NEGOTIATING THE NEW NORMAL
Published 10 March 2023
If you have looked at the business card of your local estate agent recently, the chances are that you will have noticed that their title is likely to be something along the lines of ‘residential sales negotiator’, writes Jan Hytch.
In recent years, selling houses has been rather less about negotiating and rather more about coping with enormous demand from buyers who have been more or less willing to pay the asking price, without thinking too hard about the true value of the house they are buying.
But with interest rates rising, that frenzy is calming, and those of us who have been in the profession for a long time welcome this. Much as it might be exciting to be selling houses in an overheated market, in a more challenging situation, the art of the negotiator really comes to the fore.
Despite a few commentators predicting dire times, actually what is happening right now is the market returning to a state of normality. It’s just that 14 years of rock-bottom interest rates, and unsustainable price rises, many less experienced agents simply haven’t lived through ‘normal’ before.
This is the time when those of us with a few grey hairs show our value. Negotiating our way through this ‘new normal’ will take skill, it will require us to draw on experience, and it is a challenge. And if you are in the market, whether as a buyer or a seller, you had better hope that your agent is up for that challenge, and has experience on which to draw.
Currently, neither buyers or sellers are very sure of the market. Buyers have both been panicked by the lack of availability of properties in recent times, and spooked by less than accurate prophecies in the media that prices are about to collapse. Couple this with worries about interest rate levels that no-one under the age of 35 has really experienced before, and you can understand their confusion.
Meanwhile there are still plenty of sellers being seduced by agents advising unrealistically high asking prices, only to find that their property isn’t selling, and being forced into reducing the price – never the best strategy to achieve the best result.
What is required is a clear head, and sound negotiating skills. This new market normality is going to expose those agents who lack the experience, training and skills to deal with it, and make buyers and sellers alike value those who have taken the time to get properly qualified and learn from those of us who have experienced every kind of market situation.
Talking of normalising the markets, next week the Chancellor will deliver his first proper Budget (as opposed to the ‘Autumn Statement’ and ‘Fiscal Event’ we were assaulted with in the autumn).
It is to be hoped that he resists the temptation to meddle with the property market, something which invariably results in distortion and disruption, almost always to the detriment of the consumer. My message is that the market is correcting itself; what we need is a measure of economic certainty and stability. The professionals have got this, Mr Hunt, so please don’t interfere!
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