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Phil’s Top Property Tip of the Month: Which agent (or agents) should I choose?

phil-tip-oct

Choosing an agent is very subjective. Some people get on better with one agent over another, and some prefer different selling methods to others. It is likely that you will ask at least 3 agents to come and see and value your property and it is this first meeting where most instructions are won or lost for agents. Here are my tips on what to look for in an estate agent:

  • Find someone you can trust and that you can have a good honest rapport with
  • The agent’s office should be clean and orderly
  • Make sure there is enough staff to do the job and perhaps pop in and meet a few more of them
  • The staff should be friendly and helpful and have enthusiasm for the job
  • An agency that of course will give your property the widest possible exposure and advertise it on all the property websites such as Zoopla and PrimeLocation
  • Make sure the agent is a member of a professional body
  • All agents are bound by the Estate Agents Act 1979, whether they belong to a trade organisation or not
  • Someone who is confident, but not too cocky
  • Someone who knows your local area well and has experience in selling your type of property
  • Honesty when dealing with you and the buyers
  • A flexible agency that remains open in the evenings and on the weekends to show buyers your home

September 16, 2014 at 2:28 PM Leave a comment

Phil’s Top Property Tip of the Month – How to choose an agent

phil-tips-sept

September is typically one of the busiest times of the year for the property market as anxious sellers and buyers try and move home ahead of Christmas. One of the key starting points for vendors in this process is understanding what your home might be worth. This helps clarify where and what a seller might be able to buy next.  Choosing a local agent is key to this process.

It’s a common misconception that you should simply choose the agent that comes up with the highest price for the property. Although it’s flattering to be told your home is worth more than you imagined, there’s a lot more to selling a place than slapping a high price tag on it. It can be puzzling, especially for a first-time seller, working out what the value of a property might be, as you probably discovered when you were buying your home.

Before you troop into the offices of any of your local estate agents, I would advise looking on Zoopla first to get an idea of:

  • What your home could be worth – run an estimate via the Zoopla current values channel
  • Who is selling homes in your area
  • What level of property (low, mid or high end) they are selling
  • What price are they selling at
  • Also, check out how many properties similar to yours are for sale, and for roughly how much.

Armed with these facts, take another look on Zoopla in their ‘Find agents’ section and then go and speak with local agents that you think deal with your type of home within the price bracket for your property.

There’s no point talking to a very high-end estate agent about your humble studio flat, for instance. I would recommend you talk to at least three agents. Get those you get on with and that you think could do the job of selling your home round to see the property.

Ask the agents to value it and tell you how they intend to market your home to get the best possible price. In other words, make sure they will at the very least, list your home on Zoopla!

Good luck.

August 21, 2014 at 3:56 PM Leave a comment

Phil’s Top Property Tip of the Month – How to maintain your home

phil-august

At this time of year it’s really easy to forget about your home. The sunny weather upon us, holiday bags are packed, the damp and condensation has cleared up (temporarily) and leaks are not happening for now. Despite all this, now is the optimum time to address any issues ahead of the colder, wetter weather that will sadly be with us later this year.

So here are my top tips and some of the basics to maintaining your home:

  • Keep the windows clean. This is a good way to make sure your wooden window frames (if you have wooden ones) don’t start to rot. If you’re buying then get the name of the vendor’s window cleaner, or you can find one through your local agent, online or displayed in the ads of the newsagent or local shop.
  • Service the boiler. Major boiler repairs or replacing an ignored boiler can be costly, so get yours serviced annually. Most gas suppliers run service schemes where they come every year to check yours out.
  • Install smoke alarms. These don’t cost a great deal and are priceless if they save a life.
  • Check out areas of your home you don’t use on a daily basis. Is there any damp or mildew in the loft, basement or anywhere else? If so, get it sorted pronto before it turns into something nasty.
  • Regularly walk around the outside of your house and check for leaks, stains on the walls, broken guttering or loose tiles. It’s wise to do this before winter sets in, as strong winds can dislodge tiles.
  • Get up on a ladder. Make sure fallen leaves haven’t blocked the gutters, leading to water pouring down the outside walls and producing damp patches. While you’re up there, replace split tiles and keep a watchful eye on pointing (mortar that has been placed between bricks to hold them together) and paint the exterior to keep the damp out.
  • Remove heavy moss from the roof, particularly in the spring and autumn.
  • Inspect painted metalwork every couple of years and renew it when it is in danger of starting to crack and peel.
  • Tackle frost damage and slippery algae growth on stone and brick steps and garden paths.
  • Fix cracked pipes and drains. These cause damp problems and look unsightly hanging off your home, or next to it.

July 27, 2014 at 9:03 PM 1 comment

Phil’s Top Property Tip of the Month – Step outside and start repairing this summer

phils-property-tips-june

Have you ever pulled onto your street and noticed a few things you could do to spruce up your home? Well, summer is here so get outside and crack on with that ‘to do’ list!

Longer days, shorter nights and better weather mean there is no excuse to stay inside. Whether you are looking for a big project, or a small one, summer is the perfect time to enhance the exterior of your home.

Kerb appeal is a big factor for buyers, so keeping on top of basic maintenance could make a huge difference in the future. Remember, prevention is better than cure! Here are a few suggestions to consider…

  • Tidy up the front garden: Spend a few hours updating the front garden. It is an area that should always be aesthetically pleasing to those passing by or more importantly potential buyers. The garden says a lot about your home and should be at the top of your summer to-do list.
  • Clean out the garage: The garage is an easy location to dump rarely used items, boxes and miscellaneous objects. Take a sunny day to open up your garage door and take stock. Be ruthless and clear out anything that you haven’t used in the last year or two. You’ll be amazed how much you won’t miss things. It’s only about a day’s worth of work and can increase storage space and the appeal of your house.
  • Examine the exterior: Check the outside of your home thoroughly for signs of wear and tear. Peeling paint and years worth of grime can detract from the kerb appeal of your home. Thorough cleaning and repainting can make the world of difference. For a less time-consuming task, simply painting your front door a new colour will give it an instant facelift.
  • Let the light in: Take some time to clean every window in your home. Wash the windows and windowsills both inside and out and check all the seals around the window panes. While you’re up a ladder it’s a good idea to check all the gutters and and clear out any obstructions.  A handful of leaves or a stray tennis ball blocking a gutter can lead to thousands of pounds worth of damage. Wash the windows and windowsills both inside and out and check all the seals around the window panes. This tedious task should only take a day, but will enhance the exterior and interior of your home.
  • Check the roof: Never neglect your roof – it is the shelter over your head. The summer provides the perfect opportunity to examine the roof for damage, leaks, and missing tiles. If there seems to be a serious issue you should contact a professional.

Ensuring the outside of your home is in the best possible state not only gives you the pleasure of living in an attractive, well maintained home, but it also helps add value and boost the appeal of your property when you decide to sell. First impressions are everything, and you want to ensure the outside of your home leaves potential buyers hungry to get inside.

June 24, 2014 at 12:34 PM 1 comment

Phil’s Top Property Tip of the Month – Blooming gardens bring in buyers

phils-tip-may

It’s that time of year again when the Chelsea Flower Show inspires the green-fingered god and goddess in all of us, and thoughts turn wistfully to barbeques over long bank holiday weekends as temperatures start to soar.

Now is one of the optimum times to view a property – not only are the days longer and lighter, but gardens are beginning to come into full bloom and you can see the outdoor space on offer in the best possible light. For many buyers, particularly those with young children, finding a property with a good quality, private and enclosed garden or outdoor space is a huge bonus.

And for those in built-up urban centres even the smallest roof-terrace can be regarded as a luxury. But there are a few things to bear in mind when considering a property with outdoor space:

Orientation – Like location, one of the things you can’t ever change about your home is its orientation. A North, North West or North East facing garden will get very little sunlight and rules out any dreams of that herbaceous border. Particularly if it is only small backyard, you may find it is constantly in the shadow of the property, and while this may discourage you from sitting out in it, the more serious implication is that shadowed gardens tend to never dry out after a heavy downpour. Instead, keep an eye out for South, South-West or South-East facing rear gardens. If you’re viewing a house on a dull overcast day, you might even want to take a compass to help you get your bearings! Lastly, consider what time of day you would like to catch the sun most – morning sun for weekend breakfasts perhaps or evening sun for the after work BBQ? Or maybe you prefer morning sun brightening the bedroom more than you do the garden?

Size – A large garden is an important asset in itself, particularly in prime city locations – so don’t get too fazed by a mess. Remember that size is more important than current condition – landscaping can be relatively inexpensive, and clearing old debris or overgrown weeds is often not such a mammoth task as it looks. You can never grow a small backyard – but you can revamp a generous garden and add value to your property in the long term. Outdoor space opens up the opportunity for a conservatory, extension, or garage – and in some cases, even an annex or a second property.

Trees – pay attention to them. They cast shade and cause patchy lawns, dead leaves and twigs can block drains, fallen branches can damage property, and rogue roots can crack driveways and even disturb the foundations of houses built on heavy clay soils or peat. Many mature trees can be legally protected – so it may not be as easy to get rid of that problematic Oak as you think.

Boundaries – check your boundary rights and responsibilities – they aren’t always clear, take many different forms and can lead to tensions with the new neighbours. You will usually be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the hedge or fence on one side of your garden. Remember that if you want more privacy in your garden, you’ll have to consult with your neighbour first before erecting a higher fence or planting tall trees.

May 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM Leave a comment

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