Moving home can be a stressful time and full of difficult decisions you need to make. Without the expert advice of the most highly qualified and professional agents, you can make terrible mistakes and poor decisions which can cost you not only wasted time, but more importantly thousands of pounds.

To help you, here are the top 6 mistakes made by badly advised vendors and cowboy estate agents which almost always result in you losing out:

Mistake 1: Pricing too high

Without a doubt, one of the easiest mistakes to make as everyone wants the highest price for their property and rightly so.

However, the hardest concept people find difficult to understand is this: the lowest priced properties sell for the highest price and the highest price properties sell for the lowest price. You may  find this difficult to accept, but it is true. If a property appears really good value, everyone is going to want to view, and likely, offer on it. That competition will drive the price up to absolute market value.

In contrast, if realistically your property is worth £325,000 and you decide to market it at £365,000, what do you think will happen?

Firstly, you will have limited interest as your property will appear expensive compared to the competition. Secondly, you are justifying a buyer buying a competing, correctly priced property. In other words, you’re helping your competition sell.

Thirdly, it’s likely after two months your property will start to stagnate on the market. It will start to earn a reputation for having something wrong with it. No-one wants what no-one else wants and everyone wants what everyone else wants. It’s human nature. Unfortunately, there is only one solution at this point and that’s a price reduction.

Your problem is that it is unlikely reducing it down to where it should have been in the first place will solve the problem. Your house is now stagnant on the market, it’s got a bad reputation and you’ve missed the prime market launch period to get competing offers and, therefore, the best price. You’re going to need to reduce your £325,000 house to closer to £315,000 in-order to re-invigorate the marketing and make it appear in searches where people wouldn’t have previously seen it. So what started out as ‘let’s just try a bit higher and see what happens’ has actually cost you £10,000 and two months of wasted time.

This scenario is most common with ‘internet-only’ estate agents whereby you pay a flat fee to list your property, regardless as to whether it sells. It doesn’t matter if your £325,000 home goes on the market for £295,000 (making their lives very easy for them and gaining the reputation for selling a property extremely quickly, regardless as to whether you could have got more) or for £350,000 and it stagnates and remains unsold. They get paid that attractive, low flat fee regardless and while you believe you’re saving a couple of thousand pounds, it’s actually costing you more than five times that amount. This can be easily avoided by engaging the services of a Chartered professional firm such as Mount & Minster who often achieve sale prices in excess of their guide prices.

Remember, it’s not possible to under-price a property (as long as you don’t sell it to the only buyer who views it) but you can very easily over-price a property and kill the crucial early interest.

According to Which?, sellers lose £4,300,000,000 a year to overvaluing and homes with a 5% price cut take 2 months longer to sell.

Mistake 2: Choosing the Cheapest Estate Agent

What’s the difference between an estate agent and a great estate agent? I’ll tell you. 2% of your asking price. It is. Honestly. According to extensive research, the average estate agency achieves just 97% of the asking price whereas great agents achieve 99-100%. On a £500,000 house, that 2% difference equates to £10,000 more for your house… that’s alot of money.

As with any good, great or extra-ordinary service, it’s slightly more expensive but better value overall. As the saying goes, buy cheap, buy twice.

Estate Agents are no different, there are the good, the bad, the ugly and the remarkable. But if you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys! Given that your home is your most valuable asset, can you afford to pay a cheap estate agent to get it wrong?

Here’s a scenario to consider… You have a house which you’re planning on marketing for £250,000. Agent 1 is offering to sell it for a flat fee of £900 but has a track record of achieving 98% of asking price and Agent 2 is offering 1.25% but has a track record of achieving 100%… which is the best value agent? Agent 1? Absolutely not!

Agent 2 is the better estate agent for you as you’re likley to achieve £5,000 more for your house but only be charged £2,225 more for the privilege, so you’re £2,750 better off at the end. If you had gone with the cheaper agent you would have only paid £900, but you would have sold it for £5,000 less! If you’re house is more than £250,000, that loss is much higher.

Again, this is the difference between a real estate agent, and an ‘internet-only’ agent. The difference between the two is negotiation. Good negotiators will achieve a better price for you. They do this with good communication either on the phone, or face-to-face. Next time you see a Purple Bricks sale board, have a good look at it, where is their telephone number? Nowhere! Of course not, they don’t want you to telephone them, they don’t want to actually speak to you. If you want to make an offer, you just type it and click! It will either be accepted or declined. There’s no negotiation involved, no explanation or justification. No engagement with the agent on the telephone who through years of experience will be able to help you, their client, achieve a higher price. But that’s what you get for your lower fixed fee. Poor service, lower results. The only person who benefits is your buyer. It doesn’t even matter if they sell it or not, they still get paid the same!

Mistake 3: Thinking Your House Will Sell Itself

Whether you love or loathe estate agents… you need them as houses most certainly do not sell themselves. Here’s why:

They do not value themselves at the correct level to achieve maximum interest resulting in optimum price, quickly, avoiding stagnation and reduction.

They do not photograph themselves to attract maximum viewings.

They do not write a description that will give potential buyers just enough info, but not too much… to encourage a viewing.

They do not promote themselves in the places they will be seen the most.

They do not overcome people’s objections resulting in more viewings.

They do not continuously analyse and review the marketing and make changes where needed to avoid stagnation.

They do not arrange viewings in a way to creates a sense of competition and urgency.

They do not carry out viewings in a way that starts and ends the viewing in the area of the house the buyer most wants in a property.

They do not follow up viewings addressing people’s possible concerns and starting a negotiation.

They do not negotiate the best price for themselves (on average, 4% more than a buyers initial offer).

They do not progress the sale solving the inevitable problems along the way (chains collapsing, survey issues, slow solicitors, etc)

… an experienced, committed, expert estate agent does. The only way to benefit from this is to use a proper, pro-active and personal agent.

 Mistake 4: Being Fixated on the Price You Want

As this article has already hinted, there are good agents and there are exceptional agents. There are also terrible agents! The terrible ones will market your property based on what price you want to achieve. The ‘online-only’ agents are the guiltiest party here as it doesn’t matter if it sells or not, or what the price is, they still get paid. Most people would be well advised to avoid these agents at all costs. So instead, how do you tell the difference between a good agent and an exceptional one?

Easy! When it comes to price, there is one agent that will have the best knowledge as to value, the RICS Registered Valuer.

An RICS Registered Valuer is someone who has achieved the highest qualification in not only property and real estate (RICS stands for Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) but also, more specifically, values. To get to this level is very difficult, so difficult in fact that there are only a handful of professionals out there who are qualified to this highest level. These few are the exceptional agents.

So, when an RICS Registered Valuer advises as to value, chances are they’re right! If it’s not the value you were hoping for then perhaps you need to consider who is in a better position to be right, you or the highly respected valuer?

Of course, it’s difficult if you’ve previously been fixated on higher price, or if a previous cowboy agent advised it was worth more before you considered getting the pros involved. It feels as though you’re losing money. But this is not the right way to look at it. How can you be losing money, if you never had that amount in the first place?

Others have their heart set on a house which they can only afford if they sell their house for a certain amount. Oh dear! These types of vendors don’t seem to know in their own minds why they’re selling, or whether they even want to sell. You’ll find these types of vendors have very few viewings and very little success as they’re fighting a losing battle. You sell because it’s the right stage in your life as a family to sell. Once you know what your house is worth and you’re getting people though the door with one or two offers on the table, then you can go out there and realistically look at properties you can afford to buy. Everybody would love to live in Buckingham Palace, but would you really expect someone to pay over the odds for your house just to help you live the dream?

Mistake 5: Refusing an Early Offer Because it’s an Early Offer

There have been many circumstances where vendors reject over the asking price offers from excellent buyers in the first week or two of marketing, only to sell under the asking price 6/8 weeks later. Do not let this happen to you!

You actually have a better chance of getting a higher offer early on in the marketing as that can be used as leverage against the buyer to push them up. An exceptional agent would say to the buyer “at this stage, as it’s so early in the marketing, your offer will need to be 6% higher”… the buyer begins to fear losing out and 9 times out of 10 you will be able to agree a deal.

Remember, you chose your agent because you thought they’d do well. By getting you an acceptable early offer, they’ve proven you right!

Each offer, whether early in the marketing or not, needs to be assessed on it’s individual merits:

  • Offer amount
  • Buyers position (i.e. no chain, first time buyer etc)
  • Financial situation (i.e. cash buyer etc)
  • Motivation… It may be that they have been waiting for a house in your road for 6 months. That’s gold dust and the chances of that sale completing, even if there are slight issues in a survey, is probably 90% vs a 66% national average as they’re a ‘minority’ buyer. However, if a buyer has made offers on 3 houses at the weekend, yours being one of them, then clearly you have to question their motivation and most likely not agree a sale to them. Only once you’ve got all the facts can you make an informed decision to move forward.

Mistake 6: The ‘I’m in No Rush‘ Mentality

12 days is the optimum time for a house to achieve it’s maximum selling price, according to analysis by the Home Owners Alliance.

Agents with an average selling time of 12 days achieved 100.89% of their stated price, compared to those with a selling time of four weeks which achieve 98% of the original asking price, according to the research.

So, what does that tell you? Whether you’re in a rush or not, the longer you leave your house sitting on the market, the less chance you have of getting optimum price.

You may think “I’ll just wait for the right buyer to come along”… and that may well be a good strategy, but in reality, once that buyer comes along (it may be 2,3,6,8 months later), you’ve been for sale for such a long time, they will almost certainly use it against you. They will use it as leverage when making an offer.

The better strategy would be to work back the dates you would like to be where you want to be. So let’s say you want to move to a bigger house and you want to be in that new house by September. We know the legal process can take 3 months and you need 4 weeks to secure a buyer, that means you need to be live on the market by April, beginning of May the latest.

So rather than going on the market in January at an inflated price because at that point you’re in ‘no rush’, hold off, price competitively and launch with the view of having the best buyer secured at best possible price within 4 weeks.

So it’s all really quite simple. When you use the right estate agent, chances are you’ll never fall foul of these common errors that other people are guilty of when picking the wrong agent.

Mount & Minster is an award winning company which has frequently exceeded our client expectations with highly qualified career staff and a thorough knowledge of our industry, our market and our clients. We differ from the common estate agent in may ways which we would be happy to discuss in more detail over a FREE consultation or valuation to suit you. Please Contact Us for further information.

 

The latest analysis and data clearly shows that, despite uncertainty surrounding the General Election, the average price of a home in England and Wales reached a new high in May , with a rise of 0.3% to £303,200. A sharp slowdown in sales in London and the South East has increasingly been offset by more resilient performance in the East Midlands and the North.

According to the report, the value of the national average home has now increased £13,934, or 4.8%, in the last 12 months.

The results show that activity also remained relatively strong, with transactions slightly lower than usual for the season but still up 6% on April, with an estimated 62,500 sales.

Transactions in the North East (up 10%), North West (6%), Yorks & Humberside (7%), East Midlands (4%), West Midlands (6%) and Wales (13%) are all higher in the three months to the end of April 2017 than the same period in 2015. Conversely, transactions in high-priced areas such as Greater London and the South East are down by 19% and 7% respectively.

West Midlands remains the region with the highest growth in prices, but Liverpool has been named the ‘city to watch’.

Ralph Wyrley-Birch, Managing Partner of Mount & Minster estate agents, said: “There was a lot of talk about housing from the parties in their election manifestos it’s now time for those words to be put into action. The market remains resilient and there’s encouraging activity in both the Lincoln and Grantham areas.”

For more details or to benefit from a complimentary consultation and valuation, please contact info@mountandminster.co.uk

 

The Summer Polo 2017

It is with great pleasure that once again Mount & Minster will be inviting guests to attend their complimentary VIP Champagne enclosure at Leadenham Polo Club for the 2017 Summer Polo Tournament on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th of July.

Following the success of last year, Mount & Minster will be co-hosting invited guests alongside their co-sponsor Terravesta, the regions leading miscanthus specialists who will also be showing their new briquette product for barbecues.

Last year saw a huge crowd gather over this popular two day event, with some also making the most of the occasion by also attending The Ball in the evening. The same format will be adopted this year and those similarly wishing to attend this fantastic evening in The Grand Marquee should contact Lydia at Leadenham Polo Club on 01400 318006.

Up to 12 teams from polo clubs across the UK will be competing in the tournament, split over 3 divisions with the finals being played on the Sunday. Mount & Minster and Terravesta will also be sponsoring their own teams, made up of members from Leadenham Polo Club.

Stallholders will be selling polo goodies, art and jewellery so don’t forget to pick up a memento of the day!

Regardless as to whether you benefit from a VIP invitation to the hospitality enclosure, the general public are all welcome to come and join in with the atmosphere throughout the rest of the Club and enjoy an action-packed weekend of polo with refreshments available throughout the day.

Venue: Leadenham Polo Club, The Manor, Fulbeck Road, Leadenham, LN5 0PX
Date: 8th & 9th July 2017 (11.00am onwards for VIP invitees)
Dress: Smart -Casual

For further enquiries, please email us: info@mountandminster.co.uk or call our Grantham Office: 01476 515 329

 

Mount & Minster are privileged to have been exclusively selected to represent the local area this year at The London & Country Property Show which will be held on Wednesday 10th May 2017 at The Chelsea Old Town Hall, London SW3 5EE.

Hosted in association with Country Life magazine, over 30 leading firms of Estate Agents and Chartered Surveyors from across the country will be on hand to offer their advice to homeowners planning to make their move into or out of the Capital. From rectories to country estates, from farmhouses to ‘chocolate box’ cottages, from ski chalets to villas, a broad spectrum of properties will be available for sale and to rent.

Bob Bickersteth, director of the London office comments: “Following the success of last year’s Move to the Country Show, the newly rebranded show is for those who are inquisitive about moving away from London, investing in property in and outside the capital or simply for people looking for a different lifestyle.”

Ralph Wyrley-Birch, Managing Partner, says: “Last year we saw a huge influx of southern and London buyers seeking to move out of the capital to our area for the local schools, the cheaper lifestyle and, of course, better value property. The rail links and local trunk roads make our clients’ properties very attractive to cash-rich buyers who often pay more than local buyers.”

Should you wish to have your property included in the Show, or wish to discuss the marketing of your property in more detail, then Mount & Minster very much look forward to hearing from you by contacting either the Lincoln office (01522 716204) or the Grantham office (01476 515329).

FOLLOWING THE OUTCOME OF THE EU REFERENDUM, THE RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY MARKET IN LINCOLNSHIRE HAS COMPLETELY CHANGED DIRECTION IN A MATTER OF HOURS.

Over the last two months, the uncertainty of the outcome had previously resulted in a dramatic fall in properties coming onto the market and offers being made due to prospective buyers and sellers waiting to see what the outcome would be.

That uncertainty has now been extinguished and the public, no matter which way they voted, have now come to realise that we will remain in the EU for another two years or so. This means that very little will change for quite some time to come. The ‘bottleneck’ of stifled enquiries from both buyers and sellers has suddenly alleviated and Mount & Minster estate agents have reported a huge influx in a matter of hours with enquiries from homeowners requesting a valuation of their property.

Lincoln Property PricesRalph Wyrley-Birch BSc (Hons) MRICS MNAEA, Managing Partner at Mount & Minster, says: “This is extremely encouraging and great news for those seeking to sell their home in our region. It is only natural that people should remain cautious in the lead up to the vote. Selling one’s property is an extremely important process and can make a huge difference financially in its timing. Now that we know the result and the fact that it will take a long time for anything to happen, vendors are now making the first steps to getting highly qualified, professional advice as to the best means of marketing their property and realising the optimum value.

“What we have witnessed today is a dramatic increase of clients wanting to make up for lost time and sell their property quickly and for the best price possible. The sudden surge in enquiries is promising and can only lead to an improvement in the market throughout Lincolnshire.”

SHOULD YOU WISH TO DISCUSS THE SUCCESSFUL MARKETING OF YOUR PROPERTY THEN PLEASE CONTACT MOUNT & MINSTER ON 01522 716204 OR VISIT WWW.MOUNTANDMINSTER.CO.UK

How to avoid chains

New research from a major uk Mortgage Adviser has found that around 28% of homebuyers have had a house purchase fall through after their offer was accepted, on average losing £3,000 as a result.

Lincoln estate agentsThe survey of 2,000 homebuyers – who bought their home in the previous two years – found that it takes over 4.5 months on average, from starting a property search to having an offer accepted. However, 28% of purchases fell through after that point, a huge proportion of which were unfortunately listed with online estate agents.

Of those who had lost money and knew how much they were out of pocket, the average loss was £2,899. This included conveyancing, survey, mortgage valuation or brokerage fees paid and not recovered.

Many homebuyers experience failed transactions due to poor communication and pro-active work from their agent. Online estate agents often do not have the expertise and qualifications of more professional, local estate agents as their staff are thin on the ground locally, and the majority nationally sit in a call centre carrying out an administrative roll.

Mount & Minster gives the following top tips for buyers to help avoid long or complicated chains and increase the chance of a successful transaction:

1. It’s worth considering selling your property and moving into short-term rented accommodation or with family or friends. You’ll then be a chain-free cash buyer, which you can use to your advantage when making an offer as you’ll be much more appealing to the vendor.

2. If you’re buying and can afford to be picky, look for properties where the upward chain is short or, even better, non-existent – for example if the vendor owns it as a second home and doesn’t need to find somewhere else to live.

3. New-build homes have no upward chains for obvious reasons – and if you’ve got a property to sell, the developer may offer part-exchange, meaning they’ll buy your old property to help speed things up.

4. If you’re in a hurry, try and get the vendor of the property you’re buying to agree to a date by which they are prepared to move out, whether they’ve bought somewhere themselves or not. Vendors will sometimes agree to move into rented accommodation to avoid risking the deal falling through.

Gethyn Evan, an Associate at Mount & Minster, said: “No one wants to see their dream property slip through their fingers, particularly if it leaves you out of pocket, but there are steps you can take to ensure you are in the best possible position. The best way to protect yourself from your purchase falling through is to avoid a lengthy chain. With the right preparation and research, including getting your finances in order prior to making an offer, you can avoid complicated chains and improve your chances of success.”

You don’t get a second opportunity at making that important first impression. Give your garden a pre-sale maintenance makeover. Mount & Minster have a simple six-step plan to help maximise the impact of outside space when selling your property.

Lincolnshire Estate AgentsWhen you’re preparing a property for sale it’s important to ensure that your pre-marketing assessment is as diligently applied to the outside of the property as it is to the inside. It’s very easy to forget the importance of the gardens and any external buildings but they can directly affect both a property’s appeal and its value potential.

1. Neat, tidy and trim

Overgrown gardens will be visually underwhelming to prospective purchasers, so it’s important to ensure your outside space is neat, tidy and trim.

Make sure overgrown foliage is cut back, paying particular attention to oversized trees and shrubs that can dominate the space. Likewise, trim back overgrown hedges so they look their best.

Win the war on weeds too. An abundance of weeds will reflect badly on the property (and its owner) and give the impression of a lack of commitment and care.

2. Front of house

You don’t get a second opportunity at making that important first impression so pay particular attention to front gardens, pathways and driveways.

These are the gateway to the property and will be the opening scenes that greet potential buyers when they arrive for a viewing. Remember, too, that external shots of the property are the first things buyers will see in your marketing material.

3. Lovely lawns

A luscious lawn can really lift the look of an outside space. And the larger it is the more impact it will have, whether that be good or bad.

Whatever its size, however, before marketing your property all lawns should be mown, re-sown if necessary, plus de-thatched. If you have particularly damp soil with poor drainage there is a higher chance that you will have moss growing within the lawn but there are many topical treatments available to help remedy this.

4. Flower power

Don’t undervalue the power of flowers. They add interest, colour and texture to a garden, as well as fragrance and height. Colourful flowers, shrubs, plants and climbers paint a vibrant picture, both for the buyer during the viewing and, on a practical level, for your marketing material.

If you haven’t got borders or beds, consider adding splashes of colour through the clever use of pots and containers in order to create the same pictorial effect.

5. Fenced and framed

One of the most commonly overlooked areas when giving gardens a pre-sale makeover are the boundaries, yet they are probably one of the most important aspects. They frame your outside space and are vital to its overall appearance, plus they offer added security to your home too.

Poorly defined boundaries can also raise questions about the neighbours, your relationship with them, whether they’ve got any pets and who is responsible for what. They can also make a potential buyer question what other aspects of your property aren’t being looked after either!

Assess your boundaries now, ensuring that any trellis, fence panels or posts are secure, wood is appropriately treated and stonewalls are sufficiently pointed and structurally sound.

6. Maintenance matters

Many purchasers will want to see that an outside space will be cost-effective for them moving forward and low maintenance for their tenants too, but always be mindful of the type of property you’re selling and the target tenancy. Not all tenants will have green fingers but not all properties will lend themselves to a low maintenance outside space either. This will be driven entirely by the size of the property and its number of bedrooms.

Established gardens, for instance, are likely to be attractive to the family market, yet smaller two-bed properties usually benefit from low maintenance spaces where the tenant has to commit less time to the garden.

For further advice on marketing your property to its best potential, please contact James Ward on 01522 716204.

There is some doubt as to the ability of the UK to build a million new homes by 2020.

The pledge is at the heart of the government’s landmark Housing & Planning Bill, which received Royal Assent earlier this month. However, a recent survey of owners and directors of 389 housebuilders across England indicated that just over half (51%) thought the target would not be met.

Ralph Wyrley-Birch, Managing Partner at Mount & Minster Chartered Surveyors, says: “The danger is that the planning pessimists out there will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. A million homes by 2020 is perfectly possible – as the Home Builders Federation have stated quite clearly. However, it will need conviction and commitment, as well as further government policies in favour of development, and help to speed up the planning process. If the government give the developers the means to achieve this, there is no reason why we can’t hit that target. The changes in policy that need to be implemented need to happen very quickly however. Currently, there is little surprise as to skepticism from house builders.”

The UK has already seen huge increases in output, with build rates on large sites doubling since 2010. There were more than 180,000 new homes delivered in 2014/15, with this year’s figure expected to be higher still. And by 2019 the big companies will be building double what they did six years ago. Now we need to speed up the momentum even further, so that we ensure we reach the target of one million new homes by 2020.

Despite his optimism, Mr Wyrley-Birch says that the industry needs to see more land coming through the planning system, and processes that support both large and smaller house builders.

He explained: “Several significant advances have happened already. Brownfield sites will now automatically be approved for building, with £10m worth of funding to help local authorities, such as Lincoln City, West Lindsey and North Kesteven, to prepare them. There are also plans to relax the planning rules for smaller house builders, enabling them to gain automatic planning permission on suitable sites. Furthermore, changes to the section 106 agreement will enable developers to provide affordable homes to buy, instead of affordable homes for rent.”

It is most likely that local councils – the largest landowners in the country – will be key to the success of this project. They must get up-to-date housing plans in place, ensuring that they are robust and evidence-based. They should review their planning application process and the conditions attached to planning which represent such a major challenge for developers. Plus they need to streamline their planning processes and improve communication so that once approved, building can get underway quickly.

For their part, house builders are already investing in their supply chains and have taken on tens of thousands of new workers to ensure there is the capacity and skills required. All we need now is the conviction of the government and it’s local authorities to carry it off.

Thinking of selling? Already on the market? Make sure your next decision is a wise one, it can help you realise thousand of pounds more and ensure a quick, stress free sale.

Picking the right estate agent to market your home can make a difference, not only to the price, but to the overall experience. The following five top tips for consumers will help you get the best out of estate agents:

1. Do your research

Look at their website – are the pictures well taken and how are the adverts written? Will they market your property on portals such as OnTheMarket and Rightmove? This information is vital in the early stages. Ask the agent if they can put you in touch with recent vendors to get an idea as to their success and service.

2. Local knowledge –

Look to use a company with good knowledge of your local area. They should also have a high profile where you live. This should ensure that the estate agent will present you with the right choices that fit your preferences. Try to ensure they have a national presence too. A London office will allow your agent to push your property under the noses of wealthier buyers down south who regard Lincolnshire as good value compared to the south.

3. Get personal –

Meet face-to-face if possible to discuss your requirements and be strict about these. This will ensure they clearly understand what you want, and don’t want from your home. Inspect their offices, they should be a fair reflection of the type of property they sell.

4. Be prepared –

Prepare a list of questions to ask when viewing properties and ensure that you make a note of the answers!

5. Open communication –

Make sure you clarify how often they will communicate with you during the process and ask whether they can attend viewings with you. They should be able to contact you via phone, text or email so tell them what you would prefer.

estate-agents-439449Research by Mount & Minster has revealed that despite using online services for property searches, UK consumers value estate agency expertise and want life-long relationships with estate agents.

The study explores the attitudes, perceptions and expectations that UK home buyers have towards ‘bricks and mortar’ estate agents and online tools. It uncovers the true value consumers hold for the knowledge and expertise estate agents offer.

Whilst the majority of respondents (93%) search for properties online, half (54%) admitted that they would use a mixture of online tools and estate agents to deal with the entire property buying process.

A staggering, 82% of UK home buyers would actually prefer to have a personal agent who can deal with the whole management of the home buying process. Those surveyed also admitted to relying heavily on estate agents’ expertise for key parts of the home buying process including: conveyancing (72%), to arrange viewings and inspect properties (62%), make an offer (53%) and for financial negotiations (42%).

Ralph Wyrley-Birch, Managing Partner at Mount & Minster, had this to say: “It’s clear that UK consumers will never quite give up on servitude as a measure of their worth. Buying or selling a home can be an extremely stressful and daunting process and good quality customer service still carries a huge amount of weight. Estate agents are well placed to offer sound, expert advice. They can help to alleviate some of the pressures and concerns that consumers have with managing the process themselves.”

Lincolnshire buyers and sellers are experiencing some interesting trends that are mirroring consumer activity on the high street. Whilst many people like to be able to search online, they clearly value the customer experience and human touch of face-to-face interactions. However, without the personal touch online only services aren’t necessarily going to be in the position to replace traditional agents.

The research has revealed some danger areas for estate agents, it highlights consumer frustration with agents who are slower to adopt newer digital technologies. Two-thirds (67%) of respondents believe that estate agents are not fully using technology to their advantage and 44% strongly agree that estate agents need to adopt, and embrace technology, in order to survive in the future. Fortunately, as Mr Wyrley-Birch points out, Mount & Minster not only adopt High Definition photography, but also images and videos using 21st century drones. Their website is also highly respected and simple to use on desktop and mobile devices.

James Ward, another Partner at the firm, says: “There is a real appetite for change from both estate agents and consumers, especially when it comes to the use of technology. Advancements in technology, from mobile devices to cloud-based software offer some amazing opportunities for the estate agent of the future. It gives them greater accessibility and freedom, and helps them to alleviate some of the pressures experienced by home buyers and sellers. There’s a breadth of technology that can help transform the property industry and enable agents to deliver a professional and personal service across human and digital touchpoints. In order to survive, and thrive, estate agents must recognise and remain confident, that they too have the tools available to remain competitive and keep customers satisfied. Mount & Minster embrace this challenge and in a very short period of time are already regarded as being game changers in the East Midlands.

 

RENTS AT THEIR HIGHEST

Rents are accelerating at the fastest pace since last autumn, reaching the highest levels seen so far this year, according to Mount & Minster letting agents in Lincoln.

Average rents for homes to let across England & Wales have now reached £793 per month, as of April 2016. On a month-on-month basis this represents an increase of 0.3% – or the fastest monthly rent rises since September 2015.

This leaves rents 2.4% higher than at the same point last year – or an extra £19 every month for the average tenant. For the East Midlands, including Lincolnshire, this figure is even higher at 8.3%.

A strong acceleration in market rents comes on the back of what was previously a relatively subdued month, when rents saw no change between February and March 2016.

James Ward, Partner at Mount & Minster, comments: “Anyone looking for a home to rent may now find the better deals of the winter months are over. Landlords are seeing renewed interest and competition between potential tenants, as the spring rental market accelerates.”

Some of the reasons for rent rises are extremely encouraging. Tenants looking to find a property to rent are more likely to be in work, getting pay rises, and feeling able to pay their other bills. These wider economic fundamentals are shifting on the side of healthier household finances.

However, very little has changed in terms of the supply of homes to let. Therefore, for many tenants, it is likely that a large proportion of any earnings growth is swallowed up by higher rents. The Government hasn’t helped by imposing an extra bill that someone will have to pay on top of this – in the form of the recent Stamp Duty Surcharge. To a large extent it is likely that penalty will be shouldered by those tenants looking for homes to rent, due only to the fundamentals of supply and demand in the British housing market.

Lincoln letting agentsThree-in-ten regions see new all-time records

Rental markets in the East Midlands, West Midlands and East of England have never seen rents higher.

Second only to London in absolute terms, rents in the East of England has seen a new all-time record of £848 in April, on the back of 4.8% rent rises over the last year. Second in terms of annual rent rises, up 6.2% on last April, the West Midlands is now home to average rents breaking through the £600 per month barrier.

However, leading England & Wales by some distance, property to rent in the East Midlands has seen annual rent rises of 8.5%. This takes rents in the region to a new all-time record of £616 as of April.

On a monthly basis, the fastest increases in rents were seen jointly in the East of England and the South East, both seeing rents rise by 1.0% just between March and April. The North East property market follows by this month-on-month measure, with rents now 0.8% higher than in March 2016. In all three of these regions the latest monthly rent rises represent an acceleration compared to relatively more subdued rises previously this year.

Returns and yields

Taking into account both rental income and capital growth, but before property-specific costs such as maintenance, the average existing landlord in England and Wales has seen total returns of 10.7% over the twelve months to April.
This is slightly lower than 11.4% seen a month before, over the twelve months to March, but higher than 9.8% returns over the twelve months ending last April in 2015.

In absolute terms this means that the average landlord in England and Wales has seen a return of £19,538 over the last twelve months, before any deductions such as property maintenance and mortgage payments. Of this, the average capital gain contributed £10,815 while rental income made up £8,723 over the twelve months to April.

While a recent surge in capital values has boosted total returns for existing landlords, the same trend has suppressed rental yields a little for those aspiring to become landlords, or professional landlords looking to grow their property portfolio. As rents rise alongside property prices, rental yields are proving reasonably resistant to rising purchase prices. However the gross yield on a typical rental property in England and Wales (before taking into account factors such as void periods) is now 4.9% as of April 2016, compared to 5.1% in April 2015.

Mr Ward continues: “Yields and returns have been remarkably steady in the face of an onslaught of hostile rhetoric and regulatory hoops. And all else being the same, there is a chance gross yields could rise marginally, to take account of any extra costs and complexities associated with being a landlord – such as the Stamp Duty Surcharge.”

More change is on the way, and landlords will need to take appropriate financial advice on how changes to the tax system could affect them – as well as ensuring that their properties and tenancy agreements comply with every single rule and requirement. This latest imposition is actually not a tax on existing or accidental landlords. Actually, the Stamp Duty Surcharge is a barrier to entry. The danger for tenants is that this new rule will prevent new houses and flats to rent coming on to the market. The advantage for landlords in some areas could be less competition. However, anyone trying to grow their rental portfolio will now need to spend even more time making the right decision – and as of last month more money too.

Paying the rent is becoming slightly easier for tenants

Tenants across England & Wales are now finding it slightly easier to pay the rent on time. As of April 8.1% of all rent due in the month was in arrears, compared to 9.1% in March. However this still represents a more challenging situation than at this point in 2015, when tenants were behind with only 7.0% of rent due in April last year.

In a longer-term context, the latest improvement remains extremely encouraging. April still compares very favourably to the all-time high of 14.6% of all rent payable in arrears – set in February 2010.

All the signs are right for a strong improvement in tenant finances. Wages are finally showing a bit of exuberance and employment has never been higher. But rents haven’t ever been higher either in much of the country. There is a powerful trend underpinning the affordability of renting for a large majority of Britain’s tenants, but there are also serious shortages of homes to let in all the same places that people want to live.

Rental arrears reflect this mismatch between supply and demand. Waves of interest from the bulk of financially healthy tenants are capable of pushing up rents across the market. But unless landlords are allowed to respond by investing in new homes then supply will not quite ever be able to keep up. This is the mechanism that very soon could demonstrate the misguided nature of the latest targeting of landlords from the UK authorities. Tenants will always lose out if the bottom line is a shortage of flats to rent or houses to rent in local markets.

For details as to how Mount & Minster can help you and your portfolio, please contact our Lincoln office on 01522 716204 or email info@mountandminster.co.uk