On the 8th of July 2020, the Chancellor announced the first £500,000 of any property bought was exempt from Stamp Duty until 31st March 2021. This also included buy to let landlords (although they would still need to pay the additional 3% stamp duty level for second properties). Talking to many of you Chelmsford homeowners, I know lots of you are bringing forward your home moving plans to take advantage of this tax cut. Also, many Chelmsford portfolio landlords are looking to save paying the tax by bringing their portfolio purchases forward.  Yet how do you ensure you sell and buy your Chelmsford property whilst the tax cut applies (a saving of up to £15,000 of stamp duty on your next Chelmsford home?).

The biggest issue whenever you are selling your Chelmsford property is the properties that you are in competition with. Plenty of Chelmsford homeowners have jumped onto the stamp duty holiday bandwagon since the announcement and there are 14% more properties for sale in Chelmsford than there were during lockdown. The number of properties for sale in Chelmsford can split down into type…

  • Detached Chelmsford homes down 1%
  • Semi-detached Chelmsford homes up 7%
  • Terraced / Town houses Chelmsford homes up 18%
  • Apartments in Chelmsford up 29%

So, now you know what you are up against, what do you need to know?

The most important factor is the time issue. It currently takes on average 17 to 19 weeks between a sale price being agreed and the keys being handed over, meaning you need to have found a buyer before the end of November or early December to enable you to complete the sale by the 31st March 2021. That means you really need to have placed your property on the market by the end of September and early/mid-October at the very latest to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday. Don’t get me wrong though, you could put your Chelmsford property on the market after that date, yet the price you will be able to achieve for your property could be affected.

There are 2,063 properties on the market in Chelmsford, of which 1,085 have sales agreed on them

Talking of price, or more specifically the asking price. There is a window of opportunity for Chelmsford homeowners to take advantage of this stamp duty tax cut, yet don’t let local estate agents curry favour with you by tempting you with a high initial asking price to win the right to put their for sale board outside your Chelmsford home.

A Which report stated in 2017 that many estate agents routinely over inflated the asking prices of the properties they brought to market. One might ask why this is an issue for Chelmsford property sellers, as surely, they can just reduce their asking price at a later date? The excellent report proved that those estate agents who on the face of it appear to be doing you some kindness by endeavouring to get more for your home with a suggested higher asking price, the property often ended up selling for much less than similar properties that were realistically priced properties from day one and also, they ultimately took longer to sell!

This Which report compared the original asking price with final selling prices for 370,000 properties to ascertain how many estate agents had reduced the initial asking price of properties in order to sell them. Which found that 70,300 (19%) of all 370,000 properties sold had to be reduced by at least 5% in order to get the property sold, whilst the other 81% (299,700) had no or very minimal reductions to get them sold.

Of the 299,700 sold properties that weren’t reduced or reduced by less than 5%, the average initial asking price was £261,000, yet they eventually sold for an average sale price of £260,000. For those 70,300 homes whose asking prices were reduced by over 5%, whilst the average listing price was £266,000, their eventual sale price was only £241,000, a loss of £20,000 each. Even worse, those properties with the heavy price reductions (5% or more) took an average of nine weeks and one day longer to sell (when compared to the other properties with no or minimal reductions).

What that means is by over inflating your initial asking price of your Chelmsford home, it will cost those Chelmsford homeowners an extra nine weeks to find a buyer and they will lose out on the final sale price by some considerable margin (meaning you will also probably lose out on the stamp duty holiday).

Assuming your asking is price is realistic, you aren’t out of the woods yet. Other things that will help you get the best price for your Chelmsford home in the best possible time (and thus save you money with the stamp duty holiday) are…

  • Everyone searches on the portals for their next home. Photos are therefore very important (a picture speaks a thousand words). If the weather isn’t good on the day of the photoshoot, ask the agent to revisit when the sun is out (and even tell them to hold off marketing the property until those pictures are perfect) … as you only get one go at being ‘new to the market’, with all the excitement and interest that causes.

 

  • Employ the services of a solicitor at the same time as instructing the estate agent. Bringing together the legal paperwork of the property you are selling. By doing so, you will save weeks between the sale agreed and completion. Also, solicitors will be really busy, juggling many property transactions at the same time in the next 200+ days. Anything you can do to get a head start on others can only help your cause.

 

  • Kerb side appeal. Look at your property from across the road. Does the front door need painting? Could a tonne of gravel spruce up your driveway? Maybe adding some hanging baskets and planted pots will help to make a home stand out for the best reasons?

The final piece of advice I can give you is if you are planning to sell your Chelmsford home, make sure your Chelmsford estate agent can show you proof of similar Chelmsford properties and what they actually sold for to back up their suggested asking price. If the asking price isn’t realistic, the chances are you end up losing many thousands of pounds and wasting everyone’s time. If you would like to chat about selling your Chelmsford home, please do not hesitate to pick up the telephone.

About Neil Baldock

Born and bred in Chelmsford, Neil went to Tyrells and The Boswells School and still lives in Springfield. A former police officer, Neil is an excellent problem solver for our clients. Neil oversees the Lettings, Property Management and Maintenance portfolio here at CDC and is able to offer specialist advice on all aspects of buy to let and property investment in Chelmsford and all areas of Essex. Neil is happy to offer advice to landlords even where the property is not being purchased through our agency and would welcome an informal chat with you regarding your investments. Neil is also well versed in HMO Management as we are one of the only agencies in Chelmsford which has a specialist HMO and rooms to rent department. Neil is Matthews younger brother and has a son named Michael.

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