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Many people think that trying to move house over the festive period is a mistake, but that is no longer the case. People have more free time and motivation to make a change in the New Year, so it can be a great time to buy and sell. Guild agents share their top tips.
Make your property visible online
If you are selling, your home needs to be listed and visible on all the major property portals (like Rightmove) over Christmas. People have more free time and will start to browse properties online over the festive season.
Ailsa Mather from Andrew Coulson says: “We are listing a number of properties now because statistically, property portals show that there is a substantial spike on Boxing Day. We appreciate Christmas is a busy time for families, so we operate a ‘Do Not Disturb’ policy, that is clicking the property on the market just before Christmas but refraining from viewings until after the New Year.”
Simon Miller from Holroyd Miller agrees that sellers need to take advantage of this busy time. “Once Christmas Day is done and Boxing Day leftovers eaten, what do people looking for a New Year move do? Start looking for a new home. Don’t miss the opportunity to sell your house during the holidays; what could be nicer than viewing a very festive home?”
Rightmove say that Boxing Day is their busiest all year, and Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris agrees that it is equally busy in their office.
“Statistics have shown over recent years that the busiest days of the year for internet traffic on property portals are the days immediately following Christmas and Boxing Day. Our own evidence appears to confirm this phenomenon, showing that during the period from Christmas Eve 2016 up to and including New Year’s Day, we received over 130 telephone calls and 170 email leads from property portals. We even received calls and emails on Christmas Day.”
But why is this period so busy? Stuart Mills from Rickman Properties has an idea. “The reason? All those lovely new phones and iPads. It is also one of the few holidays that the family will be all together and most likely at home. This means that any discussions about a move can be had, viewings can be done with all the decision makers present, adults and children, and with a coming New Year, what better than a new home?” he asks.
Spring is a popular time to buy and sell, but winter has its benefits, too.
“Sometimes stepping into a bright, warm, cosy home on a bitterly cold day or drizzly evening can have just as positive an effect as viewing a property on a warm summer day,” said Ben Whiting from Victorstone.
Abby Wheeler from Keats Estate Agents agrees.
“If you walk into a property in the depths of winter, when the sky is moody and the nights are drawing in at 4pm and you still love it, imagine how much you will love it in the summer? If in winter you can see yourself living there, it’s a keeper.”
She has some tips for winter viewings, too. “Always arrange viewings in the daylight. If you arrange a viewing after work at 6pm, you won’t get the true experience of the property, especially if there are grounds to explore. It is important to view them before the night draws in.”
Motivated to move
Those people who are looking to move in December and January are committed to moving quickly. It’s a great idea to make the most of this.
Richard Stovold from Seymours said: “Although there are downsides to house hunting over the festive season, the benefits can outweigh the drawbacks. Houses that are available for sale over the Christmas period have often either been on the market for a while or are very new to the market. This means that sellers are likely to be eager to secure a sale, giving buyers greater control as they find themselves in a much better bargaining position.”
Simon Davies from Norman F Brown completely agrees.
“The December and the Christmas period is a great time to try to sell your property as the quality of the buyer is higher than at any other time of the year,” he said. “If someone is out house hunting around Christmastime, it generally means they are motivated to buy quickly. The speculative, non-motivated viewings decrease as people are busy preparing for Santa and won’t go out to view unless they must. There also tends to be less properties for sale around this time of year and therefore less competition to compete against for a buyer’s attention.”
Justin Flanagan from Charles Eden agrees that there is a much higher number of motivated buyers and sellers, and the ‘the viewing to sale ratio’ is much higher at other times of year. “From a buyer’s point of view, there is not so much competition and the sellers are probably motivated to move,” he said.
Think about photography
If you’re thinking of making the most of the Christmas attention, it’s a good idea to think ahead. “Try and instruct your agent prior to putting up any Christmas decorations,” says Gina Burbidge from Royston & Lund. “This prevents the photos from looking dated if it doesn’t sell instantly.”
Ready for the New Year rush
In the New Year, there will be a rush of people looking to buy and sell. Why not beat the rush by getting your sale registered or getting to know the market in December?
“January 2nd is one of the busiest days for us at Drivers & Norris,” said Steve Barron. “There aren’t likely to be too many viewings happening over the Christmas period, but it’s nevertheless a great time to get some viewings lined-up for the New Year.
“Many sellers hold off until after the New Year and miss out on the busy online searching that takes place between Christmas and New Year. Additionally, because there are fewer sellers listing their property over Christmas, those who do benefit from having less competition than they typically would have in the New Year or spring.”
Don’t underestimate the time that it takes for your home to go on the market, either.
Steve Wiggins from Bond Residential said: “Given the time it takes for an estate agent to prepare the marketing material for a property including taking photos, preparing floorplans and commissioning an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), we advise our clients to actually start the process now so that they are ahead of the competition and ready to take advantage of these peak periods.”
It is a great time to develop a strategy with your Guild agent to make sure your home launches to market in the best possible way.
“We are currently running a ‘do not disturb’ campaign which means we are preparing properties to market with EPC, floor plan and images before the decorations go up and then launching them to market over the festive period,” explained John Newhouse from Roseberry Newhouse.
“We will then start arranging viewings in the New Year when the household returns to usual. In January 2017, we arranged more viewings on the first day back than in the whole of December,” he revealed.
It’s not essential to wait until spring to sell, agrees Celeste Hannah from Hamilton Parkers. “Most sellers wait until spring and then there is more supply and more competition,” she said. “Whereas over the Christmas season, there is less supply but still high demand. By selling your home over the Christmas season, you are more likely to achieve a better selling price than you would trying to sell against the flurry of stock in the spring market.
“My tip for house hunting over the Christmas season is to contact local agents and see what stock they have ready to launch over the festive period, as most agents hold back stock to launch over the Christmas holidays. This way you may get first refusal and will get to register your interest first.”
The property market is still active at Christmas
Take our word for it: people are still looking to move, even on Christmas Eve.
“We have found that year on year we have improved with agreed sales figures in December,” said Laura Scott from Cooke & Co. “I am unsure if this is to do with investors in recent years trying to secure a bargain purchase, believing that anyone on the market at this festive time of year will be desperate to sell and more likely to accept an offer, but we have also seen a vast improvement with first time buyers agreeing sales too.”
Tim Goodwin from Williams & Goodwin says it is never too close to Christmas. “Having sold property at 4:30pm on Christmas Eve before now, I have no hesitation in recommending that potential sellers should place their property on the market sooner rather than later,” he says.
“I did have a viewing one year on December 20th, with the completion due the next day. The sole purpose of the viewing was to measure the oven to ensure it was big enough to fit the turkey in, so make sure you take your tape measure to the butchers as well as the viewing if looking to complete before Christmas Day.”
Are you thinking of buying or selling during the Christmas period? Get in touch with your local Guild Member today by clicking here.
You thought you’d found the perfect tenants, but then you realise that they haven’t paid their rent. What should you do?
• First, communication is key. Always check the day after rent is due to make sure it is in your account. If it’s not there, contact them straight away. There could be a simple answer, like a transfer issue. Keep clear records of all communications.
• Generally, give up to seven days as a grace period, then give a formal letter, and then give 24 hours’ notice to visit the property.
• Does your tenant have a guarantor to pay their rent if they are unable to? Get in touch with them as they may be able to settle the bill.
• Have you got landlord insurance? A ‘rent guarantee’ will provide rental arrears and financial help.
• Problem still not solved? It’s time to get the courts involved. Talk to a legal advisor like a solicitor and bodies like the National Landlord Association to help you.
Looking for your perfect property can be an exciting, but how many should you view before choosing your favourite and making an offer?
If the first home that you look at seems perfect, it can be tempting to keep looking around to make sure there is nothing better out there. Be wary, though. You could look for weeks and not find anything as good, and someone could put an offer on the first house in the meantime. It's better to schedule multiple viewings on the same day so you can easily compare and contrast. That way, you know you're making the right decision, even if it's the first property you looked at.
Is there a right number of properties to look at before making an offer? It's different for everyone. Some may fall in love straight away, while others can find themselves looking for a dream home that is too specific and may not exist in their price bracket. Be realistic and make compromises if you have to.
Not sure if a property you’ve seen onlineis worth a viewing? Go for it. A picture is worth a thousand words, but nothingcompares to the real look and feel of a property.
For more help and advice to find yourperfect property, contact your area’s Guild Member by clicking here.
Do you prefer town, city, country or the seaside? It’s a tough choice, often dictated by work, but we have come up with seven questions to help you decide where your heart really lies. Take our quiz to find out.
Portfolio landlords – those with four or more mortgaged buy-to-let properties – now face more stringent checks by lenders when buying additional properties.
Since the end of September, new portfolio lending rules issued by city watchdog the Prudential Regulation Authority mean that lenders must look at a landlord’s entire property portfolio when deciding whether to offer them a buy-to-let mortgage on a property.
The rules have been introduced to provide lenders with greater certainty that landlords will definitely be able to afford any additional borrowing they take on.
Different lenders, different approaches
Many lenders have confirmed that they will continue to provide buy-to-let mortgages to portfolio landlords, although they will require much more information about their existing properties before they will accept a new application.
Other lenders, however, put off by the longer underwriting process and an increase in paperwork, have taken the decision to move away from lending to portfolio landlords following the rule changes.
Some have said that although they are not prepared to accept new applications for additional buy-to-let lending from portfolio landlords, they will still consider remortgages, but only if they are on a like-for-like basis.
What portfolio landlords can do to prepare
Landlords with multiple properties who are planning to add to their portfolios can help speed the mortgage application process along by making sure they have all the information lenders will require ready in advance.
Lenders will want to understand any existing mortgages already in place, as well as the amount of rental income each property in the portfolio brings in, along with any expenses, such as maintenance costs. They are also likely to look at your assets, liabilities and cash flow. This is so they carry out an assessment of affordability right across the portfolio, to be certain that you won’t be over-exposing yourself financially by increasing your borrowing.
There are other rules which have recently come into effect which also affect landlords. For example, lenders now need to impose a ‘stress test’ for the first five years of the loan when you apply for a mortgage, so that they can check you’d still be able to afford monthly payments if rates go up.
However, they may adopt a more flexible approach if you are applying for a five-year fixed rate buy-to-let mortgage as if rates do increase during this period, your monthly payments won’t be affected.
The Guild has partnered with L&C Mortgages, the UK’s largest fee-free mortgage broker. You will be able to get expert advice at the end of a phone when it suits you. Their expert advisers are on hand 7 days a week and will manage a full search of the mortgage market so you don’t have to.
Over 1 million people have come to L&C for fee-free expert mortgage advice, so you know you can trust them to help you too
Call L&C today on 0800 923 1945 or click here to request a callback.
What are the common mistakes people make when searching for a new home?
Watch our video to find out:
1. Not setting your budget
Avoid disappointment and frustration by setting a clear budget, allowing for costs like stamp duty, conveyancing fees, and surveys.
2. Being too specific
Restricting yourself to one particular street could mean you miss out on a fantastic property on the other side of town.
Be open minded and ask your agent’s advice on other locations that are within your budget. Remember to decide what you’re prepared to compromise on ahead of time.
3. Falling in love at first sight
This can cloud your judgement. Are you overlooking the flaws? Ask yourself why you like it and if it actually meets your needs.
Don’t get too invested, as you’ll be disappointment if your offer isn’t accepted – remember there will be more than one property for you!
4. Overestimating your DIY skills
Be confident but realistic. Can you really do all that work – and afford it?
Guild Members are local experts who can help with your property search. Click here to find your nearest agent today.
Moving to a new house can be a stressful time, particularly if a sale falls through. Don’t worry if this happens as there are often ways to get it back on track. Guild Members talk about the potential pitfalls to avoid during your negotiations and give tips to help your sale move forward.
If something unexpected comes up in a survey, it may be a big enough problem to make the sale fall through.
Becky Evans from Mark Evans & Co said: “In our experience, most house sales fall through due to survey reports. Unexpected work picked up on a survey may cause some purchasers to walk away from a sale. We would recommend that sellers sort out any paperwork for work carried out and organise certificates to provide to your surveyor and purchaser.
“If there is work that needs to be carried out, it can be more beneficial to rectify it before going on the market, because if your sale falls through, you will still have to pay solicitor fees and may still end up paying for the work. Purchasers should fully read their survey report and ask their surveyor to explain anything they don’t understand. If surveyors have not seen any paperwork or evidence of work, they have to assume it hasn’t been done and it can therefore seem like a larger problem than it is,” she warns.
Liam Sullivan from Drivers and Norris has some advice. “Some of the more common reasons for losing a sale can be avoided if you ask the seller if they are aware of any major works having been done on the property,” he said. “Or, if alterations have been made, do they have any documentation which signs it off, either from The Council or Building Regulations?”
A chain can fall apart for many reasons, and sometimes people can get bored of waiting and find a house elsewhere.
“When you agree a sale, you expect it to go through to completion. However, this is a time when you are not in control of events. You must rely on your buyer, and maybe even their buyer, and so on until the chain is complete. Any one of these people can and do change their minds occasionally. It is often nothing to do with your property,” explains Zoe Hayle from Marshalls Penzance.
The results of a single break can be huge, too. “A sale falling through at the bottom of a chain of sales can potentially jeopardise all of the others, so one break can mean three, four or more sales falling through,” says Justin Flanagan from Charles Eden.
How can you try to stop a chain from falling through?
Becky Evans from Mark Evans & Co has some advice: “Our biggest advice to purchasers and vendors is that you may have to compromise during your sale. Also, picking the right estate agent can literally keep your sale together; our contract chaser is invaluable and on many occasions, sales would have not gone through without her.”
During a negotiation
Negotiations can be a tricky time, and you can find yourself dealing with surprising demands. It is worth being flexible, and remember that small details should not be a make-or-break on your deal.
Cheryle Wileman from Liverpool Property Solutions says that the key is good communication. “Fixtures and fittings can also cause some fraught negotiations with sellers wanting to take fitted wardrobes etc out of the property,” she explains. “Keeping calm is often the key.”
Allan Carr, Founder of Pulver Carr, agrees that a level head can push a sale through. “I have seen a number of sales almost fall through due to silly reasons such as having to leave a tired old shed, leaving curtains, not wanting to contribute towards an indemnity policy, or not being able to agree on a completion date.
“This is where the quality estate agent mediates between both parties and get them to look at the bigger picture of completing the sales transaction,” he says.”
People changing their mind and pulling out
Situations change all the time. Someone could lose their job, a family member could become ill, or people can simply have second thoughts.
Mike Coles from Debbie Fortune has noticed a range of reasons why minds can be changed. “The seller can change their minds after first accepting the offer and decide to stay put, which is sometimes called ‘gazanging’. The seller may not be able to find another property to move to, or the buyer’s finances are not in place or their mortgage advance is rejected.
“The buyer can be ‘gazumped,’ which is when the seller receives a higher offer from another buyer. The opposite, ‘gazundering’, is when the buyer reduces their offer at the last minute, before contracts are signed,” Mike explains.
As much as a buyer may want to move ahead, they may not be able to. “Despite buyers having AIP finance, there is a changing mortgage market and tougher underwriting depending on the loan to value once an actual application is completed. This can lead to upset unless the buyer has regularly reviewed the arrangements they have made,” points out Justin Flanagan from Charles Eden.
What should you do next?
If a sale falls through, Kelvin Francis from Kelvin Francis says: “Get the property back onto the market without delay and commence a new marketing campaign. In the event of the cause having been a result of the survey, the seller should deal with any faults.”
How can you prevent a sale from falling through?
Don’t forget to check your mortgage status before putting in an offer to ensure that you will be accepted to buy the home.
You should always remember to be patient, especially when waiting for sales to go through. The negotiation stage can be the most frustrating as you want the sale to move ahead quickly, but it is worth taking a step back and letting the negotiations take their course.
The most important thing is to choose an agent who will be able to constantly chase your sale through, no matter if it is in a chain of not. A highly-regarded independent estate agent, like Members of The Guild of Property Professionals, will be experts in sale chasing and can ensure that everything possible is done to stop a sale from falling through.
We asked our Guild agents what their thoughts and opinions were on the recent government inquiry: “Government launches consultation into house buying and selling”.
Zoe Hayle, Marshalls & Parsons
“The Government consultation needs to address the whole buying process. It is most unfair that someone can agree to buy a property and can withdraw, on nothing more than a whim, right up to the day of exchange.
“The Home Information Pack was introduced to make home selling and buying quicker, however well-intended the concept, the practical application needs adjusting. A survey on a property must be acceptable to all lenders, or it is a waste of time and money for the buyer to provide it. Searches in advance of agreeing a sale would be ideal. However, they would be more effective for it to last for longer than the three months agreed on at present.”
Nicole Cox, Wye Residential
“The biggest bug-bear for us is the length of time that sales take to go through. Interestingly it is not often the mortgage that is the stumbling block, but the conveyancing itself. Investing in a well-qualified and skilled conveyancers and solicitors should not be underrated. Trusting in the knowledge and experience for the legal teams involved will enable sales to go through quicker, smoother and more efficiently. In doing so, the process will become less expensive for all parties and vastly reduce the stress that is often involved with buying and selling property.
"Gazumping is a nuisance, but does tend to show that the market is buoyant. However, with effective conveyancers and solicitors involved, I believe that this would no longer be an issue as both the buyers and sellers experience a smooth and successful sale."
Alan Howick, Howick & Brooker Partnership
“If every house had a MOT it would make it easier. My view is:
1. Return the Home Improvement Pack
2. Create a checklist for sellers to complete for putting their home on the market including: gas, electric and asbestos checks
3. Encouraging lawyers to work alongside estate agents will help all parties involved get to a smooth and transparent sale
4. Create a checklist for buyers: the buyer should have a proven completed chain and proof of funds in place to prevent sales falling through”
Stefan Collier, Joplings
“As a selling agent and a surveyor, I regularly see the wasted time, money and emotion from all parties. This is largely down to the fact that the initial decision to purchase is based on very little information and because there is no time limit. The process is all the wrong way round; conveyancing, getting a mortgage and searches take such a long time (10-12 weeks from agreeing a sale until exchange, when 10 years ago the average was 6-8weeks), often causing buyers and sellers to get cold feet.
“To counteract this, the vendor should have a survey, valuation and legal pack before going to market to establish the legal title, searches and any problems with the property. This allows issues to come to light and be fixed before going to market. When the purchaser makes an offer based on all the relevant information, I believe that there should be a financial commitment to purchase and a set timescale to exchange.
“This will therefore be a way of ensuring that the vendor is committed to selling, as there would be an upfront cost. Additionally, only committed sellers will put their houses on the market, reducing the numbers of pull outs. Purchasers too are less likely to withdraw because they will be more knowledgeable about the property from the offset. The legal pack would speed up the time it takes solicitors to complete the conveyancing process. The financial commitment from the purchaser would further guarantee their commitment to purchase before offering.
“The above system could save everyone concerned a lot of money. Except maybe solicitors!”
Justin Flanagan , Charles Eden
“The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s report on ‘Research on Buying and Selling Homes’ states that, 13 per cent of buyers and one per cent of sellers have experienced Gazumping leading to sales falling through. However, in my experience of gazumping is limited to none.
“If anything, gazundering is more of an issue and whilst this generally does not lead to a fall through, it does cause a lot of stress at a late stage. All transactions are subject to contract so it would be difficult to prevent this behaviour from the buyer. It is also difficult to police as they can always find some sort of reason to justify their action.
“The south of England is arguably experiencing a slowing market. This provides the perfect backdrop to highlight any pitfalls of the Home Information Pack. We found that when sellers collated information and paid for searches on the outset, this information was generally disregarded by potential buyers coming along months down the line for understandably it was seen as out of date. Likewise lenders would take this view.
“Whilst not providing a solution I thought it worth highlighting issues for consideration when discussing matters.”
Allan Carr, Pulver Carr
“I believe all fees and charges, especially set by the Government should be more transparent. The Stamp Duty Charges within the M25 are a suitable example of this. If the charge was made clearer or even reduced, it could have the positive effect of encouraging people to move or buy property.
“It is currently very easy for either party, buyer or seller to withdraw from the sale. It may be more efficient to create a ‘lock in’ for both parties. They would pay a non-refundable deposit to be held by their respective solicitors, so that in the event that one party pulls out, the other party will be disappointed and inconvenienced, but they would at least not be out of pocket.
“Finally, solicitors should have the ability and the desire to speed up the conveyancing process which often causes undue delays, especially with leasehold properties.”
Simon Davies, Norman F Brown
My three points of interest are:
“In my mind the Home Information Pack had the best of intentions, but didn’t carry enough weight within the industry and were too complicated. As an alternative, agents have the expertise and can work more closely with the solicitors. Agents could collect the protocol documents solicitors usually sort out when a sale has been agreed including, fixtures and fittings and property information questionnaire. We can then send this all off with the memo of sale to the solicitors.
"It is too easy for purchasers and sellers to pull out of a deal. It can genuinely change lives and cause a great deal of heart ache. To combat this, to speed things up I believe that once the survey has been conducted, whoever pulls out should be liable to pay for the fees of the other party (Including part of our fees). This will be hard to police and sometimes it is justified, but it will ensure that only serious buyers and sellers engage with the process.
"Better communication and efficiency between solicitors, conveyancers, buyers, sellers and agents will lead to quicker transactions and fewer withdrawals. I suggest that solicitors invest in interactive websites for buyers, sellers and agents to be kept updated."
Joseph Down, Debbie Fortune Estates
“My two key points on this are as follows:
“The cost of moving is a huge factor that has caused many to think twice about moving at all, preferring in many cases to extend their existing homes if possible. Stamp duty is still such a significant cost for many, particularly here in the South West, where prices are very strong around the Bristol area meaning many now “average” moves are costing £20K - £30K in stamp duty, agency fees, solicitor fees etc. In my opinion I would encourage the government to look at stamp duty again, for both single property owners and investment. I do appreciate that the changes made over the past few years to stamp duty have brought the cost down for many, and made the system fairer. It is still however a very large cost to factor in, often ending a sellers’ hopes of moving.
“The lack of commitment until exchange is, in my opinion, the biggest problem in the industry. Our current system offers no compensation or security when a sale falls through. To address this, I suggest that the agreement should be more legally binding at offer stage, with some form of redress should either party pull out of the deal. Many other countries around the world offer us an insight into how we can evolve and make our system more efficient and simple – Scotland being one of them.”
Philip Jackson, Maguire Jackson
“One of the lead issues is to address the falling numbers of transactions. Today the level of property sales is over 30% down on the same time ten years ago (HMRC Stats England 2016 had 1,057,750 sales, whereas 2006 1,404,710 sales).
“One explanation for this is that increased Stamp Duty makes impulsive moves more considered as do the increasing costs for private lands, which supply a large part of the private rented sector. The HMRC would maintain its revenue if the Stamp Duty levels were reduced because it would be countered by the increased volume from the market.”
Chris Sawyer, Sawyer & Co
“Firstly, making the process legally binding earlier will be worthwhile for all parties by increasing trust and confidence both in the process and people involved. I suggest that we give parties the option for a delayed completion or an on or before completion date. There would be financial consequences for buyers and sellers who fail to conclude.
“Secondly, in order to speed up the process we need to get vendors legally ready for a sale. Technology could help with this by collating information online such as, land registry title information, details contained within a local authority search, management information (in the case of leasehold properties) and perhaps even a survey or building report. Together with any other relevant documents about the property, either on a government website or digital platform, this could be used by the buyer, conveyancer and lender.
“This information could also be seen by buyers before any commitment to purchase is made, and in the case of leasehold transactions, managing agents should also be made to provide information within a swift time frame and at a realistic cost."
Simon Miller, Partner at Holroyd Miller
“I probably won’t be popular for saying this but bring back the Home Information Packs. A Home Information Pack is telling the buyer, the solicitor and the lender everything they need to know right at the beginning of the process, which in theory should speed up the process to exchanging contracts.
“Currently the system is too easy for people to walk away. I can appreciate a property may flag up issues later in the buying process which could force a decision to walk away, but the Home Buyers Pack would ensure that didn’t happen. A non-returnable deposit would certainly make people think through their decision with more commitment.
“There is a requirement for a universal survey that the lenders are prepared to accept. Many issues are caused by the valuation survey and often it can come as a nasty surprise. A universal survey conducted independently would solve the problem and provide buyers with clear guidance on how much their bank is prepared to mortgage.
Lynda Lewis, Town & Country Mold
“In short, the law should be changed to state that an accepted offer is binding and all vendors should have survey done on their own home enabling a better understanding by the buyer of the financial commitment over and above the cost of the property purchase. The original proposition around the Home Information Pack made sense. It proposed a Property Survey, but sadly a watered down version was introduced. This would go a long way to ensuring serious home Buyers/Sellers only come to market and increase the likelihood of avoiding fall throughs and quickening of the whole process.”
Looking for your perfect property can be an exciting experience. Once you’ve searched online and spoken to your local Guild Member about what you’re looking for, it’s time to start the viewings. But how many should you do before you make an offer? What if your first property seems perfect? Should you keep looking? Guild agents share their top tips.
Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris said: “There are difficulties involved in finding what appears to be the perfect property very early in a search; many buyers will be concerned about taking the plunge when they haven’t had the opportunity to shop around and see how other properties compare.
“Not securing the perfect property however, could come back and haunt you if someone else secures it before you make a decision. So, if you fell its right – go for it! Getting out and viewing a range of properties early on will help to avoid this as it will help to ensure that the perfect property can be identified if it stands out from the crowd.”
Kevan Wimborne from GBP Estates agrees, and he has personally made offers on the first property that he has seen before.
“Trust your judgement – if it ticks all your boxes, why not go for it?” he asks. “What more are you hoping to find elsewhere? The rest might not match up. Go back for a second visit immediately with a friend or relative for another opinion and if it still excites, make an offer.”
Remember to do your homework before a viewing, says Zoe Hayle from Marshall’s, and there should be no doubt when you find the right home. “If you have done your homework and know the area you want to settle in, then when you find the perfect home you really should offer on it. There is a lack of properties coming to the market now, with many people trying to find one. If you don’t offer, someone else might and if you have missed your favourite then no other property will match up.”
Brian Carlisle from J R Hopper & Co has a recommended number of properties to view per day.
“View at least two or three homes, preferably with the same agent, on the same day. This allows you to compare and rank properties in terms of ticking the boxes and value. Don’t view more than five or six in a day. You will get exhausted and will not make rational decisions after too many viewings,” he advises.
Rather than discounting something online, Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris recommends viewing all properties that you are interested in.
“I do think it’s important that people get out and view a number of properties rather than trying to do their property shopping predominantly on the internet,” he said. “Properties and locations can look and feel very different in the flesh, and there is a risk of passing up an ideal home by discounting it without a visit.”
Brian Carlisle from J R Hopper & Co points out that it is acceptable to put an offer in on multiple properties.
“It is perfectly possible to place an offer on more than one property, providing you are happy to go ahead if any of those offers are accepted. Look at your very short list of properties you would buy at the right price. Decide what you are prepared to offer on each and make the offers. Make sure the agents know you are offering on other properties.”
Gina Burbidge from Royston & Lund says: “Before making an offer on a property, it is advisable to view as many as possible. Try and view a range of properties in the areas you are considering buying to compare as much as possible. Although you can’t view too many properties, if you see something you are interested in in a fast-moving market, it would be advisable to make an offer as soon as you could to ensure you don’t miss out.”
Kevan Wimborne from GBP Estates personally prefers to view fewer properties, but he understands that everyone is different. “By the time you have seen 20 – 30 properties, they begin to all seem similar. Then you possibly decide to ‘settle’ for a property which really wasn’t as good as the first one or second one you saw, but you now need to find something whilst you still have the will,” he jokes.
The right number of properties to view will be different for each person, points out Mike Coles, from Debbie Fortune.
“The amount of properties you choose to look at really depends on yourself. You could look at hundreds of properties online on the properties portals, view loads through your local agents, but never find the one you have in your mind’s eye. Then again, you could get lucky when you find your dream home at your local Guild agent’s window, and it’s perfect when you view it.
“Don’t be afraid to look into things and ask loads of questions because it will be the largest purchase you might ever make. Remember it’s down to you and listen to the advice given to you by your agent.”
Halloween is known for its eerie tales, creepy ghouls and mysterious occurrences. We have put together a collection of spooky stories, inexplicable sightings and things to look out for. Here is a tongue and cheek look at how you know if your house is haunted.
1. What’s the history?
School Lane, Turville – This quaint three bedroom property is based in a small village in Buckinghamshire and comes with an intriguing history. The tale of ‘The Sleeping Girl of Turville’ plagues this adorable village with a mystery that is yet to be solved. In 1871, Ellen Sadler fell asleep and did not wake for nine years. The case attracted the attention of the international newspapers, medical professionals and the public. Ellen became a tourist attraction for years, but not without sceptics questioning the anomaly.
2. There’s something in the air
Darren Challis, Director of Chambers Sales and Lettings said, “I would say ask a medium to attend the property and tap into the spirit world at that location. I can usually tell if a property has a positive or negative vibe just by being there and getting a feeling around. Sometimes the negativity can rub off on the occupants and in some cases the property will have this affect for years.”
3. Ask the agent
Brain Carlisle from JR Hopper & Co said, “There are a number of houses in the Dales where viewers have commented about a "bad feeling" or not being comfortable in the house. In these instances move on as they will not buy. Having said that, if I have a house with history or stories of Ghoulies and ghosts then better to make it a feature, rather than hide it and hope no one finds out. The brave and adventurous will love a good highwayman or jilted bride story.”
4. Is anything flying through the air?
Simon Miller, Partner of Holroyd Miller said, “Unless you live in the notorious 30 East Drive, Pontefract, Yorkshire, which is classed as one of the most haunted homes in the UK, then weird happenings are probably no more than squeaky expanding and contracting floorboards or air in the central heating pipes. However, paranormal activity can take on many guises. Are you experiencing a fine chalk like dust falling inside your home, green foam appearing from taps and the toilet, lights turning on and off, cupboards shaking, and objects levitating? Such activity was reported at 30 East Drive and they most definitely had a poltergeist. Many people report haunted happenings, from the unexplained hair-raising feelings, to objects that simply appear to have been misplaced. But in truth how can we ever really make sense and explain the unexplainable.”
5. Time for a ghost hunt
Mike Coles of Debbie Fortune Estate Agents in Wrington has some interesting top tips for all the ghost hunters out there. Study the history of your home and the region, “Allegedly, areas with a violent past can increase the risk of a haunting. You could try setting up a video camera in your home when you're away to capture any unusual shadows on film,” said Mike. Don’t forget to rely on your senses and intuition; unusual images in the corner of your eyes, noises like footsteps and smells like sulphur can be more sinister than you think.
6. Animals… or not
Often, people report hearing unusual sounds, such as scratching and footsteps. Anything from rats to woodlice can make your mind wonder with all sorts of ideas. Sometimes, it is the most simple of explanations. If these sounds continue, call an exterminator to have a look around, especially in attacks and basements. If nothing is found, congratulations you have a haunted house.
7. When in doubt, listen to the dog
Dogs are known for their keen hearing and sense of smell. They can detect far more than humans, so are the perfect sidekick when ghostly occurrences are in your home. If you canine is barking when no one is at the front door, whimpering at thin air or staring at blank spaces, your best friend on four legs might be trying to tell you something.
8. Got a chill?
Does your home have cold spots for no apparent reason? Before jumping to any conclusions, give a call to your builder to take a look around. He may find cracks or areas which needs insulating. However, if your trusted builder cannot find a reason, then something creepier might be at large.
9. Misplacing little things?
Everyone misplaces their possessions from time to time, especially items like glasses and car keys. However, if this starts to happen a little too often then you might have a ghostly trickster playing around in your home.
10. Lights flickering
This is arguably the most noticeable sign for a haunted home. It is there in all the horror films and spooky stories. If you have checked your fuse box or even called an electrician then there is only one explanation for flickering lights…
We hope you have enjoyed our top 10 indicators to find out how you know if you house in haunted. Happy Halloween!
Most people hope for fast results when their home is on the market. But is there more that you could do to help attract a buyer? Here are some top tips from Guild Members.
1. Set clear viewing times
Talk to the agent to make sure they have easy access to the property for viewings, and agree certain times that are not convenient in advance. “A property that is easily available to a buyer will sell far quicker than one that is difficult to access,” says Stuart Mills from Rickman Properties.
2. Be ready for questions
Viewers will usually ask similar questions, like how much bills usually are and about planning permissions. Draw up a list of frequently asked questions to make sure your agent can get back to a potential buyer as quickly as possible.
3. Tidy at all times
“Take the time to clean and tidy the property before viewings; it really can make a difference to the impression that a buyer gets of your property,” said Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris. It can be tough to make the home look at its best at all times, but it will be worth it when a sudden viewing pops up.
4. Prepare for viewings
It’s a good idea to have a quick viewing checklist to make sure the property it perfectly presentable.
“Is everything tidy, have the beds been made and are the towels neatly folded in the bathroom?” asks Steve Barron, Drivers & Norris. “On a less-than-sunny day, have the lights been turned on everywhere before visitors arrive for the viewing? We mostly advise our clients to present an authentic, homely environment because that’s what buyers are typically looking for.”
5. Start looking for your own dream home
If you plan to buy and sell at the time, start looking at properties straight away. This gives buyers confidence you are serious about moving and they can commit to buying your property. However, be prepared and know that you may miss out on your forever home if your property doesn’t sell in time.
6. Decide what offer you would accept
This will speed up time when offers come in. Set a figure that you would accept, and you can happily confirm when the right offer is made. “Make sure that if you are not the only one to make a decision regarding an offer, that you are all agreed on the figure you would accept before viewings commence,” says Zoe Hayle from Marshalls. “Remember why you bought this property; if you love it, so will your viewers.”
7. Listen to feedback and make improvements
After a viewing, the agent will provide the homeowner with feedback. This can be positive or negative and can be useful if there is anything that can be done to make the property more attractive. If this means decluttering further or a new lick of paint, it is worth making the change to make your home sell faster.
8. Seek mortgage advice
It is never too early to prepare for your eventual house purchase. “Get legally prepared, as this is one of the best indicators for a buyer or vendor that you ready to move,” says Kirill Toursin from Victorstone.
9. Talk to your agent
A good agent should get in touch with you regularly to give updates. “A fortnightly conversation with your agent to review and discuss any tips is vital to maintain a good relationship,” said Graham Johnson at Longstaff.
Do you know about the different ways to sell your home? There are lots of different ways to sell your home, but the main two options are paying a flat-fee up front, which is favoured by DIY models, and the 'no sale, no fee' model, that you'll find on the high street.
There are different types of estate agent model out there, but at The Guild, we recommend the 'no sale, no fee'. This means that you don't have to pay until your house is sold, so there is no risk of having to pay for no results.
Watch the video to find out more:
The 'no sale, no fee' model is used by nearly all 'traditional' estate agents, which means your friendly local estate agent who has a shop on the high street. Be sure to look for this when you decide to sell your home.
When you choose the 'no sale, no fee' option, it means that your estate agent wants to sell your home as much as you do - they won't get paid if they don't!
What are the differences?
'No sale, no fee' model
The choice is yours, and you are free to pick the model that best suits your needs. At the Guild, we recommend the 'no sale, no fee option because agents with a commission-based fee structure aren’t paid until they get results, meaning their priority is the same as the homeowners: to sell the property.
Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild, said: “There has been a rise in the number of DIY packages with up-front fees available to consumers, but no-one has truly explained the pros and cons of each service, so we want to educate the public about the different options that are available.
“At The Guild, we strongly recommend the high-street option of ‘no sale, no fee’ to ensure that the seller gets the best service and best price for their home in the shortest possible time.”
The Guild is a network of the best 800 independent estate agents around the country. Find out why you should choose them to sell your home.
Are you thinking of renovating a property? Here are The Guild's top tips to make sure your renovation goes to plan and stays on budget.
Lots of people become property developers, where they can take a neglected home and turn it into a beautiful house that lots of people will want to buy. Keeping to a strict budget can mean that there is a lot of profit to be made here, but getting carried away can mean that the developers do a lot of work for little or no reward.
Doing a property renovation can be more work than people anticipate. Plus, you need to get the property for the right price, no matter if that is buying it from an estate agent or bidding at auction, to make sure that you sell for a profit.
The Guild is a network of the best 800 independent estate agents around the country. Find out why you should choose them to sell your home.
You’ve found the perfect tenants, they’ve moved in without issue, and you’re expecting smooth sailing with the tenancy. But then you check your bank account and find that rent hasn’t been paid that month. What do you do? Guild Members share their expert advice to help in this tricky situation.
All of our agents agree that communication is key to keep track of payments and to resolve an issue with tenants.
First of all, it is important to check to see if rent is due on time, rather than realising later in the month.
“Check your bank statement the day after the rent is due,” advises Louise Cawley from Newland Rennie. “Your tenant has a responsibility to pay rent the same day every month as if he/she were paying a mortgage, the rent should never be late. If the rent has not come in there may be a simple explanation, a telephone call to the tenant may sort the matter out very quickly.”
“When a tenant defaults with their rent, the first steps are to contact them,” said Suzanne Bellamey of Jackson Green & Preson. “Non-payment of rent does not always mean you have a bad tenant. Sometimes their personal circumstances may change throughout the tenancy, such as losing their job or suffering from ill health and relying on sickness benefits.”
If a miscommunication has happened in the past, now is the time to fix it.
Sarah Green from Mundys says: “Communication is key with tenants to enable the right course of action to be taken in the event that a tenancy is not running as planned. You need to ensure that all the correct information and guidance is provided to the tenant at the commencement of the tenancy so that the tenant is clear on what, when and how payments can be made.”
2. Clear records
Be sure to keep clear records of all communications and decisions while you are trying to get rent from the tenant. It may be needed in court, though hopefully the dispute won’t reach that stage.
Sarah Green from Mundys said: “You should ensure that you keep a record of contact with the tenants, a clear statement of account and copies of letters or notices served to a tenant.”
Does your tenant have a guarantor to pay their rent if they are unable to? Now is the time to find their contact details.
Sarah Driscoll from M&M Estate & Letting Agents says: “Remind the guarantor of their agreement to pay the rent should the tenant not be able to. As with the tenants, keep any conversations and emails professional.”
Emma Foreman from Complete Property agrees that talking to the guarantor could solve the problem.
“If you have a guarantor for the tenancy, speak to them immediately as it is likely that they are unaware of any rent issues and may be in the position to pay the rent over directly themselves,” she says.
Landlord insurance is always a good idea to have in case of situations like rent not being paid.
“If you have any form of landlord insurance now is the time to review the terms,” says Sarah Driscoll from M&M Estate & Letting Agents. “Should you need to make a claim, you want to make sure you have adhered to the T&Cs of the policy. Depending on your insurance, you may find they take things out of your hands.”
Suzanne Bellamey from Jackson Green & Preston has further advice on landlord protection. “I recommend that all landlords take out a ‘Rent Guarantee’ cover offering legal cover, rent arrears and offers financial help for part of the empty period of the property once possession has been obtained through the courts, whilst the property is either being re-advertised or brought back to a satisfactory standard, paying part of the monthly rent.”
Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris says: "A good policy will protect against lost rent when a tenant stops paying but does not vacate a property and will also cover the legal costs involved in recovering possession of the property. This is something we would strongly recommend to any Landlord, though it is important to check and understand the full details of any policy and the cover it provides."
So what should your communication plan of action be?
“When a tenant doesn’t pay, the first thing is a call, email or text to the tenant (the initial check) to ask why,” suggests Joe Gervin, in-house solicitor and Director of LPS in Liverpool.
“Keeping a record of all initial communications is key in case it is required as evidence in court. We would normally recommend a grace period of seven days from due date to allow for banking logistics. If the initial message or call doesn’t work then a formal letter requiring payment forthwith (usually in 7-14 days) is required. Keeping a copy of this letter is imperative. If rent is still not received, then attendance at the property is required. Give 24 hours’ notice that you will be attending to inspect the property to discuss arrears.”
If communicating clearly and giving the tenant time to pay hasn’t solved the issue, it is time to consider legal action.
Sarah Green from Mundys says: “If a landlord is experiencing difficulties with a tenant, speak to the letting agent who will provide guidance on how the matter can be handled. A Legal Adviser and Landlord Bodies such as National Landlord Association can also provide useful advice and guidance for members.
“In the event that the tenant is not keeping up to date with their payments and the landlord is unhappy, it is important to serve the correct section notice at the correct time. A Section 21 notice provides the tenant with a minimum of two months’ notice, coinciding with the fixed term of the tenancy, of the Landlords intention to regain possession. A Section 8 notice can be served where a tenant is two months in arrears and provides a shorter two-week notice of the landlord’s intention to regain possession. Serving the appropriate notice promptly can stop the issue escalating.”
Jenny Owen, Sawyer & Co agrees, though recommends leniency if the tenancy has been successful up to that point. “If the tenant has always paid on time in the past it, depending on the situation you may decide that giving them a small period of breathing space to catch up is fine, otherwise depending on how long they’ve been in the property, you have the option of contacting your solicitor and serving notice under Section 21.”
The Guild recommends seeking the help of a qualified advisor, such as a solicitor, to get the best advice before serving a legal notice.
7. Solutions going forward
If you are able to resolve the problem and the rent is paid, it is worth looking at solutions to make sure the tenant can pay on time in future.
“If you understand the reason for a late or non-payment of rent, you are able to look at simple solutions. For example, an alteration to the rent payment date so it coincides with the timing of work incomes, or a payment plan if the tenant is struggling to make a single larger payment per month. This will prevent the situation from escalating.”
Have you ever seen a property that just seemed to be trying a bit too hard? Over home-staging, or trying too hard when decorating a property in order to sell it, is a surprisingly easy thing to do. Our agents share their stories of homes they’ve see that have been over home-staged, and what you can do to prevent this problem.
1. Be genuine
According to Steve Barron of Drivers & Norris, trying too hard can be a major turn-off for potential buyers. Steve says, “we don’t come across many over-staged homes in our area, and we don’t advise our clients to do so either. Around here, home-baked bread, the smell of fresh coffee or bowls of fruit could appear a little corny.”
2. Don’t do too much
According to Matthew Higgins of Sawyer & Co., “an over-staged property is always easy to spot. There’s too much artwork on the walls, too many cushions and throws on the sofa, and the most major mistake: a dining table set for a banquet. Less is always more when it comes to staging a home.”
3. Don’t underestimate the power of flowers
While overdoing it on the floral front can spell disaster home-staging-wise, a bunch of flowers helps to keep things homely. According to Dominique Scott of Sawyer & Co., “a subtle yet attractive vase of flowers in a few of the rooms is always a nice touch.”
4. Remember that you’re selling a lifestyle
Part of what you’re offering to a potential buyer is a lifestyle. One of the major problems with over home-staging a property is that “it makes it incredibly difficult for a potential buyer to see past the sellers’ belongings. Buyers aren’t just buying a home, they’re buying a lifestyle. Seeing a room set up like a banquet hall could be very off-putting for a potential buyer that doesn’t use a formal dining room. It can make it very hard to see the space in any other way,” adds Dominique.
5. Over home-staging can make buyers suspicious
Why are over home-staged properties so off-putting, and why can’t potential buyers look past them? Steve Barron of Drivers & Norris explains, “When anyone tries too hard to ‘sell’ something, it can be off-putting. Most of us don’t like feeling that we’re being pushed in a certain direction, and may start questioning the motive of the seller. Are they trying to draw the potential purchasers’ attention away from an unflattering view or a building defect? That said, if they like the property, they will more than likely still be interested in it.”
6. Avoid clutter
Box up anything you don’t need before the move. Nicole Cox of Wye County says, “I always tell the vendors that if they don’t need it, pack it up ready for the move, because less clutter means more space and more space equals more money! It’s a simple equation.”
7. Make sure rooms are well-lit
Customers won’t want to buy a house if they can’t see what it looks like. Steve adds that sellers can “emphasize a property’s best asserts by fully pulling back curtains and making sure rooms are generally well-lit, either with natural light or artificial light. If the house is lit by artificial light, make sure that the lights are already on before a prospective buyer arrives.”
8. A few extras go a long way
Hang window treatments to showcase high ceilings and hide low ones, and use fresh towels in the bathrooms and nice white linens on the beds. All of these things can be taken with the seller after they’ve sold their home, and they offer a blank canvas for a potential buyer. Don’t hesitate to hire an interior designer if you’re really stumped. They can help steer you in the right direction, decorating-wise.
9. Think understated
Highlight the lightness and cleanliness of your home before you do anything else. Nicole says that “houses that are clean, tidy and welcoming, with tasteful and understated décor and furnishings will always sell for a premium. There’s no need to make it any more complicated.”
Interior design is a matter of taste, and your particular taste may not appeal to everyone. Take your personal taste out of any home that you’re staging, and think of choosing neutral tones that will open up spaces.
Are you considering selling your home? Contact your local Guild agent today to see how they can help you sell your property.
The air is turning cooler, the leaves are falling and the days are growing shorter. There are a variety of jobs you might want to carry out as autumn goes into full swing. Guild agents share their comments on the most important things to do this autumn before putting your house on the market.
“Now that autumn is upon us, it is essential to keep up to date with home maintenance. Firstly, the leaves have turned and are falling, so check gutters before they become blocked. Clear any garden debris to ensure the space is tidy. Try updating pots with some autumn/winter colour to add kerb appeal.
"Check your heating system, does it need a service? Has the chimney been swept? Is the insulation in the roof space fit for purpose? Check the windows, doors and trickle vents. Remember that a warm, welcoming and cosy experience at this time of year can really set the scene for a great viewing,” says Zoe.
“There are many essential tasks that should be on every sellers’ to do list.
“It won’t be long until many of us will be firing up our boilers to get us through the cold months, so having your boiler serviced and bleeding your radiators is a good place to start.
“For those who enjoy an open fire, check when the chimney was last swept. Now is a good time to replenish the wood store because who doesn’t love an open fire?
“To keep your sash windows in good working order now is a good time to sort out those rattles and drafts. Give them a bit of an overhaul and some TLC before the autumn gales start.
“Before the temperature drops, make sure you pay attention to the exterior of your home, too. Gutters are important to add to your list, they often gather moss from your roof and now is a good time to check if they have got any gaps where they join. Autumn is the wettest month, so a visual inspection of any flat roofs, flashings or fire walls is essential,” explains Chris.
“Selling your house this autumn? Keep it bright! Nights are drawing in, and days are dull, so getting light into your home is really important. Make sure all the summer garden growth is trimmed back from windows. Clean windows, and remove any net curtains to maximise the light and the view. Ensure all lights in the house work, and ideally are bright modern LED bulbs, not the low energy bulbs which only warm up long after the viewer has gone. Turn all the lights on before the viewer arrives, and don’t turn them off until after they leave, a few pence spent on electricity can be worth thousands of pounds on the sale to create the right impression.
“It is essential to keep your home welcoming and safe as winter approaches. Ideally heating should be left on low, with a timer to ensure that the house always feels aired when viewers visit. If the heating can’t be left on then the house needs to be winterised, with water turned off, and drained down, and heating system either drained, or have antifreeze added to the system. Prevention is much better than cure and it is really difficult to sell a house if the pipes have all burst,” explains Brian.
“I would suggest making sure all exterior lighting is in good working order before the clocks change. This always takes many of us by surprise, so make sure the lights are on during a viewing. And don’t forget home security during the dark winter nights. A few minutes spent making sure that all locks work properly and windows are closed will help to keep your home safe,” says Matthew.
"If you haven’t already, make sure you service your gas boiler, and if you burn solid fuel ensure your chimneys are swept. The maintenance is critical to ensure you will not fall foul of carbon monoxide poisoning.
"We have had very high winds already and there will be more to come, fix those slipping roof tiles and any loose mortar from the ridge tiles, and don’t forget the gutters. If water can’t flow freely through the gutter it will find its way into your house via the roof. A badly maintained roof will lead to big problems and huge repair bills later down the line.
"Our advice is to make the maintenance tasks annual as it’s much cheaper, easier and it ensures your home is in tip-top condition should you want to sell it later," concludes Simon.
Being able to spot an up-and-coming area could be a fantastic business investment. Coming to an area before it has become popular means that prices are low, and have a long way to rise. It also means that you could secure a property in a prime location, giving easy access to improving shops and amenities.
Watch our video to find out how you can spot an up-and-coming area.
Are you dreaming of building your own home? Buying land and building a property on it is a dream many people share. But what about the logistics? Buying land and building your own house is uncharted territory for most people.
David Davies of David Davies Estate Agents has seen this process happen time and time again. With almost thirty years of estate agency experience, David has seen many people build their dream homes on land that they’ve bought for that purpose. He’s seen where things can go wrong, and all of the ways that a buyer can prevent these things from happening. Read on for David’s do’s and don’ts for building your own property.
Q: So you want to buy land to build a home. What should you be looking for in the land? Are there any red flags to watch out for?
A: Firstly, when looking to buy land to build your dream home, carefully consider the land’s location, size, and surroundings. This includes whether the property would be an appropriate size or style that will fit with the neighbours, which will become an important factor when you apply for planning approval.
Q: Is it feasible to demolish an existing property on land that you’ve purchased?
A: Always do a land registry search. It’s a small cost to pay, but can tell you a lot about the land you’re considering. The search will be able to tell if the property is registered. If it was built before 1982, it may not be registered, and unregistered land can take time to get papers in order, especially if you’re relying on old deeds, when it may be very difficult to prove title.
If you’re demolishing a property, you will certainly need an asbestos survey. You can’t just knock a property with asbestos down, and removing asbestos can be a costly job. You’ll also need a bat survey, which usually entails an initial survey and often a ‘dawn and dusk emergence survey’. Before building, you’ll need a geotechnical survey, as without this unexpected building costs can arise, which can add thousands of pounds to your build cost.
Q: You’ve bought the land, and now want to go ahead with the build. What kind of permissions do you need, and how will this affect the time frame of building your house?
A: Step back a little. Before exchanging contracts, it’s essential to put a preliminary enquiry into the planning department. This is called a pre-application. You will need to get an opinion from the local planning department, to see if they will grant full approval to build. You can prepare and submit this yourself, as long as you can sketch a rough idea of your design. The cost of doing this is currently £140, so it’s not a large risk, but if you buy first and don’t get approval, it could be a costly mistake.
Q: What happens after you’ve applied for permission?
A: Subject to the above, you now own the land. You then need to employ an architect or an architectural designer to save money. They will discuss your design requirements, and be warned, architects can charge up to 10% of the property’s build cost, though designers will cost less. Visit the RIBA website to find a list of local firms.
Q: What else should I be aware of?
A: Definitely think about utilities (gas, electricity, main drains, etc.). All these things will add to your total costings. A tip here is to get your solicitor to do a ‘multi search’, which doesn’t provide all the locations of various utilities, but will help you through the process of dealing with the public companies.
Q: What about trees?
A: Check and see if there are any trees preventing your build, and if so, if there are any tree protection orders. Speak to the councils’ tree specialist; they are free, knowledgeable and usually very helpful. You may need to employ a professional tree surgeon, especially if the land is heavily planted. Try to find land that’s not too overgrown.
On another note, make sure that there’s no Japanese knot weed on the land. I’ve seen clients struggle terribly with eradicating it, and it would put me off the land completely unless the seller has it removed by a specialist, who can provide an insurance-backed guarantee that it has been successfully eradicated.
Contact your local Guild Member to find out about land for sale in your area. They will be able to guide you through the buying process, too.
Waiting for an offer to come through on your home can be a tense time. Offers do not always follow viewings, and it can be frustrating to feel like you can’t do anything to help. However, this isn’t the case. There are plenty of things you can do if your house isn’t getting as many offers as you’d hoped. If your property sale seems like it’s stuck, Guild agents have some advice for you.
1. Changing the price
Changing the price was the number one recommendation from Guild estate agents.
“We always encourage a vendor to put their property on the market at a price we know it will sell at, taking location, demand, and physical attributes into consideration,” says Simon Miller of Holroyd Miller.
If you are thinking of not following your agent’s advice with pricing, this is something to consider.
“The housing market is price sensitive and studies have shown that most buyers will choose not to view a property if they think it is overpriced. It is difficult to be completely accurate, but the price should be based on evidence from the sale of similar properties,” said Steve Thompson of Thomas Morris.
Peter McHugh from Webbers says: “The price should be backed up and confirmed by established market evidence. An agent’s job is to secure the best price in a time frame that suits the client. The price should maximise the potential; too low and a quick sale could damage the agent’s reputation, too high and marketing may be in vain. It should be as high as possible whilst still attracting viewers.”
If there is something that may put off some buyers, such as traffic noise or poor parking availability, make sure the house is priced to reflect that.
“Excuses can be that the property is not big enough, has too much traffic noise, that there’s not enough bathrooms, or even the wrong parking, but these are all other ways to say that a property is too much money. If priced correctly to allow for any downside, it will sell,” said Nicola Cox from Wye Country.
So, when should you think about a price change?
“Under prevailing market conditions, if a property has been on the market for 12 – 15 weeks and/or has had 12 – 15 viewings and has not sold, then something is the matter,” advises Mike Coles from Debbie Fortune.
2. Condition and presentation
Well-presented homes in a good quality condition tend to sell the fastest. The viewer can imagine themselves moving in right away, making it more attractive. Our agents have some tips.
Simon Miller from Holroyd Miller says: “After price, the next most common reason that a house isn’t selling quickly is that it looks like too much work for a potential purchaser. A lot of people do not have the extra cash required to completely facelift a property.
“If the price reflects the condition of the property then this shouldn’t be an issue, but if the condition is poor and the property is marketed at a premium price, the opportunities for a sale are limited. People either want to be able to visualise moving straight in, or are looking to take on a project – but at the right price.”
First impressions are vital, according to Gina Burbidge from Royston & Lund. “The garden will be the first thing your buyer sees so make sure it looks presentable and ensure you have cleaned your front door and external window sills.”
Zoe Hayle from Marshalls Hayle says: “A good idea is to stand outside your home as though you are viewing it for the first time, this will help you notice if anything is off-putting as a first impression. Good housekeeping is essential now, so keep everything clean and clutter-free. If your home feels welcoming, you will be half way to achieving a sale.”
Make sure you pay attention to the whole property, advises Abby Wheeler from Keats Estate Agents. “Most people focus on the interior of their property, however, first impressions count and the first thing that people see is the exterior. Ensure your bins are not overflowing and your pathway is weed free, pop a lick of paint on the front door and add a pot plant (or two). Do whatever you can to make your home feel inviting from the outset. Don’t forget that viewers have probably already driven past before making the appointment.”
There is more to think about during the viewings, too.
“Sellers need to maintain the property whilst it is on the market. Cut the grass, clean the windows, and pull out the weeds. They also need to allow the agent to work freely in the property whilst showing potential clients around, and be able to answer any questions,” recommends Ken Morton from Apple Homes.
3. Have the right estate agent for you
Has your agent been putting in a lot of work? If yours clearly isn’t, it may be time to consider going to a different company.
“Good agents work hard to proactively sell a home,” says Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris. “They spend time phoning out to talk about a property rather than waiting for buyers to phone in, they take time and care over the presentation of the property with quality photographs and informative details and they update the presentation in response to feedback from the market.
“A good agent will value properties correctly, attain detailed knowledge of the property, and know the area and the buyers. They are able to use this knowledge to put the property together with the right buyer. A poor agent could be the reason a home is not selling.”
Peter McHugh agrees that it is best to have an agent who knows the area inside and out. “Choose a good agent with a recognised reputation. Make sure the promotional material, including photographs, brochures, advertising and web coverage are all excellent to make a good first impression. Pick an agent who really knows the marketplace.”
Mike Coles from Debbie Fortune advises buyers to check that they are getting the service they should. “Ask yourself: what is your agent doing for you? What does your marketing literature look like? Does the photography or video show it at its best? Are they advertising the property? Are they keeping in touch? Adequate feedback is vital as it may highlight actions which need to be carried out.”
Kevin Parson from Marsh & Parsons advises sellers to check that their agent is giving clear information across all platforms to avoid confusing any interested parties. “Make sure every advertising medium you use is consistent in its message. The brochure should have the same photographs as the online advert. The wording should be the same on both. Don’t confuse your potential buyers by adding and omitting important information.”
4. Market conditions
Before making big decisions, consider the state of the market.
“The housing market is a changing and evolving thing,” points out Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris. “Prices can go down as well as up for any number of reasons including economics, time of year and market sentiment amongst others. A property may not be selling due to changes in the market and the price and marketing made need adjusting to react to market changes.”
5. Listen to feedback
Agents should be able to get an impression from a potential buyer who decides against making an offer. Ask to hear all feedback and act upon it to achieve the sale.
Steve Barron, Drivers & Norris, advises: “Use applicants’ feedback to work out if there’s a common theme as to why people are not interested in the property and then remedy this, if possible.”
If you’re unsure, ask your agent to ask more questions of the viewers next time. “Sellers often get little price opinionated feedback, so asking a potential purchaser what they would be willing to pay is a very important question,” says Daniel McGowran from Gibbs Gillespie.
Are you having a hard time selling your property? We can help. Find a Guild agent near you today.
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