All posts by GeorgeHartshorn

George is Managing Director at Elizabeth Davenport Estate Agents. He enjoys writing this weekly blog and hopes that you enjoy reading it!!

LIFT-OFF 2014!!

The New Year has already been a record breaking one and 2014 is set to be a very healthy year for the property market in Coventry and the surrounding areas.Property Market Lift-Off

We are seeing lots of new properties come to market and have buyers queueing up for them in their droves. One new property that came to market in the last week at our branch had an offer of the full asking price within 24 hours. This was before the buyers had even visited the property!

The much increased availability of finance is the driving factor with much smaller deposits now required from many of the big lenders. This means that first time buyers have returned to the market place in large numbers and it’s these guys that prop up the housing market.

So if you’re considering making the move this year, call our office on 02476 010105 and arrange for a free, no obligation valuation and appraisal of your home. According to Rightmove statistics we are the fastest selling agent in the Coventry area so pick up the phone today and get moving.

…..3………..2………..1………..LIFT-OFF!!

The Beeb, Microclimates & Fiona Bruce!

By Mark Walmsley.

 We are confident that we remain the only Estate Agent in the Region to have successfully sold an HS2 “Blighted” property to a private buyer in Burton Green. We have also successfully sold property to HS2 themselves. Our conversations with the local press, the Guardian Newspaper and the BBC led us to being the Coventry Estate Agent chosen to reflect upon the differences between our Cities property prices and those of the Big Smoke. Maybe Monaco and Milton Keynes or Singapore and Stoke on Trent could have led to similar conversations, but if the BBC asked for professional opinion, we were only too happy to offer one.

The crew were professional and there questions were all valid and sensible. However it was no surprise that so little was aired. It will remain true what Frederick Wiseman, the distinguished Documentary filmmaker of the 60’s and 70’s alluded, “If you wish to tell a lie or misguide the general public then Documentary is the medium to do so”.  Suffice to say, when asked by the director how the property market in London affects activity in Coventry I might as well have countered  “How does Fiona Bruce presenting the 6’0 Clock News as well as The Antiques Roadshow affect your role at the BBC?”. One does not affect the other.  Edward Lorenz’ Butterfly effect is not at work here either. You could almost drop an “Eden Project” dome over the city to uppercase it’s microclimate status.

An astronomical 25% hike in Central London a nationwide housing boom does not make.

The reality in Coventry and hopefully it will continue, is that of a steady affordable rise with a variance in those suburbs more favoured by quality schooling and prestige. But all sellers must be aware that there is a “lust” factor playing it’s part in property prices too. This will create anomalies in whichever area you live. This is where the seller, the buyer and the agent can make a difference. Place the national statistics in a draw for a moment and make a sigh of relief! If you want to emulate the Big Smoke’s Housing Boom then present your property for sale with elegance and style, practicality and cleanliness and your property sale could certainly be the New York of your Neighbourhood rather than the Northampton!

Christmas Wishes, Mick Jagger and No Resting on Laurels!

By Mark Walmsley.

As 2013 draws to a close there could not be a better time to “take stock”( if you’ll pardon the pun), of the housing market in Coventry and it’s surrounding areas. Before that, 2013 has been a landmark year for Elizabeth Davenport Estate Agents. Not only have we opened our first, prominent High Street Office and employed our first non director staff, we have been consistently ranked either 1st or 2nd place for the click through rates on our website and the speed of our sales! With over 85 Estate Agents in competition with us this is something we are obviously very proud of. 2014 will see no resting on our Laurels (Christmas Pun intended) and we are investing in dramatic new sign boards that really compliment the nature of Agency and most importantly will get your property noticed first! We plan to further recruit and are constantly improving our website.  We have invested further in professional photographic equipment too which is evidenced within our brochures and proven by way of our number 1 “Click Through” ranking by Rightmove. Highlights of the year for us include the dramatic amount of viewings and sale of “Whitegates”, a characterful and unique cottage residence in Keresley that had sat on the market gathering dust with other agents for over six months. We sold this within 4 weeks. “Armorial Road” is a similar success story with us having a number of offers and plentiful viewings when other agents had again failed. The sale of “Cannon Close” was another proud moment. A number of agents had valued the house and many unusual tales arose from these valuations too which quite honestly don’t depict Estate Agents well at all. Myself and the owners got on really well and the offers we received came thick and fast. It was certainly lovely to deal with a seller with such moral virtues. We had offers from investors and owner occupiers but they wanted the house to sell to family who would cherish and develop it over the years and that’s exactly what happened. The seller, as it transpired, was attracted to us by the quality of our photography which was certainly saying something as that was his profession! He kindly photographed George and I outside the house as a memento. For us it was great. For him probably a step down as he’s previously photographed Prince Charles, Mick Jagger and a host of real talent!

So what can we expect of the housing market in 2014? Firstly throw away the crystal ball and think about your own needs first. Don’t get excited or depressed by national statistics or the media’s declaration of a new housing boom with property prices increasing 6% per annum. In the West Midlands property prices are still considerably lower than they were at peak and only London and the South East are showing above inflation linked asking prices. However the “West Midlands ” statement is also not specific enough. In Coventry alone the growth in one area has been substantially greater than another with property prices literally at the end of one road remaining quite static whilst the other end see’s growth. This is why the only real monitor of worth is to the buyer. We need to put ourselves in there shoes when valuing correctly. In 2013 despite record instructions our stock levels remain low. When we price and market a property it sells very quickly.  So for every new instruction a sale also occurs. This is an unlikely business model that must be retained. Why would any agent want a stock of 100’s of unsellable houses because they haven’t addressed the real reasons as to why they are not selling? If we can keep marketing to the precedent we have set then we will keep selling. We just need more, because there are buyers waiting, as my earlier examples proved. The stock level will then always remain manageable allowing us the time to productively work for you in finding your perfect buyer!

So let’s hope for New Year’s Health and Happiness and continuing the success of 2013. Thank you to all of our Customers and Christmas best wishes to all.

We will be closing for Christmas at Midday on 23rd December 2013 and opening again between 10 and 4pm on December 28th, Saturday 29th and Monday 30th December. Normal office hours will resume on Thursday 2nd January 2014.

Sharp As Knives.

Monday night’s “Dispatches” program on Channel 4 revealed some real problems in the Estate Agency industry, especially in regard to corporate and large chains of Estate Agents.

Sharp practices were revealed in the program with illegal methods of mortgage selling and many instances of not acting in the clients best interest. For thoses that didn’t see the documentary here are some of the problems that were uncovered:

Only allowing buyers to view a property if they bought a mortgage through the same Estate Agent. (this is illegal)

Only considering offers from buyers who took a mortgage product at the same time. (this is illegal)

Advising buyers to take out a buy-to-let mortgage when they intended to live in the property (this is illegal)

These practices occurred in environments where agents were pressurised by the company they worked for to achieve high sales targets and where commission based wages were in place. This is the typical set-up at corporate and large chain Estate Agencies.

So how as a seller or buyer do you avoid these pitfalls? By using a small independent Estate Agent that always acts in the clients’ best interests and where selling ancillary products is not a priority. At Elizabeth Davenport, our priority is to our client and our goal is to sell all of our properties for the maximum price possible. This can only be achieved by making the properties available to the widest audience possible (REMEMBER: the higher the demand, the higher the price.)

So don’t get caught out. If you want the best sales service or the best buying experience then give us a call today.

 

Amazing Results Revealed!!

If you want to be part of a success story that just keeps on growing then selling your property through Elizabeth Davenport would be a prudent move. We have just revealed our 2013 results to October and even we are staggered at the figures. The phrase “selling like hot cakes” is something of an under-statement.

Since the beginning of this year, of the properties that we have put on the market for our clients, 79% have already been sold, 19% are currently on sale and just 2% have been withdrawn.

Needless to say our clients have been absolutely delighted with the results and many have been able to move on to pastures new without stress or delay.

We believe these results to be totally unprecedented in the Coventry area and challenge any of our competitors to come forward if they can beat our figures.

Even more amazing is the prices that our properties have fetched. Just 17% of all our properties marketed during 2013 have need an asking price adjustment, that’s less than 1 in 5, proving that our valuers always give homeowners the most accurate, professional and honest advice.

So if you want to get moving then call us now on 02476 010105. If you prefer to get snoozing then please call one of our competitors.

 

Right to Buy or Right to Loan!

If you stand still you die. Or is it if a Shark stops swimming? Whichever, the property market cannot realistically wait for wages to rise to allow it’s members to move. We know that’s not going to happen. So has the scheme allowing us the ability to save the deposits we need and afford the repayments on the houses we would love to own, been redressed, elaborated and improved?

Shouldn’t the very fact it’s conception occurred become the  unwritten warning following the aftermath of David Cameron’s fast tracked “Help To Buy Scheme Part Deux”?

The scheme will not lend to those without a 5% deposit in place on a new or now an “old” build home and it will undertake “strict” application measures to ensure the affordability is legitimate. The 95% balance will be in a repayment form rather than interest only and there will be no addition loan, just a guarantee. So, in essence the vehicle is identical to the one we discussed a few weeks but with Grandpa being replaced by The Government.

The dotted i’s and crossed t’s have not been finalised but lenders have geared themselves up for this. The opportunity will have an initial live span of three years. This may be longer than Grandma as well. I’m not being cynical I’m just worried. Although on paper the bubble burst a while ago now, trying to re-inflate it without taking into consideration why it happened seems dangerous.  It’s not just me that’s a little concerned. The chief executive of Britain’s biggest mortgage lender, Lloyds Banking Group,  says he fears Help to Buy could create a dangerous bubble in property prices. He said this a matter of weeks after telling the Government they had his unequivocal support. Antonio Horta Osorio seems to have stopped in his tracks and as the CEO of Lloyds, who own Halifax a major lender in this market, it is particularly concerning. I’d like to think that as long as everyone remains sensible and the “new” lending is vigilant then it could help stimulate the market. Strangely enough it does though seem to be gaining momentum without it?     By Mark Walmsley

A Do’er or a Not to Do’er!

Sometimes we have to do for ourselves what we recommend to others and quite recently I found myself struggling to take my own advice! It’s all to easy to recommend an improvement here and an improvement there to enable the well located sows ear become the perfectly situated silk purse of your dreams. The reality is exactly what that particular idiom suggests. You can’t make a solid chair out of poor quality wood.

Prior to renovating your resale project, if you think that the builders quotation is incredibly reasonable it probably is. You need to know that any renovative costs are genuine before you’ve offered on your property. Talk to contractors, get quotes, choose the styles of windows and the kitchen and the bathroom fitments, don’t falter but don’t choose such that are unfit for purpose. Look to your needs and your pocket. If the costs are dangerously tight then the risk of a “Do’er Up’er” is such that you may loose money if you are able to sell at all. And, if you can’t sell what then? “Let It!”, the Estate Agent shouts but this brings it’s own risks and rewards.

It’s planning for the need.  We’ve just sold a property in Cannon Close to the South of the City and the wonderful property needed work. The vendor and myself knew that the volume of work would not enable a “Do’er Up’er” purchase  despite a tremendous volume of such buyers looking and offering. If the property is for you and your family then it’s about your own needs and the long term. So throw caution to the wind and have the two Ensuite bathrooms, under floor kitchen flooring and granite work surfaces. It’s yours to live in and enjoy and if you do it properly it will last and the eventual sale, so distant as to not warrant contemplation, will not disappoint.     By Mark Walmsley

The Secrets Of The Magic Circle

Being an Estate Agent gives one exclusive insights into the secrets of the industry and how it works. Today I am going to risk my own safety and reveal all for the first time.

As a sales Estate Agent, one makes money from selling property. One can only sell property if one has property on one’s books to sell. So the first rule of Estate Agency is “Win The Instruction”.

With most property owners choosing their agent based upon the valuation given, the most important thing for an Estate Agent is the figure they give at the valuation. So most Estate Agents as a matter of course over-value in order to win the instruction. And because they know that the other Estate Agents attending are also going to over-value, they need to really, really over-value in order to win the instruction.

If this sounds strange to you, just think of all those properties you’ve noticed that have been on sale for months (or even years). These are products of the over-valuing trend amongst many Estate Agents.

I checked official figures yesterday and discovered that according to Rightmove, the average property at Elizabeth Davenport had been on sale for just 7 weeks. By comparison some very well known large Estate Agents in Coventry had averages of more than 30 weeks. Why? Because their properties are over-valued and over-priced.

Imagine trying to sell a £10 note for £11. What do you think would happen? Of course, people would laugh and walk away. And that is exactly what happens to over-priced properties. By comparison what do you think would happen if you put a £10 note on sale for £9? Of course, people would flock round and an auction would begin, resulting in a bidding war and probably a sale price approaching the £10 mark. In other words the only danger when pricing a property is “over-valuation” and in reality there is no danger of “under-valuation” whatsoever.

But the magic circle will never admit any of this to you and my head will probably be on a stake by tomorrow morning…………………

Inclusive or Exclusive ????

I recently arranged some viewings on a property that was one of those homes that could have attracted the attention of  anyone on the planet, or at least seemingly.

And after all, as I was tought when I studied Economics A-level, price is driven by demand.  In other words if you mange to maximise the demand for any item, commodity or service, you increase it’s value.  The higher the demand , the higher the price.

With this in mind why would it ever make sense to make a commodity or service “exclusive”  and frighten away or “exclude” some of the potential buyers. The simple answer is it would never make sense.

And when one is deciding upon which buyer to choose or indeed which supplier to choose, surely an open mind and a decision based upon merit will lead to a win-win situation, both in economic terms and personal satisfaction terms for both consumer and supplier? Surely yes??!!

Apparently not. Even in 2013, exclusivity is still alive and well. Some consumers, suppliers, buyers and sellers base their decisions not upon what would work best for them or their clients but on whose handshake fits or which buyer is on the right committee.

At Elizabeth Davenport, we don’t have any favourites or hold allegancies. We work to achieve the best results for all of our clients by bringing in the widest range of buyers and customers possible. We don’t judge applicants by their handshake or in fact by their weekend habits, or for that matter their creed, colour, sex, poitical views or indeed anything other than their ability to purchase.

We are inclusive, not exclusive and as a result we achieve the best prices and results for all of our clients.

You Want It, You Can Afford It, But You Can’t Have It!

This week has seen the The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors show public caution to the seemingly dramatic rise in house prices over the last eight months. A rise of 5.4% to the end of August is revelation indeed, certainly one at odds with the reality in many parts of Coventry & Warwickshire, let alone the Country as a whole.  Quite how their suggestion of how a cap could occur is not certain but surely it would be almost impossible to control?  Joshua Miller, the RICS Senior Economist believes that the Bank of England  have the ability to instigate such an action, one that has proved successful in Canada and other parts of the World.  Anyone who knows me will know I am the least able to argue with a senior economist of anywhere, let alone the RICS, but  Canada and Britain are two totally different beasts. One has a total lack of space and the other more space than they could use, need, or wish to ruin! This is really the point to address. Demographically certain areas within the country will benefit from price rises and are also able to tolerate them. How in a free economy could you tell homeowners that they could not sell to waiting cash buyers because the buyer wants to pay too much? In contrast there are more areas in the country hoping for a rise in house prices than there are who have already benefitted from them. Once again, the reality seems to sit with the Banks and Mortgage lending. If you need a mortgage to buy a house as virtually all of us do, we have to remember that it is not “our” money which allows the purchase to occur. With this in mind surely the RICS should be focusing their might upon the experienced and proven failures of the past rather than restricting potential growth across this very much imbalanced county and nation as a whole? By Mark Walmsley