Category Archives: Market Review

Top tips for selecting an Estate Agent

Selling your home can be a daunting prospect, in many cases a property is your most valuable possession and we understand there are countless estate agents to choose from in your area. We’ve made it simple for you by creating our 9 top tips for selecting the perfect estate agent. We have covered everything from who to trust, what to ask and where your property should be advertised to reach a broad market of potential buyers. Our top tips will help, support and guide you through making your choice.

 

  1. Do they know your local area?

It is important that the estate agent you choose understands the area surrounding them. This will enable a greater understanding of the housing market in your area and can only benefit you when it comes to the marketing and advertising of your home.

 

  1. Have they previously sold houses like yours?

Do they have a back catalogue of successful projects that they are willing to show you? An agent with knowledge on your type of property is vital, without this knowledge the agent may not understand how to market and advertise your home, and risk not reaching potential buyers.

  1. Do you like them?

Your estate agent will play a vital role in selling your house so it’s important to create and maintain a good relationship.

Go to a variety of agents in your local area and see if it’s a welcoming, professional environment, are the staff helpful and polite? When they visit your home are they enthusiastic about it? It’s your decision on who to trust with your home, so don’t just settle for the first estate agent you find.

  1. Recommendation

Positive recommendations from friends and family can be a great way to begin your search for the perfect agent. You can also check them out reviews and rankings on allagents.co.uk.

You can also seek reassurance by checking if the agent is a member of industry bodies such as The Property Ombudsman, RICS, National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents).

  1. Where do they advertise?

Are the agents widespread and visible online and offline? Many buyers might not have time to go into an agent’s office to search for their potential new home, so an online presence is a must have when it comes to attracting buyers.

  1. Can you find them on social media?

Is the estate agent visible on social media? If you can’t find the agent online how will potential buyers find your house? Social media is used by so many people, why miss out on a platform that can advertise your home and reach more people in the process.

 

  1. What area will your property be marketed to?

How widespread will the advertising of your house be? Will it stay in your local area, your region? Or national? Is the agent part of a relocation network, helping people moving to a new area?

  1. What marketing techniques do they use?

Don’t be afraid to ask your agent how they will market and advertise your property, what newspapers and magazines will it appear in? What property websites will it be listed on? Do they already have clients in mind for your property? If the agent is unsure of how and where to market your property then it may get overlooked by prospective buyers.

  1. Understand the agents fees

Fees do vary, many agents only charge a percentage of the selling price however, additional charges for valuations, photography and advertising can be costly surprises.

A good agent will discuss all the fees upfront, there should be no hidden charges so make sure to discuss this thoroughly with the agents before you make your final choice.

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Housing supply dries up

My newspaper this morning predicted that house prices could rise by as much as 25% over the next five years following a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) report. The report shows that the number of homes for sale has fallen to its lowest level since records began in 1978.

It is suggested that this shortage of supply comes as a consequence of people living longer and moving house less frequently.   Low cost mortgages are also a factor where people have taken advantage of the cheapest ever interest rates and locked into a long term deal rather than moving home.

This reduction in available properties is puzzling as the General Election result was expected to provide a much needed boost in confidence and a consequential increase in the activity levels.  Instead, whilst sales and rentals have been active, properties which have been sold or let have not been replaced by new properties coming to the market and, as a consequence, we have seen prices rising in all of the most popular residential districts locally.

RICS has also predicted that people’s lifestyles may be changing. One particular new trend is that parents, conscious of the difficulties facing young people getting onto the property ladder, rather than move, have chosen to release some equity from their property to help their offspring. Alternatively they are purchasing a Buy to Let property.

For our part, the declining number of available properties is also a direct result of a shortage of housing in our country and the problems related to the lack of new building over the last twenty years. These factors are now coming home to roost.  Not only is there pressure on house prices but there is also pressure on rent levels with properties being let often within a matter of hours of becoming available and at ever increasing rent levels.

All of our towns and villages face pressures of development with nobody enjoying the prospect of green belt encroachment.  Unfortunately however, without some selective relaxation, the onward increase in house prices and rent levels is inevitable.

John Halman is Managing Director of Gascoigne Halman, an estate agent with eighteen offices in South Manchester and is the North West Regional Residential Spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Some top tips for selling your home

Some top tips for selling your home

When it comes to property sales in Cheshire, South Manchester or the High Peak we have many years’ experience assisting homeowners to achieve a speedy property sale.

If you are selling your home you want to present it at its best and ensure that prospective buyers are charmed by your property.

We have developed some golden rules that are certainly worth remembering when it comes to selling and presenting your home for a speedy property sale.

Here’s our top 5:

1. Depersonalise: As much as you love your children’s drawings on the fridge and the pencil artwork on the wallpaper, chances are your prospective buyers may not. In order to allow buyers to picture themselves living in your house, try to create a blank canvas wherever possible.

2. Declutter: When it comes to selling your home, the more clear surfaces you have, the better. It will make your home look larger and cleaner.

3. Disassociate yourself: Prepare your home for a viewing, step outside and re-enter the house with the mind-set of a potential buyer. Look for any possible flaws or limitations and do your best to address them.

4. Define every space: You may use a bedroom as a gym or storage area but portraying a room like this will bamboozle your prospective buyers. Each room should have a clear and distinct purpose.

5. Lighting: Dark corridors and pokey bedrooms can be brought to life in a second with a flick of a switch. Never underestimate the power of lighting and ensure that all the required lights are turned on before anyone comes to view.

Watch out for a future article with more top home selling tips!

Gascoigne Halman Named Best Agent in the Cheshire & North Wales Region

Photo Caption (L-R): Stephen Mangan, The Gascoigne Halman Team, and Richard Tucker. Independent estate agent, Gascoigne Halman is delighted to announce that they have won Relocation Agent Network’s prestigious 2014 Best Agent Cheshire & North Wales Regional Award at the Network’s annual National Conference, held at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, London on Friday 14 November.

The annual prize gives the winning agency the title of ‘Best Agent in the Cheshire & North Wales Region’ and is awarded on a number of criteria measuring the agent’s overall contribution to Relocation Agent Network, their ability to achieve customer satisfaction, a strong market share locally and a proven record of helping relocating buyers move both in and out of the area.

The National Conference culminated in an evening black tie Awards Dinner hosted by acclaimed comedy actor, Stephen Mangan, best known for his role as the delusional and arrogant anesthetist, Guy Secretan in the hit Channel 4 hospital sitcom, Green Wing. Currently he stars in the BBC 2 comedy, Episodes with Matt LeBlanc. Stephen announced Gascoigne Halman’s award win.

John Halman comments, “We are really proud to be named the region’s best Relocation Agent Network member as it recognises the hard work and combined effort of everyone here at Gascoigne Halman. The award win clearly demonstrates to our buying and selling customers that we are one of Cheshire’s leading estate agents.”

Richard Tucker, Relocation Agent Network’s Managing Director said, “Gascoigne Halman’s outstanding customer service, independent business initiatives, local market share and commitment to our Network principles means that this award is thoroughly deserved. Congratulations to all the team at Gascoigne Halman.”

Information about Gascoigne Halman can be found by visiting their website http://www.gascoignehalman.co.uk/

Market Review December 2014

Market receives boost from Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

As we move towards the end of the year we can reflect on a significantly improved property market in our local area with overall price rises of between 5% and 10%.  This compares favourably to the North West generally where, according to the Nationwide and Halifax statistics, properties have risen in value by less than 5%.

This divergence from the figures for the North West is brought about by our local market enjoying higher levels of employment and prosperity than many of the industrial areas which form part of the region.  In fact, when comparing the South Manchester/North Cheshire area generally, I often find that my company’s average price exceeds all parts of the country apart from those located in London and the immediately adjoining counties.

It is particularly pleasing that the market has continued to support a high level of sales right into November, a time when things traditionally become quieter.  Some correspondents are suggesting that the surge in economic activity is petering out but housing remains a highly sought after commodity and seems to be regarded as a safe haven for people’s savings and pensions.

This confidence has resulted in us seeing a growth in the number of private landlords entering into the Buy to Let market where returns can exceed those found in banks and building societies and where the investment is deemed as safe as houses!  Like all investments it is not without an element of risk but anybody who looks back in history will see the long term average is inevitably upward.  Rents too have continued to edge upwards as demand outstrips supply.

Of greater interest is what the market will do as we move into 2015.  The Chancellor’s surprise announcement in the Autumn Budget Statement of a massive overhaul of the Stamp Duty system is welcome, as many in the industry have been arguing for some years that the method of calculation as a slab tax is unfair.  Henceforth it will be calculated on a sliding scale with less Stamp Duty payable on all transactions where the house price is less than £937,500.   Early predictions suggest that this will have a beneficial effect on the number of transactions next year and some pundits are arguing that it may add between 1% and 2% to average prices.

In addition, the indications are that bank rate is likely to remain at its current level of 0.5% for the majority of 2015 with some forecasters now predicting no change before 2016.  As a result we have seen a progressive lowering of the rate of interest of fixed term mortgage deals with some five year fixed products as low as 2.6%.

Of course, next year is an election year which inevitably brings with it a degree of uncertainty and nervousness which can be reflected in the market.  The economic outlook has had a bumpy ride through the autumn with forecasts of slowing growth in China and a flat economy at best in Europe.  Although these places are a long way from Cheshire they will undoubtedly have an effect on our market and prices through the coming twelve months.

Overall, however, we remain encouraged that the Chancellor’s changes will provide a boost to activity and that prices will continue to edge upwards through next year, albeit at a slower rate than this year.

We therefore look forward with continued optimism to the coming twelve months but with a little more uncertainty for the period thereafter.

John Halman

John Halman is Managing Director of Gascoigne Halman, an estate agent with eighteen offices in South Manchester and is the North West Regional Residential Spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Rogue agents charging over-the-odds tenant fees

The Consumer Rights Bill was debated within the House of Lords on the 4th November. An amendment was laid by the opposition to prohibit fees paid to letting agents. Responding for the Government, Baroness Neville-Rolfe said that a blanket ban on letting agent fees could not be the answer to tackling a minority of irresponsible agents and that banning fees would lead to an increase in rent prices.

ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) supports the view that fees should be transparent and believes that better regulation is needed in the private rental sector to stop rogue agents charging over-the-odds tenant fees.

Their recent report on tenant fees* found that nearly three quarters (74%) of ARLA Licensed agents charge tenants no more than £250 in tenant fees. Overall, among the members surveyed the report found ARLA Licensed agents charge a reasonable £213 on average in tenant fees to cover the lettings process.

While many are concerned about tenant fees, David Cox, managing Director of ARLA, explains why they are needed: “Tenant fees cover the cost of essential items during the lettings agreement process such a reference checks, the drafting of the tenancy agreement, and the management of tenancy extension or renewal. All of these items cost the agent money to carry out, and in fact, provided the agent has a fair pricing structure, the agent will not make a noticeable profit on charging for these items. Renting a property is a big financial commitment and tenants should be made aware of what exactly they are being charged for and what they are getting for their money. ARLS supports openness and transparency when it comes to fees.”

Philip Chadwick, Gascoigne Halman’s Lettings Director agrees: “We are confident that our commitment to ARLA’s strict code of conduct demonstrably puts the tenant first. Openness, transparency and fairness are at the heart of everything we do. Clients should be cautious if dealing with agents who are not members of ARLA.”

*ARLA Licensed agents, based on 506 responses

Jobs to do for the weekend

JFH 2014

If, like me, you enjoy your garden, you will be a regular viewer of Monty Don’s Gardeners’ World which each week features “jobs to do for the weekend” – a timely reminder of things that demand our attention.

If you are thinking of moving this autumn, or even just wanting to ensure you are doing things which will enhance the saleability and value of your home, then here’s a list of some of the things that may require your attention, not just this weekend, but over the coming weeks.

First impressions count.  The exterior of your property is the first thing a prospective buyer sees.  Keep it neat and clean.  The front door is particularly important as it is a focal point and people tend to drive past a house before making an appointment to view.  Don’t forget to keep your windows clean.

Even if you are not in Monty Don’s league, tidy the garden.  Ensure that lawns are well trimmed and keep the gardens neat.  A tidy garden looks great viewed from a window and also looks bigger than an unkempt one. Consider planting some winter flowering bulbs now in pots – you can position them by your front door to create some colour and a warm welcome during the autumn months.

Internally, if any part of your house needs decorating badly, redecorate it if possible.  It enhances the presentation.  Tidy wardrobes and cupboards look larger and give a good impression.  If cupboards and fitted wardrobes look over crowded a buyer may feel it would be too small for their requirements.

Resolve to sort out those irritating jobs (squeaky doors, dripping taps) you have been meaning to do. If your house contains stairways it is essential that these are kept clear as any objects on them are dangerous and present a crowded appearance.

Neat bedrooms help sales.  Make sure the beds are well made and that dress and table tops are neatly arranged.  Sparkling bathrooms are essential.

If your property is on the market, fresh flowers and plants in a home can make quite a difference to its appearance.  Most importantly, light rooms are cheerful rooms to a prospective buyer.  If a room is dark, try to keep it as light as possible by drawing curtains back and using carefully positioned lamps.

Also, please remember too many introductions are distracting.  Don’t have the whole family trailing inquisitively behind.  This enables a buyer to concentrate on the house.  Noise is a distraction and it is best to turn off radios and televisions.

Whilst I am sure that your pet is very dear to you, not everybody likes them.  Avoid Fido from becoming a distraction.

Finally, never apologise for the appearance of your home.  It will only draw attention to something that would otherwise have probably gone unnoticed.

I am sure, that you, like me with Monty, will find it difficult to abide by all of the tips, but if you manage the majority, it gives you a better chance to make your successful move this autumn.

John Halman is Managing Director of Gascoigne Halman, an estate agent with eighteen offices in South Manchester and is the North West Regional Residential Spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

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