Selling your house is rarely easy, but the process can become a lot more challenging if your neighbour is trying to do the same thing at the same time, in the same place. What can you do to make your property more appealing to potential buyers than the one next door?
It’s not the best news when your neighbour puts their property up for sale at the same time as you, but it doesn’t have to be a disaster. No two properties are exactly the same, so you are always selling something unique. Maybe there are ways to gain a competitive advantage by making those differences stand out and adding crucial extra appeal for potential buyers torn between the two options? Or who knows, you might even be able to work together to attract more views, get a better deal and both end up with a happy ending.
Here are our five top tips for how to sell your house before your neighbour.
Potential buyers will be looking at a wide variety of properties, so you should do everything you can to make yours memorable and stand out on their list. This is true whether or not your neighbour is selling their property too. First impressions count, and walking into a home that looks and feels welcoming can make a big difference. Call it home staging, home styling, house doctoring or anything else, but it just means bringing out the best in your property, and it works a treat, especially if the viewers have come from a much less appealing property next door.
Try to look at your home through someone else’s eyes, maybe get a friend to be brutally honest - you or they might spot something - a bare lightbulb, a dusty corner, a dead plant, a crack in the wall or a strange smell in the bathroom - that could make a big difference to first impressions. You don’t have to redecorate or rent a set of new trendy furniture, but cleaning the windows and putting a bright throw over that worn sofa could be the difference between a yes and a no.
Imagine if the viewers have come directly from your neighbour’s house or apartment. This is pretty likely, as people tend to view in areas and agents prefer to arrange as many viewings in one trip. The two properties on sale - or maybe more if you are in a larger complex of apartment block - are likely to be pretty similar in terms of size, layout (and of course location). A house could be in the same neighbourhood, village or even street. How are you going to make yours stand out?
The key is always to sell a lifestyle so people can ‘see themselves living there’ but when ‘competing’ with neighbours you have to highlight not just the positives but also the ‘relative’ positives. What can you offer that they can’t? Do you get more sun because of the way the (super clean) windows, or are you on a higher, quieter floor? Is your terrace slightly larger, better kept and with flowers blooming, does your patio furniture make it look more welcoming? Even if it is exactly the same you can make it look instantly more appealing, but having the blinds open, healthy plants in the sitting room and on the terrace, flowers in a vase, breakfast on the table and everything neat and tidy. Even if the neighbours have done the same you are at least still in the game!
Of course, everyone has different tastes so it also pays to find out in advance what sort of potential buyers are coming to view and what they might be looking for. Are you closer to the shops, further from the football ground? Are they a young family (we’re right next to the communal pool!), an older couple (we’re just far enough away from the communal pool!) or is an investor looking for a student rental (oh, the buzzing social scene and transport links are great). Adapt your pitch accordingly and you might just add that crucial extra appeal that meets the specific desires of the viewer.
You may be in competition with your neighbour in many ways, but there are opportunities to work together and maybe even both achieve your sale. Depending on the differences and relative merits of your properties, it might be an idea to share an agent with a view to negotiating a better deal and even getting more exposure while paying less commission. Always be prepared to ask questions and find a favourable arrangement.
Perhaps your neighbour has found an agent you weren’t aware of, who is a better fit for your property. People will generally know about other properties for sale in the area on the books of different agents, so it’s unlikely that potential buyers will not be aware that your ‘rival’ is in the market, so why not send potential buyers onto them and they can do the same? Chatting with other residents can be useful in all sorts of ways - your neighbours may also be aware of local developments that you or your agent haven’t heard of, such as renovations, new businesses or facilities in the area or other benefits you can use to add appeal and help generate demand for everyone.
Your agent is the professional you trust with your sale, so make sure you appoint the right one for the job. Look at other local properties they have sold, keep an eye on how long properties tend to stay on their books, ask around and even contact people who are selling through the different agents and find out about their experiences.
Take their advice on pricing and commission, but also investigate the market yourself. If anything has changed - for better or worse - be aware of it and be ready to field questions from informed viewers.
For example, discover our article on the COVID-19 Impacts On Spain Real Estate so that you’re prepared to answer questions about property prices.
Work as a team with your estate agent. While agents have lots of properties to sell, you probably only have one. So you know it better than anybody and care about it the most, so it’s good to be there when people look around and be ready to answer their questions. You can’t beat authentic knowledge about what it’s really like to live there.
There are plenty of factors to consider when selling your property, especially when your neighbour is trying to do the same thing. Every location is different, even if you are next door (light, floor number, views, orientation etc), and location is still one of the biggest influences on a decision to buy.
Also, while window dressing and a welcoming attitude can make a big difference, they are unlikely to overcome the other biggest factor - price. You have to price your property realistically, which means in a way that it will sell - but you also want to achieve the highest price. How much is the neighbour’s property on sale for? Do the advantages of yours merit a higher price that people will pay? Are these advantages unique or can they be applied to the cheaper property?
The terms of the deal will also affect your ability to sell at a certain price. How quickly do you want to move - a lower price tends to promote a faster sale - or can you wait for the right buyer willing to pay a bit more? It’s a complex equation, and there is always an element of lot of luck involved (you only need one person to make a sale, but it has to be the right one!)
But with a bit of careful consideration, planning and lateral thinking, you can give yourself the best chance of making that sale - if not quickly, at least before your neighbour!