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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.

Esale Crowd Funding – What The Papers Say!

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FAST GROWING ONLINE PROPERTY FIRM ANNOUNCES SEARCH FOR INVESTORS

The no-nonsense Yorkshire based online estate agent esaleuk.com has announced it is ready to step onto the national stage – and wants YOU as a partner.

Launched in 2012, the company has been quietly earning itself an enviable reputation in the industry, chalking up second place in the UK for customer service on Trustpilot’s independently compiled rankings, thanks largely to a no-quibble money-back guarantee and competitive, easy-to-understand packages for vendors.

Links with the ProperStar network also mean homes for sale with esaleuk.com can be seen on 80 websites in 51 countries – and in 19 languages around the world.

Today (Monday 30th January 2017), the company has unveiled its most ambitious project to date – a strategy which it hopes will secure its place among the UK’s big-hitters when it comes to selling property online.

In order to expand its operations Esale has engaged leading crowdfunding platform Crowd for Angels for help in its search for backers large or small. The company is looking to raise a minimum of £45,000, with the maximum fundraise set at £90,000. Investors can pledge as little as £30 to be part of the company’s future.

Regardless of the amount invested, and in addition to potential future dividends, HMRC has confirmed that qualifying investors will be able to claim 30% of their investment back as part of their taxable income under the Enterprise Investment Scheme*. So, a qualifying investor pledging £1,000 for example, will be able to claim £300 back from HMRC.

“At the moment, the online market is still quite small – between 5% and 7% of homes sold in the UK have been through an online agent,” said Managing Director David Rook. “However, experts agree – just like other forms of internet shopping – that figure is likely to increase dramatically over the coming decade.”

“There are already a handful of firms doing quite nicely using the online business model and we firmly believe we now have all the pieces in place to allow us to join them. All we need are forward-thinking investors who can see the huge potential offered by the online property market – and the vision to help us harness it.”

Traditionally, barriers deterring vendors from instructing an online estate agent have included up-front fees, the lack of one-to-one engagement and the fact sellers have frequently found they have to conduct their own viewings.

However, those who instruct Esale can chose to pay either up-front or on completion, can always expect pro-active action to speed their sale through and, if required, they can request an agent to help with viewings, regardless of where they are.

“We’re determined not to be just another estate agent, with a nice line in sales patter and a branded car to drive around in. We know just how stressful – and how exciting – selling a home can be and we want to be there for our customers every step of the way,” said Mr Rook.

Mr Rook concluded: “We don’t believe in jargon and have won praise both for our plain speaking and for offering packages which are both easy to understand and are offered with no hidden extras. We are versatile, flexible and open to both new ideas and the changes in media such as 3D and drone technology which we anticipate having an impact on the property market in the not-too-distant future.”

“All we lack is a partner or partners with financial clout and with the same vision and belief in the future of the UK’s property market and its ability to bend and shape itself to the world where new technology is bound to take us.”

“If you think that’s you and you are willing to consider investment, we look forward to welcoming you to the team – and to sharing the rewards in years to come.”

To see the full pitch visit https://crowdforangels.com/company/Esale-UK-Ltd-130

 

CONTACT

Esale David Rook david.rook@esaleuk.com 01423 62 33 33 / 0800 025 3451

Crowd for Angels Tony De Nazareth, Director tony@crowdforangels.com 0207 437 2413

* The availability of any tax relief, including EIS and SEIS, depends on the individual circumstances of each investor and of the company concerned, and may be subject to change in the future. If you are in any doubt about the availability of any tax reliefs, or the tax treatment of your investment, you should obtain independent tax advice before proceeding with your investment.

Moving Home and Pets.

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PETS ON THE MOVE … A FEW TIPS

So let’s say you’re second-steppers; you were lucky to get on the property ladder before prices started to spiral but now it’s time to move on. Your first home was ideal 15 years ago and has some happy memories of life BC (before children) but it’s now too small for your growing family.

You’ve found the ideal property which ticks all your boxes, you have a buyer for your old house, your exchange date is set, the removal firm is booked and it’s all you can do to stop yourself packing things in boxes.

It’s often at this stage someone says: “The dog’s going to find everything a bit different in the new place.” And suddenly, you realise you’ve been so busy you haven’t really given a great deal of thought to how the family pets are going to adjust to life away from everything familiar – in fact away from everything they’ve probably ever known.

It’s easy to shrug, park the problem and persuade yourself the animals will be fine given time and lots of reassurance – but there is actually more you can do in advance of The Big Day to make moving home less stressful for your pet too.

First of all, try not to disrupt their routine too much. If you can walk them or feed them at the same time as you usually would despite everything going on around you, it helps to reassure them that things are pretty normal after all. There’s nothing more likely to unsettle your pet than to make sudden and dramatic changes to their routine.

Closer to moving time, have you thought of trying out dog walks around your new home? Of course, it might not be practical if the property is a distance away but, if it’s in the same town or even a reasonable drive, why not visit the area and do a bit of exploring? If the house you’re moving to is empty, even better. You could always visit at let the pets explore the inside of the new property first. While you’re there, you can also check the security of the garden. Can dogs escape easily or, from a feline perspective, is it easy for unwelcome doggie guests to get in? Knowing the answers to questions like these – and having a plan – is reassuring and actually makes the move that bit more exciting.

When it comes to The Big Move itself, the important thing is to try to ensure you don’t get too animated. There’s often something which crops up which puts a crimp on the day, despite all the work you’ve done in advance but animals do pick up on anxiety and stress so, if something – or someone – frustrates you, then it might be worth finding a quiet spot on your own to vent and not do it in front of the dog!

Also, if you can, make the pets’ stuff the last thing you move; that way, the disruption of their own life is minimised. Also, it might be best to resist the temptation to make a clean start and wash all their bedding before you go. Scent is really important as a familiar so, if you can also sacrifice an old jumper which is likely to smell of you (in the nicest possible sense) then it could be an idea to let them have that in their basket or bed too.

We’re an estate agent though and not experts on animal welfare so we’d recommend a little more research too. If you’d like a bit more detail, the Blue Cross has advice on its website which you can find here: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/moving-house-and-travelling-dogs If you’re looking for more advice on moving from a people perspective, we’d love to hear from you. Just give us a call or drop us a line at info@esaleuk.com

When is the best time to put my house on the market?

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SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO NOW…?

So, we’re already a little way into 2017 and, before we know it, we’ll be on the other side of Valentine’s Day, the nights will be getting shorter and there will be daffodils in the garden. And, if you were thinking of selling your home in the spring, you’ll be edging closer still to the time when you have to make a decision.

If you read the papers every day, no one could blame you for being a little perplexed at the moment. On the one hand, there’s still plenty of doom-mongering over the impact of the Brexit vote but, on the other, some commentators are enjoying the lack of any real evidence of any kind of financial crash. So where does that leave you?

Inevitably, it means you have to make a choice about who you believe but something which may be overlooked is that potential property vendors are not necessarily powerless victims of whatever the fates have in store over the next six to 12 months. There are avenues to be explored which could help you to establish cold, hard facts which may then make a decision about whether you go to market that little bit easier.

Firstly, you can check out the property portals to see if anything is shifting in your area. Both Rightmove and Zoopla have apps you can use which allow you to check what’s sold recently and for how much. It’s true that prime property in London has been struggling for some time now but there are still hot spots across the UK where homes are being snapped up quickly – particularly when they’re priced realistically. You may be living in one of them …

Something else you could try is social media. Have you thought of asking Twitter if anyone in your area has any experience of selling their home recently? Not only is it possible that you may be able to tap into a resource of recent first-hand experience of the property market, you may also get some pointers about suppliers you may like to use – solicitors, removal firms or even estate agents (although, naturally, as you’re reading our blog, we hope you’ll check us out as well!).

And, although it may seem obvious, your third option could be to speak to estate agents themselves and see what advice they’re offering. Of course, friends and family may have their favourites but we’d suggest contacting at least three, not necessarily to compare price but to establish what they think the market in your area is doing at the moment. After all, agents live and breathe the property market every day and should be able to offer some guidance – even though it’s possible they may not all have quite the same take on it as, like in just about every walk of life, opinions can differ when there are so many variable involved.

Whatever you decide in 2017, we wish you the very best and, of course, if you think we can help further, we’d love to hear from you. Just drop us a line or give us a call.

 

2017…A Happy New Year?

 

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What Will 2017 Bring?

Many of us will be glad to see the back of 2016 – but is 2017 going to be any better?

There’s been a lot of expert comment already on the prospects for the property market over the coming 12 months.

Some would have it that it’s not going to be a good year. They’ll tell you, post-Brexit, all we’ve really seen so far is a Phoney War. There hasn’t been the kind of economic meltdown some predicted largely because the Government is still dithering on how to get us out of Europe and the full picture won’t become clear until the process actually begins. Until then, house prices will probably just plateau before the Brexit crisis proper bites later in the year.

Others will tell you to ensure you’re braced for a hike in interest rates and an evaporation of the generous mortgages deals lenders have been offering to stimulate the market and to prevent it from flat-lining.

There are still others who suggest The Donald’s election will mean four years of global turmoil which is bound to stymie spending worldwide – an age when few are going to have the confidence to make significant decisions which could affect their income.

But, in reality, what we need to remember is that neither the doomsayers, nor indeed the eternal Brexit optimists like the Daily Express, are dealing in fact. They’re dealing in conjecture and opinion and, although it may be well-informed, there are no cast-iron guarantees. If nothing else, the polls ahead of the UK’s referendum vote and the US election should have told us that.

After all, a year ago, pundits were confidently predicting homes in Britain would be worth 20% more by 2020. Property was a sure-fire investment and, if you had a pension due to mature, the best thing you could do would be to cash it in and join the buy-to-let set – and be quick about it.

Just 12 short months later and the growth predictions offered by the same sources are a lot lower and buy-to-let is being touted as attractive as a pay-day loan.

And that’s the point. There are no certainties; there are no sure-fire winners. But then there never have been.

None of us knows what’s going to happen over the next 12 months. All we can do is judge events as they happen and determine our best course of action on our instincts just as we always have. Should you be thinking of buying or selling property, we’ll be here and, as ever, we’ll do our very best to advise you – and that advice will be based on the FACTS as we understand them.

Can I sell my house over Christmas?

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A MESSAGE FOR CHRISTMAS

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you probably know, around this time of year, we’re prone to a bit of a rant about the hackneyed myth that you shouldn’t put your home on the market in the run-up to Christmas.
To be fair, it’s not necessarily other agents who are prone to spreading this unhelpful twaddle any more. It may have been true at one time when people used to do their window shopping by driving around neighbourhoods in their cars looking for For Sale boards or trudging from one high street estate agent office to another with their “dream house wish list” in hand. After all, if it was chucking it down and cold, there probably really was a time when enquiries dried up.
But, these days, it’s like the free Range Rover posts on Facebook or like believing there’s a way others can check if you’ve been stalking their profile…
People just believe what they’re told and forget, if you’re looking at property these days, you can side-step all the leg work just by visiting one of the online portals and keying in a few search terms – all from the comfort of your armchair or even on the bus on the way home. You can even check out what homes have been selling for in your chosen area and, with a bit more research, even who has been selling them.
Yes, it is true that there is still a bit of a seasonal downturn as people’s focus turns more towards Christmas. Yes, there has been a more noticeable drop in the amount of new homes coming onto the market in 2016 in the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote and the election result in America.
But, if you think about it, what does that mean? Does it mean you should shut up shop, hunker down and wait for everyone else to start selling again? With all due respect, if you think that’s the best plan, we’d beg you the have another go…
Fewer homes available means a narrower choice – and buyers with less choice are more likely to act if they see something which is close to what they’re looking for. It’s a well-known selling technique to suggest you’re offering something which might not be available tomorrow – and, at this time of year, with fewer properties coming to market, it’s not just sales patter; it’s the truth.
Put your home on the market today and it is likely to be among a smaller number of properties available. Wait until spring and, guess what? Your home may be among dozens in the same area, which may have an impact on price and how quickly you sell.
Wait until after Christmas? Bah humbug! If you have property to sell, get ye to market – and the sooner the better!

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About esale

esale  Estate Agents, founded in 2010, 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.