Property for Sale

Homesearch Property Valuation

Every now and then, something comes along that stands out from the crowd, it could be a toll that can make life so much    easier, that you could soon, find yourself wondering how you managed without it.

I recently spoke to  Simon Gates who is the head of training & development at Homesearch.

Simon explained in great detail the benefits of using the Homesarch market        appraisal tool.

This is a simple tool that helps agents collate data about a property that could take hours in minutes.

Everything that you need to create a professional, comprehensive report for your clients at the tip of your fingers.

During our online meeting, Simon gave me a live demonstration of the tool. He used one of our recently sold properties as an example. It is a simple as entering the address of the property, then the tool goes to work, preparing an in-depth report in minutes.

As we all know, the majority of automated valuation tools are all too often, wildly inaccurate, so what makes this one so different?

Unlike mainstream automated valuations, this tool does not just take a local average, or a previous sale price, it actually looks at the size of the property, the type of property, the size of the plot and similar properties in the area.

As an example, if there is a 4 bed house in a street of larger luxury properties, it will not over-value the house by taking the average of the street, it will seek out similar properties within a certain radius, and use those as comparables.

This enables the application to get a far more accurate calculation than other automated calculators, indeed the property that Simon chose was valued surprisingly close to the agreed sale price.

When the report is generated, it includes your own branding, contact details and other information, such as details information about the property, the sq footage, number of bedrooms, listed status and much more. Then it will add photos of comparable property and details of recently sold property.

It will produce a graph of property prices in the postcode district and a market analysis. On a local level, it will create a neighbourhood report with facts and figures along with a summary. Finally, it will include the agent’s profile and contact details. An amazingly accurate market appraisal tool at the click of a mouse.

What Homesearch say……

Homesearch is the essential source for comprehensive information on every single property in the UK. It’s a platform for relationships to be forged and potential to be unlocked.

Find more opportunities, give the best advice and provide your clients the information they need to move.

Homesearch helps position you as the absolute property expert. Harness the most advanced data available to proactively spot and convert new leads and opportunities, and confidently instruct, sell and let more

Impress your market, book more valuations and grow your business with fully branded, fully personalised and fully customisable reporting.

Data is never a substitute for dialogue, but when combined – they’re powerful. Give your clients the best possible view of the property landscape by fusing your local expertise with Homesearch insight.

Conclusion….

I was really impressed with this site, in these days where agents will be conducting more and more online valuations, the need for accurate information is of paramount importance.

The Estate Agency industry is a service industry, ‘SERVICE’ being the operative word, it is very important to demonstrate to sellers that you have gathered as much data as possible to value their property, but more importantly, to demonstrate HOW the valuation was calculated, on what basis, with what information and details of the information that was used.

In this respect, Homesearch does a wonderful job and will without doubt grow to be an invaluable tool used by agents throughout the country.

As more and more agents have access to accurate information about property, not only will they benefit from the advantages that this tool offers, but the public as a whole will benefit as they become accustomed to receiving a detailed, professional and accurate  valuation of their home.

Homesearch are also launching property listings soon, I am looking forward to seeing their what they have in store for us, when they do.

View an example report HERE

For further information visit homesearch.co.uk

Don’t give in to buyers wanting viewings, agents told

Don't give in to buyers wanting viewings, agents told

There’s been a surge in buyers wanting to view properties – but agents must sit on their hands and wait for government clearance.

That’s the advice from NAEA Propertymark overnight as it responds to the frustrating government guidance issued yesterday on how businesses emerge from lockdown.

To the disappointment of some in the industry, the government’s 60-page document which was released yesterday utterly ignored the housing market and agency sector.

Most analysts felt the nearest business category defined in the document was “non-essential retail” which may open sometime after June 1 so long as safe processes can be agreed. However at the same time the guidance suggests domestic cleaners can visit a home with immediate effect – which could be a loophole for agents to exploit.

A statement from Propertymark last evening says: “Consumers’ demand for viewings has increased today with potential buyers across the UK contacting members.”

But it warns that the guidance first set out by the government on March 26 – and explicitly ruling out physical viewings – remains in force and must be adhered to.

There is evidence that the lockdown is being circumnavigated by some agents; within minutes of the government document being publish yesterday afternoon, Estate Agent Today was told of a London agency chain allegedly showing viewers around properties surreptitiously; and in Devon, one agent told EAT that he had allowed a buyer to view a property after the owner stepped out.

However, the NAEA – although clearly frustrated that recent discussions with government have not led to any date for lifting agents’ lockdown – says the guidance set out over six weeks ago still holds.

“Consumers that are demanding viewings are leads to be nurtured until the point at which a face to face viewing – if that is the final hurdle – can once again be executed safely. This nurturing can involve video viewings and vendors conducting a more amateur viewing by phone around the house, where 360-degree software is not available” continues the association.

And NAEA Propertymark states: “It remains the case that where staff can carry out work from home this is Public Health England’s preference, freeing up space on public transport for those who cannot work remotely. When the time comes, agencies may choose to return staff to branches on a rotational basis combining branch and home-based work to accommodate re-opening with the required social distancing.

“Although Propertymark does not yet know exactly when the Government will allow estate and letting agency premises and auction houses to re-open, business managers must make appropriate preparations within the information that is available now.

“This will vary across premises and companies but key common areas are: arranging sufficient stocks of personal protective equipment and easy to access cleaning products and sanitiser but also considering whether there is sufficient space between work stations and preparation for minimising the hazards of frequently touched areas such as door handles, taps, kitchens, and toilets.”

Meanwhile another omission from the government document has been picked up by the Winkworth franchise chain.

“The key to keeping the second-hand and new build homes markets active is for banks to allow valuers to go back to work to allow mortgages to progress. This could be done with strict social distancing, hygiene and wearing of masks and other protective clothing rules in place. The government needs to consider this as a priority” explains Dominic Agace, chief executive of Winkworth.

Northamptonshire Market Update May 2020

Despite the terrible crisis that has fallen upon us, we are now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and people are beginning to ask:

"What is the state of the market after this?"

I habitually create market updates not only for Northamptonshire as a whole, but also postcode by postcode. However in this video, I present a quick snapshot of the market in Northamptonshire, with surprisingly encouraging results!

Out of 8,194 properties on the market in Northamptonshire,

3,578 are  SSTC which is 44%

Which is up from an average of 41% 3 months ago

There are 4,616 Available

Property over £,500,00.00

There are 706 properties on the market in Northamptonshire

207 are SSTC which is 29%

This is up from an average of 25% 3 months ago

There are499 Available

 

These are figures for Northamptonshire which is my area. If you require any information about the market in your area Please contact me and I can put you in touch with a colleague from any one of our 225 offices, who will also have a specialised knowledge of the property market in their area. For further information, valuations, marketing, help finding your next home, or if you would like further information on BUYING, SELLING, INVESTING, OR RENOVATING, please feel free to contact me directly.

Mortgage demand rises as market sees light at the end of the tunnel

Mortgage demand rises as market sees light at the end of the tunnel

The demand for mortgages in April was scarcely a quarter of what it was in March – but the figures show that there’s been an increase each week since Easter suggesting there’s light at the end of the lockdown tunnel.

Technology company Twenty7Tec analyses mortgage statistics and shows that for the week ending Saturday May 2;

– The volume of online searches for mortgage information was 5.36 per cent up on the previous week and 21.32 up on two weeks before;

– The total value of loans granted was up 2.93 per cent on the previous week and up 23.59 per cent on two weeks before;

– Mortgages for new purchases represented 31.74 per cent of the searches made online last week, compared to recent lows averaging 24.5 per cent;

– Searches for mortgages for buy to lets (both to purchase and to reportage) stood at 25.01 per cent of all mortgage searches.

“The data tells us that we are gently on the up again and have been ever since Easter. Across the board, we are seeing higher search volumes, higher levels of documentation prepared and higher total levels of loans requested” explains James Tucker, chief executive of Twenty7Tec.

“Buy to let is probably the story of the week, representing around one-fifth more of the total market than the long-term average [ but] whilst it’s great news that this week’s searches for purchase mortgages continue to rise, the volumes remain considerably down on their January to March peaks. This week’s volumes are only 26 per cent of the weekly volumes in mid-March.”

He continues: “In comparing April to March, it’s worth noting that April had two Easter bank holidays and that March was a day longer, but also that the volume of mortgage products on the market was considerably lower than the month prior.

“Despite the difficult conditions, lenders quickly moved to address the changes in the market conditions and amended, updated and replaced their products at an unprecedented rate. Brokers responded well and were able to focus in on those areas of our industry where volumes remained higher.

New virtual valuation platform offered by major industry supplier

New virtual valuation platform offered by major industry supplier

Industry supplier epropservices has created a new virtual valuation platform to help the industry operate during the lockdown and social distancing periods.
 
Jon Cooke, chief executive of epropservices – the parent company of The Guild of Property Professionals and Fine & Country – says that the service was born out of the need to continue providing sellers with a professional valuation without agents having to physically visit the property.
 
All the vendor needs to do is complete a questionnaire and upload a short video and/or some photos of their property, as well as choose the best date and time for them to take a video call.
 
“Based on the video, photos and information provided, agents will be able to fully research the property and then conduct the face-to-face virtual meeting, choosing the system of their choice to provide an accurate valuation, giving a realistic sales or rental price for the property” explains Cooke.
 
“Following the meeting the agent can send the vendor a detailed report on the property providing them with the pricing expectations, as they normally would do” he notes.
 
“If the vendor decides they would like to go ahead, the agent is then able to start the process of marketing the property and conducting virtual viewings.”
 
According to Cooke, both Fine & Country licensees and Guild Members have the tools to be able to go through the entire process remotely and find either a buyer or tenant for a property without there ever being any physical meetings.
 
“No-one know what the future holds for how we interact with customers or how customer behaviour will change, potentially a virtual valuation platform will always be a vital tool in an agent’s service offering,” Cooke concludes.

Buckle up – Wave of law cases possible if off-plan buyers pull out

Buckle up - Wave of law cases possible if off-plan buyers pull out

There’s a warning today that the housing market could face a wave of legal disputes if buyers of off-plan new builds fail to complete because of falling prices.
 
Private wealth law firm Boodle Hatfield says the impact of the lockdown on residential property values may push the market values of some new build developments substantially below the prices purchasers paid.
 
If buyers decide they will not complete, they may lose the deposits they have paid.
 
However if the property values fall further than the cushion provided by the deposits, the developers of those properties might still pursue the purchasers who – under most contracts – would still be liable for further losses.
 
This problem was relatively widespread following the collapse of UK residential property values after the credit crunch in 2008-2009.
 
In some new build developments scores of investors had to be pursued to ensure they completed transactions they were legally committed to.
 
“The contracts of most residential new-build developments are fairly clear cut and deposits would be at risk. Many purchasers also forget that this might not be the end of it. You may be liable for any additional loss the developer makes from selling that property, on the market, for less than you originally agreed” says the law firm’s property disputes partner, Colin Young.
 
“Hopefully property prices don’t fall too far but there are certainly developers are now exploring their options over deals where the buyers seem to have gone cold. Once the lockdown is over we expect that buyers who should have already completed will start being asked to agree to a new timetable” he continues.
 
“What we are also hoping is that these problems can reach a negotiated settlement.”
 
 
Kellie Jones, a senior associate at the law firm, says the issue is most disruptive where high net worth individuals have committed to buy multiple properties at the same scheme, typically as an invest,ent.
 
“If that HNW is based overseas there is the extra expense of enforcing the judgment of a UK court in another jurisdiction. However, if a development has not been finished on time then a purchaser may take steps to serve a notice to complete so that it can rescind and reclaim the deposit if the seller is unable to comply” she adds.

Agencies still getting leads and completing deals despite lockdown

Agencies still getting leads and completing deals despite lockdown

It may seem a long time since normal trading took place but many agencies are now finding they are picking up leads and some deals despite the lockdown.

Midlands agency Centrick says it’s seen positive results in recent weeks thanks to what it calls its ‘digital-first’.

Since the lockdown began on March 23 it has edited and uploaded over 140 virtual viewings. All the viewings were filmed before restrictions were put in place and the agency says that it has since had the time to edit and release them.

The agency has also devised a contactless handover so that tenants can sign contracts digitally and collect keys without having to meet face-to-face.

“Despite lockdown restrictions prohibiting people from moving home unless it’s absolutely essential, we are still seeing leads pour in thanks to the marketing campaigns we have in place. By providing services which allow consumers to engage with us while following social distancing rules – such as virtual viewings and instant online valuations – we have been able to find opportunities and keep the business ticking over” explains Andy Butts, Centrick’s group sales and lettings director.

The firm says its commitment to digital marketing has allowed it to continue generating leads, even though a large proportion of the market has been on hold for a number of weeks now.

For example, Centrick generated over 200 rental property leads over the Easter weekend alone. The agency has also continued to generate vendor and landlord leads through its ValPal instant online valuation tool. Many of these leads have come directly from Facebook ad campaigns, while it has also been promoting its hugely successful virtual viewings across social media platforms.

“Centrick is a model agency. It is adapting to a challenging market and still managing to interact with consumers while adhering to the government’s lockdown rules,” says Craig Vile, Director of The ValPal Network.

“The agency’s results show that the market is still active and demonstrate why committing to digital marketing during this tricky period can be hugely beneficial. Encouraging consumers to carry out instant online valuations of their properties can help agents to keep consumers engaged in the moving process now and fill their sales funnel so they can hit the ground running when the market becomes more active in the coming months” says Vile.The ValPal Network is a product of Angels Media, publisher of Estate Agent Today and other Today titles.

Meanwhile John Bray and Partners in Rock, north Cornwall, says it is still negotiating new sales and taking on new property.

“Last week we agreed a sale on a property with a guide price of £275,000. It was empty having recently been refurbished throughout … A local buyer viewed the particulars, and the video walk through, and entered into competitive bidding to secure the property above the guide price. Launch to agreed sale happened in just two days” explains John Bray partner Josephine Ashby.

“Another recent deal involved a brand-new property in North Cornwall. One of the buyers had seen the house, but the other hadn’t managed to visit prior to lockdown. They decided they were happy to proceed on the basis of a video walkthrough and the sale is progressing” she adds.

“Video walk-throughs are becoming common-place for vendors who aren’t happy to wait out the lockdown. Where property is vacant we are able to produce these videos safely, and serious buyers are often happy to buy without visiting the property in person.

“We are also using virtual staging for vacant properties to help buyers get an impression of what the property would look like furnished.”

Ashby says some vendors prefer to put their property on the market under the radar, appearing on the agency’s own website but not on the portals.

“Our web traffic is up 50 per cent since the lockdown, and 80 per cent of that figure is made up of new visitors. Telephone calls are dramatically reduced, but buyers and sellers who call are very serious. We have time to spend talking everything through in great detail.”

Reapit’s PropTech deal aims to accelerate completions and cut fall-throughs

Reapit's PropTech deal aims to accelerate completions and cut fall-throughs

PropTech big names Reapit and ViewMyChain are joining up to try to accelerate transactions when the lockdown finally ends and the sales market returns.

They say that 55 per cent of all housing transactions in normal times are in chains, making it more essential than ever that agents know the status of each transaction.

This will be particularly crucial post-lockdown when agents have to rebuild pipelines and cashflow, especially if furloughing staff costs is no longer an option.

Reapit and View My Chain have therefore created a Chain View platform that provides “a dynamic, data-driven view of the entire chain status” against key milestones.

There are no upfront charges but agents pay when individual transactions complete – £25 at the point of each completion.

“The partnership of Reapit and View My Chain will help expedite transactions in the immediate post-COVID-19 market. With £125-billion worth of impending sales commission waiting for agents, linking the Chain View platform with Reapit’s agency software will ease the burden on resource-tight agencies to gently pull chains to completion” explains Gary Barker, chief executive officer of Reapit.

View My Chain’s chairman Ian Lancaster adds: ”This has been an incredibly difficult platform to create and many have failed before us in successfully aggregate both property chains and all the relevant milestones. The View My Chain platform done it now through strategic partnerships to become the single eco system that can finally transform the UK residential housing market.”

2020 house sales to hit peak in September predicts leading agency

2020 house sales to hit peak in September predicts leading agency

The peak of the 2020 sales market is likely to be September instead of the usual early summer – but that depends on many of the lockdown measures being relaxed in time.
 
Knight Frank has calculated that sales transactions peaked in July last year before tailing off towards the end of the year, reflecting the typical seasonal pattern of activity.
 
Tenancies agreed followed a similar pattern, with a more marked decline in the second half of the year.
 
The agency now says that once lockdown measures are relaxed – which will be in May at the earliest, with the current period of restrictions expiring on May 7 – a spurt of sales activity could push this traditional July peak back to August, September or later.
 
“The traditional August exodus is going to disappear this year,” said James Clarke, Knight Frank’s head of London sales. “A lot of the completions that traditionally take place in the summer will be pushed back into the third quarter of 2020,” he adds.
 
For markets like London’s, which has a significant international buyer sector, the delay may be more pronounced if international travel restrictions stay in place even after some domestic lockdown measures end.
 
Meanwhile, outside the capital, where seasonal buying patterns are more entrenched, there is a similar belief that 2020 could prove to be an exception.
 
“If we’re up and trading by the summer then we will have a prolonged market,” says Edward Rook, head of Knight Frank’s Country Department. “However, if this re-opening only happens later in the year, sales are more likely to be deferred until 2021.”
 
Christopher Bailey, head of Knight Frank’s Waterfront department, believes sellers are pragmatic about the current restrictions and are not looking to take property off the market, which bodes well for a busy second half of 2020 as supply is able to match renewed demand.
 
“No one’s in a rush. Low interest rates have taken the pressure off sellers who remain positive about the market and there remains plenty of pent-up demand from buyers” he says.
 
The number of new prospective buyers increased by 14 per cent across the UK in the year to January 2020 compared to the previous 12 months.

Love it or loathe it? Help To Buy to be beefed up after lockdown

Love it or loathe it? Help To Buy to be beefed up after lockdown

The controversial Help To Buy scheme looks likely to be expanded in breadth and extended in duration to help kick-start the housebuilding industry after the lockdown.
 
Currently the scheme helps buyers of new build homes with an equity loan worth 20 per cent of the value of a property; it is due to be phased out between spring 2021 and 2023.
 
It’s been widely reported that the housebuilding industry and its trade bodies have told the government they fear a long-term slowdown will impact on new build volumes; Savills estimates that work has stopped on sites which could accommodate some 200,000 new homes.
 
Meanwhile the former head of the civil service and permanent secretary at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government is also urging Whitehall to beef up Help to Buy.
 
Lord Kerslake told the Housing Today magazine: “I think the challenge is going to be to restore confidence after what has been a big health and economic shock. The sort of things you’ll be looking for is where the government can give confidence to the market, particularly on build for sale, with things like Help to Buy… I think they should at least be putting it on the list of things to be talking about.”
 
Help To Buy has had a mixed reception in the months leading up to the virus outbreak, with critics suggesting that many of its buyers did not need the financial assistance it gave, and that the single biggest effect of the scheme was to inflate the stock market value and profits of many of the country’s largest housebuilders.
 
Supporters say it has helped large numbers of purchasers – the majority of them first time buyers – on to the ladder in better quality homes than they would have bought without the intervention.