Saturday, December 26, 2009

Last Blog Post of 2009

Call me a sad so-and-so if you like but sitting here on Boxing Day morning my memory suddenly told me that 2010 is my 20th year as an independent estate agent in Ely. I joined Osbornes Property Services in December 1990 and by 1994 we were Clark & Stewart. 2006 saw us become David Clark and Company but, out of 30 years as an agent, 20 recent years have been spent in Ely. In addition I started my property sales career here as a trainee with Ekins Dilley & Handley in the High Street premises now occupied by the Cambridge Building Society.

If we could have chosen the worst moment in time to begin a new estate agency in Ely then 1990 was it! It taught me a great deal and I still have a photocopy of the bank statement that shows us going from red to black ink. If I ever need pulling back to earth then a quick glance at that statement usually does the trick.

The years have passed and we are back in that part of the cycle in the property market yet again although the last few months have felt to me like 1992. Sales then weren't booming but were achievable with the right marketing, pricing, presentation and effort.

December 2009 enjoyed exchanges and completions in good numbers but the cupboard of available homes for sale was becoming decidedly bare. Anyone reading this who is contemplating moving home in 2010 should contact me early in the New Year to arrange a free market appraisal. We're looking to make our 20th year a good one!

Predictions for 2010? If mortgage lending volume holds up then I believe we are in for a year when transaction numbers are likely to at least match 2009 with the possibility of rising numbers. We may see upward pressure on the price of sought after properties in desirable locations.  Will the stamp duty threshold change back to £125,000 from £175,000 and VAT returning to 17.5% have an effect? I reckon the impact will be marginal but may cause some additional negotiating at the point of sale. 'First Time' properties are the ones likely to bear the brunt of this as the changes have most impact on both buyers and sellers doing it for the first time.

Right, no more keyboard clattering until the New Year! I'm off to Berlin for a few days break with my family and to celebrate my birthday on the 28th - 39 again of course.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snowy Day around Ely - 18 December 2009

The drive to work was 'interesting' !

Need to talk to someone over Christmas Holiday?

No, I'm not setting up in competition with Samaritans!

These are our opening times and contact details for rental property emergencies:

CLOSED 12:00 mid day 23rd December 2009
REOPEN 09:00 am 4th January 2010
For sales & lettings assistance 31st December 2009 until mid day and on 2 & 3 January 2010 call 01353 665020. 

Lettings emergencies: call 07827 473701 

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Canvassing for Business - Part 2

My friend Jason Wilde works for Paragon Mortgage Trust and he sent me this link which several individuals had contributed to on this subject. Interesting...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Google going for a stake in the property market

Google has launched a property 'portal', in Australia initially, that will definitely rival Rightmove if rolled out in the UK, but, according to property marketing and selling experts like Sarah Beeny will also impact on estate agents as they will also be allowing private sellers to list their property for sale. At first glance it looks quite an exciting proposition (follow the link above to the BBC news report)

Personally I feel sellers would, in the main, prefer a third party to vet potential buyers, record their details and handle negotiations between buyers. It's not just a case of finding a 'buyer' but finding the best buyer at the best price who actually does have the where with all to complete a purchase.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stairway to...

My former premises at 22 Market Place Ely were being worked on again today with the arrival before 8:00am of two guys from Crescent Staircases.
When the shop unit was a Launderette the spiral staircase was removed, as the first floor was just one large water tank. When we took over and joined the premises together there was an obligation on the launderette to replace it. We didn’t need two staircases so agreed to take over the responsibility.

They look pretty good even in a dark grey primer finish!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Canvassing For Business

I can remember back in 1990/91 when I was with the forerunner of this firm (my god that's nearly 20 years ago!) that we were in the middle of a property market down turn that I personally believe was far worse than the current one. Osbornes Property Services as we were then called was suffering from a serious lack of income that also had a root in a serious lack of good saleable property to sell.

We were new, very professional, very keen, very hardworking and very keen to please but no one had heard of us. Our marketing budget was limited - we were skint to be truthful! What did we do? Well we set about making people aware of us by 'canvassing'. I wrote letters to other agents vendors, I dropped leaflets, we advertised as imaginatively as possible saying that even in that market we needed property for sale. Did it work? Yes to a degree and we certainly wound up some of the more established local estate agents who were not keen to lose instructions to newcomers like us.

20 years have rolled on. We have gone through some name changes and 'evolved' as all businesses have to do or they disappear. Not moving forward is the same as going backwards so they say. We are not used to having to canvass but will probably have to go back to it as the circumstances - not enough property on the market - are beginning to appear again. If certain other agents are reading this - and you know who you are - then please remember I've probably been doing it longer than you and I'm probably more plausable than you and, dare I say, better at it than you!

The technology available today for some agents is superb. The latest little stunt is a sheet of lined yellow legal pad, 'written' on in red ink that is mail-merged and printed but reads like a personal note from a very keen young lady who styles herself as New Business Manager. Goodness, estate agents are beginning to sound like a branch of an insurance company or big corporate business (hmmmm, haven't we been there before?) I bet this was dreamt up by the Marketing & Promotions Manager who has a degree in Marketing and experience of working for Heinz or Tesco. This note gets followed up by a note on a compliments slip saying 'Please call me as a matter of urgency quoting reference number 02037.....' Now that really is a 'personal' message! The sarcasm is 100% intentional!

The only thing missing on their little notes is a line or two about people having signed sole agency agreements and being liable to pay more than one fee. Every agent is now a member of a scheme like the Ombudsman for Estate Agents - the one I'm writing about is. They need to read the Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents. All of it would do their marketing guy the world of good but in particular item 4.m I'll repeat it here:

Advertising for New Business (Canvassing)

If you use leaflets or send letters to seek new properties for sale, you must include a warning about fee liability, including potential dual fee liability, on the part of the potential seller.

Now I need to think of something original for us to use!

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Paula at TheLittleSIGNCo has completed sign witing the back window of our little Toyota Yaris pool car. Great job and not too expensive! If you need anything sign-wise give her a call on Ely 861740
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Letting Search?

Looking for lettings information on our web site? You can now link directly to and Rightmove rentals from the 'Rentals' tab on our site.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Go For It in September!

Had an interesting e-mail from Rachel our resident independent mortgage adviser from Bright Advice. The government propose to remove the extension to the stamp duty threshold at the end of the year (currently your purchase price must be over £175,000 in order to attract tax at 1% on the whole price). Rachel is saying that with mortgage applications taking longer to process, in order to get a mortgage offer out and complete the purchase before 31st December, buyers need to be making that application in the month of September.

From 1st January the threshold is supposed to go back to £125,000 so virtually everyone will be paying 1% on their purchase - that's £1,750 at £175,000 where currently it's exempt from tax. Call us if you want further information.

New Economical Transport

In the final days of August we have acquired a new pool car - a one year old Toyota Yaris SR diesel. Amazing little car should do almost 60mpg on diesel fuel. This will make it easier for Barbara and Louise to get to viewings etc. without breaking the bank!
I’m thinking about a bit of ‘corporate branding’ but be assured it will be more subtle than some agent’s logo’d vehicles!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Rightmove iPhone App

Have you got an iPhone? If you do then you are likely to know all about 'apps'. Rightmove have created an app that uses the GPS in your phone to discover exactly where you are on the planet then serve up a listing, with photos, of the properties listed on the site that are very close to you and up to about a mile away. I downloaded it from iTunes the other day while I was waiting for an applicant to show up for a viewing and, lo and behold, the house I was about to show was top of the list!

Have a look here

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Can now blog from my iPhone!

David Clark
David Clark & Company
01353 665020
Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Late July '09

It's late July 2009 and we had a call this week from the Cambridge Building Society, which is a small lender in comparison with Lloyds-TSB/HBOS/RBS, to say they are now considering applications for 90% loan to value mortgages. Positive news we feel - hope the interest rates aren't killers!

There is a feeling that the market is improving and there is no way I'd want to pour cold water on that sentiment but let's be careful. We have properties for sale that appear to be correctly priced - cheap even - that don't attract buyers and others that we are swamped with enquiries and viewings on! Very difficult market to assess and make intelligent comment on.

There are 3 things over and above the usual statement of 'location, location, location'. These are are price, presentation/condition and location. Eighteen months ago you could have probably 2 out of 3 that weren't up to scratch and still get a sale. Now you need to 2 out of 3 that ARE right to achieve a sale.

I'm looking for new instructions please!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

General Update

It's now July and we have enjoyed just over 6 months of improved market activity – compared with 2008. In fact we can prove better figures for the last 5 months than the corresponding months of 2008 which is even more significant as we've achieved it with fewer resources. Mortgage lending still appears to be a problem and I'm sure I won't be alone in the opinion that the banks/building societies are slamming stable doors a long while after the horse galloped into the sunset. Asking first time buyers to find 20% or more in order to obtain a sensible interest rate is nearly as excessive as dishing out 125% loans! We've heard of buyers being refused a mortgage by lenders who have uncovered credit blemishes relating to £60 mobile phones, so it pays to be very careful if you're .

The Halifax and Nationwide are talking about price rises. Whilst I'm always in favour of people being positive I think this may be a little distorted. What I believe we are seeing is prices being maintained by the shortage of homes for sale. Lots of potential sellers are not prepared to accept figures which, even if they allow for their purchase being at a reduced price, don't give them enough cash to do other things as well as pay off their existing loan. The result is they grit their teeth and stay put.

I attended a Price Bailey breakfast seminar at Needhams Restaurant in Witchford the other morning (brilliant breakfast by the way!). The title was 'Confidence & Persuasion'. I won't get into detail here but there is so much of our lives and business that function on nothing more or less than 'confidence'. If the market (property) retains and nurtures the confidence we're seeing then the recovery will come quicker across the wider economy, as property drives so much of it.

We have recently entered all our homes for rent on
www.propertylive and as well as continuing on the ever popular . The web proves to be the best marketing tool for all property and far outweighs the return we get from newspapers. The other thing about the web is you can actually measure what reaction you are getting to your adverts – usually expressed as 'clicks'. These occur when someone clicks their mouse on a property ad to view it or further details. Rightmove recently held a seminar to advise agents how to maximise the results we get from some fairly simple adjustments to the way we present our client's properties and write our adverts. We will be working on this over the next few days and it includes re-taking pictures, altering the text. In fact nothing drastic but we are assured of improved results.

Homelet are the company we use to reference tenants and they also provide our landlords with rent guarantee insurance, at initially no cost to them. This lasts for the term of the initial let (6 or 12 months) but then needs to be renewed at a cost of £40 - £90 which I feel is very good value cover on a rental figure of around £600 per month. We are also encouraging tenants to take out cover in order to protect their deposit from deduction if the landlord's effects (carpets for example) are damaged and this will also cover their own contents. Check for a quote here


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shop/Office to rent

Let's be generous and say that my former tenants of 22 Market Place are another victim of the global recession – like Woolworths.

Needless to say these premises are now available for rent on the assignment of the lease which currently runs until 2016 at an annual rent of £15,500. Timing of occupation is down to the speed of solicitors and your keenness to get your business up and running in this prime, central location.

The property has a main ground floor area of approx. 40m² ( 430ft²) and a first floor kitchenette, WC and office of approx. 18m² (194ft²) .

To arrange to view call me on Ely (01353) 665020.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How did we do in the Budget?


Scheme to guarantee mortgage-backed securities to boost lending

• Stamp duty holiday for homes up to £175,000 to be extended to end of year

• Extra £80m for shared equity mortgage scheme

• £500m to kick-start stalled housing projects - including £100m for local authorities to build energy efficient homes

• £50m to upgrade housing for the armed forces

The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, has delivered his Budget for 2009.

The measures are part of the government's efforts to drag the economy out of the deepest recession since World War II. But how will the Budget affect you?

Any help for home buyers?

Yes. The current stamp duty holiday is being extended to the end of 2009. That means anyone who buys a home for less than £175,000 will, until then, continue to pay no stamp duty on their transaction.

I am worried about my home being repossessed

The scheme that lets you claim state benefits to help you pay interest on your mortgage - Income Support for Mortgage Interest (ISMI) - is being extended so the support lasts for an extra six months.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

45 Hop Row, Haddenham

Front, originally uploaded by clarky1446.

My clients bought this house through me a few years ago and have set about bringing parts up to date and restoring others. There are two reception rooms with stripped floorboards and one with a completely original fireplace. Beneath these rooms are two linked, dry cellars. The kitchen and utility have been brought up to date and on the first floor are 4 bedrooms, two with en suite showers, and a family bathroom with stylish claw-foot bath.

In the rear garden is a superb, mature Walnut tree and access to a double garage. There are other photos of the interior and the garden on the main part of our website and at an asking guide price of £330,000 I recommend you take a look!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

'Little London' - street scene view

This development in Lynn Road, Ely (central area 0.6 mile) is rapidly starting to take on a very stylish and inviting appearance. We have a show home available for viewing at weekends and also by appointment at any other time. Eight of the 17 homes are now sold or under offer and we can show you almost completed properties too. Prices start from £237,950 to £289,950 with incentives and discounts also available. Visit for further information on availability and call us on Ely (01353) 665020 to arrange your viewing.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

With February now under way I'd like your opinion on a few things, please. It won't take very long and when I have enough responses I'll be making the results known right here!

Click Here to take survey

Many thanks!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dare I Say “Green Shoots”

I hardly dare say this out loud let alone commit to print but, like this year's Snowdrops, the green shoots of activity are becoming apparent. January 2009 has seen increased activity, more viewings, more running around and, until, this the last week of the month when I thought it was all going to come to nothing, the offers started coming in and vendors were seizing the opportunity to secure a sale and move on.

Two Labour MP's were taken to task recently for daring to say positive things but I was contacted by the National Association of Estate Agents and asked to urgently complete an online survey as they had anecdotal evidence of a slight improvement in the market. The purpose was to get this 'news' to the media as soon as possible. Of course on Monday of this week The Independent managed about 2cm of text on left hand page 4 publicizing this information. Did anyone see anything better? I hope so!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2009 here we come!

Just a short commentary on the start of 2009.

Most agents weren't back until the 5th of January after finishing on the 23rd or 24th of December. Don't misunderstand me, 2008 was one of the toughest years for estate agents on record so I'm not knocking anyone who took the opportunity to recharge batteries that were severely drained by the market. We were around between Christmas and New Year and a lot of the time our phones were switched through to my mobile. During the break we let two properties and since the start of 2009 it has been the rental market that has shown most life. We let 3 on Saturday 11th alone!

So, the rental market is alive and kicking strongly – for us anyway.

Sales need to get going and we have certainly arranged plenty of viewings so we are hoping for some offers to work with from 12th January onwards. Judging by the activity on our website and Rightmove there appears to be some pent up demand. In truth the lenders need to lend – then we will have a market in recovery. Not fixed, but in recovery.

I'll keep you posted!