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Low cost estate agents

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Not all cheap online estate agents are the same

There’s no doubt the internet has changed how we live – from shopping on line to staying in touch with family and friends.

Estate agency is no different and, these days, you can even sell your house online – particularly if you’re on a tight budget.

High street agents still have a place of course. There will always be folk who are going to more comfortable dealing with an agent face-to-face. But, with average commission at around 1.5%, you will be paying thousands of pounds rather than hundreds charged by the cheapest online estate agent. Low cost estate agents are not hard to find. Indeed, using search terms like sell house cheap or sell my house cheap will more than likely throw up a list of dozens to choose from. But, before you make a choice about which one to contact, we’d certainly counsel a little research.

Do you know anyone who has sold their home online for example? What sort of experience did they have? If you don’t, why not have a look on independent review website Trustpilot, where you can search either for a specific company of just browse comments on who has done a great job – and who hasn’t.

Just like in any other line of business, not all cheap online estate agents are the same. Some offer more options than others – like our own 100% no-quibble money-back guarantee for example. Some, like us, will also offer you the option of paying up front or one completion. But why not start with a check-list, pick three who best match your budget and see who ticks the most boxes? You may even be able to haggle a little if one comes close to matching all your criteria. But, remember at all times you are the customer. It may be that you’re on the lookout for cheap estate agents but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer second best when it comes to customer service.

As you’re on our page, you’re only a click away from finding out more about us. We’re here if you need us – perhaps with a valuation, if that’s all you need for now. But one thing we will promise is sound, professional, no-nonsense advice. After all, what more would you expect from a company with its roots in Yorkshire.

One step forward two steps back

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So now we know.

After eight weeks of campaigning, seemingly endless soundbites and strident newspaper headlines, the UK is back where it was in 2010. We have a hung Parliament and today there’s some frantic activity going on behind the scenes as the parties jockey for position, each proclaiming victory for themselves.

So Who Are The Winners?

But, if truth be told, no one has won today. The only cold fact we have is that we face months of uncertainty – possibly even longer if Theresa May stands by her vow to stay on. That might seem like a bit of an oxymoron but today – far from offering the strength and stability the Tories promised – May looks to have become a lame duck Prime Minister on borrowed time.

So what does the 2017 general election mean for the Uk property market?

The Impact On The Property Market

The answer is probably not a lot. House prices have been bumping along for a year now since the Brexit vote a year ago. The good news is that they haven’t plummeted like many commentators suggested – but they haven’t exactly soared either.

Until today, predictions were that there would be nothing more than moderate rise in 2017; perhaps a percentage point or two. By 2020, the accepted wisdom seems to be that they might be as much as 5% higher than they are today. It’s unlikely a hung Parliament is going to change that.

Why? Well, in short, with more political uncertainty ahead, some sellers – particularly those with a weather eye on the price their home may fetch – are likely to stay put, at least for now. Less stock coming onto the market tends to drive prices up but as many buyers will also be unwilling to take significant financial risks right now, the two factors tend to balance each other out. The result is likely to be a modest rise in property values – but not a massive one.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I’ve gone on record before to say, if we still want our kids to aspire to owning their own homes in future, what the UK needs is a housing policy divorced from politics. Perhaps a commission to lead the way, delivering long-term objectives which avoid the boom and bust nature of the market in the past and perhaps even influence future Chancellors when it comes to setting Budgets, ensuring family incomes don’t fall so far behind property prices, a home of your own becomes a pipe dream.

In my view, nothing which happened overnight has changed my mind.

Mrs May may have promised us a bold step forward. In reality, it feels like we’ve taken two steps back

Fast – but who ends up furious?

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How MUCH below market value are you prepared to go?

There’s been quite a bit of change in the estate agency game over the last decade and, until recently, companies like us were the new kids on the block. We’ve been among those shaking the tree and upsetting the establishment with our low fees and new technology while estate agency in general has given itself a hard time coming to terms with the internet and a different way of doing business.

But, suddenly, online estate agents are not the latest thing any more. There are other new players in the property game – and they’re already all over the TV offering deals even the new-tech, cut-price online agencies are going to struggle to keep pace with.

We buy any property

You’ll have no doubt have heard of WeBuyAnyCar.com? Well, now there are companies out there offering to do the same with property. If you want to sell your home, they’ll buy it, regardless of size or condition. What’s more, if they don’t complete within a set deadline, they’ll even pay your mortgage until the deal is done. Simples, as a certain meerkat might say.

It sounds great doesn’t it? No more hanging around wringing your hands waiting for a viewing. No more breaking chains or flaky buyers to worry about. They tell you what they think your home is worth, you accept and – bingo! You can look forward to a pile of cash and a completion date.

So, where’s the catch?

If the truth be told, if you’re the sort of seller who just wants a quick deal and you’re quite happy to pay a bit extra to avoid the hassle, there probably isn’t any. The value placed on your property might be a tad below the market value but then that’s a price you’re happy to pay for a quick sale guaranteed, right?

The thing is, how MUCH below market value are you prepared to go?

How low can you go?

If it’s more than £500, then you’ve already paid more than you’d be paying us to sell your home online. If it’s more than £3,000, then it’s costing you more than an average high street estate agent’s commission. If you’re happy paying that in return for a speedy house sale, fine. But, if not – or if it’s much more than that – then it might be time to think again.

The thing is, companies like this will need to rely on a swift turnover to keep the cash flowing. If it ends up with a stock of properties it can’t sell on, then the price it’s willing to pay you for your home is likely to come down even more.

As the saying goes, you pays your money and takes your choice. Our advice though is to be sure you’ve looked into them all first rather than being suckered by a catchphrase or a nifty little advertising jingle.

What the politicians aren’t telling you.

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There’s been precious little airtime given to what any of the parties will do to make home-ownership something our kids can aspire to once more.

Have you noticed anything missing as the political parties enter the final week of campaigning in the run up to the general election next week?

The usual posturing and finger-pointing is all there of course along with the battle buses, the placards, the slogans …

But it’s more the policies we’re worried about – or should we say the lack of one in particular. Yes, we’ve heard about education, child care, policing, nationalisation of the railways and the water industry. There have been new policies and even U-turns on taxation too.

But one thing we haven’t heard very much about at all is one issue all the parties were keen to emphasise was a priority for them a few short months ago. What has happened to the determination to sort of the mess we’re in when it comes to the housing crisis?

What About The Housing “Crisis”?

Last autumn, the Conservatives were promising billions of pounds for projects which would unlock investment in new housing stock. Before that targets were set to build a million new homes by 2020. Fresh initiatives were mentioned which would help to get first-time buyers on the property ladder.

In the lettings market, agents were warned they wouldn’t be able to charge tenants fees any more while the Tories rejected calls for a rethink over recent taxation and ramped up the war on buy-to-let.

But, almost since the election was announced, there’s been precious little airtime given to what any of the parties will do to make home-ownership something our kids can aspire to once more – a silence we find both perplexing and a little ominous.

Maybe the parties believe it’s not a vote-winner; maybe they think most of us are more interested in the NHS, the privatised industries, public services and even a few extra bank holidays.

Perhaps our political leaders are resigned to a more European approach when it comes to property in the UK. Could it be that they’ve already reached the conclusion that, no matter what they do, the industry is doomed to eat itself anyway.

The Big Issue

If not, they’re leaving it late to address what surely must be one of the most significant social issues of the 21st century so far. After all, if left unattended, the current trends in housing are more likely to affect how all of us live, regardless of who owns our trains, our hospitals or our water pipes.

If it bothers you too, why not ask your candidates? Who knows; if enough of us demand answers, maybe there’s still time to have property in the UK move up the list a little. If it doesn’t, then there’s a chance, even in our own lifetime, we could see a one-bedroom apartment beyond the budget of most who can’t draw from the Bank of Mum & Dad – and what sort of society is that to leave to our children?

That was then, this is now…

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AFTER ALL IT IS 2017

Way back in the 1980s when Del Boy and Rodders were making us laugh, there was big hair and a yuppie was what we aspired to, estate agents had to work a lot harder for their fees.

Email wasn’t here yet so letters had to be written and sent by post to clients, solicitors and all the other people involved in the buying and selling of a property. There were no digital images so photographs had to be printed and sometimes even stuck into brochures by hand.

Marketing a property

Without the internet, there was no Rightmove or Zoopla so marketing a property was harder.  Agents relied on mailing lists, shop windows and newspaper advertising to attract buyers and  viewings were far more vital – an opportunity to encapsulate all of a property’s selling points in a short space of time. A good agent had the patter down to a tee every time while a poor one would fumble his lines.

It’s true that overheads like offices, cars, phones and newspaper advertising also had to be covered so charging 2% of the selling price was probably justifiable.

But that was then – and this is now…

Now, we have email so there’s no postage to pay; now we have cell phones so we can call or message anyone from just about anywhere so there’s no waiting until we get back to the office to keep the buying and selling process in motion.

Now we have digital photography, which means we can take and send a reasonable image in minutes; now, there are a number of software options available which make brochures so much less of a Pritt Stick challenge.

A potential buyer can do much of the research on any given property themselves; they can arrive at a viewing already knowing what’s nearby – even if they’ve travelled from the other end of the country. Even at the “point of sale” the agent’s job is simply not what it was.

So how come, if you engage a traditional high street agent, you’re still paying much the same as you would have 35 years ago? Even though modern technology has taken away so many aspects of the job, the fee just hasn’t dropped.

Of course, a traditional high street agent will point to the costs associated with their office and a fleet of branded cars and bluster about how they “know” the market so much better than these Jonny Come Lately online agents who are just internet cowboys with their eye on the main chance and a fast buck. They’ll suck their teeth and mutter darkly about poor customer service and spout uninformed conjecture about the risks, including paying up-front fees.

But, quietly behind the scenes in that same high street office, there’s more than likely rapid movement towards the online business model going on – in fact so much of it that, somewhat ironically, a new company has been formed recently just to help traditional agents make the conversion so they can offer something closer to their online rivals.

Of course, some buyers and sellers will always be uncomfortable with the concept of such a significant and sizable transaction being online. Just like many prefer proper books to e-readers and others prefer to browse the supermarket aisles rather than having the weekly shop delivered, there will be folk who prefer inspecting images of homes in shop windows and dealing with their estate agent face-to-face so they can see the whites of their eyes while they guide them through the house-buying process.

But for others, paying £5,000 for the privilege when you could receive much the same service for £500 doesn’t make sense any more. They know times have changed – whether the traditional agents like it or not – and they don’t like being told they’re some sort of heretic simply because they don’t see the sense in paying over the odds.

After all, this is 2017. It’s just a shame there are so many in our industry who would rather it wasn’t.

 

Here we go again.

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PROPERTY AND ANOTHER ELECTION – IS IT TIME FOR A CHANGE?

Theresa May’s announcement this week that the Government intends going to the polls on June 8 will have taken many by surprise. No doubt there’s a political strategy behind the decision – one the Conservatives are probably hoping will suit them best – but, for the rest of us, it’s another lurch into the unknown and that is bound to have repercussions. The property market is as likely as any other to be affected and, for some, that might be a good thing and, for others maybe not.

First of all, let’s not forget it’s already a sellers’ market. World events such as Brexit and The Donald’s succession to power in America mean there are homeowners who might otherwise have considered moving adopting a wait-and-see approach instead. Fewer homes available inevitably exacerbates demand which tends to lead to an upward trend in asking prices. With an election now scheduled for June, that situation isn’t going to get any better.

However, although there may be fewer sellers around, the irony is that those who do decide to take their property to market may actually do better now than they would if world events move on apace and the artificial bottlenecks applied by political considerations ease.

For first-time buyers though, an election isn’t good news – at least not for the next seven weeks. If the number of homes on the market falls further as sellers await a result, not only does it get even harder to find the right home for you, there could even be a short-term spike in prices – and they won’t necessarily fall again either, at least not in the short-term.

But perhaps the biggest threat another election poses to the housing market depends on who wins. If it’s the Tories, emboldened by a mandate, we could see more radical policy reforms but, equally, if it’s Labour – or any other party come to that – we could see the slate wiped clean and a whole new tranche of new measures introduced which, however well-meaning, could result in slowing the pace of the change in the property market we so desperately need.

Of course, right now, it’s all if, buts and maybes – and there’s the rub. With no long-term strategy insulated against the ever-changing landscape of politics, we simply don’t know what to expect.

Is it time for an independent body or a commission to set long-term strategies for something as vital to the economy as the property market rather than leaving it to the whim of Westminster which, after all, faces change and upheaval every five years? Is it time for someone or something other than the Government to lead the way on building, address the skills shortage in the construction industry, work with local government on issues which stop us keeping up with housing demand and to ensure there are homes which our children will be able to afford in a few years time?

It’s not for us to say, but it’s a thought. Would you vote for that…?

…and now it’s time to deliver!

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READY OR NOT, HERE WE COME

If there was a soundtrack to our lives at Esale at the moment, it would probably be the theme tune from Rocky…

We said we were ready to take on the big guys, we said we were ready for the challenge of the national stage – and now it’s time to deliver.

If you’re one of our regular readers, you’ll know 2017 has already been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. We started it by announcing a crowd-funding drive to raise the capital we needed to help us with the marketing which will make us a household name. It’s a grand dream, we know, and reaching the target looked a little touch-and-go at times. But, suddenly, we’ve done it – and now we have to live up to the promises we have made and give it our best shot.

It’s not going to happen overnight. First we need to run a rule over our options, take professional advice and then think long and hard about how best to use it. We have to come up with a detailed strategy which best suits our brand, decide how to launch it and then how to keep up the momentum over the next 12 months.

We need to be sure we’re consistent, coherent and competitive. In short, we need to convince people that we can be trusted with one of the most important financial transactions of their lives – in fact that we can perform so professionally that they would have no hesitation about recommending us to family and friends.

We’re working on it right now and, if we’re honest, the signs are already pretty good. We’ve already seen a surge in instructions over the last few weeks and we have more properties on our books from across England and Wales now than we’ve ever had before.

But that doesn’t mean we’re complacent. Far from it. We are also very much aware of the trust our investors have placed in us and we are conscious of the fact this opportunity is down to each and every one of the individuals who have decided to be part of our development.

But, at the moment, we would happily admit every day also feels like an adventure. We know we’re heading into a fiercely competitive market and few of our competitors will be happy to see us. We know no one is going to be giving us an easy ride.

But, to be honest, we’re itching to get started. Cue that music … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvEnIkz82A0

We are going from strength to strength

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AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR OUR CUSTOMERS…

It was five years ago now that we ended up in estate agency – almost by accident.

Forgive us if you’ve heard the story before but our roots are in lettings and we only crossed the boundary into sales when one of our landlords asked us if we could help him dispose of a property. We were successful and, within months, others had asked if we could help them too. Before we knew it – and without meaning to – we had laid the foundations for Esale.

Little did we know where it would lead. There were just two of us back then and there were some pretty daunting obstacles to overcome – not least building a credible portfolio of properties. After all, there’s a big difference between selling property for people with whom you already have a relationship and complete strangers, many of whom are not sure about the whole concept of selling their home over the internet.

But, right from the start, exemplary customer service has been our watchword. We’ve listened to what our customers have told us – both about the service we have delivered and the service they would like to receive – and adapted as we’ve gone along. We hope our simple packages, our 100% no-nonsense guarantee are testament to that.

But we have to admit the most rewarding feature of the last five years has been the feedback we have been fortunate to receive on independent review website Trustpilot – where we’re rated the No2 estate agency in the UK – and the steady growth in our client base. Indeed, just recently, we took on ten new instructions in a single week, smashing our previous record  – a significant milestone for us, particularly when we look back at where we started.

So, as we look forward to the next chapter of our development – our bid to take a place on the national stage – we would simply like to say a sincere thank you to each and every one of the 300+ people who have trusted us with one of the most significant moments in their lives. We are genuinely grateful because, while we may have helped you move, you have helped us to do likewise – from small-time provincial agents to a profitable business on the cusp of an exciting chapter which we hope will see us established as a “name” in our industry – and one which can be trusted for both service and results.

There’s still time to join us if you’d like to be part of the journey, by the way. Just click on the link if you’d like more information of how you can become part of the Esale team: https://crowdforangels.com/company/Esale-UK-Ltd-130

The budget and the housing market.

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WHO HAS THE BUDGET BLUES?

So now we know … sort of.

The Chancellor made lots of noises about the “broken” housing market in his Autumn Statement and there was much wringing of hands in Westminster about the need to help the “just-about-managing”.

But, despite a Housing White Paper – supposed to lay the foundations of a fresh Government policy – when it came down to it on Wednesday, the Chancellor actually said or did very little. Industry leaders’ calls for Stamp Duty to be paid by sellers not buyers were ignored and landlords’ appeals for a reversal of recent tax reforms relating to mortgage relief proved fruitless.

On the plus side, we still have Westminster’s commitment to build more affordable homes – even if it’s reneged a little on its building targets for 2020. Help To Buy, Help to Save and Lifetime ISAs are still available and the Rent A Room initiative remained in the small print, allowing homeowners to earn up to £7,500 a year tax-free by letting out their spare rooms.

But, on the down side, if Mr Hammond has listened at all to landlords’ concern that rents will have to rise to balance out extra costs of the recent clampdown on buy-to-let, there was no sign he’s been swayed by their arguments. There was also no mention of the proposed ban on letting fees, currently paid by tenants to cover the cost of their landlords’ admin.

At least, at first sight, it seemed there was no further direct assault on the domestic lettings market. But then landlords tempted to convert their portfolios into companies to side-step the new tax regime may now find themselves embroiled in Mr Hammond’s hike on taxes paid by the self-employed (https://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2017/3/budget-no-new-property-taxes–but-landlords-may-be-hit?platform=hootsuite).

So, all in all, Wednesday was, at best, underwhelming, and at worst a huge missed opportunity to finally signal an end to successive Governments’ short-termism on housing which has led us to where we are in 2017.

Unless there’s radical change when we swap back to an autumn Budget later this year, we seem set for at least another 12 months of house prices outpacing earnings, first-time buyers struggling to raise deposits and rents swallowing huge chunks of tenants’ income, making it almost impossible for them to save for a place of their own.

All sound a bit glum …? There’s no real disguising, if you’ve not yet got a foot on the property ladder, it is. But, if you’re already a homeowner, then maybe it’s not so bad. Your home is likely to continue to increase in value over the coming months, there’s no sign of a rise in interest rates just yet and, if you wanted to re-mortgage, there are still some great out there. Indeed, it looks like you’ll have at least another year to raise a glass to celebrate the fact you bought when you did.

(** For a comprehensive round-up of the Budget and its impact on the property market, we’d also suggest a read of our a blog written by our friends at Zoopla: http://www.zoopla.co.uk/discover/property-news/what-does-the-spring-budget-2017-mean-for-you/?utm_source=content&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=zoopla-20170308-budget&utm_content=hero&utm_term=text#zwwOlMQaXWHmtYfJ.97)

To buy or to rent?

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CONTENT TO RENT OR READY TO BUY?

There’s a new buzz phrase beginning to gather momentum in the property market.

It may be nothing new in Germany or France – or, indeed, on much of the rest of the continent either – but “content to rent” is certainly an unfamiliar concept in a country where property ownership is not so much as aspiration as an expectation.

Since many of us were kids we’ve been led to believe, when we were grown up and had a family, we would be living in a house of our own. Mortgaged to the hilt maybe – but it would still be ours. There may have been a cat or a dog involved too and, of course, a reasonable family saloon on the drive as well. How big the house was and what sort of car we chose was how we made statements about how our lives were going… but it’s not quite the same story now. Today, things are beginning to change.

With property prices spiralling and wages struggling to keep pace, the 20 and even 30 Somethings who never got around to buying are finding property ownership out of reach – at least without the help of the Bank of Mum and Dad. The two-bed starter home has become the territory of the buy-to-let investor or the “downsizers” – both with more capital behind them and therefore able to meet asking prices which, even just a decade ago, would have seemed incredible.

So, although Government initiatives and generous lending terms have given some first-time buyers a leg up onto the property ladder, a recent report claimed half of those currently renting property held little hope of ever owning a home.

It’s hardly surprising then that the next step would be a move towards “content to rent” or that we would begin to hear that young, upwardly mobile types – those who might have been dubbed yuppies in the ‘80s – are now purporting to enjoy the flexibility of life as a tenant and not being “tied down” to a property and therefore an area. It’s suddenly all about flexibility and mobility in a brave new world.

Whether this is just putting a gloss on things or whether it’s the media playing politics, giving the Government breathing space while it tries to come up with a coherent housing strategy is anyone’s guess. However, what hasn’t changed is that property is – and will probably continue to be – a decent investment.

If you can find a way to buy your own home – despite everything the Brexit doomsayers might have been saying – there’s still every chance it will continue to appreciate in value over the next ten years and that an investment today will pay dividends in the long run.

Having said that, we would also counsel caution. We would never urge anyone to buy in haste or to stretch their finances just to get on the property ladder, only to find even a modest rise in interest rates puts them at risk of defaulting on a mortgage. But, even if you’re a “content to rent”, if you see a property you like or that you can see potential in – and if it’s within your budget – we’d say it’s still a no-brainer. Buy now and we very much doubt you’ll regret it.

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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.