Monthly Archives: August 2018

September 2018 Market Comment

September Market CommentAs we move from a scorching summer to a cooler autumn, will the property market return to “normal”? Certainly the latest HMRC figures indicate a positive outlook, with a 0.3% increase in the number of transactions over last year. That’s not bad considering increased political uncertainty and two interest rate hikes.

Transaction volumes are currently the most reliable indicator of the state of the property market, not prices, although these have risen by a not-unhealthy 3% over the past year (HMRC). It looks like the number of transactions will approach 2.2million nationally in 2018, which is still much more than the years following the 2008 credit crunch, when it took five years before the number rose over a million.

Certainly, we expect to see more activity in the first time buyer sector, for two reasons: firstly, according to the latest Ministry of Housing report, nearly 4,000 buy-to-let properties are being sold by landlords each month, resulting in the first decline in rental property availability for 18 years. The problem is most acute in London, which has seen a 20% drop in the number of rental properties in the past year. This will inevitably push up rents further, meaning that buying is seen as a more cost-effective option to renting.

Secondly, some mortgage lenders are relaxing their criteria for first time buyers, with an increase in the both number of 95% mortgages and 35-year terms.

Confidence levels are improving once again, as many people start to think about moving by Christmas. If this is you, then you’d better get your skates on as, according to Rightmove, the average time from agreeing a sale to completion is 13 weeks, and it typically takes an average of eight weeks to find a buyer.
As ever, correct pricing is the key, especially as there is 2.1% more stock available than there was a month ago. Rightmove reports that average asking prices of new-to-market properties have seen a seasonal reduction of 2.3% over last month, as late summer sellers seek to find a buyer quickly.
So if you are thinking about moving, why not give us a buzz on 01933 224400, as we can usually provide you with an idea of value, timing and confidence level within 48 hours.

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“Maximising Your Sale Prospects”

MaximisingThe vast array of property-related TV programmes proliferating our screens is certainly an indication of our appetite for home improvement. Presumably this has something to do with pride of ownership and making the most out of “an Englishman’s home is his castle”.

However, once you come to sell, you may understandably be more focused on your next property than the one you are leaving. It is surprising how many properties we see offered for sale where the vendor has not taken advantage of some simple things that can be done to increase their chances of selling whilst maximising their price.

Bear in mind that we are not just selling bricks and mortar, but an aspirational lifestyle, as most people purchase a better property than the one they are leaving.

A recent survey among estate agents identified key aspects of property presentation that they regard as important to get right when selling. 77% said that decluttering the interior was among their top three tips, 68% included a thorough interior clean, 48% highlighted the need to tidy the garden, 40% suggested neutral decoration, 35% recommended a fresh coat of exterior paint, and 24% felt a new kitchen or bathroom was important.

Interestingly, gadgets, technology and security features ranked surprisingly low, with less than 1% of agents citing these as important, presumably as these are things that can easily be added at a later date as required although a fast broadband speed is of course critically important. A survey by Rightmove suggested that homes with slower broadband tended to sell for up to 20% less than those with fast broadband!

It is interesting to note that, apart from the broadband issue, the above figures overwhelmingly point to the need to create a strong first visual impression, and this concurs with our own findings that whilst buyers do not always know precisely what they want, they certainly know it when they see it. Our job is to help them get to that point!

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Why Use High Street Agents?

 

Richard TuckerThe second post of our blog series Why Use High Street Agents offers property sellers some tips to help ensure their agents take personal ownership of progress and process of their sale.

Richard Tucker, Managing Director of Relocation Agent Network, says:

“In my previous post, I mentioned the importance of paying close attention to the quality of the agent’s service, advice and trust, as well as commission rate. Today, I would like to share my thoughts about the progress of your sales and the process itself.

Traditional agents have evolved hugely, blending technology and good customer service; what can your agent do to give the right balance? It’s worth checking what systems the agent has to allow you, as their customer, to communicate online with them at a time convenient to you. By the same token, you will want to feel that your agent is willing to take personal ownership of the process.

I recommend you discuss sales progression (the agent’s process for ensuring they help manage your sale through to exchange of contacts and completion) with the agent, as sellers often overlook this area and it is where a good agent’s service really comes to the forefront. This may seem far off to you right now, but just as you plan your marketing strategy, you also need to think about what happens next. Who does what? What are your expectations?

Looking even further head, it’s also worth thinking about completion and the process for handing over of keys on the moving day

A good estate agent is a useful one-stop-shop in terms of mortgage and insurance advice as well as conveyancing and survey services, so do ask the agent for recommendations on the associated move services. This will take away some of the headache from what is a stressful time.

Thinking of selling? Richard James 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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Interest Rate Rise Aug 2018 – Market Comment

Interest RateThe Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has just announced a rise in the Bank of England base rate of 0.25% – only the second increase increase in over a decade. Whilst the 0.75% base rate is now the highest it has been since 2009, it is still historically low when many still remember the levels of the late 1980’s when a mortgage rate of 15% was the norm!

The latest increase is probably designed to be nothing more than a shot across the bows in response to surprisingly high consumer spending, higher employment levels and wage rise expectations in order to ensure inflation remains firmly under control.

Certainly, housing inflation is already under control, with predictions that house prices are unlikely to rise by more than 3% per annum until 2025. Stability during these uncertain times is exactly what is required for a healthy housing market, where people who wish to move for “real” reasons, can do so without fear of making a mistake.
Of course, those homeowners on a fixed rate mortgage will not immediately notice any difference in their monthly payments, while those on variable rate or tracker mortgage will notice a small increase in monthly payments, typically of around £37.50 extra per month on a £180,000 mortgage.

This latest increase is unlikely to have any direct effect on the property market, although if you are contemplating a move it might be worth bringing this forward in order to secure a low-rate mortgage now in anticipation of any further incremental rate rises in the future.

As ever, as your local property experts, we’d be happy to advise, without obligation, on how this, and any other market influences, might impact on your moving plans or property value. Please feel free to call us on 01933 224400.

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August 2018 Market Comment

RAFThe heat is on! Or rather, it has been for the past few months of the glorious summer we have been enjoying. But is the heat on, or off the property market? Here at Richard James we have seen consistently strong sales over the summer, although the national picture seems confused. It all depends who you speak to!

For example, according to the government’s official house price index, UK house prices have increased by 3% over the past year – the lowest level of growth since 2013. This was, however, skewed by a 0.4% decrease in London values. However, we know that the government’s figures usually trail behind current reality by up to six months, and the Halifax reports annual growth at just 1.8%.

Interestingly, new analysis from Price Waterhouse suggests that house prices are unlikely to exceed 3% until 2025. Although we are passionate about securing high prices for our sellers here in East Northants, at a national level, such price stability would be a good thing. Indeed, there has even been a suggestion from think-tank IPPR that the government should freeze house price inflation for five years, and then peg it to inflation at 2% thereafter (although history has shown that it is usually best for the government not to meddle with the market).

Overall, property has fared reasonably well since the Brexit referendum and anyone thinking of moving need not be deterred by the negative news headlines. It is encouraging to note that bricks and mortar tends to outshine the stock market during times of uncertainty (even long-term, the FTSE100 capital price index has only risen 9% in the past 18 years!) PWC predicts that the UK will be the strongest performing G7 economy until 2050, and MFS revealed that 77% investors think that Brexit is unlikely to affect their long-term investment strategy. More than half of these said they prefer traditional asset classes such as property as a safe and secure investment – as proven by the 6.6% rise in property values since the referendum.

For most people, a property move is more about adapting to a change in lifestyle than poring over investment figures. Life’s too short! If a move helps you with your commuting, your family, your finances or your relationships, then surely these motivators should always take priority. Why not call us today on 01933 224400 to see how we can make a move work for you? We’re here to help.

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