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The Secrets Behind What Stops Properties Selling

In this three-minute read, we look at what sellers can do to avoid their property sitting on the market.

Making a bad impression

We’ve all heard the adage that first impressions are the most important. This is definitely the case when it comes to selling your home. Smart presentation is a must as it sets the tone for the whole viewing.

First things first – kerb appeal. Does your property entice strangers to want to peek inside? If it doesn’t, make a difference by tidying up the outside of your home. Maintain the same level of pride throughout your home. Make sure you’ve cleaned and tidied and the space is smelling fresh. Clutter can be distracting, making it difficult for prospective buyers to imagine how to make your property their home.

Poor state of repair

It’s critical to make sure the basic fixtures in your home are in good working order. You may not need to replace whole bathrooms and kitchens before you go to market, as any modernisation required will be reflected in your sale price. But minor issues can create doubt and concern about what further essential work might be needed.

Fix broken door handles, attend to areas of damp and replace faulty fittings. A little bit of pride goes a long way.

The price is too high

Sounds simple, and it is. Pricing your home is not about how much it’s worth to you, it’s about being realistic. Consider the strength of the market, the area, and what similar properties around you have sold for recently.

Naturally, buyers are always looking for a bargain and there’s a fine line to tread, but take the guidance from your agent seriously. If you’re overpriced, you’ll struggle to get viewings, never mind offers.

Poor photography

Great photography of your home will make all the difference online. True first impressions begin here and if you think about how many property listings the average buyer scrolls through, it’s crucial to stand out.

TOP TIP: Remove any unnecessary objects as the eye will be drawn to these first. Dishcloths, bathroom products, piles of toys, and clutter should be out of sight for pictures – even if it just means hiding them for the photographs.

It may sound like a cliché, but fresh flowers can lift a room by their mere presence. Remember, you are creating a lifestyle that accompanies the home so your accessories should reflect that.

Human interaction is key and the right agent can make all the difference. Here at Nest in Essex, we create demand and a buzz around your property rather than solely waiting for it to be discovered online. Call us on 01268 500988 to find out more.

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When Evictions Are the Only Option

This three-minute read explores the reasons why evictions happen and how they are carried out.

Getting to the stage where you have to evict your tenants is difficult for everyone involved and should always be considered as a last resort. It might be deemed necessary when:

  • The tenant isn’t paying the rent
  • The tenant has abandoned the property
  • The tenant has broken a term of the tenancy

Due to the pandemic, the rules have changed as to when you can start eviction proceedings. Also, different tenancy types have different rules as to the process.

There is a very specific process you must follow in order to carry out an eviction. If you don’t, you can be found guilty of harassing or even illegally evicting the tenants.

In England and Wales, if your tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy, the following steps are necessary.

  1. First, you have to issue a Section 21 notice if you want the property back after a fixed term ends. If the terms of the tenancy have been broken, you must issue a Section 8 notice.
  2. After the correct paperwork has been issued, you can apply to the court for a standard possession order. This is only appropriate if your tenants haven’t left by the specified date on the notice and they owe you rent. If you’re not claiming for unpaid rent, you can apply instead for an accelerated possession order.
  3. If the tenants still won’t leave, you can apply for a warrant for possession. This allows bailiffs to get involved to remove the tenants from the property.

If you are owed rent but the tenant claims Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, you may not have to evict them. Instead, you can speak to DWP or the local council, respectively, to have the rent paid straight to you. This is called ‘managed payments’.

In Scotland, if your tenants have a Private Residential Tenancy, the following steps are necessary:

  1. To end a tenancy, you have to give the tenants a Notice to Leave. This must also have supporting evidence as to the reason why you’re asking them to leave.
  2. If the tenants don’t leave by the specified date, you can then apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber). This is often referred to as ‘The Tribunal’.

The amount of notice you have to give the tenant can be 28 days’ notice or 84 days’ notice, depending on the reasons for ending the tenancy.

It can be easy to get one or more steps wrong throughout these processes. It’s very important that you seek the correct legal advice from appropriate professionals. The cost implications of getting it wrong can be significant, so it’s worth doing it correctly in the first instance.

If you’re a landlord or a tenant and are concerned about possible eviction, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 01268 500988.

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Two Important Questions to Ask Before You Sign with an Estate Agent

In this three-minute read, we look at how to gauge if an agent is giving you an honest property valuation.

The first question a seller always asks an estate agent is: “How much can you sell my property for?”. The second is: “What is your fee?”.

This focus on price and fees makes perfect sense; understandably every seller wants to get the best possible property deal.

But before you jump in and choose an agent based solely on these two things, ask two more questions to determine if an agent is telling you the truth or a load of porkies.

Before you sign a contract, ask:

  • If there is a tie-in clause in the contract? If so, how long is it?
  • If you can terminate the agreement if you’re unhappy with the service?

Unfortunately, many sellers skip these questions, and it’s not until things go awry that they realise they’re locked into an unfavourable deal.

Tie-in periods

Some agents don’t do tie-ins at all, while others will ask that you commit to allowing them a minimum period, usually a few weeks, to market the property.

Other agents go so far as to lock you in for 24 weeks (with a 28-day notice period on top of that).

It’s up to you to decide what length of tie-in is reasonable – but make sure you understand from the outset what you’re getting into.

Overvaluing a property

It’s also worth questioning why an agent wants a 24-week tie-in. If they genuinely believe in their pricing strategy, why do they need nearly half a year to shift the property?

Unless, of course, they’ve deliberately overvalued your home to secure your custom. They know that eventually you’ll have to drop the price, but they don’t care – they’ve got you cornered.

The whole thing is a ploy to get your business. It wastes time and can jeopardise your next purchase, especially if you’re in a chain.

Bad service

Also, be wary of long notice periods. Some contracts not only commit you to an extended tie-in but require that you serve notice if you want to terminate.

So, you get to the end of a long tie-in, and think ‘hallelujah, I’m ditching these cowboys’ only to discover you’re still locked in.

Often, the longer the tie-in and notice period, the worse the service because the agent knows you can’t go elsewhere.

Top tips

  • Always do your research before choosing an agent.
  • Never sign a contract you haven’t read.
  • Remember, you can negotiate tie-in periods. They’re not set in stone, even if an agent tells you otherwise.
  • Go with a local agent with a reputation for excellent service and delivering on their promises.

From all of us here at Nest in Essex, thanks for reading.

Copyright Nest in Essex 2021.

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How to Find Your Dream Home

In this two-minute read, we give our best recommendations on how to find your dream home.

Searching for your next home can be an exciting process, but it can also feel daunting and even frustrating at times. Use these suggestions to ensure that when you’re house hunting, you remain as calm as possible.

Get your ducks in a row

There is little point going shopping without your wallet. The same thing applies to property. Before you even begin looking for a property, make sure you have spoken to an independent financial adviser first. They will help you uncover the possibilities and ensure you’re starting your search with a realistic budget in mind.

Use the internet

This is nigh on a moot point as the internet is such a ubiquitous force in all our lives nowadays. Many people begin their online browsing many months before making a move. This gives you a good impression of what’s available in your price range. Try not to limit your ‘must-have’ features using the online filters. You could miss something simply because of an input error.

Speak to estate agents

The best way to find out about the best properties for you and your needs is to speak to the experts. The estate agents that cover your preferred area will hear about properties coming to the market long before paperwork, photos, videos, etc. are done and finally put online.

Also, estate agents are trained to hear the ‘needs’ in your description of your dream home. When we search for ourselves, we can struggle to find what we really need because we’re too focused on what we ‘want’.

Be patient

It can seem really tempting to go looking at properties before your house has sold, or before your inheritance has landed, or however you’re funding the purchase. This is the quickest way to heartbreak.

If you aren’t sold or able to proceed with the purchase straightaway, the seller is unlikely to take it off the market. You then will lose out to someone who was in a better position than you. Wait to view homes ‘in the flesh’ until you’re ready to buy. It saves you a lot of time and heartache.

Don’t lowball

When you find the right property and you’re in a position to make an offer, don’t start your negotiations with a low offer. It’s normal to try a ‘cheeky’ offer but if you start really low, you risk offending the sellers. Once that’s happened, people’s defences are raised and even if you offered over the asking price, they might not want to sell to you on principle.

If you really want the property, just pay the right price.

If you’re looking for your dream home, get in touch with us on 01268 500988 and we can chat through your ‘must-haves’, ‘would-likes’, and the whole process.

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How to Switch Letting Agents (It’s Easier Than You Think)

In this three-minute read, we look at what’s involved in changing letting agents.

If your letting agent is delivering sloppy service or hitting you up for extra fees, then it’s time to think about switching.

Many landlords mistakenly think changing agents is a messy and complicated process, but it’s relatively simple.

Why change?

Most landlords switch because they’re unhappy with the level of service they’re getting from their agent.

It’s time to consider switching if:

– You find yourself doing more and more of the legwork when it comes to maintenance, repairs, and safety checks because the agent is disorganised or lazy – or both.

– The tenant is calling you because the agent’s not returning their messages.

– The agent adds a commission to contractors’ fees.

– Regular inspections are not taking place.

Finding the right agent

Before you switch, do your research and look for an agent who is:

–         Local. Many corporate chains outsource their property management services to out-of-town contractors (although they don’t tell you this when pitching for your custom). Choose a local, independent letting agent instead – they’re best placed to keep a close eye on your property and, if there’s an issue, can be on-site in a jiffy.

–         Accessible. Go with an agent who is hands-on and easy to get in touch with – they’ll be far more accountable than a third-party contractor who you’ve never met face to face.

–         Committed to using local tradespeople. Local plumbers, electricians, and gas engineers will be more likely to work to a high standard as they have a reputation in the area to protect. Avoid agents who use contractors from further afield and charge commission on contractors’ fees.

What does switching involve?

  1. Read through the contract you have with your agent and understand your notice period and any other restrictions you need to be aware of. Many landlords find it easiest to switch when a tenancy is ending or up for renewal.
  • Serve notice in writing to your letting agent. Instruct your agent to release all tenancy documents – such as electrical and gas safety certificates – to your new agent.
  • Instruct your existing letting agent to release the deposit to the new agent.
  • Notify your tenant about the change and give them the details of the new agent.

And that’s it! A few simple emails and you can be on the road to a less stressful, more successful landlord/letting agent relationship. Your new letting agent will keep a check to ensure all the right documentation arrives, and you can rest easy.

For more information about our property management services, get in touch with us here at Nest in Essex

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Great Time to Sell a Flat as Urban Life Reopens

In this two-minute article, we look at why now is a great time to sell your urban property.

Easing of pandemic restrictions has seen increased buyer demand for flats and city centre locations.

The data

Analysis of Rightmove’s 1.6 million property listings has shown that numbers of people enquiring about these types of properties has gone up by 39% since January. Bungalows similarly saw a rise in demand by 30% during the first quarter of the year. Village homes have seen a 32% increase in demand but city centres have seen an even higher rise of 35%.

Specific locations

In Sheffield city centre, there’s been a 57% increase in buyer demand. In Norwich, there has been a 63% jump, and in York, a whopping 76% since January.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s housing expert, said: “These are early signs but they certainly point to some good news for city centres across Great Britain, with a number of agents now telling me they’ve seen a marked uptick in demand from first-time buyers, and they’re managing to sell city centre flats more quickly than in earlier months of the year.”

What’s the ‘why’?

The government’s introduction of a 95% mortgage guarantee scheme has supported more first-time buyers to purchase their first home. Rightmove surveyed 1,000 first-time buyers and 17% are already using the scheme, or are planning to use it. That’s just under 1 in 5.

What does this mean?

Simply, it’s a great time to sell your urban property.

Country and coastal properties appealed to buyers when lockdown restrictions were limiting available activities. Those who were locked down in urban locations were suffering. People felt claustrophobic and missed nature and rural areas.

Now the rules have relaxed somewhat, the pleasures of urban living have become apparent once more. Young people are keen to get on the property ladder, live near their friends, and enjoy city life. Restaurants, shops, and even the cinemas need our support after the pandemic.

Also, with mortgage interest rates so low, it’s a good time to sell and put those funds into a new home.

If you’re looking to sell a property but would like to talk through your options, give us a no-obligation call today on 01268 500988.

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Landlords – Is Your Money Really Safe?

In this two-minute read, we explain why your letting agent should be part of a client money protection (CMP) scheme.

The lettings sector used to be the Wild West of the property market, with a small group of unscrupulous agents giving the industry a bad name.

Thankfully, the introduction of stricter regulations in recent years has sent many cowboy agents riding off into the sunset. 

But no industry is perfect, and landlords and tenants still need to be wary of rogue operators.

If you’re looking to do business with a letting agent, one of the first things you should check is that they are a member of a client money protection scheme (CMPS).

By law, all letting agents in England who handle ‘client money’ – in other words, hold rent or holding deposits on behalf of customers – must be a member of a CMPS. (Note: this is different to a tenant deposit scheme, which agents should also utilise.)

A CMPS is basically an insurance policy. It means that if an agent goes bust or does a runner while holding funds on behalf of clients, the landlords and tenants affected receive compensation. (This didn’t always happen in the old days.)

How can I tell if an agent is a member of a CMPS?                                        

There are six approved CMPSs: Client Money Protect, Money Shield, Propertymark, RICS, Safeagent (previously NALS), and UKALA Client Money Protection.

For the record, here at Nest in Essex, we’re members of Client Money Protect.

Agents must display details of their CMPS membership on their website and in their office. 

Always verify an agent’s membership claim by cross-checking with the relevant CMPS (you can do this online in minutes).

It’s good practice

If an agent gives you a blank look or the run-around when you ask about their CMPS membership, alarm bells should ring.

A good letting agent will have no trouble answering the question (and be impressed by your industry knowledge).

An agent who isn’t a member of a CMPS can be fined up to £30,000. Local authorities, through their Trading Standards operations, enforce these rules.

From all of us here at Nest in Essex, stay safe and thanks for reading.

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Advice on Choosing a Good Conveyancing Solicitor

This two-minute read will help you learn about conveyancing solicitors and how to find the right one for you.

Whether you instruct a conveyancer or a solicitor, they essentially do the same thing when it comes to dealing with a property transaction. The terms are often used interchangeably by people who aren’t working in the industry. This is the person who does the paperwork for you when you are buying or selling a property.

Cheap is rarely cheerful

You know the old adage: you can have fast, cheap, and good; but you can only have two at any one time. This is very true for conveyancers. ‘Fast’ isn’t always the best word to use as there are multiple variables that may slow down the process. ‘Efficient’ is what you’re looking for.

There’s no template

When getting quotes from different solicitors for the work, bear in mind that there isn’t a set template for how those quotes are presented. There can easily be hidden costs. Ideally, you’d find a solicitor who offers a guaranteed fixed fee and a ‘no sale, no fee’ promise. Otherwise, the whole deal can fall through, for whatever reason, and you still have to pay the solicitor.

Get recommendations

And then take them with a pinch of salt. Buying and selling property is something that happens so infrequently in most people’s lives. They may have had a good experience in the past but you don’t know what’s happened in that firm. Maternity leave, staff changes, even holidays can mean that a previously great firm takes a dip for a few months.

TOP TIP: Your estate agent has a great overview of the whole market. They deal with solicitors all day, every day. Ask them for their advice.

Different properties need different work

The advantage of asking your estate agent for a recommendation is that they’re used to dealing with the variety of properties in your area. Flying freeholds, chancel repair liability, coalman’s accesses: these are all things that are completely normal to deal with for some solicitors.

Others have never dealt with them before and can cause massive delays. Even worse, they can advise their clients that it’s a risky issue, simply because they don’t understand the nuances, even causing them to pull out from the purchase.

If you’re looking for a conveyancer or solicitor to help you to buy or sell a property, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We can chat you through the options. Call us on 01268 500988.