MARCH UPDATE – And question: what represents value?

Wednesday 2nd March 2022

That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty.”

William Shakespeare, A Winters Tale


The year is seemingly whizzing by, and it feels as though March has slipped in somewhat under the radar.  For Sam and me, it has been a super start to the year.  Despite housing stock being historically low across the UK so far this year, this hasn’t in essence been a big issue for us. We deliberately keep our numbers of instructions low anyway, to ensure best service to our clients, to allow ample time on each.  


The quieter moments have to be fair, been a bit of a joy for us as it has allowed us time to concentrate even more time on getting our under offer stock through to Exchange (we have exchanged on four properties over the past week and completed on two as well); but has also allowed a bit of time for Sam to concentrate of his late father’s estate (his father sadly passed away just before New Year), and for us to celebrate with our elder daughter upon her engagement last week.  For every perceived negative, there are positives! A shortage of new instructions has allowed us time for other matters too.


Having said that, we are delighted to have been invited out to some fabulous houses this year, mainly in the town rather than villages, and with many homeowners making plans for later in the spring/summer months. 


I know I have talked about this before, but I would like to draw attention again to the ‘all that glitters is not gold’ adage.  For most people, your home is your biggest asset, much of your savings and collateral are tied up within, and of course, this is the security upon which many of us depend. 


I am often surprised therefore when home owners make the price and fees the main criteria when choosing an organisation or company to represent them.  The cheapest is not always the best, and in most walks of life we choose to pay more for better. 


We went to a house the other day, and the client there told us that he had been on the market with another agent for a few months the previous year but was not totally happy with the outcome (well, he hadn’t sold it, so that spoke for itself).  He told us that he had been tracking us for months, and liked our business model. He liked that we keep our numbers to only three or four properties a month, in order that we are always available to our sellers and buyers, and offer total personal accountability as the two of us take ‘ownership’ of the properties ourselves, from the valuation, attending photography, create the brochure, carrying out the viewings, negotiate the offer, and undertake the sales progression from exchange to completion personally to keep the relationships between buyers and sellers as close as possible.  


There is a reason why we have only lost two sales out of 62 agreed (each of which we resold within days, as we had the time available to do so).  Most agents across the UK have a fall through rate of 30%.


So, the potential client likes all of this, and what we had to offer.  However, when he asked our fee, which was only a smidge about the average he had been offered, he told us in no uncertain terms that we were too high.  


I asked him again why he had called us out.  He said that this was because our service was better, and he liked that he would be one of only three or four clients we managed at a time rather than other agents who sign up dozens of properties a month, and pop them online and hope the phones ring.  I asked why he might expect a better service to be charged at the same rate as an average one.  He didn’t have an answer.  I then asked him if he would pay the same for a burger in The Ivy as he would at McDonalds … after all, if a burger is a burger, then surely the price would be the same.  He didn’t have an answer.  He basically wanted us (The Ivy) for the price of the others (Maccie Ds).  


We decided that this client was not for us.


We have had reports only last week of a potential buyer who wanted to see a house which was being marketed by one of the larger agents.  He was a cash buyer and believed that this property would be ideal.  The agency concerned was so busy and overwhelmed with instructions and viewing requests on other houses, that they would not be able to fit him in for a viewing for over a week.  By then, he had viewed a neighbouring property on the market with another agent.  I wonder how the homeowner of the house which did not get a viewing would feel about their value for money on the agent they had chosen …


We have just had an experience, rather regrettable, where our delightful buyers, in a chain, had chosen a solicitor whose service they believed to be good from the 5* reviews.  Sadly, after more than two months of almost total inaction, and lack of return of calls to them, us and our sellers solicitors, our clients instructed us to withdraw the sale and put the house back on the market.  The new buyers offered the same day, their solicitors were marginally more expensive, but they exchanged contracts in 21 working days from the date of receipt of the Memorandum of Sale.  Sadly, cheapest is not always best.  I did look at the 5* reviews of the original solicitors. One of them actually said that they had written it as they had been offered a £10 Amazon voucher to do so. I looked at the 1* reviews, which were more telling. 


We are exceedingly proud of the most recent review we have received from a home owner, who asked us to market his house for him, and upon which we exchanged contracts very recently.  This eloquently summarises the service levels we seek to purvey:


Nony and Sam provide a house selling service better than any I have ever experienced. 

They are a breath of fresh air!


They have years of knowledge individually in estate agency and have now very perceptively combined the best features and practices into a truly comprehensive range of advice and support. This is coupled with a highly personal and enthusiastic attitude, with excellent communications and hand holding throughout what is usually a most stressful process for the home owner.


They know the local market intimately, the particulars they produce are first class and attention grabbing, and their management of viewings and feedback is exemplary. They are straightforward and direct in their dealings and diplomatic where required. You feel they are completely dedicated to finding the best qualified buyer for your home and work 24/7 to that end.


It doesn’t ease up when they find a buyer either. They are happy to oversee the whole process of legal conveyancing and removals as much as required to maintain momentum and progress, and they do so with persuasive charm and understanding with the buyer and all the professionals and service providers involved. No detail is too small for their attention. They create confidence that all aspects of the transaction will be completed smoothly.


I wholeheartedly recommend them to take care of you and the sale of your home! I hope I don’t need them again for a long time – but I wouldn’t go anywhere else!


However, just as poignant is the testimonial we received from one of our buyers a few days ago. Sadly she could not say the same about the agents she used to market her home:


“I would recommend Nony and Sam without hesitation to anyone selling their property.  I would also recommend them if you end up dealing with them as buyers!

We were buyers and encountered a series of unpleasant surprises in the chain below us, which seemed to get more disastrous at every turn.  Nony is a determined, tenacious, loyal, warm and no-nonsense person, who will do all it takes for her clients, and in this case it meant taking their buyers (us) very firmly by the hand and navigating them through a stressful process to get to the finish line.

She worked tirelessly, leaping back and forth across the whole chain when needed (which seemed to be all the time) and when we finally got to exchange, which at the eleventh hour became very precarious, she literally saved the day, both for us and her clients.

It is thanks to her that we are now, finally, in the family home of our dreams; I never want to move again, but if I do, I will call Nony and Sam, and no one else.”


So, to summarise, I suppose what I am trying to say is that sometimes less is not always more, and that the cheapest option is not always the best value for money.


Please do get in touch if you are thinking of selling your property in Winchester, Alresford or the villages around!  We have copious buyers waiting, and would be delighted to discuss our service, and how we would represent your home in the market.


Have a wonderful March!