Don’t Just Move, Relocate!

RAN blogIf you are thinking about moving to a new area, near or far away, then we’re the estate agent for you. As members of Relocation Agent Network, we’ve been hand picked as being, in Relocation Agent Network’s opinion, the Local Expert in Wellingborough, Irthlingborough and Rushden. This means that we’ve met the Network’s strict criteria to become a Relocation Agent, such as quality of service, local knowledge and professionalism.

Offering You an Additional Channel of Buyer

Relocation Agent Network is a national network of estate agents selected by Cartus, the world’s premier provider of relocation services. Cartus uses us to help relocating families move, so when you choose us, you could potentially be marketed to these relocating buyers.

A recent survey conducted by Relocation Agent Network amongst its members, found that the most common reason for people to relocate around England, Scotland and Wales was for employment purposes (26%). Followed by people wanting to be closer to family and friends (25%) and financial reasons (19%).

With out of town buyers an important source of potential purchaser for your property, be sure to choose an estate agent like us, who has access to them!

We’re East Northants’ Only ‘Local Expert’

Only one estate agent in any given area is selected to join Relocation Agent Network as a ‘Local Expert’ and we can provide you with expert local advice, wherever you are moving to. Even if you’re planning to buy a property outside of your area, we can contact that area’s local Relocation Agent, who can provide the same high standard of service as we do. If you’re thinking of moving why not give us a call and experience the relocation difference for yourself.

Visit www.relocation-agent-network.co.uk for more information on what our Network membership really means.

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We Have Helped To Raise £1,450 For UK Charity

IMG_5073We’re delighted to announce that we’ve helped to raise £1,450 for UK charity, Agents Giving. Organised by Relocation Agent Network – of which we are a member – the #RelocationAcrosstheNation fundraising event included estate agents from across England, Scotland and Wales.

So how did we raise so much? Well, the #RelocationAcrosstheNation event launched on 22 June, coinciding with Agents Giving Day, the charity’s national fundraising day. Between then and 31 July 2017, we (and our fellow participating Relocation Agent Network members) donated £1 to Agents Giving, each time we either sent or received a customer referral from another member agent. As a network of estate agents across England, Scotland and Wales, Relocation Agent Network members refer home buyers and sellers to one another. Should a customer plan to relocate to another area of the country, their local Network agent can recommend that the member in the destination location assist in their move.

The money raised during the #RelocationAcrosstheNation fundraising event is a great achievement by all participating members of Relocation Agent Network, including the team at Richard James, who really got behind the initiative. Agents Giving is a fantastic organisation, which helps various UK charitable organisations, including homeless charities, and we are proud to have helped raise money for them.

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Clutter Costs

ClutterIn the current market, if you are to maximise your price, it is more important than ever to ensure that your property is a highly saleable proposition, rather than one that makes another house look good by comparison.

Of course, there are several basics that should be in place. The price needs to be as attractive as the décor, and you should aim to be flexible on things like fixtures, viewing times and completion dates. You also need to be with a pro-active estate agency – not just one who simply lists your house and then waits for the market to deliver a buyer to your door.

But there are other things that you can do, which can have a significant bearing on whether a buyer will purchase your property instead of the one down the street.

A recent survey supports our own view that clutter in an otherwise charming property can thwart an early sale. Over 76% of estate agents questioned said that de-cluttering your home is among the top three most important things a seller can do, and is an inexpensive way of dramatically increasing the perception of space. 68% of agents said that a thorough interior clean was important, followed by 48% who said that the garden should be tidied.

If you have lived in your property for a while, you can become oblivious to what is clutter and what is an asset to the presentation of the property. So it’s a good idea to ask a friend to help you sort the wheat from the chaff, and we are of course happy to offer straight-talking good advice if required.

But don’t just bung your superfluous possessions it in the garage. Why not be rigorous and take a few carloads to one of our local charity shops? It can be a liberating exercise as well as a social benefit!

However, should you be thinking of selling, before doing anything, please do ask us to provide you with a marketing proposal – it’s completely free and might just give you all the pointers you need for a successful sale. After all, that’s what we do best!

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Market Comment – July 2017

July 2017Perceptions-v-reality in property can confuse even the best-informed of armchair economists. The latest House Price Sentiment Index from Knight Frank and HIS Markit suggests that approximately twice as many households believe their property value has risen, than fallen, in the past year, yet the measure of sentiment is still nearly 15% lower than its previous peak in May 2014.

Despite this positive outlook, according to HouseSimple research, some 35% of all properties currently being advertised for sale in London (and up to 45% in some boroughs) have been reduced in price – an 18% increase in the number of reductions since February. And what happens in London often ripples out across the rest of the UK thereafter. Having said that, we have continued to achieve some record prices in our area and have not noticed any drop in the healthy activity levels that keep the market bubbling here.

Indeed, the latest survey of NAEA members reports a 16% increase in sales over the same time last year, although only 2% went for over the asking price.

Nationally, house prices themselves, according to HM Land Registry, are showing a respectable annual price increase of 4.7% with a 0.5% increase last month alone. The introduction of a punitive Stamp Duty Land Tax regime for more expensive homes, especially for second home buyers, has hit some buyers in the pocket, with an SDLT bill of up to 15% of the purchase price, although most people do not fall into this bracket fortunately. (Incidentally, the maximum Stamp Duty payable in 1993 was just 1%).

It is a relief to see that any local fall-out following the Brexit referendum has now levelled off and we are enjoying a reasonable supply of new instructions coupled with level demand.

So whether you are buying or selling, there are equal and opposite forces in play, neither of which should be regarded as compelling enough to delay a move. As ever, if your life would be enhanced by moving – then move! Life’s too short!

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A Summer Breeze… for Burglars!

BurglarsWhen the weather is good, there’s no beating the great British summer. It’s the time for enjoying barbecues, outdoor entertaining, children splashing in the paddling pool and balmy evenings.

However, because there is never any guarantee of really hot weather, British households tend not to have air conditioning, unlike some other countries where sweltering summers are generally guaranteed. So when things hot up, we tend to revert to our manual air-conditioning system – we open the windows!

The problem is that we often forget to close them again, or we deliberately leave them open night and day, providing a perfect opportunity for burglars and opportunists to pounce. Indeed, insurance companies report a 21% increase in claims following an unforced entry during the summer months. Small easily-snatched items such as handbags, car keys, mobile phones and jewellery are among the most popular thefts; lucrative for the thief and really, really, annoying to lose. Burglars can be in and out of a property in seconds, often whilst unsuspecting occupants are in the garden or watching television in another room.

To add insult to injury, insurance companies will not usually honour a claim for such theft unless the homeowner has “taken reasonable steps to prevent loss or damage”. An open window is an invitation to a burglar and hardly demonstrates the reasonable care demanded by insurers.

There are obvious yet often overlooked ways of avoiding the anxiety of a summer theft, such as:
• Never leave front doors or windows open or unlocked when you are at the back of your property or in the garden.
• Never leave valuables on windowsills.
• Use restrictors on windows so they can only be opened part-way.
• Regularly review your home insurance needs.
• Support your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

Buying, selling, renting or staying put, may we wish you a happy and secure summer!

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Independence Day

On 4thJuly each year Americans go to town on celebrating their national pride on Independence Day.

And well they might, as independence is wonderful thing – whatever your views on Brexit/Trump etc! As independent estate and letting agents we experience daily what it is to be free of the constraints of corporate governance, number crunching, management reports and toeing the party line. The only people we have to report back to are the most important of all – our customers!

Being independent means that we can adapt and respond to changes in the market without having to run it past a committee. Speed of response is essential in these changing times. If a property needs a marketing boost, we give it one! Independence also means that the directors are personally involved in the business – after all – it’s our future, our name above the door, and we make a point of ensuring that those values we cherish personally are instilled across the business as a whole. We tend to work very much in partnership with our clients and are sometimes quite selective as to which properties we accept onto our books. None of this would be as easy if we were a PLC.

Most important of all is our people. They all feel part of a strong and committed team where their individual strengths are immediately appreciated and rewarded. Their great team spirit and professionalism combine with a sense of fun, enabling them to focus on helping people move (rather than selling ancillary services), allowing us to provide an enjoyable and efficient service to our clients, of which I am very proud.

So for truly accountable service why not call us for a chat about your property needs today on 01933 224400?

Happy Independence Day!

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Richard James Joins forces with Agents across the UK, to help raise money for charity.

RAN charityWe’re delighted to announce that we are participating in a nationwide event organised by Relocation Agent Network called #RelocationAcrosstheNation, to help raise money for UK charity, Agents Giving.

The #RelocationAcrosstheNation event launches on 22 June, coinciding with Agents Giving Day, the charity’s national fundraising day. Between then and 31 July 2017, we’ll donate £1 every time we refer a customer to another Relocation Agent Network member agent, or receive a referral. As a network of estate agents across England, Scotland and Wales, Relocation Agent Network members – including us – refer home buyers and sellers to one another. Should a customer plan to relocate to another area of the country, their local Network agent can recommend that the member in the destination location assist in their move.

Agents Giving
Agents Giving is a fantastic charity that works with UK estate and letting agents and their suppliers to encourage and support fundraising activities. The organisation is dedicated to raising money for great UK causes both local and national, including homeless charities. At last year’s 2016 Relocation Agent Network National Conference and Awards Dinner, Network members like us, raised over £2,000 for Agents Giving in just 10 minutes! And we hope to help the Network continue this fundraising effort in the coming weeks.

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June Market Comment – A Fine Balance

JuneAnyone with an interest in the property market generally understands the influence of supply and demand on house prices. Just like any other “commodity”, if everybody wants something that is in generally short supply, the price tends to rise. In the property sector, the media often describes a rising market good and a falling market as bad.

Indeed, as estate agents, our job is to sell our clients’ property for as much as the market will tolerate and, unlike online estate agency alternatives, we are paid in direct proportion to the price we are able to negotiate. The problem is, prices have risen to such an extent over time that the average house is now well out of reach for the average man (sorry, person) in the street. So maybe, socially speaking, rising prices should be seen as a bad thing (although frankly we know which side our bread is buttered).

However, the supply/demand equilibrium appears to be about to change. According to Rightmove, the number of sales agreed at this time of year is the second highest for ten years, only slightly lower than the high of May 2014. So supply is clearly up and, during this time of relatively stable demand, sure enough there appears to be a corresponding dip about to happen in prices, as Rightmove goes on to report that price of property coming to market has dropped by 0.4% this month (the first fall in June since 2009 at the height of the credit crunch) and the first fall this year.

Fortunately these observations could be regarded as fine-tuning and there are no major corrections about to happen. Nevertheless, it may be that the current levels of political turmoil could possibly persuade marginally more people to sell and fewer to buy, in which case the edge could come off property values – but at least this might just free things up to the extend that anyone sitting on the fence as to whether or not to sell might feel more confident that they will indeed be able to find somewhere else suitable to buy.

Please feel free to contact one of our local property experts on 01933 224400 if you’d like to see where your own property sits in the market. You might be pleasantly surprised!

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Too Hot to Handle?”

scorcher“Phew, what a scorcher” as the tabloids would say. The current hot weather is a mixed blessing; if you’re on holiday, then the warm sunny days certainly bring out the best of the British coast and countryside. But if you’re working either outside or in a non-air-conditioned office then life can be very uncomfortable.

But what of homebuyers? Does the hot weather bring them out, or does the thought of trudging round home after home in the heat deter them? We’ve found that there are real upsides to a hot summer which can work to your advantage if you are serious about selling.

For example, some other sellers (who are effectively your competitors in the market) may decide to withdraw their property for the summer. They might assume that buyers will either be too hot and bothered, or more concerned about their holidays than looking at property. Alternatively the sellers themselves may just want to veg out, with paddling pools and other summer paraphernalia littering the garden. Buyers looking round can be seen as an invasion of privacy (especially if topless sunbathing is involved).

You can take advantage of these flawed arguments if you are keen to sell. Firstly, serious buyers remain serious despite holidays and hot weather. These are buyers whose move is likely to have been prompted by real reasons such as a job move, marriage, divorce, growing family, debt etc. With fewer speculative buyers around you know that every viewing is likely to be from a serious buyer. Those people who remove their house from the market for the summer miss these critical purchasers and the corresponding decline in the supply of competing properties for sale can enhance the saleability of your own – and even its price.

Secondly, the buyer of a property is very likely to reflect the social life stage of the seller when they themselves bought the house. So a family house will sell to a family. So don’t feel the paddling pool, barbecue, water pistols etc detract from the sale – they can enhance it, because they connect with the most likely buyer. A house is a home after all and you are selling a lifestyle, so why not use this to your advantage.

Finally here’s our HOT TIP: Offering prospective buyers a cold drink during viewings on a hot day can work wonders!

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Plans For A Successful Sale

Floor PlanOur research has shown that buyers overwhelmingly prefer floorplans on property details in addition to the usual description and written dimensions. There are several good reasons behind this preference, which is why we always feature floorplans on our particulars:

Firstly, where several properties are competing for a buyer’s attention, the particulars that include a floorplan always make an immediate impression. The layout of a property is a major consideration when choosing a new home, and cannot adequately be described by words and room sizes alone. It is the relationship between the rooms in a property that can make the difference between a comfortable and attractive home and a purely functional one.

People make buying decisions on how a property “feels” as much as they consider its size. Several smaller rooms are often more practical than one impressively large one, particularly when there is a family to consider. Only floorplans can accurately relay how the accommodation actually “works” in practice, illustrating how it could complement the needs of a buyer.

Conversely, in instances where a floorplan alerts a purchaser to a blatantly unsuitable property, fruitless viewings can be avoided. This helps to improve the ratio of viewings that actually become sales, saving a great deal of time and frustration.

We also have examples of buyers having bought a property that might have otherwise appeared unsuitable, but the floorplan helped them to visualise adaptability in the accommodation that encouraged them to view. Indeed, Rightmove reports that property listings with a floorplan receive 60% more interest than those without a floorplan.

Floorplans suggest an open approach to property marketing. No longer do buyers have to translate euphemistic “agent-speak”. After all, part of your agent’s job is to match the right buyer to the right property without recourse to flowery misdescription, saving everyone time, and reducing the stress of moving home.

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