All posts by Mark Walmsley

New Years Resolutions and A Commitment To Service

Once I’d stopped eating for more than 8 hours I realised that at some stage Christmas would end and that my routine over the last week would require a serious review. I was one of the lucky ones though. I remained in good health whilst some of the family were poorly. On a much greater scale though we’re all so much luckier than many of our international neighbours. It’s been a difficult year when we look at the World as a whole.

Whilst the festivities raged there was always the knowing that in a matter of days 2016 would be over and that all of the hard work undertaken that year would simply have to begin again come January 1st 2017.

All the successes achieved have now past. Buyers have bought and moved in and sellers having sold and moved on. There have been many lovely reviews posted on Google and plenty of grateful and enthusiastic thank you cards received. But immediate success means an immediate conclusion and once those keys have been collected, the show must go on.

We, like many businesses, are nothing without happy clients and  customers. 2017 will only see our service standards to you improve with further commitment to greater staffing levels, better technology and certainly, without exception, more smiles and more handshakes.

To Clients and Customers alike, thank you for making 2016 such aBPA-Vinyls-OL-AiCC-10-Coventry_BPA_540px good year and let’s try to make the New Year a much better one for all of us, globally, in 2017.

Christmas, Boxing Day & New Years Day! Do We Really Look At Houses Over The Festive Period?

Whether you can believe it or not some of the most recent statistics released from Rightmove have revealed some really surprising and unusual activities over our Christmas holiday’s! I’m not talking about “Pie Face” or “Charades” here, I’m simply talking about online property views.

Rightmove reports show a whopping increase of over 20% activity levels between Christmas and the New Year.

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The last published statistics revealed that on On Christmas Day there were nearly 14 million page views and over 10,000 people took time out from the festivities to send emails to agents.
On Boxing Day it gets traditionally  busier, with page views jumping to over 25 million.

Views peak on New Year’s Day, with an average of over 38 million page views  (This is no doubt due to many being unable to even step out of their armchairs!).

What does this really tell us? Well, unarguably it shows that when we have time, we use it. Christmas and more specifically the New Year, with the hopes and ambitions it promises (who can’t fail to at least have hopes and ambitions for the year ahead whether realised or not!), is time for prediction and planning. Physical viewings are not so common, but planning ahead and looking at what’s available, can be the spark that lights the fire. Having your property on the market over the Christmas period doesn’t mean that Mr and Mrs Smith are going to disrupt your Figgie Pudding and Brandy Snaps. It means simply that they will likely plan to visit your house after Christmas.

Seeing your home for sale may persuade them to sell their own property and enable them to move forwards. Yours could be the property that instigates those decisions. And more importantly, yours could be the property they buy as well.

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear!

There are plenty of times in your life when friends and family tell you exactly what you want to hear. “Did I do well at my School Play Dad?”, I asked nervously, “Of course you did Son, well done”. I was a Barn Door (better than a sheep though!). We’re already ten minutes late and my wife says “Are you sure this looks OK?”…….I think you know where this conversation is heading!

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So if you want to buy a house for £350,000 and you need to sell yours for £270,000 to make this possible please don’t tell the Estate Agent. If you do, you know what will likely happen. The agent will know there is little chance of an instruction without persuading you that your house is genuinely worth, you’ve guessed it, in the region of £270,000.

At Elizabeth Davenport we know that the right advice and what you want to hear  are often two different beasts. What we do know is that in order to attract the most interest and at the highest price possible you certainly don’t need to start marketing unrealistically high. It just doesn’t work.

Rightmove statistics have shown that since 1st January 2016 we have reduced a lower percentage of our properties than any other agent in Coventry and Kenilworth.

As the very bespoke nature of property alludes, we can’t always get it right but we certainly won’t advice you of the impossible just to win your instruction. Beware of listening only to what you want to hear! I’m not talking about my wife now ( I made that bit up!).

Proudly Sponsoring Local Schools In Finham & Kenilworth

Kenilworth School plan to conquer all comers in Canada next year with thanks to Elizabeth Davenport Estate Agents. April’s expedition is the biggest single Rugby and Football tour that Kenilworth’s only secondary school has ever undertaken. With a total of 56 children, many partaking in both disciplines, the need for parental and sponsored support is paramount. Two of the Directors of Elizabeth Davenport have a particular affinity for the School with Mark Walmsley having a daughter in Year 8 and Nick Luntley being a former pupil himself. “Having played and toured with both Rugby and Football for Kenilworth School, Mark and I approached George very quickly when we heard about the opportunity to purchase all of the sports kits for the pupils forthcoming trip to Canada” Nick commented.

Year 8’s football team have been very successful and sit currently as district league and cup champions whilst the Year 9 Rugby team are undefeated and have won the prestigious Solihull School Rugby 7’s tournament. “As Kenilworth’s only Secondary School and with the kids genuinely achieving so much success at both Rugby and Football at the moment raising the money for the tour is a massive ask. Pupils and staff are undertaking all kinds of fundraisers to support this trip of a lifetime and any support we can offer we are delighted to do so” Mark Walmsley said.

The purchase of Sports kits doesn’t come cheap with the quality having to be first class. Canterbury, who produce the British Lions and the England & Ireland Rugby kits, have been chosen as the supplier who despite being more expensive than most will hopefully offer the pupils an advantage when it counts. “The choice of kit is vital” stated Paul Flowers, “they’ve got to last, they’ve got stand the wear and the tear they’ll be put through. Our pupils are going to be representing our School as well as the Sponsors and they’re really going to look the part. We can’t wait to see them. They’re due in January so not long to wait!”

“We’ve got a lasting relationship with Kenilworth School now” stated Mark Walmsley. “Nick’s been working with Dave Peacey who used to teach him which is really full circle, and obviously my daughter’s a pupil now too. There will be opportunities for Netball, Athletics and Dancing events too so if we can give the support then we certainly will”.

With children at Finham Park School Elizabeth Davenport have also been supporting the local PTA with donations from completions sold in the Finham area. Every house sold by way of an introduction from parents or relatives at the school will see at £100 donation to this worthwhile cause.img_9463

Best & Final Offer! You’d Better Make Sure It’s Not a Repossession!

What a fortnight that’s been. Three weeks to be exact. From being an Estate Agent to becoming a buyer myself has been an absolute revelation.

A house I’ve been looking at for over three years finally came onto the market. Sure it needed a little work but I was expecting that. It’s being sold “On behalf of a corporate client” was the official line. The viewing staff who showed me round were genuinely lovely. “Is it a Repossession?” I asked. “No, we’re just selling on behalf of a corporate client” was the reply. A Repossession it indeed was. If the word, Halloween like, fills you with dread (think Grim Reaper & Exorcism) then you’d have nailed it. After the fourth time of being asked for a best and final offer myself I felt like I had become a summoned corpse.

I do not blame the agent. To handle a repossession correctly and respectfully I would suggest no one other than investors get involved. The emotional roller coaster would not have been prevalent if the entire process was purely finance motivated.

This is where the law needs to change. Is a buyer a buyer? If they indeed are then why should be treated differently simply because the seller is a Financial House rather than a Mr Smith or a Mrs Khan. What gives a Financial institution, a Bank or Building Society and the companies that execute their debt collection for  them, the right to act contrary to a genuine, human home owner.

What homeowner would sell to an investor rather than an owner occupier if the price agreed was the same? Where is the consideration to the neighbours? Why isn’t the sense of community a consideration? These are questions that are morally & socially unanswerable.  And I had agreed to pay more. Sour Grapes you might say. Try Watermelons.

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For Sale Boards! To Do Or Not To Do! Now That’s A Question!

A common discussion with absolutely no rights or wrongs is the value of a “For Sale” or “To Let Board” at your home. “To Let” Boards are more straightforward as the emotional factor of telling your neighbours and the passing public that your house or a house you own is “available” is far less relevant. The percentage of owner occupiers renting there own home is obviously less than the number of  investment properties on the market. The issue regarding security though may still be a relevant one. If the property you own is empty then does a board signal “Empty! Easy Opportunity”. Well, Ne’er-do-wells don’t burgle empty houses.  So a Board does not a burglary make. These security issues are the most common negatives that a seller or buyer will concerned about, and quite fairly too.

The positives though can of course can be great. Desirable areas will lead potential buyers to drive around and research where they hope to live. If there is no “For Sale” board then they may not see your house. No matter how impressive the brochures and web details, no one should buy a home without seeing it in the light of day. A “For Sale” Board isn’t just helpful for the seller of course. It’s an immensely powerful marketing tool for the Estate Agent too.  If your agents For Sale boards are faded, in bad repair  or remain fallen down or broken, what does this say about them as well?

Clinton Trumped or Donald a Lame Duck!

Like the majority of the UK I’m sure, my interest surrounding the US Election is born more out of caution and fear than a desire to see the best candidate succeed. How can two opposing candidates with huge question marks hanging, halo like, over their uniquely manicured barnets create anything other than morbid curiosity?

With the first of the three debates over, Hilary Clinton seems to have taken a substantial lead in the US opinion polls. Why?

It seems like simplicity is again the key. If asked a question, the least the respondent should do is answer with as much integrity and supporting fact as possible. This is where Donald Trump seems to have let himself down. In his commercial life, having so long been able to simply preach demands without explanation, he seems to struggle with anything other than “this is my opinion, therefore it is correct”.

This failure is a lesson to everybody. If you are going to preach, then prove it. If you are going to provide “facts”, make sure they are “correct”.

Nick, George and myself will not even undertake a valuation of anybody’s home without thorough research and  up to date statistics with evidence to prove each point we make.

Loud voices a successful sale do not make. Incidentally we’ve just placed a “White House” on the market. Bit smaller and slightly less prestigious but “White” nonetheless.

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Honey, Lemons and Why Simple Is Best!

HONEY, LEMONS & WHY SIMPLE IS BEST!

Whether you like Lemons or not, Dr Chris van Tulleken’s flawed documentary “The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs” did reveal more about us than originally intended. An over-reliance on taking professional advice and the easiest solution possible seemed to be the standard  medication both prescribed.

“Get some exercise!”, “drink Water!”, “socialize a bit more!”, were the simplistic views offered to the solution of aching joints, depression and headaches. They could be a lot safer thoughEDE-118 than simply taking the advice you are given.

However, keeping it simple and understanding what you’re being asked to do (and why you are being asked to do it!) spoke volumes to me.

How many times are you preached complicated solutions to problems that really aren’t there?

Our industry is full of peculiar language that simply doesn’t need to exist.

The person selling a house is called a “Vendor”. Why? Do you really “Vend” a house? No, you sell a house. Surely the person selling the house is a “seller”?  Then, if you want to buy a house, are you an “applicant”.  Sorry, do you “apply” if you want to buy a house? Is it a job or a gym membership?  If a house is for sale does the process of buying it require an application to do so? If you buy a “Bentley” or a “Sunseeker” I think you’ll find the dealership will refer to you as a “customer” not an “applicant”.

I think sometimes business creates a world of semantics just to make itself seem more important than it is. I think it creates it’s world to simply distance itself from the truth of how simple business should be.

If you make yourself sound complicated you justify your role. Well, I think you need a “holistic and cradle to grave approach that loops back to our initial dialogue”. Mark, stop it man you’ve sold out! “Let’s just keep it simple”. Anyone for a hot Lemon and Honey?

Congratulations to All! Not Just GB Olympians Win Gold!

BPA-Vinyls-OL-AiCC-10-Coventry_BPA_540pxWhen you have an eight week period in any business you expect to have a volume of enquiries that, despite dealing with professionally, do  not lead to genuine fee earning business. Whether fee earning or not every enquiry made about any property and many that are made  to simply to register interest must always be dealt with as courteously and promptly as possible.

The last eight weeks have seen this service rewarded with the team at Elizabeth Davenport earning us our own Gold Medal from the  British Property Awards! With this success we’ve now been entered into the Regional and National Event so if you don’t read a blog about  them then clearly we’ve still got more work to do!

So, for speed of answering calls, email enquiries, answerphone call backs, integrity of reviews, in fact with a judging criteria of 25 separate  factors, this Coventry award really is quite special.

Massive credit to all of our colleagues, Chris, Jan, Jo, Kate, Lauren, Nicki and Shelina for being so personable and efficient in each and  every way. Having fun, enjoying your job and generally caring about what you do make the Monday blues a thing of the past. It really is a  pleasure to go to work! This Award is proof that Red tape and over zealous Management are simply out of fashion and not what it takes to  win a Gold Medal in 2016!

Now we’ve got to retain it!

 

Every Home Can Be Your Castle!

Researchers at Cambridge University have recently undertaken a study revealing British new homes to be amongst the smallest in Europe. New homes being built at sizes potentially detrimental to our health are  one of the claims the research suggests. With the average new build in the UK being measured with 76 sq metres of living space comparing to Ireland at 87.7, Germany at 115.5 and Denmark at 137 sq m the evidence does appear to overwhelmingly support the findings as well.

Pre loved, second hand, used or nearly new are not phrases associated with house buying or owning but every house has a tale to tell and older properties have assets all of their own. Mature Gardens with trees and hedges rather than seeded rubble strewn turf  are the external equivalent of high vaulted ceilings versus energy efficient light fittings. The emotion evoked when purchasing a period building cannot be replicated in other than the most bespoke new build.
The space available in many a 1960’s detached home together with it’s driveway and traditionally generous plot should always compensate for it’s not so aesthetic façade. Two up, two down, Victorian houses, found abundantly throughout Coventry offer two terrific double bedrooms and two reception rooms and can be easily modified to incorporate two bathrooms if the mood takes. You’ll have period features, more floor space and real character for less than your average starter home! Look around, take your time and use your imagination. You don’t have to own a Castle for it to be a lovely home.