Gatehouse estates

Where does the time go?

People are talking of Christmas already!

It looks like there are going to be lots of properties bought and sold this festive period as one of the top selling games this Christmas is predicted to be Monopoly. It’s a new version of the old classic they are calling Monopoly Revolution, paper money has been replaced by a debit card machine, the board is circular and all the everything has been adjusted to reflect crazy London property prices. You get £2 million just for passing GO and Mayfair will set you back a cool £4 million, a huge capital gain on the £400 it cost when the game first came to the UK in 1935.

Lego is also expected to be as popular as ever but it appears kids & their dads will be building a city airport during the Queen’s speech, not houses. There are lots of toys in the top ten that I’ve never heard of but I’m sure Pumpaloons and Nurf will mean something to some of you. What did interest me is that the average price of the top toys has increased by 50 per cent from £26.16 to £39.41. Is this a sign the recession’s over?

In terms of property 2010 has been an interesting year. We had a new government who immediately scrapped Home Information Packs which lead to an increase in the amount of property on the market. We have seen a large increase in the number of houses sold in the last 12 months. The interest rate has been held at a record low. There has been a steady decline in the number of repossessions. All regions in England have experienced increases in their average property values in the last year and according to Land Registry, Cambridgeshire has seen an increase on the average home of nearly £15,000.

There will continue to be lots of speculation about house prices throughout 2011, my prediction for what it’s worth, is that prices won’t change very much one way or the other. What I am sure about is that plenty of people in Godmanchester will want to move home and seasonally the new year is a busy time. I thought this would be a good time to give you my guide on how best to prepare your property for the market. First impressions count!

You may have heard the term curb appeal on one of the many home, house, location or design programs on Channel 4. It’s become an important word in the vocabulary of Estate Agents and it is true that the first thing your buyer will see of your home is the front of it.

So, how does it look? It’s is often simple things like cutting the lawn, tidying the borders, trimming trees or hedges, staining the fence or weeding the path. Stand on the curb and have a look at your property, do the windows, facias or garage doors need re-painting? Would something as simple as a hanging basket make a difference?

Everything you can do before your Estate Agent takes that all important main photograph of your house will help attract buyers to your home.

Once through the front door we still need to be thinking of the first impressions so a viewing should never start by with your downstairs toilet!

Here comes another famous term, de-cluttering. Now I don’t subscribe to the view that you should throw away all of your possessions just to sell your house but I think it’s fair to say that some people just seem to have too much stuff. Living in your home and selling your house are two different things. Be objective because the more you can take out of a room the bigger it will look.

Take a good look at the first things you see as you come through your front door. Is it shoes, coats, or a dirty mat to wipe your feet on? Are the stairs used as a dumping ground? Is your hall clean, bright and in good decorative order, would a mirror or simply a brighter light bulb help?

In the kitchen clear as much worktop as possible by storing away the blender and the Foreman Grill and make sure your sitting room looks spacious but warm.

If you are unsure about how best to present your property for sale, just ask. All Estate Agents should be more than happy to offer advice because it will only make their job of achieving you the best price easier.

Spending a weekend preparing your home might not increase the value to that of Monopoly’s Mayfair but it could still make thousands of pounds difference.

What’s happening with UK House Prices?

There is more in the news today about UK house prices only being 10% down on the peak prices of 2007. My concern with these surveys is who they are conducted by, how do they get their information and why every new one seems to contradict the last. Why?

I’ve had a look at who does these house price surveys, how they are compiled and how the company benefits from publishing their reports. Call me skeptical but Nationwide seem to get a huge amount of publicity every month, the more extravagant the claim, the more publicity they get and maybe, just maybe they sell more mortgages? Rightmove publish surveys and also benefit from the publicity created to drive potential house hunters to their website over their competitors.

Land Registry produces statistics which are helpful. Land Registry records all completed property sales in England & Wales and is now publishing a monthly report on house prices, in addition to its quarterly survey. It has been recording and publishing the price of all property sales since April 2000.

Of all of the sales recorded by Land Registry since 2000 nearly 1.5 million properties have been sold more than once enabling the comparison of properties sold now with the price paid when it was sold before. I’d like to point out though that no allowance is made for properties that were sold a year ago, renovated at great expense and sold again?

The Land Registry’s quarterly survey is used to dream up the average UK house price. They add up all of the sale prices for that quarter and divide them by the number of sales although they take out repossession sales which to my mind make the figure higher then it really is. You also have to bear in mind that Land Registry only have the Sold Price information once the sale has completed and that can be months after you agreed the sale price. Twin this with the fact the reports are quarterly and Land Registry figures are out of date when they are published.

The Government, for some reason, has its own monthly house price index, issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). It uses lending information from fifty Mortgage lenders.

Unlike the Land Registry survey this government index does not contain information on cash purchases, which account for about a quarter of all sales making this costly Government exercise a quarter wrong and it is also two months in arrears. They also base their maths on the amount of money spent rather than quantity. Relying on expenditure in this way means that London will have a greater influence on the government’s index.

Nationwide and Halifax are Britain’s two biggest mortgage lenders and well know High Street financial institutions. They produce there reports, which often contradict each other even though their figures are often very similar, as they are both based on the purchase price agreed at survey stage. Once again though mortgage lenders only take into account their own mortgage sales and no cash transactions.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) often have there say as to what they feel is going on. This simply involves asking some of their members how they feel the market is moving. Very scientific!

Hometrack, Team & movewithus produce their own house price surveys. All three of these organisations attempt to collect information from Estate Agents who are usually paying them monthly membership fees. They simply call the Estate Agents and quiz them on the quantity of previous months enquiries, viewings, sales and exchanges. When though have you ever heard an Estate Agent say they are quiet?

Rightmove only look at asking prices for houses placed on its own website over the previous month. Rightmove only has 35% of all homes for sale and if I chose to market any house, worth £200,000 at £2 million we all know I’d never sell it but Rightmove would include it in their survey!

What is interesting is that none of the organisations producing these surveys sell houses! If you want to know the value of your property call your local independent Estate Agent, if you want to know where prices will be in a years time frankly your guess will be as good as everyone else’s!

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