So you’ve spent the best part of your 20’s in your, much loved, one bed apartment. In that time you’ve collected: another half, a few pets and a storage facility all of which are draining your monthly income. It doesn’t take long for you to come round to the suggestion it might be time to look for somewhere a little…. I don’t know…bigger? Or perhaps you fancy yourself as a property tycoon; flipping property, like a Michelin star chef, in the hope of making a quid or two after tax…solicitors fees and potential capital games. Or maybe you want to down size, the family has all grown up, sons and daughters have flown the nest consequently the 5 bedrooms seem a little… excessive?
Whatever the reason, once you’ve decided to up sticks and met copious agents…(not so subtle suggestion…fyfemcdade?) You no doubt want to achieve, make, take home…for your new home, as much cash as possible. Yes, that is the agent’s job but there are a few simple things you can do to help, which potentially could make a sizeable difference.
Now, before you rush out and buy the latest bread-making machine or start your own ‘Great British Bake Off’ there are a few other, shall we say more subtle, ways of making your home more homely.
I realize that this is a tricky one because you LOVE your home; anyone walking through the door will obviously fall head over heels for it, as you did. They won’t mind you can’t open one of the bedroom doors fully; due to the broken wardrobe door brimming with clothes you no longer wear. Or the bathroom with the fused light or the garden that hasn’t been mowed since the mower broke last month. The sad truth is…though you might love it, someone else may find it harder to see past its quaint foibles. Simple put, if it’s broke – fix it.
If you have built-in wardrobes, I’m afraid cramming everything in it, praying no one thinks to look in is a recipe for disaster. Buyers want to see storage space, they want to know if it will fit all their shoes, coats, books, or whatever other paraphernalia they may have. They don’t want to be rained down by YOUR paraphernalia, dissolving the viewing into a clear up operation.
Put your marketing hats on, look at your property objectively, who is the type of person to buy your apartment/house…what would they be looking for? If you have a four bedroom house but one of the bedrooms is being used as an extended wardrobe, clear it out, put a bed in it or a desk…could it make a nice office? Yes, you’d hope people had a little more imagination than that, some do but a lot need a nice helping hand.
If you have a new build property and looking to flip it, without doubt, you will achieve more by furnishing it. Often what scares buyers from these sorts of properties, is not just the price for what appears to be a small box but they can’t visualize where any furniture could go, let alone fit. Empty spaces generally look smaller than ones that are dressed. You don’t need to buy cutlery but the staples; a bed, table, sofa etc are well worth the investment.
As for roof terraces, if you’ve got one. Put a chair, a table, a few plants…you want a buyer to visulizing themselves sipping a nice cold beer, Chablis, whatever their poison, after a long day at the office on their balcony. They do not want to see a washing line, a couple of bikes and, crime of crimes, a full ashtray!
As for flowers…well they are always nice but not essential. As long as your house is clean, as clutter free as possible and doesn’t smell of bins, you’re fine.
Pets; we all love them at Fyfe but we can see that Fido bounding up to lick a potential buyers face might not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you can take him out for a walk when there is a viewing, brilliant. If you could hoover Fido’s favorite sofa that now looks like Chewbacca’s distant cousin, even better.
For those of you who feel that no one could show your home better than you yourself. I get it, and you’re probably right…however, it’s really important a buyer has the opportunity to walk around picturing themselves there. What interests you; may not them. It’s also tricky as you may take an instant dislike to them, so the fact they have just offered asking and are cash becomes a personal issue as opposed an…I want to sell my house issue. I say this, but I agree it is always nice to think your home is going to someone you like; sadly this can’t always be the case.
The frustrating thing is once you have done all this, you’re bound to begin to question why you are selling. This is just how you pictured your home looking when you bought it, 5-10 years ago!
There has been a lot of debate recently about how useful or necessary Estate Agents are.
I believe, there are a lot of agencies which like to remain shrouded in a veil of mystery…why?
Beats me, what they got to hide?
So…let me endeavour to unmask the industry in the hope of providing a little insight into our usefulness and how we can achieve great results for you and provide some sanity in this crazy market. Oh, and why that % is money well spent.
I received the below from someone I’d been exchanging emails with who was interested in us potentially marketing his property.
‘Ok I'm interested.
If you were selling a property what would be the top questions to ask an agent looking to sell the property?
What are the most important factors?
I have contacted a number of agents and need to decide when to sell and with who
I look forward to your intelligent response’
Yup, that was it.
His approach maybe a little abrupt, but he has some valid questions, ones he has a right to know.
Ok, I’m interested.
Well that’s a start, always nice to have someone willing to listen.
If you were selling a property what would be the top questions to ask an agent looking to sell the property?
How would you go about marketing the property?
It is vital to get good photographs and not get an agent to do them, otherwise you could end up gaining national press for all the wrong reasons: Daily Mail
We employ a professional photographer to take pictures and draw up a floorplan. We then write a description that consists of more than:
Or, and I’m not sure what is worse, nonsense like this:
‘Slowly drink and savor the Two Double Bedrooms, an open plan Reception Room and Kitchen and get excited about the fantastically fruity roof top Terrace that adjoins a second upstairs Reception area.’
We elaborate on the layout of a property and include information on transport links and key spots nearby, be it the local gastro pub or nearest grocers. We like practical information but importantly we want to create a picture of what it would be like to live in the area.
We also employ a PR agency who are responsible for getting National press coverage on your property.
Sometimes we accidentally generate a buzz from just doing what we do….
Channel Four News...
What price would you market at and why?
The price is based on comparable property sales in the last few months in the area. That said, it’s tricky at the moment as prices in London seem to be soaring almost weekly. You don’t want to be so bullish that your property sits there but competitive enough to drive interest. It is always preferable to have more than one person interested in a property to drive offers and give confidence to buyers that they are not alone in liking somewhere. As I’ve blogged about before, no one likes sealed bids but at least you know you are buying a sought after property and therefore will always be able to sell it again.
Are you on the property portals?
Yes, all of them. Anyone looking for a property in this area, in this price range, will find it online.
What have you sold in the area, block?
Obviously depending on where it is the response is….Yes, typically we are finding that there is a huge demand for 2 bed apartments in this area due to location, proximity to the tube and say, area, plus it is a great Buy to Let or first home. I can see a couple, a young professional…etc.
What is your commission?
This information is reserved for clients, we do occasionally offer discounts but this is not always possible. We won’t however do it for nothing or charge the buyers our fees. Fyfemcdade has worked hard to get to where it is today, ploughing money back into the business enabling it to open 3 offices within 5 years. We pride ourselves on our customer service and developing relationships with our clients, we don’t waste their time or yours by forcing them to view a property that is clearly not right for them. If we did, clearly we haven’t listened to their requirements and they won’t trust us. It’s a bit like the boy who cried wolf, if you continually mess up when you do have something relevant they won’t make the effort to come out.
How long are you going to tie me in for?
We don’t tie you into a month or in some cases 16 weeks, yes 16weeks! If you haven’t sold by then I’d be seriously worried…N.B read the small print. All we ask for is some warning and a few days grace to follow up any existing leads.
Have you got existing buyers for this property on your books?
Yes, we cross market across our 3 offices, so covered by 3 sets of negotiators. We aren’t precious about who sells a property just that we get a good buyer and the right price for the owner. Oh and we congratulate each other rather than mutter, muttley style behind our laptops.
How would you go about showing the apartment?
All depends on the circumstance and what suits you. If tenanted we try to minimise any disruption so will liaise with them and block viewings. As a general rule block viewings tend to be the way forward in this aggressive market. Why? It demonstrates the level of interest in the property to buyers and creates a buzz. It can be daunting though for first time buyers so I would recommend a second viewing slot where possible.
Who will be doing an open day?
If you want one of the managers or the person you have meet to do the viewing day, we are happy to do that. Often sellers met one person who they like and then discover they have a junior, slightly clueless negotiator showing the property. That said all our negotiators are highly skilled and not one of them would feel comfortable holding an open day without being fully briefed.
What happens if you go multi, what are the plus and minus points?
Honestly, not much I can say about going multi that I’d recommend. You will end up paying more commission, and your property will be duplicated on the portals making any buyer think you are desperate to sell. DON’T DO IT, unless you HAVE TO!
Tell me more about your agency, your ethos?
• We are people centric
• We don’t wear suits
• We like brogues/bikes and dogs
• We know our areas
• We like property and people.
• We are here because 2 Scottish guys decided to create an agency which had a fresh approach to marketing and working within the industry. I think the Carlsberg ads have a lot to answer for….
Fundamentally do you like the person you are talking to, chances are if you do, buyers will. Yes, you don’t have to like the person selling a property but the property itself, but you’d be surprised what a difference it makes. You generally receive more offers when buyers trust the agent and don’t feel they are being bullied into bidding.
I have contacted a number of agents and need to decide when to sell and with who?
Truth be told, in this market, the majority of agents can sell your property. Personally I think it comes down to who you like, who’s website you find easy to navigate and who has LISTENED to what you have said.
I look forward to your intelligent response’
Well…not sure if I’d go that far but I have responded
So you may have seen these kicking around Dalston a week or two ago and it got me thinking…
I’m an estate agent, I haven’t always been but I am one now. Over the years, I have bought and sold around 6 times, I started in Fulham Broadway, then spent 10 years hopping around Highbury and Islington, then a sabbatical in West Sussex before diving back into N1. I have consequently dealt with a number of agents over the years, all generally when I was courting another profession, so I can say hand on my heart, I can understand where the above sentiment came from. That said I would also like to say a few words on behalf of those who spend their days tirelessly fighting this perception because of the careless, lack lustre actions of others.
Firstly, why do I sympathise? Well let me give you a few of the scenarios I have personally experienced….
Agents not calling me back having bid asking price, to discover the property was under offer on their website a few days later
An agent buying the property I won a bid on
An agent quoting from a crib sheet, verbatim, what he’d clearly been told by some ‘sales guru’ was a guaranteed formula for securing a deal, despite the fact I’d said I wasn’t interested in the property
Being ignored because clearly I wasn’t the right age/ sex or dressed right, to be able to afford somewhere. Big mistake.
Being told, when selling my flat, that I was a fool for not accepting an offer and I’d never get that again…just got £120,000 more now, thank you.
I’ve also witnessed agents fighting with each other because they don’t want to show someone else, not registered with them a house, despite the fact they weren’t doing anything and the said client was flying off that day.
As recent as last week, I discovered via my tenant, who was attempting not to pay his rent that he had paid my agent in Sussex £500 to remarket the property, funnily enough the agent hadn’t mentioned this to me.
So…I get it, really I do. But in our defence we aren’t all like that. Once you’ve experienced…well… that, you’re not likely to dish it back out again, got to be pretty sadistic for that. Typically you will go to the opposite extreme in a valiant attempt to lead the way in how sales/ rentals ought to be.
One of the reasons I joined Fyfemcdade was yes, I needed a job and they were suitably eccentric enough to take me on, but because they had ethics, believed in building relationships with clients, were open to new ideas, didn’t walk around in suits with clipboards, ferociously clicking ball point pens and saying ‘get in’ whilst high fiving their colleagues….shiver.
As a team, and I say a team because we work as one, we help each other, ask for advice, and admit when we are clueless so we can get the right answer back to our clients instead of constructing some elaborate nonsense that sounds good but means, nothing.
Why do we do this, because we build up a level of trust between vendors/ landlords/ buyers and tenants and as in any relationship you don’t want to be the one to mess it up. It never feels good to be the one at fault, especially if you are hurting or upsetting someone else needlessly.
We are essentially middle men but we are also neutral and often good listeners and at times therapists. It’s stressful buying and moving and it’s important to understand that and try and help where and when we can. Sometimes people just need to vent and we are here for that. At times, we are at the mercy of changing circumstances from clients and have to be the bearers of bad news, in those instances, I’d like to think it was slightly more palatable coming from us as opposed someone else.
Yes, we make money…so do you. But we earn it honourably and can go home and sleep at night.
I watch people entering our office with a variety of attitudes which vary from nervous (having been shouted out by other agents, I kid you not), smiling (they’ve seen one of our dogs lounging on the sofa, we have one in each office) or in full battle defensive gear…It gives me such pleasure to put these people at ease and see the chain mail come off.
We have a testimonial page on our website, which on first reading may make you think we held a gun at these peoples head; surely no one would ever write that, let alone for an agency, but they did, willingly, and off their own back and it is this page that I’m the most proud of.
So, yes I admit it, I’m an agent, working for a good agency with lovely people and dogs and I will not be ashamed of what I do because I, WE aren’t like that. So post this Valentine’s Day weekend, I want to give everyone out there, searching for somewhere to live, a little hope.