Q. I’m looking to buy a larger property and was hoping to sell in September to catch the autumn rush. But the way things are, I’m not sure there’s going to be one! What should I do?

A. The market is certainly quieter right now – and has been for some time, of course. Mind you, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be an increase in activity this month, in fact we are already seeing the early signs of this in website traffic which is up by 25% from a month ago. Admittedly, it might be stretching a point to describe it as “the autumn rush!” Nevertheless, the fact remains that September usually sees something of an uplift in buyer activity – even if it’s only relative - and there’s no reason why this year should be any different. 

However, it actually doesn’t matter very much whether there is a rush or not. The reality is that the housing market always has its busier times and its quieter periods. And despite the popular belief – particularly among sellers - that a busy market is almost by definition a good market, the terms are by no means interchangeable. Yes, there may well be more prospective buyers rushing around during “busy” times. But for precisely that reason, they will generally have a lot more properties to choose from as well. 

As for whether or not you would be better advised to wait before putting your current home on the market…that all rather depends on how much you actually need to move – and the tone of your question certainly implies that you have some leeway as far as timing is concerned. 

What this really comes down to, therefore, is the perennial question – shall I sell now or hang on for a better price?

Whatever’s happening to prices generally, it’s always tempting to wait. The one tiny flaw in this argument, however, is that we are currently in a falling market, so by waiting to go on the market, you're increasing the chances of receiving lower offers. 

So, my advice is simple: if you are serious about moving, then there is really nothing to be gained by hanging on. Just be sure to listen to what your agent says about pricing – and be prepared to consider offers. Otherwise, you could be in for a rather longer wait that you bargained for!

 

What a summer it has been, record breaking in fact. Maintenance is a must for landlords this year. We have put together our top tips so you can fix small issues now and prevent them escalating later when the weather changes later in the year.

 

Property inspection

Start your checklist of things ‘to do’ with a property inspection. These should be being done a minimum of quarterly, although this can be twice a year for those tenants you feel confident with.

Arrange a mutually convenient time to meet your tenants at the property and check the conditions against the inventory report you made at the beginning. Then any changes you or they must make can be highlighted. Double check with the tenants that there’s nothing they’ve noticed that needs attention. Sometimes people find these conversations easier in person rather than emailing or phoning.

After the inspection, write it up into a report as then you and the tenants have a document to agree who needs to do what before the next inspection. It makes your expectations clear and also demonstrates your commitment to looking after the property.

Please note: Robert Williams Lettings Team completes these checks for you and provides you with a detailed report.

 

Hot weather damage

Winter is normally when we are most aware of weather affecting properties but the summer can actually be as destructive, especially with the temperatures it’s been this year. Take care to notice damage the conditions could have caused. 

Dry weather can increase subsidence, which can have serious effects on the foundations and make properties unstable. Cracks in the walls, often around weak spots like windows and doors, or extensions can be a sign this is starting.

Make sure as well that your landlord insurance covers you for subsidence as it is possibly a long term problem if it starts.

 

Garden expectations 

All gardens have suffered with the weather due to the sun. Of course waiting for the rain is an option but make sure the tenants are aware of their responsibilities too.

In the inspection report, include a garden section, a description of the current condition and how to be maintain it before winter hits. The plants, shrubs and grass must be cut back to it is clear, tidy and before the cold comes.

If the garden becomes overgrown, it can harbour pests and also make it much harder to re-let. Ensure the tenants are aware you will continue to check the outside space on your subsequent inspections.

 

Check doors and windows

Often tenants go on holiday in the summer so the property is empty. This can provide an excellent opportunity to do some work on the exterior. Focus on windows and doors, firstly that they open and close easily.

With windows, check the exterior putty around the panes. Apply lubricating oil to hinges and also replace worn out draught excluders.

A contractor can remove rotten wood and jobs like this are worth their weight as they prevent bigger problems occurring in wet winter weather.

 

Chimney and roof checks

Summer is the best time to check the top of the house and it is best to hire a contractor for this too. So many accidents happen to the inexperienced or those without the correct equipment. It is rarely worth the risk.

Get leaves and debris cleared away and check roof flashings for cracks or leaks. Ensure any tiles are affixed firmly or replaced so it’s all sturdy through winter.

Sort this sooner rather than later before the weather turns and save yourself a lot of money in the future.

‘Who you gonna call?’

If you have not got the time to carry out and write inspection reports, check gardens, assess wall cracks, ensure windows are sealed, make sure hinges are working, get up on the roof and fix it if necessary, don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all yourself. If you are a busy private landlord, please get in touch and we can easily recommend our trusted traders. Alternatively, we can talk you through the package options for managing your property so you get the investment results without the hassle.

01392 204800

 Yes. Despite what you may have read or been told, there is no such thing as a particularly good – or bad – time to buy or sell property. If that were the case, we’d all be buying or selling at the same time. In a free market such as the property market, supply and demand tend to balance each other out. For example, if sellers all put their properties on the market at the same time, all the buyers would swoop in to take advantage of the lower prices; the result being that the increased demand would push prices up.

 

A more realistic scenario is what happened in 2012 when first time buyers rushed to buy before the end of the Stamp Duty holiday. Figures released by one of the big national chains suggest that around 24,200 first purchases were made during March – twice as many as the following month. The result of this was that asking prices in the first time buyer sector increased and purchasers ended up paying the highest prices seen all year. Now Stamp Duty for first time buyers has been abolished, it's an even better time to buy.

 

So, the best time to buy – or sell – is when it suits you. If you’ve seen a property you like, and you are in a position to proceed financially, then you should go ahead.

 

All things considered, property prices are lower than they’ve been for years and increased competition from lenders means that as long as you have a reasonable deposit, there are some excellent mortgage deals around. Don't just go to your bank and accept their word for it - there are some excellent independent financial advisors locally - ask us who would suit your situation best and we can signpost you to make sure you're getting the best deal for you.

For those who are too young to remember the last time it was an issue, gazumping is what happens when a seller – having already agreed a sale – subsequently accepts a higher offer from someone else. 

The first point to make is that gazumping is not illegal. But isn’t it morally wrong? Well, that rather depends on your point of view. So, while buyers who have been gazumped will tend to regard it as a pretty low trick, the ones doing the gazumping may view it as nothing more than a perfectly legitimate use of their greater buying power. Then of course there is the seller, who might see it simply as a way of ensuring they get the best possible price for their home. 

That’s not to say that I condone the practice, however. Far from it, in fact. Being gazumped is no joke – particularly if you have already incurred expense on things like searches and a survey. 

So, to return to your question, how can you stop it? I’m afraid there is no easy answer. Some, for example, have called for gazumping to be made illegal. However, this would seriously distort the market by tilting the balance of power between buyer and seller hugely in favour of the former. After all, it’s worth remembering that the same legal leeway that allows the greedy seller to switch offers in mid-stream also enables the cynical buyer to renege on their earlier offer and put in a much lower one at the very last minute (a practice known as gazundering). 

OK, so why not make them both illegal? Well, not only would this create a legal minefield, but more importantly it would be interfering in a fairly major way in what is essentially a free market. After all, when it comes to buying or selling our most valuable asset, why shouldn’t we have the freedom to change our minds, if we want to? 

What this all boils down to is that as a buyer, your only and best defence against being gazumped is 1, to make your first offer your best offer, and 2, to ensure you are ready to proceed to exchange of contracts as quickly as possible. The shorter the time a transaction takes, the less opportunity for abuse by either party. In short, be as prepared as you possibly can.

Introduce plants

Bringing the outside in can fill a room with scent and colour. It’s a cost effective way to really brighten an area.

Choose flowers and plants that are in season. You can do this all year round, so sweetpeas in July make way for poinsettias in the winter.

Ice cream tones

This summer, pastel tones are really en vogue. That makes it the perfect time to bring them into your interior’s design. Blush pink is everywhere but that might not go with your existing theme. Celebrate these hues with bold prints or just a splash of colour.

What do I mean by the latter? Here’s a beautiful shot to give you an idea:

It’s always time for Pimms!

How about getting a drinks trolley for your home?

As gin is so fashionable (and delicious!), drinks trollies are back in. Revamped by designers like Eichholtz, they create stylish additions to living and dining rooms.

Introduce mirrors

Mirrors help bring all that sunshine into your home, lighten dark spaces and lift the ambience. Particularly useful in corridors or north facing rooms.

If you’re not sure how to spend money at home to freshen it up, either just for yourselves, or for the near future, please just get in touch. We can pop round and give you our expert opinion, for free and with no obligation, so you spend your hard earned money in the most sensible area for your home and lifestyle.

 

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