Friday, February 13, 2009

Still Alive!

St Peter & Pauls Church, Gladstone St.

We are still selling houses, despite all predictions of doom for the Irish housing market. Plenty of viewings are taking place, offers being made and properties being sold. The comparative monthly statistics for viewings and offers at our Clonmel office are as follows:

Jan 2008: Viewings 84 Offers 32
Jan 2009: Viewings 94 Offers 26

A reflection of the market is that more viewings resulted in less offers. In better times, there were many bidders for each house. Now, the bidders are more widely spread, with one or two bidders per house.
Activity is mainly restricted to the typical 3-bed semi, a first-time buyer’s house. Prices here range from around €185-215k, depending on condition and location.
First-time buyers seem to be the only ones who can get finance at present. Most banks are keen to lend to them and are cutting good deals. Some vendors are also keen to sell, for many reasons, and these two facts have ensured that the lower end of the market is still alive. With lower interest rates and lower prices, it is now cheaper to buy a home than at any time in the last 5 years. It is also cheaper to buy than to rent!
This has led to a shortage of suitable houses, as the supply of houses coming to the market over the last few months is traditionally slow. So despite media reports that housing is not selling, we are facing a shortage of well-priced, well-located starter homes.
I speak to other agents around the country on a weekly basis. Very few of them are having the same results as us. Those that are having the same results are following the same formula as us. It is the way we always did things.
Market knowledge means pricing houses correctly, not misleading vendors with inflated valuations. In better times, many agents played a game of over-valuing houses to get the instruction. They then sat on the property for 3-4 months, waiting for the market to catch up, or for the vendor to reduce in price, so they could get a sale. In a falling market, such as we now have, it is impossible to sell a house that is over-priced. To sell, you must match or undercut the current market. As the market falls, the longer a house stays on the market, the lower will be the eventual sale price, so the owner will lose money by an agent taking this approach.
Being available and facilitating to buyers... at all times. Our competitors have drastically reduced their opening hours. We have the longest opening hours of all. If someone wants to view a property, we will show it to them.
Being able to talk to and empathise with buyers is equally important. When we meet with prospective buyers, we build a relationship with them. They will be sellers (and therefore clients) one day. Many buyers tell stories of the bad attitude of agents from other firms. It’s easy to be nice!

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