Tag Archives: estate agents

Floorplans are now essential to sell a home

Floorplan – you won’t sell your home without one
Floorplans have been around for years as far as new homes are concerned. They are essential, especially in the early stages of a development when the show homes are yet to be built and for “off Plan” sales. In addition, not every house type or variation will be available to view before it is released for sale. But with the advance and popularity of online portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, floor plans have become more4 Bed detached 1Homes marketed without a floorplan are very likely to be dismissed out of hand by those searching for a home online. This is even more likely the further a buyer lives from the property.

What should be included in the floorplan

The floorplan should be fully dimensioned with both imperial and metric measurements for each room. This enables buyers to easily determine individual rooms sizes and where the measurements refer such as into a bay window or alcove. The total floor area in square feet/metres should also be shown, enabling potential buyers to compare floor areas and value against other properties. As new homes and room sizes become ever smaller, with UK new homes being some of the smallest in Europe, the size of the average UK new home is just 76sqm (818sqft); a relatively new four bedroom house can have the same floor area as a 30 year old three bedroom home.

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When the time comes to sell your new home

The valuation of older “new homes”.

Estate agents – they only act in their own best interests
For sale board 1Estate agents proudly state that a home was sold in 12 days, with the implication that the agent is good – more likely he was just plain lucky. It is even more likely, in fact a virtual certainty, that the home was severely undervalued by the agent in the first place. Sold too cheaply. You don’t need an estate agent to sell your home at a bargain price and paying upwards of £7,000 commission to the agent is adding insult to financial injury.

Whilst it is well known that most buyers take what they are told by estate agents with a pinch of salt, the same cannot be said of those selling their homes. All too often they are far too trusting, believing that as they are paying an agent for a service, acting on their behalf, in their best interests. However the industry is like the proverbial giant squid, is always “sticking its tentacles into everything property that smells like money.” Take the Energy Performance Certificates (EPC), arranged by agents for £105 yet available online for under £40. The managers running offices in high street estate agents have monthly sales targets to meet. They need properties on their books that they can sell. Homes they can sell quickly, with a minimum of time and effort or they will lose both bonuses and commission. It matters little to an agent when an offer of £20,000 less than the “asking price” is made. He loses around £300 (at 1.5%) but the vendor loses £20,000!

The great sellers’ rip-off begins with the valuation visit. They invite the agent into their home for a valuation, trusting that the agent is the professional and will advertise their home for the maximum achievable in the market. The agent will already know what “price” he will tell you to market your home for before he even gets in his car! This will be based on the most recent sales and homes currently on the market in the area. It will have little to do with the location, condition and features of your particular property. If a four-bedroom home on an estate was priced at £335,000 and sold for £320,000, then this is what he will suggest you market your four-bedroom home for and the price you can expect to get. This irrespective of the desirability of your home and whether it is double fronted and has additional rooms.

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We can all do without estate agents and buying agents!

For Sale by OwnerAt last people are starting to ask why do estate agents still exist. As I have said before, in a previous blog  there is now no longer any need to use a high street estate agent to sell your house. Everything they used to do can be done using an online agent for less than £1,000, irrespective of the selling price in most cases. The only thing left for sellers to do is show potential buyers around their home. After all the owner will know more about the property than the estate agent, however good they say they are, ever will. If necessary, even viewings can be sub contracted out for minimal extra cost.

So why do estate agents still exist?  Why exactly!  It could be that older sellers are reluctant to trust the new technology or do not have confidence online. It could be vendors choose to take the easy, traditional option despite the thousands of pounds they are wasting unnecessarily. More likely it is the fact that estate agents are “like the proverbial giant squid “sticking its tentacles into everything property that smells like money.”

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Stamp Duty reform in Autumn Statement – effective from 4 December 2014

Stamp DutyThe Stamp Duty reform announcement in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement is yet another example of UK Government’s generosity towards the house building industry.  It could be argued that anyone buying a home, old or new-build will benefit, with reportedly 98% of homebuyers paying less from today. However the reform, whilst long overdue, will mean more people paying higher stamp duty in the long run with the housing market no longer constrained at the old price threshold levels and sellers free to tick up asking prices above the £125,000 zero threshold.

For sale board 2Many experts say the surprise change to the stamp duty system is likely to provide a fresh boost to the housing market and lead to higher prices for homes where the tax will be cut, property experts have warned. Mortgage lenders and estate agents have argued for a long time that this distorts the market, with house prices bunched just below thresholds.

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The psychology of selling a home.

More and more people are deciding to save themselves several thousands of pounds by not going down the traditional local estate agent route by choosing to sell for as little as £500 using an online agency. How to do this and why you don’t need an estate agent.   As a result most people will need to be aware of the “psychology of selling” when showing  potential buyers around their home and follow a few easy tips to help sell their home.   

High street estate agencies rely on the fact that most people do not conduct viewings very well and do not know the tell-tale signs that buyers can give out.   Even worse, some owners do not even prepare their property to show it at its best and maximise the chances of an early sale at the best possible price. Phil Spencer’s TV programme Secret Agent is based on this.  

Viewings 1But by using simple psychology there are many things that sellers can do to virtually double the chance of a successful sale. Even though most are common sense and somewhat obvious, hardly anyone does them, so you can use this to your advantage to give you the edge over similar properties on the market in your area. 

Arranging viewings

This will be the first contact you will have with your potential buyer. It is important to be bright and cheerful and try to get into a conversation. If the caller asks specific questions about the home be honest and truthful, but be concise and never give anything extra as this may bias their opinion of your home before they have even set eyes on it. 

Try to arrange the viewing some time during the day, at a time perhaps when there will be fewer people at home.  Try to find out how many will be viewing and make a definite appointment.  Make a note of their name and the time and date of the viewing and be accommodating.  Make sure you give the buyer clear directions on how to get to your home, where to park and perhaps landmarks to watch out for on the way.  Include your postcode for use with a SatNav. 

First impressions count – kerb appeal

Front doorIf the buyer is not impressed with your home in the first few seconds of walking up to your front door, there will be nothing you can do to convince them to make an offer, no matter how fantastic the inside of your house is, their minds will already be negatively focused. Conversely, if they like what they see you are well on the way to selling your home!


  • Make sure your front garden is a tidy as possible.
  • Prune any trees, cut any hedges and make sure the path clean and free of all weeds and mildew.
  • If possible, plant some bedding plants to provide a bit of colour.
  • Sprinkle some Sulphate of Ammonia on your lawns. In just a day (after watering in) it will turn your patchy grass into a perfect green lawn. Be sure to cut it regularly to maintain the attractive stripe effect.
  • Pay particular attention to your front door. Clean it and re paint it if necessary. Polish any brass or chrome to make it look brand new, because buyers can and do judge the house on their initial impression of the front door.
  • Clean all the windows and wash down external paintwork.
  • If possible remove your car(s) from driveway.
  • To make your gardens look bigger, tie back shrubs and hedges, and put away any swings and slides.
  • Add compost to the flowerbeds. This will show your garden at its best and  hide  any persistent weeds. 
Preparing the home for a viewing

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Why are house builders and their agents still deliberately mislead buyers

New homes – all sugar and spice and all things nice?   That’s what the house builders would have you believe.  Slugs and snails and snagging list tales would be closer to the truth!  

Included with last weekends Mail on Sunday was a property paper called ‘The Location’ described as – “44 pages of property inspiration.”   Within it’s covers were some of the most outrageous superlatives I have ever seen used by house builders and their selling agents to describe not only the new homes being advertised, but also the location of the developments.

 Builder ads 1

Not once were the adjectives used to describe the homes and developments backed up with any tangible statement of explanation.  Here is another translation of what the builders say and what it really means

Of the homes they were described as:

“Bespoke”  Implying that they are being built to a buyer’s own specific requirements rather than in all probability, a one-off design forced by the planning process.

“Contemporary”  This just means “of the same age; present-day” yet it is frequently used to imply state-of-the-art features, designs or specifications.

“Exclusive”  This commonly used to imply the development or properties are one of kind – hardly the case with most new homes.

“Uncompromised quality”  Really?  How is this substantiated?  So there we have it, this development does not “compromise” on quality, implying or more usefully, confirming that others do.  

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Buying a home without a full survey is a false economy.

According to The Mail on Sunday, four in every five buyers don’t bother with any home survey, let alone getting a  full survey.  This is despite the fact that if anything is found it can be used in negotiations to reduce the price.  Buying a home is undoubtedly the biggest single purchase most people make in their lifetime.  Get it wrong and it can be a mistake you could end up paying for during most of your lifetime!

Council house 2

Get a survey done before making an offer

Compared with the other costs involved with buying a home, getting a full survey done is relatively small beer when compared to legal fees, stamp duty and mortgage arrangement fees.

There are four main types of survey available.

Valuation survey

This is carried out on behalf of the mortgage lender and is not a condition survey. Do not be fooled into thinking this will give you protection and piece of mind – it won’t! A valuation survey is just that, the lender is checking the property is “valued at” actually worth the price agreed, or at the very least the amount of the mortgage. Sometimes these surveys are done by just driving past the home being bought!

Condition report

This is the most basic survey. It should highlight problems regarding structural movement, damp and woodworm, but it is not thorough. It will indicate which areas need attention but not what specific repairs are required. No professional advice is given. Typically, a condition report costs around £300.

Homebuyer report

Whilst less expensive than a full structural survey, it does provide more detailed information than a condition report. The price should include professional support or further explanations from the surveyor after the inspection. However, in some cases any specific issues noted may be advised for further investigation, leaving both buyer and seller none the wiser without further specialist investigation. A homebuyer report costs from £400 to around £650.

Full structural survey (aka Building Survey)

This is the most comprehensive survey and is strongly recommended, especially for those buying very old, listed, or period properties. It will provide a detailed, technical report regarding the condition of the property, highlight any defects and give advice on possible solutions and repairs. However the full structural survey is the most expensive and can cost around £1,000. As with anything, you get what you pay for!

Snagging inspection survey

For those buying a brand new home, a snagging survey is an absolute must. There is no need for a detailed building survey as new homes come with a 10-year warranty. However, the quality of new homes is generally poor, attention to detail is often found lacking and it can be a complete nightmare trying to get any snagging defects rectified after you have moved in.

TW Snag Light Switch

Buying a new home doesn’t mean it will be problem free!

Let’s face it, once a house builder has your money what incentive do they have to fix problems quickly? It is no good thinking, “it is a new home with a warranty”  because 96% of new homeowners experience problems of one sort or other and getting them fixed is always a hassle.  The money spent on a professional snagging inspection will always be money well spent.  Compared to other surveys, they are relatively inexpensive too, typically costing from £250 to around £450 depending on the size of the home inspected. Some of the better snagging services include liaising with house builders and support after you move in too. Advice on choosing a snagging inspector.

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Desirable Edinburgh lock-ups come complete with hefty price tags

Buyers looking for a property in Edinburgh, Scotland’s famous capital city, are likely thinking of a flat or maybe two or three-bed home in which to raise a family. Most are certainly not looking to spend to buy a £50,000 lock-up garage.

Incredibly, that seems to be the going price for a mere lock-up these days, at least according to an article in the Edinburgh Evening News.   The paper, first published in 1873 and should therefore know a thing or two about Edinburgh, reports no less than three garages with mind-boggling price tags have recently gone on sale.

The garages include a double-garage with an electric door in Inverleith Terrace Lane and another with electricity and running water in Portland Row, Leith, both priced at £50,000.    The good news, however, is the third garage, a West End lock-up, is being offered at a much more reasonable and affordable price, a mere £40,000 – the same price as a two-bed house in Muirhouse, according to the Evening News article.

Current strength

But readers will no doubt have been gladdened when the paper explained the rash of interest in the single garage on Palmerston Place is nothing more than a reflection of the current strength of the city’s property market. At least that’s the view of city property experts.

Meanwhile, back on earth, a record number of affordable homes are being built in Edinburgh with more quality housing than ever before available to rent or buy.

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Selling your house yourself without using an estate agent

As a result of the government’s Help to Buy scheme together with a relaxation of lending criteria, Britain’s housing market is now booming. More sales will be recorded in 2013, than at any time since the 2007 boom. The increased demand for homes has, according to the Halifax, resulted in the ninth consecutive monthly rise in house prices, up 0.7% in October and up 6.9% over the last 12 months. The Halifax reports that the average UK home is now valued at £171,991. It has never been an easier to sell a home and estate agents are cashing in on the easy money, charging around 2% of the sale price. This can be a total of £6,000 (including vat) for a home that can sell for £250,000 in a matter of days, sometimes before they even put the property in their window! 

For Sale by OwnerHowever a growing number of sellers are choosing to avoid the traditional method and are marketing their homes online and saving several thousand pounds in the process. Most online services charge flat fees between £200 and £900 depending on the services offered and optional extras. With many homes selling in a matter of days, people thinking of selling their home are starting to ask themselves why they need an estate agent at all. The RICS say that around 5% of all completed property sales arise from low-cost online agents and private sale websites. 

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How to avoid being conned when house prices are rising

Buyers should watch out for the tricks used by the greedy when house prices are rising in a booming property market.

House pricesDuring a transition from a buyer’s to a seller’s market, with increasing demand outstripping supply resulting in house prices rises every month, many buyers, particularly first timers, will feel pressured into buying fearing they might lose out or face higher house prices later.   This brings out some of the property industry’s worst practices and probably the worst and most well known is Gazumping.

Gazumping : This can only take place in a booming housing market. It is the situation when an often greedy seller accepts a higher price for their property, despite having previously accepted an offer from another buyer. Quite often the original buyer is invited to match or beat the new offer and a bidding war takes place. The original buyer can have more to lose as they may have already incurred expenses with legal fees and a structural survey.

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