“I can’t afford to drop my price because I’m moving to a more expensive area!”

Whether you are an agent or a house seller, the chances are you will have either come across this phrase or, used it yourself. It’s a situation that can happen to anyone in any market and for those on the outside of the dilemma, the flawed logic of the statement is easy to see; your home isn’t going to sell for more just because you need a higher price for it, any more than my Ford Fiesta is going to sell for more than its book price because I want/ need a Mercedes estate.

Often, the ‘need’ to move to the more expensive area/ type of property isn’t really a need at all. Certainly, the need to move may well be genuine but there are often cheaper areas within commuting distance of the perceived ‘must-have’ address that may be equally suitable if not having quite the same cachet (see my blog on ‘The agent keeps sending me the wrong property details’). There are also many people who downsize to release capital/ reduce debt but still believe that they will be able to live in an identical/ similar home and area they currently live in at the end of the exercise.

However, once someone has trapped themselves in the vicious circle of flawed logic, it can be very hard to rescue them and it is not a simple matter of lack of education or intelligence; in fact, quite the opposite. Usually, in my experience,  it seems that the more intelligent or educated someone is, the more likely they are to get psychologically hamstrung by this phenomena. Quite possibly this is to do with the pressures of maintaining a certain perceived social standing and moving from being a large fish in a small pond to being rather smaller fry in a lake.

So how to overcome it? As an agent, I have found the best way is to Establish

  • the urgency and actual need of the move (do they actually HAVE to move (job/ health reasons etc)
  • if the move is THAT location/ property type specific (is there any flexibility)
  • the timescale (when must the move be completed by; will the person’s health deteriorate if the situation goes on and on)
  • the REAL budget. (How much extra are they prepared to spend/ how much money do they need to realise to cut the debt etc)

Once that information has been discovered and confirmed*, you need to do some very simple maths. The key to solving this conundrum is focussing on the areas of flexibility and price difference NOT the asking and selling prices of the two properties. E.g. Mr A has £30,000 extra to spend on top of what he sells for/ Mr A needs to clear £30,000 off his mortgage by moving.

By looking at the price difference between the two properties, it makes it easier to look at making and taking sensible offers. Very often, people trapped in this situation believe that the prices of property where they are moving to are non-negotiable; so don’t even try to see whether local sellers might take lower offers by asking around in local agents or, using house price data that is now available. Consequently, they become even more entrenched in the own selling price position. Another problem is one that I alluded to earlier, which is the attachment to a certain style of living and an inability to see that it is not always possible to have everything we want; sometimes compromises must be made, whether this be on price, location or condition of a property.

By speaking to agents in the area you/ the customer is moving too, you can often establish just how flexible sellers really are in a given location and, whether there are any comparable areas nearby which might be more affordable which are ‘on-the-up’, and so a good, or possibly even better, investment.

*say it back to the customer and obtain agreement that those are the facts or; if you are the person stuck in this trap, say it out loud – even if no-one else is there;  doing so makes it ‘real’ in your mind and helps break the mental block.

Good luck


I welcome feedback so please feel free to leave constructive criticisms or ask questions below. If you could also take a second to rate my blog and pass it on to others who you think may find it interesting that would be great. Thanks.

About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on Klout LinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter he lives in Penzance. In his spare time; Chris likes to keep fit and is a former member of the Territorial Army. In 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.


  • You are so right Chris, so much of being stuck either selling or not being able to buy a house, is to do with the right mental attitude to the move.

    If you put your house on the market and don’t need to sell then you wont sell. Only vendors who have a genuine need to sell will.

    Up scalers are a difficult bunch to explain this to, they have a budget in mind for the house they want to buy. The percentage increase is always larger the further up the ladder you go and it is a difficult one to explain that you may need to move twice to achieve your ideal home.

    A lot of pride is mixed up with house prices and if you can de tangle this emotion and bring it down to what savings can I made if they reduce their price and pay lower at the other end.

    Good blog again Chris.


    • Thanks. In this instance, the couple who inspired this blog were downsizing but had/ wanted to release a certain sum of money and couldn’t make the mental break that they might be able to get the next property for less than they thought but, wouldn’t be able to offer anything at all; unless they put their own house on at a sensible price in the first place.

      At the end of an hour in our office, he was a little taken aback when I said we would have to take it off the market of he wasn’t going to put it on at a price at which it would sell. He couldn’t grasp the fact that it costs a lot of money to provide a good service for properties that are on the market, even if they have no real intention of selling. I think I finally got through to him with the help of the agent in the area he wants to move to but, next week we will either have a really nice property at a saleable price or, one less instruction on our books.


  • UPDATE: The gentleman who inspired this blog did sell and did make the move back to his family, having secured a home he loved at a price much less than he was expecting to have to pay. Happy seller 🙂


  • I learnt the ‘difference in price’ or ‘cost to you’ solution when selling cars, we often had specials with reduced margins and had to sell the idea of pocket cost, I also feel many agents are so focussed on getting instructions they forget to give advice, when you are a small business yes you want to get your client the best possible price, however, you also need to actually sell it or be prepared to walk away, I sometimes say I would rather be the second agent that the one who puts on for the wrong price – risky, but usually works, not always as the other agent tells them what they want to hear, confident they will sell, sign up for twenty weeks and let the client learn a lesson and keep dropping the price or withdraw, not very helpful.
    Great articles by the way and thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  • Always good to read and remind ourselves that can’t allow the tail to wag the dog! Clients are not the best at seeing the bigger picture and some cling to plan A at all cost. Taking the wider view so you arrive at the net cost of a move is a much more sensible approach but that requires agents to give advice and to make time to present this in a way that sells it to the client. Time is the enemy but investing time in clients both buyers and sellers (or vendors as you southerners like to say) is a worthwhile investment for all including the agents. If houses sold themselves we wouldn’t be needed and it would be automated but that’s not real life for real real people but don’t let the truth spoil the advertising spiel for our purple on line friends and their like. Advice is a service industry and each client and their moving plan differs with every individual. More power to your ipad!


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