Slovenian sellers must put the ‘real’ back into Real Estate!
There are many differences between Slovenians, Brits and Americans. The Brits like their dark beer (ale!), the Americans their burgers, while the Slovenians now make great vodka... the Brits and Americans arguably not. But things are changing, thanks to the likes of Bevog Brewery - yes, I consider them Slovenian, not Austrian – who have brought some fantastic dark beers onto the market, and numerous Ljubljana restaurants that now serve up superb burgers. Alas, the Brits and Americans still don't have good vodka, but they do import Slovenia Vodka!
Beer and burgers aside, the one thing that hasn’t changed in Slovenia in the eight years I’ve been here running my real estate agency, Slovenia Estates, is the Slovenian approach to selling their houses and apartments. I meet several sellers every week. I visit their homes, we talk about the property, and even share a drink sometimes. What is rarely discussed, however, is the feasibility of their asking price, which in my experience is often unrealistically high.
Unlike their counterparts in the UK and US, Slovenians seem strangely detached from the reality of the market. With experience of all three real-estate markets, I feel confident pointing out where I think things are going wrong and suggesting some simple recommendations for putting it right. My aim in doing this is simply to help Slovenians turn the idea of selling their properties into successful reality.
A tough market
We all know how tough the real estate market in Slovenia has been over the last six years, as in many other European countries. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, with the market slowly starting to pick up. Nevertheless, it is still a tricky and unpredictable marketplace, so sellers need to use every tool in the toolbox to attract buyers and turn viewings into sales.
Don't use Nepremicnine.net as a price guide. It’s a great site, but it’s an advertising site, not a reference site. Many first-time clients tell me they have checked on this site, seen similar houses and priced their property accordingly. Often, however, the price is higher than these "similar" houses because the seller thinks their house is superior – has better materials, is better furnished, has better windows… the list goes on. Then in a few weeks time, a neighbour will see this inflated price and perpetuate the same false logic to set the price of their property.
So how do you set a realistic price, a price that is actually achievable? It's simple! Ask your agent or, even better, ask two or three. Good agents know the market better than anyone else. Agreed, not all will be good, but most worth their salt will be able to guide you towards a realistic asking price and advise you on what is going to work and what isn't. They will probably have recently sold a similar or comparable property and are therefore by far the best placed to tell you what a buyer will pay at that point in the market’s cycle.
There is little point setting the correct price for your property if it isn’t accompanied by an appropriate marketing strategy. Placing an advert on an agency website and nep.net just doesn’t cut it anymore. The agency you appoint should know who the best buyers’ market is for your property and focus on that accordingly. At the moment there are an increasing amount of foreigners buying Slovenian real estate, so this niche needs to be correctly targeted. Good agencies that know foreign markets should be able to judge which nationality is best suited to your property and target their advertising and marketing aggressively towards these potential buyers.
I have lost count of the number of times I have pre-arranged viewings only to arrive and find that a property looks like a bomb-site. There is a potential buyer on the doorstep and the house is a mess with unclean dishes in the sink and beds unmade. You simply cannot be serious about selling your property if you do this. My advice is to make every effort you can… and more. Tidy, clean and polish everything, as well as opening all internal doors and shutters. People love light, so let as much as you possibly can into the house. Let’s face it, it’s the wife that’s going to make the decision to buy or not, so appeal to her. She likes cleanliness, light, warmth and a pleasant scent. Appeal to all these senses and you’re half way there!
Demand feedback from your agent following any viewing. There is a strong likelihood that the potential buyer who just turned your property down has some constructive criticism. Your agent should pass this valuable information on. If the criticism is valid, don't take it personally but rather, where possible, adjust and make changes for the next viewing.
Be picky when selecting an agency. Decline those that insist on an exclusive contract and ask for a non-exclusive contract. If they refuse, get another agency. It’s called competition! We agencies work harder if we are competing with another agency. Also, test your agency. Send a few fake enquires and see what their response time is. This is imperative. Most buyers don't just enquire about one property, or with one agency, so speedy replies can make a huge difference to the buyer.
Most reading this article would call all this basic common sense, but you’d be surprised how many sellers fail to do some or all of the above.
Remember, you will be paying your agency anything from 1% to 4% commission, so make them work for it. Use both their experience and their knowledge of the current market. Most importantly of all, don't forget to pay their fees on time!
Originally published 15 Aug 2014 on sloveniatimes.com