At least Dick Turpin wore a mask…

In one of my rare quieter moments, I often question myself as to why anybody buying or selling a property would use a packaged solicitor recommended by a corporate estate agent.  Let me explain.  I recently went to a valuation in Cwmbran where the vendor had sensibly asked more than one estate agent to value their property and explain their services with a view to putting it on the market.  One of the other estate agents was a corporate; who had provided a package quotation for conveyancing costs, which to me seemed somewhat expensive.  I then rang a reputable local solicitor who had in fact provided the package quotation for the aforementioned estate agent. I obtained a quote some £250 cheaper for exactly the same job.  You may wonder who gets the extra £250?  All I can say is that the next time that you are offered a packaged solicitor quotation by a corporate estate agent, ask the agent, “Exactly how much of these costs are kicked back to you?”.  If you do manage to get an answer, please email it to me and I will ensure that it is posted on the blog.

We all have to make a living but f!£$ me…

The large print giveth…

…. and the small print taketh away…  It is interesting to note that the quality housebuilding company Persimmon released a statement this week confirming something that we blogged about a few weeks ago.  Chief executive Mike Farley said that, lending was still, “the number one issue in the industry”.  The Government New Buy Programme which requires only a 5% deposit, has helped Persimmon attract the staggering number of 45 new buyers so far.  As we have preiously commented, no number of new schemes with flashing lights and bells will replace the traditional values required in the current mortgage market. Putting it bluntly, it doesn’t matter where it comes from (within legal terms!) but get your own 10% deposit.

The big headline grabbing new scheme that was going to re-invigorate the housing market was subject-as is anything that seems too good to be true- to the small print that stated that the qualifying criteria were so specific that it exluded the people who really needed the help.  The people who did qualify would appear to have met normal lending critereia anyway.  It is rather like the banking system which is always willing to loan customers umbrellas in July and August; but when the same people want the loan in January in a biblical downpour, it is a very different story.

That’s a new one on me….

In the modern age that we live in we are just about getting used to LOL, TMI, BRB and NSA but even I am surprised by more jargon on the property market.  Everybody know what constitutes a first time buyer but today I have come across a rare species known as a “second stepper”; which after a WTF moment, I realised was the new jargon for someone who is a second time buyer.  The actual article where the phrses “second stepper” appears was written by a housing economist at Lloyds TSB and included some very useful information.  Throughout the UK, people who were first time buyers 4 or 5 years ago and are now looking to buy for the second time are finding that their initial deposit has been eroded by the fall of house prices since 2008.  Therefore, rather than bring out some headline-grabbing first time buyer schemes, maybe the government should look at helping hard-working, credit-worthy homeowners who are the back-bone of the british economy.

Here we go then…!

According to the latest research carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Halifax, who are  part of the Lloyds TSB group; 35% of home owners asked said that they anticipated an increase in house prices next year.  This was markedly higher than the 20% who predicted a decline.  My question is: what did the other 45% think or were they simply, ‘don’t knows’?  Although one may be cynical and say that 35% of those people questioned – who were in a good mood – may not be alot, it is always worth remembering that it is a higher percentage of people than those who this week picked the man they choose to be the most powerful man in the world.  Figures aside, is it getting any better?  Here at the coal face, I can say that there is definitely more interest from potential buyers, but no increase in prices.  More people showing an interest means that potentially there is more confidence about spending money but this will not be reflected in an immediate increase in prices.

I believe that a good result would be for things to carry on as they are with no further loss of confidence in the housing market.  It will get better, but I don’t think that we have turned the corner just yet.

It’s ok, Gordon, I’ll bring the pudding…

Could you imagine coming out with something such as the statement above to a certain Mr Gordon Ramsay – award-winning chef extraordinaire – when dining at one of his world famous eateries? Somewhat unsurprisingly, it would be met by a mouthful of expletives that would have Mary Whitehouse doing a barrel roll in her grave.  And it would be justified – the sentiment expressed – if not the languauge used.  Having secured a table at such a sought after place as The Savoy Grill, nobody would consider forgoing the expertise garnered from years of experience to produce the best possible meal –  by shunning the delicacies on offer –  for a supermarket bought spotted dick.  Would they?  Of course nobody would turn down the use of the professionalism on offer (which, incidentally, is included in the price of the meal) just as nobody would expect their daughter to be happy with the official wedding photos being taken by one-eyed, always slightly drunk Uncle Albert using a disposable camera with a dubious flash.  Speaking of photographs and attempts to show someone or something off in the best possible light, people should never forget that the first viewing of any property is now done over the internet.  The days when people drove around holding the latest edition of the property section of a paper to try and get a look at the outside of a house prior to booking a viewing, are gone.  Kerb appeal is not what brings someone in through the door.  The photographs on the property website are what encourage people to ring up the agent and book a viewing. It is therefore essential that the photographs are up to standard.  They must show your property in the best possible light and make people want to see more, be they a prospective buyer or tenant.  Photographs taken by vendors and prospective landlords showing the master bedroom complete with fitted wardrobes, large window and a couple of grubby coffee cups on the window sill are not good enough.  Neither is showing the newly tiled bathroom complete with the half empty tub of grout balanced on the edge of the bath.  Trust me, I’ve seen all of these.

As a professional, it is my job to ensure that your property is shown  in the most complimentary manner, to encourage people to book that viewing.  30 years in the business has taught me what the photos need to show and how a property is best presented. If an estate or lettings agent cannot achieve this then they have not fulfilled their brief to you, the customer.  It is in everyones’ interest that best practice is followed.