Category Archives: News

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.

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 ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-52647208 )

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 sales@westwalesproperties.co.uk 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.

Source: https://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2020/4/agencies-still-getting-leads-and-completing-deals-despite-lockdown

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.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS

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