Merry Christmas

Wishing all of our clients and buyers a very MChristmaserry Christmas and a Happy & Prosperous 2012!!!

At this time of year, everyone’s attention turns away from the housing market and toward the much more important process of buying Christmas presents and the office Christmas Party! Quite right too!

However, if you’re trying to buy or sell a property all is not lost. As soon as we enter New Year, traditionally the housing market springs into life and a fresh burst of activity arises. Once the festivities are over the market quickly springs back into action and begins building toward the spring rush.

So enjoy the Christmas holiday but if you’re in the market to buy or sell, be ready for action as soon as January arrives…………..

Selling Property After Bereavement

For many people, one of the hardest things they ever have to do is sell the family home after parents/relatives have passed away or gone into care. It can be a very sensitive time and the stress of having to put a property on the market coupled with the grief of losing a loved one can sometimes be too much to bear. In addition, there may be several family members involved who do not all agree on the best way forward and this can causes added tensions.

FlowersIn many instances, if the relative was elderly, it may be that the property is in need of updating and modernisation.  There may well be years and years of clutter that has built up throughout the property leaving it in rather a ‘busy’ state.

Here are a set of easy-to-follow guidelines that should help to get the property shifted relatively quickly on  the open market:

Firstly, give yourself enough time before you decide to sell. Returning to the property and letting in Estate  Agents and strange people will be upsetting, so GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME after a bereavement.

Invite over at least 3 Estate Agents and listen to their valuation figures carefully. If the property is rather dated (as is often  the case) be prepared for some modest figures. Go with the agent that provides the most compelling evidence to back up their suggested sale price.

Clear the property of all the clutter and personal belongings. However, you will want to leave some basic furniture in the property (even if it’s old and a bit cranky). This will help to give an identity to each room, it will also make the place feel warmer and more inviting. Completely empty houses always look sad and lonely, in addition photographs of empty rooms do not make pretty pictures.

Let the Estate Agent take all of the viewings. Potential buyers will be talking about “refitting the kitchen” and “tearing out that old bath suite”, not things you will want to hear if you grew up in the property.

Finally, make sure that all  family members involved in the sale are easily contactable: time can be of the essence when offers start coming in from interested buyers. You should all agree well in advance what you are prepared to accept in the way of offers. If offers are not forthcoming within a few weeks then be prepared to drop the price a little.

If you stick to these guidelines then you should find a buyer relatively quickly. Bereavement properties often attract a lot of interest due to their modest prices and lack of onward chain.

Adding Value to Your Property With Wood Floors

Property investors often disagree about the precise value that a well-fitted wood flooring can add to a property’s value. Nevertheless, they do agree that the initial investment of time and material pays off when the property is sold.

In this guide to wood flooring, we will offer practical tips for property owners looking to fit wood flooring and for those of you who already have wood flooring fitted, we will explain how to rejuvenate the wood and make it look fresh again for when you decide to put your property on the market.

Choosing Wood Flooring:

Beautiful Oak FlooringThere are two types of wooden floors on the market. Your choice of fitting one type instead of the other will greatly affect your return on investment. The first type and the most common are ‘solid’ wood flooring, made from… you guessed it, 100% solid wood. The second type is the new kid on the block, called ‘engineered’ wood flooring, made from Plywood, Softwood and MDF.

Before we explain the differences between each type, it is easier to start by explaining their similarities. Both look precisely the same when fitted (i.e. ‘real wood look’), both cost marginally the same and both have a service life expectancy of 25 years.

They differ in how they react in moist conditions and when the temperature fluctuates. Solid wood flooring is made from complete natural wood and therefore inherits the natural property of wood to contract in cold temperatures or expand in hot temperatures. In some cases this can cause the wood to break up. If temperature fluctuations are not an issue where your property is situated, either type will do, unless… the floor is fitted over under-floor heating. In such case, which is becoming more and more common, only engineered floors will stop the wood from erupting due to the excess heat.

Rejuvenating Wood Flooring:

It is common for property owners to mishandle the care of wood flooring through the years thereby greatly changing the look of the wood. Luckily, it is possible in most cases to bring the wood’s fresh looks back using a simple process called sanding.

Both solid and engineered floors will react well to sanding, however while solid floors could be sanded many times during their service life, engineered floors only a handful of times, so make it count if you have engineered floors fitted. Wood flooring is covered in a top layer often refereed to as the ‘finish’ of the floor that is meant to provide basic protection and to give the wood a desired decor look (for example, oil will equal glossy look, UV lacquered will equal a matt look and so on). Throughout the years, due to foot traffic and more often due to erroneous cleaning methods, the finish disappears.Engineered Floors

The process of sanding is cheaper compared to replacing the entire floor. It is meant to remove any traces of the old finish and to re-coat the wood in a new finish, thereby rejuvenating the wood. It can be done DIY style by hiring a few dedicated tools, but you are best to let a professional do the work. The first step will involve removing the old finish using a dedicated machine called ‘sander’. The next step involves ‘staining’ the wood to achieve a desired colour or leave natural to benefit from the original colours of the wood. The final stage is when the new layer of protection is applied to the floor. The end result should bring the wood up to date, making it look factory fresh again.

A well-fitted wood floor can help increase the value of your property. If you are fitting new floor, make sure you pick the right option. If you already have wood flooring fitted, consider rejuvenating the wood before placing the property on the market.

Article written for Elizabeth Davenport by London based wood flooring seller wood and beyond.

How long will it take to sell my property?

Let me just dust off the crystal ball and I’ll tell you………..

No seriously, it’s a perfectly natural question to ask if your property is going on the market. Should I start packing straight away? Do I need to start emptying all of that ‘junk’ out of the attic? After all, it’s going to take about 15 runs to the tip!!

More importantly, do I need to start looking for a property to buy or rent? If my house sells within a few weeks and I haven’t even started looking for a new home, I could be left in the lurch? And what could be worse than having to move in with the in-laws?

In truth, no-one can ever tell you for certain how long it might take to find a suitable buyer and beyond that how long the solicitors will take to push the process through to completion. After all, there are always so many unknown variables. So the best advice has to be simply to try and be as relaxed as possible about the whole process. There are several measures you can of course take to ensure that you have the best chance to get a quick, effective sale.

Firstly, choose the right Estate Agent and go on sale at a realistic market value price. It makes sense to invite 3 agents to your property and brief them all that you want a realistic valuation, not a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ figure. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they’ve reached their valuation figure. BearMoving Home in mind that the agent’s principle aim is to get your business in the first place so he may be generous with his valuation to try and stand out from the competition. Don’t be fooled, if you get 3 figures back and one sticks out like a saw thumb then it may be wise to ignore it and listen to the other 2 agents.

If you go on sale at the correct asking price with an agent that knows how to market your property well, then you have every chance (even in the current climate) of achieving a quick and stress-free sale. Go on to the market at a sky high price and even with the best Estate Agent in the world and the greatest marketing regime, you are heading for a long, drawn out, blood pressure rocketing experience. Not to be recommended!!
And of course, don’t forget the kerb appeal! Your property must look its best during all of the viewings in order to get a quick sale.

If you want professional advice on how to market your property effectively, call George at Elizabeth Davenport Estate Agents on 02476 010105.

How To Find Your Dream Property

So you’ve found a buyer for your house, you’ve accepted an offer and now comes the most exciting part of moving home: the search for your new dream property.

Dream House

So where do you start your search? The last time you moved home, you probably started your search in the local newspaper, or perhaps if you were relocating to a new area you may have called some of the Estate Agents nearby and asked them to put you on their mailing list. Back then things were different, the internet was something you’d heard about on the news but had never experienced, property portals were unheard of and Estate Agents hadn’t even dreamt of having their own websites. Searching for a home began with a slog down the High Street, going into all of the Estate Agents’ offices and registering your requirements in the hope that they would post out details of some relevant properties.

Nowadays things are quite different. Finding a property is a science, one that you can have total control over if you know how to use the right tools. So here’s a checklist of what you will need:
1. A laptop, PC or Mac
2. A Broadband Connection
3. An Email Address

And that’s it! You now have access to every property on the market at the touch of your fingertips. So where to begin? Visit these four property portals and you won’t go far wrong:

1. Rightmove
2. Findaproperty.com
3. PrimeLocation.com
4. Zoopla

Laptop Househunting

Between them these four portals list ninety-something percent of all of the properties avalable for sale at any one time (at the time of writing – June 2011). They have map searches, price searches, number of bedroom searches, email alerts, in fact any type of search you could think of. Beyond these portals you may also want to visit individual Estate Agent’s websites but this will be once you have identified a particular property and want to have a closer look. Good Agents’ web details will show better images and details than the web portals.

The greatest element in all of this is the fact that you get to do all of this research from the comfort of your own home. There’s a wealth of information at the touch of a keypad meaning that you can do all of the research first before refining a short-list of properties that you want to go and view in person. And if you take advantage of the email alerts on some of the web portals you will be the first to know when the best properties come to market, giving you the edge you need over the other buyers in your area.

This could tip the balance in your favour when it comes to finding your dream home. Good Hunting!!

The Pros & Cons of Estate Agents

It’s become everybody’s favourite pastime in recent years, dragging Estate Agents through the mud, criticising the service they provide and (in some cases) questioning their professionalism. The tabloid press have had a field day and in many surveys, Estate Agents now figure as one of the most hated professions in the country.

In some cases of course, the criticism has been justified but in many cases it has been a case of journalists and armchair commentators simply jumping on the bandwagon. Estate Agents are an easy target of course, a high proportion of the population are home-owners and the house buying process is a very slow, stressful process. With Estate Agents being right in the firing line during what often takes several months from sale to completion, somebody was always going to get the blame.

The latest trend is to dismiss estate agents as being surplus to requirements and encourage vendors to sell their property privately. “Save thousands” are the headlines. I recently read a review of an Estate Agent: the vendor explained how they had been forced to shell out thousands of pounds for the agent to simply “upload the pictures to the web”. It was all very hysterical.

Good Estate Agents
Many Estate Agents deserve a better reputation.

My Estate Agency recently completed a house sale for which we received a fee of £1500. The work involved in earning that fee included the following:
1. Two hours research before travelling to the house to carry out the valuation which took up a further 2 hours including travel time.
2. Letters and contracts sent to the vendor before going on sale. Then another 2.5 hour visit to the property to take photos, draw floorplans and collect data for the Energy Survey. A full days work ensued to process all of the photos, create brochures submit the Energy Survey and upload all of the details to our own website and the other web portals.
3. Sending the brochures to a professional printers and paying the cost of.
5. Advertising the property in the local press with a half page splash (£380 per page)
4. Dozens of phone calls to arrange the 15 viewing appointments it took to sell the property. We accompanied all of the appointments ourselves at approximately 1.5 man hours per appointment.
5. Negotiating on the 3 offers that were received and achieving a SOLD price that the vendor was happy with.
6. Sending out letters and Memorandums of Sale to solicitors and other parties.
7. Returning to the property 3 further times to let in a Mortgage Valuer, a Surveyor and the buyer again so that they could “show their Mum”.
8. Many further phone calls chasing up solicitors and Mortgage advisors when things seemed to be grinding to a halt.
9. Renegotiating on price when the Mortgage Valuer undervalued the property due to the current state of the market.
10. Releasing keys on the day of completion and finally sending our invoice.

This story had a happy ending with a sale being achieved for the vendor and us receiving our fee. Many houses in the current climate do not end up selling and we receive no fee whatsoever despite carrying out most of the work described above. We have office rent to pay, wages for staff, car and petrol costs, telephone expenses, business rates, £1000 per month fee to Rightmove, £300 per month to PrimeLocation, newspaper advertising, web development costs, purchase of For Sale boards, fees to erect For Sale boards, the list is endless.

If you want to sell your house there is a lot that an Estate Agent can do for you and the costs involved are fairly modest (usually 1-1.5% of the sale figure) By comparison in the USA the figure is more like 5-6% of the sale figure of the property (where strangely Estate Agents have a much better reputation). The service that you receive if you choose the right Estate Agent will be good and help to sell your house at full market value in the minimum amount of time possible.

Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers………………….

House Prices in Coventry

Where now for house prices in the Coventry Area?

Trying to predict where prices will go next is every-one’s favourite party trick. Most people have an opinion but is there any way of really knowing what the future holds?

In reality the big question is “Do we buy now or wait a bit longer?” The best time to buy anything is at the bottom of the market and property is no different. Trying to forecast the bottom of the market is a mug’s game though so the real question ought to be “Is this the right time for YOU to purchase?” Your own circumstances are more important than predicting which way a line on a graph is going to head for next! If you can comfortably afford the repayments and the house you are buying is suited to your needs then now is always a good time to buy property.

Try to look at it from a long term perspective. Over a period of many years houses and other types of real estate are always a safe form of investment, they have traditionally increased in value in real terms at a greater rate than household income and many other types of investment. So even if you were to purchase a house tomorrow and the initial trend was a fall in value, over the long-haul you’ll be in safe hands. It’s not such a popular term nowadays but the saying still goes, “Safe as Houses”.

Previous Price Trends in the Coventry Area

House Price Graph

The one thing we can talk about for certain is where prices have been in the past. If you bought a property in Coventry in the last few years you may be rather confused as to what its worth now. House price trends reported in the national news have very little relationship to localised property prices in the Coventry and Warwickshire Areas.

At the time of writing (April 11) prices in Coventry are now level with where they were back in September 2004. By stark contrast property prices in prime London have doubled in the same period. Take the price index for Merthyr Tydfil and you’ll find an equally disproportionate change. In other words, listening to national house price trends is an utter nonsense. They don’t mean anything to anybody.

My own prediction for the Coventry Area is for prices to hold steady for the next 18 months and then to begin a slow and steady recovery. The number of house sales will start to increase again this year as vendors (and Estate Agents) become more realistic with their expectations and price their properties accordingly.

If you have a different opinion please feel free to comment:

 

Big Valuers & Big House Prices

House For Sale
Selling Your House - But Is The Price Right?

Among us Estate Agents, there’s one topic of conversation that really gets our feathers ruffled and makes our blood boil. No it’s nothing to do with our fees or our For Sale boards or even our poularity ratings (or lack of) in the latest poll of polls.

 

Money Talks

It’s to do with Valuations and Appraisal of properties in the local area. Over-valuing is the oldest trick in the book and yet time after time unscrupulous agents try it and get away with it much to the expense of their would-be clients. The single biggest mistake a vendor can make when choosing their Estate Agent is to plump for the “Big Gun” who pulls an enormous figure out of their hat during the appraisal. Its not difficult to reel off lots of zeros, in fact it takes no skill at all; the only art involved is making the over-hyped valuation sound convincing.

The saddest part of the story is that vendors who start out with the best of intentions can quickly be duped by large numbers and the promise of a fortune. After all, when you’re talking property prices these are life changing figures for most people. A higher sale price could mean buying a much bigger property, extra cash in the bank or even a whole new lifestyle. But getting caught up in the excitement of a big figure value is the first big no-no when inviting Estate Agents to your property with a view to selling. Don’t be the next victim of your local pie-in-the-sky Estate Agent.

Big Shot Estate Agents
Big Shot Estates

Of course, most vendors are sensible, level headed people and some will see straight through these tactics. But for many people the biggest worry (understandably) is that their home could be sold for less than market value. They worry that the asking price could be too low, not too high.  Experienced property professionals will tell you that this is very unlikely to happen. A modestly priced property in Coventry or any other part of the country will attract lots of interest from educated buyers that are on the hunt for a bargain. Lots of interested buyers means lots of offers, bidding wars and ultimately a higher selling price.  By contrast, an inflated asking price means few or no viewings, no offers and no sale.

In years gone by the one saving grace was that house prices were always rising. Those properties that went on sale at over the odds would sit around for a few months but eventually  the market would catch back up and they would become saleable. Vendors would purposely “wait to get the best price”. But in a falling or stagnant market this is no longer the case. The “best price” now goes to those homes that sell instantly. Those that stay on sale for any period of time simply become stale and unwanted.

 

Big Shot Estate Agents

But We Can Reduce The Price Later If Need Be?

Any Estate Agent worth their salt will tell you that the greatest interest for properties comes during those first few magic weeks on sale. This is the honeymoon period when buyers clamour to book viewings and make offers. They know that the best bargains and the best properties always sell quickly and they do not want to miss out.  Once this magic period has passed by there is no going back, you cannot recreate that initial surge of interest no matter what. When told that a particular property has had its price reduced, most buyers will respond with “Really, what’s wrong with it then?” They are instantly suspicious. They also smell blood; if the price has come down already how much more might they be able to get it reduced by. In a falling market reducing the price now to what it should have been six months ago is simply closing the stable door after the horse has already bolted. The boat has been missed.

But Surely Estate Agents Don’t Want Overpriced Homes On Their Books

In today’s internet based market it costs very little for an Agent to market a property once the initial costs of take-on are covered. Once they’ve hammered that £10 For Sale board into the front flower bed of your house they will be happy to leave it there indefinately. Why wouldn’t they be, every day dozens of cars and pedestrians will go by and see their “billboard” mounted outside your front door. It’s free advertising and it also gives the impression that they are big players in the local market. Potential vendors often look around to see which agents are marketing similar properties so the more they have on their books, the more valuations they will pick up.

In Conclusion

Before you invite any Estate Agents around to value your home, make sure you have done your own research on prices first. Don’t pay too much attention to asking prices, its SOLD prices that count. There are many websites that offer this information for free www.nethouseprice.com is a good one to try.  If one (or more) of the agents pulls out a huge figure that sounds high, be cautious and ask them to back it up with evidence of RECENT SOLD prices in your local area. Before choosing which agent to use, ask them what their REAL Unique Selling Points are. You may just find that for once they are lost for words.

THE END OF GARDEN GRABBING

GOOD NEWS FOR GARDENERS, BAD NEWS FOR DEVELOPERS

There will be a mixed reaction to last week’s announcement that the practice of “Garden Grabbing” is to be stopped under new government proposals. For many, selling off a large area of garden to developers has proved to be a “nice little earner” with the phenomenon increasing dramatically in recent years. According to the Communities and Local Government Department, the number of houses being built on gardens rose from one in 10 to a quarter of new properties between 1997 and 2008. Town halls have struggled to stop the trend as gardens have been classified as “previously residential land”, making them brownfield sites in the same category as derelict factories and old railway sidings.

For those that were lucky enough to have a large garden or plot of land, the enticement of hard cash in exchange for a cabbage patch proved too tempting to resist in many cases. Simply having the planning permission granted would push the value of their property up so many house owners drew up plans, gained the required approvals and then sold up. They didn’t even have the inconvenience of getting the builders in.

Of course for every winner there were several losers, and these would often come in the form of neighbours whose properties were blighted by the developments. When your next door neighbours garden sprouts a row of terraced houses you’re not likely to be best pleased.

Other notable losers included the local wildlife. Falling numbers of inner city birds such as the song thrush and the house sparrow have been made worse by the development of their habitats. And who could argue that the quality of life of living in the city won’t be affected by smaller and smaller green spaces to the point where all that is left is made of concrete.

On the other side of the coin, there is the shortage of housing in the UK and especially the availability of “affordable housing”. The new rules, if they are brought in will stop the go-ahead of many legitimate projects that would have provided new homes for a housing market already in short supply. Given the choice, developers will often choose garden sites over other brownfield land (such as derelict industrial sites) due to the lower costs involved as there is normally little or no clean-up operation required first. So costs of development will probably now increase applying further upward pressure to long term house prices.

Time will tell what the true impact will be. The only thing we know for sure is that this brings a new, more literal meaning to the phrase, “Not in my back yard!”

George Hartshorn MNAEA is Head of Sales for Elizabeth Davenport Estate Agents.