All posts by Mark Walmsley

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.

Coventry – Euston – Sales Express!

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.

Come on Down! The Price is Right!

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.

Regulation, Regulation or Simple Integrity

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.

 

Are We On a Bus Driven By London?

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.