Well, Autumn ‘s here and the leaves are falling. Thankfully house prices aren’t. Indeed, thankfully for many, they are not soaring either. Forget London’s Boom, the reality all around us, is that the reports of a Boom have heightened the expectations of sellers throughout Britain.
I had a Seller last week tell me that the agent they were marketing with in Coventry had told them that house prices had risen 10% over the height of the market in 2008. He was bullish about this too by all account. This same agent had not sold the Vendors house. It had sat on the market without viewings for 6 months. That’s because the Agent was talking nonsense. He/She just wanted an instruction to sell the house. Maybe the individual was being pressured by targets. Whomever’s fault it was it wasn’t the sellers yet they were the ones that suffered. You shouldn’t play games like this. You get found out.
Robin King a Director at “Move With Us” has just compiled a survey of over 100 Estate Agents. “Reports of a housing bubble may be pushing home owners to set unrealistic asking prices,” he said. “Putting a property on market with an accurate valuation is paramount. Our advice to home owners is not to always believe the hype and to listen to their local property expert, the estate agent”.
Good advice if you can trust your Estate Agent. If you can’t your house is going to sit on the portals and no one is going to come.
We have just compiled a list of every Estate Agents current stock and sales performance in Coventry. How much are they selling and how quickly? The results are shocking. Many of the “market leaders”, the household names, the old families and the aggressive corporates, are sitting on stocks of your houses with only very low proportions being sold. They’ve overpriced and for fear of admitting mistake they won’t approach you to discuss it. They won’t request the reduction in case you decide to venture elsewhere. They’d rather your house just sit there. With that mentality, you will too so don’t wait for that non-existent call. If you’d like to know the statistics just let us know and we’d be happy to show you. We’re not all bad..
That’s it then! Summer’s over but all’s not lost and being well an Indian Summer will soon begin!
Our Warwick Row office has been open for just over 13 months now and has also seen our sales performance grow by over 150%. This cannot happen successfully without one vital and often overlooked ingredient. Staff.
This week we are proud to have employed Georgina D’Arcy who brings with her a wealth of Estate Agency, Administration and Accounts experience. Prior to Georgina we placed ourself in the enviable position of working with Greg Irish an experienced Financial Advisor and Estate Agent who although based at our office can be made available for home visits whenever our clients require (Within reason of course, he’s got a life too you know.) Prior to Greg, another team member with Estate Agency experience, Nicki Page, had been employed to support Yvonne Haywood in one of our most important public facing roles. That’s not all. We have also commandeered the approachable and multi tasking Craig Emmerton who not only undertakes viewings in a genuinely helpful manner (Rather than with a “just opening the door” and “feel free to have a look around” mentality which seems to be industry commonplace) but also takes responsibility for the painting and erection of our Sign Boards. Then there’s George and Me. Elizabeth, well I’ll can tell you about her when we meet.
Please don’t just take our word for it. You can’t keep selling houses successfully without the right support and good staff are what any business needs to retain it’s quality of service. Our reviews on www.allagents.co.uk and google say it much more succinctly than we do! Please have a look when you are thinking about which agent you’d like to work with. They can be very revealing!
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.
Although I can’t see Coventry becoming North Londonshire any time soon it is worth bearing in mind that local government development agencies have come up with such bizarre concepts in London’s more popular commuter towns in recent years.
With a travel duration of 60 minutes from Coventry Station and annual costs being in the region of £7500 it is no wonder we are finding more and more buyers visiting from the Big Smoke. This annual cost of travel is as little as 1% of the average price difference between houses in London’s Zone 1 and 2 and Coventry itself.
With Nationwide showing a 26% growth in central London and a steady but not so spectacular increase circumnavigating its core, the ability to commute can offer both a healthier lifestyle and a happier wallet as well. With the opportunity to own more substantial property at a fraction of the cost, the once traditional lure of towns such as Reading, Hatfield and Luton can be bettered at even lower cost by travelling just a few miles further.
Kettering, Peterborough, Luton and Basildon are in the top five most cost-effective towns within a 70-minute commute to central London. Coventry sits even closer if we use the Coventry – Euston line.
We have seen tremendous interest in properties within easy access to Coventry Station. Styvechale, Cheylesmore and Earlsdon are all appealing to Londoncentric buyers wishing to spread their wings.
What with the new FriarGate development dramatically improving the entire Station area we could soon see Coventry and its surrounding Villages become a genuine commuter hub. Seemingly this city is certainly becoming one to to invest in and one that should see more families making it there own. Now that can’t be bad for anyone can it.
I’d like to think that Leslie Crowther and I have little to nothing in common. I was alive in the 1980’s but I didn’t present any game shows. The famous “Come On Down, the Price is Right” catchphrase did though come to mind after 4 new instructions were under offer within 24 hours of being launched to the market this week. We did not offer these house for sale less than others had valued them. In fact two of them were higher valuations than any other agent. The properties were not being given away by any means. One of them was actually valued over 30% higher than our competition!
Research, market analysis and a working knowledge of remedial and installation costs from Lighting to Lofts, enable us, we believe, to price sensibly for both the seller and the buyer. After all, however long the process of selling a property, the reality is that the price will be justified by external forces anyway! The Mortgage Survey, The Home Buyers Report and The Building Survey will all aid (or band aid, pardon the pun) the correct and actual sale price.
A market leading trainer whose course we attended showed how vital the “asking price” was within the first few weeks of marketing. To achieve the highest “actual” price, the volume of viewings is no accident. If the “asking price” is incorrect the viewings will not occur. If it’s correct they will. In fact if the “asking price” is less than the “market price” then for goodness sake don’t panic. The house will simply attract a greater volume of viewings and the price will rise to it’s “correct” value. Remember if you are the seller then the property for sale is yours. No one can steal it from you. If the offers that come in aren’t to your liking then don’t accept them. If they continue to come in without much variance then rethink. A house on the market for a long time very rarely gets sold for what it could at the beginning.
No sooner had your local regulated Estate Agent amended all of their promotional material to include the new Ombudsman Logo (as requested by them because the Logo was immensely important to the service the Estate Agent delivered) do we now have a new regulatory body which has superseded the Office of Fair Trading for all property sale compliance. Clients and Customers alike are now advised to visit the Citizens Advice Bureau if they believe they have been unfairly treated or even mis-sold property under new regulations. From last month the OFT and Competition Commission merged to form the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). This body now enforces, by law, consumer protection regulations governing house sales.
The most interesting part of this regulation would be the disclosure of information by the agent to a buyer regarding any information that is known that may affect a buyers decision. No more Caveat Emptor for the agents to rely on then! No more painting over the cracks or only attending viewings when the neighbours dog’s are asleep! Let’s be realistic about this…
It’s simple common sense and integrity that needs to be applied by the seller, the agent and the buyer.
What matters to one buyer doesn’t necessarily matter to another. Maybe our buyer owns a noisier dog. Maybe our buyer wants to buy a dilapidated property. As long as the price reflects it and the survey is agreeable then we are all aware and understanding. The protection is for the consumer against those individuals and agents hiding serious issues that the buyer should have been made aware of. If a survey reveals serious detrimental information and a sale falls through then of course, surely, any further sale must account for this knowledge. That’s common sense and a lack of themis what these regulations should be applied to.
Once again that omnipresent threat to the UK’s perception of Estate Agency is our Capital City. It drives a progressing market to the extreme and whilst the counties beyond do not rejoice in its’ ascendency they suffer when it eats itself. David Cameron, backed by Nick Clegg (what?) have suggested curbs on the second phase of the Help to Buy Scheme. However both agree with Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, that we do need to build more new homes. This cannot be denied. But if we do and the Help to Buy is restructured or even phased out then whose buying? More investors?
Undoubtedly the Bank of England’s uncertain management of the rapid increase in house prices has been fuelled by London. A 17% rise within the last year has been experienced in London with an average outside the area of 9%. Coventry has seen a equivalent growth of 4.5%. If this growth was experienced throughout the UK then no such redress of Help to Buy would surely occur. The lack of available property generates increased prices and in London, with a constant fuel of overseas investors, overpricing is clearly not a concern.
If there are more buyers than property and asking prices become “Guide Prices” then the BBC decided to scare the nation with the fact that “Estate Agents” were now charging the buyer and not the seller. I’ve seen this happen with one agent in Chelsea charging a £6000 administration fee just to place an offer with the Vendor. This sounds horrendous but don’t think that this is transferable to the Midlands because it isn’t. That’s a bus none of us would ever want to ride on.
Last week we placed a prestigious property onto the market in a coordinated effort to achieve the very best price possible. Both ourselves and another Estate Agent met the client independently before sharing information in a considered meeting. We had contrasting opinions to the other agent about a few different aspects of the potential sale but the vendor, prior to the instruction had heard both viewpoints and wanted maximum exposure. Sometimes, if Estate Agents work together honestly, the client can benefit from a “Joint Agency” instruction. The problem is not many do because not many Estate Agents work well together.
This is very much a contrasting story to other “Multiple Agency” experiences we have witnessed. Thankfully due to our speed of sale, we have not seen others agent instructed after ourselves, but we have begun marketing at the tail end of another’s agency period and this has led to complications for our sellers.
Despite instructions from their clients to the contrary, these Agents have not removed the properties from their own websites, Rightmove or shop windows. The result of these practices in Coventry are that “Multiple Agency” simply confuses potential buyers and leads to unsympathetic and reduced offers at best. At worst the buyers look elsewhere entirely. What the client should remember is that if their home has been on the market without offers then something is wrong. When this is the case, a fresh pair of eyes and ears can be the start of a successful new beginning rather than a prolonged sense of disappointment.
Continuing to employ the Agent who hasn’t achieved what they promised to achieve really does does not solve anything. Thankfully the quality of our brochures, photography and I.T systems have allowed us to continue our number one ranking for Speed of Sale and Click Through rates during these “multiple agency” excursions and have seen properties that have sat unloved for many months sell for asking prices after multiple viewings.
Quite often the last thing an Estate Agent would choose to do in their own spare time would be to watch a television series about Estate Agents but “Under Offer: Estate Agents On The Job” was a different beast. I suppose the voyeuristic nature of the docudrama spiked a sense of impending dread. I better watch it so I know what I’m faced with tomorrow! Would we Estate Agents be further tarnished? Would we be mocked? I was pretty confident that the show wouldn’t instigate a surge of job applications but I hoped for the best and I think we got it.
First and foremost it was fun. We are great fun you once you get to know us.
Secondly the show was littered with classic quotations that that Messrs Scorcese and Tarantino would have been proud of. “Mass Murderers would be greeted with a better response”, “If you want to be an Estate Agent, you just open a shop”, “Most Estate Agents are Posh and Blond and I’m Irish and a Redhead”. It was great. The show on a more serious note clearly highlighted the canyon between London and the rest of the country something that we certainly have written about before. What clearly works in one region won’t necessarily work in another but certainly what shone through is that energy and enthusiasm go along way. Together with a moral compass pointing North, Estate Agents should come out of this smelling of roses rather than manure! Still, we are only on Episode Two!
What a week that was!
A record level of instructions and a record level of sales agreed. It seems that the Coventry buyer really has grown in confidence and together with Mortgage lending we are seeing sensible purchases facilitated by sensible lending. Let’s hope it stays that way. Last week three quarters of the new stock was sold with either asking price offers or above. Most importantly this completely satisfied our clients but it also reinforced the mentality that ” if you don’t overprice a house it will have enough interest to reach it’s own natural level”. That natural level will always be above the asking price (or as the London market now exemplifies,” The Guide Price”!).
From satisfied clients to the shocked and offended . “All fair in Love and War” and “We’ve all got mouths to feed” are just not justifiable hyperbole for ignorance and misleading information.
A potential seller requests multiple valuations or appraisals. Each agent presents their research, their service, the costs and the figure they would like to market the property for. This is how the process works. If you do the job correctly then in far more cases than not you receive the instruction to sell your clients home. We have been witness this week to our clients being approached by agents they haven’t instructed to a) “Dual Market” from day one, b) dis-instruct the chosen agent and c) be told they have made the wrong choice. These same clients have all sold through us within a few days of instruction, we have achieved a superb volume of viewings and the offers have been asking price or above. With our Click Through Rate consistently number 1 in the region and our speed of sale equal to it, I would suggest that some of these “established agents” get their own ships in order to avoid this sort of embarrassment being launched upon them. Extraordinary Practices like this only enhance the poor reputation that many Estate Agents have and that others are, unfairly, often tarnished with.