Can’t sell your London flat?

The pandemic has changed a lot of things for people. Being in lockdown caused people to reevaluate what they want out of their lives, careers, and even homes. 

Some people want things like a bigger garden, an office, a better kitchen. Others don’t want to be in the city anymore and want to be closer to their family and friends. Others want out of the village and into the city. These reasons have all contributed to a reduction in demand for prospective buyers of London flats and apartments. 

Also, one of the primary reasons your London flat might not be selling is that mortgages are harder to get now, especially for the younger generation, and that means whilst people are still buying houses, houses in cities aren’t as easy to buy. And especially not in London. 

The average house price in London (according to Zoopla) is £700,325. Help to Buy ISAs and Lifetime ISAs help first-time buyers but only on houses up to the value of £450,000, which means there’s less help for those who want to buy in London – which could be off-putting.

How long does it take to sell a flat in London?

129 days/ 18 weeks/ 4.2 months is the average time it takes to sell a property in the UK. That’s from putting the house on the market to completion. 

As we say, that is the average; it could be less time, it could be more. But four months is still a relatively long time to be in the process for anyone. 

Why isn’t my London flat selling? 

There are a few reasons why your London flat might not be selling. Some of these factors may affect you, and some may not. Everything is circumstantial. How big of an effect something is having on your property sale is again not as easy to pinpoint, but there’s a high chance when you read the list, you’ll know which ones are relevant to you. 

  • Cladding
  • Size – flats less than 37m2 aren’t permitted in new planning rules. 
  • A short lease
  • No garden
  • Not enough bedrooms
  • Parking 
  • Bathrooms
  • Area 
  • Transport links
  • Proximity to schools 
  • Works/ repairs are needed – the flat is not ready to move into
  • Cold market

What are my options? How can I help speed up the sale?

  1. Reduce the price 
  2. Find a proactive estate agent
  3. Use multiple estate agents
  4. Postpone the sale
  5. Rent it out
  6. Sell it at an auction
  7. Carry out repairs 
  8. Sell on a lease option basis
  9. Use a cash buyer

Let’s look at these options in more detail.

Reduce the price 

One of the reasons you might not be selling could be because you’ve priced your flat too high or because the market isn’t as hot right now. If you need to sell your flat and postponing/waiting isn’t an option, it could be worth dropping the price. 

Find a proactive estate agent

If you think it could be your estate agent that’s dragging their feet, you could see out your term with them and look and switch to a different, more proactive estate agent/agency.

Use multiple estate agencies

If you know or think your estate agent is the problem, you could consider switching or using multiple estate agents. The fees may be higher if you choose to use multiple estate agents, but you may want to try this route instead of reducing the price.

Postpone the sale

If you don’t have another home to move into, then postponing the sale until the market picks up could be a very viable option for you. Waiting six months and trying again could see you in a different market with more potential buyers. 

Rent it out 

If you have somewhere else you’re planning to move into and postponing the sale isn’t an option, you could look at renting your flat out for a while. 

Sell it at auction

It’s important to remember that you can’t guarantee a sale even through an auction; this method requires a bit of luck. You could get nothing; you could get more than you bargained for. But selling your London flat via auction could be worth considering if you need to sell quickly. The auction house will take a percentage, so make sure to do your research on what that could be. Allsop – the UK’s property auction market leader – say they consistently sell over 80% of all properties entered into our auction.

Carry out repairs

If your London property isn’t selling because you have an outdated bathroom suite, or you need a new kitchen, you might want to look at carrying out those changes/repairs and then relisting your flat. 

Your alternative may be to sell at a lower price, and if it is, do you lose more by lowering the cost or carrying out the repairs on your property in London?

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Sell your London flat on a lease option basis

This option can be beneficial for those looking to move on quickly.

In the simplest of terms, a lease option is renting the property whilst a potential buyer decides if they want to buy it. You will agree on a lease length, lease amount, payment frequency, and then there is an ‘option’ of buying the property at the end of the lease for an agreed amount. If the leaseholder decides not to take the ‘option’ of buying the flat, it is returned to you. 

  • You’re able to move out or move on to somewhere else quickly.
  • It gives the buyer a chance to see what it’s like to live in the area.
  • You don’t become the landlord to the ‘tenants’ – the person(s) leasing the flat take on the responsibility during the agreed timeframe.
  • It can raise funds quickly.
  • It can provide a hassle-free monthly income. 
  • Not all solicitors like this option, and your contract does need to be drawn up by one. 
  • If the leaseholder decides not to buy, you do have to start to process again – although the market might be in a better position for you to sell your London flat, and who knows, it might have even increased in value.

Use a cash buyer

Again this might be an excellent option for you if you want to speed the whole process up and need to sell your London flat quickly. Whether you need funds for a new home, to relocate, emigrate, retire etc., using a cash buyer can get you those funds. 

The industry isn’t regulated yet, so be careful and make sure to do your research before you go ahead – and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  • It’s fast – typically taking between 7-28 days.
  • You don’t need to spend time making repairs/changes to your flat. You can sell it exactly as it is. 
  • There’s less chance of the sale falling through. 
  • You don’t need to worry about viewings and appraisals. 
  • It will sell for a lower price – A cash buyer will usually buy your property for around 80-85% of its market value. Be wary of anyone offering 100%; it’s either a scam, or the price will drop last minute. 
  • Scammers are out there – as we mentioned, the industry isn’t regulated, so make sure you triple check everything before going ahead. 
  • The sale can still fall through – although there is a smaller chance of that happening.
  • A cash buyer can change the price last minute – and if you’re already committed to something else that means you can’t pull out, you may be forced to take an even lower price. 

There are lots of reasons why your London flat might not be selling. Some of those reasons might be things you can change, and some may not. But the good news is there are different options and avenues you can explore to help you sell. 

About Richard Mews

Richard has 31+ years of property experience, has been Chairman of several regeneration committees and has helped more than 600 homeowners and landlords get easy, stress-free personal solutions for selling their property. Richard’s goal is to give you unbiased help to receive a quick house sale, even if that means not working with him.

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