Since the government “re-opened” the residential property market, the massive surge in sales and letting activity has been well reported. Despite social distancing and a whole host of other new Covid-19 Health and safety guidelines, after months of lockdown, would-be buyers and tenants have been out in force. But what is really happening in the local property market?
In these unprecedented and worrying times, if you are thinking about moving home, it can be real challenge to know what to do.
- Is it safe to press-on with moving plans? Or, should you put your plans on hold?
- Are there really willing and able buyers out there who will pay sensible prices?
- Will I get best price in the current market?
- It may be busy now but what’s going to happen in the property market going forward?
- Is there any point in putting my house on the market if I can’t find another property?
- Why do some agents ask so many questions before even arranging a viewing appointment?
- I need How long does the sale process take?
- to sell quickly but need the best price – what should I do?
If you are hoping to buy or sell in 2020 – Plenty of questions and no doubt you might have many more of many more.
We don’t have all the answers, but as one of the West Country’s leading independent estate agents, we do have decades of experience in advising about selling and buying and helping people move in all kinds of property markets. Despite the overwhelming concerns about Covid-19, many of the reasons for people wanting to move don’t go away. Indeed, months of lockdown has forced many people to re-evaluate what they really want in a home, bringing many new buyers and sellers in to the market.
Is it safe to press on with moving plans? Or, should you put your plans on hold?
Despite the lifting of some restrictions, the Covid-19 Pandemic is likely to be a threat for a long time to come. Far and away the most important thing is to always follow Government and NHS advice and ‘STAY SAFE’ at all times. However, that doesn’t mean you need to put your plans for moving on hold. Far from it ! The local property market is buoyant – indeed, since lockdown up until the time of writing, at Wilkinson Grant & Co we have agreed, exchanged or completed on over £65M worth of property in the local area. If you are serious about buying or selling, follow Government advice, take the necessary precautions and only work with professional agents with the necessary procedures in place to not only ensure your safety but who can really help you to achieve what you are looking to achieve. If it’s selling – you need an agent with a “safe assured plan” tailored to your own personal needs who will work with you on every aspect of your sale. If it’s buying, you need an agent who will understand your needs and help show you both on and “off-market” properties, show you how to get an offer accepted and secure your next home.
What’s happening in the property market?
Demand was at an all-time high going into lockdown and supply was just beginning to grow. Sales were on a strong upward curve, with Rightmove reporting 182 properties marked under offer on in postcodes EX1-EX6 in the first 19 days of March and 702 since the start of the year.
At Wilkinson Grant, prior to lockdown we had the busiest start to the year, EVER! At the time of writing this blog (Monday 23rd June 2020) since lockdown we have agreed, exchange or completed on over £65M worth of property. We have launched nearly forty fresh properties to market since 13th of May when property market restrictions were eased, the diary is crammed on a daily basis with viewings and market appraisals and phone calls and emails are flooding in with even more requests. Despite the virus and essential new restrictions IT IS BUSY – with activity and sales levels and far exceeding this time last year!
For a whole host of reasons, people still want to buy and sell AND ARE KEEN TO CRACK-ON AND MOVE HOME.
It may be busy now but what’s going to happen in the property market going forward?
In uncertain times, when it comes to where to put your money, there is always a shift to “bricks and mortar” and property has always proven a sound investment in the mid to longer-term. There is no reason to think otherwise now – if anything, there’s even more reason to think this sentiment will be even greater in the future.
After the pandemic is over, not only do we and other seasoned property industry experts, the banks and economists – predict a massive boom in activity in the UK property market, not in prices (there may well be some kind of correction here) but in transactions, as pent-up demand and healthy supply returns. In the meantime, we don’t see house prices remaining anything other than stable but there will be plenty of opportunities for both buyers and sellers to do deals.
Are there willing and able buyers out there?
There’s certainly plenty of willing and able buyers. Mortgage rates remain at a record low and buyer confidence is high. There are only two things that will really influence that continuing to be the case during this period. One, is their own ability to get out and view – which, for some (particularly ‘key workers’) may be restricted through availability or concerns with agents who ignore government and NHS guidelines (Wilkinson Grant & Co provide video tours (See here), and agent-led online “accompanied” and safe ‘in-person’ actual viewings and the second is the availability of suitable properties for sale. The supply of fresh properties to the market is lower than this time last year but our extensive register and wide marketing reach means we are the first port of call for many of the best buyers around
Will I get best price in the current market?
The market is strong – demand is high and the supply of fresh properties to the market is stunted. These are the perfect conditions to not only sell but also to achieve the best price. However, you chances of doing so can be massively reduced by using the wrong agent and greatly increased by using the best agent: ensuring that your property is presented to best-effect (both “in person” and online), is promote to the widest pool of potential buyers , that they have the experience and expertise to negotiate effectively on your behalf and have the resource and expertise to progress the sale through to exchange and completion.
At Wilkinson Grant & co we have a proven track record of doing all of these and as a result we are very proud of our reputation as market leaders – according to Rightmove data, consistently selling more properties in our target market than our competitors
Why should I put my house on the market if I can’t find another property?
It’s a reasonable question but in all probability, if you don’t put your property on the market until you find, you run the risk of losing-out to another buyer who is in a position to buy. Or, in the very least , selling your current home for thousands of pounds less than you might have otherwise have achieved had you given yourself time to prepare particulars and expose the property to the widest pool of best buyers.
At Wilkinson Grant & Co, we recognise that, often, selling your property is only half of the equation. Finding and securing your next home is often the most important thing. After all, your next home is where you will be spending your future time. We work hard to help you achieve both and provide a free search and acquisition service to our vendor clients. Helping search out “off market” deals and alerting you to others before they come to market. Even if you find through another agent , we can help with negotiations to help you secure it on then best terms.
Current Government Covid-19 guidelines say that viewings should only be carried out “in-person” if you are in a position to buy. If you are not on the market, not only might it be difficult for you to view , but a seller may be less inclined to take and offer seriously or to negotiate a lower price with you.,
So, “ Yes” , if you are serious about moving – even if you haven’t found another property to buy – the best advice is to get your own property on the market.
Why do some agents ask so many questions before even arranging a viewing appointment?
A MORE IMPORTANT QUESTION SHOULD PERHAPS BE “ Why do so many agents ask so few questions?” . These are extra-ordinary times and even with some restrictions having been lifted, it is vital that we all follow Government and NHS guidelines to stay safe. If you are viewing a property, be sure to ask the agent to confirm that they are strictly adhering to those guidelines: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
For the public, these include:
- “People should use virtual viewings before visiting properties in person where possible, in order to minimise public health risks. If any member of either the household being viewed, or the household undertaking a viewing is showing symptoms of coronavirus or is self-isolating, then a physical viewing should be delayed. All viewings should take place by appointment and only involve members of a single household”.
- “We encourage people to do their property searching online wherever possible. Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever this is possible and physical viewings should only be conducted where buyers are seriously considering making an offer on a property”.
- “To support this, agents may ask home occupiers to conduct virtual viewings. This will help reduce the number of properties people need to visit before finding their future home”.
- “Viewings should be conducted by appointment only and no open house viewings should take place”.
- “Agents will ask you to restrict the number of people who accompany you on a viewing so that social distancing can be practised, and only those in your immediate household should be there”.
- “We expect agents to accompany clients on a viewing but follow social distancing rules wherever possible. Where viewings are unaccompanied, agents should make sure viewers and homeowners understand how they should conduct themselves”.
For Estate Agents, the guidelines include:
- Agents should ask whether any party is showing symptoms or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any viewing, or visits to offices.
- Agents should operate using an appointment system for visits to their offices and when conducting viewings.
- Agents should not carry out any open house viewings.
- Agents should strongly encourage clients to view properties virtually in the first instance and then only physically inspect properties which they have a strong interest in.
- Agents can accompany physical viewings and seek to maintain a minimum of 2 metres distance from others wherever possible. Where social distancing is not possible and the visit is within an enclosed space, they should consider wearing a face covering in line with government guidance.
- Where they do not accompany the visit, they should make sure that both buyers and sellers clearly understand how the viewing should be conducted safely.
- Agents should not drive clients to appointments.
How long does the sale process take ?
In many instances, the simple answer to that question is FAR TOO LONG! According to Rightmove, the average time for a property to becomes ‘sale agreed’ from listing is 61 days – but this doesn’t take into account those that had already been listed previously, often for months, by another agent. Once a sale is agreed, it can typically take 6-8 weeks (sometimes longer ) for contracts to be exchanged and then a further two weeks to complete. However, over the last two years, it is also reported that between 25% and 50% of sale fall-through before exchange – That’s, in some cases, 4-5 months from launch to moving or great disappointment. . IT DOESN’T HAVE TO TAKE SO LONG! At Wilkinson Grant & Co we work with our vendor clients to come up with a tailored plan to get a sale agreed on your property within 30 DAYS. The time to reach exchange can be halved by instructing your solicitor to prepare a ‘READY TO SELL’ contract pack , even before you launch your property to the market. Weeks can be saved from the outset by getting all the necessary paperwork in place so your sale can “hit the ground running” from ‘Day One’ and many more can be saved by working closely with your solicitor and agent to keep on top of and accelerate the sale process, reduce stress and avoid disappointment.
I need to sell quickly but need the best price – what should I do?
Working closely with an agent who you know and trust, with a proven track record for achieving results and a safe and assure plan to get your property sold is always the best option. However, depending on just how quickly you need to sell, you may need to talk to them about the options for a fast sale. Apart from traditional private treaty, formal or informal tender can help identify the best buyers to pay the best price . Some of the main options for a speedy sale are:
- Buying Company
- Auction room
- Online auction
- Part Exchange
- Change your agent!
- Sell to a home buying company
- This is the fastest way to turn your house into cash.
- It is the only way to 100% guarantee a sale.
- Often used by those facing financial difficulty.
- No agent fees to pay.
- Your legal fees are often paid for.
- Genuine cash buyers can put money in your bank within 28 days.
- Expect realistic offers to be around 75-80% of market value.
- Often more suitable for property under £500,000.
- Only use reputable companies
- Auction room
- Worth considering if your property needs work, has defective title or a short lease.
- Finding a buyer is not guaranteed
- Completion dates are usually set for 28 days after the hammer falls.
- Expect to achieve roughly 75-85% of market value.
- Online Auction
- All the benefits of selling by auction, with eBay style online bidding.
- Properties that are in good condition and mortgageable can be offered with an exclusivity arrangement allowing the buyer to secure mortgage funding before the exchange of contracts.
- Part Exchange with new home builder
- Clearly, only applicable if you are buying a new-build property.
- House builders only offer this scheme if you’re ‘trading up’.
- Not all house builders offer part exchange.
- Expect to be offered 95-100% of market value.
- Change estate agent
- According to Rightmove, less than 50% of properties are sold by the original appointed agent.
- Worth considering if you’re out of contract.
- Definitely worth considering if you’re currently using a cheap online/hybrid agent.
- Often a change of agent can negate the need for a price reduction.
- Bring in second estate agent (multi agency)
- Worth considering if you’re in contract (and your current agent agrees to this)
- Multi agency can result in traditional estate agents competing to sell your home#7. Reduce your asking price
- Don’t do this unless your agent has really explored all options Only do this if you’re unable to bring in a second agent or change agent.
- The less appropriate your agent is for your property, the more you’ll need to reduce your price.
If you hope to move in the next year and have a property to sell, the best advice we can offer is to get in on the market – whether it be fully advertised and available to view or if of interest on our CONFIDENTIAL “OFF MARKET” REGISTER – offering the added benefit, if you are also looking to buy, of you being alerted to other off-market or prior to launch properties.
For further details of the above and for answers to any other questions you might have about buying or selling in the current market – please call 01392 427500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe, and please do not hesitate to get in touch with any property related matters.