AUGUST UPDATE – And the market seems to be changing…

Sunday 21st August 2022

“August was nearly over – the month of apples and falling stars, 

the last care-free month for the school children.”

Victor Nekrasov.

August is racing through, leaving a trail of Ambre Solaire bottles, Evian sprays and somewhat burnt lawns.  

This summer has been one of the best for our garden – unlike last year, the tomatoes are copious, the sweet peas have been ever giving and we planted Dahlias for the first time.  I have childhood (60s/70s) memories of Dahlias and had a yearning for them.  They have been simply wonderful.  I don’t think we will let another forty or fifty years go by without them again!  

However, garden being ever giving is somewhat in stark contrast to the housing market, which is showing early signs of slowing.  

Whether this is simply because it is August, and unlike the past few years, many buyers are enjoying holidays and heatwaves in the garden, rather than the effects of the economy, is something we will wait to see in September.

The newspapers don’t help. Seriously, we can all talk ourselves into a recession if we are not careful.  The more we are told to panic, the more we will naturally do so, and be cautious about spending, and suddenly we have a self fulfilling prophesy.  However, the cost of living is a significant concern. My favourite Anchor Butter has gone from £2.75 to £4.50 in seemingly an hour. Okay, not an hour but certainly a season.   

Rightmove has reported that the market has seen its first fall of 2022, with prices down by 1.3%,  However, prices usually drop in August – this isn’t unusual.  However, one might also ask whether prices have actually fallen, or indeed whether some agents have significantly overpriced properties in the first place, so adjusting to closer to what they should have been initially.  

Pricing is crucial to get right at the moment.  Sam and I meticulously research the market before visiting homeowners and giving our advice on values – taking copious comparables, which we discuss with our clients, before reaching a consensus on marketing price.  However, not all the agents are the same.  Sadly we have come across several examples of agents so desperate to beat each other on getting an instruction that they keep upping the price of the house to ‘buy’ it to the market.  We spoke to one client earlier this month who had three valuations on her property – £625k, £795k, and £900k! What was the client to do? And who should they believe?

Put a property on at too much money, and it quickly loses interest.  If it subsequently comes down in price, viewers can still see that it has been on the market for a period of time, and there is then a stigma that there might be something wrong with it. 

There was likely nothing at all wrong with it – but pricing is key to maintaining interest and getting the house under offer.

The difference in the market at the moment is that there are far fewer buyers looking, but that isn’t all bad news.  Not at all. Those who are looking, are serious buyers.  In general, they are not after a bargain, but keen to secure a home at the right price.  Get the price right, and they will view, and likely offer your guide price, or very close to (+/-).  

We have also found that the buyers who are indeed looking to buy a house this year, are registered on Rightmove. When a property is listed, their phones ping like ‘a text on Love Island’, and they book viewings quickly before they run the risk of losing the property due to other keen buyers also looking. Thus, most properties listing online, will have online activity for 24-48 hours in the main, before going quiet. 

This is why presentation and pricing is key.

However, mortgage rates are increasing fast, so many are looking to try to move by soon to secure their mortgage deal before interest rates rise further.  The latest interest rate rise of 0.5% is putting pressure on buyers affordability.  From a post I read within Julian O’Dell’s piece in Linkedin (definitely worth following Julian, I have known him for decades), Rightmove reports that average monthly mortgage payments for new fist time buyers at 90% ltv, have risen by 27% since the start of the year.

Presentation of a property is key to getting the interest too – Sam and I are proud that on Rightmove, our properties get almost double the amount of ‘clicks’ (ie people looking at them) than the next agent on the list.  From January this year to date, we average 350.9 views a day on our houses.  The next agent down can claim 187.8, and the numbers from there decrease significantly, with one of the leading Winchester agents only managing 148 per property.  

This is a serious statistic.  Our properties get almost double the amount of people looking at them online than the next agent on the list. We are the smallest agent, with the biggest reach and interest in our houses on Rightmove. 

The internet is a property’s shop window, and presentation, along with price, is key to getting your house noticed and therefore get the viewings. One you get the viewing, your property should sell itself … no agent can make a viewer love a house, but if the ‘shop window’ is accurate, no wide angles, no false representations, then the viewers have hopefully pretty much decided that they like the property and are then viewing to confirm the decision they have potentially already made.

Housing markets don’t like instability, but we are a nation of home owners.  We will always find a way to own our homes, if we can.  Markets often slow as we approach an election, which could be mirrored with the forthcoming election of UK Prime Minister and their plans for the market, and the economy.

My personal belief is that the market will tick along, albeit cautiously and slowly, throughout the rest of the year.  Fewer buyers, but discerning ones.   We believe that pricing correctly is essential, presentation has to be good.  

So, hold our nerve, hope the newspapers stop the sensational click bait drama headlines aimed at selling their product but putting fear into buyers, all will be slower, and a little painful in places, but demand still outstrips supply.

If you are looking to sell your home, and would like Sam and me to pop over and have a chat about the market, and how we would represent you, please do give us a call.  We will always be honest and straightforward, as (one client recently told me with his relief) we are the least estate agency-ish estate agents out there.  

We are exceedingly proud of our reviews.  We received this one two days ago; 

Nony and Sam were absolutely amazing to work with. We were so impressed by the completely personalised service. Nony takes the time to get to know her clients, understand personal circumstances and is genuinely passionate about what she does. Whilst Nony was all over the mechanics and management of our sale at every point, what we truly valued was the support Nony gave us throughout the process to keep the stress levels under control. There were certainly points we could (and did) refer to Nony as our counsellor and estate agent! We would have no hesitations in recommending Nony and look forward to working together again in the future.

And an extract from another this week: 

… They attended all the appointments in person to get our house onto market, including the photography, treated our house like it was their own to sell. When our house was being viewed, we felt like it made a big difference that they attended all the viewings as agents and could answer any questions of buyers regarding the house. We viewed a lot of houses from other estate agents and didn’t experience the trust and time we got from them when viewing the house with any others (as most of the time random people who doesn’t work at the estate agent opens the door for you when you look around and they mostly are limited to 15 mins max.)

They followed up the process very closely once our offer was accepted, recommended us solicitors which we were very happy with and helped us arrange dates for completion etc. Simply they were there all the time and were very accessible at any time.

Keep calm and carry on!  We are!

Have a super (rest of summer) one and all.