Monthly Archives: January 2018

January 2018 – Market Comment

RAF conferenceIs the property market up or is down? This month, more than ever, the answer depends on who you speak to.

For example, according to the Land Registry, a total of 850,281residential properties were sold during 2017, which is a clear 14.6% fall on 2016 (although still 30% up on the low-point of 2008). In respect of properties listed as flats, terraced, semi-detached or detached, London was hardest hit at -27% and so was Manchester, supposedly the new kid on the “where to invest” block at -24%.

However, the problem with relying on Land Registry data is that it is seldom a true reflection of what is actually happening today. The recorded data is published at up to a month after registration of completion, which can be up to two months after actual completion, which is usually a month after exchange, which is often two months after the sale was agreed. That’s a total of up to six months after the sale was agreed. That’s a long time when the market can turn on the slightest change in public confidence based on a host of economic and/or political indicators!

Yet the latest data from Lloyds Bank suggests the market has turned. They state that the number of people moving is up 2% on this time last year. These figures are a more likely indicator of the current appetite for a move as they are based on the number of people identified as currently “active” in the market.

The continued climate of low interest rates, and a “let’s just get on with it” attitude to Brexit seem to be showing themselves in a new confidence towards the property market. We have certainly noticed a healthy increase in the number of people wanting to talk to us about marketing their property – especially the confidential, or “off-market”, sales for which we are known.

So it looks like spring might have sprung early this year! If you are considering a sale, our advice would be to do so sooner rather than later so that you can still take advantage of an undersupply of competing homes before the market really kicks in! Why not call us for an initial chat on 01933 224400?

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How to Interpret a Survey

Survey BlogBuyers clearly need to make informed choices when it comes to deciding which property to buy and at what price, although only about one in five people in England and Wales commissions a survey (source: RICS).

However, we find that buyers can be unnecessarily disappointed by the survey report simply because they are not familiar with some of the terminologies used.

Increasing litigation and a massive rise in professional insurance premiums means that surveyors are understandably becoming very cautious as to how they describe their findings.

For example, a survey might read, “We found no evidence of woodworm or rot, but would recommend further investigation by a specialist timber treatment company”. Very few, if any, timber specialists will provide a clean bill of health along with a 20-30 year guarantee unless they have actually been commissioned to carry out a timber treatment programme – at a price.

Such caveats can apply to the causes of damp, wall fractures, etc. and to some extent render some surveys irrelevant. Ultimately it usually comes down to a matter of common sense, and even an acceptance of various imperfections as part of property ownership, especially in respect of older homes.

A basement flat might not be quite as dry as a second floor flat; but does this make it uninhabitable? A crack that has existed but not expanded for 50 years may look unsightly, but does it really mean the property is falling down? Some woodworm is not uncommon, and is easily treated.

Ultimately, unless the results of a survey express grave and clear concerns, then it is up to you the buyer, not your surveyor, to decide whether any alleged flaws are really likely to significantly affect your enjoyment of the property. So, as they say on Crimewatch …… don’t have nightmares!

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Getting Personal Through Technology

Tech JanThe opportunities opened up by technology in estate agency have been enormous, yet many local agents simply use their website as a glorified shop window. Like any agency window, the properties displayed need to be regularly updated and presented in a way that inspires buyers to take things further.

But a good estate agency website is more than a simple property search tool. If that’s all it did, it would be a bit like only being able to get the news on TV!

The first thing many prospective sellers do is check out local agents’ websites. Does the home page give a clear impression of the “personality” of that particular agency? A list of features is one thing, but does it highlight the people behind the business and the company ethos? Are these things also reflected across deeply engaging social media activities?

Going beyond this, our website is fast becoming pivotal to the management of valuations. Within the next few months potential sellers will be able to book a valuation 24 hours a day in real time on-line! Add to this the ability to email and SMS property details including pictures and floor plans directly to a buyer’s smart phone, PC or iPad and we have a system that is way beyond the norm for East Northants agents.

However, the most important benefit derived from our huge investment in technology is the amount of time released by our enhanced efficiency. Because the system captures and automatically matches buyers to properties (within our manually predetermined parameters) we have more time available to do what we do best – look after our customers through personal communication.

Therefore, and somewhat ironically, our use of technology has streamlined us to the extent that we have been able return to, and develop, the traditional service levels appreciated by so many of our delighted customers to date. Why not contact us for an informal chat about how we could maximise your own sale prospects?

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Does your commercial property have hidden development potential?

rl-aerial-crop-u5668A little-known change in the national planning regulations could mean your commercial property has new and highly lucrative development potential.

On 1st October 2017 a new class of permitted development (PD) rights came into place to enable the conversion of light industrial units (Use Class B1c) to residential use (Use Class 3).

At Richard James, we are Members of the national Land & New Homes Network, and we recognise this as an opportunity for many commercial property owners to benefit from the changes to the regulations.

This form of permitted development will benefit existing light industrial units, which are generally considered as small-medium sized businesses which can operate successfully in residential areas without being a detriment to the neighbouring area.

Examples of these types of business include small workshops, repair workshops and similar non- intensive enterprises.

As a landowner you may wish to take advantage of exploring the value of your building within the framework of the new Permitted Development Rights and that’s something we at Richard James can certainly help you with.

Kevin Ellis, Founder of the Land & New Homes Network, highlighted the opportunities: “The recent regulation change offers owners of these light industry units an opportunity to explore the residential potential of their building, which for many would not have previously been possible.”

Things to consider include:

The new PD rights won’t apply to all light industrial buildings.
Those located in certain protected areas, or form part of a protected curtilage are unlikely to be eligible for residential conversion under
Class PA.

Sites which are exempt include:

The existing floor space of the building exceeds 500 square metres.

The site forms part of a site of special scientific interest (SSSI)

The site is occupied under an agricultural tenancy, unless consent is given by both landlord and tenant.

There are several other things which need considering which we would be delighted to discuss with you.

Are External Alterations Required?

Permitted development rights only apply where no external alterations are required to the building.

If external alterations are required to enable the conversion, i.e. window positions, cladding etc, planning permission will be required for those works.

We have a team of expert consultants, with experience in all areas of development and planning regulations waiting to help you.

If you think you have a site that falls into this category and would like to explore the development potential, then please get in touch with me for an informal and confidential chat.

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The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home

January 2018Our home satisfies our basic human needs such as sleeping, relaxing, washing, recreation, as well as family time, reading, watching TV, leisure, etc. But it is possibly eating which is the focus of home life. This basic need that punctuates our day provides a social focus for families and couples the world over.

Whilst many properties have a formal dining room for “special occasions”, it is without doubt the kitchen that forms the central hub of home life. The kitchen is where the family meets first thing in the morning and on return from work or school. It is the place through which everyone passes as they go about their business, where keys are hung, mail is put, newspapers and iPads are read.

As a place of utility, the kitchen also fulfils a huge role that incorporates storage, washing, cooking, and entertaining. The quality of the kitchen can determine whether a property can be regarded as modernised or unmodernised, and it is little wonder that so much money is spent on kitchen design and fitting.

When we as estate agents prepare our property details, we find a colour photograph of a well-presented kitchen particularly appeals to purchasers. So when you come to sell, make sure that your kitchen is looking its very best.

Older kitchens can be given a new lease of life with new doors fitted to the original carcases, but keep the colour scheme conservative if you wish to appeal to the widest range of prospective purchasers. As the floor-space is likely to be relatively small, a new high quality floor covering, be it vinyl, wood-strip or tile, need not cost the earth.

Please feel free to contact us on 01933 224400 if you require advice about improving your kitchen to maximise you sale prospects.

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