Primelocation Blog awards 2011- Oops, we did it again!

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Well, well, well.. thrilled that our blog has won Best property blog post of 2011, quite an achievement considering how many people are out there scribbling to a really high standard on the woes and the details of the property market.

Here’s the list of all the winners and runners up click So many people to make sure you read.

Here’s the blog that won it.. not literature and certainly not in depth property analysis with ‘graphs and things’ but a satirical wander around what I call a wag pad and the developers do not 😉 click

Buying Agent sells her house. Part 3. The marketing

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2nd week of August 2011

Photography done and it looks lovely.  Not sure about the words on the brochure but I figure no one reads them anyway, I don’t. All I need is a postcode, as many photo’s as possible and a floorplan, then I can make my decision to view.

Starting to get a bit frazzled. Dreading having people through my house. I am not Mrs Tidy and keeping the place ‘right’ will be a bore. Also I really find the thought of people viewing my house as quite upsetting. A home is not a commodity, no matter how hard you try to pretend it’s just a ‘transaction’.

Third week of August

With the brochure ready I suggest to the Agents that they call their ‘hot-box’ buyers. No, they say, we would rather give it a proper launch to maximise the excitement. I hope they know what they’re doing. D Day is set for 6th September. Schools are back and hopefully the buyers are hitting Rightmove, checking their emails and planning on getting into somewhere new before Xmas. I know full well that I have a 6 week marketing window before the buyers go into hibernation and the economy probably implodes. Fingers crossed.

First week of September

First phone call comes in- Can I bring someone around on Thursday 8th September? Then another call- I have two first viewings. More phone calls, and more viewings are booked in for the following week. I find myself interrogating the receptionist making the bookings. Are they in a chain? What LTV mortgage do they need? Do you know them? When I started asking if ‘they are nice?’  I decided to shut up. I was developing into one of those ‘hands on’  sellers that I despair of.

Thursday morning.. lot’s of Febreze, cat litter box cleaned and hidden. Bed’s made, which is a first. Cut flowers plucked from garden and I even start thinking about brewing coffee, I allow myself a wry smile and stop right there on principle. If it’s going to sell, then the smell of cookies and a cynical attempt at ‘you too can live my pretend lifestyle’ ain’t going to be the reason. I then get the hell out of there.

When I get back – they are still viewing so I hide down the lane. I watch them leave and pathetically leap on the young Estate Agent James for feedback. ‘The first one said over-priced- although his wife disagreed’ My hackles rise. Over-priced? Over-priced, I hear myself getting shrill and all the advice I give people about ‘listening carefully to feedback’ get’s dumped as I explain to the patient young James why they are WRONG!

What about the second couple? I ask

‘They seemed to like it’ he says. The Agent then has to endure my picking away at his statement. How d’you know? What’s their position? What about price? I am even annoying myself.

The next morning James calls with feedback- I am impressed. He recounts that he met the ‘might be interested’ couple in the pub last night and they were poring over the brochure, which he felt was a good sign. The first couple were ‘still thinking’ and he had yet to talk to the second couple. He tells me that this second couple were despondent about ever finding a long term family home, so they had reduced their price and search to an in-between’ townhouse which they would stay in for a couple of years. James had called them to say ‘Hey! I think I might have that dream house you really want’. Clever James- creative thinking and knowing your applicant list well is how good agents do deals.

Two hours later James calls again. He has an offer. £25k below asking- at the level I actually think it is technically ‘worth’. They are in rented. 60% LTV mortgage agreed.

I ask James ‘how much they liked it’ James tells me ‘she’ walked through the door and said ‘it’s perfect’ and didn’t stop beaming. That is what I want to hear, because that is what my reaction was. I want the buyer to have complete emotional buy in- if they have that then they are far more likely to breach the undoubted hurdles that crop up during the buying process. If they are buying on a practical basis they are far more likely to be swayed by the forthcoming economic maelstrom or by any crappy legal woes.

‘Go back and tell them I am very keen to do a deal but they were the first through the door and I have four more viewings booked already. I would be foolish to take such a hit straightaway. However, I make it clear to James to not lose them. I tell him that I would be prepared to look at less than asking but when pushed for a figure I say £5k more than I would actually take- gotta be careful, because if I told him my actual bottom line- trust me, that’s all I will get.

Phone rings ten minutes later with a higher offer. This is a very good sign. These buyers mean business, no messing around, it shows they really want it. This offer is £10k more than before- another good sign, they aren’t playing silly beggars with £1k increments. I want to close this. The thought of no more people coming around is delicious. I go back with a split the difference offer of a couple of K, 28 days to exchange and 28 days to completion thereafter and the deal is done. This has taken 22 hours. The viewings booked for next week are cancelled and the listing goes straight onto Rightmove with a big ‘under offer’ across it. Even in this market, with decent property, decently priced, ‘you snooze, you lose’.

My head is spinning. I need to find somewhere to live. I am going to move into rented. That will be straightforward, won’t it…?!

part 4 soon- sales progressing and finding a rental.

By the way.. I am rather excited at being nominated for Primelocation Blog of the Year again. A quick vote would be everso appreciated 🙂 VOTE

A Buying Agent’s sad tale of a ground floor London apartment

 

Click here to nominate.. please 🙂 Primelocation best blog

I really, really wanted to like this flat, with £2m burning a hole in my pocket my fingers are crossed. It’s over-priced but I’ll address that later, if I like it.

It’s in one of my favourite blocks in Chelsea, where I have just completed on a second floor flat. It has gardens emulating a mini-Hampstead Heath and a really nice ‘feel’, an unquantifiable but essential ingredient. Short walk to a tube and to the Kings Road makes it a spot on choice for my clients. But there are two problems I know I will have to overcome. Firstly it’s ground floor, secondly my client has no vision and can’t see past the wrong colour sofa let alone bigger issues needing creative thinking. However, I enter with hope in my luke warm heart.

It has been ‘done up like a kipper’. A beautiful Gleneagles breakfast kipper rather than an Iceland boil in the bag version.

Corded wool carpet everywhere. White shiny kitchen. Quality dark wood doors. Zebra print accessories and stupid flat sinks that hold a centimetre of water. All very predictable Chelsea 2011 but it’s what my client wants- a walk in, drop your suitcase, Harrods take-out and shake your cocktails pad.

The developers have really gone to town, spent a fortune and have done it almost perfectly. Almost.

It’s a ground floor flat and as such at least 50% of your possible viewers have disappeared at Rightmove stage. It’s a big issue. Oversea’s clients will worry about it as a secure lock-up-and-leave. Women will be worried about security and all will be concerned about people peeking in. Starting with the beautifully dressed bedrooms. They all have lovely big sash windows and no curtains. This indeed lets light pour in but also gives unadulterated views which I struggle to tear myself away from. All the bedrooms look onto a light well with what appears to be a pebble dashed, moss encrusted WW11 bunker housing boilers. At eye level. Great. Breakfast in bed watching the plumes of CO2 waft gently into Chelsea skies…. but you won’t be alone, your neighbours in all those other windows will be watching you, watching them, watching it. ‘Humph’ I think.

Then the sitting room, a lovely room but through the un-dressed windows, through the railings I stare as the neighbourhood strolls past. Almost at touching distance but most certainly at ‘locking-eyes’ distance.

‘I was hoping the ground floor issue wouldn’t be such ‘an issue’ I say to the Estate Agent. ‘My client won’t be able to see past it, whatever I say – if only they had put voile at the windows or plantation shutters that actually closed, it might have worked’.

Such a shame. There is only one thing patently wrong with this place, it’s ground floor but it seems the developers have tried to mitigate that by throwing money at everything else and hoping people won’t notice. It’s stuffed to the gunnels with glittery objets, fancy rain showers and potted orchids but all I have burnt into my retina’s is the builder walking past the window and winking at me.

This flat is not going to sell anytime soon and certainly not at anything like what they seem to be hoping for, all for the sake of a bit of John Lewis voile.

‘Actually’ says the Estate Agent, ‘the Developers, the actual money men, wanted to do something like that with the windows but their Interior Decorator said it wouldn’t go with the ‘theme’.

‘That’ll be the style over substance theme, will it?’

Silly as it seems, many buyers really don’t have vision and really won’t see past solvable negatives, so it’s crazy to freely hand those negatives to them- even on a silver salver.

The irony is, this flat was all about window dressing, except where it was needed.

…and if you would like to discuss me working on your home search .. there’s more information at www.bdihomefinders.co.uk or call me for a chat on 0845 603 6110

Buying Agent, the Royal Wedding and a London flat…

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‘We’ve got a new flat coming on, only allowing Buying Agents in for the first week, do you want to come to special viewing?’ said the uber smooth Chelsea Estate Agent.  Seems another London Vendor wants to try and avoid hoards of the un-washed rampaging through their pad. No doubt they also think they can create a fierce bidding war amongst the gaggle of Buying Agents, ironic and wrong when you consider that our clients measure us on getting the best price. However, there remains there an impression amongst sellers that Buying Agent’s clients have more money than sense. Still, can’t hurt I think, will pop along and see just how over-primped and over-priced it is.

It’s a hot day and my standard black suit uniform was not a good choice. Parking down a Belgravia back Street I took a leisurely stroll to the red brick flat tucked behind the Alice band mecca of Peter Jones. The Sloane Square shops and street cafes are palpably excited by the imminent nuptials of Prince William, regarded by many of the hair-tossing blondes quaffing espresso’s as ‘the one that got away’.

Outside the flat, the literally less cooler side-kick of Mr Uber-Smooth is waiting on the pavement, suited, booted and sweaty, rather like me. He is there to usher ‘us’ in.

I can spot an Estate Agent in a sea of suits, likewise, your standard London buying agent sticks out like a ham sandwich at a Barmitzvah. There he is, helping his client out of the Addison Lee mini-van. Eww. Tall, slim, foppish blonde hair and an air of superiority not picked up at a free school. As my Mother might have said, this chap really fancies himself. He catches my gaze and promptly dismisses me. Middle aged women aren’t on his radar of who to suck up to, unless they are Hermes toting clients. The suited client is a banker, tanned and glued to his mobile. ‘Should have come to me love’, I think, I don’t do mini-vans.

I get a special welcome at the door, a reward reserved for someone who is currently buying something from them. Talk turns to that purchase.’We need to exchange soon on that’ he says. I point out the obvious, ‘Your client shouldn’t have such a crap solicitor then’. He agrees and shuts up.

Entering the hallway, like most of these red brick mansion blocks it is dark. Really dark. The common area’s have been nicely done and the velvety carpet with brass stair rods feels inches deep. ‘Take the lift’ he says. Nope, I always take the stairs to check it doesn’t turn to glossy woodchip paper on the first landing. At the flat’s front door I am greeted with piles of Church’s brogues and the alternative choice of blue plastic bag covers for my shoes. Don’t really like the mortuary technician look so I opt for bare feet but amuse myself with the thought that as my new shoes have leeched dye onto my feet, the shoes are probably cleaner.

Peering into the hallway, I have to smile and find myself uttering to the buying agent un-doing his laces ‘Elephant Breath’. He blanks me.(Never trust a buying agent who doesn’t know his Farrow and Ball’s).

With trusty camera phone at the ready, I launch forth to take discreet piccies for this blog. Bugger, the bloody Vendor is seated at a desk. Blonde and scary looking, we nod acknowledgement and she get’s back to her lap top, surfing net-a-porter as I suspected. She is seated under the one thing I wanted a snap of, a great big Banksy style painting with the inspirational words “SHIT HAPPENS’. Graffiti is now clearly middle class.

The flat is carpeted in grey corded wool, the sort of grey that we used to only use for undercoat on drainpipes or battleships. Walls are predictably from the Farrow & Ball palette. The grey palette. Walls not painted are clothed in modern dark wood panels, with the odd Plasma TV inset. To use a technical term, this flat is done up like a kipper. It feels like an army of stylists, designers and purveyors of ‘objets chers’ to gullible buyers have spent a month titivating with their Chelsea price tagged magic wands. Nursery in Designers Guild? Tick. Orchids in pots? Tick. Alessi in the kitchen? Tick. Blanket in accent colour draped across bottom of bed? Tick. All very expensive, all very ‘yawn’.

The art work was vibrant and copied by the two accent colours scattered around the place. A shocking pink and purple theme was carried through the flat with cushions, vases, throws creating a zingy design equivalent of ice lollies against a thundery grey canvas. I am seeing purple used a lot recently, especially with hot pink. Reminded me of my favourite two felt tips when growing up in the seventies.. and my leg warmers.

Frankly, it is all far too obviously styled for my liking, the family and baby photo’s look incongruous in the very un-homely setting. For a family home it’s a  bit sad looking really. The sofa’s never been sat on and the beds have never been romped in.

Wandering down to the pavement, as usual I throw an ‘it’s a bit over-priced’ at my friendly Estate Agent as we eye incredulously the latest in customised Mini’s. Zebra skins are on so many London floors these days, now they are being parked outside. Daktari meets Chelsea.

‘No love’, he says, ‘one next door went for £250 sq ft more than this last month… And it’s not as good’. Bloody Hell, I think, thats 500 quid a square foot more than this time last year.  ‘Oversea’s dosh’, he says.

This sort of over-primping tends to put off us ordinary Brits (even one’s with £3m to spend). My Brit client’s would look at it and think, how much of this am I paying through the nose for? And frankly I come from the same ‘hackles up’ school of thought. However, the oversea’s client who thinks London is the safest place to buy, thinks prices will continue to rise and can also buy the furniture, (designed especially for the flat), thinks differently. He gets an off the shelf, no hassle, fancy pants ‘lock up and leave’. Sod the premium.

The Vendor may have got the Zeitgeist spot on by surfing Net-a-porter. For an oversea’s buyer, this flat is exactly what they want – Pret-a-Porter.

Buying Agent’s guide to decorating with colour.

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Colour is so important to our ability to express ourselves and where better to make our mark than with our homes. Kelly Hoppen may say greige, taupe or elephant breath. The middle classes may fawn, (pun intended), over Farrow and Ball’s downpipe. The Notting Hill set may worry that Nigella’s duck egg blue clashes with Jamies new pink range. But it doesn’t rattle these people…

Just think how delighted the neighbours must be with these splashes of colour in the neighbourhood.

it is of course the blending of complimentary colours that is so important.

To be really up to date one needs to blend neons and ice cream colours seamlessly

But back in the 1970’s that was less important – easy access from the kitchen to your horse was the pressing matter.

Oh, and we’re back again to that ‘ice-cream palette’.. or possibly the ‘macaroon palette’. I’m getting pistachio with palm of violets and a frisson of lime. Note lovely storage units for fast access to Alka Seltzer.

Patterns must not be underestimated when unleashing the power of colour, especially when mixing and matching with textured floor coverings.

and textures are so important. There is nothing quite like satin for bringing deep jewel colours to life. Particularly liking the contrasting orange table cloth.

Also, don’t be afraid of using window dressing. I grant you that stick on stained glass is ‘a little out there’ but nothing ventured…

and when decorating childrens rooms, it’s OK to stick to primary colours but do make sure that the wall mounted guns and ammunition work together.

…and finally, bang up to date, this London home encompasses the grasping of the eclectic design nettle. Tricia Guild must be kicking herself she didn’t come up with this Designers look… Oh.

…. loving the attention to detail of different curtain panels and the subtle introduction of gilt. Wow, just WOW

So, there you have it, my guide to enhancing your life and in these examples, mine, with colour.
For help with finding your dream property (for properties like above, we can recommend interior designers with paint brushes) find out more here

Buying Agent’s walk on the vile side…

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Everyone who knows me can assure you of my deep interest in all things Interior design. My home is a haven for all the latest trends. I can hardly move for cupcake appliqued cushions and distressed Farrow and Ball dressers. My walls are now plastered with great big chrome letters spelling L.O.V.E and Orla Kiely knick-knacks. Sadly, not everyone has my inherent good taste, so the time has come to name and shame.

What about the chap who has been watching Austin Powers a tad too much. The arrow in this shag-pile-pad creating a delicious focal point- my designer friends say all rooms should have one.

One thing I have learned very recently is that metallic wallpapers are very ‘in’. Might I suggest that they are ‘out’ again very soon.

resonant of blue skies and sunshine?

Of course tiling is still terribly popular. Not sure who gave this chap a tile cutter for Xmas but practice hasn’t made perfect. The reclaimed cast-iron drainpipe is very now though and delightfully co-ordinated with accent colours in the shower cubicle.. clever.

And of course I have told you before that Antlers are ‘so in’. However, I fear this chap has lingered a little too long in the hallowed halls of Liberty’s. A little appliqued deer head on an accent cushion really would have been enough to set the theme.

This example combines the twin trends of Antlers and stone feature walls.. double trendy.

Another trend taking hold is the practice of Burlesque dancing, well stripping to be fair. Think this example might turn Dita Von Teese a little green.

Lighting of course is sooo important. It should of course be on three levels but at least this chap made a feature of it.

Accent rugs are very in vogue…

…for that current Asian feel beloved of TK Maxx discount shelves department.

…and finally, for the vilest trend of all we have to end with John Lewis

Buying Agent’s Top 50 Property people to follow on Twitter. Feb 2011

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This is intended as a crib sheet for people new to Twitter who either work in residential property or are fascinated by it. I follow 1000 people, so clearly there are many more worthwhile ones out there. However, if you follow all of these people you will kick-start yourself straight into the Glitterati of the property Twitterati.

(1) @Rightmove

Boring and predictable of me I know, but their in-house stats are invaluable for raising debate and they actually engage.

(2) @Zoopla

and @lawrencejhall @kyreniaj who tweet on behalf.

Generally more frivolous in their postings than Rightmove but amongst the Sleb stuff is useful information.

(3) @waellis1868

A small Estate Agency showing the ‘big boys’  how Twitter should be done. Constant flow of really excellent property links.

(4) @anneashworth

‘The’ property writer for the Times Bricks and Mortar. Would be No.1 if the links Anne tweets (which are probably some of the best mainstream property articles out there), were available to non-paywall peeps.

(5) @Tepilo

and @sarahbeeny Lots of interesting tweets for consumers and property professionals.

(6) @grantshapps

Not suggesting you will enjoy this follow, main emphasis seems to be on who earns more than David Cameron. However, would be ill-advised not to follow the housing minister despite it being a part-time (why?) role.

(7) @Primelocation and @property_whore @findaproperty @thomasinagr

Usual portal stuff, slightly less active than those above but nuggets of juicy stuff.

(8) @planetproperty

A surprising high rider in the charts, as they are spring chickens in the Twitterverse. But I always click on the links to their daily pieces and I am rarely disappointed by either the content or the often very well-researched and written journalism.

(9) @propertyjourn

Engaging, interesting and some great off piste blogs as well as his broadsheet pieces, from freelance property writer Graham Norwood.

(10) @andrew_oxlade @thisismoney

Constant high quality pieces on the money side of property.

(11) @melaniebien

Doyenne of all things finance and mortgages within the media and Twitter. Sartorially and financially ‘keeping it real’.

(12) @subutcher

Queen of Twitter in the architecture and construction industries.

(13) @rupertbates

Editor of What?House and Showhouse who’s industry tweets are interspersed with rugby chants.

(14) @henrypryor

BBC property pundit and consultant to many ‘posh’ Estate Agents. His statistical analyses and conclusions of the property market make me judder between head nodding and head shaking, creating good debates.

(15) @shelter

Lest we forget what a mess the housing market is in for many, these guys are there to remind us.

(16) @eatoday

Essential follow to keep up with the intricacies of behind the scenes estate agency issues and news.

(17) @ed_mead

The nearest we have to a celebrity Estate Agent, commenting on the Central London market. Thankfully, honestly.

(18) @propertyjourno

Good straight forward property tweets with humour and personality.

(19) @jamesatupad @avoidthevoids

With a focus on the lettings side, must follows for insight into that side of the market.

(20) @propertyowl

Good and interesting property related tweets.

(21) @thereatandmouse

Interesting round up of the key property stories of the day and very well written.

(22) @davidadamsch

Tweets from Chesterton Humberts on the state of the market in real time.

(23) @marshandparsons

Peter Rollings tweets about the London market, some useful stuff (but sometimes stuffy) and overly PRish on occasion. You have been warned.

(24)  @academyblog and @housingdabble

Essential follows for those in the industry and incredibly helpful folk.

(25) @agencytrainer

Julien O’Dell an Estate Agent and a trainer of them.. essential follow for insights into the back office of agency.

(26) @propertyadd

Immersed in the world of Estate Agency and so are his very useful tweets.

(27) @liambaileyresi & writeaproperty

Tweets from the poshest of the posh, Knight Frank. Important data but could benefit from a warmer approach and more frequency.

(28) @insidehousing

The arbiter of all things related to social housing.

(29) @ricssurveyors @ricspress

Tweets from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Rarely amusing and not profligate with their tweeting but a necessary follow.

(30) @jamie_merrill

Property tweeting from the Independent. Sadly doesn’t really talk back but you won’t miss the decent stories the Independent produces by following.

(31)   @tessashepperson

A lawyer specialising in Landlord law. Excellent articles about the legal side of being a Landlord.

(32) @integraps

Estate Agent, surveyor and estate agency trainer, tweeting useful news, information and banter.

(33) @huntwriter

For ‘proper’ writing about eco and sustainable building and more…

(34) @robertaward

Knowledgable blunt tweeting about investing, developing and making money from property.

(35) @neilkurz

Feisty property tweeting from an Aylesbury Estate Agent and EPC aficionado.

(36) @theneg

Does what it says on the tin.. news and views from The Negotiator magazine.

(37) @whatsamsawtoday

Tweeting and blogging from a woman in thick of buying, renovating for investment.

(38) @estateagentdad

An anonymous Estate Agent in the West country talking about how it really is… difficult to be mean about EA’s when you follow this lovely chap. The poster boy for ‘Estate Agents are people too’.

(39) @astleysharpe

An independent Estate Agent in Milton Keynes, talking market and personal stuff brilliantly. The corporates should watch and learn.

(40) @dezeen

An essential follow for the most glorious architectural and design links from their website. Delicious.

(41) @giornalista1

Freelance property journalist who is human and engages… a rarity.

(42) @ewardhunt

A property PR looking after clients across Estate Agency and buying agents. Really good interesting tweets and she chats back.

(43) @pimlico_flats

A landlord with properties in guess where! He shouldn’t be interesting but he is.

(44) @bannerhomesplc

The only developers worth following that I have found. Bags of personality, they even make me click on their new homes links, which quite an achievement.

(45) @dwellresi

A London lettings agent who know their stuff and are happy to share insights and help out.

(46) @peterboltonking

Heads up NAEA, does not Tweet much but access to government means worth a follow for the odd tidbit of important stuff.

(47) @romansauctions

Tweeting personably about property auctions, with the odd ‘frightful’ property thrown in to delight us.

(48)  @aboutproperty

Some good property tweeting and links going on here.

(49) @aceestateagent

Kathy Griffin runs Sawdye & Harris independent EA’s in Devon. Consistently good links and blogs.

(50) @mortgage_mind

Blunt tweeting about mortgage products, tells it how it is along with a very enjoyable dollop of cheeky-chappieness.

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? 😉