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Old 29.05.2012, 21:07
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Any tips how to sell my flat?

First off, I know, no advertising in this forum - I won't add the link to my flat here.

Our apartment has been "on the market" since August 2011 - in the past 9 months, we have shown the place to exactly ZERO people. Is this normal? In the newspaper, they keep referring to the "real estate bubble" and how the low interest rates are driving up prices and turning the market into a "feeding frenzy". Unfortunately, my wife and I have not felt this at all.

I signed a contract with a Remax agent to list and represent my place, but he has been of little help - when I ask him what we can do to generate more interest, the only thing he recommends is to lower the asking price. I have lowered the price twice, so the current asking price is essentially what I paid for this place in 2002. At the end of the day, I'm probably going to take a slight loss because I still need to pay the agent his fee (3% of the sales price).

The flat is listed on all of the most popular real estate sites (homegate, immoscout24, comparis, etc.) and is also listed in the Remax magazine which is published every few months.

Is there something obvious that I'm doing wrong? Or is it really just because my flat is in a small village (we have a "Dorfladen", a restaurant and an elementary school, but that's about it) and not in a larger town?

My wife and I don't want to host an "open house" until we have moved out - we don't think that this will bring any potential buyers, just curious neighbors.

If we still don't have any potential buyers by the time our new house is finished (around November 2012), our "Plan B" is to put this place up for rent. I would really prefer to sell it, but a bit of rental income is better than nothing at all...

Does anyone have any suggestions? If you are interested in reviewing the on-line listing (it is in German), send me a PM and I'll be happy to provide you with the link ...
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Old 29.05.2012, 21:14
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

I looked to buy a few years ago & got the feeling there was no real property market in CH, most of the properties had been for sale for several years. A valuation from am agent is an opinion, only with a sale is the value a fact.

With the taxaction situation I could not see a good reason at all to buy, the CH model of valuations depreciates buildings as people prefer new.
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Old 29.05.2012, 21:39
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

When I bought this place in 2002, my bank informed me that they have a "standard" square-meter price for each village in Switzerland. The price I paid for this place was "on the mark" with their standard price.

But I agree, there doesn't seem to be much market for existing apartments or houses. The flat right next door to mine (in the same building) is also vacant and up for sale. And the house directly across the street was vacated over a year ago and is also on the market.

I don't really understand this - the Basel region is full of well-paid professionals from the pharmaceuticals, chemicals and financial services industries. Not all of them want to build a new place (believe me, there is a lot of stress involved, and if you aren't fluent in German, it would be almost impossible), and with the current interest rates it is certainly cheaper to buy than to rent. (At today's rates, financing 500 KCHF will cost you less than CHF 1000 per month -- about 50% less than what you would pay to rent the same space).
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Old 29.05.2012, 21:40
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

It may be the location, it may be the amount of work your agent is putting in. When our landlord put our rental house up for sale last year the agent arranged 7 viewings over an evening and following morning and the house was snapped up by the first family who viewed it. That said when we drive over the hills towards Neuchatel there was a house with a for sale sign outside and it was there for years.

Certainly try an open house viewing once you've moved out and if it doesn't sell then at least you should be able to get some rental income from it.
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Old 29.05.2012, 21:45
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

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When I bought this place in 2002, my bank informed me that they have a "standard" square-meter price for each village in Switzerland. The price I paid for this place was "on the mark" with their standard price.

But I agree, there doesn't seem to be much market for existing apartments or houses. The flat right next door to mine (in the same building) is also vacant and up for sale. And the house directly across the street was vacated over a year ago and is also on the market.

I don't really understand this - the Basel region is full of well-paid professionals from the pharmaceuticals, chemicals and financial services industries. Not all of them want to build a new place (believe me, there is a lot of stress involved, and if you aren't fluent in German, it would be almost impossible), and with the current interest rates it is certainly cheaper to buy than to rent. (At today's rates, financing 500 KCHF will cost you less than CHF 1000 per month -- about 50% less than what you would pay to rent the same space).
Todays interest rates wont last for ever, the stronger CHF makes Basel look very expensive V over the border in France or Germany. You also have to pay for renavations as an owner. You may find if you reduce the flat by the amount you have saved in the last 10 years it will sell!
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Old 29.05.2012, 22:04
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

The last time I met with my agent, we did the "reverse" calculation too - 4 KCHF per square meter living space, plus the two spaces in the underground garage and the hobby room ... and we come to the same price I'm currently asking. I really don't think that my place is overpriced ... I'm just surprised that we've gone 9 months without even a single person wanting to take a look at it.
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Old 29.05.2012, 22:13
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

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The last time I met with my agent, we did the "reverse" calculation too - 4 KCHF per square meter living space, plus the two spaces in the underground garage and the hobby room ... and we come to the same price I'm currently asking. I really don't think that my place is overpriced ... I'm just surprised that we've gone 9 months without even a single person wanting to take a look at it.
I guess you need to throw in the garages, it's actually a deal my brother got from a developer.....
It's priced normally so it will never sell, plenty of other identical flats, no doubt painted white with a white kitchen. A new buyer will want new Kitchens & Bathrooms so probably 100k to spend probably what you saved due to a low interest rate!
It's worth someone will pay, price descovery can be painful!
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Old 29.05.2012, 23:08
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

No idea without seeing your place. But yes, you can advertise here in the property section as soon as you have 10 posts. You never know, there might just be somebody waiting - but you might have to reconsider your price somewhat. Good luck.
When we sold out place in the UK, we had to drop the price significantly - it hurt as we so loved the place. And yet ... just had to accept that the price had to go down - even if we felt it was so well worth the price.
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Old 30.05.2012, 00:19
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

Price, desirability and location.

Ramlinsburg is a little way out for a wide appeal ... so you are looking almost definitely at the local market and someone with a reason to move there (family/friends etc). So your marketing doesn't need to be widely spread - but concentrated in the Oberere Baselbiet area.

Desirability is a vital component - if it is relatively run of the mill, the price will need to be lower to reflect this. I searched quickly on homegate and saw there are two flats for sale in Ramlinsberg in the same building. Not sure which one is yours but you need to be really careful to distinguish it from the other flat for sale - price and desirability will be keyfor this.

Price - well it will sell if you price it low enough. Question is, how far are you prepared to go.

We sold our house in Seltisberg at the beginning of this year. We interviewed all the local agents and formed the opinion that they were next to useless - not their fault as they hardly sell any houses so you can't say they get any practice. Main complaint was how useless they were at determining a price and advising as to the liklihood of a sale. But other complaint was their rudimentary sales literature and advertising efforts that we could do better ourselves. We sold without an agent. I put together a detailed website - lots of photos, floor plans, detailed information etc. We linked this to the Homegate ad, which was the only ad we placed. Everyone who contacted us commented on how great it was to have so much information.

You're in a difficult position as I recall Remax's terms and conditions prevent (or seek to prevent) you from selling the house yourself .. check the details. But if you can sack them and sell it yourself, do it. This way you can reduce the price more but not take a hit (3 % commission).

Total costs of our sale - 280 Chf being homegate ad,webhosting and an update extract of the grundbuch (property register).
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Old 30.05.2012, 00:36
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

Location, location, location. Or, having looked up Ramlinsburg on the map, lack of it is the problem.

Forget agents. Redo you own ad on Homegate. Take at least 15 pics with the flat at its best with no clutter. Outside shots with blue sky and sunshine. Have a PDF version with every possible detail on in German (English too if you want) to hand out. Make the price sound good: CHF699,000 sound much better than CHF700,000.

Good luck. There is a buyer out there, they just haven't seen it yet...
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Old 30.05.2012, 00:43
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

Just picking up on two points from your original post ..

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In the newspaper, they keep referring to the "real estate bubble" and how the low interest rates are driving up prices and turning the market into a "feeding frenzy". ...
There is no property bubble in the Oberere Baselbiet area. Just slow and steady.

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My wife and I don't want to host an "open house" until we have moved out - we don't think that this will bring any potential buyers, just curious neighbors. ...
Well, I don't know who else you are going to sell to if it is not the friend/daughter/cousin/nephew of one of those nosy neighbours.

Our house was on the market for 3 days. We had 15 enquiries and 7 visits. Of those 7, 5 had connections either to the village itself (as in family) or (and these are the people who bought it) had family living in the next door big town and friends in the village.

So invite your nosy neighbours round - as they will sell your house for you.
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Old 30.05.2012, 09:56
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

Of the 2 flats for sale the 1 marketed by Remax has 1 photo the outside, the other flat has 10 photos, is bigger & has a lower asking price.
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Old 30.05.2012, 10:07
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

I had a look on homegate too, and Remax doesn't deserve any money for that ad! Just compare it to the other flat that's being advertised in the same house. There are pictures of the place and a plan, the flat is bigger and the price is lower. So you really need to show prospective buyers why your flat is worth more than the other one. Also, note that Remax ad mentions the year the property was built, 1995, no renovations. The other one says it was renovated in 2011. A comple more points you could address:

1) the ad mentions "einmalige, unverbaubare Aussicht in die Natur" - a couple of pictures would be great.
2) the ad mentions "hohe Räume" - need to specify how high, and preferably both the lowest and the highest levels. The other flat has room height of 2.3m, which is very low even for Swiss standards. And in the case of a flat under the roof, a lot of people may be concerned they won't fit a wardrobe anywhere because of the slanted ceilings
3) the ad mentions a SPA-bathroom, if that is the best feature of the apartment that may justify a higher price, put up some pictures!

And finally, if you can get out of your Remax contract and don't fancy the hassle of selling yourself, perhaps you can ask your local Kantonalbank to do it for you. That way a lot more people in the region are likely to see it. Good luck!
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Old 30.05.2012, 10:14
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

My neighbour a few doors down sold her house by advertising on Homegate herself. It sold in a couple of weeks.

She put details of the area and what we are close to. How many minutes walk/bike to the train station, shop, schools, commute time to the next major city would be very useful for people considering a new area.

Telling your neighbours about the sale might help - I told a few friends that were looking to buy in the area.

Agents were next to useless at selling the place we bought. Beautiful views and they take a crappy picture into the sun and print it on the brochure!

Last edited by CH_Me; 30.05.2012 at 10:28.
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Old 30.05.2012, 10:18
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

If you buy property in the middle of nowhere, in a very illiquid market, you need to be prepared that it may never sell. I would advertise it also for rent as it could be a long time until you are able to sell it.
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Old 30.05.2012, 12:28
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

But surely in the middle of nowhere does suit some people! All those people here complaining about lack of space, lack of land, awful intrusive neighbours, people who want to keep several pets or even some live stock and chickens. People who love peace and quiet, beautiful countryside, sport and hiking on your door step, etc, etc, etc... and don't mind a bit of a commute. They do exist too I'm sure.

And I for one would definitely prefer to pay 500-700 for such spacious and peaceful place than 1.5 mio for a concrete box nearer town or lake.
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Old 30.05.2012, 12:49
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

Can you "stage" some photos? Have a look at some of the UK websites for higher end properties and take photos like those - good angles, fresh flowers etc - you have to do something that makes people see the photos and think they would like to live there. It always amazes me how bad the photos are here for properties for sale.
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Old 30.05.2012, 12:49
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

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If you buy property in the middle of nowhere, in a very illiquid market, you need to be prepared that it may never sell. I would advertise it also for rent as it could be a long time until you are able to sell it.
I disagree in this area .. it is the area I live in and know and have bought and sold houses in .. the market is just very slow and steady .. but there will be the son or daughter or nephew or niece of a person already living in the village who wants to move into the village but cannot afford the higher prices of a house in that village, and will be glad of an apartment. Apartments in our village are seldom on the market and are generally snapped up without being advertised when they are available. Another market for an apartment is for the parents moving out of the family home and wanting to downsize but stay near the son/daughter who is moving into the family home.

So there definitely is a market but at the moment Remax is doing the OP no favours - and probably pricing is inconsistent with what the villagers are prepared to pay (incumbents of the village or near relatives will always think properties are worth less than outsiders who want to move in .. that's why we went with the outsiders for our sale .. they paid the asking price with no attempt to haggle and it was sold in 3 days - in a village just on the opposite side of the valley to Ramlinsberg ..)

PS advertise it in your Gemeinde newsletter and on the notice board - this is the way most properties change hands here.
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Old 30.05.2012, 12:51
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

Worst picture on Homegate

Some ideas on what not to do :-)
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Old 30.05.2012, 12:54
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Re: Any tips how to sell my flat?

Looking at somewhere new to live, it wouldn't exactly delight me to see that the top NEWS on the Home Page of the village is the "Removal of the the 'next set of graves on the list' from the cemetary". I know it happens here, but it is quite a depressing thought...
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