Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why buy a home now?

This week I heard about yet another professional suggesting to clients that buying a property now was a daft decision. He's entitled to his opinion but what worries me is that the only way any of us are able to look at the market is through the 'rear view mirror'. We can now accurately pinpoint the start of the current market problems as October of 2007 and the previous market 'blip' as August 1988. What we can't do is accurately forecast the bottom of the market and the beginning of the recovery – until we've already passed by it.

My belief is that we are nearer the bottom of things than a lot of so-called experts predict. The 'media' is reporting prices falling back about 15% from the peak of the market. Any truthful agent will confirm that property is being sold at 25 -30% less now, which is about the level that prices have fallen by in previous market downturns (1988-1993). So, when prices start to go the other way they will do so rapidly. It is more dangerous to buy just after the turn than just before the bottom

Why do we buy a property? Are we all over focused on property as an investment rather than a home? In a previous Blog post I mentioned the BBC advising people to think hard about buying as they had spoken to experts who thought there was around 20% more to come off prices. Assuming they are correct, If you bought a house today for £500,000 then experienced a fall of this magnitude your home (not your investment) will be worth £400,000 – but then so will all the other houses around you. If this is the 'bottom' and you then stay in the house for 20 years the cost of this fall will be about £14 a day. If you rent a home rather than buying you are at the mercy of the landlord who may decide to sell up, who won't let you decorate to your taste, may not pay his mortgage and get repossessed thus forcing you out. Even if the 20% scenario was true would you not be happy to pay £14 a day just to be secure and have the freedom to live as you want to?

This is my last blog post of 2008 and I look forward to writing even more positive posts as early as possible in 2009!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Please shut up!


 

Extracted from the BBC web site reporting on today's reduction in Base Rate to 2%


 

'I am dead keen to buy a flat or house. This is all good news, surely?

The interest rate on your prospective mortgage will probably be lower.

But, frankly, paying your monthly repayments will not be your big problem, so long as you keep your job.

The main way in which mortgages are being rationed is by lenders demanding large deposits.

Most mortgage deals now require 15%, 20% or even 25% as a down payment. And the best deals require deposits of 40%.

There is a good reason for this, by the way.

House prices are still falling fast and some experts think they could fall another 20% this coming year.

How happy will you be if our home has lost a fifth of its value in 12 months' time?

Think before you buy. '


 

What I'd really like to know is who are the 'experts' and how do they calculate the 20%? Quoting it virtually makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Well this 'expert' says prices will start to recover in early 2009. They will initially stop falling – even the Nationwide says that the rate of fall has slowed – then begin to bottom out. We have already had 14 months of falling house prices and difficult market conditions. Come on BBC, don't make it worse!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What a Rate!


The Bank of England today announced 1.5% off base rate down to 3% and that's the lowest since before I was born in 1957!! I have never seen a graph of base rates that looks like this and I only hope that the High Street banks and Building Societies now feel able to pass on some of this cut, but it will depend on the rates at which they lend money to each other.

Thinking out loud maybe people should think about investing in property now that borrowing is getting cheaper and houses are all such good value!

Follow this link to see Hometracks latest stats http://www.hometrack.co.uk/commentary_survey_271008.aspx

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Positive News!

In line with my philosophy of not being negative (realistic but not negative!) I have good news to report on the month of October 2008.
We sold more homes in October 2008 than we did in October 2007.

Now I don’t suppose that will make headlines in the national papers or the BBC but it is an encouraging sign and I think has been brought about by a number of factors:

· Sellers becoming realistic about asking / selling prices.
· Persistent, but not harassing, sales techniques.
· First time buyers being encouraged to buy by attainable lower prices.
· A mortgage service from Independent Financial Advisers, Bright Mortgage Advice that’s second to none.

If anyone reading this would like to benefit from our approach to selling homes then please call us or call in at Market Place – we’d love to help you move!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stop the negativity!

Someone said the other day that they hadn't had anything new to read on my blog for a while. After I told them they should get out more I realised that I was just building up a head of steam!


 

This week has been exasperating. For estate agents all over the UK that is probably an understatement and I think even my favourites in Government might have something stronger to say about the way the country's lenders have responded to being bailed out by the tax payer i.e. you and me.


 

To step away from the 'Big Picture' for a moment my exasperation has been caused by so called fellow professionals at a local level.


 

We have sold a development of high specification 2 bedroom apartments in a very central location, all bar two plots. Our client told us to get them sold and I found a first time buyer prepared to pay £120,000. This offer was duly accepted on a property where similar apartments had sold between £184,950 and £190,000 in the last 9 months. I make that a reduction of about 35%. After the buyer's broker had been unable to find a mortgage for 90% of the purchase our mortgage adviser was able to produce a viable product. Showing loyalty to her original broker the first time buyer went back to them to be told along the lines of "....ooohh, I'd hang on to your deposit if I were you. You don't want to be buying anything."


 

What??? Was it sour grapes because they had boobed on the mortgage? Or did they genuinely believe that 35% off was not enough. They are in danger of creating a self fulfilling prophecy if they keep advising buyers to stay out of the market.


 

The second was a firm of solicitors who must only do conveyancing as a small part of their business, or at least I hope it is!


 

A client of theirs rang them to say they had made a cash offer on a property. The response was "Oh no! You really shouldn't be making offers and buying houses in this market". Ask anyone the best time to buy anything and the answer is when the market is down. The fact that these people were offering on a fairly unique property that rarely comes to the market is pertinent but not totally relevant. Their position allowed them to pay cash now and take advantage of a poor market leaving them time to do works to the property whilst staying in their own home which could be sold when the market improves.


 

It's unfortunate that we are all going through the times we are but we don't need the professionals among us depressing things further and creating the climate for further inactivity.


 

By the way we're selling more than the national 'average' estate agent – but then you'd expect that wouldn't you!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Customer Satisfaction!







Do we need to say more?


Only Ely agent with a satisfaction score! (8.8/10)


Printed from OEA website 8 September 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Stamp Duty ‘Holiday’…So what

Today has made me certain, if it was ever in doubt, that there are only two 'professions' worse than estate agents. Media journalists and politicians.


 

That fumbling idiot today announced with great fanfare the abolition of Stamp Duty for 12 months up to the sum of £175,000. Just a few first time buyers may save themselves a few pounds but I suggest that in the main it's more of this government's 'Spin' – something it really does know how to do well.


 

By refusing to make a proper comment earlier in the summer he probably cost the jobs of thousands of people employed not just in the property industry but all those trades and manufacturers that follow on its train. A stalled property market was given another reason for buyers to wait and see what the great announcement would be.


 

So now we have the announcement only to find that hardly anyone in the UK will benefit so the delayed purchases, caused by the inept leak and fumbled comment, were all for next to nothing.


 

Even now that house prices have been falling for 10 months the average house price in the UK is around £185,000. The Halifax reckoned that last year's average price was £199,000 and the Nationwide maintain that prices have fallen £14,500 on average so far. These statistics make today's announcement appear very cynical indeed. So what is he giving away in order to 'kick start' the market? I don't think it actually amounts to more than a 'pat' rather than a kick.


 

Also let's think back to when the stamp duty threshold at £250,001 was introduced. It jumped from 1% to 3% and for ages we had buyers offering £250,000 on properties quite legitimately valued at £265,000. The same thing will happen now. Anyone with an asking price of up to £200,000 will be a target for a £175,000 bid.


 

And now for the media journalists. Fiona Phillips on GMTV today claimed that estate agents had been responsible for the country's booming house prices. How pathetic and muddle headed can you get. Imagine the agent who turned up at her home to provide a market appraisal and said "Yes, I know the other houses in the road have gone for lots of money but we want to exercise restraint so we don't want to put your house on for anywhere near that much". Would she show that agent the door?


 

Agents arrive at market assessments using comparable evidence and their knowledge of what the market will stand and buyers will pay. Her snide comment was made after a recorded film clip ended and not to someone who was able to defend their view.

Changes

Over the last 14 days my office on Market Place has been going through a transformation and building works will continue for a little while yet.


 

About 5 years ago, when the market was starting to get warmed up and lots of money was sloshing about the banking system looking for a home, we decided to take on more staff and expand the premises into what was the launderette at No.22.


 

Well ,all good things come to an end and I have now reversed that expansion. This has been in response to a number of factors but in the main due to the severe downturn in the market , my landlord conducting a rent review (this means putting it up thousands of pounds) and also down to the place where estate agent meets buyers/sellers is increasingly 'on the web' these days, rather than face to face in an office situation.


 

There is a new tenant in No.22 from about the end of August and I won't steal their thunder by announcing who they are just yet! Pass by and they are actually trading now.


 

I've taken this opportunity to improve the office flooring, re-new the facia and the window displays have needed to be changed to take account of less window space. The work has meant some disruption to the smooth running of the office and over the Bank Holiday weekend I had to remove the desks, window displays and computers while theworkmen screeded the floor and laid the new covering.


 

I'd just like to say that I am now very much "OPEN FOR BUSINESS!"


 

I'll post some pictures soon to show the new look.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cook's Delight!

This week I went to give some marketing and pricing advice on a two bedroom modern ‘cottage’ in Sutton which we had sold from new to the now owners when they were first time buyers. Nothing unusual in that you might say but, apart from the very well presented interior and the larger than average rear garden this excellent starter home concealed a secret!
Our clients are accountants and are emigrating to Australia but unfortunately have to leave behind their pride and joy in the rear garden. Following a course at Hugh Fearley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage they returned to Sutton to build their clay oven.
( http://www.rivercottage.net/ and http://www.rivercottage.net/Events37~16/BuildandBake.aspx )
They have enjoyed superb stone baked pizza from their wood-fired oven which has to be protected from the rain or it will dissolve back to it’s constituent parts! Equally it can be used for roasting meat and grilling fish. The Inghams intend to build another when they are settled in Australia and introduce clay ovens to the home of the ‘barbie’.




A talented writer, broadcaster and campaigner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is widely known for his uncompromising commitment to seasonal, ethically produced food. His books, journalism and series for Channel 4 have earned him a huge popular following.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thanks for Reading!

I've been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who have said to me "...oh, yes, I read that on your blog"! There was me thinking that I was writing without an audience.

One of the questions I get asked most often is how I lost the weight and subsequently lost the title of 'Ely's Chubbiest Estate Agent'. It is all down to the Cambridge Diet which you can find out about here http://www.cambridge-diet.com/newccinfo/19809.html
Bev, the local councellor for Cambridge Diet, is a lady with a very positive and sunny personality who helped me get there.

Anyway, enough about diets. The media is full to bursting with stuff about 'belt tightening', 'recession', 'price crashes', 'profits warnings' and 'redundancies'. This is not a market place for the faint hearted. The one area of the industry that is experiencing superb levels of growth is residential lettings as is our newly established lettings and management department. If anyone decides that they want to move but a sale is eluding them then Hilary Owen will be pleased to discuss the options available and how we can help. Call her on Ely 665020 or e-mail hilary@clarkhomes.co.uk

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Valued Opinion?

In today’s challenging sales market it is more important than ever to make sure you price your home as accurately and competitively as possible. No doubt you will have had it’s marketing price appraised by more than one estate agent, but did you actually appraise how their figures were arrived at?

Today’s agent has more tools available for arriving at an accurate figure than ever before but a recent statistic from the country’s leading property website, Rightmove, shocked me. Every agent advertising on the site has access to a tool called ‘Best Price Guide’ which enables agents to compare the property they are going out to look at with similar properties that are or have been advertised by themselves plus all other agents. The properties may be sold subject to contract, for sale or withdrawn. Another feature is the Land Registry recorded sale price. You would have thought that this section of the website would have been suffering from server overload in these difficult times but a Rightmove representative told me that more than 50% of the agents advertising had never ever used this facility!

It could be that they are using another method such as Hometrack ( http://www.hometrack.co.uk/ ) Hometrack is the UK's leading provider of residential property and housing information. Established in 1999 the business has developed into a market leader in the provision of information and analysis, which enables agents, developers and lenders to enhance the way they do business.

The Hometrack Estate Agency Marketing Report is an independent market activity report. Each report is unique and provides the agent with unparalleled market data to help justify and formulate valuation figures. When we visit a property to provide marketing and pricing advice we go armed with both the Hometrack report and the Rightmove Best Price Guide, as well as details of properties we have recently sold.


With the arrival of HIPS all agents had to become members of a redress scheme and the most popular is the Ombudsman for Estate Agents ( http://www.oea.co.uk/ ). Some agents chose to only become members for the purposes of HIPS but full members, like us, have to abide by a code of practice. The relevant section relating to giving advice on pricing is reproduced below:






So, when your chosen estate agents sit down with you in your living room, to give you their opinion on price make sure they provide you with some facts as well as a glowing insight into their sales abilities!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The new photo's there!

Thank goodness I've been able to remove that photo of me doing a hamster inpersonation!
18 stones to 14 stone 5lbs feels just brilliant.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Prices falling or floating?

If you want to know what’s really happening to house prices do you read the property press, watch the news on TV, ask the Nationwide Building Society, ask your mate down the road or ask an estate agent? I’d suggest that the latter is a good idea but you can’t get much more accurate than H M Land Registry. This is where all property transactions are recorded including the actual sale price. This information has been available in the public domain since 1st January 2005 so there are a number of websites that publish this for everyone to look up for free (www.nethouseprices.com www.mouseprice.com )

If your someone who subscribes to the newspaper or TV media for finding out about the value of your biggest asset then of late you will have the impression that house prices are in free fall and seen figures of anything between 10% and 40% reductions bandied about to everyone’s horror.

The latest Land Registry figures make interesting reading and, in my opinion, show an underlying trend that may not be good news for people trying to sell their property. I can recall from the last market ‘blip’ in 1988 – which lingered until about 1992 – that human nature made everyone resistant to reducing the price of their property. The attitude was “if I have to take £x then I’m not moving!”

The Land Registry press release is reproduced in part below:

Annual house prices in England and Wales decreased from 3.6 per cent in March to 2.7 per cent in April, taking the average to £183,626, according to the latest figures from Land Registry. This is the eighth consecutive fall in the annual rate of growth.
The monthly change for April is -0.2 per cent. The volume of transactions was also down from the same period last year, with an average of 72,479 per month between November 2007 to February 2008, compared with 103,141 per month from October 2006 to January 2007.
The falls in value indicated are relatively minor, in the great scheme of things. What is really worrying is the dramatic fall in transactions and I think this is down to resistance by home sellers to accept that the market has changed. As I mentioned above we could now be experiencing sellers deciding to stay put rather than accept a lower figure. This means that only those sellers who are really motivated to move are marketing their property and marketing at realistic prices that achieve sales.
I would like to encourage sellers, as I did back in the late ‘80’s, to get out and about actually viewing properties to see what is available and at what figure. Asking prices are very much negotiable and estate agents now need to sharpen their skills as ‘middlemen’ to bring buyers and sellers together and actually ‘negotiate’ a deal.
Everyone sitting at home and not viewing because they haven’t sold their own isn’t actually making anything happen. I’ve got vendors who are resistant to taking viewings from people who are not in a position to buy or who haven’t placed their own home on the market. Again this is short sighted as the ‘waste of time’ viewer may have a property in a saleable area with plenty of equity that they could market at a really keen price. What time is being wasted? Not seeing any viewers is the real waste of time.
Advice from here on? If you are selling then revisit your asking price with your agent and make sure it really is where it should be in today’s market. If you are thinking about buying then get out there! This is probably your best opportunity in the last 10 years to negotiate a really good deal.

Thursday, May 29, 2008






David Moss of Vertical View called on us at exactly the right time as we were looking for a way to show off the last 3 remaining apartments at The Hoist off The Vineyards in Ely. The development of apartments by Freshwater Estates (UK) Ltd are within about 2 minutes walk of the Market Place and all that central Ely has to offer including the Cathedral. What we wanted was an image that would show this relationship with the central amenities without the slightly strange perspective of Google Earth or the extortionate costs of hiring a helicopter to take the pictures.




David Clark was involved in the marketing of Freshwater’s development of ‘Barton Gate’ on Cambridge Road, Ely about 4 years ago and with Jeremy Nicholson, the MD of Freshwater, braved a platform on the front of a site teleporter to achieve a semi aerial view of this development. What has been achieved by David Moss with his specially adapted van is an infinitely variable viewing platform for the camera, at a height of up to about 100 feet above the ground. David Clark daren’t get that high above the ground and only hold on to a camera!

The Vertical View van was positioned in two locations and the mast extended. The camera is then manipulated by remote control with the images being viewed in ‘realtime’from within the van on a PC. When the image is considered right a mouse-click saves it to disk. David Moss can create a DVD of high resolution images straight away and David Clark & Company were in receipt of their pictures about 20 minutes after the ‘shoot’ was finished. Our web site is displaying these and we intend to use them as the basis for the next series of advertisments.

If you feel that your home sale would be enhanced by pictures that show more than just a flat view then call David Clark on Ely 665020 and he’ll be pleased to visit and see how the Vertical View photography can be put to work achieving interest and selling your home. David Moss is based in Little Thetford near Ely and is easily accessible for assignments.
http://www.verticalview.co.uk/
(m) 07766 591110
(Tel:) 01353 649133
(e)info@verticalview.co.uk

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I need a new photo!

Oh bye the way that picture shows me at almost 18 stones. I'm now 14 stone 5 pounds so I need a new picture!

2008 So far...

Are you a potential home buyer? Have you been scared to death by reports on the TV news and in the papers about the ‘Credit Crunch’? Or did you believe it was just a new biscuit or breakfast cereal?
My view is that you should be concerned, but not paralysed with fear. Having read and listened to the same news reports I decided to conduct some research with our mortgage brokers, Bright mortgage advice.
I asked them to tell me what percentage of the mortgages they arranged in 2006/2007 were for 125% of the purchase price. Answer : 2.5%
I asked what percentage were 100%. Answer: 5%
The balance were 95% mortgage or less.
OK, I’ll admit that the Nationwide have announced that they’ll only offer 90% or less from May 2008 but this really isn’t the end of the world. Let’s assume that we have to use Nationwide and let’s also assume that we really wanted 95% mortgage on the average local first time buyer purchase price of £150,000. This means that 5% is £7,500; so we need to raise another £7,500 from Mum & Dad, relatives or by any other means. Given that the opportunity is there now to negotiate the best deal in terms of purchase price that has been available for probably 5 years plus, then more people should be jumping at the opportunity.
Why am I saying this publicly! You might go and buy a property through someone else - how annoying would that be! Oh, by the way, Bright can still find you a 95% mortgage if you want one.
Looking back over the first 4 months of 2008 I’d like to let everyone know that we are selling more homes than 2007, at well above asking price. Most sales are being agreed in 24-48 hours with competition between, on average, 3-4 buyers. We desparately need more homes to sell to satisfy the demand from prospective buyers. Due to the effects of the Home Information Pack (HIP) contracts are being exchanged in 4-6 weeks, easily.
Did you absorb and believe every last word of that last paragraph? Why not? You’re probably reading it in a newspaper where you can read other stuff that, in our opinion, is just as unbelievable about the property and mortgage market. It’s never as good or as bad as the picture painted by the media. If you want to know about your local property market ask a recommended, local, independent estate agent. Most will tell you the absolute truth.
The whole property market and the stock market works on confidence. George Bush in the USA recently sent each household $600 (£300) to spend, in order to make the economy turn over. They were not able to pay their mortgage or loan interest with it – it had to be used to get the economy turning over by being spent with a retailer. A novel approach, but at least it injects cash right where it’s needed rather than giving Banks discretion as to how or when they pass it on. We are all currently waiting for Gordon Brown’s government injection of£50 billion to add ‘liquidity’ to the mortgage market to do its work.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Where are we?






The Market So Far in 2008



We are now virtually at the end of February 2008 and where are we in terms of the property market? Depending on whether you choose to read one newspaper or another you could be forgiven for believing that the market was 'up' so far this year or on the verge of total collapse and you should ready yourself for repossession within the next 6 months. In fact a recent TV programme took as it's title 'Repossession, Repossession, Repossession' – no doubt a play on the maxim 'Location, Location, Location'.

Well I suppose I'm only qualified to voice an opinion on Ely and district and rightly so as that's the area I operate in. I believe that this is also the key to understanding what is actually going on and what you should believe about the fate of your property price. Some years back we had a Halifax agency within our business and we were once visited by a regional guy who talked about 'micro-markets'. What he was trying to say was that you have a UK property market that is sub divided down into smaller areas which have varying market conditions pertinent to all the other economic activity going on in that area, but influenced to a lesser or greater degree by national conditions. Put simply "Listen to the local agent that's selling houses!"

Since the start of the year (in and around Ely) we have found the market to be more difficult than 2007. We have had to go back to being estate agents again in the truest sense i.e. middlemen. We have needed to broker a transaction so that two people achieved a sale and a purchase. The market has not been dead, just short of first time buyers who are probably more confused than they've ever been. If they listen to all the advice offered to them they will be delaying a purchase until whenever or trying to knock, at the very least, 10% off asking prices! In general the massive reduction is not going to happen unless the property has been seriously over-priced to start with or they've hit upon the one poor soul who must sell at any price.

Are prices under pressure? I think I can best explain by citing a real life example. I won't quote names or exact locations but can assure you this tale is true. We began marketing in late 2007 a three bedroom semi at £196,950. There was limited interest and by late January 2008 it was obvious the property needed a price reduction to stimulate the sale. The price was reduced to £189,500 (I make that 3.78%) and we then had two potential buyers at that asking price. Have prices fallen? Well if you look at the bare facts, yes. If you agree that the initial price was not as advised then no they haven't! How was this transaction made to work? The vendor who 'lost' £7,450 on their sale was able to negotiate a better purchase price on their new home when they were actually in a position to buy, having agreed a sale on their own. To be fair this is not a market for asking over-optimistic prices. Test the market for 2-3 weeks if you feel your agent has not made a convincing argument as to why it should be pitched differently. But after that time react to what the market place is saying and get it into line with current conditions.

We've sold homes in Ely and district since 1991. So that's in atrocious markets and really buoyant ones. If you would like an opinion on your 'micro-market' please let me know.

I did some checking on figures. We actually sold more in February 2008 than we did in February 2007. Hang on a minute – the property market must be on the up!






David Clark



David Clark and Company

Friday, January 25, 2008

Managing your affairs






There is something that I'd like to share with every reader of this blog article whether they are relatively young or very old:



Make a will and 100% make sure you have created a lasting power of attorney (LPA).



If you own a property and have even the smallest amount of savings you owe it to your nearest and dearest to organise things so that there is as little stress as possible. If you have a partner then each appointing the other is a good idea or your children may be the right people, or a brother or sister but you never know when you will be struck down in such a way that you are not capable of running your financial affairs and personal care. The national statistics for road accidents, heart attacks, strokes etc should serve as a pointer as to why this action is necessary.



You may have guessed that I'm speaking from personal experience and indeed I am. My 83 year old mother finally ended up in hospital after worrying me for some time. Her condition was brought on by a series of mini-strokes and these have left her with vascular dementia which is an incurable problem that will only get worse over time. We, in conjunction with our solicitor, have been battling with the newly formed 'Office of the Public Guardian' http://www.publicguardian.gov.uk/ (which replaced the Court of Protection on 1st October last year) to get access to funds in order to pay for her care in a home specifically for her condition. The order for this has only just arrived to allow an 'interim' payment and the actual court date will not be until mid-February 2008.



It is, in my opinion, an unfortunate fact that if you have savings, have bought your own home, have a personal pension over and above the state old-age pension then you will have to pay for your care until your money and assets have dwindled to £21,500. If you work on the basis of very nearly £600 per week then you will realise just how quickly everything you ever worked for will evaporate. On the other hand if you don't own a bean or live in Scotland then don't worry, you certainly won't end up with less than you have now and you will still get the care. A somewhat concealed fact is that it doesn't stop at £21,500. After this point is reached they continue to take about £5 per £100 worth of care costs until you are down to £13,500.



If you are reading this then you are obviously used to dealing with the web so follow this link and have a read.



http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Over50s/HomeAndCommunity/Carers/DG_10026855



You may want to speak to your solicitor or just download the forms but I thoroughly recommend you take some action. Every one of us will believe it is too soon, we're not old enough and any number of other excuses not to take action. Don't kid yourself!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

HIP's with the Tories




Over the course of 2007 from June onwards HIPs (Home Information Packs) have been introduced to the UK property market and now every property marketed must have one.

I have always been a supporter of HIPs (unlike a lot of estate agents) but in their original ‘pure’ form with compulsory Home Condition Reports as well as the domestic energy assessment and legal documentation. The purpose of this Blog entry is not to argue the rights and wrongs but to draw the public’s attention to the Tories’ ‘Home Buying Review’. They are anti-HIP but are looking at ways of improving the current process.

This is an opportunity for everyone to have their personal say about the home buying and selling process. The review is being conducted by Grant Shapps, Kirstie Allsopp (from Channel 4’s ‘Location, Location, Location’) and Owen Inskip (a chartered surveyor and former estate agent)

Among the areas where views are specifically sought are:

· Professionalism of estate agents: should there be a requirement for training, qualifications and regulation?
· Professionalism and attitude of solicitors: In particular the way they communicate.
· Can and should the makingand accepting of an offer be made legally binding?
· Is the ‘buyer beware’ system of buying appropriate to buying homes?
· E-conveyancing.
· De-mystifying the home buying and selling process for consumers.
· Sellers solicitors to be instructed and ready to issue a contract before the sale is agreed and when the property is marketed.
· Buyers to ensure they have a mortgage agreed in principle before they begin looking.

The consultation is online at http://www.homebuyingreview.com/ and I urge everyone who has had a moan about HIPs to visit and make their views known.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008...What lies ahead?

I would hate to appear like HBOS, Nationwide and all the others making predictions about the house sales market in that they don’t agree and have conflicting views, but I do have my own opinion!

I don’t believe we’re looking at a ‘crash’ in the same way that we had in the late 1980’s and early ‘90’s. I do believe that we will find it tougher than it has been and necessary to use every marketing tool available. Agents who have been used to just taking orders will need to relearn how to work at servicing those buyers that are out there to make sure they view and buy through them. Sellers will need to be kept closely in touch with how the market is reacting to their home and advised about how it is faring.

Initial marketing price will be important and will need regular review as things develop. At David Clark and Company most of us have been through poor markets before and you can rely on our best advice.

Happy New Year!