All posts by Mark Walmsley

Sometimes Kenilworth & It’s Neighbours Can Be A Symbiotic Solution!

Sometimes, reactions surprise you.

Our stylish window changes  within our Kenilworth office have been really well received and comments from one customer in particular were fascinating.  She was looking at an attractive “South Coventry” property we were marketing for a Kenilworth resident. “This is great, my children can’t afford to buy in Kenilworth so I’ll send them your way!”.

This was unexpected to say the least. I hadn’t even thought of that marketplace at all. Residents of Kenilworth have children (and by children I’m talking 21 – 40 years old here!) who can’t often afford to buy in Kenilworth. That’s why advertising the occasional South Coventry gem in the Kenilworth branch can be so effective. It works and people are so interested.

On the flip side of this equation we have current sellers in Coventry looking to move to Kenilworth to downsize and also families within Kenilworth moving to Earlsdon.

This is a fascinating market in itself because on the face of it and quite honestly the prices in Earlsdon and Kenilworth are surprisingly similar. A three to four bedroom period terrace in both towns are often comparable. The advantages of one over the other though are completely subjective.

The schooling in Finham,  Stivichall and Kenilworth is certainly outstanding whilst the infrastructure with the A46 and A45 being so close allows easy access to the motorway networks. What’s for sure is that homeowners with property in Kenilworth, Finham, Stivichall, Earlsdon, Burton Green, Gibbet Hill and Westwood Heath could not find greater coverage for marketing their home than Elizabeth Davenport.

2019 & What a Surprise So Far

Kenilworth and Coventry. Wednesday 2nd January 2019. Christmas Break and New Year over (Somewhat thankfully for the tummy and the head at least!). Five sales instructions, two letting instructions and over forty viewing appointments booked into two office diaries. Not exactly what I was expecting that’s for sure.

My trepidation for the year ahead wasn’t based upon our own sales pipelines (which were sizeably higher than the year previous) but the overwhelming negativity promoted by the general media. Bad news travels faster than good. We all know that negative or stressful news is far more readable and enticing than good.

“Everything is OK. Mortgage rates are low and lenders are even giving you cash back as they try to attract new business. Brexit’s OK too. It’s all been smoke and mirrors.  Everything is fine. If you need to move then move”.

I’d put my name to that quote (as I wrote it!) but I’m being entirely flippant. I haven’t got a clue.

Let’s think about all of us for a moment though. If your employer is not trembling in her heels and your boss hasn’t mooted redundancies overheard in the gents toilets then just look at yourself. What has really changed? What is different with Brexit than without? Your own home. Your own life. Do you borrow and extend? Do you move instead? Do you accept the daily stress of living in the wrong area or within a horrendous commute?

Geographically we are often lucky. Like the weather and hopefully the return of the Beast from the East, we don’t suffer the extremes here.

Mortgage rates are genuinely excellent despite the banks remaining cautious. They’re not giving mortgages away. They’re just lending wisely.

If you buy wisely, you borrow wisely and you show your own  due diligence then the ideal house could be sat there waiting for you. Everything is relative.

Memories are short. Only 18 months ago the buying process was fraught with the horrors of up to a dozen buyers for every popular home. 7 out of 10 houses were rocketing above asking price. Their were more unhappy, “missed out again” buyers than happy ones.

Now you will have the time to even book a second viewing. House prices aren’t soaring above asking price. The houses selling (genuinely in greater numbers than 18 months ago!) don’t have multiple buyers but are selling for the right price and to the right people.

On the ground locally, sense seems to exist in the market despite the political turmoil surrounding and intellectualising it beyond any comprehension. Maybe everything really is OK.iStock_000002696243XSmall

 

What We All Thought We Knew, We Do Now!

In many sales and service  industries a common question that always justifies both asking and answering is, “Why should we choose you?“.

Whether you are an Indian Restaurant, an independent Butcher or simply a Charity shop on the local high street ,  the question and the answers should be the same.

Every business needs to show it’s customer’s the difference. And that difference needs to be worth it.

A fascinating study undertaken by the home service group The Advisory, has presented some fascinating figures that go somewhere close to revealing what we thought, but couldn’t be certain of.

If higher fees are charged by a local “high street” Estate Agent, then why are they charged and what does the client receive “that is worth it”?  If  you order a Chicken Saagwala why is it better in one restaurant than another? Is it just the taste or could it be the taste, the ambience of the restaurant and the service you receive? If the price is £5.00 more in the preferred restaurant, this could be as much as 35% or even 50% more than the competition, but you judge that it’s worth it.

The average fee in the UK sits currently at 1.18% with the highest found in London, Sunderland, Manchester and Birmingham all surpassing this average.  The lowest average fees the UK sit currently in both Edinburgh and Hull at just under 0.9%.

In Kenilworth as an example, the fees, with competition being so strong, still have to remain immensely competitive. So whatever the fee, stop and look at it closely. Look not just at the fee itself but what you actually receive for that fee. 1% from one agent can be very different in the quality received  to 1% from another.

Judge these fees (only payable when results are achieved and therefore forcing the agent to prove their worth!),  against paying in advance for lesser “service” and the online threat is purely a perception. The same report states that 95.3% of sellers make the decision to use a high street agent and Rightmove and Zoopla both support this.

What the online “threat” has done, rather than  actually sell houses, is bolster the service delivery of the good agents whilst the ones with nothing to offer simply continue to reduce and reduce.

In short, during the last 3 years and as a national statistic, estate agents fees have reduced by 34% but the quality of the professional high street agent has improved. That’s what “Online and In Advance Payments For Nothing” have done to the industry. That’s what we thought we knew and thanks to this independent research, we do now.

Mark Walmsley, Director, Elizabeth Davenport

Brexit, Timing & Remaining Calm & Carrying On

Since the last issue the volume of both buyers and sellers discussing Brexit and the effect thereof hasn’t as much doubled as become almost the norm. To say there will be no effect is proven already to be nonsense. To say with authority though how positive or negative Brexit will have on the future is as pointless and subjective a question as “what will happen to my day if I turn left instead of right”. It seems that no one has a clue. Not even those who should.

At least the property industry is revealing some interesting yet not adverse findings. The last few weeks have seen two local properties sold for in excess of £935,000. Hardly a signal of panic.

What is statistically evident though is absolutely fascinating and backed up with fact, something sadly lacking in the bigger picture.

Cautiousness has trumped intuition and rashness.  Patience has seen the Tortoise overtake the Hare.

Emoov, often the first to provide analytics and statistics relating to our business has shown that both the volume and duration of viewings have increased in recent months.  This proves that “instinct” has truly been left dazzled by the headlights of “diligence”. 7% of buyers are regionally offering after one viewing. 56% require just two. 27% of those surveyed required a third before placing an offer.

For ourselves we have also observed that the duration of viewing appointments also needs a shift. The “sweet spot” sits between 21 – 30 minutes with 39% of buyers taking this long before offering.

Understanding the necessity of time and consideration we have recently employed further viewing representatives.  This will enable all of our buyers to spend the time they need in a property rather than the time that the other agent will only allow.

If Brexit has created cautiousness then now we have the capacity to support it. It’s all about support after all isn’t it.

 

Flocking Out Of London For A New Nest Here!

Well we’ve seen  it with our own eyes.  We’ve opened the doors and we’ve shook the hands.  We’ve passed the keys into the palms of many 30 and 40 somethings excited to be leaving the capital for the size, space and peace offered here on our own doorsteps.  Now both Nationwide and the Resolution Foundation thinktank have statistically proven the exodus from London northward. With property prices down 5% year on year and with over 330,000 leaving the city last year  (ONS statistics, year ending June 2017), London is the only region in the country with falling prices with the average increase nationally being 2.2%.

The Midlands, most specifically Birmingham, but now Coventry and the surrounding towns of Kenilworth, Leamington Spa and Warwick have seen the highest property price increases over the last year with a regional average of 4.5%.

HighSpeed2Infrastructure is vital. Investment in the city and the towns will reap rewards for all and the Rail network’s part in this cannot be understated. Whether people live in or out of London they’ve still got to get there after all.

Closer to home though and on an emotional level, the appeal of a commute no longer than many travelling from Wimbledon to Wembley means that living in Kenilworth or Earlsdon  or Styvechale or Leamington Spa will offer substantially more living space for the pound. It will also offer a community that can see children raised in outstanding schools without a forty five minute traffic jam and a bill for £100 a day childcare.

The distance between us and London seems to be getting smaller every year. Whether or not Mash and Liquor will be sold at The Almanack or Millsys though could be a step too far….

 

Kenilworth To London in 90 Minutes & Other Milestones!

On the 30th April Kenilworth residents were  finally rewarded by the opening of its new Railway Station. Situated just a few hundred yards from our Warwick Road office we were lucky enough to have been asked to comment on both BBC Coventry & Warwickshire and on BBC One as well. Essentially a shuttle linking the major hubs of Birmingham, Coventry and Leamington Spa together, the social impact of Kenilworth’s station cannot be overlooked. With cheap and easy hourly access to the neighbouring towns and cities, Kenilworth may not remain the “Island” it has sometimes defended itself against. With enclaves of surrounding land earmarked for residential development never has a time to embrace changes for the positive seemed so apt.

A community, that even in the most  recent years knew exactly who it’s eldest residents and original families were, are seeing changes and dramatic rebirth occur.  Whether found by way of a platform on a Station or a glass of Wine within an award winning restaurant, the towns appeal seems to be growing beyond it’s boundaries. Families attracted by schooling and now interconnectivity (without the need for owning your own four wheels!) mean that wherever in Kenilworth you may live you sit never more than a walk away from whatever your needs may be.

This surely, and being at the heart of forthcoming change rather than battling against it,  is where strength in a community must truly be welcomed.

castle house

Merry Christmas, Reflections and What To Do Next!

Despite being open between Christmas and New Year I think it’s only fair to say the end of the year feels nigh. There’s a great deal of properties for sale due onto the market in the New Year with a real split as to whether some sellers want their homes marketed over Christmas or waiting until afterward.

Well, matter of fact,  Rightmove is busier over the festive period than at any other time of the year. If your house is on the market over Christmas it will get more online views. It could inspire a buyer to view in the New Year and it may inspire a buyer to get their own property marketed in order to potentially offer on yours! Thankfully though, what it won’t do, is lead to buyers wanting to view your home on Boxing Day and instruct Solicitors the day after.

So honestly don’t be scared if you feel the time is right to launch onto market or you’re already on it. You will not be having  (anymore unwelcome!) visitors over Christmas!

Wearing Dr Suess’s Grinch head and on a more subjective, controversial and slightly sarcastic note I wanted to throw down the gauntlet to any and all of our erstwhile competition!

In 2018 I would love the opportunity to sit down with George and Nick and talk about the virtues of another agents marketing and how we should copy it identically. In no particular order of irritation we have seen our competition adopt our style of Gallows boards, the introduction of floor plans into the main details, the use of copy written stamped photographs and the attempted duplication of night shots.

In 2018 I’m thinking about how funny it will be to launch a ridiculous new marketing campaign with the comedic effect of seeing how many other agents copy it identically. Maybe valuation appointments dressed as a seasonal character?  This Winter we’ll attend all appointments dressed as a Snowman or an Elf (in the Spring a Rabbit or an Egg could be a cracking idea!).

If imitation is the highest form of flattery then a big thank you from ourselves is certainly due.

Alternatively and quite topically we could be simply discussing the case of the unknowing Shepherd  leading someone else’s Sheep!

Grinch head removed (and put back in the loft for next year?).

Thank you to everyone we’ve worked with this year, Buyers and Sellers, Solicitors and IFA’s, Surveyors (well actually?…….Sorry, I’m only kidding!) and prospective Clients alike.

Have a happy, healthy and restful break. Merry Christmas to One and All!

Christmas

Autumn Sales & Dangling Christmas Baubles!

Firstly, apologies for the word “Christmas” being used before Mid November. Within this industry though the “Christmas Effect” often generates the same response as the “Autumn Sale”. And it does happen early.

There are a multitude of reasons why people want to sell. For those who genuinely want, or need, to sell (not because they “may” want a change or they have seen only one unique property they want) then having a sale agreed before the next calendar “milestone” seems to be a much needed psychological box ticked.

With over 37% of properties (nationwide) being reduced from the initial listing (our average sits currently at 8.8%) this Autumn Sale has hit a 5 year high. Why?

Once again, over eager pricing to win the instruction or the clients desire to ride the high price wave experienced by neighbours in the Spring could be the most obvious motivations.

The simplest explanation to the dangers of over valuing are easily explained . If I value your home at £400,000 and you want the house marketed at £425,000 (and we both agree the launch marketing is perfect!) then if no one comes, we know the launch price was wrong.

It is, honestly, as simple as that.

At £400,000 (if my appraisal was correct) more than one buyer may well be interested and we secure £410,000.  At £425,000 if we then have to reduce, the buying public are aware of the reduction and what comes next are even lower offers than the reduced figure.

So with Christmas around the calendar corner, now must surely be the time to consolidate. A rebrand and a sensible asking price will surely be recipe needed to generate the sale price you need.

Leaving you free to think about what to buy your Children and your Aunts, what food you’re preparing, whose house you are going to on Boxing Day, whether Mable prefers Sherry or Port and whether Santa is actually a good or bad influence etc etc……………..Santa (1)

Why Over Inflated House Pricing Sells Your Neighbours House and Not Yours!

Big Shot Estate Agents

Welcome back! That was as long a Summer as I’ve enjoyed without Sun as far as I can even remember!

Business however was brighter. There was none of the traditional slow down over the months of July and August whatsoever. Instruction levels were high and the interest accordingly. The buyers we needed to attract had obviously decided to not take gloriously long overseas holidays and instead concentrate on securing new home’s for themselves!

Such a successful Summer led me to review the market in general and a couple of valuations I was involved with.

Now, more than ever, the asking price for a home is so crucial that an overvaluation will have such negative effect it will simply show buyers what good value neighbouring homes are instead of your own. I am not saying undervaluing is the solution but, put simply, it bears no risk in comparison to its capitalist and heinous cousin, the greedy valuation.

If a house is truly “undervalued” whether purposefully or accidentally then the worst that will happen is the public will agree it’s exceptional value and numerous offers will then be received. Through negotiation the price then reaches the correct (and increased value!). Although as a buyer this can be an unpleasant experience, a good agent, if they handle it correctly and honestly, will offer advice and build relationships that will help those unlucky first time round (or third if you are like myself!) that will come good in the end.

I looked at the Purple Bricks very carefully. I saw more local instructions with Purple Bricks than any other agent. With false promises (semantics if you will) of no commission (fee’s instead) and a NO SALE BUT STILL PAY OUR FEE philosophy, there is no surprise to see that their “Price Reductions” are also the highest in the local area.

Without being too simplistic about it, the easiest way to achieve an instruction is to tell a client that there property is worth more than it is. Add that to “pay me whether it sells or not” and you have an agent whose ethos is for “being paid for instructions to sell houses for less than the listed price”. If you want annual statistics to prove this point in Black and White (not Purple) then contact me and I’ll be happy to explain that all that glitters isn’t Gold (but it is possibly Purple!).

National Statistics Are Blown Away By Elizabeth Davenport Sales Figures!

Here’s some fantastic news that both we and the NAEA have compiled over the last few months! This is fantastic, not  simply for the reason that myself and my colleagues have seen success,  but fantastic because as a seller, the results we are achieving are better than any national average available!

The latest data and analysis from NAEA Propertymark has revealed that only 3% of properties sold for more than the asking price in May – a drop of 4% from April and the lowest level since October 2016.

According to the report, the number of homes which sold for less than asking price rose to 77% last month – up 5% from April.

Woah! Let’s slow down a moment. Less than asking price sales agreed means one of normally two  things (or maybe, if you’ve genuinely chosen the wrong agent, both).

One: The property has been overpriced to win the instruction.

Two: The agent’s marketing has not been good enough to attract enough buyers to create the interest and drive the price upwards.

(Three): Both

In contrary to these figures, we in May alone saw 70% percent of our sold properties sell for over the asking price and 15% for asking price. That leaves only 15% that sold for below asking price.

This tells me that we can still improve but it also tells me that we are working with the clients best interest at the forefront of our business. We are not simply looking to sell your home, we are looking to absolutely achieve the very best results possible!iStock_000002696243XSmall