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Is it the time of year to sell your house? – An eSale blog

WINTER IS COMING …

The clocks have just gone back so it’s the time of year we usually hear sage advice on how it’s not the right time to sell your home.

Folk will tell you, once the night’s draw in, it’s hard to view a property after 4pm and everyone’s thinking about Christmas anyway so it’s pointless getting your property listed.

One upon a time, that might have been true; there’s also no denying there is an annual surge of new homes going on the market in spring and in sales in September and October as buyers want to see themselves safely ensconced in their new home before Strictly has finished on the telly.

But, as we’ve said many times – and probably will again – the best time to sell your home is when someone wants to buy it and there’s every chance they’re out there waiting in November or January as at any other time of year.

“Only in an idyllic world would everyone move house just when it suited them”

Admittedly, the thought of leaving a warm home to view properties is less appealing in the winter but then people have all sorts of reasons for looking. Only in an idyllic world would everyone move house just when it suited them.

Not only that but modern technology has made it easier to research property in advance from the comfort of your own armchair. A savvy buyer will already know quite a bit about your home before they ring your doorbell; they will have been able to see images on the portals, research the street on Google and even have used the Land Registry website to see what homes are selling for in your area.

 

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The Christmas Spirit

The viewing is still important of course; nothing beats actually walking round a property to get a feel for the place and for the location – but it’s a tad naïve to suggest that, once we say goodbye to British Summer Time, all buyers go into hibernation.

We’ve sold homes on Christmas Eve and between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day before. Indeed, the festive season even added to the sellers’ excitement as it’s a great time of year to discover that your plans for the following one have just taken a huge leap forward.

So, if you are thinking of selling and you hear any more armchair experts tutting and suggesting you wait for the spring, you might want to suggest they introduce themselves to the 21st century. The property market has moved on and, with more new technology in the pipeline, will probably continue to do so.

 

Our advice when finding your new home…view, view then view again. eSale

WHEN DREAM HOMES BECOME NIGHTMARES…

One of the less stressful aspects of moving house is often the fact that, as well as leaving one place behind, you’re likely to be arriving in another.

Choosing your new home can actually be exciting and, although we’ll make wish lists and promise ourselves we’ll only seriously consider somewhere which ticks all the boxes, the place we actually end up buying is often the one we simply fell in love with almost as soon as we walked through the door.

We’ll forgive it a few foibles; we’ll vow to complete the refurbishments or DIY jobs needed to bring it up to scratch as soon as we’ve moved in.

But some new research done by interior designers Hillarys suggests that, while we may fall in love with property in a matter of minutes, we can fall out of it almost as quickly as well. Indeed, of those who have bought homes over the last two years, it seems as many as a third have later regretted their choice. (https://www.propertywire.com/news/uk/third-uk-buyers-realise-not-dream-home-within-months-moving/)

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If you read the research, it’s often the “unseen” which leads to disappointment. Noisy neighbours or relentless traffic are not always going to be immediately evident or something a seller is going to own up to during a viewing.

Nevertheless, the research underlines the importance of trying to keep our emotions in check when we’re on the cusp of making one of life’s most significant transactions. Of course, it’s important that we love our new home – but not to the extent that we end up hanging a millstone around our own neck.

If we have any advice to offer it would simply be to make sure you do all your homework (if you’ll pardon the pun). Do some research on the property portals first to find out what homes have been selling for in the same area and use the street and the district as a search term on Google to see what comes up. Entering the street name as a search term on the local newspaper’s website may also throw up local issues if there are any.

If there are jobs that need doing, ask the seller if they would be able to get a quote and then knock the amount off the asking price or even complete the job themselves before they leave. As long as it’s not simply cosmetic, most sellers will be happy to oblige, especially if it means they can put their Sold board up outside.

Don’t be shy about asking for a second viewing. If your first visit was after working hours, see if you can come back during the day to see if there are any marked differences in activity around the house. Why not ask a friend or a family member to come with you too? They may see things you hadn’t noticed and a second opinion could be useful.

But, perhaps most importantly, don’t make an offer on a home which is going to leave you on a financial knife-edge. It can be tempting to stretch your budget to secure a dream property but it could turn into a nightmare if a hike in interest rates means you have no cash for life’s little luxuries – or not even enough just to make ends meet.

If you’d like more advice on buying or selling property, why not browse earlier posts on our blog? However, we’re here if you need us so feel free to give us a call or drop us a line and we’ll do our best to help if we can.

Online vs traditional estate agents what the mirror thinks – and what we think.

A LOOK IN THE MIRROR

As an estate agent, naturally we read the property press and, to be honest, quite a lot of the time, it’s not a pleasurable experience.

It’s a fact of life that the industry’s media is dominated by The Establishment – almost all of them High Street Henrys who have been around for donkey’s years and feel very much threatened by the newer online business model.

Barely a day goes by without online estate agents coming under fire – so it’s refreshing to come across something which seems to make a genuine fist of telling things as they are without favouring one side or the other.

Over the weekend, the Mirror’s Money Section had a stab at a direct comparison between the high street agents and their online equivalents and, to be fair, it was pretty balanced. However, there is a BUT – and it’s the fact the author never really dug deep enough into the online offer.

With a small fortune spent of TV advertising and marketing, it’s hardly surprising folk are mesmerised by Purple Bricks. But, on the other hand, it’s actually misleading to suggest that all online agents slavishly follow their lead.

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Examples?

1/ Well the article claimed, if they opt to use on online agent, vendors have to pay a non-refundable fee up front. Wrong.

Instruct eSale and, yes, you have an up-front package as an option. However, if you’re not happy and you tell us within 30 days, that fee is returned.

2/ The article also claimed “on completion” deals offered by online agents are non-negotiable and non-refundable. Wrong again.

Opt for ours, and you pay us nothing unless we sell your home. It really is that simple. There are no hidden credit agreements or deferred payments.

3/ The article suggested vendors who call with inquiries will find themselves speaking to a call centre. Er… Wrong.

At eSale, customer service is our byword and you are assigned to a member of our sales team who will help you every step of the way. If you call and they are not in for any reason, your message will be relayed to them as soon as possible.

4/ The article suggested that online agents offer a package which seems competitive but doesn’t include extras such as a floor plan, photographs. Wrong.

We offer two simple packages which not only include floor plans and photographs but VAT as well. The price you see is the price you pay.

5/ The article claimed vendors who opt to use an online estate agent will usually find themselves conducting viewings themselves. Wrong.

If you prefer, eSale will send someone to assist with the viewing. They will be fully briefed on your property and will report back to us immediately with any feedback from a potential buyer. We will then report to you. We are by no means alone either; many other online estate agents offer a similar service too.

6/ The article suggests online estate agents cannot chase up solicitors which can slow down progress on your sale. Wrong.

At eSale, we speak to lawyers on a regular basis – whether it’s the vendor’s or the buyer’s. We’re actually pretty adept at banging heads together if required and have done so on a number of occasions.

So, as you can see, we’re no Purple Bricks. They may be bigger but that doesn’t mean they’re the only players in the game or that everyone else has to do as they do.

When a reviewer only has limited time and space to make comparisons, it’s easy to focus on the giants. But, just as Coca-Cola might be the behemoth of the soft drinks industry, it doesn’t follow all soft drinks taste the same…

Is it a good time to buy or sell? An eSale blog

BUYING OR SELLING PROPERTY? SOME GOOD NEWS – AND SOME BAD NEWS …

There’s been a bit of good news for the property market of late.

It’s no secret that there’s already been significant pressure on the Government to consider a change to legislation on Stamp Duty. Many feel first-time buyers – already struggling with spiralling prices – simply can’t afford to shell out even more to cover tax due on house purchases over £125,000.

Some want to see the threshold raised to better reflect the average asking price of a house in 2017 while others have suggested it ought to be the seller not the buyer who pays. Both could lift the burden a little and even help rejuvenate a flagging market.

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The Good News …

At last, its seems the lobby has made some in-roads with back-benchers in Parliament who are now reported to be applying pressure on Chancellor Philip Hammond to include some form of concession in his November Budget.

It’s by no means cut-and-dried of course. There will probably have to be quite a bit more to-ing and fro-ing in the corridors of Westminster before anything is confirmed – but at least it’s a step forward because, earlier this year, the Treasury seemed more or less determined to ignore all calls for change.

But, then …

The Bad News …

After a long period of stability – which has helped keep the UK’s property market ticking over despite global turmoil – the Bank of England has hinted that it may be forced to consider a rise in interest rates.

If it goes ahead, it’s an obvious blow for those who have a mortgage already as lenders are likely to follow suit – but it could also signal an end to some of the deals being offered to help first-time buyers get a foot on the property ladder.

A rise wouldn’t necessarily have an immediate or a telling impact but it could be enough to stymie movement in the property market for a while. Sellers may opt to stay put rather than stretch their finances, possibly reducing the amount of new stock available.

Combine that with the clocks going back – a time of year when folk often manage to convince themselves (incorrectly) that homes don’t sell – and we could be looking at some of the positives inspired by changes to Stamp Duty being negated.

Our advice? Well, as ever, if you’re selling, now is as good a time as any – particularly if you want to avoid the risk that you might have to pay the Stamp Duty on your property yourself.

And if you’re buying? There could be some better deals out there in the short-term if enough sellers want to move swiftly but, after that, it’s hard to tell at this stage if you’ll be better or worse off. If the Stamp Duty burden is transferred to sellers, a first-time buyer could be looking at lower costs – but, that pesky interest rate rise could peg them back a little too.

But, as ever, if you’d like more advice on moving home, feel free to browse our earlier blog posts or please do drop us a line or give us a call. We’re happy to help if we can.

How to update before selling your home – some eSale tips

WHAT BUYERS MAY LOOK FOR IN A “MODERN” HOME

If you’re getting a property ready for market, it can be tempting to go to town on refurbishments. It seems to make sense that, if you spend some cash on a little rejuvenation, you’ll get it back in spades on the asking price of your property.

The thing is, in reality, it’s a risk. There are no recommended retail prices when it comes to property and your house is worth no more than someone is willing to pay – and that might not be as high as the figure you have in your head. Spend a fortune on an extension or a conservatory and you may not recoup the cost.

In our experience, the best policy is to have a look at the property portals to see what similar homes are selling for in your area and then get a valuation from a couple of estate agents which should give a ball park figure for what your home is worth.

However, if you still think a few improvements could help bring your home up to date, we’d suggest they’re modest – and here are a few ideas:

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Connectivity

We’re all far more reliant on the internet these days so why not look at having a few more ethernet connections installed around the house. If kids’ bedrooms can have a cable connection to the internet for all their gadgetry, it could help sell your home.

TV points

Back in the 1970s and ‘80s we all probably used to have a single aerial socket for the one television we owned but TVs are everywhere these days. Again a few more places to put them could help. Have you thought of wall mountings for flat-screen TVs? It could be worth looking into…

Socket To Them

There are more electrical house appliances around the average homes than there used to be even a decade ago. A kitchen with an abundance of wall sockets is a boon and a few extra dotted around the house won’t go amiss.

Paperless Homes

The trend these days tends to be towards “mood walls”. Wallpaper hasn’t disappeared completely but it’s not as popular as it used to be. If it’s beginning to peel, our advice would be to strip it and get the paint tin out rather than replace it.

These are just a few ideas but a little research of some of the interior design pages could help too. If you’d like any more advice on moving home, please do feel free to browse earlier blog posts or give us a call. We’d be delighted to assist if we can.

Online estate agents ruffling feathers again – surely not!

THE PROBLEM WITH ASSUMPTIONS…

With London-centric estate agent Foxtons announcing that tougher competition has had a marked impact on its profits and Purple Bricks in trouble with the ASA over the terminology of its TV ads, online agents have had more than their fair share of headlines this week.

But, the story which has caught our eye is an analysis of the market by another former high street agent who claims online rivals (eSale included presumably) have collectively “re-written the sacred principle on which traditional estate agency is based” and “disrupted the psyche of the vendor”.

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Ruffled feathers

And how has this been achieved? Well, it seems the foundations of the industry have been rocked to the core by the concept of sellers paying an up-front fee rather than on completion. (More here: (https://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2017/10/new-analysis-shows-purplebricks-massive-domination-of-online-sector)

It’s certainly true that the relatively new online business model has ruffled feathers among estate agency’s establishment. It’s probably true that quite a few (at a guess, Foxtons among them) just wish the internet would go away.

But, as you’ll see, by converting property listings into potential income, the article goes on to extrapolate the online agents’ financial performance. However – as even the author admits – the figures are purely estimates based on an assumption that ALL online estate agents ONLY charge one flat rate payable in advance, and that’s simply not the case.

Our fees – the facts

At eSale, although we do offer an up-front package, we also offer our customers the option of paying on completion. There are no tie-ins, you’re not obliged to use any or our advisors, there are no hidden credit agreements and, if we don’t sell your home, you pay us nothing.

Okay, so we’re not quite big enough (yet) to have caught Mr Stanton’s attention, even though we have more properties listed than one other he mentions – and maybe that’s because we’re based north of Watford. 

But that’s not the point we’re trying to make. In a week when one of our biggest online rivals is slapped on the wrist for “misleading” the public with its advertising, we feel it’s important that other unhelpful generalisations are quashed too – even if they are from someone with 30 years’ experience in the property market.

Yes we’re on online estate agent. Yes, we offer an up-front package. But, no, that’s not ALL we do – and a little bit of browsing on the internet will soon demonstrate that we’re by no means alone.

So, if you’re researching estate agents to help sell your property, we suggest you check out the facts rather than estimates, extrapolations, best guesses or assumptions. And, should you be told all online agents are actually agent provocateurs, you might want to check out the motives of our accusers too.

The future of the high street estate agent? – What we think at eSale

WILL HIGH TECH TAKE TO THE HIGH STREET?

Flicking through industry news today, we came across an article about a “new type of hybrid estate agency” mixing a high street location with the latest innovations in communications technology.

Naturally, as estate agents, we were curious and read on… It seems the concept is based on an interactive touch-screen display on a busy high street offering passers-by access to details of homes for sale in the area (more here: https://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2017/10/a-new-type-of-hybrid-agency–with-a-high-street-touch-screen)

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At first sight – as it’s a new idea combining aspects of the traditional high street estate agency and the more recent online business model – we felt the folk behind it should be applauded.

But, once we began to discuss the concept in more detail, one or two flaws cropped up – and, sadly we suspect, they may prove to be stumbling blocks significant enough to prevent the idea from catching on.

Firstly, it’s not clear if the display will be able to offer much more than your average smart phone. If we can achieve the same end result by using an iPhone in a café across the road, why would we be want to use a touch screen while standing outside in the cold and rain?

Secondly, it takes a while to persuade the public to try something new. Remember the automated self-service supermarket check-outs? It took time for shoppers to trust them; no one wanted to appear to be a hopeless technophobe by attempting to use one only to be told repeatedly that there were endless “unexpected items in the bagging area”.

Most of us did eventually get the hang of them but that was because the industry as a whole got behind the technology and, suddenly, self-service check-outs were everywhere.

In the estate agency game, there are plenty of folk among the Big Names still hoping the internet is just a fad that will go away soon. The new company can therefore expect little support from property’s Establishment.

Thirdly, as the technology is new and only available to a limited audience to begin with, it will have to be bomb proof. If it fails – whether it’s a hardware fault of a glitch in the software – you won’t be able to just shuffle down to the next terminal along the high street. The customer will walk away disappointed and probably relate the failure to anyone who asks, spreading a perception of unreliability.

So, although we would take our hats off to the company behind the idea and we do genuinely wish them well, we fear they may be facing some pretty tough odds.

Will touch-screen technology be available on your high street soon when you’re hunting for a new home? It would be exciting to think so … but, sadly, we suspect there are too many obstacles to overcome to make it a reality any time soon.

Estate agents photographs – ideas for buyers. An eSale blog

PUTTING YOU IN THE PICTURE

Chatting to a photographer friend the other day (you get to know one or two in this job) we were exchanging tales of horror images or property for sale we’ve seen in the past.

It’s easily done and, to be honest, it’s not always the sellers’ fault. After all, a good lens man or woman should be able to spot objects in the image likely to leave a poor impression.

But, while terrible pictures are a staple when it comes to estate agents relating stories of slip-ups committed by others, the conversation led down another path we thought worth sharing …

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Get snap happy

If you’re buying property and you have arranged a viewing, have you ever thought of taking a small compact camera or asked if you can use your smart phone to take a few images while you’re looking around?

Our photographer friend did it when he was in the market for a new home – and then used the images to better assess the property in his own time.

Not only did it give him the opportunity to have another look at the house without the agent breathing down his neck, it also meant he could try a few imaginary changes – and then see the results on his laptop.

After all, with apps and software such as Photoshop, it’s much easier to cut and paste things into images to see if your furniture would look right in a certain place, change the colour of the walls, carpets, curtains…

The online alternative

Obviously, your own aptitude with the available technology may limit just how much you can do. You may also find some sellers are reluctant to have additional images taken of the inside of the property when they haven’t had time to tidy up properly.

But, if that’s the case, then why not use the pictures taken for the estate agent’s marketing blurb? You should be able to find them online, use a screen-grab app to download them, and then muck about with them to your heart’s content. As long as you don’t publish them, you’re not breaking any copyright and, if it helps to give you a better idea if this really is the home for you, it could even be to the seller’s advantage too.

Obviously, it’s not going to be a technique everyone’s comfortable with. There will always be some buyers who don’t need to look closer to a property as they simply fall in love with it regardless.

But, in a technological age, why not use all the tools at your disposal?

If you’d like more ideas on buying and selling property, why not browse other posts on our blog. Alternatively, you could watch our “How To…” videos here: http://www.esaleuk.com/how-to-videos/ , drop us a line or give us a call. We’re here to help…

For Sale Boards and selling your home – Our view on the matter

A SELLING TECHNIQUE WHICH SHOULD GO BY THE BOARD …?

When you’re selling property, For Sale boards are usually part of the deal. You pick your estate agent and, within a couple of days, someone comes around to put it up. It takes a few minutes and, suddenly, the whole street is aware that, soon, you may no longer be their neighbour.

Sometimes, the prospect of those conversations over the garden fence or at the bottom of the drive with folk who live nearby is enough to prompt some sellers to request that their agent dispenses with a For Sale board. Sometimes, too, there are genuine personal reasons why a client wishes a sale to be discreet.

Believe it or not, we’ve even had a few sellers ask if we would mind not putting up a board simply because we’re an online agent; that means our fees are considerably lower than our high street rivals and they didn’t want neighbours thinking they were selling “on the cheap”!

In our view, if you choose to instruct us, it suggests you’re smart enough to have worked out a savvy way to sell your home and that an online estate agent can provide much the same service as a traditional one, regardless of what they charge.

But, whatever the reason for not having a For Sale board, we take the view that the customer is always right and, if that’s your preference then that’s perfectly fine …

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However …

… we would point out that you could be missing a trick when it comes to reaching possible buyers. Fair enough, if your home is on a cul-de-sac, there might not be that much passing trade. But, if not, it could be that your buyer walks or drives past every day and is unaware that your house is one the market.

Your property will only be available to view on the portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, in the press or in a high street window and, although it’s true a dedicated buyer may find it there, the more casual house-hunters may not.

What if your address is someone else’s ideal? They pass your home regularly and have often mused about how it would suit them – but, as there’s no board, they won’t know it’s available.

There’s the neighbours too. Maybe they know someone looking for property like yours or maybe one of their family is looking for something close by.

Something else to bear in mind is that a For Sale board may also attract attention from other firms which you may find helpful; professional cleaners, solicitors or removal firms for example. Some keep an eye open and drop leaflets through letterboxes of homes with boards outside and, although you may have already sorted something out yourself, it’s sometimes useful to have a few to browse so you can compare prices.

But, at the end of the day, the decision on whether to have a For Sale board is yours to make. Adorned with telephone numbers and website addresses, of course they’re great publicity for the agent – but this is YOUR house sale and you have the right to make a choice.

If you are thinking of selling and you would like advice on other aspects of moving home, why not have a browse through earlier blogs (http://www.esaleuk.com/ourblog/) or have a look at our How To … videos (http://www.esaleuk.com/how-to-videos/)? Equally, feel free to give us a call or drop us a line. We’re here to help if we can.

The stupid things we estate agents say! – An eSale blog

ESTATE AGENTS’ JARGON AND WHAT IT (PROBABLY) MEANS

Perhaps we’re most inclined to think of doctors or lawyers but, when it comes to it, every profession has its jargon.

We all get used to repeating the same phrases or having to describe the same things over an over that we develop a sort of verbal shorthand which becomes clichéd.

For example, if we’re watching Casualty or Holby City, we’ll nod sagely at the acronyms and abbreviations as though we’re experts in emergency medical treatment; it’s the same with the crime dramas and police work.

But, if your guilty secret is that you like to browse homes on the property portals, then you’ve probably got used to stock phrases used to describe houses for sale too.

All estate agents use them; even us (although we do try not to if we can help it). But, as buying and selling property isn’t something many of us do very often, some of the terminology may not be as familiar as some of the jargon we hear on the TV.

So, as a result, we thought we’d offer a few slightly tongue-in-cheek definitions of what some of the stock phrases can mean. Putting the list together raised a few smiles in the office so we hope you enjoy them too!

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Estate Agent Parlance and What It (Probably) Means

Potential: It may need quite a bit of work.

Unique / fantastic / handsome / superb / stylish / outstanding / attractive / bespoke: We can’t really think of any other fitting or accurate superlatives which won’t get us into trouble.

Compact: So small even a hamster might reject it.

Spacious: Not your average two-bed semi or terrace.

Family home: It has more than one bedroom.

Quiet / tucked-away location: It’s in a village or a suburb on the edge of town.

Rural aspect: It’s even further away than that from the nearest town.

Sought-after / enviable location: Expect to pay a bit more.

Prime / prestigious / exclusive location: Expect to pay a lot more.

Stunning / immaculate / well-presented / beautifully appointed: Neat, tidy, well-maintained.

Substantial / imposing / generously proportioned / impressive / expansive / extensive / magnificent: Larger than your average three-bed semi.

Lovingly restored: Undergone some refurbishment.

Highly individual / individually-styled: Interior décor or a layout which may raise an eyebrow.

Exciting / rare opportunity: We don’t win instructions on this sort of home very often.

Characterful / charming: Old or possibly listed.

Contemporary: On a new estate or perhaps a modern barn conversion.

Convenient / ideally-situated: It’s not in the back of beyond. It may be in a town or village centre but it can also mean there’s a shop, a pub, or even a bus stop nearby.

Realistically-priced: Offered for a little less than most.

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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.