Great(er) Expectations: Why Ashford Home Sellers are Reducing Asking Prices by an Average of £22,400

 

As we leave this memorably hot summer behind us, some interesting statistics have come to light on the Ashford Property Market which will be thought provoking for both homeowners and buy to let landlords alike.

Over the last 12 months 1,542 Ashford households have changed hands compared with the 10-year average of 1,736 households per year

Yet, for this week’s article I want to discuss the current crop of Ashford’s property sellers, the prices they are asking for their homes and the prices they are actually achieving (or not, as the case may be). It is so important for all property owners to know the real story, so they can judge for themselves where they may stand in the current Ashford housing market, thus enabling them to make suitable and informed decisions… and that is why, in my blog about the Ashford Property Market, I pride myself in telling the people of Ashford the real answers, and not just the ones they may want to hear.

The national average percentage of homes selling at or above asking price currently stands at around 10%, implying around 90% go for below asking price – but by how much? Well according to Rightmove, in the Ashford area, the average difference between the ‘FINAL asking price’ and the price agreed is 3.1% … note the highlighted word ‘FINAL’ in the last statement.

You see some Estate Agents deliberately inflate their valuations to potential vendors, because it gives them a greater chance to secure the property listing on their books, over that of a competitor. This practice is called overvaluing. Now of course, every homeowner wants to get the best possible price for their property – it is quite often their single biggest asset – and some agents, knowing this, prey on those house sellers. You might ask well, what is the issue with that?

Well, you only get one chance at the market as an exciting, newly-listed property…

Everyone has access to the internet, Rightmove and Zoopla etc, and any serious buyers will know the local market like the back of their hand. If you have a 3 bed semi that is listed on the market for the price of a 3 bed detached those buyers will ignore your home. Your Ashford property soon sticks on the market and soon becomes stale, potential buyers will keep seeing your Ashford property listed on Rightmove week after week, then doubtless start to think there is perhaps something wrong with it and dismiss it even further, until you, as the vendor are forced to reduce the asking price, possibly below it’s true value (to make it appear inexpensive) to get it away.

According to our own research, the average house buyer only views 4 or 5 houses before buying – so don’t assume viewers will come to view your over-optimistically priced (overvalued) property, thinking they will knock you down – no quite the opposite!

So how widespread is overvaluing in Ashford? The results will almost certainly surprise you:

33.5% of properties in Ashford, currently on the market, have reduced their asking price by an average of 5.1% (equating to £22,400 each)

So, be realistic and you will quickly sell at a decent price to a decent, motivated buyer. First time (most of the time) enabling you to then move on to the next chapter of your life.

Is Your Ashford Property Prepared for the New Year Rush?

 

It’s the season to be jolly, but Christmas can also be a very stressful time, and as a result over the festive period many Ashford people make the decision to move home in the New Year.

What you may not realise is that Rightmove’s viewing figures soar in late December and into early January. In fact, on Boxing Day 2015 they received 31 million page views, a figure which rose to 44 million by December 30th, and last year saw a further 5% increase. With so much traffic and potential tenants, have you got your Ashford property portfolio in order, ready for the New Year rush?

If you’re planning to let out an Ashford property in the New Year, act now, as you will otherwise be missing an incredible opportunity if your Ashford property is not marketed over the festive season. With so many potential tenants online, it would be beneficial if your Ashford property was among them. We are still taking on Ashford properties to market during this period, but time is running out, so we advise you not to delay and call our office today.

Nowadays, simply listing a property online is not enough; the materials that we produce need to really capture the attention of viewers. Through high quality photography and detailed descriptions, we give any potential tenants a good base of information to allow them to make an informed decision on whether the property is right for them.

Just because your Ashford property is being marketed, doesn’t mean that viewings have to begin immediately; we can hold off conducting viewings until the New Year, building an applicant list and momentum so that when we do commence viewings we have the potential to secure a tenant extremely quickly.

Many tenants, although actively searching for their next Ashford home, will not be wanting to uproot themselves whilst the seasonal celebrations are in full swing, but they will be pleased to know that their name is high on the list so that they can be one of the first to view when you do open the doors. Having this level of interest means you will also have a choice with regard to the tenant that rents your Ashford property.

Delaying viewings also gives you time to ensure that your Ashford property is ready and presented to a standard that will spark offers. It doesn’t matter if you’re renting your Ashford property out furnished or unfurnished, your attention to detail matters. Remember, Ashford tenants will often be happy to pay higher rent for properties that are maintained and furnished to a high standard.

With wintery weather now in full force it is essential that you keep on top of the maintenance of all your Ashford properties. The damage caused by gutters simply becoming blocked by leaves can be expensive if ignored, leading to additional problems that can result in your Ashford property sitting empty whilst works are undertaken.

Condensation can also be a major cause of damp problems, and we would always recommend tenants are given advice on the best ways to tackle and prevent condensation. Giving your tenant tips on ventilation, especially when drying clothes and taking a shower, will help ensure that your property remains damp-free. If you would like guidance on this issue, please don’t hesitate to speak to a member of my team.

If you’re a new Ashford landlord and daunted by what lies ahead, we’re here to help. My team at Taylors Lettings works closely with many first-time Ashford landlords and can provide you with the valuable support and guidance you need to set you off on the right track. We want to ensure you know your responsibilities and what is expected of you in the future. With continuing changes to legislation and regulation, it is essential that you keep yourself up to date and compliant.

The New Year signifies a new start, and for many that means looking for a new Ashford home, whether as a conscious move to be closer to friends, family or a school catchment area, or simply because their circumstances have changed. Any move can be stressful, and by working together – landlord, agent and tenant – we can ensure that any rush does not feel pressured, and you can just enjoy the news that your Ashford property has been let to a great tenant.

Sourcing & Retaining Great Ashford Tenants

 

At this time of year, the big brands rely heavily on their influence in the market place to attract customers, the Christmas adverts often do not directly promote a store or even a particular product, but instead create a feeling or state of mind that captures hearts and which we can’t help but follow.

As an Ashford letting agent you would be right in thinking that our key focus is on Ashford landlords whose properties we can find tenants for and manage. However, concentrating our efforts on landlords alone does not make for a great lettings business.  We could have the finest of management packages and a glorious collection of Ashford rental properties available, but without tenants we cannot deliver on our service.

So what is our approach to sourcing Ashford tenants?

It’s not about any one thing that we do, but everything we do, from the quality of our marketing of your Ashford properties to the respect we show every tenant through our service.  It shows from the smallest of gestures to the boldest of statements. What do we mean?

Think about when you were looking to purchase an Ashford property, there were several things that would entice you to book a viewing.  First, at the most basic level, was for the property to be  listed where you are looking for it, whether on the major property websites or more local marketing materials.  Once it’s there, the property had to catch your attention immediately, and the first thing you saw, before you read any description, was the image.

There are many letting agents that do not assign the same importance to the role of the photography as we do.  Remember, your next tenants are looking for a new home; they want to be able to see what this home looks like, both inside and out, to determine whether it will suit them.  They are unlikely to waste their time booking viewings if they can’t get a very good idea from how your property is presented in the listing.

High quality photographs tell the story of the property. With images of all key rooms and spaces, tenants can start to imagine how they may furnish the property and what it might feel like to live there – in essence, they can start to build an emotional connection.  Emotions are powerful things; this is what the big brands rely on to influence our buying decisions, and we want to win tenants’ hearts from the outset.

Once they decide to view your property, each step going forward must be one that provides support and guidance.  If you have rented a property before, you will know that the process can be almost as daunting as buying a property.  With some agents treating their relationship with tenants in a less respectful way than we think is appropriate, the situation can feel intimidating with prospective tenants feeling as if they have been a nuisance and their custom isn’t important to the landlord or the letting agent.

As we’ve said, lettings is symbiotic: one element cannot work without the other.  We know this, and that no person, tenant or landlord, deserves to receive a lesser service.  Giving tenants a great experience from the outset means they have one more reason to love living in your Ashford property, treat it kindly, and honour your wishes regarding it’s usage.

Openness and directness are a key strength within our service. We are always honest with tenants and do not shy away from the difficult conversations, when they are needed.  This firm but fair approach has cemented our reputation in the area, and we are often approached by potential tenants whose wish to rent a home through a good letting agent can sometimes be greater than their preference for a particular property:

 

If your letting agent is not getting 5-star reviews from both landlords and tenants, I would love an opportunity to discuss with you, whether by email: robert@taylorslettings.co.uk or telephone: 01233 663266.

Why and How Should You Stage Your Buy to Let?

 

If you’ve invested in a property and are seeking ways to give your property an ‘edge’, there is no doubt a well-presented property is more attractive and appealing to potential tenants and, although it may not always increase rental return, it will help attract a quality tenant and reduce void periods.

What is staging?

Home staging is a term used to describe preparing a home to go onto the market to attract potential tenants, therefore letting quickly and often for a higher value.

Landlords can achieve the same effect that home staging has on the sales market, using the same principles to maximise the potential of a property for the rental market, but why?

Let’s take two new build homes, both exactly the same in design and finish, the only difference being one has been staged – dressed to appeal to buyers – and the other is an empty shell. The staged home will get more of a reaction because it already feels like a home, with potential buyers able to picture themselves living there immediately. The undressed home needs lots of imagination, which sadly not all of us have.

It does take time and some investment to stage a property, but the results are worth it. It doesn’t need to be as big a job as you might imagine, even if you are renting your property unfurnished. But before you start, make sure you are clear on the type of tenant you are seeking to attract.

Decor

Walls are bound to take some rough and tumble throughout a tenancy, no matter how careful your tenants are – just think about your own home, especially if you have children! You should use quality, durable paint and choose silk finishes rather than matt as they can handle a little more action; this will make it easier for you and your tenants to wipe away any small spills or marks.

Neutral shades should generally be used, but don’t just stick to the industry-standard magnolia – ‘neutral’ covers a wide range of shades for you to explore – taupes, greys, and off-whites should all be given consideration.

Flooring should be practical and hardwearing, but also attractive; ideally you should have carpets in living spaces and bedrooms, and laminate, stone, tile or wooden floors in the kitchen, dining room, bathrooms and entrance hall. Think about each room and what would be the best fit; again, keep in mind your budget and the type of tenants you are looking to attract.

For example, in a high-end rental you wouldn’t use cheap laminate flooring and, similarly, for a property at the lower end of the market the expense of a real wood floor would not be appropriate.

Lighting

Light can transform how a space feels; a dark room can feel drab and small, whereas when it’s filled with natural or artificial light, it is the opposite. Natural light flooding into rooms is always best, so during viewings ensure that any curtains and blinds are fully open.

Rather than a single pendant bulb in the centre of the room, investing in modern lighting, whether halogen or highly-efficient LED units, will give real impact to any room but particularly functional ‘task areas’ such as the kitchen, utility & bathroom.

The natural light in some rooms may be poor, and the time of year also affects the amount of light through windows, so always ensure the bulbs of all light fittings are working before marketing a property and that they have enough strength to light the room fully. Switching all lights on during viewings, regardless of the time of day, will ensure your property is seen by potential tenants at it’s best.

Don’t forget the exterior of the property also; your tenants want to feel safe, and knowing that a property is well lit will help them to feel secure.

Outside space

Make sure outside spaces are also presentable, particularly at the front as this will be the first area potential tenants see, so needs to make a great first impression. Also, if the property has a garden, the difference a little weeding and pruning can make is really worth it. Applicants will be able to imagine themselves spending time in the garden, rather than seeing it as an unusable space.

Furnishings

For furnished lets you can completely transform a space by adding a selection of colourful and beautiful furnishings. Liven up a sofa with a selection of contemporary cushions, a bedroom with crisp white bedding, a bathroom with fluffy, same-coloured towels, and place settings in your dining area. Make sure you keep to a colour scheme, and only select accessories that complement your chosen palette.

Over to you

I don’t believe in micromanaging my clients, but what I do want to do is give the best advice I can to ensure you are getting the most out of your properties, whilst meeting the needs of today’s tenants. For more advice on maximising the potential within your property and portfolio, just give me a call on 01233 663266.

As always, if you are currently considering a particular property as an investment, I would be pleased to give you an opinion on it; just send a link to the property listing to me at robert@taylorslettings.co.uk.

Photo by Cheryl Winn-Boujnida on Unsplash

 

Taylors Residential Lettings Limited, Company no. 6002742, Regd Office: Suite 1, Invicta Business Centre, Monument Way, Ashford TN24 0HB