JANUARY UPDATE – Happy New Year!

Saturday 1st January 2022

Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book.

Write a good one.”

Brad Paisley

“A New Year has tiptoed in. Let’s go forward to meet it.” 

Anusha Atukorala

“Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”

(yesterday’s fortune cookie from Hobby Horse T/A, but I liked it!)

I hope you all had a super Christmas! I always find this period between Christmas and New Year a little discombobulating as I am keen to get back to work but most solicitors and associated organisations are closed.  Someone referred to it last week on the radio as ‘Happy Betwixmas’ which was perhaps a good expression and might just become a ‘thing’ …

People continue to ask what the market will bring this year … and more than any other year during which I have been selling property, my crystal ball is just a little cloudy. 

Last year, there were the stamp duty incentives, which kept demand high and various timing windows in which house sales rushed to complete, and the threat of missing those windows also held a threat of house sales falling through. 

There are indications of fuel price increases but also inflation, which should generally lead to an increase house prices but I just don’t feel that we have a price hike on the horizon.  Demand for property remains high and stock remains low, which should hold the market steady as the months progress, and not encourage any shift downwards from the hike caused by the (now ended) stamp duty incentive windows.

Buyers remain keen to find homes to buy but equally are very aware of value. 

We have found over and over again that pricing a house at the true value of a home is essential for getting people through the door and encouraging offers (which will generally be at/around the asking price +/-) and that if a house is priced too highly, then savvy buyers will simply not view, nor offer.  It can be a false economy, and sellers often end up selling for less than they could have achieved if they only priced correctly at the outset. This is a visible shift form the ‘old days’ (of only a few years ago) when buyers would beg for a house not to have an open day and would bid strongly to secure it ahead of marketing.

Presentation remains key and vital to achieving a good price on a house. In December’s update, I highlighted two vacant properties which we suggested should be professionally dressed for marketing purposes, each of which had been unsuccessfully on the market for some months with other agents.  Our owners on each took our advice, and each had offers accepted at asking price within only a few days of marketing. 

Well, this has happened again, and of course things come in threes! 

We have a marvellous client who had been marketing with another leading agent for months, but remained unsold.  We recommended having his house dressed (and put him in touch with the company who undertook this).  All photographs were retaken, house launched, and we are delighted to confirm that it had an offer agreed within three days of launch to market, and is on course to exchange in about three weeks.

Not every property can be dressed this way, as they are often lived in (and should be vacant for this), and not every client could afford to do it (albeit those who have taken our advice have accepted offers which strongly attest to the value of so doing).  So we would highly recommend every home owner looking closely at how to present their home to its best advantage. Invariably, this would entail clearing the decks to some extent, clutter and loved items might need to go into a drawer/cupboard for a few weeks. A clearer home would photograph better, and encourage more people through the door. 

Once through the door, viewers are better able to see how they will use the space offered if it is clear of personal belongings, so when they leave the house they remember it, rather than the ‘things’ within it.  We do appreciate the upheaval this can create but can come over and advise, and of course Sam and I attend each photography session with the photographic team to ensure that everything possible is done on the day to make the property as photogenic as possible.

So, what can Sam and I offer?  As many of you know, Sam and I each worked for a market leading agency until recently, and now work independently and freelance under the (welcoming!) umbrella of Julian and his team at Martin and Co in Winchester. MAC offers the infrastructure and compliances to allow us to trade, and Sam and I then do what we do … which is to offer a high level of personal and bespoke customer service.  We never ever treat a client (buyer or seller) as a commodity or transaction, most of our clients become almost family throughout the transaction itself, and we become friends with many afterwards as well. 

We never use viewing staff, or sales progressing departments, we do it all ourselves. As such, Sam and/or I will carry out the valuation, attend the photography sessions with the photography team, create your brochure, personally conduct your viewings, and negotiate your sale. Most of the houses we market achieve agreeable offers within 1-2 weeks.  We put this largely down to getting the price right, the marketing material excellent, and getting to know your property really well.  We aim to  only list 3-4 properties a month to enable us to give best service to each client, buyers and sellers, to be able to arrange viewings when it is convenient to buyers and sellers, rather than a busy office diary which other agencies often have, whereby buyers and sellers have to fit around the office, rather than the other way around.

We are scrupulously honest with our clients, with our advice and our feedbacks, and this is something many say is so refreshing. So many agents don’t give straightforward advice for fear of upsetting their client.  We believe that we are our clients’ agent and therefore there to give advice, good or bad(!) and offer ways around solving issues within a sale to move a transaction forward, which of course is what everyone is really looking for.

Our buyers and sellers are important to us, and how they feel about the process they are undertaking is more important to us than achieving a sale at any cost. We never forget that our clients are people, rather than a file or transaction, and we put them first. Our reviews received will attest to this (do take a look at my LinkedIn site to read some of the Recommendations received). 

I received this one on New Year’s Eve (yesterday):

Nony is incredible. She’s there every step of the way, keeping you in the loop and chasing throughout bringing considerable market experience to bear, along with incredible knowledge of the market generated from masses of experience that combines brilliantly with a lovable crazy energy that will complete on every sale.

And this one last week:

Nony provided unrivalled personalised service throughout the process of selling our house. She is very easy to contact, I often wondered if her phone ever gets turned off! Nony has a friendly, informal style and explained the various stages of the selling process clearly. She has an enviable black book of Winchester contacts which helped us with our purchase too. Our chain became more complicated than we had initially anticipated, and Nony worked tirelessly to ensure that everything came together, for which we are very grateful

And this one truly sums up what we do:

Looking back, I didn’t understand what ‘end to end service’ meant from an Estate Agent… but when Nony and Sam brought the full force of their combined charm and drive to push our sale along to completion through a bumpy and slow conveyancing process, I truly felt it and fully understood it. I can’t thank Nony and Sam enough for their extraordinary and personal service. From the quality of the photography at the start, through viewings, recommendations, and negotiation to completion smiles, Nony and Sam provide a level of service you just don’t get from the High Street agents. If you choose to engage them for your sale, you won’t regret it.”

To be honest, what our clients say about us, and the service they have received from us, is far more powerful than anything we might say ourselves.

So, back to the quote noted towards the top of this article (which truly came from last night’s fortune cookie), Sam and I wholeheartedly agree with this,

“Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”.

If you are looking for a truly personal and honest experience with selling your home, please do call Sam or me, and we would be pleased to come and see you, and discuss how we are changing the face of estate agency and dismissing the old fashioned ‘one size, fits all’ reputation which many estate agents have been labelled with over the past few decades. 

Have a super, happy, prosperous and, most of all… healthy and peaceful 2022