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.
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?
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.
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 though 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?
When 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!
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.
When we have written about London pricing soaring and the rest of us catching up, the London marketplace may have smirked. Now, the boot seems to be on the other foot with active growth and non deterred sellers coming to the market in the majority of regions outside of the Bubble. If we take a snapshot over the last six weeks of activity we can see that the two weeks prior to the Referendum saw a like for like drop in instructions by 8% while interestingly the first two weeks post Brexit saw instructions rise by 6%.
Regionally Estate Agents report that the property market continues to build momentum due to the lack of property coming onto the market. The interesting dynamic here is that prices will likely continue to rise unless the volume of instructions increase. With Mortgage rates remaining low and buyers experiencing a degree of panic that further “suitable” properties will “not” come to the market, the higher prices are being,in the majority of cases, offered.
At Elizabeth Davenport we like to see what the public really feel about the price of there ideal home. Our goal is to generate as much interest as possible and not just to sell, but to find the very best buyer; have a choice if you like. This is not going to happen if you price the buyers of your property out of the equation. If the advertised price isn’t cynical the public will appreciate it and multiple buyers can be found. As I’m sure you can see, this does not occur from demanding a price above that which the property is worth. Our Sold to For Sale ratio reflects this with over 65% of our stock consistently sold.
Brexit has not affected the market place in Coventry and Warwickshire because there is not enough stock for sale. Whilst the demand outweighs the supply the prices will, for many of us, remain too high for comfort. But everyone does need to live somewhere. Possibly not London though.
Having just received a call from BBC Coventry and Warwickshire with a question regarding David Cameron’s legacy and his impact on the property market, I found myself having to look at the same results but from two contradictory angles.
Are dramatic property price increases a positive or a negative? It’s that fundamental. Who is to congratulate and who’s to wave a fist at?
According to data from the Land Registry, average UK house prices have risen from £161,148 in 2009, just before Mr Cameron became Prime Minister, to £206,953 in 2016 – a 28 per cent increase. If you own a home and don’t want to move then could this be irrelevant? Well, not if you want to remortgage and borrow more thus releasing more money into the economy. And what if you want to move? Well, unless you are moving from an area of wealth and high property value to an area not so, then irrelevant it is. The property you purchase will likely have risen proportionally too.
As far as I can see, David Cameron, Britain’s youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812, has been sturdy if not so Gung Ho as New Labours last elected incumbent. His parties decision to increase Stamp Duty for investment landlords seems flawed but his restructure of traditional stamp duty was welcome.
Now, we must move forward as a country, not just a political party and Theresa May be the right person to do this (See what I did there!) . Until Labour’s leadership creates solidarity within it’s own party I see we have little choice other than hoping that this Governments moral decision making prevails within our new “Brexit” nation. No rash decisions, some cleverly thought through policies and a goal of making everyone who at least lives here now as comfortable and productive as possible.
Stocks & Shares, the Euro Sterling Exchange rate and the global financial markets have reacted as everyone either predicted or expected.
What of property? Where do we stand? We haven’t fallen into the North Sea since Friday last but listening to the media we’ve done almost everything but.
Property at it’s heart has always been a safe investment. We all need homes to live in whether we are lucky enough to own or to rent. The housing shortage in this country has needed addressing for a long time and the governments investment in new homes has not made a dent in this whatsoever. Supply and demand therefore suggests no immediate change to this dynamic. Families will continue to grow and first time buyers will still have a passion to own. Housing will therefore still be needed.
In the short term (after a week or two of head scratching) there is every chance that sellers, worried, perhaps unnecessarily of a potential slow down, will come to the market before a slump. This will create more property for sale. Let’s say that an equivalent amount of buyers don’t buy either for the very same reason. This will create more available property for sale. This could, as the market has needed for a long time, create a cool down where a choice of homes means lower selling prices and demand and supply become equal.
This, surely, would be great news for everyone. More choice and lower prices.
Unlike Brexit, this suggests that everybody wins. As far as England’s Euro 2016 challenge, that would have been a nice result as well!
Miles Shipside, Housing analyst and director of Rightmove, has commented upon the interesting shifts in boroughs throughout London. At the end of March, London has seen the second lowest monthly rise in the last Seven years. I say lowest monthly rise, we are still looking at growth but not to the extent we have been familiar with.
The most exciting analysis of growth is directly relevant to Coventry and it’s own twists and turns. Suburbs of London and neighbouring towns with Train Station improvements have seen dramatic growth over recent months. Rochester in Kent, having spent £26 million on it’s own improved terminal, has seen a mini boom of 20% over the last year. Slough, Gillingham and Gravesend have seen very similar.
A further reason for “abnormal growth” is due to the most obvious and archaic commercial adage of all time. Supply and demand. In a number of these regions the reason for such rapid growth is the lack of property coming onto the market. Coventry and a number of its most desirable areas are seeing multiple buyers for each. We have properties sold whose sellers are desperate for that right property to come to the market to move in to. When it does, the price they have to pay, by default, is a premium.
Very interestingly, if we take this analysis at it’s most simple and if all sellers placed their houses on the market before finding another property (rather than waiting to see what properties appear before marketing), the stock levels of property would increase and the demand therefore wouldn’t be as great. In time the prices would stabilise as sellers and buyers began to match each other in number. Rather than sell high and buy high we would all be selling sensible and buying sensible. I like the sound of that. That’s how solid and sustainable growth occurs. I wonder what Mr Shipside thinks of that.