Market Comment – October 2017

OctoberThere is a very different vibe to the property market from last month, with a number of reports suggesting that the market is rapidly changing from being a sellers’ market to what is starting to look a lot like the beginning of a buyers’ market in some areas (although nobody has told our office yet…shhh!)

The latest survey by the RICS reports a 20% increase in the number of their members who reported a fall, rather than a rise, in buyer demand last month. This is the sixth month of reported falling buyer enquiries. This is partly substantiated by Rightmove reporting an annual fall of 5.9% in the number of sales agreed.

Overall, the level of new instructions entering the market has risen by 3.1% annually which, when coupled with the fall in new buyers enquiries, positions us for a rebalancing of supply over demand. Fortunately, house prices have generally remained strong in this area, but how long this can hold out is debatable, as some areas, especially in London and the South East, are already seeing significant house price falls.

On the other hand, this information is confused when Rightmove reports that asking prices rose 1.1% over the past month – the largest October increase since 2014. They did however warn that with more sellers chasing fewer buyers, sellers keen to move by Christmas would need to “work hard” (or rather their agent should!).

The problem is, in a confused market, every day there is one report or another that contradicts the previous one. Some can make depressing reading and others deliver a shot of confidence. Whilst all of us at Richard James Estate Agents certainly have our finger on the pulse of the local market and what drives it, ultimately our role is to help people move – whatever the market – and we like to think we do that rather well.

So if you’re contemplating a sale, or you’re already on the market and are frustrated that you have not yet sold, why not call 01933 224400 for a confidential chat. You might be pleasantly surprised!

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Richard James Shortlisted For 2017 Best In Central Region Award

RAN blogWe are pleased to announce we have been shortlisted by Relocation Agent Network, a national network of selected estate agents, for the 2017 Best Agent Central Region Award.

The winner will be announced at a black tie evening Awards Dinner held at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, London on Friday 17 November. The Awards Dinner closes Relocation Agent Network’s annual National Conference and Exhibition, and this year is hosted by well-known comedian and TV presenter, Sue Perkins.

Relocation Agent Network’s 2017 Best Agent Central Region Award is an annual prize for the agent that has consistently made the best overall contribution to the Network throughout the year and offers nominees the chance to become the Network’s ‘Best Network Agent in the Central Region’. To reach this stage of the award programme, agents must demonstrate excellent customer service, innovative business initiatives and a commitment to the Relocation Agent Network principles.

We are so proud to be shortlisted for this year’s Relocation Agent Network’s Best Agent Regional Award. It really does highlight the effort, commitment and enthusiasm demonstrated by our team.

Richard Tucker, Relocation Agent Network’s Managing Director commented, “Our Best Agent Regional Awards recognise those agents that go above and beyond when it comes to customer service and business innovation and network participation. Congratulations to all at Richard James for their well- deserved nomination.”

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Market Comment – September 2017

RAFThe market is stirring. The holidays are now becoming a distant memory, schools are back and anyone who intends to move in time for the New Year is beginning to think about doing so.

Although nationally activity levels remain unexciting, and, as a consequence, prices are remaining high, there is an indication that this could be about to change, led as ever from London, where, according to Savills, prices have fallen by 3.2% since the beginning of the year.

We can see two possible reasons for this about-turn. First, the Brexit referendum and subsequent election introduced confusion and severe uncertainty to an already fragile market. This led to a log-jam of people who would have liked to have moved, but were nervous to do so. No that the shockwaves have passed, they once again feel more confident about moving.

Secondly, talk about the possibility of SDLT (Stamp Duty) liability being passed from buyer to seller has encouraged a number of sellers to bring forward their plans to sell. This makes sense, although if those sellers are also buyers then it’s probably swings and roundabouts.

Whilst we do of course welcome the expected increase in activity due to a rise in the number of properties coming to market, sellers should always be conscious of the effect of this increased competition at local level. Always take the advice of your experienced local property expert rather than relying on online valuations, which are notoriously inaccurate as they rely on the history of past sales, not on the reality of what is currently competing with your own property for sale!

We do expect the lower end of the market to become more accessible to first time buyers, and sales to this sector are already up 17% over the past two years. This is no doubt due to the fact that Buy-to-Let investments are proving less attractive to the “amateur landlord” with BTL purchases down 17% in the same period (Source: Land Reg). This could be due to a much tougher SDLT and personal tax regime, freeing up properties that would otherwise be let. Sadly for tenants, this effect is already being felt, with 35% of rents having risen (source ARLA).

Until the Brexit issue is finally resolved (ha!) the market will remain difficult to predict, but in the meantime, we’re helping our clients make hay while the last of the summer sun continues to shine.

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We’re Part Of An Award Winning Network!

RAN blogWe’re delighted to share the news that Relocation Agent Network – of which we are members – has been crowned the 2017 Best Estate Agency Supplier. This is a fantastic achievement for the Network and all of its members, including us!

The award was announced at the EA Masters Awards Dinner, held on Friday 22 September at the O2’s InterContinental hotel, London, organised by Property Academy and hosted by well-known TV presenter, Gabby Logan.

The Award

The 2017 Best Estate Agency Supplier is the most coveted prize that the Property Academy, the UK estate agency’s pre-eminent business improvement and events company, can give to an industry supplier. And making it even more special was the fact that the winner had to receive the highest number of votes from estate agency supplier customers via an online poll set up by Property Academy. Relocation Agent Network was awarded gold category status in the large category as well as the overall Best Estate Agency Supplier prize!

How does OUR Network membership help YOU?

We have been specially selected to join Relocation Agent Network, who chose us to be the area’s Local Expert. To gain a Network invitation, estate agents must lead their local market in quality of service, local knowledge and professionalism. Through its affiliation with Cartus, the premier provider of global relocation services, Relocation Agent Network members help Cartus move relocating families in and out of areas across England, Scotland and Wales. This offers Richard James customers an additional channel of buyer when selling their property. Network members can also help their customers through the ‘Referral Network’,

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Home

Home“Moving House” may be the term we commonly use, but moving HOME is surely a better description for one of life’s more stressful experiences. Few changes in life, other than a relationship, can stir such emotions.

As estate agents, we are effectively “agents of change” and whilst our natural focus might be to help people move in a practical sense, we find we can be most effective when we really empathize with our clients.

It would be callous to think that a home is just bricks and mortar. Home is so much more than that…

Home:
• Is the focus for our sense of place
• Is the sanctuary that protects us from the sheer noise of life
• Is where our real self resides and where we can genuinely relax
• Is where our relationships both blossom and are tested
• Is where we unharness our emotions and can laugh or cry, unjudged
• Is the safe place where family is conceived and nurtured
• Is the root of our most precious past and future memories
• Is an expression of who we really are

Inevitably, the bricks and mortar element of home will usually reach the end of its useful life as we ourselves move on. It will then be time for the next occupant to regard “your house” as “their home”.

We often note how “similar” a buyer is to the seller of the new home. If people move in seven-year cycles then it is reasonable to assume that the next occupant may well be in the same stage of life as the outgoing seller was seven years ago. They are also very likely to be a strong socio-demographic match to the area into which they are moving.

We believe that it is our ability to understand our buyers’ preferences, lifestyle expectations and aspirations that has been a key component to our success in matching match people to property. Finely attuned? – maybe. Effective? – certainly. Why not call us for an initial chat if you have any thoughts about moving and let us show you how a more connected approach to helping people move can pay real dividends.

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Market Comment – August 2017

RAFAugust is a tricky time to comment on the property market. The market is usually understandably subdued during prime holiday season, but this is often a self-fulfilling prophesy.

This is because those sellers who would have liked to have entered the market during the summer delay doing so, in the belief that the hottest spring buyers have probably found somewhere by now, or are on holiday.

This is one of the greatest faux-pas a seller can make. Serious buyers are serious buyers, and they will probably put their house-hunting activities way ahead of any holiday plans for this year at least. Spring 2017 was hardly deluged with fresh stock and many buyers remain active. This is one of the reasons that prices have generally been upheld during this apparently quieter period, with the average house price now being reported by the Land Registry as £223,257, a respectable 4.9% annual increase.

Interestingly, Rightmove is reporting a slowdown in asking prices at just 3.1% against this time last year. While this may not bode well for prices actually being achieved in the autumn, it does reflect a more realistic response by sellers to the confusing economic and political forces at play.

Indeed, many London commuter-town estate agents are reporting price reductions in 35%-44% of their stock. Provincial towns are doing much better than this with eg Salford and Edinburgh experiencing reductions in just 11% of their stock. Price reductions do of course often result in sales for frustrated sellers, but it remains to be seen whether a further reduction may be required. The very strict mortgage qualification criteria currently in place are certainly not helping matters.

Fortunately, holiday season or not, we have continued to see impressive sales over the summer, with minimal price reductions. Proactivity is the key, and it’s our secret weapon against those of our competitors who allow a perceived holiday season slowdown to hinder their clients’ onward move.

As we ramp up further for what we expect will be a particularly strong autumn market, we’d be pleased to hear from you if you have any plans, however tentative, about a possible move. We offer straight-talking good advice, and never forget that our role is to help you maximize current market conditions – to your significant advantage!

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We should have sold by now?

Should have soldWe are often asked to look at properties that really should have sold, but haven’t, and we understand the disappointment of vendors whose experience of the sales process has fallen short of their expectations.

This disappointment can sometimes be the result of simply not knowing where you stand. We find that enthusiasm and good communication must be maintained throughout the sale if you are to enjoy peace of mind. Of course a steady flow of buyers also helps!

So if you find yourself with a property that appears to be sticking, you might like to ask yourself the following questions

• Is my agent as enthusiastic as the day he/she listed my property?
• Do they keep me regularly updated with constructive feedback immediately following a viewing?
• Do they phone me, or do I have to chase them?
• Do they accompany viewings to make sure they are maximising buyer contact and feedback opportunities?
• Do they keep me informed of what is available and actually selling in the area?
• Have they provided me with practical marketing advice in terms of how to present my property at its best?
• Do they regularly advertise properties similar to my own in order to attract a variety of buyers?
• Do I feel like a valued customer with an important property?
• Is my agent blaming a slower market, or taking responsibility?
. Are the photograph of a high standard?

If the above rings any bells, it might be worth rethinking your sales strategy with a refreshing kick start before your property goes stale on the market. Why not give us a call before it’s too late?

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Manage Your Investment

Manage Your InvestmentSome landlords, especially those who are new to the experience, understandably wish to use a letting agent simply as a route to market in order to find a tenant. However, whilst a return on investment is one thing, sleeping well at night is quite another! A managed service is not just about chasing late rent, resolving disputes and inventory control.

When your property is professionally managed, it’s all about accountability. This means regular inspections to check that your tenant is treating your investment with the respect it deserves. During these inspections, well-trained staff are able to identify any areas that should be investigated in order to avoid or reduce costs later. An example would be a blocked gutter. Normally, you would only hear about this when the tenant calls you to tell you that water is coming in, plaster has come away from the wall and there is mould on the ceiling. Call in the dehumidifier, plasterer, and painter – and you have a large bill and an unhappy tenant.

Many tenants also prefer to rent a property that is managed through a letting agent, possibly because they have had a “problem landlord” in the past so they tend to stay longer.

Additionally, no matter how compliant a tenant may seem at the outset, the last thing a landlord needs is someone phoning him/her at all hours with the some minor issue over a draft, dripping tap, clanking pipes, noisy neighbours, etc. All or these are part of a day’s work for a dedicated managing agent!

One of the most important considerations is that as property managers, we get to know our clients’ tenants, and have a good understanding of their plans, often pre-empting a premature departure, so we can prepare and let the property in time to avoid it being empty – even for a day!

Most of our landlords derive great value from our managed service and we invite you to experience the difference yourself!

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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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