I live, eat and breathe this industry – it's not only a career for me but a way of life. Estate agency has a habit of becoming all-consuming, and I know many colleagues will agree with me. I notice every "for sale" board, every press article, every website and every branch, whether it's my own business or that of a competitor. I can spot an estate agent a mile away, sometimes literally. I am passionate and enthusiastic about the business I am in, and it pains me to see others who do not share that passion or attention to detail.
A few years back, when I told people what I did for a living, their reaction would be either one of apathy or disdain. You have to develop a thick skin in this business; that "roll your eyes" response can get to you at times, but I have learnt that I owe it to myself and my colleagues to challenge the perception of estate agency and stand up for a job which I love.
But recently, I have noticed a distinctly different reaction. Times have been tough for everyone, estate agents included. Now, people are not so quick to criticise my chosen vocation, not so quick to judge and, dare I say it, are starting to value our professional opinion.
I get asked questions all the time about searching for properties, the market and house prices, as well as the business in general. So, here are my own FAQ’s and some quick, honest advice:
Is now a good time to buy?
Yes. The market is broadly stable, with recent reports suggesting modest rises in London and the South East. My advice to all people is that if the social and economic factors combine to give you reason to start looking to move, then it must be the right time. The last few years have taught us that buying property is much more than a financial decision, it is an emotional and environmental one too. If your family is growing, you have a new job, you are retiring, you are getting married or divorced, then it stands to reason you will need somewhere bigger, smaller or in a different location to where you are currently. As such, in a stable market, it’s definitely a good time.
How can I make my home stand out from the crowd?
As a trainee over 10 years ago, I was told that the speed of a property selling was dependant on getting the Price, Presentation, and Publicity right. Anyone can sell a home at a rock bottom price, in some cases no estate agency experience is required, but to get the best possible price you have to present your property in the best possible way, and tell as many people as you can about it.
At YOUR MOVE, in addition to having the most visited agency website in the UK*, we also offer our Stand Out marketing packs, designed to help your home gain maximum exposure online and in the press.
I have had a number of viewings on my home but no offers, what's wrong with it?
It’s important to get feedback from your viewers, so ask your estate agent what your viewers thought about the property, good or bad. Ultimately, if buyers are looking at your property but buying other things, they are making a value judgement based on their personal criteria, so find out what people are saying about your home and be prepared to make changes as necessary.
In addition, your estate agent should always be trying to invite the prospective buyers to make an offer. Human beings hate making decisions, particularly ones of such life changing importance, and as such the agent should provide support and confidence in the property and the market in order to generate an offer on your home.
There is no "golden rule" of estate agency, but provided you are marketing effectively and providing as much exposure as possible then you will find a buyer.
Should I sell before I buy or wait to find and then put my property on the market?
Every case is different, so it's hard to provide an all encompassing answer. However, an estate agent's role is to find a willing and able purchaser to facilitate a move as quickly as possible. If you have found the property of your dreams but you aren't on the market, there is no way you can get that property you love without making severe compromises in either the marketing time or the price you hope to achieve on your own sale. If you are in the fortunate position of not having to rely on the proceeds of sale to fund your purchase then it makes no difference. If, like most of the buyers in the London market, you are reliant on achieving a good price for your property to facilitate the move then my advice would be to have found a buyer on your property before finding a home to move to.
My sale has fallen through, how can I prevent this happening again?
It's a fact of life that sales will fall through. This is not only irritating but can be expensive, particularly if you have a related purchase or a chain.
My advice would be to understand exactly why the sale fell through in the first place. Was there a faulty lease, lack of building regulation certificates, bad survey or a down valuation? By focusing on the main causes of the fall through you can help to "bullet proof" your future transaction.
Often, starting the conveyancing process early can help expedite the sale. By securing the services of a specialist conveyancing solicitor, you can allow them to prepare any information in advance and, more importantly, guide you through the process from start to finish. Many people wait until securing a sale or a purchase before getting quotations from solicitors, but in my experience the first week of a sale is the most important. If the momentum is lost by spending additional time finding a conveyancing solicitor, your buyer may still be out viewing other properties, or your vendor could be entertaining other offers.
For all those who say to me every day "There's nothing on the market I like at the moment", my advice is always the same, think out of the box. If the perfect property was 1 mile from the perfect location, surely you should at least consider it? We all want perfection, 10 out of 10. In reality, finding a property is as much about compromise as any other purchase. Aim for 7 out of 10, if you find a home that matches 7 out of your 10 requirements then you should buy it, because the perfect property just doesn’t exist! Over the years I have spoken to hundreds of clients who have come back to me saying they wished they had bought a house I had showed them. But I have never had anyone come back to me wishing they hadn’t bought one I had sold them. If you are prepared to compromise, then you may be surprised how many suitable properties are available – ones you may have disregarded initially!
Good luck in your search!
Regional Managing Director - London
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