Selling a Property with a Graveyard? No problem!

August 2015

One of the most unusual property transactions I have undertaken in my 13 years in the property sector, is an opportunity I was involved with last year.

Having been recommended to the owner, I had an initial conversation over the telephone with him. On the face of it, the property sounded like a promising opportunity – 5 bedrooms, potential to extend, very large gardens, far reaching views and a sensible guide price. It seemed to be ticking many of the right boxes.

Having listened to this, I went to meet the vendor and looked around the property. The owner said he was currently on the market with his second agent, the guide price had been dropped by £150,000 and yet viewings were few and far between. Something didn’t add up…

At the end of the viewing, I looked out of the sitting room window and to the far end of the garden was a small private graveyard! This white elephant was arguably the most significant factor why the property hadn’t sold. Despite this the agent was suggesting to the owner to drop the guide price again, yet this was not actually solving the obvious problem!

The issue in the commercialised world we live in, is that individual negotiators are often overseen by performance targets. Therefore they sometimes have an unintended agenda of retaining a property on their books, rather than taking the time to look in a client’s best interests.

To get the property back on the right tracks, I put together a comprehensive schedule including:

1) Removing the property immediately from all websites with the current agent, to allow for it to fall out of circulation so any relaunch had the greatest impact

2) Overseeing a range of cosmetic improvements at modest cost with trusted professions I knew, to maximise presentation and to demonstrate property value. Works such as professional carpet cleaning, redecoration of the key rooms, removal of black mould, deep clean throughout and re-turfing of the lawn

3) We were given authority to lie the eight cemetery headstones on the ground, which my groundsman undertook. We installed quality fencing around the area and planted ornate fruit trees. The objective was not to hide the cemetery, but to soften the look so it no longer impacted on the views from the house.

4) New professional photography including semi-aerial angles from a drone

5) Site plan on the brochure to illustrate the size of gardens

6) The guide price to remain the same, as it represented good value for money

7) New agent appointed with a more national approach to encompass those buyers from outside the local area

The result was that the property was now presented to maximum effect and was playing to its strengths. Whilst viewers were made aware of the graveyard, once they were there the majority realised that it did not directly impact on what was a superb family home.

Within 3 months, the vendor had never had so many viewings and accepted an offer which successfully went on to complete.

By applying some lateral thinking and committing to some minor expenditure, one can turn around the fortunes of most house sales. The key is knowing where to spend your money to maximum effect, which marketing angles are right and above all ensuring you pick the right estate agent first time around.

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