Category Archives: News

Open House

open-houseThe keys to selling any property are price, location and exposure. You can’t change the location of your property, and the market determines the price. However, your agent can make significant inroads into how powerfully your property is exposed to the market.

One of the most effective methods is the “open house”. This is where the property is advertised as being open for anyone who wishes to view it at a certain time, usually during a weekend. Very common abroad, the open house is rapidly gaining popularity in the UK, and for good reason.

Firstly, one of the best sources of qualified buyers is via the neighbours. Everybody knows someone who is selling and people tend to buy in an area which is close to their existing network of friends and acquaintances. This is known as socio-demographic mirroring.

When a property goes on show, it is marketed intensely in the neighbourhood so that every neighbour is aware that the property is for sale. If they know anyone who is buying, they are highly likely to invite them round to see the property, or at least look at it on their behalf.

From the seller’s perspective, having an open house can concentrate the viewings around a fixed time. Go for a walk and leave it all to the agent if you want to reduce some of the stress of selling!

Open house days tend to be very relaxed, and they create an environment where buyers do not feel in any way under pressure, but can take their time to consider a property’s merits. Because of this, we find that more people register their interest during an open house than they would through the usual advertising channels.

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Valuation versus Value!

valEstate agents’ market valuations are usually free, and because of this, it is very tempting for prospective sellers to invite a number of agents to comment and then select the agent that suggests the highest likely sale price for the property.

However, we advise caution on this issue. Some agency “valuers” are paid bonus on the number of new instructions they secure, irrespective of the saleability of the property offered for sale at their suggested value. The easiest way for an estate agent to win your business is simply to suggest a flatteringly high figure, but many people who fall into this trap live to regret it.

One of the problems is that most people have only a cursory idea of what estate agents actually do and, just as importantly, the values they cherish and what service they offer. Ironically, it tends to be the cheaper, untrained or inexperienced agents who quote the highest values, yet it is the well-trained, experienced agents who have the skills to secure the best prices for their clients in the most convenient timescale.

So when selecting your estate agent, by all means invite several to comment on value, but then choose the agent who demonstrates mastery, and who actually has a marketing plan in place, along with superb post-offer follow-up facilities.

Additionally, find an agent that you like! One who has the integrity to offer straight-talking advice and who uses superb communication skills to keep you informed every step of the way, before, during and after the sale, thereby minimising the stress of moving.

In estate agency, a high valuation does not necessarily mean you’ll get more for your property, nor does it indicate a high-value service! The agent you rate most highly will probably also be the one who suggests the correct asking price.

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Selling Your House? Don’t Wait for the New Year!

new-home-in-spring-texas-for-christmas1If you’re thinking of entering the property market, our advice is don’t wait until the New Year! Many think that buyers stop looking at houses during the Christmas period but actually, from our experience, this is the time when people go online to search for a new home.

What the Experts Say
92% of Relocation Agent Network member estate agents, who responded to a December survey, recommend that prospective sellers go to market before the Christmas break.

The key reasons identified from the survey were:
1. There’s an increase in the number of people visiting online property websites during this time (as suggested by 50% of survey respondents). So once the dinner has been eaten and the tin of chocolates is being passed around, lots of people spend their time searching online for their dream home.

2. Serious house hunters continue their search over the Christmas period (47% of survey respondents). Don’t miss out on these group of home buyers by waiting until January 2017.

Who Are Relocation Agent Network?
A national network of estate agents, Relocation Agent Network is well placed to comment on all-things-property. Each of their members (including Richard James) has been handpicked and specially invited to join, after thorough checks identify them as the best estate agent to represent the Network in their local area.

Thinking of Selling?
As a selected member of Relocation Agent Network, we’ve already proven that our customer service is deemed to be the best in Wellingborough, Irthlingborough and Rushden (in the Network’s opinion). But if that isn’t enough, through our membership, we can offer sellers a completely unique channel of buyer that no other estate agent in local area can provide.

Visit www.relocation-agent-network.co.uk/how-we-can-help-you.aspx to find out more.

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Better on The Big Screen – Can You Help?

screensInnovation in estate agency is evolving rapidly, and the use of certain technologies is enabling agents to offer added value to customers.

As you may have noticed, our offices are now sporting impressive interactive touch screens that can display our clients’ properties to buyers more effectively than ever before. Gone are the days of the faded window card. It is size, movement, vibrancy and relevance that now catch the public’s attention.

Since installing the screens we have been amazed by the substantial increase in the number of people who not only stop to look into our windows, but who subsequently go on to arrange viewings of the properties displayed.

Of course, most people are not thinking of moving at the moment, but naturally have an interest in the local property market, and we always welcome those who simply want to “window-shop”. To this end, and having recognised our window screens’ marketing power, we are now planning to develop their use by adding various points of interest and community messages, for which we are seeking ideas. Perhaps you can help!

If, for example, you are involved with a local charity or school and you would like to promote a fund-raising event, we would be happy to feature an advert on the window screen between our property ads, without charge. Alternatively you might like to raise a local issue or see the news headlines, local weather forecast, sports results or theatre guide. There are numerous possibilities, so please let us know what you would like to see displayed.

You see, at Richard James, we look beyond the sale or purchase. We want to help our customers and other residents enjoy our community by making some small contribution wherever we can.

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What About The Children?

childrenShowing your home to prospective purchasers can be stressful enough, but children add an extra dimension and their needs should be considered.

Moving house might be logical and exciting for an adult, but the fear of the unknown can be upsetting for children. That room or corner of the garden that has been their special place for most of the child’s life is about to be taken away from them, as they are rocketed out of their comfort zone into unknown territory.

After you have made the decision to move, child psychologists usually advise telling the children as soon as you can. They are certain to find out one way or another and being up front with them will enable you to manage the process better and stay in control.

Parents nevertheless need to be sensitive when discussing the move, and make a point of highlighting the exciting aspects of a new home. Ask your child what they would like to find in their ideal home. They don’t have to have a major influence on your decision, but their apparent involvement in the process will pay dividends.

Likewise, if your children regard the move as a positive thing they are more likely to be co-operative when buyers come to view your property. A stress-related temper-tantrum as the buyer walks through your door is to be avoided at all costs! Indeed, no matter how sweet your children may be, they are more likely to be a distraction to a prospective buyer than an advantage. This is one of the many reasons why we always aim to accompany purchasers around our clients’ property. So our respectful advice is this: ideally, leave the viewing to the trained agent and take the children (and the dog) for a walk! Happy Selling!

For more advice on any aspect of your move, please feel free to contact either our Wellingborough, Irthlingborough or Rushden office.

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November 2016 Property Market Comment

novemberThe property market depends on fluidity and activity to be regarded as healthy. This year the number of transactions has been light, based on a dearth of supply. This has itself fed the problem with sellers being reluctant to put their property on the market if they only have a limited choice of onward purchase.

But this seems to be easing. Last month, HMRC reported a 1% increase in transactional volumes – a small but significant step in the right direction that compares very favourably with the 4.3% drop during the previous month (although still 8% down on the same time last year).

There is a feeling that with all the current woes of the world, the market might just be beginning to peak, with an imminent interest rate rise a distinct possibility. According to one national firm of estate agents, buyer demand is down 22% on the year (although we hadn’t noticed) and there are still nine buyers registered for every property available.

Rightmove tells us that the price of property coming to market is on average down 1.1% this month, which is lower than the 1.8% six year seasonal average. This may indicate a degree of resilience based on low volumes supporting prices. First time buyers (average age 33) are feeling the brunt of this, with a monthly rise of 1.7% for one or two bedroom flats. The pressure might be off FTBs slightly in the short term with the news that letting agency fees for tenants are to be abolished, although this may have the effect of pushing up rents in the medium to long term.

The announcement in the autumn statement by the Chancellor that the government is to inject £2.3billion into housing is certainly to be welcomed, although is unlikely to have any effect on actual supply for at least two to three years.

Annually, the Land Registry reports average house prices across the UK are up 7.7% at £217,888, reflecting some stability in the market during a politically turbulent year.

Stability and confidence, which are key to the security homeowners have in the UK property market, appear to be in abundance, making this as good a time as ever to consider a move. And, in view of the intense portal viewing activity over Christmas (about double that of other times of year), it might not be a bad idea to consider putting your property on the market the same day you start your Christmas shopping.

Why not call us for some well-considered, straight-talking advice? You might be pleasantly surprised!

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Richard James Wins Top Award At Prestigious Estate Agency Event

_80a2372We are celebrating being crowned the 2016 Relocation Agent Network Agent of the Year. We received our award at this year’s Relocation Agent Network Awards Dinner held on Friday 18 November at the Sofitel Hotel and Conference Centre, Heathrow.

The Agent of the Year Award is the most coveted prize Relocation Agent Network, the national network of selected estate agents, can give. Nominees are selected for the award because of the outstanding service that they have provided to their customers. They are judged on all aspects of estate agency, from marketing to customer care, professionalism to experience and reputation to commitment, which are all analysed in detail to decide the winner.

The black tie evening Awards Dinner was hosted by comedian and actor, Miles Jupp, who presented us with our award. In addition to collecting the night’s top prize, Richard James was also awarded two more accolades, the Best Agent Regional Award – Central and Customer Relocation Award.

The Best Agent Regional award recognises a member’s overall contribution to Relocation Agent Network, their ability to achieve customer satisfaction and a strong market share locally. The Customer Relocation Awards recognise members that have generated the greatest number of referrals over the past year.

Referrals are an important element of Relocation Agent Network: if a customer plans to relocate to another area of the country, their Network agent will recommend that the relocating area’s local member assist in their move to the new location.

We are absolutely thrilled to have been named Relocation Agent Network’s Agent of the Year. This is the Network’s top award, so the accolade really does highlight the true determination, hard work and professionalism of every member of the Richard James team. It’s a clear message to all of our buying and selling customers – the service that Richard James provides is the very highest in Wellingborough, Irthlingborough and Rushden and across Relocation Agent Network.”

Richard Tucker, Relocation Agent Network’s Managing Director said, “We are so proud to name Richard James as our 2016 Agent of the Year. The team’s commitment to outstanding customer service has been demonstrated time and time again and they truly are the Network’s leading estate agent. As the highest accolade that we can give, the Agent of the Year award shows that – in our opinion – Richard James Estate Agents is among the UK’s most accomplished estate agents.”

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A Winter’s Sale?

snowmanThere are many reasons why people put off selling their property at this time of year in the belief that there could be a better time to do it: it’s too cold, it’s too wet, it’s too dark, the house is not looking its best, school holidays, Christmas, New Year, etc. At this time of the year many people say they will wait until the spring before putting their home on the market, as that is supposedly the best time to sell.

Whilst properties certainly look more appealing in the spring, there are solid reasons for bringing your property to market during the winter. Firstly, whilst you can choose when you sell, a buyer’s timing is usually more likely to be determined by circumstances rather than the season. Serious buyers won’t let Christmas deter them.

Secondly, many properties come onto the market in the spring thereby increasing supply, meaning buyers have more choice which also puts them in a stronger bargaining position.

It also means that, by the time a buyer is found, you will be able to take advantage of this increase in supply yourself as you seek a new home. Having a buyer for your own property ahead of everyone else puts you in a strong position as a purchaser, with a selection of properties from which to choose in a market of buyers who have otherwise yet to sell.

This time of year usually produces a sharp increase in the supply of qualified buyers who want to conclude a sale by Christmas – and often at top prices too.

So why wait, when you can take advantage of today’s market? If you are contemplating moving, please phone us on 01933 224400 to discuss how our marketing plan could have you sold by Christmas. Your timing might just be perfect.

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Three Branches – Our Secret Weapon

three-offices

One could argue that the more offices an agent has, the more exposure your property will enjoy. But would you really benefit if your agent has a branch in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Cardiff and Southampton as well as East Northamptonshire? Highly unlikely! Don’t be impressed by the sheer size of an agency – the only buyers that matter to you are those who may be interested in buying your property in your area.

However, we find that one of our most effective “secret weapons” is the fact that we cover three adjacent areas each from its own dedicated but interconnected branch.

The way the offices work together is one of the reasons for our continued success in the area. This is because we recognise that buyers seldom actually buy the property about which they enquired. In practice they tend to buy a property which is often a compromise, falling slightly below the ideal criteria they initially hoped to achieve. Our research and experience suggest that the most common form of compromise is “location”. The effect of this is that we often register buyers who are initially attracted to one of our offices but end up buying a property offered to them via another.

At Richard James, we go to great lengths to understand our buyers’ wants, needs and aspirations. Our three offices can then liaise closely in order to find a way of delivering results for our sellers whilst expanding the possibilities for our buyers. So when you are next thinking about which agent to choose – think twice, as three heads are not only better than one, but usually also better than a hundred!

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Richard James Shortlisted For 2016 Best Agent In Central Region Award

miles-ranWe are pleased to announce we have been shortlisted by Relocation Agent Network, a national network of selected estate agents, for the 2016 Best Agent Central Region Award.

The winner will be announced at a black tie evening Awards Dinner held at the 5-star luxury Sofitel Hotel and Conference Centre, Heathrow on Friday 18 November. The Awards Dinner closes Relocation Agent Network’s annual National Conference, and this year is hosted by comedian and actor, Miles Jupp.

Relocation Agent Network’s 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 thrilled to have been shortlisted by Relocation Agent Network in the Best Agent Regional Award category. The nomination recognises every member of the team and highlights our effort and commitment over the last 12 months.

Richard Tucker, Relocation Agent Network’s Managing Director commented, “Our Network is made up of specially selected estate agents from across England, Scotland and Wales. The annual Best Agent Central Region Award recognises the agent in the region that demonstrates outstanding customer service and innovations, on a daily basis. Congratulations to Richard James for their well deserved nomination.”

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