did). Within the space of a couple days, we signed the listing contract, had the place professionally photographed and had our “EPC” done (Energy Performance Certificate – a relatively recent requirement for all homes in the country to be listed. It looks at things like the type of walls, insulation, heating, etc and grades the property’s overall energy efficiency). The flat was to officially be put on the market (ie go on a website, which is used like the UK’s MLS) the following Monday.

As our flat was in good condition, and in the best value block in a fairly desirable area of London, the estate agent already had a list of buyers and investors who may be interested. He brought round a handful of people for a ‘preview’ on Saturday.  One of the people who’d seen the flat at the weekend was interested, scheduled a second viewing for Monday and and made her first (lowball) offer on Tuesday (ie a week after we first spoke to the estate agents). To be fair, her first offer was what Mark and I originally thought the flat might be worth. After having it valued and looking at comparable sales, we listed it at a higher price and expected it to sell somewhere between the list price and our initial estimate price. In England – or at least London (I’m told it’s different in other areas of the country) – the concept of negotiating the sale price isn’t common. In the States, where I am very familiar with the whole property sale process, an offer is made (in writing) and a seller accepts, rejects or counters (also in writing). Here, however, the buyer makes an offer, and you accept or reject. If you reject (which we did), the buyer either moves on or offers more money. I tried to get our estate agent to counter offer with the price we wanted (halfway between our list price and the first offer price). He said “it doesn’t work that way, but I’ll encourage the buyer to go to that price”. She came back with another offer, lower than what we wanted. Again, we rejected. Finally Wednesday morning, she came back with the offer we wanted with the stipulation we take it off the market immediately (you can apparently leave it on the market even after an offer is accepted to see if you get an even better offer) and that we include variety of contents (fridge, futon, microwave, a bookshelf and some mirrors hanging in the flat). Fine by us, considering the UK microwave would be useless in the US and our sofa and bookshelf are 7 year old IKEA pieces. Hooray! 2 days on the market, and we are sold!

…Continue on to

Part 2: Formalities of Selling

Part 3: The Waiting Game

Part 4: Last Minute Stress

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4 comments

  1. […] Background can be found in: Introduction and Part 1: Finding a Buyer […]

  2. […] can be found in: Introduction, Part 1: Finding a Buyer and Part 2: Formalities of […]

  3. […] can be found in: Introduction, Part 1: Finding a Buyer, Part 2: Formalities of Selling  and Part 3: The Waiting […]

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