Monthly Archives: August, 2017

HOW MUCH DO YOU VALUE YOUR HOME?

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Property valuation

These days, it’s not all that difficult to get a rough valuation for on your property. Gone are the days when you had to rely on your estate agent who would perform some sort of mystic ritual, pulling a figure out of the air based on “deep industry knowledge” which you couldn’t possibly understand.

Now, a click of a mouse or a visit to one of the online property portals can achieve much the same thing – or at least it’ll give you a rough estimate or what your home might fetch on the open market.

But still there are homes being offered at vastly inflated prices; homes which therefore stand little chance of actually selling; homes which, almost inevitably, will have to come down in price before they change hands.

Why?

Well, first of all – even though they may have done their research in advance – sellers can be easily convinced their home is worth more. After all, if you have a figure in your head and someone who is supposed to know the market better than you tells you that you’re £10,000 under, it’s not hard to understand why you’d be tempted to go with that.

But don’t forget estate agency is an increasingly competitive game. Some firms will therefore impress you with that high valuation, tie you to a long-term sole selling rights agreement and, when the home fails to sell, persuade you that you need to drop the asking price. You don’t get your quick sale, you don’t get the price you were led to believe was possible – but they still win your business by blinding you with figures they never really expected to achieve.

Secondly, there are sellers out there who want to chance their arm. They know what the asking price on a property ought to be but they’ve seen prices rising and want to gamble on something higher, regardless of advice from the estate agent.

Both are self-serving; both are strategies which involve considerable risk and both are situations we would advise our clients to avoid.

How?

Firstly, use those tools on Rightmove or Zoopla to get a rough idea of what asking prices in your area are and then tap into the Land Registry’s website to compare them with what properties actually sold for. Once you’ve done that, approach several estate agents for a valuation and see what they suggest. If one’s way above the mark, beware – but don’t go too low either.

Equally, we see it as our job to dissuade sellers from inflated asking prices. Of course a seller wants the best price – but there’s a dividing line between something realistic and something preposterous. There have been cases where overpriced property has ended up on the market for ages, been reduced several times and eventually sold for below the accepted asking price for the area.

So, in short, if you’re selling property, our advice is keep it real. Naturally, you don’t want to part with your home for too little – but ask too much and it might be you who ends up paying the price.

Online Valuation

What Did An EPC Ever Do For Us …?

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Why should I get an EPC?

Start a conversation among a bunch of estate agents about EPCs and you’ll probably get as many opinions as there are people. Some will tell you they mean little or nothing, others that they can add value to your home and others that, no matter which way you look at them, they’re a legal requirement so debate is largely pointless.

So what do we think? Well, we tend to steer a middle course…

Does It Pay To Be An A?

If you’re fortunate to live in a property which rates an A or a B, then you could argue it’s a selling point. The house is going to have that little bit more insulation in the loft or even a few nifty, energy-saving gadgets such as auto-dimming lights, water-saving devices, high-performance glazing and the like. But, if you don’t, are you at a huge disadvantage as a seller? The answer is probably no…

Why? The thing is, even though we are often encouraged to be more eco-conscious these days and we may even start out on the buying process with all the best intentions, choosing a new home is often an emotional thing. We walk into a house and, for one reason or another, just fall in love with it – and, sometimes, it takes a lot to turn our heads.

How Low Should You Go?

Okay, so the EPC on the “dream home” you’ve found rates it at D. You might persuade yourself you could soon change that with some cavity wall insulation and some low-energy lighting – and you might well be right.

But, when it comes to a low score on the EPC, it’s not necessarily the features on the checklist that a buyer needs to be cautious about; it’s more what their absence may imply. A house with no double glazing could be damp or hard to heat, for example. Another with no loft insulation could have other issues in the roof.

We’re not saying a poor EPC rating automatically means the property hasn’t been well-maintained. Sometimes, for example, the fact it has an oil-fired central heating system can make a difference. It works fine, provides plenty of heat and hot water but, because the eco-trend is towards gas, the EPC score won’t be as high.

But what we would say is, if the EPC score is a D or below, make sure your survey is thorough and reliable. Better to pay a bit more for a detailed examination of the property you’re planning to spend thousands on than have to spend thousands more rectifying problems.

Is It Best To Invest?

And, if you’re selling your home, remember you can boost your EPC score without necessarily investing a small fortune. Government grants are available to some considering additional insulation for example while installing low-energy lighting can enhance your property’s score – and save you a little more on bills in the meantime.

So, in answer to the question: “What good is an EPC?” we’d say it’s not a definitive but an indicative. A house with a high score might be modern and eco-friendly – but it might not be “you”. Equally, be careful about a house with a low score – but don’t dismiss it out of hand. It might need a little TLC but it might not need all that much work to enhance its score.

As ever, if you’d like a little more advice, just drop us a line or give us a call. We’d be happy to help if we can.

IS YOUR HOME PICTURE PERFECT?

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Have you ever looked at pictures of a house for sale and thought: “What were they thinking?” There are some classic montages of “fails” online if you care to take a look but, believe it or not, in the frenzy of activity which often surrounds moving house, it’s actually quite easy to fall foul of the pitfalls and find you’re actually at risk of being on the list too.

Of course, we’re here to help and we’ll always do our best to make sure your home is seen at its best but, there’s no harm in being prepared either so we thought we’d share a list of dos & don’ts to consider ahead of a visit by the property photographer.

Pick the time of day

If there is a time of day when your home is presented well in natural light, try to persuade your chosen estate agent to get the photographer’s visit to coincide. It’s not much good asking them to come if half the house is in shade cast by trees or other buildings. Believe it or not, your house has a right time for its close-up so try to work out when that might be and have the images taken then.

Open doors & curtains

Equally, inside, your home can look a little dark if the photographer arrives when the natural light is fading. Try to get the images taken when the house is bright. Opening internal doors and curtains to their full extent can let in that little extra brightness and make a bit of difference too.

Declutter & remove stuff from tables, worktops

Before the photographer starts, just have a look around the house to make sure you’ve removed odds and ends which may detract the eye. You want a potential buyer to look at an image and be able to imagine themselves in it and not find themselves distracted by looking at coats slung over chairs or bits and pieces spread over kitchen worktops. Obviously, it’s not always going to be possible to present a blank canvas but ask yourself, does everything in the picture help to give an impression of size and space? If it doesn’t, move it until the picture has been taken.

Remove furniture

If you’re honest with yourself, would any of the rooms in your home look a bit more spacious if you took out one or two bits of furniture? Is there a coffee table, an armchair which doesn’t quite match or a footstool in the living room you could remove until the photographer’s work is done? You don’t need to remove it from the house; just shift it so it’s not in shot.

Cover up marks and stains

You’ve been meaning to do something about it for ages but you’ve just realised the stain from the glass of red wine you spilled a couple of weeks ago is still there. If it won’t come out after 20 minutes scrubbing before the photographer arrives, would rearranging the furniture a little cover it? How about a rug? If that’s not going to work, just make sure the photographer knows it’s there and ask if they can work round it.

Tidy up outside

The outside of the house is just as important when it comes to images so, if you can, try to make sure the house is looking as presentable as possible. Move the wheelie bins out of shot, cut the grass and weed the flower beds, sweep up leaves and remove the car from the drive. Cleaning the windows and the front door can help too, particularly if your home fronts onto a busy road.

If it doesn’t look good, don’t use it

It may seem obvious but, if you get the opportunity to see the images before they’re published, do listen to your gut. If you don’t like them, don’t use them.

 

If you are selling property, we’d like to wish you the very best of luck. If you do have any other questions, you could always watch our “How To…” videos here http://www.esaleuk.com/how-to-videos/ but feel free to give us a call or drop us a line if you’d like some extra advice. Don’t forget we also offer free no-obligation valuations to get you started.

Online Estate Agents – What We get Asked the most.

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How can you do all that for that price?

As an internet-only estate agent, we’re often asked questions by either would-be clients or even friends down the pub about how we make such a large transaction as selling your home work online. Of course, in this profession, we get the usual leg-pulling but there are some recurring questions we hear quite often – so we thought, why not answer them in a blog?

Pull up a chair, imagine you have your favourite tipple in your hand and we’re perched on the bar stool next to you, and the conversation might go something like this:

Why don’t you have an office on the High Street?

First of all, it costs more – and the more it costs, the more we have to charge our clients in order to stay in business. Also, town centre buildings are often not ideal as they were not originally designed as offices and can be cramped and difficult to adapt.

Lastly, we don’t believe anywhere near as many people browse estate agents’ windows for property these days. Why would they when they can do exactly the same on their laptop at home or even on their smartphone on the train?

Why don’t you advertise in the local press

Again, it’s a matter of cost versus potential result. Since the advent of the internet, fewer people read local papers and, although many will mourn them, it isn’t a trend we see reversing.

The first generation to have never known life without the world wide web left school two or three years ago and, in ten years’ time, will probably be in middle management and looking for property of their own. They won’t be scouring the printed media for the home they want. They’ll be looking online.

If you’re selling property, we’re convinced that’s where your home needs to be.

Why can’t I usually speak to you face-to-face?

Erm … you can. Just because we’re not on the high street it doesn’t mean you can’t drop in to see us if that’s what you would prefer. Okay, as online estate agents, we may not be just around the corner but we are real people with real lives, families and homes of our own. We’re not robots. Promise.

In that case, why won’t you help me with viewings?

Actually, we can, no matter where you are. If you’d prefer to have someone with you when someone comes to have a look at your home, we can arrange that. We’ll make sure they’re fully-briefed and ready to highlight your home’s best selling points.

We’ll contact you afterwards with any feedback from potential buyers, let you know if any offers are being considered and, if you’d like us to, we’ll deal with any negotiations too.

Why do I have to pay you up-front?

Again, you don’t. If you’re on a budget we do offer an up-front package where you pay us £595 in advance and we take care of everything else.

However, if you prefer, we also offer an on-completion deal, where you pay us £1195 once your home is sold. If it doesn’t, you pay us nothing. Simples, as a certain Russian meerkat might say.

But how can you sell my property if you don’t come to see it?

First of all, the person who knows your property best is you. Some estate agents like to pretend there’s some mystical dark art to selling a house – largely to justify a hefty commission – but, to be honest, you will always know more about your home then they do.

Of course, an estate agent needs to have a good feel for what property is selling for in your area and what constitutes a reasonable asking price. They need to know what the majority of buyers like to find – decent broadband, a modern kitchen, gardens with decking and a shed, a good school nearby and so on. Equally, they can advise you on things you can do to enhance your home’s “buyability”.

But, these days, even a quick search on Google will provide you with similar tips. Estate agents’ jargon can sound impressive and thoughtful pauses in response to your questions can give an impression of profound knowledge – but don’t forget you are by no means powerless or ignorant. Be confident in what you know to be the good selling points about your home, practice talking about them and, to be honest, you won’t go far wrong.

When it comes to selling property, there’s no denying instructing an estate agent can make your life easier – especially if you lead a busy life to begin with and don’t want to be bothered with the added stress of arranging viewings, haggling with potential buyers or chasing up solicitors. But don’t forget, if an estate agent is to do a good job, the most important input comes from you; it makes no difference if they’re based on the high street or online.

You pays your money and you makes your choice, as the saying goes. The only thing you need to be sure of is that it is the right one for you.

How to get your house ready for viewings – Tips from eSale

FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT

Kerb appeal

If you’re lucky, your house has been on the market a week or two now and your estate agent has been in touch to let you know there are potential buyers ready for viewings.

You’ve tidied up, you’ve run the vacuum cleaner around a bit, you’ve removed all the family pictures, you’ve asked the parents or friends to look after the kids and the pets, you’ve sprayed a bit of air freshener around, brushed your hair and your teeth and you’re now nervously awaiting your first visitor.

You might think you’re ready but, although it might seem your checklist has covered at the bases, there are probably things you have missed – and most of them will be evident as soon as the prospective buyers of your home pull up outside.

is a bit of an estate agent’s cliché but it’s important nonetheless and, to make sure your house has it, you might want to follow these tips.

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Move the bins

Obviously, if they’re full to overflowing, nobody wants to see them but even empty bins are clutter. It’s not as bad if viewers see them later on as part of the tour but, if they’re “front of house” so to speak, it’s a bit like seeing someone’s underwear sticking out of the top of their trousers. We all know it’s there. We just don’t want to see it straight away.

Weeds and dead plants

Just as a massively overgrown hedge can be a sign of neglect, so can weeds and dead plants. It’s a bit of a pain picking all the dandelions out from between the paving stones on the drive but it can make a huge difference. Buying some weed-killer from the garden centre as soon as you know you’re selling your home is a good move. It gives you time to apply it and get rid of the offending plants well before it matters. Likewise, if you’ve got any obvious brown patches in the flower beds, an hour with a trowel and a bin bag is time well spent.

Poo patrol

We all know we don’t have to own a pet to find what they leave behind. Cats in particular are not particular about where they go – although, for some reason, it seems it has to be a distance away from their own garden. A quick sweep half an hour before your viewers arrive isn’t a bad idea.

Door frames & door

You might be a demon when it comes to cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, but have you really had a look at the front door and the frame around it? It’s where your visitors may have to linger a little before you answer their knock and, without having had the benefit of your charm yet, they are likely to be in a critical frame of mind. A scuff mark left by one of the kids, a bit of peeling paint, an inch or two of crumbling sealant and you’re already a few points down on a perfect score.

Does the doorbell work?

If you have one, it’s even worse if they press the button and nothing happens. What does it say about the rest of the house if something so simple is broken?

Clean the car

Finally, if you have a car on the drive, try to make sure it’s clean. Of course you’re not selling the vehicle but, if it’s covered in muck, there will be some who will consider its condition a reflection on you. Of course, you may be able to pull them round if the rest of the house is immaculate but, if you can start without any prejudice in a potential buyer’s mind, the better chance you have of making that sale. If you don’t have time to clean it, just drive it 100 yards from the house and park up. No one will be any the wiser.

Good luck and our very best wishes but, if you’d like some more tips on viewings, why not have a look at our “How To …” videos? Just click on the link for more:  http://www.esaleuk.com/how-to-videos/

 

TIME FOR A BIT OF STRAIGHT TALK

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Deferred Payments

There’s been quite a bit of debate in the media of late about estate agents’ fees – but the dissent is not necessarily from the quarter you’d expect. It’s not sellers who are unhappy; the debate is actually among agents themselves.

On the one hand you have the traditional high street agents, using the old business model and charging a commission of around 1.5% of the final selling price when a house sale goes through, which works out at around £3,000 on a sale of £200,000.

On the other, you have the online estate agents charging a flat rate, either up-front or on completion, which is normally considerably less.

But it isn’t as simple as that…

Tit for Tat

In response to being undercut, high street agents tend to warn sellers who may be considering the online option that – although their internet rivals’ offer may seem attractive – it’s probably payable up front. That’s a bit like walking into a restaurant and paying for your meal before you even sit down, they say. And who wants to do that, right?

So, as a counter punch, one of the larger online agents (the one with a name similar to a coloured building block) has implied it allows sellers to defer any up-front payment. Or at least that’s what their advertising leads you to believe.

But then the traditional high street agents have been handed a swift riposte, revelling in the recent revelation that online estate agents’ deferred up-front payments are, in fact, a thinly-disguised credit agreement. Sellers still have to pay the online agents’ fee whether their home sells or not. Using the same restaurant analogy, that’s like signing an agreement to say you’ll pay a set amount for your meal at some future date – even if it’s horrible.

What We Offer

So where do we stand in all this? Well, at Esale, we certainly won’t charge you a 1.5% commission. With new technology such as smart phones, the internet, email and a selection of well-used property portals available these days, we simply don’t believe you can justify that kind of money anymore.

But neither do we believe in trying to bamboozle you with fast-talk about the alternatives. We’re based in Yorkshire so we believe in plain speaking and we offer two things. You can either pay us £595 up front (including VAT) or you can pay us £1195 on completion (also including VAT). With the latter, if your house doesn’t sell, you pay us nothing… Nowt. Nada. Zip.

There are no catches. There are no hidden clauses. You don’t have to use our recommended partners for things like removals or conveyancing. In fact, if you’re not happy with the services we provide, we offer a 30-day, no-quibble, money-back guarantee.

So, if you’re on a budget, want to know exactly where you stand and can’t be doing with weasel words, we’re ready and waiting. Just give us a call and we can start with a no-obligation valuation. If you like it, we can go from there …

WHY WE’RE YOUR SECRET ESTATE AGENT IN HARROGATE

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If you’re looking for an estate agent in Harrogate, to be honest you’re not going to struggle to find one.

Princes’ Square in the town centre is a bit of an estate agents’ quarter and, if you like doing things the traditional way, you could spend an afternoon visiting each one and assessing what they offer and how they treated you after you walked through their door.

But, even though we’ve won awards for our customer service – which we’re currently rated the UK’s No2 for on independent review website Trustpilot – it’s not where you’ll find us.

We’re Just A Click Away

We’re already here. We’re on your laptop. We’re on your phone. All you had to do to find one of the most innovative and straight-talking estate agents Harrogate has to offer was to go online. No wandering around in the rain, no waiting for your turn to be spoken to; we’re here. Right now.

Hopefully, a quick browse on our website will answer most of your questions. Our packages are simple, our FAQs page should give you the answers you need to questions about selling your home online, our “How To …” page offers videos to guide you through some of tricky bits of selling your home and you’ll notice we even offer a no-nonsense money-back guarantee.

Of course, if you’d like to meet us face-to-face, we have offices in Harrogate too; the main difference between us and the other Harrogate estate agents is that we don’t have a shop front and we don’t advertise in the local press.

Selling Your Property To The World

Instead, we use the online portals including Rightmove, Zoopla and PrimeLocation to market your property; we’re members of the ProperStar network which advertises your home on a network of 80 websites in 50 countries around the world in 19 different languages and we use Facebook and Twitter to reach specific buyers.

There are some traditional agents who will chat down the pub about how online estate agency is risk, an off-shot of the industry rife with cowboys after a quick buck – but they will then go back to their office and use exactly the same tools we use. The simple truth is, just like high street retailing, the world of communication is changing fast – and we’ve chosen to change with it.

If you’d like an initial chat with one of the team, just drop us a line or give us a call. We’ll love to hear from you and perhaps get you started with a no-obligation valuation.

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About esale

eSale  Estate Agents, founded in 2012, bringing a fresh, clear and easy approach to online estate agency in England and Wales. We are a group of professionals with years of experience in helping people sell and buy property.

We have the skills to ensure the correct price is set for your property and we can negotiate the right sale price between buyer and seller.

Additionally, we can arrange accompanied viewings and also see the sale through to completion.

Your property will feature on Rightmove , Zoopla  and Primelocation esale have a wide advertising network, come and join our approach to selling a property, no matter what your property value is.