All posts by Mark Walmsley

London Shifts as Coventry Twists

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.MovingDay

Friargate, Coventry Train Station & This New Commuter City Of Ours!

Well it’s really beginning to happen! Mastery of the much maligned but surprisingly safe 1960’s ring road requires a touch more forethought but otherwise FriarGate is really beginning to take shape. All being well and if politics, procrastination, budget and bloody mindedness don’t interfere the new Train Station development will see 39 sustainable new buildings, including Offices, Residential Accommodation, Hotels, Restaurants and open spaces for families to enjoy. With completion in 2018 we’ve still got awhile to go but it’s clear improvement, throughout the city, is at the forefront of minds and not simply brushed under the table as has appeared in years passed.

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With Coventry – London in under an hour and buyers relocating to Coventry from the Capital City, improvement and investment seems set to continue. Let’s not panic though. These buyers are not driving prices upwards like the Oligarch’s in Chelsea and Kensington. They’re a small proportion but certainly a demographic that haven’t been so familiar before. Home owners in Styvechale, Cheylesmore and Earlsdon certainly could take advantage of this affluent new wave though.

Property a 10 minute walk from the Station, whatever you own, whether Apartment, Terrace or Detached, should certainly see above average growth as FriarGate continues to prosper.

Together with Virgin Trains we’ve invested on Platform One & being situated on Greyfriars Green,  just a stones throw from the development, we’ve already begun to see a difference.

The Birmingham Children’s Hospital & Thank You

supporting-BCH-Logo-5000x4287The Birmingham Children’s Hospital is very close to my heart. We promised a donation from Elizabeth Davenport after running the Coventry Half Marathon. George and I had a great day, completing the course whilst being cheered on by wonderful spectators. The Birmingham Children’s Hospital treats about 250,000 children a year and by the nature of never being good enough, they are a fundraiser in themselves. From a £5 donation for colouring books to £45,000 for a mechanical heart, the hospital genuinely believes that the families who are treated know that the care of their child is the most precious priority. We wanted to raise enough money to be able to buy a Glideaway bed. These enable Mum’s and Dad’s to spent the night next to their little ones at times when they simply couldn’t be apart. By donating from fees earned between Christmas and now, we are really pleased to have succeeded. Thank you all for your instructions. Every one of our clients has helped!

I’d also like to add that George beat me and that I am not at all bitter. I haven’t dwelt on it. Not at all. I haven’t really given it a second thought. I swear he must have jumped a hedge. Or a corner. Maybe both. Yes, that’s it. I feel much better now.

Buy To Let vs First Time Buyer, A Fair Fight or a Set Up!

So what do Mr Osborne’s tax changes mean for buy-to-let investors in Coventry after 1st April 2016? Time for a heated debate? Well it would have been nice to have had one at least!

 “Frankly, people buying a home to let should not be squeezing out families who can’t afford a home to buy,” So George Osborne proclaimed in his Autumn Statement, before announcing major policy changes aimed at making buying property to let out less profitable to investors. Noble comments indeed but do we seriously believe that the intention is not to raise money for the treasury? Will this decision slow Buy to Let? Will first time buyers and owner occupiers have more opportunities?

The reigns have been pulled taught at the coal face and beyond into the mine. To purchase an investment property or a second home the buyer will, from April 1st, have to spend 3% more in stamp duty than anybody else. This places a charge of 3% up to £125,000 where owner occupiers pay 0%. Between £125,000 and £250,000 3% is added to the existing 2%. £250,000 to £925,000 adds a further 3% to the existing 5%. Then, once rented, the landlord will also have to suffer a variety of further profit dampening changes. I’m not crying about all of this but I do think the changes are too fast and too hard.

Garden-GrabbersAt Elizabeth Davenport we have seen a volume of buyers investing from London. This is where Mr Osbourne’s theorising hits a potential brick wall. His buy to let investors in Shoreditch, Twickenham and Croydon may well decide to look elsewhere where the expenditure is less and the short term returns equally attractive. This may free up potential “1st Time Buyer” opportunities on his doorstep but geographically the investment will just occur elsewhere. My theory is simple at best and wrong at worst. Realistically the volume of buy to let investors from outside of Coventry will grow and there will no change to the volume of first time buyer opportunities whatsoever.

Thinking practically if you wish to purchase a second home or buy to let investment then move fast! Look for chain free properties or tenanted homes. Don’t quibble about a reduction of £2000. On April 2nd it will cost you a lot more than that.

Father Christmas Drops In With a Sackful of Great News!

Dear Father Christmas, On behalf of all of the staff at Elizabeth Davenport we’d really like to thank you for your visit and for the wonderful news! Your Elves really brightened up our day when they told us we’d made the Christmas Number One for instructions worth over £120,000 this December. What fantastic news! So many agents seem to have struggled this past month, which in fairness is the norm. In fact, being Number Two for instructions at any price gives us the same illustrious standing as Beiber and Bruno Mars so we can’t complain at that either! Santa (1)I’d also like to thank you for making sure that George received the fantastic camera and equipment he asked for. They’ll certainly be put to good use (He asks for the same thing everything year and you’ve never failed to deliver!). Well, for this year I think it’s time to say goodbye, give my best to Mrs Christmas and Rudolph (tell him I didn’t mind clearing up his mess from the roof!) and we’ll be sure to drop you a line again next year! Kind regards, Mark.

A Different Nicholas Arrives This Festive Season! It Pays To Be Ready!

Without further Ado and with the Festive Bells ringing as my pen hits parchment, Elizabeth Davenport are really pleased to welcome Nick “Not just for Christmas” Luntley to our burgeoning office on Warwick Row! Having started his Estate Agency career in 2005, Nick has truly worked his way up through the business. Tea was soon sitting cold and biscuits stale as his desire to become the best Estate Agent possible become reality. Leaving a successful position as Sales Manager of a much respected Coventry Estate agent means a lot to us.  St Nick, you’re welcomed with open arms!

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2015 has been a very busy year for everyone. Our office has grown dramatically. So, when volumes of business increase,  the key is not counting the profit (Scrooge, take note!) but retaining and further improving our customer service levels by employing the right team.

With Rightmove actively marketing the fact that the Christmas period is the busiest for Online viewing,  promoting your house now, rather than later can be a positive and genuinely beneficial decision. As the interest in your home grows, decisions to view are made and in the New Year they happen!

Of course no one will want to view over the Christmas weekend, but they’ll be getting excited! So, if you get a knock on the door on Christmas Day it won’t be me. It might be St Nick though!

The Best Service Does Not Mean The Highest Fee & The Same Applies Backwards!

Did you know that the last Calendar year has seen us sell more houses in excess of £190,000 than any other agent in the Coventry area. We didn’t. Not until we received communication from Rightmove directly expressing there congratulations. Our stock levels are often considerably less than our competitors but from this smaller stock we are selling a higher percentage of homes. We were delighted with this. Selling more from a smaller stock means more client care and better service. Clearly the marketing, photography, office staff and viewing representatives are all doing their job properly too!

However, this success is only is only one half of a very different story!  There is a massive market of property that we often don’t get the opportunity to work with. Market research has shown us that the reason our instruction of properties under £185,000 is a lower percentage is due to the publics perception that our agency only deal with “expensive” homes. Will our fees be “higher” than other agencies? We are pleased to tell you, they are not!

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Our ethos, when we launched our business, was to provide “every seller with the opportunity to have the very best of service and presentation but with very much an “average” fee”.  

Last year one particular month saw us sell a home for £625,000 and another for £75,000. I am pleased to tell you that both sellers received the same level of service, the same quality of brochures and photography, accompanied viewings and full sales progression support. The most interesting point for myself was that the sellers of the Willenhall apartment reviewed our services on Google expressing there satisfaction.  They also stated they loved their home above and beyond that expressed by the sellers of the Detached home in Styvechale.

 

Truly every home is a castle and every seller deserves the best possible service. Nowhere does the legend state that they have to pay the most for it!

Property Sales Fuelled By New Coventry Jobs?

2015 has seen Coventry benefit from new employment in a variety of roles and locations. Many of these locations have seen properties sell to those new employees who in many cases are also new to the area. What with Coventry University also hitting The Times Top 15 list, the resurgence of Coventry as a City of investment and progress, has also seen us achieve record sales over the first nine months.

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With Whitley, Cheylesmore and Styvechale serving Jaguar Landrover we can also see Travis Perkins set to employ 300 new staff at it’s new multi million pound distribution centre at Whitley Business Park.

Metrocab and The London Taxi Company are seeing over 1100 new jobs being created between Ansty Park and Tile Hill. Unipart and it’s new division, Powertrain Applications, being based in Holbrooks, will see a need for 150 new roles to support it’s growth.

Sainsburys also sees new roles within digital design and development bringing a further 300 new jobs to the city spread between Walsgrave and Ansty.

With The University Hospital, Warwick University and that ever so simple Coventry – London Euston commute, Coventry with a wealth of property stock to suit all pockets, seems to be driving the market from strength to strength.

We’re really happy to be part of it.

Mortgage Surveyors Should Not Dictate House Prices, Let The Public Decide!

Board ImagesAs soon as the Christmas Tree took home in the loft space and our bums hit the hot seats back at Warwick Row, we have seen month after month increases in sales results, instruction levels and viewing figures. Interestingly we have seen a few other repetitive patterns emerge that aren’t so favourable.

If we accept that the way we market a property attracts a greater number of Online Click Throughs than competition then we must also accept that is one of the reasons we have a greater volume of viewings. This in turn should create a wave of offers. When this occurs we find it sensible to set a date for “Best and Final Offers”. The Vendor is happy, the buyer is happy and we did all we could to ensure fairness for the parties who weren’t successful.

Then a Mortgage Valuation is booked. Is it Santander? Is it Natwest? Is it the Coventry?

Then, more familiar than ever, certain lenders are undervaluing the properties we are selling. The Vendor is not happy, the buyer is not happy, my colleagues are not happy.

What next? Renegotiation? Compromise? A scratch of head?

Stop! A pattern has formed and it’s one that seems to victimise the success our marketing has created. If we have a volume of buyers wanting to pay more than the mortgage valuation suggests, then are the buyers wrong? They viewed countless other houses they deemed not of value. When the Mortgage Surveyor attempts justification, “Have you had other offers on the property and what were they?”, we can safely state “Yes! Here they are! What does that tell you?”.

The answer? Should we reduce the value of the houses we are selling? No. On at least four transactions this year the answer has been to appoint another lender who offers a free survey. The result? Four houses that were not down valued a second time.

The Vendor was happy. The Buyer was happy. My colleagues were happy and I didn’t have to scratch my head again.

Exactly What is www.OnTheMarket.com and Why Should We Even Care?

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This morning one of our clients received a letter from a competitor stating “Did you know your agent have made the commercial decision to reduce our property on line by removing us from Zoopla? “. I read this a few times before realising that the statement wasn’t even English. Once I’d dealt with this I then replied to our client with the facts. Agents try and use any tool for an advantage.  This one was a bit clumsy. If you’re going to state an advantage make sure it is one. I’ll try and explain before they send another letter stating “Did you know your agents car has got a dent on nearside wing and mine hasn’t”.

OnTheMarket.com” should, at the time of going to press, be all over your televisions and in many quality publication’s as well. Many of the features that have made Zoopla and Rightmove “clunky” are not prevalent with “OnTheMarket.com“. If we look at this very simply then the website adapts seamlessly to fit the screen of any device being used to view it. As a “user” as well as an Estate Agent that’s good enough for me to start with. The property search at “OnTheMarket.com” is also slick, simple, fast and state-of-the-art whilst being compatible with all of the latest technologies. There is no clutter from irritating and distracting third party adverts, nor any spam email. The phone number you see will be our own. Users of “OnTheMarket.com“will also have access to “sneak preview” properties exclusive to them for 48 hours!

Even more importantly buyers that register with Zoopla register with Rightmove. Buyers that register with Rightmove do not always register with Zoopla. Why therefore retain the duplication?  If we removed ourselves from Rightmove I would have questioned our commercial decision as well.

Elizabeth Davenport are one of the first of a forward thinking set of Coventry Estate Agents that will be listing on this new agent driven portal from day one. I don’t think I’ll worry about sending  any letters to our competitors clients asking “”Did you know your agent have made the commercial decision to duplicate your listing and not use OnTheMarket?”. They’ll most likely be on it themselves in a few months anyway!