Tag Archives: Housing market

Money saving tip: Use an online estate agent

Moving house can be an expensive business, but there are a number of things you can do to reduce the cost.  Conducting your own viewings or not having a For Sale board can both save you money, as well as enabling you to take more control of the house selling process.

Another way of saving money is to use an online estate agent.  Over the past few decades, buying and selling online has taken an increasing share of our spending.  Whole companies such as Woolworths, Comet and HMV have either disappeared or completely reinvented themselves to compete with online retailers who in many cases can offer the same or even better products and services, at cheaper prices.

Here you can read our article explaining four reasons why going online might be a better approach for selling your property.  The article was published in the latest issues of Farnborough and Fleet Connection magazines.

Please click on the image to read the full article.

Check 4 Houses Proof 2 July 16-001

Property for sale

Can you ever undervalue your property?

Valuing a property is a tricky business.  You can apply logic, by looking at properties that have sold recently nearby.  You can look at overall property prices and Zoopla valuations.

But valuing a property can also come down to experience and to detail.  If there aren’t any comparable properties then you need to make your best estimate.  A property might look comparable, but the actual particular circumstances may have been different.  It may have sold for less than expected as the sellers wanted a quick sale in order to not lose something they had found.  Or it might have been immaculate inside and got lucky with the right buyer.

Ultimately a home is worth what someone will pay for it, but when you decide to put your house or flat on the market you need to decide on a starting figure.  Estate agency is a competitive business and one way of trying to win your business might be to come up with a high valuation.  Short term, this can be persuasive – “If they think they can get more money for it then let’s go with them” but overvaluing can be risky.  Of course, if you have the benefit of time then you may wish to try a price that is out of line with local market data just to see if you get lucky.  But an inflated price can put buyers off even viewing your home.  You may then have to look at your house sat on the market for weeks, constantly having to keep it ready for a viewing.  You then reduce the price and wait.  You may even have to reduce the price again which can become a negative cycle with buyers asking questions “Why has it been on the market for so long? Why have they had to reduce the price so much?”

People are understandably scared of undervaluing their property.  It is usually the biggest asset you will ever have.  You want to get the most you can to fund your move, your retirement or a change in lifestyle.  But can you ever undervalue a property?  Generally in a market such as ours we don’t believe you can undervalue.  Of course, we always look at market data and calculate what we honestly believe is a realistic valuation for your property.  But starting at a more achievable price can encourage more people to want to come round for a viewing, and then give you an offer.  Having more than one buyer wanting to buy your home puts you in an excellent position – able to push the price higher, able to choose the buyer which you feel suits you best (perhaps a lack of chain, or one with funds already in place).  If buyers really want your property then original asking prices become a starting point to see who wants the property most and what they are prepared to pay.

We always recommend to prospective sellers that they do not go with the highest valuation.  Though the pound signs can seem attractive, it is money in the bank that really matters.  Choosing a lower valuation can actually end up delivering you more.

If you are thinking of selling your property then we can help.  With all the knowledge of a local high street agent, but at the cost of an online agent we can sell your property from as little as £499 or 0.5%+VAT, saving you thousands.  Please give us a call on 01252 819725 or contact us and we can give you a free, no obligation valuation of your home.

Paul Hemmings, Check 4 Houses

Meet the Check 4 Houses team: Paul Hemmings

Selling your property can be a very stressful time but it doesn’t always need to be.  At Check 4 Houses we go out of our way to offer you the best advice, guiding and updating you through each stage of your property sale.  We offer dedicated, personalised contact from start to finish wherever you are in England, from our head office in Fleet, Hampshire.

Here’s a little more about Paul who founded Check 4 Houses in 2010, aiming to deliver a genuine, reliable and professional service for half the cost of a traditional high street agent.

Name: Paul HemmingsIMG-20140727-00407 - cropped

Job role: Founder and Director.  Dealing with valuations, meeting clients, conducting viewings and managing sales through the process.

When & why did you join Check 4 Houses: I started Check 4 Houses back in 2010 after becoming increasingly frustrated by the behaviour of many high street estate agents.  I felt that sometimes they unnecessarily complicated the selling or purchase of a property for customers.  I wanted to create a flexible and reliable service for customers that was as stress free as possible.  With the advance of the internet, there was a real opportunity to create a new way of buying and selling houses, without the high costs of high street rents and newspaper based advertising.   A genuine alternative to the traditional high street agent – at a significantly reduced cost, savings customers thousands of pounds.

What did you do before you joined Check 4 Houses: I started my career in sales, working for a major brewery company, which helped me gain an extensive knowledge of the South East region.  I also started buying and selling a few properties both in the UK and Europe, which opened my eyes to the world of estate agents and the sometimes fraught process of buying and selling houses.

Best thing about working for Check 4 Houses: Saving our customers thousands! It is gratifying to know what a difference we have made to our customers being able to afford the property they want.  Sometimes we are lucky and sales fly through (we actually managed to take on a house and sell it within less than 24 hours) but in a way the most gratifying sales are the ones that take longer to complete.  We had one sale that took over a year to go through due to various issues in the chain, but when we finally got there it was such an achievement for the customer who was at last able to move on to the property they wanted.

Best thing about living in Fleet:  I have lived in Fleet since I was 4 years old and have seen it evolve and grow over the last 35+ years.  Not only does Fleet offer great transport links, great schools and a safe place to live there is also a unique community and spirit, with fun community events such as the annual carnival.

Plans for the future: To continue to grow the business.  We are lucky that much of our business comes from referrals and for people coming back to us.  In the six years since I started the business online estate agency has really become so much more mainstream and clients are much more aware of the benefits.  Outside of work, I enjoy travelling, football and boating which is a great way to get a break from the office (as much as you can these days!).

If you are thinking of selling your property and buying your next home then we can help.  With all the knowledge of a local high street agent, but at the cost of an online agent we can sell your property from as little as £499 or 0.5%+VAT, saving you thousands.  Please give us a call on 01252 819725 or contact us and we can give you a free, no obligation valuation of your home.


Missing piece from a European jigsaw puzzle revealing British flag and Brexit question

Could before the Brexit referendum be the best time to buy your next home?

Since David Cameron announced the date for the Brexit referendum back in February, speculation has been rife about how the British people will vote.  Campaigning is now well underway with both sides fighting hard to convince us what is right for Britain’s future.  Membership of the EU has costs involved – but do they outweigh the benefits or not?  What does a Britain outside of the EU look like and will it have the same global influence or not?

One thing any political campaigning such as this can do is breed uncertainty.  That can impact economic markets, including the property market.  If people are unsure of what might happen in the coming months, they can decide to put off big decisions – including house purchases.

That can actually make this the perfect time to buy your next property, especially if you are looking to upsize.  With less buyers on the market, prices may come under pressure and deals can be had for motivated purchasers.  First time buyers may also get lucky to secure a good deal and get their foot on the property ladder.

If you are thinking of selling your property and buying your next home then we can help.  With all the knowledge of a local high street agent, but at the cost of an online agent we can sell your property from as little as £499 or 0.5%+VAT, saving you thousands.  Please give us a call on 01252 819725 or contact us and we can give you a free, no obligation valuation of your home.

Keys with house in background

Buy-to-let property rush pre stamp duty rise

Stamp duty on second properties is due to increase in April following a Treasury consultation earlier this year and as a result the buy-to-let market has seen a busy start to 2016.

From the beginning of April, most owners in England and Wales will pay a 3% surcharge on stamp duty on purchases of buy-to-let properties and second homes.  The move is designed to free up more housing for people trying to buy their first home, who may be struggling due to rising prices and lack of housing supply.  Though targeted at landlords and those buying second properties for themselves, the changes will affect anyone buying a second home.  This will include parents trying to help their children get on the housing ladder by buying them a house or flat.

The exact policy is due to be outlined in the 2016 Budget in March and landlords appear to be keen to push through any purchases prior to the changes taking affect.  The British Bankers’ Association said that the number of mortgage applications approved for house purchases was 27% higher than the same period in 2015.  Providing similar data, the Council of Mortgage Lenders reported an eight-year high in mortgage borrowing.

The new charges are expected to raise an extra £1 billion in revenue for the Treasury over the next 15 years, however there are concerns that it will not achieve its’ objective of opening up the housing market.  Landlords may simply pass on the charges to tenants through increased rents.

There is still time to get ahead of the changes and to capitalise on this latest upward surge in prices in the market so please contact us to find out how we can sell your home from as little as £499 or 0.5% + VAT.

Estate agent for sale boards

Bracknell and Reading cited as top place to live in the UK

Reading & Bracknell has topped the 2015 Good Growth for Cities index, produced by PwC and think-tank Demos.  The report compares 39 cities across the UK, looking at various factors relating to economic success and family well-being.

The success of Reading and Bracknell is down to a range of factors including high job security, high income and good levels of health.  In contrast, London was ranked the third worst place to live out of the 39 cities included due to transport congestion, lack of affordable housing and long working hours, amongst other factors.

The other cities that made the top five were Oxford, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Aberdeen.  With Reading & Bracknell, these were the exact same top five cities as in the 2014 report – only the ordering has changed.  This stability suggests that these cities are performing exceptionally well on both a short term and a longer term basis.

You can read the full report, including discovering the ranking of your own city here.

If you are thinking of buying or selling a property in Bracknell or its surrounding areas then we would be delighted to help.  With all the knowledge of a local high street agent, but at the cost of an online agent we can sell your property from as little as £499 or 0.5%+VAT, saving you thousands.  Please give us a call on 01252 819725 or contact us and we can give you a free, no obligation valuation of your home.

Pound coins on desk

Is the buy-to-let boom over yet or not?

The buy-to-let market continues to grow with lending in this sector up 40% since 2008, according to the Bank of England’s Financial Stability Committee (FPC).  Over the same period, owner occupier mortgage lending has risen just 2%.

In a recent statement the FPC expressed concerns that the growing buy-to-let property market in the UK could post a threat to wider financial stability, having the potential to “amplify” a housing boom and bust.

“The FPC is alert to the rapid growth of the market and potential developments in underwriting standards,” the committee said.  “As the market continues to grow, particularly if driven by loosening of underwriting standards, the sector could pose risks to broader financial stability, both through credit risk to banks and the amplification of movements in the housing market.”

The Bank said that buy-to-let landlords were more likely to sell if there was a significant drop in house prices, accelerating the dive in property values further.  A similar amplified effect could occur should prices go up sharply.  “Any increase in buy-to-let activity in an upswing could add further pressure to house prices. This could prompt owner-occupier buyers to take on even larger loans, thereby increasing overall risks to financial stability,” the FPC said.

So it appears that the buy-to-let boom is far from over yet but there are risks of sharp increases or decreases ahead.  If you have any concerns about your buy-to-let portfolio and want any advice about capitalising on existing high prices to release equity from some of your properties then please contact us on 01252 819725 or email us at info@check4houses.co.uk.  We can sell your property from as little as 0.5% or £499+VAT, putting more of your equity in your pocket.

Estate agent for sale boards

Housing market demand hits 11 year high

The latest housing market report by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) shows that interest in house buying is at its highest for over a decade.  According to the report 439 house hunters were registered on average per NAEA member branch in June, 15% more than in May when 383 house hunters were registered per branch and the highest since August 2004 when 582 were recorded.

This increase in demand appears to be driven by a number of factors including continued low interest rates, with buyers keen to move now and secure low rate mortgage deals before interest rates rise – expected at the turn of the year.  Mark Hayward, managing director, National Association of Estate Agents said: “Buyers are feeling more confident and those who put their plans on hold over the Election and political aftermath have kicked off their hunt, causing this massive jump in demand.”

The report echoes what we have seen in our local market, with demand continuing to outstrip supply.  The past few months have been busier than ever, with properties being sold in record time and for record prices.  Our local area of Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey continues to be a popular place to live with excellent schools, commuter links and leisure facilities.  Prices continue to rise due to high demand and low supply so you might be surprised just how much your home is now worth.  Any home you are looking to buy will also have increased in value, however there are ways to save thousands in estate agency fees that can ensure more money in your new house pot and allow you to move to the home of your choice.

To take advantage of the high demand for properties we can deliver a free valuation of your home as well as sell your property from just £499 or 0.5% + VAT, giving you thousands more to spend on your new home.  Simply give us a call on 01252 819725 or email us at info@check4houses.co.uk to find out more.

House On Keyboard

Why are online estate agents so much cheaper than high street estate agents?

The internet has changed the way we live – from how we shop to how we communicate with our friends.  Social media has become part of our everyday lives and online shopping is now a multibillion pound industry, taking an increasing share of our overall spending.  These changes apply not just to how we buy and sell books or music, but to how we buy and sell much larger, more expensive items including houses and cars.  With 90% of property buyers now searching online, the effect of the internet cannot be ignored.

The good news is that this increasing influence of the internet has opened up a whole new market for online estate agents, who can sell your property just as effectively as a traditional high street agents but at a fraction of the cost.

Historically, high street agents needed to invest in costly newspaper advertising to market your home.  Even though these costs are now significantly reduced with the impact of online advertising, high street agents still need to cover the large costs of rents and overheads for expensive high street offices.  But look what covering the high costs of rent did to our high streets when the likes of Amazon came along; huge retail firms like MFI, Woolworths, HMV and Blockbuster all struggled to adapt, with savvy shoppers not prepared to pay higher prices for the same goods and services they could get online at cheaper prices.

At online estate agents like Check 4 Houses we are able to combine the experience and knowledge of a traditional high street estate agent with the flexibility, advantages and costs of the internet.  Local experts, we know the towns and cities of Fleet, FarnboroughAldershotBasingstoke, Camberley, Yateley and Farnham inside out, yet we also recognise that 90% of property searches in the UK take place online.  Our internet based approach enables you to save thousands in agency fees – giving you more to spend on your new home whilst still benefitting from personal service from start to finish, with accompanied viewings and all the services you would expect from a local high street agent.

If you are looking to sell your home then why not check out our competitive packages.  We can sell your home from as little as £499 or 0.5% + VAT.  Please contact us on 01252 819725 for a free valuation or drop us an email and we’ll be in touch.

Word Vote with UK flag

First time property buyers – a 2015 UK election battleground

With just over 3 weeks to go till the general election, first time buyers and the property market as a whole remain a key campaigning issue.  With political parties pledging various ways to help first time buyers and support the property market, voters are being swayed over this key economic issue.

But does the property market need help?  Well despite a turbulent few years, the overall property market continues to grow and thrive, particularly in the south east and in our local areas of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire.  Prices continue to rise as demand for housing continues to outstrip supply.  Good transport links as well as exceptional green spaces and high quality educational facilities continue to make our area one of the most desirable in the country, with Hart being again voted one the most desirable place to live in the UK, and Fleet a top town to raise a family.  Recent major housing developments such as Elvetham Heath in Fleet have been quickly snapped up and there is pressing demand to build even more housing in our area to cope with supply, such as the proposed up to 5,000 new homes in Winchfield.

Of course, rising prices can be great news – particularly if you are looking to downsize, or if you had a high mortgage to property value ratio.  However, as a first time buyer, rising prices mean even great deposits required, and a recent report suggest that some young people are giving up on the prospect of ever being able to buy their own home .  As our population ages and with high elderly care costs, multi-generational living with parents and children, or even grandparents, parents and children all living together may become more of the norm, leading to increased requirements for bungalows, properties with annexes or flexible accommodation that can be catered to different family living arrangements.

Whoever actually wins the election on May 7th and takes power, we will all be watching what happens next to find out which of their election promises – both for first time buyers and the property market and as a whole have been campaigning rhetoric, and which will actually come into force.

If you are looking to make the most of rising house prices and sell your home then why not check out our competitive packages.  We can sell your home from as little as £499 or 0.5% + VAT,saving you thousands when compared to typical high street estate agents fees.  Please contact us on 01252 819725 for a free valuation or drop us an email and we’ll be in touch.