Sunday 9th August 2021
So, August has arrived, but it appears someone forgot to update the weather app and remind it that we should be due a little sun … it appears more like April at the moment.
After a really busy few months, possibly fuelled by the ending of the first phase of stamp duty incentives, Sam and I experienced a couple of quieter weeks towards the end of July. However, hate to admit that we really rather enjoyed this down time, and used it to continue pushing through our under offer stock (I am one of the few agents I know who really does enjoy sales progression!), catch up on some admin, sorting out our home office (who knew that the disabling of a bedroom and getting a sofa bed could be quite so invigorating??!), calling some of the future clients for whom we have valued homes over the past few months to formulate timelines for brochures, photography and marketing later in 2021. However, the phone has been ringing pretty constantly since and we are delighted to have been instructed on some truly wonderful homes coming to the market over the next few weeks.
Throughout it all, in quiet times and busy, one question which we are always asked (be it recently or throughout decades past) is ‘what do you think the market is going to do next?’. Oh how I wish I had that crystal ball, and were a Mystic Meg, or indeed that our Prime Minister and Chancellor returned my calls, but usually my instinct is pretty much spot on. This part of Hampshire remains one of the most sought after areas to live in, due mainly to our proximity to London (it takes as long to get to the City from Fulham as it does from Winchester), our schooling, both private and state which are exceptional, our relatively low crime rate, our road accessibility to Portsmouth, Southampton, London, Basingstoke and Oxfordshire, easy access to sailing and beaches and, of course, our amazing scenery. Whilst all this is so, and demand for people to live here continues to outweigh available housing stock to buy, house prices should remain constant, despite the many economic challenges.
With that in mind, I believe that the Winchester market should remain stable, but I do wish that there would be more stock available for many waiting buyers. We have a number of truly exceptional properties, all photographed and ready to market as soon as those owners find homes to move to. Sadly many sellers won’t go to market unless they find somewhere to live (understandable) but unless stock comes on, there will be a great number of homes all ready to come to market but stuck in a log-jam. It is Catch-22. I have long wished for the courage to hire an enormous room, invite all those looking to move, and stand on a stage and match people to what they are looking for. “So, you need a four bedroom, and selling a five, you need a five bedroom, and selling a bungalow, you need a bungalow but selling a four bedroom … you need … and so on”. Just think of the sales we would potentially unlock! My thoughts on this will gently tick along, but meanwhile, stock remains low, much of which is ready to come to market if sellers can find, and demand remains high, especially whilst interest rates are so low (my first mortgage rate was 15%!), and should keep the prices, and market, stable.
However, whilst demand remains high, we have found that buyers generally remain cautious about house prices to the extent that they will often not even view a house if it is significantly over valued. They would rather wait for the price to come down to a realistic level, and then view and usually offer within a smidge of that. If they see a property and feel it is overpriced, they will often not offer lower, they will simply keep looking until they find a property which they feel fulfils their criteria for space, and price at the right level. If a house is worth, say, £1m, and it comes on at £1.25m, many buyers won’t simply view and offer £1m, but will be looking to maximise the best property they can find within their budget and look for a property which gives them better value at the £1.25m level. Mortgages remain low, and most buyers want the best house they can find for their budgets. We have found this is also true at other price levels. If a property is worth c£450,000, but marketed at £500,000, a buyer with a budget of £500,000 will likely keep looking till they find the best house they can find to that level, rather than offer less for a smaller home.
To that end, we would advise and caution against marketing your home too high. Most home owners will know the value of their home and should not be swayed by some agents who will be keen to sign up a property at any price, to keep their stocks high and possibly hit internally set targets within their firms, and then deal with the fallout and subsequent price adjustments later. We have often found that, if a house comes on too highly priced at the outset, it will sit on the market too long, get overexposed, end up being reduced a few times, and selling for less than it might have done had it be priced correctly from the outset.
Sam and I between us have been selling properties in this area for almost a quarter of a century and are known for our honesty, integrity and true advice on pricing, backed with evidence to support it. We have been known to walk away from some instructions where owners have been advised higher marketing levels from other agents, but wished us to represent them at those higher levels.
Since we left mainstream agency some months ago, Sam and I only wish to market a maximum of four or five homes a month, in order to give the best service and therefore ‘best value’ to our clients. We look after each home ourselves, taking personal responsibility from beginning to end, from carrying out the valuations, to attending the photography sessions, formulating the brochures, attending each viewing (with ample time allocated to each viewing to ensure that viewers enjoy the experience and never feel rushed), agreeing the sale and managing the transaction through to exchange and completion. We take ownership of the entire transaction so there is no ambiguity of who is looking after a property which might happen within larger firms, and we are always available to our buyers and sellers.
To that end, since we left mainstream agency, we have agreed sales on average at a house a week – we have exchanged on 15 properties and have a further 16 under offer. We have several homes photographed and ready to launch later this season, and are photographing a further four this week in readiness for launch. We are extremely proud of this, which we attribute to keeping our stocks low, service levels high, and offering a boutique style of agency which our clients say they are really enjoying, and feel has been missing in the housing market for many years.
Just about every property we market comes to us from personal recommendation, based on service levels over many decades in this area. We are known for our honesty and straight talking, no nonsense approach, and indeed for finding solutions to issues along the way. This gives us an enormous feeling of pride, and I would invite you to read some of the Recommendations you can see on my LinkedIn page to see what others say about the service they have received.
So, if you are thinking of moving, and would like to talk to us about how we would represent your home in the Winchester and Alresford markets, please do get in touch!
In the meantime, have a wonderful August, and we look forward to catching up in September.