Episode 3 – (Return of the estate agent) of our regular Bath Chronicle bite sized info columns on estate agency in Bath
“Thanks in part to Mr Osborne’s stamp duty shenanigans for BTL investors and second home purchasers but also to the extraordinarily low supply levels continuing from 2015, the property year in Bath has certainly started with a heck of a bang and our owners of fresh to market property are seeing the difference in viewing numbers. After analysing seasonal trends on offers over the last decade or two, this section of the year is often the one where activity and multiple offers are at their highest but the race to beat the 1st April SDLT deadline has certainly inflated this trend in the short term and boosted footfall on applicable properties.
We’re being asked a lot at present by buyers on what the best way is to learn about new properties – there seems to be a lot of variation amongst agents in how they inform potential viewers of new instructions. Do you join mailing lists, scour the Chronicle, look in windows, search for boards, utilise social media or wait for automatic update emails from property portals? The best answer I’m afraid is to do all of them at once – a real multitasking challenge I know but, given differences between agents and the varying speeds of technological information updating , its the only way to ensure you’ve got the best chance to spot the full range of choice out there at present. After that, its boots on, umbrella up and checklists at the ready for viewings!”
“A good shepherd”
Given the somewhat tortuous nature of property transactions in England, it is crucial to efficient & smooth progress that you assemble a good team of advisors to act on your behalf. If you’re selling, that may well include someone like me but, irrespective of your position, you’ll also need a conveyancing solicitor and probably a mortgage broker and a surveyor. If this isn’t your first time dipping your toes in the market, you may already have contacts but everyone can benefit from shopping around and research – capabilities change, people move on and new offerings appear all the time. Having been scarred many times over the years whilst shepherding chains through to completion, I don’t think you can ever underestimate either a) the added value of a decent advisor acting for you in a property transaction or b) the often painful consequences of using the cheaper alternative.
Given transaction times, you’ll spend at least a couple of months dealing with your team and you’ll want to be certain they are doing their bit in your interests, efficiently and quickly. Here are some tips to start off with;
1) Choose based on competence, location and reviews, not “recommendations” from agents receiving referral fees
2) Know who the other side is using so you can match abilities
3) Consider keeping it local so you can visit in person easily for document signing or chasing
4) Know your options before going viewing so you don’t have to organise things in a rush
“Check your paperwork”
Estate Agency contracts can be complex and not reviewing them can cost you time and money. Here’s a few tips on what to watch for;
1) Leave yourself flexibility – always check the length of contract you’re signing up for & don’t get tied in to a long period. You should always have the freedom to judge your agency on results.
2) Hopefully, the agency contract doesn’t have too much small print. However, if there is, READ IT before you sign and also ensure you have not been signed up to any in-house services. Check your rights to cancel within any “cooling off” period.
3) Nail down the tailored service package you want from your agency so you know exactly what you’re going to get for your money? Where will your home get marketed/how regularly, who will do the viewings and what would the details include? How much communication are you going to get and from whom? Get this confirmed in writing by the agent before you sign up.
4) Know what you’re liable to pay from the start. Total up commission, VAT, EPC costs etc in pounds and pence. Watch out for a) fixed fees as they can often end up costing you more if the asking price isn’t achieved and b) any additional marketing charges or withdrawal fees.
In all of these discussions, keep in mind Warren Buffett’s sage advice – “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
For more information on our services, visit www.madisonoakley.co.uk