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Category Archives: News
As we approach the end of the year we find ourselves in politically turbulent times, with the Brexit debate continuing to undermine confidence, but only slightly. Certainly there are some scary concepts being tabled, not least the Governor of the Bank of England suggesting that a no-deal Brexit could trigger property price falls of up to 35%.
Far be it for us to argue with the Governor, but this rather dramatic suggestion relies on a) a no Brexit deal and, b) drastic falls in transaction volumes which are already relatively low as there are very few speculative sellers in the market. Most current sellers have a genuine reason to move – marriage jobs, divorce, children, debt, etc, and these situations are unlikely to be especially affected by any Brexit outcome. In fact, anyone likely to be affected by the long-running Brexit confusion already has been. There are still far more prospective buyers than sellers (especially as it is generally cheaper to buy than to rent) and this is unlikely to change unless money supply were to dry up. This is very unlikely as banks are becoming increasingly competitive to secure any potential fall in mortgage business. Remember, prices only fall when there is an over supply of stock in relation to demand.
Sales to first time buyers, especially, continue to rise and now represent over 23% of the market.
In terms of house prices, whilst Prime Central London may have already dipped by nearly 15% in the past four years, these properties are being sold by extremely wealthy individuals for whom a dramatic price reduction that enables a quick sale is hardly painful, but gets the job done! For everyone else, it’s business as usual, although potential wobbles in market confidence suggest that sellers would be well advised to listen to the advice of a trusted agent – not one who seeks to flatter with an over-optimistic asking price.
Certainly this is the wrong market to be sitting on a property that goes stale on the market, as buyers seek to take advantage of negative media reports, whether of not they turn out to be true! We always find that those properties that sell first tend to achieve the best price too. It is also essential to ensure that your agent is particularly strong in their buyer qualification and sales progression activities; glitches down the chain in a nervous market must be avoided at all costs.
Confusing times? Maybe. But hey, Christmas is round the corner and we look forward to helping our clients take advantage of the traditional spike in buyer activity over the festive season. Happy Christmas to buyer and seller alike!
Household emergencies generally occur during the depths of winter, but we recommend that homeowners undertake a pre-winter checklist now to prevent unforeseen property headaches in the months to come, especially remembering last year’s weather! Here are some pointers:
• Don’t wait until the really cold weather arrives to discover that the central heating is not working. Time your central heating to click on for one minute a day throughout the year to avoid it seizing.
• A sudden cold snap can burst water pipes, causing flooding. Make sure you know the location of the stop-cock. Ensure your pipes and tank are properly lagged but do not insulate underneath your tank. If you are going away, leave the heating on low and leave your loft hatch open.
• Storms can bring down branches causing damage to roofs, so it’s worth doing some pruning now rather than having to call out the tree-surgeon, roofer and insurance assessor in an emergency.
• Check your gutters are clear, as the weight of waterlogged and frozen leaves can cause them to leak or collapse.
• Assess your roof for loose tiles that can easily become dislodged during high winds, causing damage to property, cars and possibly injury to people.
• Avoid getting smoked out as you light the first fire of winter by checking that birds have not made a nest in the chimney.
• Outside lighting not only enhances safety but also deters burglars, who are more active during the winter.
• Ensure your garden furniture, barbeque, toys, etc are securely stored as they can be stolen if left outside, and damaged or prove hazardous in bad weather.
All the above can usually be done over a weekend, which is time well spent if the stress and expense of a winter emergency are to be avoided.
We are celebrating after being crowned the 2018 Relocation Agent Network Agent of the Year. We received the award at this year’s 25th Relocation Agent Network Awards Dinner held on Friday 23 November at London’s Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel.
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.
Two Additional Awards Won
The black tie evening Awards Dinner was hosted by well-known comedian and TV presenter, Katherine Ryan, who presented us with the 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.
Platinum League Members
The Customer Relocation Awards recognise members that have generated the greatest number of referrals over the past year. The accolade means that Richard James become inaugural members of the newly created Relocation Agent Network Platinum League. The League demonstrates that members like, Richard James are one of Relocation Agent Network’s most successful agents when it comes to helping their customers relocate into and out of the local area. Every Platinum member needs to maintain their high quality performance throughout the next 12 months, to ensure they remain in the league the following 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 so proud to have won Relocation Agent Network’s Agent of the Year. This is the Network’s top award and we never would have won it without the dedication, 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 we provide is the very highest in the Central region and across Relocation Agent Network.”
Richard Tucker, Relocation Agent Network’s Managing Director said, “We were so pleased to crown Richard James as this year’s Relocation Agent Network Agent of the Year. In our opinion they are among the UK’s most accomplished estate agents. As our most coveted award, the Agent of the Year can only be won by an agent that delivers outstanding customer service day in, day out, and that’s exactly what Richard James does.”
As the evenings begin to draw in, sellers should take stock of their property if they are to maximise their chances of securing an early sale. Buyer activity is traditionally very good at this time of year, but your property still needs to compete well if it is to sell readily. Here are some tips, with our compliments:
• Kerb appeal. You only get one chance to make a first impression – so make it count, as buyers make instant judgements. Make sure lawns are neat and pathways swept.
• How about a coat of fresh paint for the front door, and a new doormat?
• Make sure gutters are free from debris and are draining properly. There are few things worse than waiting outside a house with a torrent of water threatening the back of your neck!
• People in coats are bulkier, so make sure your entrance hall is clear of bicycles, toys and wellies.
• Many people cruise past a property before making an appointment to view. So, on dark evenings, make it look like a home from the outside. Table lamps and soft lighting give an impression of cosiness and should be turned on mid afternoon. A “For Sale” board will also make the house easier to find.
• Ensure your windows are sparkling clean, as recent rain may have left them dirty, and maximise available daytime light by ensuring that curtains are fully open.
• Make sure the house feels warm and cosy inside. You are selling a home after all, not just four walls and a roof.
If you’re keen to move this side of Christmas, why not take advantage of our property marketing advice service? It’s free, and will give you a good opportunity to gauge whether we could be the right agent for you!
The problem is the source of data that is used to make assumptions about the market is fickle. For example, you could look at the latest Land Registry figures. These record the volumes and prices of sales that completed potentially several months after the sale was arranged. But a lot can happen in that time – tax, economic data, political confusion, interest rate changes and media influence can make a vast difference to buyer sentiment! HMLR figures also include the sale of small tranches of land in their figures, which can skew the average downwards.
You could look at the figures supplied by property portals such as Rightmove or Zoopla which interpret the relationship between the monthly change in the average asking price of properties new to market during the preceding month. Of course, average asking prices are not necessarily a reflection of specific sale prices and theses figures do not take account of any asking price reductions, thereby skewing the average upwards! (Although at Richard James Estate Agents we are proud of how often we achieve or even exceed our clients’ original asking price!)
As your local estate agent, we are acutely aware of what’s happening in the East Northants market at a given point in time. We have a huge responsibility to get it right for our clients first time, and we take that responsibility very seriously. Ultimately, we find that the most reliable indicators lie in our ability to interpret the needs and comments of our buyers at local level. After all, it is today’s buyers who determine the current value of your property.
We’re currently experiencing a healthy level of buyer enquiries, which inevitably results in some great prices being achieved. So why not contact us for an informal chat about the value of your property and suggested marketing plans over a cup of coffee? You might be pleasantly surprised!
We’re looking forward to attending this year’s Relocation Agent Network National Conference and Exhibition. On 23 November, estate agents from across England, Scotland and Wales will be travelling to London for the business Conference and evening Awards Dinner. The event is exclusively for Relocation Agent Network members (including us!) and is a great day of networking with fellow members and learning all about the very latest industry innovations.
Taking place at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, the Conference welcomes some of the UK’s top keynote speakers including; David Meade, a world-class international corporate speaker and performer, who will discuss how to find and retain the best employees and how to achieve results in the toughest of climates; learning and development guru Malcolm Smith will help delegates understand how to maintain value during a negotiation; and mathematician and ex-Funds Manager, Darren Shirlaw will provide an economic forecast for the next five years, including how Brexit will impact the housing market.
The event culminates in a black tie evening Awards Dinner, hosted by well-known comedian and TV presenter, Katherine Ryan. We can’t wait to meet up with our fellow members to celebrate the successes of 2018.
How does OUR Network membership help YOU?
Relocation Agent Network has chosen Richard James to represent them in the Wellingborough, Irthlingborough & Rushden areas. Our membership means that we’ve been specially selected to be the area’s Local Expert, based on the quality of service that we provide, our local knowledge and professionalism.
Through its affiliation with Cartus, the premier provider of global relocation services, Relocation Agent Network members help Cartus move relocating families in and out of areas across England, Scotland and Wales. This offers Richard James customers an additional channel of buyer when selling their property. Network members can also help their customers through the ‘Referral Network’, which helps those relocating, by referring them to a fellow Relocation Agent Network member in the area they are moving to.
Local estate agent from is delighted to announce that they have been shortlisted for the 2018 Best Agent Central Region Award by Relocation Agent Network, a national network of selected estate agents.
The winner will be announced at a black tie evening Awards Dinner held at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, London on Friday 23 November. The Awards Dinner, hosted by well-known comedian and television presenter Katherine Ryan, will close Relocation Agent Network’s annual National Conference and Exhibition.
The 2018 Best Agent Central Region Award is an annual accolade given for consistently making the best overall contribution to the Network throughout the year. It gives nominees the opportunity to become the Network’s ‘Best Agent in the Central Region’. To reach this stage of the award programme, agents must demonstrate a commitment to the Relocation Agent Network principles, namely excellent customer service and innovative business initiatives.
We are delighted to be shortlisted in the Relocation Agent Network’s Best Agent Regional Award category. The nomination highlights our commitment to the Network principles, particularly delivering the very best service to our customers. This award nomination really has been a team effort over the last 12 months and I’m extremely proud of everyone at Richard James Estate Agents.
Richard Tucker, Relocation Agent Network’s Managing Director commented, “Our Best Agent Regional Awards recognise those agents that show true dedication to business innovations and delivering top quality service to their customers. Congratulations to Richard James for their well- deserved nomination.”
It is perhaps quite worrying that anyone can start trading as an estate agent, without any qualifications whatsoever. This makes it all the more important that you choose an agency that puts a high value on training.
Better-trained staff gain an intimate understanding of what the customer is going through and are able to help you endure the inherently stressful process of moving more readily. Training in buyer psychology is also very useful when it comes to knowing why people buy which property, how they negotiate, and the reasons why they sometimes withdraw from a purchase.
Good staff development also provides the added benefit of having happy, fulfilled and loyal staff who take a pride in their work – which is a real asset to our customers. It also means they are at the cutting edge of estate agency, and we make a point of fostering a spirit of innovation and continuous improvement in all aspects of our work.
Whilst being passionate about professionalism, this does not mean that the traditional values we cherish are in any way old fashioned. Indeed, we are proud to be different, and our approach will not suit everyone! For example, we do not have a formulaic approach to the way in which we work. Instead, we encourage each of our staff to play to their strengths. So in many ways, our business is a reflection of the personalities involved – a far cry from the systemised approach adopted by the corporate estate agency chains!
We are excited about our contribution to the East Northants property scene, and we have a real energy and love for the business of creating a moving experience about which people are delighted. After all – we’re on your side!
Why not call us for an informal chat about the sale of your own property on 01933 224400. You might be pleasantly surprised!
We have won the accolade of the Best Small Estate Agent in the East Midlands at the EA Masters held at the InterContinental Hotel, The O2 in London on 12th October.
This is awarded to the best estate agency brand in the region with two to five offices.
Gold award winners are also in the top 0.5% in the country. This award recognises exceptional performance at a company level and reflects a consistently strong performance across all branches.
The judging is conducted by The Property Academy and the leading property portal, Rightmove. The winners are determined by rigorous and thorough assessment of around 15,000 brand and 25,000 estate and letting agents across the UK. Each branch was scored against a unique set of performance and customer service metrics, using a combination of data analysis and mystery shopping in order to identify the best estate agency brands and branches in the country.
Home-movers and landlords can search for the top agents in their area by visiting the Best Estate Agent Guide to distinguish the leading 73 estate agent brands in the UK who meet the strictest criteria.
Not only did we win the Gold Award for Sales but we were also Shortlisted for Lettings.
The award was presented to Richard Taylor, Director of Richard James Rushden, by TV presenter Gabby Logan. Richard said “We are extremely proud to receive this recognition at a National Awards dinner and this enforces the work of all our staff in achieving our clients not only best prices, but also delivering the very best customer service experience too”.
For further information please visit www.bestestateagentguide.co.uk
From a property perspective, it would appear that the latest budget will not be enough to light November’s fireworks. Nevertheless, overall, it did hint at a surprisingly stable economy, with improved growth prospects and an apparent end to the tighter austerity regime.
The one thing the property market needs is to find its own equilibrium with minimal government involvement. We know that a healthy property sector, based on reasonable sales volumes, is good for the economy in terms of jobs, home improvement businesses, SDLT (stamp duty) and VAT revenues. However, past “incentives”, mostly for political gain, but apparently designed to stimulate the market, have often artificially inflated house prices.
As estate agents, we are of course passionate about securing high prices for our clients. It’s what we do, responsibly, of course. But Mr Hammond’s budget, for the first time, recognised that the only way many people can buy their own first home is to do so via shared-ownership. So he abolished SDLT on shared ownership homes up to £500,000, although this is only expected to cost the government £5 million – not much in the grand scheme of things. Remember, shared ownership does not mean buying a property with another person; it means buying only part of a property and effectively “renting” the other part, usually from a housing association.
We believe that SDLT should ideally be completely overhauled, as the cost of moving for most people is at an all-time high – and this has little to do with estate agency fees, which are actually the lowest in the world!
Nevertheless, property prices have not fallen by the 10%-18% as the Treasury predicted in May 2016, as a warning in the event of a pro-Brexit referendum result. In fact, they have continued to rise, by around 9% since then, with transaction levels 13% above the same time last year (source HMRC). Wage growth is actually increasing strongly and lending remains historically low, with unemployment at its lowest level since the mid-1970s.
Whatever happens with Brexit, it seems that people are once again prioritising a house move in response to lifestyle changes such as marriage, family, schools, jobs, divorce, downsizing, etc. They seem to be increasingly immune to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and are getting on with their lives – a wonderfully British ideal that has stood the test of time.
Whatever your plans, please regard us as your local experts in property, and call us for advice on 01933 224400 before you make a move.