All posts by Mark Walmsley

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!

Want To Sell or Want to Sit? There is a Choice!

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..

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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!

New Home Shock and Pre-Loved Favourites!

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.