Category Archives: News

Split Opinion on Whether Brexit is Impacting Local Markets – Says National Estate Agency Survey

BrexitAs the Government debates the intricacies of Britain leaving the European Union, widely known as ‘Brexit’, local estate agents across the UK are experiencing mixed trends with regards to its impact so far.

From the responses received, following a recent survey conducted by Relocation Agent Network amongst its members – including Richard James – there was a relatively even split between agents that have already begun to experience market trends that can be attributed to Brexit (46%), and those that have not (54%).

When looking at regional differences, the survey found that more respondents from the South (67%) and South East (65%) had experienced an impact from Brexit, compared with other regions in the UK. The regions with the least respondents experiencing an impact from Brexit were those in the East Midlands (12.5%) and Yorkshire (14%).

A similar divide emerged when member respondents were asked if they were expecting Brexit to impact their local market in the next six months. 58% anticipated that the UK deciding to leave the EU will have an impact in the first half of the year, with 42% believing it will not.

When it comes to specific trends experienced as a result of Brexit, a quarter of member respondents reported a decrease in sellers entering the market. Whilst a decline in the number of prospective home buyers was cited by respondents as the second most significant trend that may be attributed to Brexit.

The Relocation Agent Network survey tells us is that there are strong regional differences with regards to the impact that Brexit is having on local markets across the UK. In Wellingborough, Irthlingborough & Rushden, we’re currently seeing little change in the number of prospective buyers registering.

“Despite the wider implications of Brexit however, we are seeing plenty of motivated buyers searching for the right property. We encourage sellers to continue with their plans to move, as springtime is only weeks away and is traditionally a popular time to enter the housing market, with 2017 being no exception. So contact us today, as Relocation Agent Network’s appointed Local Expert for East Northants, we have exclusive access to out of town buyers moving into the area.”

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What Does Viewing Feedback Really Mean?

FeedbackSellers often approach us after an unsatisfactory experience with another agent, particularly in relation to poor levels of feedback following property viewings.

Surely prompt and constructive feedback should be a fundamental part of any estate agent’s service to their clients! Only when agents understand what buyers think of a property can they deliver practical advice that will enhance its sale prospects. The agent and the seller should be working hand-in-hand to achieve the desired outcome, based significantly on buyers’ comments.

We also understand the seller’s anguish in simply not knowing whether a sale is imminent following a viewing.

Sometimes, feedback is obviously positive: “When can you move out?” is clearly a strong buying signal; “What are the neighbours like?”, “Could I bring my partner round?” or “Will you be leaving that cupboard?” certainly indicate that the property is a distinct possibility, and a good agent should be able to move this interest towards a firm offer.

Some feedback can be helpful in confirming whether the asking price is positioned correctly in the market. Buyers buy by comparison, and sometimes a swift price adjustment can be imperative to avoid the house going stale on the market. For example, “The property is too small for us” usually means, “We have seen larger houses for the same price”. “The street is too busy” usually means “We’ve seen similarly priced properties in quieter streets”.

Of course, many people are just being polite when they say, “We’ll think about it”, or “I’m sure you’ll find a buyer easily”. The key to good estate agency is identifying which comments point to a sale, which point to a negotiation, and which point to a problem with the price. And we think sellers deserve to know, via prompt and supportive feedback.

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Market report – January 2017

Jan ReportWhilst many of us might have understandably had quite enough of Brexit/Trump inspired news, there is one aspect of these that is extremely reassuring in respect of the UK property market! Such tumultuous news, almost daily, with so many angles and such far-reaching political, economic and social consequences, might ordinarily cause such uncertainty as to put a dampener on the property market. People and markets generally don’t like uncertainty. And we probably live in the most uncertain times in a generation.

Yet the property market appears to have simply shrugged its shoulders, kept calm, and carried on, as if to spite the dire warnings of severe negative consequences issued by even the most respected of pundits. The exception is of course the prime central London market, which has dipped 6.9% since this time last year although this is more likely due to with the massive hike in SDLT last year. If anything, the lower value of sterling has attracted overseas buyers, preventing further falls, although sales volumes of £1m+ sales are nevertheless down by around 21% (Savills).

Whatever the future holds, it would seem that bricks and mortar, as ever, are the ultimate foundation of our security in the UK, and demand is predicted to continue to outstrip supply overwhelmingly for many years to come. Our current levels of GDP growth are impressive (0.7% last quarter, up from 0.6%) but are forecast to fall, with pressures on employment, inflation and ultimately interest rates. So there is only so much the market can take in terms of property values and equilibrium has to be found at some stage.

So if you are considering a move this year, right now might not be a bad time to do so – especially if you can put your property on the market ahead of the seasonal spring rush that can temporarily flood the market.

Please feel free to contact us if you’d like sincere, friendly, advice from your local property marketing experts and we’d be delighted to offer you our thoughts – you might be pleasantly surprised.

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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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