AUTUMN UPDATE – Autumn is here, with a late burst of summer!

The wind is rising,
And the air is wild with leaves.
We have had our summer evenings,
Now for October eves!

Humbert Wolfe

 Sunday 8th October 2023

Happy October!!

And it appears that summer has returned for a few days, which has definitely confused some blossom on the lilac in the garden which is supposed to be preparing for a rest about now.

And that sums up the market, to be fair, with a useful segue ..

After the busy summer of sales, daughter’s wedding, birthdays, winning a Winchester Bid Award for Service Excellence, the market is just beginning to show signs of slowing down for the year.

I did mention last time that the housing market was a little like a heart monitor on Casualty with peaks and troughs, and that did continue throughout the summer.  When the weather was awful (which it was for much of July/August) the market was quiet as it appeared that buyers just didn’t feel the urge to rush out to see properties whilst the rain was lashing down.  

And then the sun came out … again it appeared that buyers were so very keen to enjoy the sunshine that they preferred to go to the pub, beach, garden or anywhere rather than go to see a house! 

However, there were periods of good activity, much helped by signs that the mortgage rates are coming back down.  

One buyer who had a mortgage offer in June, re-applied in September to find that his new offer was several hundreds of pounds less in the new market.  This is, of course, reassuring for him, but really for all buyers, who are getting a little less concerned about fluctuating mortgages now, and having more appetite to look at houses.

Having said that, accurate pricing of property is still key to getting interest.  

Pricing houses too high will still result in most people simply not being interested in viewing, so we are forensic in pricing our properties at what we believe to be the right price.  

Thus, we are pleased to see that we are at the top of the GetAgent’s list for accurate pricing vs sale price achieved, which is a good accolade for the work we do to get this right.  

That aside, it has been a very strange year in the housing market this year.  

A slow start, a few peaks and troughs, fewer houses sold but equally very few sales falling through which is reassuring. 

This shows that those who have been looking to buy have been focussed to do so, researching their affordability and understanding the changing mortgage markets following the September 2023 budget.

However, we are definitely seeing an early slow down for the autumn, with fewer houses coming on. This is usually caused by a self-fulfilling prophesy with fewer coming on so people not putting theirs on as there is nowhere to go, so …. 

And so it goes on …. 

I would still love to get everyone who wants to buy and sell into a room, and I bet we could do dozens of sales …!  “You want a five bed, you want a three, you’d like a four, and you’re selling a two …?” Imagine the sales which could be done with everyone in one place, all focussed and surrounded by others who each have what each other are looking for!!

Experience has shown that the market historically goes quieter after October half term, when buyers’ minds often start to drift to Christmas. Whilst the sun is shining today, and (unusually) 23c, it is scarily only 78 days to Christmas. 

Okay, so those who know me, will not be surprised that Sam and I have started our Christmas shopping, booked in the supermarket delivery slot for 23 December, and our M&S pickup for Christmas Eve!  There is something calming about getting ahead of this organising … and by the end of October, there is also a good chance that all the wrapping, ribbons and tags will also be done!  

(Please don’t judge me too harshly! 😊)

 That all aside, Sam and I have had a very busy month, 

with sales agreed, exchanges (three last Friday alone!) and completions.  We are seeing a number of fabulous houses this week coming, and are photographing and preparing some beautiful homes this week in readiness for launching over the next few weeks.

We are heartened that so many clients are choosing Sam and me to represent their houses as we do not set out to be the biggest agents, we actively seek to be the smallest (including turning away 12 properties last month as we felt we were already at capacity and that taking any more at that time would only negatively impact of the clients we were looking after at that time).

In keeping our numbers low, we are able to be reactive to buyers and sellers, do short notice viewings, spend appropriate amount of time at each viewing which is carried out (too many agents are so busy that they only allow 10-15 min per property, which we don’t feel is appropriate, nor fair to buyers (who have taken time off to view a house and often driven some distance) and sellers (who have painstakingly prepared their home for what they hope to be their next buyer). 

It also means that we have, as a result, a very low ‘fall through rate’ (ie agreed sales which don’t go through for any reason) as, by the time we have spent significant time with a buyer, they know what they are offering on, warts and all, (we never hide negative things about a house) and in the three years in which we have been selling properties on our own, having left the high street, we can count on one hand buyers who have subsequently withdrawn from a sale for any reason. 

As we said in our last blog, old fashioned hard work and ethics, 

in a modern world cannot, in our mind, be beaten.

Our most recent home owner review received just last month, might just attest to this:

“First and foremost, we chose Nony to sell our home based on her long-standing local reputation for sales progression – not only securing an offer but driving the deal through to completion. Secondly, we have very busy lives and wanted an agent who was responsive, pro-active and accommodating. In business we also like to deal with real people who want to build a relationship, in preference to automated telephone systems and impersonal admin teams. We were not disappointed.

Throughout the whole experience, Nony and Sam were always one step ahead of the process, ready and willing to provide advice and support on every aspect of the sale. This extended to the most practical of matters, including raking gravel and moving bins on the day of the photographs! They are not scared to get their hands dirty and really are there to field queries seven days a week. 

We are delighted we chose Nony and are very happy to recommend her service to anyone who is looking for a client-focussed agent with the experience to secure sales in an uncertain market.”

And another which we were also proud to receive:

“I don’t believe that any estate agents, other than Nony and Sam, could have given us the first class attention that we received throughout the process of selling our house and purchasing the one we had our hearts set on. 

If you want to be able to contact your agent at any time, not just office hours, and receive really personalised care, then I would highly recommend Nony and Sam. Whether it be via email, text, WhatsApp or a phone call, Sam and Nony are always very prompt at answering any queries and concerns about the whole process. Very knowledgeable about the area and the business, their passion for selling properties and helping with the purchase of others is unquestionable. I truly believe we would not have purchased our property if we had not had Nony and Sam as our estate agents.”

As with my last blog, as I start writing, my fingers simply tap across the keyboard and it somewhat takes on a life of its own!!  

Thus, to summarise, I would say:

The market is starting to quieten down, so if you are thinking about selling your home in 2024, this is a good time to start thinking about choosing an agent in readiness for next year.

Choose carefully, not just the one which offers you the highest selling price or cheapest fee.

Trust your own judgement, on both pricing, personality and honesty of agent to represent you.

In the meantime, Sam has a horrid dose of flu, brought on from his flu jab last weekend (we can always set our clock by this, he always reacts badly!), but is still planning the autumn tidy-up of the allotment.

Emma is watching the women’s football – lots of noise coming out of the television in the sitting room as Chelsea play Man City who (I gather) are down to nine players!

Ellie is in her art studio, painting some Christmas commissions and preparing the next art classes she is due to teach this week. 

And me? I am enjoying saying hello to everyone via this possibly overlong autumn blog, whilst also preparing to write up some brochures in readiness for the photographs of some superb houses which we are photographing this week.

Have a wonderful (rest of) weekend one and all, 

Sam and Nony