Category Archives: News

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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Election – Market Comment

ElectionThe unexpected hung parliament might appear to have once again cast a shadow over the housing market. Or maybe not!

We know that the stability and strength proposed by Theresa May might not be delivered after all. But is that really so bad for a market already in danger of overheating? Certainly the lack of available properties for sale has helped to escalate prices to unsustainable levels in some areas.

It is well known that job security, employment levels and interest rates play arguably the greatest roles in determining the shape of the property market. Yet these were seldom presented burning issues by any party during the election. An increasingly uncertain Brexit does of course suggest an increasingly uncertain future. However, in the twelve months since the Brexit referendum the market has actually risen by a respectable 4.1% (source HMLR) so perhaps its ill-effects were overestimated.

Indeed, even a hung parliament is not necessarily bad news; during the coalition years of 2010-2015 house prices rose by an average of over 3% per annum.

There is a tendency for the media to exaggerate and “spin” all kinds of political turmoil for a cheap headline, especially with something as close to our hearts as property. Yet possibly the most accurate indicator of the British response to such things can best be summed up in the wartime catchphrase and 21st century tea-towel slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

A house move is usually prompted by a genuine change in lifestyle, such as a growing family, a job move, death, divorce, downsizing etc. Most of these will happen whichever political party is in power, and will continue to dominate our motivations long after even Brexit has been forgotten.

With no pressure on the housing market other than a lack of new homes being built to satisfy the continued demand (and both the major parties have similar new-build policies) our advice to buyer and seller alike would be; if a move would suit you, there is no compelling reason why you shouldn’t do it. And if you are thinking of selling, it might be an idea to act straight away and take advantage of the pent up demand caused by the flippin’ election!

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The Agent you Prefer – at the Right Price

TailorWe know that when choosing the right estate agent to sell your property you have a tremendous choice, and, on the surface, most estate agents appear to do pretty much the same thing!

Indeed, it is probably true to say that any reasonable estate agent could probably find you a buyer, unless of course they are one of those agents who habitually over-value in order to impress you – don’t be fooled by that ruse!

We believe that it is as much about who we are as estate agents as it is about what we actually do. Because it is those personal elements of our service that make the difference to your move, not just the things we do to attract buyers.

For example, the fact that we are independent means we can instantly tailor our service around the specific needs of each of our clients without “head office approval”. We also understand that accompanied viewings enjoy a much better viewing-to-sale ratio than unaccompanied viewings, because we take advantage of the opportunity to engage with our buyers, which often leads to better-qualified offers.

Importantly, our attention to detail in following up an agreed sale means that most of our sales actually proceed to completion, rather than suffering the 37%+ average UK fall-through rate.

As you might expect, such personal service usually comes at a price. However, we have decided to offer what we believe is the most reliable and enjoyable service in the area, for a lower fee than you might have expected from an agency of our calibre.

So, for a refreshing new slant on estate agency, it might be worth giving us a call on 01933 224400. Or why not drop into our office for an informal chat over a cup of coffee?

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With You All The Way.

With YouMany estate agencies simply act as a broking service that matches people to property. However, we are acutely aware that there is far more to successful selling than this alone. Indeed, over 30% of property sales in this country fail to reach completion, falling through for various reasons.

One of the main reasons is that a buyer simply gets cold feet and withdraws as a result of “buyer remorse”. This is a familiar phenomenon to estate agents and occurs when a buyer feels overwhelmed by the apparent enormity of the decision to buy and takes the more comfortable “low-risk” option and does nothing.

Perhaps the buyer is offered another property which they prefer, or something else comes on the market that makes the price they have offered on your home look expensive.

Your buyer may lose their job, or get a promotion. They might decide to get married or divorced; they might inherit or win a fortune, or their business may be experiencing difficulties. They could even die!

Whilst these types of issues are generally unavoidable and naturally have a profound effect on people’s decision to move, the main problem concerns timing. Because offers in this country are not binding until exchange of contracts, the longer the time between offer and exchange, the greater the opportunity there is for the buyer or seller to decide to withdraw.

We go to great lengths to help you move and seek to become very familiar with your circumstances and plans. Our agent will usually be the same person who negotiates for you and who will be thoroughly involved in any linked transactions. This is why we do not have a separate “sales progression” department. We find our clients appreciate the level of personal dedication and accountability provided by a single point of contact, which in turn leads to understanding, trust, and a speedy conclusion.

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Up, down or sideways

Up DownElection periods usually add a degree of confusion to the property market, but this effect appears to be less pronounced this time around. Indeed, the level of sales agreed nationally is actually 2% up on that recorded during the run up to the last election in 2015, albeit down 2% on the same period last year.

According to Rightmove, asking prices have risen for the fifth consecutive month albeit at a slowing rate of 1.2%. This may have been somewhat distorted however, by the increase in the value of typical family homes with a 5.4% year on year increase. Rightmove’s research shows that families with children under 11 years of age are twice as likely to move than other homeowners. Clearly, this sector usually has a real reason to move – upsizing, downsizing, school moves, etc. Is the speculative move becoming a thing of the past or is this just a lull during a politically tumultuous time?

In terms of prices actually achieved, according the latest figures from HM Land Registry, the national average house price stands at £215, 847 representing a fall of 0.6% compared to the previous month’s figures. Annually, we are 4.1% ahead of this time last year, which demonstrates a continued slowdown when compared to last month’s 5.6% annual increase. Indeed,

Certainly, demand continues to exceed supply and it looks like the floodgates could also be released for any pre-election fence-sitters as soon as the election results are known.

From a home-owner’s perspective, there are few major differences in the housing policy of the major parties. Taxes, employment and economic confidence tend to have a greater bearing on people’s personal finances than minor policy tweaks.

The first time buyer’s situation must however be addressed as it has huge social consequences (such as couples having children much later in life). Any commitment to build 200,000 starter homes or extending the Help to Buy Equity Loan Scheme are therefore to be welcomed, as is the Help to Buy ISA that helps people save for a deposit.

Just like politics and the economy, stability is the key. We find ourselves in a relatively stable, albeit somewhat muted, market with no overwhelming financial reason to either buy, sell or stay. Perhaps we should therefore go back to regarding property as a home over being an investment. If a move would suit your lifestyle better, then move. If not, don’t! Simple really.

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Something In The Air?

CondensationWhy is it that tenanted properties appear to be damper than those that are owner-occupied? Firstly, we’re talking about condensation here, not rising damp. Condensation is caused when warm air, which holds more water vapour, meets a cold surface, forming water droplets. This may attract fungal growths such as Mildew leading that “that damp smell”.

Tenants may not be as house-proud as owner-occupiers (although this is changing). As such, they might not spend so much time at home, meaning that less air circulates around the property, and they may not be quite so inclined to seek out the reason for any dampness and fix it. After all, it’s not their property.

Older properties without cavity wall-insulation may have colder walls and are therefore more prone to dampness. However, newer properties may be so well insulated that there is insufficient ventilation. Condensation can therefore occur in either.

Landlords have a responsibility to provide habitable accommodation so here are a few tips to help prevent the problem of damp:
1. Ensure the property is evenly heated and ask your tenant to ensure that the heating remains on a warm constant, rather than hot and cold, especially in the winter.
2. Maintain heating in all rooms, even if unoccupied.
3. Ask tenants to use lids on saucepans wherever possible if condensation is an issue.
4. Ask tenants to open a window if they are drying clothes indoors.
5. Ensure a con-condensing tumble dryer is adequately vented outside.
6. Use freestanding furniture rather than built in cupboards unless they are well ventilated, ideally from the rear.
7. Ensure there is adequate ventilation in areas of high moisture build-up and temperature differentials such as kitchen and bathroom.
8. “Force” ventilation using electric fans if necessary. Use timers or link to light switches to ensure they get used.
9. Install “trickle vents” in windows and make sure they remain open – even in winter.
10. Wipe away any mould (don’t disturb it by brushing or vacuuming it away) and treat it with a fungicide or use fungicidal paint.

As you might have guessed, as managing agents, we have a keen eye for damp!

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With You All The Way!

With You All The WayMany estate agencies simply act as a broking service that matches people to property. However, we are acutely aware that there is far more to successful selling than this alone. Indeed, over 30% of property sales in this country fail to reach completion, falling through for various reasons.

One of the main reasons is that a buyer simply gets cold feet and withdraws as a result of “buyer remorse”. This is a familiar phenomenon to estate agents and occurs when a buyer feels overwhelmed by the apparent enormity of the decision to buy and takes the more comfortable “low-risk” option and does nothing.

Perhaps the buyer is offered another property which they prefer, or something else comes on the market that makes the price they have offered on your home look expensive.

Your buyer may lose their job, or get a promotion. They might decide to get married or divorced; they might inherit or win a fortune, or their business may be experiencing difficulties. They could even die!

Whilst these types of issues are generally unavoidable and naturally have a profound effect on people’s decision to move, the main problem concerns timing. Because offers in this country are not binding until exchange of contracts, the longer the time between offer and exchange, the greater the opportunity there is for the buyer or seller to decide to withdraw.

We go to great lengths to help you move and seek to become very familiar with your circumstances and plans. Our agent will usually be the same person who negotiates for you and who will be thoroughly involved in any linked transactions. This is why we do not have a separate “sales progression” department. We find our clients appreciate the level of personal dedication and accountability provided by a single point of contact, which in turn leads to understanding, trust, and a speedy conclusion.

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Why accompanied viewings

More viewingsSome people feel that houses should be able to “sell themselves” and do not need to be “shown” by estate agents. Whilst this may be true of certain exceptional homes, or where achieving the optimum price is not an issue, most properties require the skills of a well-trained estate agent if they are to sell for the best price within a reasonable period timescale.

One benefit of your estate agent showing your home is honest feedback. Many purchasers wish to avoid appearing rude and build up a seller’s hopes by telling them what they want to hear; “It’s lovely – we’ll get back to you”. By the time they have seen several other properties their feedback to the agent about your particular home is likely to be minimal.

Additionally, the buyer will probably want to discuss aspects of the property out of the seller’s earshot. They may have plans that they feel would offend the seller, such as knocking down a wall the seller may have built!

When we show your property, immediate feedback can also be generated from buyers who might not have been so frank with you directly. This helps us understand their buyers and allows us to fine-tune our marketing efforts. Clients often say that sincere post-viewing feedback significantly helps to reduce the stress of selling, and after all, this is surely one of the most compelling reasons for appointing a professional and reputable estate agency to represent you in your sale.

Please feel free to contact us at any time on 01933 224400 if you’d like to discuss any aspect of the possible sale of your property, for straight-talking good advice, without any obligation.

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The Accompanied Viewing

Viewing manSome estate agents claim that the seller is the best person to show a property to prospective purchasers.

However, apart from the inevitable awkwardness of inviting strangers into your home, there are sound reasons why good estate agents prefer to accompany buyers around.

When buyers see a property for the first time, they are probably viewing it alongside other properties, and simply want to get a feel for its relative suitability in terms of location, layout, size, condition and style. These can all be assessed within the first few minutes. Vendors are understandably emotive and partial to their own property and tend to go into too much detail, which can frustrate buyers who simply want to assess the property in principle and move on to the next house. Such a vendor can unwittingly appear desperate to sell which can put buyers off!

The agent on the other hand is the “impartial broker” who has an understanding of the buyer’s needs and can use the feedback gained during each viewing to facilitate the decision-making process, leading to strong offers and decisive moves.

Children and pets, no matter how sweet they can be, should also be kept out of the way during a viewing, as they can become an unnecessary distraction. Buyers should be focussed not on the property’s occupants but on the home itself and what it would be like living there. Our job as estate agents is to facilitate this in order to secure a speedy sale with the minimum of disruption to our clients’ life!

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