Primelocation property blog of the year award 2010

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From hundreds of entries I have just heard that I am a nominee with five others for the Primelocation property blog of the year award. ‘Bit chuffed’ is an understatement.

Writing is not my day job but I started all of this because I was a bit hacked off with all the obsequious postings from those in the property world writing with agenda’s. Estate Agents bigging up the market. Other Buying Agents flogging their wares and pundits doing excel spreadsheets with wholly meaningless statistics. Nowhere was anyone looking at the the stresses, strains and bullsh*t of property and addressing it with any humour. Heaven knows there is a bundle of laughs ripe for the picking in the property world.

I fibbed a bit back there. I do have an agenda. I wanted man in the street to understand that not all Buying Agent’s talk whilst chewing plums and have black labradors. I also think that by pointing out the ironies of the property market, it might knock some of the pretentiousness out of it and help the ordinary buyer see through some of the clap trap.

So, may I unashamedly ask for your vote if I have raised even a little titter? Voting closes February 6th 2011 and truth be told, having spent many years as an Estate Agent to glean this knowledge, don’t I deserve just a little sympathy vote? 😉

 

Ten good reasons why NOT to use me as your Buying Agent

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Bullet If you’re younger, slimmer and prettier than me, you may find I spend our days out with a pinched expression.

Bullet If you like laminate flooring I may have to stay in the car.

Bullet If you think you can buy something good at 40% below market value I may laugh quite loud and quite long.

Bullet If you want me to tell the Agent that you’ll pull out of the deal if you don’t get the dishwasher, I may go into spanking mode.

Bullet If you want a house 30 minutes from London with no noise I will present you with earplugs.

Bullet If there is even the suggestion of Feng Shui I will turn into Ninja Buying Agent.

Bullet If you look like you knit your own yoghurt I may suggest you call Kirstie Allsop instead.

Bullet If the amateur surveyor friend you bring on viewings says ANYTHING, I will stiletto him into the lino.

Bullet If you and your husband have a 50% disparity in budget, be aware that my relationship skills are wholly restricted to being smarmy to Estate Agents.

Bullet I don’t have a double-barrelled name, a signet ring on my pinkie and I have been known to wear Clarks sandals.

My property predictions for 2011

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Everyone’s at it but now it’s my turn to stick my finger in the property air and put my head or something on the block. Just like all the other pundits, even those with pretty graphs, economic data going back generations and very posh accents, I shall mainly be using ‘guesswork’…. however, I had the novel, nay, rarely before tried idea of adding a dollop of common sense.

For the record, my predictions are about the South-East and of course like anyone worth their salt in the land of predictions, I have a disclaimer:

If interest rates climb more than 1% all bets are off and it will be complete carnage out there. Fingers crossed.

January to April

A time of confusion with Agents, Vendors and buyers unsure of how to price, whether to buy or whether to sell.

Transaction levels will remain very low. Financing remains very difficult to get.

Some properties will be highly-priced, some will be lowly-priced. Economic worries and low confidence will keep buyers and sellers away from from the market. With stock low, good properties will achieve mid-2010 prices. Properties ‘with issues’ will fare very poorly.

For buyers

This is probably the best time to buy this year. There will be bargains but you will have to really dig around for them. Ignore asking prices, they are meaningless, you’ll only find out the true price as you start negotiating. Many prices will be very hopeful and with lack of confidence among Vendors you may be able to knock them down a lot… but you’ll need to show you are a great buyer. Buy the best quality property in the best quality location you can afford. Getting a rank paper flat a bit cheap does not count as a bargain. This is the time to take advantage of being able to buy a good property, for yourself or as a rental investment.

For Vendors

If you have a really good property the chances are that you will get a better price than you fear. If your property is ‘problematic’ I would hold off selling – take advantage of the buoyant rental market and growing rent values if you can and wait until later in the year to sell.

The lettings market

‘I want to be a Landlord’ sums it up. Severe lack of stock, no financing for traditional first time buyers and lack of BTL mortgages stopping new Landlords entering the market. Not enough rental properties to supply the demand drives rents further up.

In summary

Prices deflated but no crash.The clever money should be buying small buy to lets and HMO’s in Central London and quality areas… and quality family homes for the medium to long term.

April to August

Confusion still around but confidence will grow as the market has shown no sign of a crash and will have proven itself relatively stable. More properties will come to the market. Buyers will be buying. However, transaction levels although higher will still be historically low. This is mainly due to the continued lack of financing. Sensible pricing should encourage people to buy and sell. Sales prices should remain around mid-2010 levels, i.e. not significantly down year on year.

For Vendors

Price realistically and there should be enough buyers to ensure a decent price.

For Buyers

There won’t be as many Vendors prepared to do really good deals but you can buy at a sensible price for the medium term.

The lettings market

Still more people wanting to rent than properties available. Financing still difficult causing tenants to stay in the rental market and keeping new Landlords out of the market. Rents still rising.

In summary

A fair time to buy and sell, with prices ‘realistic’. Still, the clever money should be investing in small buy to lets and quality homes for the medium to long term.

August to December

Prices have picked up but little change year on year. Confidence will be at it’s highest as the September season starts. Asking prices will be higher than they should be. Transactions and stock levels low, caused both by increased confidence and more distressed Vendors. (due to interest rate rises and fixed mortgage deals coming to an end). Prices achieved remain at same level.

For Vendors

With a good property you could buck the price trend upwards with September being your best bet.

For Buyers

You’ve already bought your BTL’s haven’t you?? .. so stay out of investing until the end of the year for deals, when the more desperate dregs are about. For the family home buyers there will be more competition from other buyers so you may have a fight on for the good stuff.

The Lettings Market

My, my, what a good year it’s been… if you’re a Landlord. Pity the poor reluctant tenants at the mercy of still increasing rents, with little choice in the market and no chance of buying anytime soon. Pity the Lettings Agents with a massive undersupply of new rental properties to make money on.

So to sum up, we will start the year slowly, confidence will pick up throughout the year, prices will move very little overall. Don’t buy thinking you will get any significant capital growth over the next 3 years but being a buy-to-let Landlord is a great idea if you get it right.

In other words…. STAGNATION.

Top tips for buying a home

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(1) It’s highly unlikely you are going to secure a dream home just by signing up to Rightmove.

(2) Make an effort to get to know your local estate agents and ensure they see you as a serious buyer by keeping in regular contact. Make the time to get in touch at least every couple of days to see if there is anything new on the market.

(3) Be realistic about what you can buy on your budget. Many home hunters waste months searching for the sort of property that will simply never come up in their price bracket.

(4) The more flexible you can be, the more chance you have of securing a great property. Think outside the box. Are you restricting the area too much? Does it really have to be Georgian? Could you consider converting a former commercial property?

(5) Don’t overlook a property purely because of its outside appearance. If a property is on a good road and has everything else going for it, it could still be a good buy. Consider employing the services of an exterior design company or architect to give an ugly property a beautifying facelift.

(6) Don’t waste money on an expensive survey if the house is not that old. Tradespeople will often come and check electrics, plumbing, roof etc for free and at the same time, provide a quote for any repairs or maintenance, which can be a great lever for asking price negotiations.

(7) Get a great solicitor in place, preferably one not in the dark ages who can use email and one who is a pragmatic problem-solver.

(8) Get your broker sorted early so you know exactly what your budget is and make sure they can move fast when it comes to the time to get a mortgage in place.

(9) Be really nice to the vendors and estate agents – people sell to people they like.

(10) If you know you are going to be stretched for time and/or you are not confident about making the right decision, consider appointing a professional home finder.