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Loo Rolls And Other Flying Objects

As we head for autumn and further Covid restrictions, Alison Richards of West Wales Properties assesses the state of the property market.

So many people are asking us about the property market at the moment. To provide some perspective, we often answer the question with a question. We ask, “Do you remember back in March, how loo rolls became difficult to find as they were flying off supermarket shelves?”

“It would be hard to forget,” most people reply.

So we say, “That’s what’s happened to property: houses are flying off our books.”

While the country was in lockdown, no one could envision what would happen to the property market next – including us. We couldn’t predict the strength of public demand for changes in surroundings and lifestyle. We couldn’t know how people would react to isolation, sudden changes in working practices and the resulting opportunity to commute less often but therefore further – providing the chance to buy a larger suburban or rural house and garden.

Now, after several months of the most extraordinary market most of us can remember, we have experienced the combined effects of the Covid and Brexit bounces, the relaxation of stamp duty and low-interest rates.

Many first and second-time buyers and sellers won’t remember the days when the market was on fire like this; when there were multiple offers on houses for sale, prices were spiralling upwards, and property was selling almost as soon as it came on to the market.

But we remember those days. We remember them very well. That is why we are highly experienced and skilled in dealing with this unexpectedly buoyant market.

For those thinking of buying before the end of the stamp duty reprieve, we recommend doing so now. Why? Because neither we nor anyone else, including the Chancellor, knows what’s going to happen next. Another national lockdown – if there were to be one – might only temporarily suppress this strong market and drive even more people to want to move. But big questions remain about the market in 2021.

High unemployment, a negative Brexit trade deal, tighter mortgage criteria and the end of the stamp duty relaxation, could turn off the tap that was so dramatically turned on in July.

Only time will tell. But in the meantime what we do know is that property is flying and we are here to help buyers and sellers fly with it.

Crisis? What crisis? Mortgage lending hits 13 year high

Mortgage approvals for house purchases have soared to a 13 year high according to Bank of England figures up to the end of August.

There was a rise from 66,300 in July to 84,700.

However, the year-to-date total is still suffering from the market closure during the spring lockdown: the BoE says there have been, in total, 418,000 approvals so far in 2020 compared to 524,000 in the same period in 2019.

In terms of remortgaging, there was no significant change from July but figures are 36 per cent lower than in February.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former chairman of the RICS residential faculty, says the August figures show the impact of the stamp duty holiday having “transformed the market which had been in the doldrums post-Covid”.

He says there are “a few signs of that upsurge running out of steam” following concerns over the spread of Coronavirus in recent weeks and the threat of further restrictions on the population.

Leaf warns that price rises will remain subdued as supply is now matching demand and buyers who are worried about the immediate future are wary of accepting over-ambitious prices.

Meanwhile another London agent – Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves – says: “We’ve seen little to no let-up in the volume of homebuyers hitting the market despite a tightening of finance options available. Where they may have been traditionally buying with a 15 to 20 per cent deposit, they’re now stretching to as much as 30 per cent. 

“They are doing so to not only to take advantage of the favourable rates currently on offer but to secure a stamp duty saving in the process. Since the stamp duty holiday was announced, the number of mortgage approvals seen on a monthly basis has more than doubled, and so the boost it has given the market cannot be underestimated.”

And Hina Bhudia, a partner at Knight Frank Finance, adds: “The pandemic has completely upended what is usually the one of the quietest months of the year for the property market. Interest rates remain ultra-low and the cheap cost of debt is driving a significant amount of this activity.

“Most of the activity we’re seeing is at sub 75 per cent loan to value and the lenders all want a bigger slice of that market. That means the choice of products for borrowers at that level is growing every day.

“The surge in transactions at that level also means turnaround times between submitting an application and getting approval varies hugely from lender to lender so borrowers should check carefully before proceeding.” 

Alison Richards of West Wales Properties has some thoughts for property buyers and sellers who wish they could see into the future

Don’t you wish that just once you could have a sure fire tip about the perfect time to buy and/or sell an investment?

If only you or your parents had known to invest in a small Californian computer start up company called Apple in 1976. An £800 investment then would be worth over £30 billion today.

Finding these tips and then acting on them is the stuff of legends. But it is still possible to do the right thing at the right time by listening to the right people.

For example, a good estate agent with great local knowledge knows exactly what is happening in the property market. So, if you are thinking of buying or selling your home, a good first move would be to get the best local advice.

And what would we, at West Wales Properties, say if you asked us about the market right now? We would say that, following lockdown, we have not seen as buoyant or active a market as this since before the great recession in 2007/8. We would tell you that properly priced property is flying off the shelves. But we would also tell you that the property market is cyclical, and that sometime after this scramble to buy and sell is over, the market will eventually cool – it always does. It cannot stay like this forever.

Finally, we will tell you that now is as near perfect a time to buy and/or sell a property as you are likely to find, and that periods like this only come round every ten years or so. Plus, this time, there is Stamp Duty relief for many home buyers, and the lowest mortgage interest rates in history.

You’ll be pleased to know that we don’t charge for insightful property advice, and while we might not be able to turn £800 into £30 billion for you, we can help you make the most of what is probably your most financially valuable asset.

So, go on, make a legendary move ……………

Boom! 13-year high for number of sales agreed per agency branch

If yet more proof were needed of the housing boom this summer, NAEA Propertymark says its sales agreed data suggests a 13 year high for the market.

The average number of sales agreed per estate agent branch stood at 13 in July – the latest data available – following the announcement of a stamp duty holiday.

This is the highest figure recorded since June 2007 when 13 sales were also recorded per member branch.

Year-on-year, the number of sales per branch has increased by 44 per cent, rising from nine recorded in July 2019.

In July, eight per cent of properties sold for more than the original asking price, a fall from 10 per cent in June. However, three in five properties sold for less than the original asking price.

In terms of demand in July, the number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch rose by 13 per cent, increasing from 379 in June to 428.

Year-on-year, housing demand is up by a third, from 316 in July 2019.

Looking at supply, the number of properties available per member branch stood at 43 in July, increasing from 37 in June. Year-on-year, the supply of housing increased marginally from 41 properties per member branch in July 2019. 

The number of sales made to first time buyers stood at 25 per cent in July, a fall from 29 per cent in June.

“It’s positive to see the market continuing to boom with clear interest from both buyers and sellers. With the recent stamp duty holiday announcement, we expect the housing market to remain busy throughout the rest of the summer” says NAEA Propertymark chief executive Mark Hayward.


Houses selling much faster than flats according to Zoopla data

Figures from Zoopla quantify how Coronavirus is changing the market, with houses selling significantly faster than flats.

The latest market report from the portal states: “Quarantine has galvanised many homeowners and renters into reconsidering their housing requirements, resulting in demand for more space and changing work and commuting patterns.”

It says three-bedroom houses remain the fastest selling property on the market, with an average time of 24 days since the lockdown lifted.

However, this property type also exemplifies the supply/demand imbalance – while three bed houses are the most in-demand property type, the proportion of available supply falls short of demand across all parts of the UK.

Zoopla also reports that four and five-bed houses are selling 33 per cent faster than in 2019, as buyers prioritise more space and widen their search criteria – migrating away from the more expensive cities, suburbs and commuter belts while enabling their budgets to stretch further. 

Meanwhile, flats are taking the longest time to sell at an average 32 days – although this still remains relatively quick, because of the frenzy of activity in the market.

In Zoopla’s latest monthly snapshot, demand continues to run ahead of supply, sustaining annual house price growth at 2.5 per cent.

Time to sell since the market reopened has decreased by 31 per cent across the UK, averaging just 27 days in the period since lockdown, compared to 39 days over the same period in 2019.

More homes are coming to market in wealthier demographics post lockdown with wealthier sellers less likely to be affected by recession.

However, while the market sets new highs, buyer interest has softened 17 per cent over past month, as the holiday season distracts purchasers. Even so, demand remains 78 per cent above last year.

Zoopla anticipates that market conditions are expected to remain stronger than last year for the rest of 2020 with house prices up between two and three percentage points by Christmas.

“The next important milestone for the housing market comes in September when schools reopen and the UK starts to get back towards a full reopening of the economy” explains Richard Donnell, Zoopla’s research and insight director. 

“The ‘once in a lifetime’ re-evaluation of housing requirements on the back of the lockdown will be a counterweight to the impact of the recession on housing market activity over the rest of 2020. While demand has softened over August, we expect the current momentum in market activity to continue into 2020 Q4” he adds.

‘This time it’s different:’ Zoopla predicts recession won’t cause ‘major decline’ in house prices

Zoopla is hoping pre-existing slower house price growth and tougher mortgage regulations will mean this recession is different to the past.

Analysis by the portal said it does not foresee a major decline in UK house prices as a result of the recession.

It said this was because price growth is already low, mortgage lending criteria has been tightened since the financial crisis and unemployment may be concentrated among younger age bands who rent rather than own a property.

Zoopla’s figures shows properties are selling faster, with the number of days to reach the sold subject to contract phase in the past three months hitting 27 days compared with 39 last year.

Three-bedroom houses remain the fastest selling property on the market, with an average time to sell of 24 days since the lockdown lifted, Zoopla said.

The flow of new supply is running 54% ahead of this time last year, but overall stock per agent remains 3% lower, the portal’s research found.

Zoopla said average UK annual house price growth was 2.5% in July at £253,600.

Richard Donnell, research and insight director of Zoopla, predicted average house prices would end this year up 2% to 3%.

He said: “Housing market conditions remain unseasonably strong despite the UK moving into recession.

“Demand continues to outpace supply and support house price growth of 2.5% per annum.

“Meanwhile, houses are selling faster than flats as we see a shift in buyer priorities in the wake of the lockdown and movers prioritise more space.

“While the economy has contracted sharply and unemployment is rising, consumer spending has rebounded and purchasing manager indices are pointing to a wider rebound in the economy.

“This is positive but the unwinding of the furlough scheme and other Government support is the next challenge that will test the strength of economic recovery.

“In the short term we still believe that house prices will end the year 2% to 3% higher than at the start.”


Busiest month for ten years as home-buying supersedes summer holidays

Rightmove says that the rulebook has been rewritten as the post-lockdown mini-boom accelerates rather than slows down.

There is normally a seasonal slowdown in housing market activity over the summer months, as both buyers and sellers turn their attention to summer holidays.

But this year, home movers have put more property on the market and have agreed more sales than in any month for over ten years, worth a record total of over £37 billion.

This is leading to monthly price increases in ten out of twelve regions, with a record high in new seller asking prices in seven of those regions.

Prices usually fall at this time of year, as sellers try to tempt holiday distracted buyers, with the national average monthly fall for the last ten years being 1.2%.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst said:

“There have been many changes as a result of the unprecedented pandemic, and these include a rewriting of the previously predictable seasonal rulebook for housing market activity and prices. Rather than just a release of existing pent-up demand due to the suspension of the housing market during lockdown, there’s an added layer of additional demand due to people’s changed housing priorities after the experience of lockdown.”

“The number of monthly sales agreed is the highest that we have ever measured since we started tracking this figure ten years ago, up by 38% on the prior year, and a massive 20% higher than the previous record set in March 2017.

“The increase in activity is not just a result of the stamp duty holiday, as sales agreed are up across all sectors of the market. They’re up 29% in the first-time buyer sector, 38% in the second stepper sector and 59% for larger, top of the ladder homes.

“Momentum is still building, with the latest weekly figure for the number of sales agreed having shot up by 60% compared to the same week a year ago.

“As part of the virtuous home moving circle, home-owners are bringing more properties to market than in any month since 2008, giving more choice to buyers.

“There are 44% more properties coming to market compared to the same period a year ago, though there are considerable regional variations.”

Record levels of pent-up and new buyer demand mean that there is extra pressure on the lending and legal areas of the home moving process.

The average time between agreeing a sale and moving in was already around three months before lockdown and now there is a ten-year high in the number of sales being agreed.

Mortgage lenders and conveyancers may struggle to cope with the increased workload, not only now but as pressure rises further in the run up to the 31st March stamp duty holiday deadline.

Booming Marvellous

As we head for late summer Alison Richards of West Wales Properties assesses the property market.

Covid19 hasn’t been the only outbreak this year. There has also been an outbreak of property sales and letting since the end of national lockdown. The press has called this current property market a mini boom. We call it a maxi boom.

Mini booms occur when there is above average activity. Maxi booms happen when buyers are queueing up, there are multiple offers for most properties on the market, and deals regularly go to best and final offers only to exceed the original guide prices. This is what we are currently experiencing.

Nor has the lettings sector been left out of this market frenzy. There is enormous demand for rental properties.

Since the general lockdown ended our phones have been practically ringing off the hook and the numbers of visitors to our website and social media pages have skyrocketed.

Many things have changed since the pandemic hit our lives. One of these changes is in the attitude many of us have to how and where we live. A demand for more spacious and environmentally healthy living is driving the market, spurred on by a temporary reduction in stamp duty that has not only helped many second and third step buyers, but also has galvanised holiday home and buy-to-let purchasers.

Another change this summer is the government’s avowed intent to simplify and speed up the planning process. The current system has been described as “complex and slow” by the housing minister. It is a view hard to argue against.

But shouldn’t the minister also be looking at the current snail-pace of the conveyancing process? This is causing completion delays of up to six months in some parts of the country. How can buyers and sellers plan properly with this much uncertainty? It is a lamentable situation in this digital age, and one worthy of any government’s urgent attention.

As we head into late summer amidst all these changes our phones are still ringing and there is no let up in demand. We don’t know how long this surge in demand for property will last, but for buyers and sellers right now it is a boom market. So our advice is; to change your room use this boom.

Welsh Housing market to re-open fully from Monday 27 July 2020

Today, 24 July, the Welsh Government confirmed that the housing market will fully reopen on Monday 27 July 2020.

This announcement means the housing market is fully operational again to include viewings of occupied properties. As a result, viewings can now take place to see a property more than once as well as visits to empty rooms in occupied HMOs or shared accommodation.

Some key things to consider:

  • All viewings should be by appointment only
  • We advise agents to not book back to back visits to a property
  • We advise occupiers to wait outside the property when the viewing takes place
  • Property viewers should be advised against touching surfaces throughout the property viewing
  • Keep the amount of time at a viewing to a minimum

It is also important that initial viewings are done virtually, and viewings of occupied property only take place with proceedable parties of serious intent.

In a press release earlier today, First Minister Mark Drakeford said, “Thanks to the efforts we have all made to reduce the spread of the virus, we are taking further steps to re-open more of Wales” and “Coronavirus has not gone away. But if we all work together, we can keep Wales safe.”

As the UK lifts out of lockdown, Alison Richards of West Wales Properties suggests a chat over coffee to consider your next move.

The creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, the Reverend W Awdry, once said that the church was like a railway: both were trying to get people from one place to another.

Estate agents fall into the same category. We move people from one home to the next. And never has moving people seemed more important than now: because never have homes seemed more important to all of us as we battle to defeat the most deadly threat in our lives – and to our way of life – since World War II.

But something big is going on with homes. Our activity has gone through the roof in the past few weeks. The property portals are reporting the highest traffic to their sites – ever. In lockdown decisions to change – to move on – have been made and are now being acted upon.

It is at a time like this that estate agents become very useful indeed. It is their local expertise and market knowledge, which are so invaluable to sellers and buyers. Who’d have thought that houses and flats on dedicated cycle lanes would step up in value in only a few months? The answer is, an experienced estate agent.

So if you plan to move home, why not call us for a chat. Better still, arrange a Zoom meeting, Face Time or WhatsApp chat over a cup of coffee. You will find that we live in your area, we share and enjoy the same local facilities and we support the same local enterprises. More than that, you will find that we care in a way that goes beyond selling your property. We take care in moving our clients from one place to another.

Estate agents are engines of change. As James and Percy said to Thomas the Tank Engine, “We’re really useful engines, after all”.

Alison Richards from West Wales Properties advises caution at a time when the market is showing a robust return after lockdown

Some buyers have been sharpening their pencils, anticipating a fall in property prices following Covid19. The early indications are that pencils can be pinpoint sharp but it might not mean a lowering of prices, or that lowball offers will be accepted. Early signs are that there is a great deal of demand in the market across all price sectors and property types.

But still, there have been cases of gazundering: this is the practice of a buyer reducing an already agreed offer to buy a property – often when only weeks or even days away from exchange of contracts.

Gazundering might follow a serious and understandable concern about a property’s condition following a survey, or genuine worry – backed up by market evidence – about a local or regional house price fall.

But sometimes, gazundering is used as a form of tactical coercion. It is not blackmail. It is not illegal. But it’s not nice and it does leave a very nasty taste in the mouth.

Our long experience tells us that gazundering can also heavily backfire on the buyer. It is not uncommon for a seller to pull out of a deal in anger. But that is not all. Today there is another concern. A late-in-the-day price change means a mortgage lender might recheck the buyer’s financial position. If new circumstances come to light – and, let’s face it, Covid19 has badly affected millions of salary and wage earners – a mortgage offer could be adjusted or even withdrawn entirely.

So when buying a property AC – after Covid19 – just as at any other time, caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

No new cases of coronavirus recorded in Pembrokeshire, says Public Health Wales

THERE have been no new cases of coronavirus recorded in Pembrokeshire today, Sunday, June 7, figures from Public Health Wales reveal.

In the Hywel Dda health board area there has been one new case recorded today in Carmarthenshire.

The figures show that there have been no new deaths from the virus in the Hywel Dda area in the last 24 hours. With the figure remaining at 62 across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion.

Across Wales, 40 further cases of coronavirus were reported today. Bringing the total number of people in Wales who have had the virus to 14,396.

Five more people in Wales were reported as having died of the virus today, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 1,398.

Dr Chris Williams, incident director for the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said that contact tracing in Wales continued as part of the Welsh Government’s ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy.

Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who have come in contact with an individual with Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to prevent the risk of others spreading the infection in our communities.

Anyone who has a positive Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) test will be contacted by a team of contact tracers, and asked for details of everyone they have had close contact with while they have had symptoms.

Dr Williams asked the public to keep a note of their activities so they can easily remember your whereabouts on a given day, along with who were in contact with.

“If you are asked to self-isolate, you should also comply with this request to prevent further spread of the virus,” he said.

“You do not need to have any concerns about providing names to the tracing team. Tracers are trained staff and personal information that you provide will handled in line with data protection regulations and will not be shared widely.

“Over the last few weeks, Public Health Wales has been setting up the methods and guidance for how contact tracing will operate. We will continue to work closely to support local health boards and local authorities in delivering contact tracing.”

He reminded people that the Welsh Government’s revised lockdown arrangements also continue. People from two different households in the same local area can meet up outdoors, provided they continue to maintain social distancing and strict hand hygiene.

As a general rule, people should not travel more than five miles from home. This will help to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading as people begin to travel more.

People who have been told to shield are also now able to go outside and meet people from another household, provided they keep a two-metre distance.

“Future relaxation of lockdown measures will also be dependent on everyone following advice set out in the ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy, including self-isolating when required,” he said.

Information about the symptoms of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) to look out for is available on the Public Health Wales website, or members of the public can use the NHS Wales symptom checker.

Anyone experiencing Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms can now apply for a home testing kit using the new UK online portal.

Dr Williams advised people to only call 999 if they were experiencing a life-threatening emergency.

“Do not call 999 just because you are on hold to 111. We appreciate that 111 lines are busy, but you will get through after a wait,” he said.

“We also want to reinforce the message from NHS Wales that urgent and emergency care services for physical and mental health are still open and accessible.”

He said that parents of ill children should seek help and those with urgent dental pain should still call their dentist.

“If you have a health complaint that is worrying you and won’t go away you should call your GP practice,” he said.

“If you or a family member are seriously ill or injured you should dial 999 or attend your nearest Emergency Department.”


Coronavirus: Welsh ‘frustration’ as England’s property market restarts

House buyers and sellers in Wales may “feel frustrated” the property market in England has restarted amid the coronavirus crisis, but not in Wales.

Estate agents claim it is damaging to the Welsh economy that English sales can now progress due to updated lockdown regulations but sales in Wales remain “on pause”.

They want a “cohesive UK message”.

The Welsh Government said people must stay at home and can move house only where it “cannot be postponed”.

But estate agents want to be able to reopen if they observe social distancing rules.

When Dean Bridle and his family found the “perfect” property in February, they imagined they would be living in their new home in Baglan, Port Talbot, by now.

But the 34-year-old father-of-three wants “fairness” and is calling for the Welsh Government to reconsider its house removal lockdown policy.

“Having learnt that restrictions are being relaxed in England leaves myself and many others in Wales frustrated we’re playing to different rules,” he said.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s any difference between moving homes if you’re in London, Birmingham, Manchester – or in Cardiff, Swansea or Baglan.

“It doesn’t seem fair and I think the Welsh Government need to rethink the blanket policy of lockdown on everything and look to get some advice in the housing sector to say ‘yes, it’s OK to make the baby steps in the housing sector that they are doing in England’.”

Dean’s was one of an estimated 400,000 property transactions that stalled in the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to property website Zoopla.

Research suggests the market has seen a 60% drop in demand since early March – and as much as 80% in Cardiff.

Lawyers have called for the Welsh Government to consider “creative” ways for the property market rules to be modified while still adhering to social distancing rules.

“There are things that could be done, like allowing appropriate viewings under certain circumstances,” said Helen Barry, head of residential property at Hugh James.

“Estate agents could, for example, let people into empty homes, while remaining at an appropriate distance.

“The Welsh Government might also look into allowing surveyors into properties or facilitating removals.

“Its not the ideal situation but unfortunately there are going to have to be creative ways of thinking to make things smoother for people.”

Agents have been able to offer buyers virtual viewings in Wales while conveyancing solicitors carry out remote valuations – often called desktop valuations.

“But after that, the transaction is essentially paused and we’ve had to wait until market in Wales reopens,” said estate agent Nathan Reeks, who deals with “cross border” English and Welsh transactions from his business in Caldicot, Monmouthshire.

Buyers and renters had previously been urged to delay moving in England while the “stay at home” advice was in place – a message that still operates in Wales.

“I think estate agents struggle to see how I can stand in my local supermarket with hundreds of people, play golf or go to the garden centre,” added Mr Reeks.

“But think ‘why can’t I do a socially-distant house viewing’, particularly in an empty house.

“More than 40% of our 47 current sales transactions have either a buyer or seller from either side of the border. I’ve been inundated with calls from clients in England today hoping to restart their process and they are struggling to understand why its one rule for Wales and one for England.

“What I fear is that people wanting to move to Wales and strengthen our local economy will just remain in England – or people from Wales buying properties England will be kicked out of the process in favour of people buying from England.

“So there is a danger that people from Wales may feel penalised.”

Source: BBC NEWS ( )

Virtual Viewing Checklist

With or without the Coronavirus pandemic, we are rapidly moving towards a more digitally focused age; a world where people can buy, sell and negotiate without leaving the comfort of their own home.

We recognize the importance of this, and so we have introduced the Virtual Viewing Platform to provide clients with an insight look at our amazing properties. To help you shoot the perfect property video here’s a checklist to get the most out of your video to market your property.

Adding £££s

Neil Evans from West Wales Properties takes a look at what home sellers can do during the lockdown period to attract the highest sale price for their property once restrictions are lifted.

So, you have spruced up the front of your property – having the exterior looking at its best is vital, as it persuades people to look at the interior. But now you don’t want to let viewers down when they choose to look inside.

Most sellers have busy lives and invariably don’t have much time to prepare their homes for the market. In this unique period of lockdown we have been given the perfect opportunity to put this right.

Pre-market prep is so important. It can make thousands of pounds’ worth of difference to the sale price, and can sometimes even be the deciding factor between attracting a buyer or not. So now is the time to get things ship-shape.

This doesn’t always have to mean painting and decorating, but it does mean attention to some important details. Here are some things to remember when prepping a property in readiness for viewers:

Make sure the hall is inviting and clear of clutter – hats, coats, shoes, children’s school bags, etc. That first impression is important. You need your viewer to want to see more of your home – not the back of your home.

Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. Make sure yours are sparking clean and clear of clutter – in fact getting rid of clutter is a recurring theme in preparing your home for sale.

Is the living room inviting? Will one want to eat at the dining room table? Can one actually see the dining room table?

Have the beds been made? Are the cupboards neat? Overflowing cupboards send the message that a property is short on storage space.

Remember that luxury hotel room that made you feel like a million dollars? Your property should make viewers feel like that. It is not that difficult. But it does take discipline, and it does take time – time that you might well now have.

The TV home “experts” say that you should take the personality out of your home and make it bland to sell it well. You really don’t need to go that far – a good estate agent will help the property sell well. But it is up to you to maximise the value of your asset.

Making your house or apartment fit for the market is an art. Start with the basics – clear, dust and shine. Then take a good look at the stuff you have left and de-clutter as though your sale depends on it – because it does.

If you need advice, then West Wales Properties are masters in the art of pre-sale preparation. Do call us on 0345 094 3004 or email us at and we will be happy to run though some dos and do nots so that you are ready for the market once the pandemic has safely passed.

Agencies still getting leads and completing deals despite lockdown

It may seem a long time since normal trading took place but many agencies are now finding they are picking up leads and some deals despite the lockdown.

Midlands agency Centrick says it’s seen positive results in recent weeks thanks to what it calls its ‘digital-first’.

Since the lockdown began on March 23 it has edited and uploaded over 140 virtual viewings. All the viewings were filmed before restrictions were put in place and the agency says that it has since had the time to edit and release them.

The agency has also devised a contactless handover so that tenants can sign contracts digitally and collect keys without having to meet face-to-face.

“Despite lockdown restrictions prohibiting people from moving home unless it’s absolutely essential, we are still seeing leads pour in thanks to the marketing campaigns we have in place. By providing services which allow consumers to engage with us while following social distancing rules – such as virtual viewings and instant online valuations – we have been able to find opportunities and keep the business ticking over” explains Andy Butts, Centrick’s group sales and lettings director.

The firm says its commitment to digital marketing has allowed it to continue generating leads, even though a large proportion of the market has been on hold for a number of weeks now.

For example, Centrick generated over 200 rental property leads over the Easter weekend alone. The agency has also continued to generate vendor and landlord leads through its ValPal instant online valuation tool. Many of these leads have come directly from Facebook ad campaigns, while it has also been promoting its hugely successful virtual viewings across social media platforms.

“Centrick is a model agency. It is adapting to a challenging market and still managing to interact with consumers while adhering to the government’s lockdown rules,” says Craig Vile, Director of The ValPal Network.

“The agency’s results show that the market is still active and demonstrate why committing to digital marketing during this tricky period can be hugely beneficial. Encouraging consumers to carry out instant online valuations of their properties can help agents to keep consumers engaged in the moving process now and fill their sales funnel so they can hit the ground running when the market becomes more active in the coming months” says Vile.


Coronavirus: Ceredigion schools do their bit to help out in crisis

A CARDIGAN school teacher has made 655 visors for frontline health workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Emyr James, head of the design faculty at Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi, has been hard at work producing the visors with his sons in the school workshop over the last couple of weeks.

Produced on the school’s 3-D printer, more than 200 have been delivered to NHS and key workers locally – the rest are being taken to the community centre at Felinfach where they will be distributed by Ceredigion County Council.

Similar projects are also taking place at other schools across Ceredigion, including Ysgol Bro Teifi at Llandysul under the direction of Mr Walters, as well as Ysgol Bro Pedr and Ysgol Penglais,

Meinir Ebbsworth, corporate lead officer for schools at Ceredigion County Council said: “We are extremely grateful to our staff who are using their expertise and school equipment to help others.

“Ceredigion County Council is proud of the contribution that our schools are making during this difficult and challenging times, and to all our staff and volunteers who have shown such goodwill to help others.”


The Importance of Screen Appeal

Alison Richards of West Wales Properties explains a vital step a seller can make now to help achieve a successful property sale once the coronavirus danger has passed.

The daffodils have bloomed and the bluebells are about to, and it should be a perfect time to sell your property. Except it isn’t. Instead our thoughts are of saving lives through sheltering at home.

It might seem counterintuitive, but this might be the ideal time to at least start planning your next move – and particularly the sale of your home. As the country deals with Covid19, there are positive moves you can make to prepare your property for the market – when the threat is well and truly over.

So why not use these weeks ahead to take a step back and try to see your property through a future buyer’s eyes.

Estate agents have always talked about kerb appeal – how well a property looks to a passer-by. This impression is still important. But more so at the moment, is screen appeal.  Most potential buyers will see your property via a mobile or desktop device, not by walking or driving past.

This provides sellers with a great marketing opportunity. On screen you have the chance to present your property at its very best, all the time – regardless of weather and other detrimental factors. With the benefit of extra time, photographs of your property can be taken on a lovely bright day with the sun in just the right direction – and with the windows sparkling clean. Your garden can look its best with no cars in the drive or bins in the way. In other words, you have control of what people see on screen in a way that you can’t always when someone is randomly driving past at any time of day or night.

So, why not make full use of this opportunity? Remember, if a buyer doesn’t think you are proud of your property they probably won’t be interested in buying it. Your property deserves to look its best. You need to make a great impression.  

At West Wales Properties we can advise you how to make your property look the best it can on screen for when that critical buyer comes calling online. We understand how vital it is to create an excellent first impression – after all, you will never have a second chance.

Buying and selling property during Covid-19: Things you can do during lockdown to prepare for your next home move

While we may all be locked away in our homes at the moment it’s important to remember that this is only temporary and before long we’ll all be back to business as usual. We are currently still operational with the majority of our team working remotely and so we are continuing to service our managed properties as well as being able to work on the backroom paper work involved in sales transactions.

Many people made the decision to sell their home before the Coronavirus lock down but are waiting for it to be over before going to market with their property. While this is probably a sensible move, you could use this time to get the ball moving on your house sale. When the lock down is over, we’re expecting an almighty boom so be sure to get your property ready for sale.

You may be confined to your house but that doesn’t mean you can’t make good use of this time you have at home. We’ve put together a few ideas you can do at home to make sure your property is ready to hit the market as soon as possible.


There are plenty of things you can be doing while you’re at home this spring. Whether you’ve been putting off the spring cleaning or decorating, now there are very few excuses for procrastination.

Outside areas – The weather has been kind so far this spring, so make sure you take some time to beautify your outside seating area and gardens.

  • Give your patio a jet wash and scrub your old pots, you’ll be amazed at the results
  • if you have an old bench, why not give it a lick of paint or sand and wax it to give it a new lease of life
  • If you’re going to be spending more time outside, make sure it’s an enjoyable space.

Garden – It’s time to turn those fingers green! You don’t have to have a gigantic garden for it to be attractive to prospective buyers. If your garden is well kept, tidy and beautiful in bloom it can add value to your property

  • Tend to flower beds and hanging baskets
  • Trim shrubs and hedges
  • Weed lawn and patio
  • Mow the lawn regularly; maybe even try your hand at stripes!

Wardrobes – Spend some time on one of life’s necessary evils. Wardrobes are one of those places where out of sight, really is out of mind. It’ll feel so satisfying to have room in your wardrobe for new clothes for the summer.

  • Make three categories of clothing: Charity, Trash and Keep
  • Be ruthless, if you’ve not worn it for a year and it’s perfectly fine; send it to the charity shop, if it’s seen better days; trash it.

Kitchen appliances and white goods – Contrary to popular belief, these items are not self-cleansing. You can buy specialist products to do this or go ‘au natural’ some good solutions are only a Google search away!

  • Thoroughly clean the microwave, stove and oven a thorough clean
  • Descale your washing machine and dishwasher. Build-up of lime scale can have a huge effect on their efficiency and safety – even if you are taking them with you when you move, give them a little love.

Clear out shed and garages – The chances are, your local amenity site is closed, take some time to organise what you will be clearing out from your outdoor storage spaces out. Use the same rules as you did with your wardrobes. You’ll be staggered at how much space you have once you’ve cleared the junk.

  • If it works but you don’t need it, sell it on e-bay or advertise for free – charity shops don’t tend to take electrical goods
  • Remember, if you’ve not used it for a year (or two) put it in your “to take to the tip” pile.

Streamline your kitchen – This is a two phase attack – declutter your kitchen making it more spacious and organised.

  • Pantry – go through your pantry goods and get rid of anything which has passed its use by date. That old jar of mustard which was open at a bbq last summer and has been at the back of the fridge for a year could probably be thrown away now.
  • Kitchen Cupboards – how many pots and pans do you actually use on a regular basis? Do they all need to be to hand? Perhaps you could store some of the lesser used ones elsewhere.

Make sure you get a head start during the lock down and get your property ready to go once the quarantine is lifted.

Source: Barton Wyatt

Announcement from West Wales Properties

For many years,through good times and bad, West Wales Properties has been an integral part of the local community. Many of our partners/directors and personnel have been born, brought up, schooled and married hereabouts.

Over the decades, we have provided level headed and astute property advice to thousands of local people through storms, floods, droughts, market booms and busts, the 2008 banking crisis and all the good times. Now we will do the same through the most unprecedented event in modern history.

While we don’t know what the next few months will bring, we do understand that the emotional and economic impact of the virus will be profound and far-reaching.

For many, this crisis may turn longed-for lifestyle certainties into unwanted longer-term uncertainties, especially for those who had planned to move home this year.

Over the coming weeks and months, hundreds of thousands of people, sheltering in their homes, may not be able to take direct action, but they will be making plans. 

After this viral storm has passed, many will have re-evaluated their housing needs. Some will dream of their first home. Others with growing families will need more space. Still more, in not fully utilised larger homes, may have accepted the need or desire to downsize or rightsize.

Whatever your stage in life, West Wales Properties is here to help with free property advice and information.

During the shutdown, our office doors may not open but we are very much open. Our phone lines are open to those who would like to call and discuss their plans. Our website is open for information, and our Facebook page is providing news and ideas.

We may not be able to visit you for a valuation. But because we have lived and worked in the area for so long, and have so much local knowledge, we are more than able to discuss prices and marketing. So when we have seen the back of this global pandemic, you will be ready to press ahead.

In these uncertain times we are sure of two things: we know how strong, supportive, and resilient our community is, and we are as confident about the property market now, as we were before we ever heard of COVID-19. Everyone needs somewhere to live, and our area is still the most wonderful place to reside, work and play.