Category Archives: News

What are the most popular properties and areas to live in?

RAN_4col_block_stackedAre you selling an in-demand property-type? Are you looking for a home in a sought-after area? According to a recent survey by Relocation Agent Network, the type of property and area that buyers are looking to move to has remained largely unchanged when compared to seven years ago.

Popular Properties
Taken amongst Relocation Agent Network members across England, Scotland and Wales (including us), the survey not only found that two to three bedroom houses were the most in demand in 2010, but they are the most sought-after property this year too. Indeed, over 81% of survey respondents – the vast majority – indicated that two to three bedroom houses were the most in demand so far this year. That’s just one percentage point (82%) below what respondents indicated in 2010.

City Centre Vs. Suburbs
The most popular area-types also remained relatively unchanged, with respondents rating ‘suburban areas’ and ‘town/city centres’ as the top two in demand areas for both 2010 and 2017. Interestingly this year, suburban living climbed 11 percentage points (57%). This was compared to 46% of 2010 respondents indicating that the suburbs were the most popular area-type. And the number of people searching for properties in rural areas actually fell this year to 3%, compared to 11% seven years ago.

Thinking of selling?
Richard James Estate Agents is a selected member of Relocation Agent Network, who has chosen us as East Northants Local Expert, based on our customer service and a variety of other criteria. Not only does this prove our credentials as one of the area’s leading estate agents, but through our Network membership, we are able to offer sellers a completely unique channel of buyer that no other estate agent in East Northants can provide. Visit www.relocation-agent-network.co.uk/how-we-can-help-you.aspx to find out more.

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Tenants – Help Us to Help You.

TenantsLetting agents love the challenge of helping you find your ideal home. Sometimes however, it can be more of a challenge than need be. So if you are looking to rent a property, here are a few guidelines that will really help us to help you:

• Turn up for viewings at the agreed time.
We use our knowledge and experience to calculate how long a viewing takes, so if you arrive 15 minutes late, then a substantial part of that appointment time is lost, or worse still we may think you are not going to turn up and so you miss the viewing altogether. So if you can’t make it or are going to be late please do ring and tell us. You’ll always get a friendly and courteous response and we’re happy to arrange an alternative time.

• Tell us what’s important to you
We want to show you properties that are most relevant to you, so talk to us about your preferences in detail. If all that matters is being ten minutes walk from the railway station or having somewhere for the children to play football or the property being in absolutely perfect decorative order, then please tell us and we’ll suggest the places that we think best meet your needs. We’ll also advise if we feel you may need to compromise in some areas.

• Tell us what you really think of a property.
Remember that our job is to ensure that you make the right choice of property, so please tell us what you really think of those we show you. We won’t be offended, and can use this information to help you better going forward.

Simple really – and highly effective!

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Tips For First Time Buyers

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First time buyers do not always demonstrate to estate agents the same level of urgency as someone who is selling. If you are eager to view, you’ll be top of the list when something new comes on the market.

Here are some other tips for first time buyers to conclude our series on this topic:

  • Be prepared to view at short notice. This not only demonstrates your seriousness, but also means that you will be among the first to see properties which have just come on the market – which are often the best! Good properties never hang around long!
  • Make good use of your lunch hour or view properties on the way to or from work.
  • Don’t be afraid to visit with tradesmen to find out if your plans for a property are realistic before you commit to buying.
  • If you’re tempted to buy a run-down property to renovate, check how long it’s been on the market. If no-one else thought it was viable you might want to think twice.
  • New carpets, bathrooms and kitchens can either suggest that the property has been recently renovated or could be a sign of a quick tart up job! Take your time and look beyond the superficial.
  • A vendor who offers to show you a record of the works done on the property, ideally with their cost, is generally likely to be thorough and transparent in their dealings.
  • If you do discover a defect, is it really going to be such a problem to your enjoyment of the property? Some compromise is inevitable and most people find they quickly learn to live with, or can easily remedy, all but the most serious of faults.
  • If you see something you like – go for it before somebody else does!
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Three members of staff become local Relocation Agent Specialists in top 10% of Network

RAN_4col_block_stackedThree members of the Richard James team, James Rota, Chris Wise and Amanda Smith have received an ‘Advanced’ assessment as their company’s Relocation Agent Specialists.

The 2017 assessment was awarded by Relocation Agent Network. It is achieved by going above and beyond in the relocation services individuals provide to relocating families moving either from or to the East Northants area as assessed by Relocation Agent Network based on performance results.

Only 10% of Relocation Agent Specialists from Relocation Agent Network across England, Scotland and Wales have received the ‘Advanced’ award.

The Importance of Service Accreditation

James, Chris and Amanda first qualified as a Relocation Agent Specialists in 2014 by completing Relocation Agent Network’s comprehensive online training programme, The Importance of Service. A national network of leading estate agents (of which Richard James is a member), Relocation Agent Network introduced the training programme to ensure each of their members provides the very highest customer service to those relocating around the UK.

To be successfully accredited, participants must complete three phases of learning, which begins with four training sessions on the importance of customer service. This is followed by three online seminars covering the Relocation Agent Network Referral Process and how best to help customers who are relocating around the UK. Finally, participants must convert their theoretical learning into a practical skill set by delivering assistance to three relocating customers.

Having a Relocation Agent Specialist in the team offers our relocating customers the added assurance that they’ll be working with someone who understands the relocation process, someone who can offer help and guidance along the way. We’re so proud that James, Chris and Amanda’s performances have been assessed this year, resulting in them achieving the ‘Advanced’ award and it’s a great example of the continual development we invest in, here at Richard James.”

Relocating With Richard James

By working with fellow members across England, Scotland and Wales, Relocation Agent Network members provide an exclusive relocation referral service to customers. For those relocating to Wellingborough, Irthlingborough or Rushden Richard James guides their customers through the daunting task of moving to an unfamiliar location. This includes local area information on schools and amenities, popular neighbourhoods and (of course) finding the right property for them. As a Relocation Agent Specialist, our staff ensure that this process is made even smoother.

Relocation Agent Network’s Managing Director, Richard Tucker said, “Congratulations to James, Chris and Amanda. To be recognised for their performance this year and receive our ‘Advanced’ assessment is truly a fantastic achievement, with only a handful of people across the Network making the grade. So three members of staff from the same company qualifying is a fantastic achievement. Selected by us to represent the Network in Wellingborough, Irthlingborough and Rushden, Richard James has proved themselves to be the area’s Local Expert. So with the addition of an in-house Relocation Agent Specialist, they have gone one step further to provide relocating buyers and sellers with the very best customer service.”

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Buy with a Friend to Make your Money go Further

FTB2In the second of our series about aspects of buying a property for the first time, here we consider the issue of buying with a friend.

When buying for the first time, affordability is inevitably a concern. Many people find that this can be overcome by purchasing with someone else. This certainly makes the money go further and also spreads both costs and risk.

However, no matter how well you get on with your co-owner, if one of you can’t meet your obligations, it could fall upon the other to cover any shortfall. You must also consider what you’d do if either of you couldn’t work due to illness, lost their job, wanted to move out, or died. So do insist that your partner takes out adequate insurance to cover these eventualities.

It’s also worth asking a solicitor about the various types of shared ownership options. For example “Tenants in Common” and “Joint Tenants” are subtly different forms of ownership, but each has significant implications. (NB: The term “tenant” here does not mean you are renting!).

In essence, “Tenants in Common” means that both of you are each individually responsible for 100% of the liabilities of the property, but which you agree to share for practical purposes. But if your partner defaults, then you could be held liable for 100% of their debt as well as your own. “Joint Tenants” means generally means that you are only responsible for your portion of the liabilities, not theirs.

A joint purchase does not have to be on equal terms. It may be that one party contributes say 70% of the money or mortgage, and the other 30%. In this instance it would not be unreasonable to split all outgoings proportionately, as well as any equity share (known as equitable interest) when the property is eventually sold.

As in many property matters, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and please feel free to contact us for further assistance.

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Award Winner Attends International Real Estate Conference

Richard James 1Richard James, Relocation Agent Network member for Northamptonshire, has just returned from the Cartus Broker Network International Real Estate Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

This year’s event welcomed over 700 delegates, each participating in interactive workshops, roundtable discussions, networking opportunities and keynote speaker sessions. The event, taking place from 13 to 15 March, culminated in a prestigious platinum awards dinner for the top performing companies celebrating the past year’s successes.

Richard James attended the conference as part of their prize for winning the UK Relocation Agent Network’s Agent of the Year Award 2016, as judged by Cartus. Relocation Agent Network is an organisation made up of leading estate agents across England, Scotland and Wales. As a Network member, Richard James has been selected to be the area’s Local Expert, specialising in helping out of town buyers moving to the area.

We were so proud to be invited to the Cartus U.S. Conference and the event certainly met our expectations. It was a truly celebratory occasion to commemorate our Agent of the Year status, which highlights Richard James’ dedication to customer service, professionalism and experience. The event was also a great opportunity for the team to gain new perspective on the international property market, learning what U.S. estate agents are doing and how we can apply some of their best practice recommendations to help our customers here in the UK.

Richard Tucker, Relocation Agent Network’s Managing Director, who attended the conference with Richard James and presented them with their award added, “The Cartus U.S. Conference is always a calendar highlight and this year was no exception. As a leading member of Relocation Agent Network, I was delighted to see Richard James recognised for their outstanding achievements in UK estate agency.”

Relocation Agent Network members, by working together, can assist families buying and selling property in England, Scotland and Wales. Network members can also help UK buyers looking for properties in the U.S. by referring them to approved real estate agents on Cartus’ U.S. Broker Network.

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UK Relocation Agent Network winners Richard James share the stage with USA Cartus Masters Cup winners LIV Sotheby’s International Realty from Denver Colorado.

 

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First-time buyer Tips

FTB1As the average age of first-time buyers continues to rise – the latest figures suggest this is now 37, so the market is less driven from below, but by a complex combination of personal, local and national factors.

Yet even if you are in your 30’s, buying your first property can seem pretty scary! “Am I making the right decision?”, “Can we really afford this?”, “What if the market falls?”, “Should we have offered less?” are understandable questions.

So here are few tips which we hope will help:

• You don’t have to see everything on the market. The national average is about 6 properties viewed before an offer is made. See enough to educate yourself as to what sort of property is typically available in your price range and ask yourself the question “Could I be happy here?”
• If you like a property, you can be sure that everybody else will as well! This is especially true of well-priced properties which are new on the market. So if you see something that seems right, go for it before someone else does.
• Get your mortgage agreed in principle. This puts you in a much stronger buying position.
• For the sake of what is often a relatively small amount of money, it is usually worth making an offer at or close to the asking price. This demonstrates commitment to the vendor and it’s just not worth losing the right home to someone else.
• Don’t quibble over minor points. Be flexible over fixtures and fittings and completion dates,
• Be nice to the vendor – if they like you they are more likely to accept your offer.

Homeownership is exciting and your new home is likely to provide you with long term security, comfort and stability. Enjoy!

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2017 Budget Comment – Government Ignores Property Crisis

nintchdbpict000307452753[1]Wednesday’s budget was noticeable for the absence of any mention of the housing market. This oversight was met with derision from almost ever organisation with an interest in the property sector. There has been a succession of housing ministers over recent years, each of which has introduced several, mostly ill-considered, policies which have effectively damaged the sector by tinkering with it, rather than by providing serious reform.

Of course, if you’re a regular homeowner you could be forgiven for asking “what’s the problem?” The British housing market has proven to be a secure and profitable investment that has withstood considerable economic stresses and has consistently outperformed many other investment sectors, whilst simultaneously providing a roof over our heads.

However, the problem lies in the very success of the market itself. As estate agents, we share our clients’ delight in securing another record price in a street; but how sustainable is this continual growth? And what are the social implications? The plight of the first time buyer, priced out of the market in many areas, must be addressed, but the government seems to be doing little to help. On the contrary, it’s banning of tenants’ referencing fees, combined with a massive hike in SDLT on buy-to-let investments, as well as the phased withdrawal of tax relief on mortgage interest for landlords, all conspire to disincentivise landlords from buying, thereby reducing stock and pushing up rents. What is being done to help the younger generation?

Nationally, transaction levels are already some 25% down on this time last year (fortunately at Richard James Estate Agents we have been able to buck this trend) and this will have a knock-on effect on the economy – not least from the home improvement spending that usually accompanies a purchase.

Despite this fall, the government’s SDLT revenues from residential sales in 2016/17 is expected to be some 13.6% higher than last year at a whopping £8.3 billion, due to the new way in which SDLT is charged. Could the government not have done something constructive in the sector from which it takes so much? And to apparently ignore the problem by not even acknowledging it mentioning it in the budget is an insult to a generation.

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Financial Clout

Financial CloutOne of the greatest frustrations in selling a property is delay. Delay not only causes anxiety, but also provides more time in which the buyer or seller can reconsider their position and withdraw from a purchase or sale.

As our objective is to help you move with minimal stress, it is essential that we are able to do everything in our power to speed up your sale.

Apart from keeping a keen eye on the progress of any related transactions, one of the most effective ways of speeding up a sale is for your estate agent to be involved in the financial arrangements, particularly with regard to your buyer’s mortgage. This is especially important now that mortgage finance has become more difficult to source.

We therefore use experienced, qualified and competent Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) who can help “pre-qualify” buyers. When a pre-qualified buyer makes an offer on one of our clients’ properties, it is reassuring to know that they should be able to proceed without hindrance. References, credit history and anything else needed to qualify that buyer’s mortgage will already have been approved in advance, subject only to mortgage valuation of the property.

Additionally, our IFAs use a mortgage sourcing system that gives instant access to hundreds of mortgage products from numerous sources, thereby making it easy to satisfy even the most challenging requirements. The IFA will then explain the details in a language that you can understand and at a time and pace to suit you. Offers can sometimes be generated surprisingly quickly and on impressive terms (even 0.9% interest-only mortgage at 6x income to certain buyers is possible)

Going further, we can also arrange mortgage protection, buildings and content insurance, legal and survey work during the same meeting, saving buyer and seller a great deal of time. And of course, you’ll be kept informed thereafter every step of the way by one of our empathetic team members who are as keen as you that your move is smooth.

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Catch 22 –Should I Sell First or Buy?

Buy FirstMany who receive a good offer for their home turn it down because they have not yet found “the right property” and worry that they will in effect become homeless should they sell first (although we have never known this to happen!)

Of course the problem would become a self-fulfilling prophecy if everyone were to take this stance, and the entire market would grind to a halt. But in really it isn’t that bad and, whilst we don’t have a magic wand, the closest thing we have to a miracle cure is to encourage sellers to have a little faith. Because as soon as you find a buyer, amazing things can happen!

First, the fact that you have a buyer in place positions you as a “red hot buyer” with estate agents. This means you will be offered new properties as soon as they come onto the market, often ahead of public marketing or portal exposure. Secondly, you are in a much stronger negotiating position when you do find a property you like, meaning that you are preferred to other buyers who may be in a weaker position. Thirdly, you may well find that once you are psychologically committed to your sale, you’ll have a clearer focus on which property will actually suit you best. It’s easy to “umm and ah” when there’s no pressure!

So, in essence, if you need help making a decision, find a buyer for yours first! And of course, we’d be happy to help on that front as well! Indeed, we pride ourselves on our ability to create and manage linked transactions.

Talk to us to find out how we might be able to help make you move – smooth!

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