Guest Blog: Quiz – How to work with an Estate Agent

Tracy Kellett  (pictured above) has moved 26 (!) times in her life so far and was an Estate Agent before setting up BDI Homefinders. You can also find her on twitter.

With her valuable wealth of experience we asked her to blog for us and share her wisdom and advice.

Rather than write a list or top tips, she has created a quiz for us. This is what she had to say:

If you are going to pay someone in the region of 1.5% of your major asset, you really need to know how best to work with them. Buying and selling houses is all about people and relationships – I should know. How you handle those relationships is the key to a stress-free moving experience. Well, let’s be honest, it will never be stress-free but you can minimise the accumulation of grey hairs.

Remember why you have instructed your Estate Agent. It should be for these main reasons:

Marketing – a great marketing reach, so your home gets to as many potential buyers as possible. Maximising your market means maximizing your price.

Negotiation skills – you rarely buy or sell a house. An Estate Agent will have sold hundreds. A good one will have the experience to negotiate a much better price for you than you can.

Management of the sales process – having an agent liaising between solicitors, mortgage companies, chains and buyer should make the process far more watertight. The more watertight the deal, the less worries you will have along the way.

So, onto our quiz and we are focusing on Graham, a rather good Estate Agent. You like him, you trust him, you have instructed him. If you don’t like and trust him, stop reading now and go and get a different one.

Graham and you discuss the asking price. Do you?

A. Look carefully at his comparable evidence (as well as having done your own research on showing homes just like yours and what they sold for. Reach an asking price that you are both comfortable with.

B. Point out forcefully that you spent £12,000 on the stone-cladding, so yours is worth more.

C. Kick him out with a flea in his ear for insulting you.

Graham suggests a quick once over with a lick of paint. Do you?

A. Spend a couple of weeks sprucing it up so it’s clean and tidy?

B. Tell him people will just have to look through the junk and dirt to find the hidden gem.

C. Ask what the he’s on about – keeping chickens in the kitchen makes your house stand out from the crowd.

Graham wants to put a sale board up. Do you?

A. Listen to the statistics of how many more people may be aware of your property as a result.

B. Tell him no, because the neighbours are so nosey.

C. Have a hissy fit because your house is far too posh for one of them.

Graham wants a set of keys. Do you?

A. Have assurance they will be kept safely and get them to him sharpish.

B. Refuse to let him as you will ALWAYS be in.

C. Peer at him suspiciously, say ‘I know your game mate. You’ll be having parties here’. Refuse point-blank.

Graham calls and wants to do a 9am Saturday viewing. Do you?

A. Have an early night and clear off out.

B. Leave the kids in bed and the take-away all over the kitchen.

C. Say no, because you’ve got a really ‘heavy’ Friday night.

Graham is coming around at 12. Do you?

A. Pop out with the dog and wait until he’s finished

B. Leave the dog loose…he’s great with strangers.

C. Stay in and closely follow Graham and the viewers around the house.

Hurrah! Graham has an offer. Do you?

A. Consider the buyers position, the price offered and discuss whether he thinks he can get you more?

B. Loftily dismiss it out of hand, saying ‘there will always be another one’.

C. Berate him and the buyers for daring to insult you with such a derisory offer.

Graham has sealed the deal. Great buyers and good price. The buyers want to bring the in-laws around. Do you?

A. Use it as an opportunity to develop a friendly relationship with your buyers.

B. Refuse, until they exchange. ‘You can’t trust anyone these days. I want to see the colour of their money’.

C. Use it as an opportunity to tell your buyers about the hideous racket the neighbours make.

Graham rings to tell you that the survey has come back with ‘a few things’. Do you?

A. Consider the points carefully, if necessary have your own specialists look at the issues, then reach a grown-up compromise with the buyers.

B. Metaphorically throw your toys out of the pram and tell the buyers to put up or shut up.

C. Tell Graham, to tell the Buyers that all Surveyors are rubbish.

Graham rings to say that as you are near to exchange and the buyer wants to set a completion date. Do you?

A. Ask when the buyer wants and try your best to make it work

B. Tell them the date you insist on is non-negotiable due to your nephews up-coming Birthday

C. Tell Graham to tell buyers you couldn’t care less if they are getting married the week you chose. ‘It’s my way, or the Highway’

It’s human nature to take any criticism of your home personally. Do try to put the ego away and look at the end goal which is a move to a nicer place. And as stress-free a move as possible. Sensible compromise, without of course being taken for a mug, is the way to achieve that.

By the way, if you haven’t worked out that you should have ticked all the A boxes then I shall bow out gracefully….whilst hitting my head against the stone-clad wall.

April 1, 2010 at 10:51 AM 7 comments

Houses with History: Properties famous for producing Cider

Two issues seem to have dominated this week’s budget: the scrapping of stamp duty for properties under £250k, and the ten per cent tax hike on cider.

Well, we’d be here forever if we were to pick just five of the former, so we thought we’d plump for cider houses instead.

Several regions in England are famed for the production of this fine tipple, most notably the West Country and Herefordshire, which are home to two of the world’s cider-making giants, The Gaymer Company and Bulmers, respectively.

Many of the homes around these areas have had connections with the long-standing tradition of cider making, whether it be growing the apples, fermenting the liquid, or simply serving up the finished product.

Here are five properties with current or prior cider house credentials:

(Click on pics for more images & full property details)











March 26, 2010 at 8:14 PM 1 comment

Online Property Auctions: Reasons for successful growth

We were recently asked by property magazine Property Week to respond to:

Why property auctions are shifting online and away from the ballroom model

This is what we said:

Our recent launch of weekly online property auctions is, we think, one of the most exciting developments in the UK property investment market for years. And following the success of our first two events in February, we very much see live online bidding as the future of property auctions in the UK.

With over 150,000 visitors to our auction site in February, it would appear that the UK is set to follow the trend in the US, where our partner REDC, the world’s largest property auctioneer, has rapidly transitioned over half their sales online over the past two years with their online auction events now accounting for sales of over £50 million monthly.

Online auctions offer a number of benefits over the traditional ballroom model for both buyers and sellers. For buyers, it offers the ease and convenience of viewing properties online up to 30 days prior to the start of an event and bidding from one’s own home or office over a 4-day period. For sellers, the online model provides significantly greater and faster exposure for their properties and opens up the process to a new and growing audience not constrained by space, geography, availability and who typically might not attend physical auctions.

Property is somewhat different to other asset auctions where physical attendance often involves inspecting the asset on the day. With the ability to generate exposure online the same day as opposed to producing and distributing a catalogue and being able to hold weekly events without limitation versus the typical model of quarterly events, it appears to call into question the physical ballroom auction model other than for the ‘theatrical’ value. online auction events are held weekly with bidding starting Thursdays at noon and closing on Sundays at 6pm.


For more information on our new and innovative auction platform visit: launches new live online property auctions in UK

Online property auction success signals shift from ballrooms to living rooms

March 26, 2010 at 12:09 PM Leave a comment

2010 Budget Review: 5% Stamp Duty to Affect London and SE worst.

£12,000,000 – 6 bedroom terraced house for sale Chester Square, London

In today’s budget, Chancellor Alistair Darling raised the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 for first time buyers for this year and the next, which was widely predicted / leaked, but what was less predictable was that this ‘election giveaway’ will be funded by an increase from 4% to 5% on properties worth more that £1m.

Taxing the rich makes a good headline, but it won’t raise much money for the government’s fiscal black hole. Only around 4100 homes sold above the £1m mark in the last year. With the total stamp duty tax take reaching almost £3bn last year, this measure will contribute only roughly 2% extra tax, a pretty tiny amount. Raising stamp duty on £1 million homes has been billed as a cynical move by the government to tax home buyers who tend not to be their core voters.

According to our research the burden will fall overwhelmingly on London and the South East with approximately 57% of all UK homes worth over £1 million located in London and 81% of all million pound homes can be found in London and the South East.

Areas with highest proportion of property millionaires

Area Average Property Value Properties Valued at over £1m
Kensington (W8) £1,566,549 48.1%
South Kensington (SW7) £1,258,986 39.1%
Chelsea (SW3) £1,263,156 37.0%
Barnes (SW13) £867,640 29.5%
West Brompton (SW10) £974,445 27.9%
Virginia Water, Surrey (GU25) £909,340 27.5%
Notting Hill (W11) £1,062,531 27.0%
Belgravia & Pimlico (SW1) £889,794 21.8%
Westminster (W1) £834,318 21.3%
St. John’s Wood (NW8 £850,472 20.7%


March 24, 2010 at 5:00 PM Leave a comment

BUDGET 2010: Stamp Duty – 75% of homes valued under £250,000

As widely predicted, Chancellor Alistair Darling has raised the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 for first time buyers for this year and the next (although how will this be defined?) which will be funded by an increase from 4% to 5% on properties worth more that £1m.

Almost 78% of homes sold in in 2009 changed hands for less that £250,000 according to our research with 75% of all UK homes currently valued below the new threshold.

At a regional level only average property values for London and the South East fall above the stamp duty threshold – see full table below.

The changes to the stamp duty threshold will finally lift the average UK home right out of the stamp duty net altogether, making most of the UK the first-time buyer’s oyster. Even in London, first-time buyers now have a fairer crack at the market.

Targeting this at first-time buyers is where it can do most good without costing the earth.

But the big question is how you define a first-time buyer and how would HMRC check whether a buyer qualified for the tax break. For example, someone who has been out of the market, even for a few days after selling their home, could complete a new house purchase and legitimately appear to be a first timer…we await the small print…

Average value of UK homes by region: March 2010

Region Average Value
Yorkshire & The Humber £141,888
Wales £150,309
Scotland £152,010
North West England £154,222
North East England £156,567
East Midlands £157,253
West Midlands £168,645
UK £210,155
South West England £216,671
England £217,203
East of England £225,133
South East England £269,131
London £392,322


March 24, 2010 at 2:33 PM 1 comment

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