The recent increase in the number of online Estate Agencies has been a matter of some debate in the property industry. Today we feature a guest blog by David Mintz of Normie & Co., a traditional Agency based in Manchester. Here at James Neave, we echo David’s findings.
Cheap as Chips
In 2007, Steve Ballmer, then CEO of Microsoft, famously said in an interview "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." The rest, as they say, is history.
The lesson to business people everywhere is never to underestimate your competition and never dismiss new innovations as fads that will never catch on.
In the property industry, it’s fair to say that love us or hate us, Estate Agents are part and parcel of any house sale. So what of the rise of the online Estate Agent? What does this mean for the market in general and what does this mean for you, the consumer?
Online Estate Agents have been around for a few years now, offering a cut price option to market your property. Depending on the company you choose and the package you opt for, they offer different levels of marketing and in most cases leave you to do most of the work yourself.
These express-style agencies offer a minimal amount of personal contact, most of the calls being routed through call-centres and staffed by "local property experts" who actually live several miles away and have never had occasion to visit your neighbourhood previously. But hey, who cares right, it’s cheap?
Well the saying "you only get what you pay for" has never been more apt. The online reviews for one online agency struggled to attain more than a one out of five scoring, and those reviews are numerous. A typical review that sums up their customer's feelings stated "Save yourself the heartbreak and headache, and invest your money in a proper Estate Agent. Online Agencies take your money and then couldn't care less, a terrible service."
Based on what we hear, it’s tempting to have a Steve Ballmer moment and say that it will never catch on but with the amount of money being raised by some of these online Agents, it would appear that there is an appetite for this sort of cut-rate innovation - particularly in London where agency fees are likely to be much higher than the rest of the country.
Nothing can replace the personal touch
Locally, there is still no replacement for your local Agent. Our offices are staffed by people who have been selling property for years, they live locally, shop locally and their children go to school locally. Practically, this means that they are able to offer advice to both sellers and prospective purchasers that is factual and helpful. When they are selling a house, they are very much selling an area and all the day to day things that people consider when moving home such as travelling distance to work, shops and of course schools.
The personal touch of fully accompanied viewings is an absolute must, as in addition to actively selling your property it adds a layer of professional separation between you and your buyer which most vendors love. With an online Agent, you will be left to do a lot of the viewings, negotiating and chasing all on your own. You might at first be comfortable with negotiating directly with your buyer, but as the relationship deepens will you still feel as comfortable when having to renegotiate a sale after issues are raised on a survey, for instance?
Selling a property is often not as straightforward as simply uploading it to the internet and hoping for the best. Whilst that remains the case, the traditional high street Estate Agent is here to stay. After all, you and your home are unique and the false economy of trying to sell your house online the same way you may sell a second-hand couch on EBay might well end up costing you a lot more in the long run. There's still value in a professional service provided by an Estate Agent that will work tirelessly to achieve the best for you and your property.
Our reviews speak for themselves. Before choosing your Agent, be it online or traditional, always ask for testimonials.
The 12 Days of Property Selling
Twelve friendly welcomes
A happy smile and a friendly welcome will make potential buyers feel more at home when they arrive for a viewing. Always make sure you feel honoured that they are looking at your property.
Eleven minor fixes
If there are small repairs that need to be made, it’s a good idea to do them before people come to view the place. Doing so can make the difference between losing a buyer and gaining one.
Ten painted walls
If the house or flat is in need of a facelift, give each room a lick of paint before you sell. It can freshen up any area, and will help potential buyers to see the place looking its very best.
Nine polished surfaces
Tidy, spotless surfaces, especially in the kitchen, are a must for anyone who wants to sell their home. Viewers will be put off from the start if there are pots and pans waiting to be washed up and overly congested open spaces.
Eight rooms a-gleaming
Every part of the house needs to be tidied up and, crucially, cleared of any unnecessary clutter. Potential buyers will be looking at several properties, so make sure yours stands out from the rest.
Seven brighter homes
Nobody wants to see dark, uninspiring rooms when they go viewing. Make sure your windows and mirrors are cleaned and that the home is bright. Side lamps in previously dark corners are a good idea.
Six tidy gardens
Many sellers treat the garden as an after-thought, but they need to realise just how important this area is. Potential buyers will want to picture themselves relaxing here in the summer, so make sure it looks perfect.
Five fresh towels
A clean, welcoming bathroom can make a huge difference to the overall perception of your home, so make sure it’s in tip-top condition. Fresh towels are a good idea, because they will add to the overall ambience.
Four shining floors
Many people notice the floors of a room before they notice anything else, so it makes sense to ensure they look their best. Wooden floors need to be waxed to leave them gleaming, and carpets should be clean and stain-free.
Three bunches of flowers
Fresh flowers will add a touch of elegance to any room, and of course will help to create a more relaxed atmosphere. Bowls of fruit will also add to the overall feel-good factor of your home.
Two cups of coffee
It’s always nice to walk into a home and to be greeted by the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee. Be sure to offer visitors a drink to make them feel welcome, and to encourage them to give your property a more thorough viewing.
And an agent that you can really trust
Here at James Neave the Estate Agent, we always go the extra mile to help you sell your property for the right price. We have all the expertise and experience you need, so contact us today for a chat.
How to Beat the Rise in Stamp Duty on Buy to Let Purchases
The headlines surrounding George Osborne’s recent Autumn Statement focused mainly on the decision to scrap plans to cut tax credits, and while this was a major news item it should be noted that there were several other important points. One of them will affect the housing sector in a big way, and it will spell bad news for anyone who is considering the purchase of a property that is to be let out to others.
From April 2016, purchases of Buy to Let properties and second homes will be subject to an additional 3% Stamp Duty charge, a strategy that will no doubt be a deterrent to some potential investors. The BTL market has been growing recently, but this announcement may cause a slowdown in the coming years as buyers start to rethink their options.
The 3% hike represents a significant rise in costs, and it’s possible that some investors will want to recoup their extra outlay via an increase in rents. For anyone who is thinking about the purchase of a BTL property, it’s a good idea to act fast. The increase takes effect from April 2016, so if a purchase is made before that date then it will be a great deal less expensive. On a £275,000 property, the Stamp Duty will rise from £3,750 to a whopping £12,000.
The clock is ticking for potential buyers
It should be noted that people who are thinking about selling their homes in the near future will also need to take this matter into account. If their house or flat is likely to be of interest to BTL investors, they will restrict their potential market if they wait too long before putting the property on the market. The next few months will almost certainly see a more active market for this reason.
While the increase in BTL Stamp Duty has understandably caused a great deal of concern in the property sector, it should be noted that there were other important announcements during the Autumn Statement. One of them, a pledge to build around 400,000 new homes in the coming years, will be seen as welcome news for a sector that is struggling to keep up with demand.
There will be incentives to construct starter homes, too. Following up on a policy announcement made a year ago, there is to be a 20% discount on prices of such properties. The Government has also pledged to invest in specialist homes for elderly people as well as those with disabilities.
A Simple Commute keeps London within Easy Reach
While Walton-on-Thames is a wonderful location in which to call home, it has to be said that a significant proportion of our local residents have to make their way into central London for work. The good news is that the daily commute from here is a relatively simple one, enabling people to get from home to workplace with a minimum of fuss.
Walton-on-Thames railway station is to be found on the southern side of town just a few hundred yards from the main A244 road. From here, commuters can catch a direct train to London Waterloo, a terminus that’s located on the south bank of the River Thames, and is within walking distance of landmarks like the London Eye, the National Theatre and the Houses of Parliament.
For those who need to travel on from Waterloo, there is a tube station here which has access to the Jubilee, Bakerloo, Northern and Waterloo & City lines. Given the fact that journey times from Walton-on-Thames to Waterloo can be as fast as 25 minutes, it’s easy to see why so many commuters find our area to be so convenient for the journey to work.
A commute that’s sometimes hectic but always easy
One of the main stops on the route between Walton-on-Thames and London Waterloo is Clapham Junction, which is located in Battersea, south-west London. One of the busiest stations in Europe, it offers commuters a chance to change for trains to Victoria. While it’s understandably hectic at times, it should be noted that it handles up to 180 trains every hour.
In February 2015, it was announced that London’s population had reached a record 8.6 million. It has been estimated that there will be as many as 11 million by 2050, and these figures highlight the importance of an easy commute for those who don’t want to live in the metropolis. Although the city itself is congested, it’s reassuring to know that there are wide open spaces, attractive homes and fresh air to be enjoyed in the suburbs of Surrey.
There are of course some people who will work in local towns, and they are grateful for the regular trains from Walton-on-Thames to Guildford, Woking and Basingstoke. Needless to say, there are buses from the town as well. Anyone who is thinking of moving to the local area will no doubt want to research the commute before committing to a move, so a quick call to James Neave the Estate Agents is highly recommended. We know the region well, and we are always happy to help.
A Property Inheritance brings a Number of Options
Inheriting a property may seem to some people to be a fortunate scenario that brings nothing but pleasure, but it should be noted that this isn’t always the case. If the house or flat in question was owned by a close relative who has recently passed away, then there will no doubt be a level of emotional attachment that will have to be taken into consideration before deciding what to do with the place.
The new owners have a number of options open to them, so it’s a good idea to sit down and go through them before committing to a particular course of action. If the property is to be shared among two or more siblings, as is often the case, then a consensus of opinion is a must. There are times when this won’t be easy, of course, but it’s important for everyone to be in agreement.
Some people choose to move into the property straight away, and to make it their home from then on. This is a sensible course of action if it ticks all of the relevant boxes, but of course it may prove to be difficult to cope with the emotion involved. If a loved one had lived there for many years previously, there will no doubt be a great many memories attached to every room.
To Sell or not to Sell? That is the Question
Another alternative is to put the home on the market in order to sell it. There is no right or wrong answer to this scenario, because every case is different, but if the new owners are looking for a lump sum and don’t want the emotional attachment of continued ownership, this may prove to be the most sensible outcome. As always, reputable estate agents are on hand to help make this a reality.
With property prices still recovering, it may be a better option for some people to consider letting the property out instead. Having a steady income stream for the foreseeable future will appeal to many, and over time there is a good chance that the value of the house or flat will continue to increase. There are a number of issues that need to be considered when renting, so it’s a good idea to ask for advice.
It should be noted that some properties, particularly those which have been occupied by the same people for many decades, may be in need of some tender loving care before they are suitable for renting or selling. The new owners may need to consider the tasks that will need to be carried out before the place is ready to be viewed by the general public. Here at James Neave the Estate Agents, we are always happy to offer guidance on this subject.
38 High Street, Walton on Thames, Surrey, KT12 1DE
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