Even through a Global pandemic, house prices in the UK have been steadily rising to a record high.
Nationwide building society said the average house price increased to £245,432 from £216,403 in June 2020.
Why asking prices are rising.
Factors that have increased the demand for properties.
The pandemic has caused people to re-assess what they want from their home.
Large, detached homes with big outdoor spaces are in high demand from buyers with big budgets, with many now working remotely and commuting less.
The pandemic has also made many people realise that the most important thing is for them to be close to family members and so a re-assessment of their geographical location has occurred.
The return to very low interest rates has also helped more people to get on the property ladder, or to upsize to bigger and more expensive homes.
First time buyers have been incentivised with a government-backed mortgage guarantee scheme offering buyers with small deposits access to 95% mortgage loans
Stamp duty savings
Stamp duty factor
The market in recent months has continued to be stimulated by stamp duty holidays.
The temporary reduction of stamp duty tax rates in England and Northern Ireland has offered buyers a potential saving of up to £15,000, so many buyers are racing to move before the deadline.
Stamp duty tax savings and record low interest rates have helped many to afford higher prices, so they can find a new home that suits their changing needs.
Factors that have reduced the supply of properties.
As the stamp duty tax break is now coming to an end, people, especially at the higher price end of the market, will be less inclined to put their properties on the market.
With Furlough and other supports coming to an end, people are naturally thinking about their job security. People are less likely to put their property on the market under these circumstances.
The demand for homes is currently outstripping the number of properties available to buy. For this reason, homes are being sold at or above asking price.
However, we are uncertain whether this boom will be followed by a bust. If the economy fails and people are forced to sell and there maybe fewer people who are prepared to buy under these circumstances. If that situation is sustained prices may begin to fall again.
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.
Declutter – but don’t depersonalize
• 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
• Declutter 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.
but how do you separate the good agents from the bad? Here’s 9 tips on choosing the best estate agent near you.
1. Select a shortlist of local estate agents
When it comes to choosing the best estate agents, it helps if you can shortlist your options to three. Use the list below to help you draw up a shortlist, then invite the handful of estate agents round to do a valuation.
Ask family, friends and neighbours – it’s always good to have a personal recommendation. Here at Open House Estate Agents in Stafford, most of our instructions come as a result of personal recommendations from friends, family and neighbours.
Is it right to judge an estate agent on how quickly they sell your property? Perhaps yes. However, if you want the best price for your property you may have to wait a little while.
Judge an estate agent on how close to their valuation figure they achieve for you. To judge an estate agent on how close to the asking price they achieve. That way of judging
Make sure the agent has experience of selling property like yours. Check there are properties similar to yours on their website.
Look at the properties that the agent sells on Zoopla and Rightmove. Are the pictures well taken, and the descriptions clear and relevant?
Do not feel pressured to hire the estate agent you bought your house from. Obviously, if you were impressed by how they sold your house to you, you might decide to go with them again
What is their viewing policy? Check they will offer to accompany potential buyers when arranging viewings whilst you are out.
Find out about their standard terms & conditions, particularly what is their standard commission rate and typical tie in period before you can break the contract if you are unhappy with them?
2. How to select the right estate agent?
When the estate agents come round for a valuation, it’s a good opportunity for you to ask them some further questions to help find the right one to sell your home. You should ask:
What is their reasoning behind the value they’ve given your property?
Are they members of an accredited independent ombudsman service? Either the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme
Will details of your property be shared with their colleagues? It’s good if more than one person in the office can talk enthusiastically and with knowledge about your property
What would they do if your property was not selling as well as expected?
Are they open at weekends? A surprising number of agents only work during the week, and perhaps do half day on Saturday, which means they are less accessible to potential buyers. Open House Stafford open from 9am to 4pm on a Saturday and also offer a 24 hour, 365 day a year call answering service out of office hours.
3. Be wary of over valuations
Agents know that one of the main reasons people pick them is the valuation they give. They take two general approaches:
Some agents give deliberately optimistic valuations, to make you think you can get a higher price with them, and then try and talk you down after you have chosen them
Open House Stafford and Stone believe in giving a realistic price, and will tell you not to be fooled by falsely high valuations
Open House Estate Agents in Stafford will come armed with evidence of local sold prices to support our valuation. Do some research yourself but make sure you use something like our free valuation tool so you’re also armed with some knowledge about what your home should be worth.
It’s always advisable to take the advice of the estate agent, but it’s worth noting that it is you and not the agent who decides what price to put the property on at.
4. How much do estate agents cost?
In terms of fees, overwhelmingly, estate agents charge a percentage fee, which can be anywhere between 0.75% and 3.0%+VAT of the agreed selling price for your home depending on the type of contract you opt for with your estate agent.
Make sure your agent quotes the selling fee including VAT. 20% (the current VAT rate) added on can make a huge difference to the total cost
Here at Open House Estate Agents in Stafford, we use a fixed fee model of £998 including VAT. That is offered on a no sale no fee basis. So book your free valuation now
5. How will they advertise your property?
One of the most important factors that will influence which estate agent you choose is how they plan to market your property. You need to understand what their plans are and be comfortable with their approach. Ask them:
Which portals are they using? It is the big property portals you want to be listed on: Zoopla, Rightmove and Primelocation, and the relatively new OnTheMarket
Do they advertise in local papers or magazines? Open House believe that traditional estate agents will not get the full cost benefit of this type of marketing due to the lower readership. Not enough ‘Bang For Buck’ so to speak. Nowadays we believe people use the property portals more than looking in newspapers
Will your property feature in their window? For how long?
6. Are there any downsides to using an online estate agent?
Online estate agents are much cheaper than conventional high street estate agents. But you pay this cheaper a fixed fee upfront and they vary in terms of what packages and prices they offer.
But don’t forget, cheap is not always the best. Open House Estate Agents in Stafford believe that its more about value for money. We believe its not only about giving the vendor a very competitive sale price but also excellent service as well.
Online estate agents all have essentially the same marketing approach, which is to advertise your house online on websites like Zoopla, Rightmove, Primelocation. Some will also use national newspapers..
7. Traps to watch out for in the estate agent contract
Will you have to pay extra for marketing and other costs, such as preparing the property details or For Sale boards? Try to get a fee that includes all these expenses
Do they insist on “sole selling rights”? If so, it means that even if you find a buyer yourself, you still have to pay the agent their fee. Open House Estate Agents in Stafford will not charge you if you find a seller yourself.
Are you paying commission when they sell the property, or if they find a “ready, willing and able purchaser”? The latter would mean you still have to pay the agent a fee even if the sale falls through because you have had to pull out – such as if you lost your job. You should only use an agent who expects a fee as a result of exchange of contracts.
8. How to sell your house without an estate agent in the UK
You don’t have to hire an estate agent, it is possible you can sell your home yourself. This has become even easier as more and more websites pop-up allowing you to list your home and market it to potential buyers.
It’s worth noting that these websites won’t be allowed to market your house on the big property portals, so exposure to potential buyers will be limited.
If you can sell you home for the right price this way, you will save a lot of money.
But beware that not getting the best price for your home can be much more costly than paying an agent. £5,000 off a £200,000 home may not seem like much but will completely erase any savings from not using an agent.
It’s also important to understand that you can’t list yourself directly on Zoopla, Rightmove and Prime Location.
They don’t take private listings, so you will need an estate agent, whether online, hybrid or high street, if you want to maximise exposure of your home to possible buyers.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
The agent comes to take photographs
When the viewings take place.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Could a potential buyer that would be prepared to pay a good price early on be lost because of the photos?
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!
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!
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:-
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?
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!
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.
Time on the market and
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.
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.
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
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!
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
canal side location
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.
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 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.’’
So which local, Stafford estate agents give the best value? Which Stafford estate agent has an office and also the perfect online solution to market your home? Well, Openhouse Stafford & Stone estate agents have everything that in comparison to all others is exceptional value.
Of course, we would say that, to help you decide if what we are saying makes sense, we have created our Openhouse Stafford & Stone information brochure which includes tips on how to get a property ready for sale and also a detailed guide to the legal process for buyers and sellers.
We have printed copies in the office, come in and ask for one while you are in and around Stafford town centre, or download it from the bottom of every page on our website, including the bottom of this blog page. Go on scroll down and click, or if you would like a copy of the glossy brochure itself, please do not hesitate to pop into our office at 113 Wolverhampton Road Stafford.
Helping you make the right decision, for you.
See you soon, on the website, in our office or at your home. The Openhouse Stafford & Stone team
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