SPRING UPDATE – The sun is out and the bulbs are out!

Bluebells carpet the woodland floor
Packed so tightly that insects tip-toe 
Softly and quietly between them.
Their beauty unlocks a woodland door

With such colour of delicate blue,
And a fragrance that is heaven sent.
They droop their heads in the spring rain,
With their beauty making all things new.

from Bluebells, by David Wood

Friday 7th April 2023

Happy Easter!

And Happy Springtime, which is finally here!!

Is it me, or does it seem like winter has been somewhat endless?  

The rain has kept coming, and the warmth hasn’t quite arrived.  We have seen ‘memory photos’ popping up in our Facebook feeds, of last year and the year before, with the sun out, people in t-shirts and the essence of summer being around the corner.  It feels like spring is only just starting …

But happy thoughts … the last time we had such a wet winter and early spring, the gardens were amazing in the summer! We had the best climbing hydrangeas, roses and clematis.  It must be that the rain had reached the roots, and kept them damp long enough for them to produce incredible flowers that summer.

And I hope that the reservoirs are filling, which has always been a concern. 

That aside, the sun is really helpful for encouraging viewers out to see properties. I do feel that the dark of the winter has crept into the psyche of buyers and their interest in coming out to view. It has been dark, and many people have felt equally sombre, reflecting the shadow of the umbrellas shielding them from the skies.  

That, coupled with newspaper headlines about imminent housing market crashes, and I am not totally surprised that it has been a slower than usual housing market in the rural villages.  

Town itself, ie Winchester, is a market which tends to stay healthy, with a regular turnover of property all year around, but the villages do tend to follow when colour arrives in the gardens of the properties being marketed.  This is borne out (thankfully) by having had a strong number of viewings on our village houses last week.  

I do love this time of year for photography on properties as gardens and reasonably priced cut flowers (tulips and daffodils) are in abundance, and truly cheer a property.

 As those who read my blogs will know, we are great advocates at presenting houses to their best ability, clearing down surfaces of excess personal items, so that when viewers come to see a house, or even just to look at the photos of the house online, they look at the rooms, rather than things within. 

If there are a lot of things on top of wardrobes or kitchen cabinets, or down besides sofas, it can give the impression that there is a lack of storage at the house.  

Now, there may be a lack of storage, but we wouldn’t recommend drawing people’s attention to this; there may be a fabulous loft which is currently half empty, 

but we cannot tell people about this if the photographs do not draw people to reach out to view the property. 

We have countless examples of clients who have come to us to market their homes having been previously on the market with another agent or two, and we have found buyers within days of property launch, often achieving higher prices than the previous agents had put forward on the same houses.  

These have been in Peninsula Barracks, Hyde Abbey Road, Ash Walk, New Farm Road, to name but a few. Without exception, each of these said they had not even noticed the houses they were viewing as having been online previously, even a week or so before, 

Whilst most agents do employ professional photographers to take the photos, but most go unaccompanied, and take a requisite dozen or so photos, often within half an hour visit, and leave again. 

Sam and I accompany our photographers to every house photography session, moving things where necessary, and ensuring the houses look as good as they possibly can.   We spend between an hour and a half to three hours at each house, and the resulting photography is, without exception, definitely worth it.

Newspapers are talking about a house price crash.  Whilst we cannot predict the future, we can say that we haven’t seen any significant signs of this so far in Winchester.  Those which are having prices coming down are generally those which were overpriced to start with.

Sadly there are still agents massively overpricing houses on valuations to try to secure instructions, which is horribly frustrating to those (few) agents who endeavour to offer best and straight forward advice. This just doesn’t help owners.

For instance, Sam and I valued one house last autumn. We carried out copious amounts of research on £ per sq ft, compared to what that price might otherwise buy in the market etc.  We advised that in our opinion, it was c£1m, and if they put it on at that price, there was such a pent up demand at the time that they could achieve £1050000.  The owner said they would instruct us, but asked us to reduce our fee. To be more accurate, they asked us to do a staggered fee, of x% if we achieve £x, or a different x% for a lesser or higher figure. 

We said that we didn’t believe in the ethos of a staggered fee.  Our job was always to achieve the best price for a client, because that is what we do, not because the fee might adjust if we achieve a different number.  

The owners then said they would get a second opinion, which we encouraged anyway.  It is always good to have more than one valuation.

They then advised us that they had decided to instruct another agent who valued it at a higher figure.  It subsequently came onto the market at £1,150,000.

And it sat there.  And sat there.

It reduced a little later in the year.

And sat there.

It eventually came down to £1m, 

and in early February they agreed a sale at £980,000.

We are very confident to this day that we would have achieved them over £1m the previous autumn.  Six months later, and they sold for less than we advised, and £170,000 less than their agent advised.  We got the moral high ground, but they were rewarded with the fee.

We know another old lady whose property was worth c£725000. She had valuations up to £900,000!  She was so confused about what to do. And who can blame her?

This is why, when Sam and I visit our home owners, we go out fully briefed about the property, and what is selling around it, and what they achieved, and involve the homeowners in logic of the pricing strategy.  

Thankfully most of those we go to visit do trust and instruct us, and then come on the house presenting, viewings, and selling journey with us.

Sam and I truly love what we do, and I suppose that what I am trying to impart within this blog, is that honesty and ethics, and sheer hard work, are at the centre of all we do within the marketing and representation of our clients homes.

Our most recent home owner review received a couple of weeks ago, 

might just attest to this:

“Nony and Sam acted for us selling our house last year and I cannot recommend them enough. The level of service you receive from them both is exceptional; I am not sure where you could find the same from another estate agent. You are dealing with them and only them from start to finish, they are present to ensure the photos are perfect, you are consulted on the sale brochure, they make sure they gain a full knowledge of the house from you and they personally conduct all the viewings. 

The offer process was expertly handled and I am certain that they achieved the absolute best price that we could have for our house, within days of listing. They have a deep knowledge of the market from many years experience and were always at the end of the phone, willing to go above and beyond with their advice.

I was even able to ask for their opinion on elements of our onwards purchase, and nothing was too much trouble.  Their enthusiasm and enjoyment of their job comes through and it made what could have been a stressful experience a pleasure. Thank you Nony and Sam!”

And another

“I first met Nony several years ago when she was working for a local estate agent and was involved in the buying or selling of my daughters’ properties.  I was impressed then by her professionalism and enthusiasm for the job.  

When we decided to sell our own property last year and were looking for an estate agent, we discovered that Nony had set up as a freelance agent with her husband Sam. We met with them and immediately knew that they were the ones for us.  Their personal involvement every step of the way and their care and attention to detail was very important to us. Deciding to go with Nony and Sam was the best decision we made. The way they marketed the property was superb and achieved several offers at the top end of their valuation.

They gave us their support throughout the whole process and worked tirelessly to keep things running smoothly for us. 

We are very grateful to them for easing the path through what can be an extremely stressful time.

We thoroughly recommend them.”

As I started to write this spring blog, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to write, and it did rather take its own way forward as my fingers tapped on the keyboard.

To summarise, I would say

As the market starts to get busier, please choose your agent carefully, not just on the one which suggests the highest marketing figure, however flattering it might be!  

Trust your own judgement.

Present your home as best you might.  

My tip is to stand back, take a photo of each room, and see how it might look to a viewer …

Tulips and daffodils are the gift which keeps giving!! They look great in photos and can be moved from room to room with the photography (we had a vase of sunflowers at one house last year which made it into four different parts of the property!))

Don’t worry too much about impending house price ‘crashes’ or otherwise. Whilst demand remains high, and stock remains low, and you are buying and selling in the same market, and indeed likely to be staying in your new home for a few years anyway, home ownership should remain stable, with any small adjustment either way likely to be temporary long term.

In the meantime, the sun is shining, and Sam is tinkering in the garden, and his ‘man cave’ of a shed.  

I have no idea what goes on in there, and nor might I wish to!  

But I hear drilling and sanding, and occasionally pretty wooden items appear, like a stunning heart with a charming message carved into it which was given to me a few months ago …  Sam is a man of many talents!  Gardening, woodworking, mending and creating … and of course a good estate agent to boot!

And me??? I sell houses and write rather overlong blogs …. 

And it is Easter weekend, so I couldn’t resist one of our favourite online funnies:

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

Sam and Nony