Sell your property

Why should you look to sell your home in the winter months

Surely not! The mere thought of it…for goodness sake NO! Come on, its true…I know you will think it.

Christmas is all about focusing your thoughts on other matters such as sourcing the ultimate Christmas Turkey, ensuring the sheets are clean and aired on the spare bed for when Gran comes over on Christmas Eve. The presents….the drinks….the tree and on, and on and on..!

Well get this everyone. Surprise, surprise! (and Cilla isn’t ‘ere), the number of people viewing properties soars over the Christmas period and on into January. Who says so?

Rightmove themselves who show from their graph below (with thanks to that there is a viewing spike for potential buyers between Christmas and New Year (Ok! A bit of a lapse during Christmas day and New Years Eve but that can be expected). Zoopla also announced they enjoyed a peak audience around 9pm on Boxing day.

average page visits on right move when selling your property xmas 2019
Right Move statistics for the christmas period in 2019

Selling your house in January with Open House Stafford & Stone

Here at Open House Stafford and Stone we know that once Christmas is out of the way, people are looking at the New Year for a new diet, new job…. a different this….a different that!. What about those that have their New Year’s Resolution as moving to a new home?!

Yes, its true, people do look at moving home in the New Year and contemplate if its the right time to sell.

Top tips for selling your home in winter

Open House Estate Agents in Stafford absolutely encourage those people who want that new year move to put their property on the market before Christmas.

Now I’m not saying that we would like to photo the tinsel, the baubles and the tree, as those are the things that people do not necessarily want to see when they are assessing the suitability of their future home. We offer some excellent hints and tips in our blog about the house selling process so please give this a read for some helpful advice.

If you can get the property on the market for that peak online viewing time you stand a good chance of selling your house fast and getting an early new year sale.

And then, of course you are in prime position to offer on that dream home you’ve been eyeing up.

What our statistics say about selling your property in January

Looking at the Statistics for Open House Stafford in 2019 – see chart below, you will see that we had as many offers on properties during January than we did in the peak of summer.

open house winter statistics
Open House yearly property statistics 2019


We had more property viewings this time of year than we did in February, March, April and May. However, the number of new properties being listed in January was one of the lowest months of the year.

What can we deduce from this? It is clear that the buyers are there ready and willing to view and to even make a quick offer.

However, it is also clear that sellers are less keen to put their house on the market. Perhaps its due to the long-standing misconception by sellers that houses only sell in the summer months.

To conclude

Do not delay if you are considering selling your property in the new year.

Why not call Open House Estate Agents in Stafford today, we offer a free valuation and (being right on Stafford high street, we can get the ball rolling on your property sale before you think too hard about Christmas.

The House Selling Process

Get the best out of the House Selling Process

Rob Cranwell, Director of Open House Estate Agents
Rob Cranwell, Director of Open House Estate Agents

How can you influence the house selling process? Rob Cranwell, Director of Open House Estate Agents in Stafford discusses what the vendor and agent can do to help.

If you spend a little time reading this guide you will see how the process of selling your property should be a simple function of time on the market and the price of your home.

The role of the vendor

One of the most important jobs that a vendor can do when it comes to selling your home. Always ensure that the property is looking the best.

This is important when:

  1. The agent comes to take photographs
  2. When the viewings take place.
well presented property to influence house selling process
well presented property to influence house selling process

This may seem very obvious, but it is noticeable how much more quickly well-presented houses sell. If there are any odd jobs that need doing (such as fixtures and fittings) its best advice for the vendor to get them fixed before the viewers see them.

Don’t forget it will only cost you the cost of a tin of paint and some of your time to paint that scuffed wall. The viewers may see it differently – ‘The whole house needs a redecoration and that will cost me thousands’.

The price negotiating will start and the offer price will reflect any perceived cost to the buyer.

Similarly, with that misted pain of double glazing. A couple of hundred pounds to the seller to replace – the viewer may think ‘the whole of the double-glazing needs replacing’. There are other examples, but I hope you get my point.

Once you have presented the property the best way you can, presentation cannot now be a factor as to why the property won’t sell, so long as it’s the best you can do and the best you’re going to do.

If someone doesn’t like it and they cannot see how they can change it, the house may not be for them.

Let us instead focus on the people who the house could be suitable for.

For a more comprehensive list of presentation points, please look at the relevant section in our brochure which you can access here.

The Role of the Local Estate Agent in the house selling process

Right, now some important points about estate agents and what really makes a good one.

At Open House Stafford and Stone, we do not believe its things like:

  • Where the agents office is
  • Whether the agents website has property videos
  • How long the directors have been doing the job.

We think its more fundamental than that. Please read on.

  1. Valuation

Valuations are based on knowing what comparative properties have sold for.

The best comparison would be if you had bought your property last week and you now wanted a valuation on the property today.

The answer is going to be roughly what you paid for it (As long as you bought it at a fair and reflective price).

Usually, we must use other properties as comparisons and so we are looking for the most similar properties in the most similar areas to where your property is situated.

So, if you have a four-bedroom detached property in a nice residential area with a good school we look at similar properties with similar characteristics and that have sold within a close time frame to present.

This then allows us to see what the market was prepared to offer for a similar property.

We will make adjustments, of course, but that is fundamentally how it works.

Important point – Some agents will tell you how quickly they sell houses. That does not mean they have maximised the sale price for you.

To stretch the point, if I offered your house to the market at £20,000 less than its worth, then I would be pretty confident of a quick sale.

It may be that you want the best price, in which case we may have to wait a little longer to get that price.

For property valuations in Stafford, Open House Estate Agents assume that you want to get the best price for your property. Unless you tell us different.

Interested in our services? Then click here for a free valuation

  1. Presentation

One of the key roles of the estate agent is to present the property in the best way they can.

So, if the vendor has spent a lot of time and effort getting the house presented extremely well, it goes without saying that the agents presentation should reflect that.

People will make viewing decisions based on the look of the property. If the photos / description / floor plan aren’t good enough, how many potential buyers may be put off viewing.

entrance hallway for a property to attract buyers
entrance of a well kept hallway for a property which can help attract buyers

Could a potential buyer that would be prepared to pay a good price early on be lost because of the photos?

  1. Once the agent has presented the property well, presentation will now not be a factor to a no sale.

If someone decides they don’t want to view the property it will be for other reasons but not for agents presentation of the property.

There’s a small but here – but the vendor will have to decide whether the agents best is actually good enough! A point of difference between agents, perhaps!

example floor plan for a sales process
example of a floor plan design by Open House to engage buyers

Open House Estate Agents will not be marketing a property in Stafford unless both we and the vendors are happy with content. Right first time is a good motto here!

  1. Responding to Interested parties – Another key role for the estate agent, to ensure that ALL enquiries and requests to view are responded to.

Here at Open House Estate Agents we will respond to all property marketing enquiries very quickly so not to lose a potential buyer.

The Role of the Online Property Portals in the house selling process.

I don’t think it will come as a major surprise when I say that the vast majority of properties are seen by potential buyers within Rightmove, Zoopla, PrimeLocation and other property portals.

Gone are the days when potential buyers would pick up brochures from estate agents. Look at how few estate agents advertise properties in the local newspapers.

Mainly, the way this is done nowadays is from the comfort of the buyers home via their tablet or device.

A top tip not to forget. If the property is on the market, it will be found by buyers looking within the property portals. The property is not invisible, it is definitely being seen.

The Selling Process

For me, the selling process is fairly simplistic and pretty much the same for all properties.

Once the vendor and the agent have presented the house to the best of both of their abilities, as I said earlier, presentation should no longer be a factor.

The House itself, the road on which it sits, the position of the house on the road, the area of the town, the views out of the windows, the neighbouring houses cannot be changed.

So, we are left with very little that we can change in order to attract the buyers.

Those who would buy your property have definitely seen your property (trust me) so, where are they then?

Assuming we have filtered away the people that would not buy your home (and every property will have these people so, don’t worry!) for one reason or another, the remaining potentially interested people will be split into three groups:-

  1. Those that are ready to buy and are prepared to pay the asking price or near to the asking price. These people will view and offer fairly quickly. Job done ! – wasn’t that easy?
  2. Those that are not ready to buy. Not sold their house yet, no agreement with a mortgage lender, not saved enough deposit, not seen the property online yet. The list is varied, as are the timescales in which these people become ready to offer. So, for the people in this group, we have to wait for them to be ready. We won’t necessarily know who they are or where they are in their process. They will come forward when they are ready so we may have to wait!
  3. Those who are ready but will not pay the asking price. These people won’t necessarily make themselves known to us but we know they are there. We may have to eventually engage with these people if the people in the ‘not ready’ category are too slow coming forward.

House Selling Process – The selling equation

So, bringing all the things together, once we have reduced the number of factors we can actually influence to help the sale we are left with two.

  1. Time on the market and
  2. Price

The house selling equation is a function of time and price.

Start at a realistic house price which you hope to achieve (be guided by the valuation) and then reduce gradually over the period in which you need to sell.

In Conclusion

So, in a nutshell, you are waiting for the best price first of all and then reduce gradually if needed before accepting an offer, exchanging contracts and title deeds and transferring ownership.

This is the same for all houses no matter how big or how small. It is how we at Open House Estate Agents are successful at selling houses in Stafford.

Oh, and by the way, you don’t need to pay a fortune to do this. Come to the Best Value Estate Agents in Stafford, to Open House and let us show you how its done.

Stunning example of a Property for sale in Staffordshire

property for sale in staffordshire blog for open house stafford

This Beautiful Canal Side Property in Staffordshire Sold within Two Days. Here’s how we did it…

As with all properties for sale in Staffordshire, you can imagine the delight we had in the office when we had not one but two people wanting to the property shown in the image below. AND all this was within two days of Open House marketing the property.

As I always say to sellers, its ultimately their house that will sell itself.

What’s Open House role in the sale?

Our job is to get people talking about properties for sale around Staffordshire. We have a superb sales team here at Open House Stafford, but having that home with a personality and that’s immaculately presented certainly does make our jobs that little bit easier.

We’re not short of things to talk about when we initially view properties, we look at and take into consideration several different factors such as

  • location
  • local amenities
  • Property age? is the property grade ii listed etc…
  • Is there a garden? driveway? reception rooms? entrance hall and many more
  • What type of property is the build? Detached? Semi detached?

We also photograph the property in order to generate interest, below is the stunning property for sale in Staffordshire, it was a pleasure to view and the new owners thought so too!

property for sale in staffordshire blog for open house stafford

There were so many positives with this home that when this was put out on the property market, we could really go to town on describing the dwelling and attract people looking to purchase

  • beautifully presented
  • high specification
  • canal side location
  • private mooring
  • walking distance to two pubs (take note mum’s and dads!)

From the image and description above, for a prospective buyer, this was a stunning opportunity to purchase a property, found in the heart of rural Staffordshire at a great price.

Great news all round.

What helps sell properties?

Want to try and get more out of the sale of your property? We’ve come up with some top tips from our blog that can help. Open House receive estate enquiries from all over Staffordshire and surrounding areas. To help our clients, we put together a short blog on how you can help increase the value of your home before you put your property up for sale.

Read our blog An Easy Way to Boost Your Properties Value by 21% 

The buyer has his ideal property right alongside his favourite of all canals, The Shropshire Union, and the seller has a remarkably quick sale.

And finally…

The bit that makes us more proud than anything else is that the sellers, through buying into the Open House philosophy, have only paid £998 for our services.

I make that a saving of £6,601 by using us rather than a 1% plus vat agent. Pay less for an exceptional service….why wouldn’t you?

An Easy Way to Boost Your Properties Value by 21%

One factor which drastically impact’s on how potential buyers see your property is pictures. Good pictures can transform an online advert.

It is well known that over 90% of all properties sell as a result of being advertised online; portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla display your property in a simple format and almost everyone buying will be looking on them. Therefore it is a huge benefit to have good pictures, not only will it show your property in the best light but it will also make you stand out against the other houses.

AXA revealed how not getting the photography as good as possible can seriously harm the perception of a property in the eyes of the public. Bad photography was linked to homes sticking on the market, and overall achieving a much lower sale price. This theory has been tried and tested by AXA. The results revealed that, when they showed the property to 500 members of the public before and after ‘staging’ it for photos the perception of value increased by 21%. To put it in real money terms that is the difference between your property selling for £180,000 or for £220,000; so it really is worth the little bit of effort.

Here’s a quick checklist of simple ‘house staging’ ideas :-
Closing the kitchen cupboards
Clearing the worktops and sink
Moving the bins out of sight
Opening the blinds / curtains
Smoothing the bed-sheets and arranging the pillows
Hiding clothes/shoes
Moving toiletries from the bathroom

Combining simple ‘house staging’ with good quality photographs will make your property advert stand out and in the eyes of the market; helping to add value and reduce time on the market.

HS2- How it may affect us in Stafford?

HS2 will build on Stafford’s reputation as an attractive place to live, work and invest. Other areas with major rail infrastructure such as Crossrail have experienced significant increases in house prices; we at Open House Estate Agents Stafford and Stone are geared up for a potential rise in demand for house purchases in Stafford that will inevitably ensue.

Stafford could also see a £500m gateway development of a hotel, leisure and homes on land next to the station. This is thought to be sealing Stafford as an up and coming area.

 ‘’The link between the HS2 line and the West Coast Main Line at Handsacre will also provide the opportunity to broaden the economic benefits of HS2.’’

Stafford Town Centre’s intercity railway station is a huge asset to the town and the arrival of HS2 is due to help capitalise growth in Stafford.

’Stafford’s integrated high-speed station will be used by a community far wider than the county town, opening up services to hundreds of thousands people and businesses to the North, West and South; including Staffordshire and the Black Country. It will also allow people to access fast, shorter and direct services to Birmingham, London and Birmingham Airport – providing a much-needed boost to transport links.’’

Source: –

How do you think it will affect us in Stafford? Feel free to comment. At Open House we are keeping a watchful eye on how HS2 will affect us all, and in particular how we can help you benefit.

hs2 link map from london to manchester and leeds
hs2 birmingham house prices

The Property Ombudsman Scheme & Agents Fees

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme is an ombudsman in the United Kingdom; TPO has provided consumers and property agents with an alternative dispute resolution service since 1990. It also provides agents with a code of best practice. This Code of Practice is mandatory for all TPO Members who are entitled to display the above logo and who offer estate agency services. Copies of this Code of Practice and the TPO Consumer Guide should be made available in agents offices, as well as prominently displaying the logo in the window.

When Agents advertise for new business fees should be shown inclusive of VAT alongside a statement confirming that VAT is included. For example £750 +VAT is in breach of the code of practice and is also confusing and misleading to potential sellers.

What Should Your Solicitor be Doing?


In a nutshell, they ensure they successfully transfer legal ownership of residential property (freehold or leasehold, registered or unregistered) from you to your buyer.

The skill and efficiency of your conveyancing solicitor can mean the difference between a smooth or stressful process. Conveyancing quality can range wildly by those who offer their services in the market place.

Please remember – It is your conveyancer’s job to get you to an exchange of contracts as efficiently and ideally as promptly as possible.

Whoever you select as your conveyancer, to ensure you know that you are receiving actual quality, you should expect the following, as a minimum:

  • If your deeds are registered at the Land Registry your conveyancer can instantly obtain a copy and dispatch contract papers to your buyers the very same day you instruct them.
  • You can be given your copy of the contract to sign. As a result you are signed up and potentially ready to exchange as soon as your buyers’ solicitor is ready to do so.
  • Early on, your conveyancer obtains a record of the balance owing on your mortgage (if any) and they prepare a statement of the net proceeds owing to you. This avoids any nasty surprises later on, in case you overlooked a deduction (e.g. estate agent’s bill, a second mortgage, early mortgage repayment penalty).
  • Your Buyers will review the contract papers, and if they wish to raise any questions, your conveyancer should attempt to deal with them, but if they require your input then should ideally email or telephone them through to you and request your answers – to keep up the pace of your house move. Post is a slow approach.
  • Once the buyer is happy with the contract papers and replies to their questions, (and your related purchase is ready if applicable), a specific move date is set, and the buyer’s finances are in place, it should be possible to proceed to exchange contracts.

NOTE: Exchange of Contracts is simply a telephone call between the buyers’ and sellers’ conveyancing solicitors to confirm that each party will not back out (as either party can until exchange), and will move (i.e. complete) at a fixed date shortly in the future. This then allows house clearance, carpet ordering (etc) and property removals to be booked without fear of cancellation and lost deposit.

Once Contracts have been exchanged the deal is legally binding. You and the buyer are fully committed to the transaction and cannot withdraw without facing substantial damages and penalties. Exchange of Contracts can be a lengthy and often frustrating process depending on the number of parties in the chain. Your conveyance should aim to shield you from this though the process can only move forward as quickly as the slowest person in the chain.

  • Your moving date, or more commonly ‘completion date’, is normally a week or two after Exchange of Contracts. Your conveyancer will prepare by requesting a final mortgage repayment amount calculated to the specific move date. They will also telephone/email you a day or two before completion just to check you are ready.
  • On the date of completion they receive the remaining sale price from the buyer’s solicitor. On receipt they will authorise the release of keys through the Estate Agents (where there is one). The Buyer collects the keys from the Agents. Any spare keys can be put through your letterbox.
  • They pay your Estate Agents, re-pay your mortgage provider and deduct their legal fees before sending you the net proceeds (or carrying them over to any related purchase).

Source : Trethowans

Top Tips On Getting Your House Ready to Market

Top Tips: How to Make Your Home More Valuable and Sell Faster


Preparing your home for viewers, or “staging” as it’s called, is important. It will not only ensure your property is sold faster but can potentially add thousands of pounds to its value.


De-clutter – but don’t depersonalise

 Get rid of all the excess stuff that has accumulated in every nook and cranny. Put it in storage or give it to a friend

 People need to be able to envisage what the property would look like if they were living there. People often find this difficult, so make it easy for them to see all the fantastic living space you’re offering them

 Don’t make it look like a generic hotel; leave some personality. Apart from anything else it gives unimaginative buyers suggestions as to what they might do

 People are often buying into a lifestyle as much as a property. Show them the attractive side of your lifestyle

 Consider removing any bulky furniture that makes the room feel small and replacing it with smaller furniture


A fresh lick of paint

 Giving your walls a fresh lick of paint, neutral paint will make your home seem lighter and bigger

 It will enable the viewers to more easily imagine how they would adapt the rooms to their needs

 It will be easier for the buyers to move in and use the rooms immediately than if the walls were still bright purple or lime green

 Create a good first impression – give the front door a new coat of brightly coloured paint


Fix and clean

 Make any minor repairs necessary – holes in walls, broken door knobs, cracked tiles, torn or threadbare carpets. Many buyers want to move in without making changes, so allow for this

 Clean everything until it sparkles. Get rid of limescale, clean and repair tile grout, wax wooden floors, get rid of all odours, hang up fresh towels. This will make the place more appealing and allow viewers to imagine living there

 Tidy up the garden: cut bushes back, clean the patio and furniture of lichen and dirt, and cut the grass. While this doesn’t add much value to your home it makes it more likely to sell as people visualize themselves using the garden


Update the kitchen


The kitchen is the most valuable room in a house. It is worth the most per square foot and can make the difference when buyers are unsure

 Consider refacing your kitchen cabinetry. This is much cheaper than installing new cabinetry and often as effective

 Upgrading kitchen counter tops is expensive, but can add serious value

 De-clutter the surfaces and just leave a bowl of fruit out. Take out any bulky appliances

 Consider upgrading the plumbing fixtures and white goods, but keep in mind that while that could make your property sell faster, you will be unlikely to recoup their full value


Light and airy

 Wall mirrors make a room look much bigger and lighter. Consider putting some up, especially in smaller rooms or hallways

 Clean windows inside and out and replace any broken light bulbs. Making the place feel light and airy makes rooms feel bigger and the property more attractive

 Ensure that you have lamps on in any dark corners

 Putting a soft light bulb in the bathroom can create a warm glow


Light a fire

 If it’s a cold evening, or even chilly day, light your fire. Consider burning some pinecones for the delicious smell. This will make your home feel warm and inviting. If you don’t have a fire then ensure the fireplace is clean


Make it look pretty

 Make sure the windows are properly dressed with blinds or curtains as naked windows make a place feel impersonal and run down. Buy some cheap ones if necessary.

 Plants and flowers bring colour, life and light to a room and they also smell delicious. So does that fruit bowl on your kitchen counter.


Get the right smells

 Bad smells are the single biggest turn off for prospective buyers. Don’t just cover them up, fix the source of the smell. Clear drains, wash bins, open windows, air the kitchen from old cooking smells, get rid of furniture that is embedded with cigarette smoke, and wash any grimy bed sheets

 If you are a smoker, place bowls of vinegar around the house and leave out for three days. Though the vinegar will smell when you open the windows it will disappear quickly taking a most of the stale cigarette smell out with it.

 Conversely, good smells can make a property feel like an alluring home. While it might be impractical to bake fresh bread, cakes or brownies for every viewer that visits your home, you could perhaps brew some fresh coffee


Obvious conversions

 If there are any obvious conversions – adapting the garage into extra rooms or going up into the loft – and you have some spare cash, why not take advantage of this cash cow rather than letting the new owners make easy money out of improvements. You should usually recoup your money

 If you don’t have enough spare cash to make the conversion, consider getting planning permission anyway.