Posts tagged ‘estate agents’

Floor plans are the key to buying a home

If you are looking at a property listing, there are several items that you will undoubtedly cast your eye over first.

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For sale: Three bedroom house in Salisbury for £330,000

There’s the decorative order – does the living room suit your taste and standards? – and of course, the price – is the property within your budget? You’ll probably also look at the number of bedrooms, and may even need to consider what the local schools are like.

But there’s perhaps one item that you’ll overlook. Or at least, it may not be at the top of your list of priorities. And yet it can be a deal breaker if you get it wrong, estate agents warn.

It is none other than floor plans – those architect-type drawings that many buyers avoid clicking onto in favour of photos of more colourful cushions and bed spreads.

James Kendling, of estate agents Hamptons International in Buckingham, said: “Floor plans are especially useful in determining the versatility of accommodation. Often buyers are looking for the potential to extend a property or alter the layout to suit their own personal needs, it is in these early stages that a floor plan can determine whether the property is proceedable.”

“Typically buyers will view multiple properties at any given time and then take home the floor plans to compare and scrutinise each property to determine which layout is best suited to their needs.”

The warning comes amid a report from insurer LV= that the average British home has shrunk by two square meters in just a decade, down from 98.8 in 2003 to 96.8 today.

The report highlights the overcrowding present in family homes today, claiming 150,000 children have seen their bedrooms partitioned in two in an attempt to create extra bedrooms.

If you’re buying a property and want to make sure that it is big enough to meet your needs, you will need to first understand the dimensions of it – and for this you will need to study the area of the floor plan, measured in square feet or square metres.

So if a room is four meters by four meters, it means it is 16 square meters, which is another figure you may on the floor plan.

A similar calculation can be done for measurements taken in square feet, with a square foot being the equivalent to 12 inches wide by 12 inches long.

View the property floor plans listed on Zoopla:

1. For sale: Three bedroom detached house in Fareham for £309,950

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2. For sale: Five bedroom semi-detached house in Tonbridge for £350,000

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3. For sale: Five bedroom property in Newlands for £615,000

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January 14, 2014 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Affordable family homes within commuting distance of London

If you are looking for an affordable place to buy a family home within commuting distance of London, there are some hidden gems, according to estate agents.

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The typical value of a home in London has increased by more than £41,000 in the past year to more than £500,000, pricing many people out of buying a home – particularly families needing more space.

But if your job is in London, you may need to be as close as possible to the capital to keep commuting times to a minimum.

Reading and Southampton are among the areas highlighted as the most attractive places to live in Britain in a recent report. They are within commuting distance of London and still offer three bedroom family homes in the region of £350,000.

The report by accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the think tank Demos found the Berkshire town of Reading has the highest standard of living due to factors such as good health and a life work balance.

In Aldermaston, a village just outside of Reading, it is possible to buy a three bedroom family home for £385,000, according to Nick Smirthwaite, of estate agents Sansome & George.

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Smirthwaite said: “The property is a good size, with all the bedrooms being doubles.

“It has a great lounge, with a woodburner – which would be ideal to sit in front of with a glass of port.”

The property also has a modern bathroom, with a reasonably sized garden to the side of the property.

Smirthwaite points out that the property is next to a shop where customers park as well as being near a roundabout. “It gets busy around home time, but otherwise it is very quiet. It is a very nice property and I’d move into it tomorrow,” he says.

He explained Aldermaston is an old village with a basic infrastructure, which attracts a mix of people from young couples to retirees.

“If you picked that up and put it in nearby Mortimer, you would add another £100,000 to the price,” he said.

Elsewhere, between Southampton and Basingstoke, buyers can find a four bedroom property for sale at £375,000.

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Alec Fry, of the Winchester branch of estate agents Hamptons International, said: “This four bedroom property in Sutton Scotney represents great value for money when you consider that it’s recently been refurbished and has off street parking.

“The area is well known for its good schools and links to the South – four miles from Micheldever and six miles from Winchester station and with links to London Waterloo in just over an hour, this is decent buy in a great location.”

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November 26, 2013 at 1:48 PM 7 comments

Sell your home with social media: how one couple are showing us how it’s done

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

Watch out Kirstie and Phil. Martin and Mary Wells from Doulting, Somerset could well give Britain’s favourite TV property couple a run for their money after coming up with an entertaining and unique way to sell their family home.

Meet Martin and Mary Wells, Somerset’s answer to Kirstie and Phil (scroll down to watch the video)

Martin, a consultant media lecturer and Mary, an art technician at a local school, put their home on the market 14 weeks ago through estate agent Charles Barnard. Frustrated with the lack of solid interest in their five bedroom home, the couple – who have two teenage children –  slashed its price from £295,000 to £289,950.

But they didn’t stop there. The couple sat down and brainstormed for creative ways to promote the home to a wider audience and the result is a full campaign that includes social media in the form of YouTube, facebook and twitter, as well as a massive 2ft by 8ft For Sale banner on the side of their home.

The videos are great fun. In the first one Martin and Mary imitate Kirstie and Phil while giving a tour of their local village. In the other two videos you get more Martin and Mary being themselves and having a great old time showing us why they love their family home – bloopers and all.

“We didn’t want to be staid and boring we wanted to have some fun in it,” Martin, who has a background in film editing, explained. “We just thought we could say it differently, we could say it with video, we could use the web to our advantage and create something that is completely different.”

“Stop it with the dog, we’re not selling the dog”

And they have. While YouTube is cluttered with boring video tours of properties, the Wells’ efforts – all shot on an iPhone camera – stand alone as authentic, a bit rough around the edges, but also really very funny at times. They have other videos planned too, including a QVC shopping channel-inspired film, one based on a dog cam (the dog is featured in the film titled Annexe) and a double-glazing-style ‘buy the house and get a car thrown in’ video.

But what does their estate agent think of all this extra marketing? “Steve, our estate agent is right behind us,” Martin says. “He’s doing what he can, they have the brochures we’ve produced in their office, but he obviously has limitations about what they can do from a legal perspective.”

In the meantime, the Wells – who plan to downsize, but stay local once they’ve sold – seem to have inadvertently taught us all a lesson about selling a home in a challenging property market. You can see the property on facebook, interact with Martin via twitter (@houseforsale55) or watch the YouTube films to get a feel for the home’s family credentials. There’s a definite viral element to the films too, which encourages sharing.

“As you can tell, we both get really excited about these things,” says Martin. “We’re both really creative and we just want to do it differently.”

And they’ve certainly done that.

“We both like having fun we enjoy ourselves and we approached our estate agent with this and said: look we know you’ve tried the normal way of selling and while we’ve had loads of people through the door it’s not happened so what’s up.”

November 2, 2011 at 1:23 PM Leave a comment

Estate Agents Viral Marketing Campaign Exposed!

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

Douglas & Gordon director Ed Mead started our chat about his firm’s now infamous viral video with an apology that he couldn’t respond to our calls for comment earlier because “I just couldn’t put my head above the parapet, but I think you can understand why”.

And by now we certainly do.

Alex Bartram and Beatrice Curnew the actors (not estate agents) who starred in UnderOffer2011

For those who’ve missed it, UnderOffer2011 was released last Tuesday  under the guise of a real fly-on-the-wall documentary which followed a day in the life of a West London estate agents, but ended up portraying them in a deeply unflattering light.

So far so uninteresting until it was revealed that the film had actually been commissioned by the estate agents Douglas & Gordon and apparently even featured a real-life negotiator called “James”. What followed was a week of buzz about the video with various industry commentators (including this one) trying to work out what this really quite funny mockumentary was actually all about.

“It was a risky strategy and impossible to do if we weren’t absolutely confident in the quality of our staff and our business.” says Ivor Dickinson, Managing Director of Douglas & Gordon

Today, Douglas & Gordon issued a press release fessing up to their role in the film and deliciously setting the record straight about a couple of points. “James” the star negotiator is not actually an estate agent at all, but an actor called Alex Bartram. The film had been made as a “hideous parody” to draw attention to the very worst perceptions of estate agents and to highlight that D&G is the opposite to this.

Now that the third episode of the film has been released (scroll down to watch), which comes clean about the viral aims of the series, Ed Mead felt he could explain a bit more about what UnderOffer2011 was all about.

“The aim fairly obviously was to increase market awareness of our name and to get more inquiries and it’s certainly done that. We hope in a positive way,” he says.

Mead says there’s been little to no backlash about the film, which cost around £30,000 to produce.

“The majority of people pretty much saw straight through it and saw it was a bit of a laugh. They were a little bit, ‘hang on a minute’, but in general they thought it was very funny,” Mead says.

Douglas & Gordon are well known for their progressive take on PR and marketing and Mead says the films objective was to use a medium that no one in the estate agents business had used so far – viral videos on YouTube.

“When you’re talking about property issues the only way you can get any sort of publicity really is to be contentious,” Mead explains. “So the objective then was to work out how brave we could be in terms of where we went with and in the end we ended up being a bit braver than we thought we would be.

“And I’m sorry I do think it’s very funny. I think it’s been brilliantly produced. It’s been very well done and I think the reveal shows very clearly – with Ivor [Ivor Dickinson, Douglas & Gordon managing director]  talking about it and the people in the company – that from a D&G perspective it was a very D&G thing to do.”

Make up your own mind by watching what Mead calls “the big reveal” here. Fascinating and fun stuff.

September 30, 2011 at 10:45 AM Leave a comment

Estate agent video mockumentary goes viral as backlash bites

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

When was contacted last Tuesday about a new fly-on-the-wall documentary about estate agents called we weren’t sure what to make of it.

The production company insisted it was real, but to our eyes, it had a decidedly mockumentary feel to it. The footage followed a day in the life of an unnamed West London estate agent. (Scroll down to watch the video). James and Charlotte – the two estate agents who star in the film – are portrayed in an unflattering light.

Instead of posting the video on this blog, as the production company had asked, we tweeted it out to our followers to see what they thought. While we felt it was funny (in a laughing at ourselves kind of way) we were under no illusions that others might not feel the same way – and they didn’t.

The problem with this film is that its aims appear to be confused. While it’s now been revealed that it was made by the estate agents Douglas & Gordon – an agent with a reputation for innovation – and features one of their negotiators James Turner in the leading role – the reason for the film is unclear.

On the one hand, Ed Mead, a director of Douglas and Gordon told the Daily Mail that it was intended only for industry insiders and the hype around the film has since “got completely out of hand”. Meanwhile,  the production company have been touting it as a fly-on-the-wall, factual documentary.

Lee Helliar, the producer, emailed us last week and said: “We managed to capture the devious side of London estate agents, a side that’s normally shrouded in secrecy. We felt obligated to share our footage with the rest of the public to reveal the true colours of those who claim to help buy and sell our homes.”

She then asked: “I would add that as ‘the public’ do we really mind what our agent does to sell the house as long as we get the best price. Are we morally complicit?”

And that’s the problem with this film. It’s a film about estate agents that is essentially a piece of fiction. While Douglas & Gordon now say it was only intended for internal use, the production company Real Impact Productions says it’s something else entirely and is shopping it all over town.

So what’s at stake here? While this film, which clearly cost a good deal of money to make, is a much needed chance to have a laugh and blow off some steam, the shine is taken off because it’s not clear who is laughing at whom.

September 26, 2011 at 10:38 AM 3 comments

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