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Seller’s guide

As valuable capital assets, London property invariably yields handsome rewards for the astute investor by providing vital building blocks for portfolio expansion and diversification. It is vital, therefore, to regard the selling of a home as a tactical business decision to be undertaken with the aim of reducing costs and increasing the return on investment. The difference between a moderately profitable transaction and a financial windfall is usually down to the timing and levels of preparation that you’re ready to undertake and it’s in these areas that the expertise and advice of an established estate agent becomes an essential resource.

Make a plan

There can be many reasons for selling and some are more time sensitive than others; a career relocation, schools, new addition to the family or even a need or desire to free up capital. Even if there are no time pressures, it helps to set a schedule, so that all the different components of the sale fall into place. Set aside a period for research of, not only the local property market, but also prospective estate agents, conveyance experts and local tradespersons should you need them. Assess the costs involved as well as the time their services will require.

Choosing an agent

Estate agents who claim that they can sell your property quickly are not necessarily the right people for the job. Agents will be in regular contact with you through what is widely acknowledged to be a pretty intense and stressful period, so it is important you do your homework and choose your agent carefully. You can spot the good ones by their proven experience and willingness to be transparent. Some questions to ask are:

  • How long have you been handling property for sale in London
  • What Government recognised memberships are you part of for accountability
  • What areas of London do you cover and know well
  • What other properties like mine have you sold recently
  • Can you provide evidence of your service through client testimonials
Marketing your London property

Good agents should be able to market your property readily, as soon as you instruct them. They should also take professional, high quality photographs that show your property in the best light possible, guaranteeing plenty of interest. They’ll also give you tips on getting the rooms ready. Benham and Reeves also provide a video and floorplan, not all agents do, so do ask them what is included, where and how they will be marketing your property to ensure it reaches the maximum audience.

Accurate valuation

Maintaining a careful balance between attracting buyers and maximising profits should start with a professional and accurate valuation of your property. This serves as a solid base for negotiation and will enable you to budget accurately as you decide how much to spend on getting the property ready for market.

Benham and Reeves offer a free online valuation that can be accessed via our website and this is a good place to start. As you research, you’ll soon recognise that the age, size and location of your home are major factors in any valuation calculation, as is the state of the economy and these are variables that are more or less out of your control. There are, however, some other things that can be done in order to give your property the best chance of attracting the full market price.

Of course, any potential buyer will also be carrying out a survey and that’s where things get a bit more detailed and it’s important to have most of these bases covered. These details are what potential buyers will be looking at:

  • Structural improvements
    Additional rooms like loft conversions or extra bathrooms give more space and usually add value.
  • Fittings
    Modern kitchens are a definite must.
  • Room layout
    Open-plan living has become a way of life in the UK allowing more light into the home and in keeping with contemporary lifestyle trends which focuses on the kitchen/dining space as the heart of the home.
  • Electrics/heating
    New property developments score heavily here with many home features such as climate control and underfloor heating technology. You may need to consider adding some features yourself to add value if practicable.
  • Double Glazing
    Essential for keeping those energybills in check but do ask your Estate Agent if glazing your property will add the selling value you are looking for.
  • Storage space
    Storage becomes extra important when the home has reached its limits in terms of size and floor area so creating a solution for storage might be helpful.
  • Wear and Tear
    Paintwork, flooring and kitchen units don’t last forever and heavily used areas invariably need constant care and attention so do look carefully at the state of yours and how this might impact offers from buyers.

It should be noted that once you have done your research, a formal valuation should be sought and this is best performed by a qualified agent who will need to visit your property to take a proper look at the size and condition. It is advisable to get the valuation in writing as you may need this if hoping to secure a mortgage loan in principle.Contact us if you would like to arrange a free, no obligation of your property.

Best home presentation

So you have a property with great potential, near to vital transport links and full of attractive features. How do you add further value?The next three points focus on cost-effective strategies that can be carried with minimal fuss and bother:

  • Declare war on clutter. Be ruthless about all those unused items that have been blocking doors and covering floors. Make use of dead space to create storage areas and maintain this discipline, even while you’re carrying out home improvements. In fact, decorating a home presents a golden opportunity for getting rid of any superfluous items.
  • All homes benefit from a lick of fresh paint, especially in communal areas. Keep it neutral and tasteful – this is not the time for experimentation. Leave space for the buyer’s imagination to take over as they step into the property.
  • Make sure doors close properly and that light switches work. These are things that viewers will pick up immediately and will attribute to sloppiness rather than just “wear and tear”.
Soft furnishings that have high appeal

Potential buyers looking for a home in London can be pretty much spoiled for choice, especially when they’re looking at a new build. So it’s wise to ensure you have the competitive edge when selling as there are likely to be other apartments for sale particularly if it’s a large scale property development built over several phases. You don’t have to make major renovations to impress. A selection of stylish and tasteful soft furnishings can transform your property from “Next, please” to “Yes please!”

Some estate agents have close relationships with interior design and furnishings experts and will make helpful suggestions regarding your property. High quality furnishings, accessories and artwork don’t have to cost the earth and their knack of providing eye-catching focal points often prove invaluable.

Services such as:

  • Furnishing packages
    As these are pre-designed, they can be often be delivered and installed quickly and also be tailored to suit your property.
  • Homestaging
    This service takes a more in-depth approach, but is still relatively easy to do. It involves looking at not only furniture items, but lighting, decluttering solutions and colour schemes. We would generally recommend this for larger houses although it can be an effective option if a smaller property is sticking for whatever reason.
  • Window dressing
    More than just an afterthought, getting a designer window treatment will impress potential buyers before they step across the doorway.
  • Art
    The London cultural calendar is full of affordable art events and they’re all worth a visit. Track down a picture or sculpture that complements the décor of your property and lifts it out of the ordinary. Of course, you’ll be taking your art with you when you go, but try not to be too funky – they are primarily devices for selling your property.
Viewings

Once you have instructed an agent, every viewing of your property should be treated as a potential sale. Keep the property in tip-top condition and take notice of any feedback or suggestions that might come your way; either from the agent or a prospective buyer.

Some agents do not need you to be available for every viewing but in some instances, it can be helpful – be guided by your agent.

Legal matters

Don’t leave the choice of a conveyance solicitor to the last minute or to chance. Your estate agent will be able to point you to any number of experienced professionals who will be able to take on the legal heavy lifting that goes with selling a property.

Getting your property ready involves getting your paperwork ready as well. Good solicitors will have all documentation up to date and accessible before you accept any offer. They’ll then keep in touch with your agent as to the progress of the sale and have contracts ready to sign as soon as both parties are ready.

Before your property can be marketed, you will be required to complete a property information questionnaire. This will ask you to include relevant information relating to any issues you may have regarding your property boundaries or any dispute with neighbours; whether you have appropriate approvals for any building works or freeholder consent for things like loft conversions or extensions. You will also be asked to mention any known defects. It is recommended that you be as transparent as possible from the outset as answers that are vague or incomplete are most likely to come up during the conveyancing process which could delay things and cost you more money in the long run. It could also impact the outcome of your sale.

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The London property sales market – November 2020

Lockdown has prompted many people to reassess what they want from their property purchase. Some Londoners are looking to move to a new part of the Capital, while others are looking for more space. Whatever the location, flexibility is more important than ever and a home now has to be multi-functional and able to quickly adapt to its owners’ changing needs – whether this is for working from home, home-schooling or simply having some outside space to enjoy. Demand for residential properties in London remains good, driven by many people’s need to move to a new home that can adapt to these new circumstances. Affordability remains a key issue for many though so the price bracket up to £500,000 is still the busiest, accounting for the majority of transactions. Both domestic and overseas buyers driving demand for properties Domestic buyers are driving much of this demand, but overseas buyers are also active, encouraged by the continuing weakness of the pound, Stamp Duty savings and the desire to purchase before the additional Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge of 2% for overseas buyers comes into force in April 2021. We continue to see enquiries increase from Hong Kong buyers wishing to move to London following the UK government’s plans to grant Hong Kong BN(O) visas which launches in January 2021, allowing Hong Kong nationals to work and study in the UK for five years and eventually seek British citizenship. These buyers are looking for a safe haven for their money, but also a home if they plan to move here permanently. At the moment, North West London appears to be very popular, mainly because there are strong Chinese communities already in this part of London. Some buyers are also looking to ‘try before they buy’ and are considering renting for one year and so we have been working with our lettings branches to accommodate those requests. The award-winning Beaufort Park property development in Colindale is a great option for individuals and small families. You can rent or buy here at affordable prices and anyone interested should contact us for further details. Millbrook Park in upmarket Mill Hill, NW7, is another project attracting a lot of interest from overseas investors. Our Hong Kong office will be showcasing this outstanding scheme for its launch on November 21 & 22 at the Mandarin Oriental and will welcome any local investors who want to come along and meet us. To make an appointment can book here Buyers reassess their priorities For many of us, our homes have become a real sanctuary this year and this is unlikely to change. Finding the right home is more important than ever and this applies whether the buyer is a homeowner themselves or an investor who is looking to buy a property that offers renters a home that meets their needs. Much has been talked about the way some Londoners are considering moving to the suburbs or beyond, looking for a different, perhaps quieter lifestyle. But there are still many professionals, often singles or couples, who love the buzz of living in central London and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. These professionals have good jobs in the City or central London and may work long hours, either from home or in the office. Increasingly they want to commute to work on foot, or perhaps by bike, but not on public transport. They may wish to push their budget by buying a property with an extra bedroom where they can work comfortably from home. They will almost certainly want some outside space, a balcony or a terrace, and they would like to be close to a park or other green space. The convenience of having shops and other amenities within easy reach is high on many wish lists now as many prefer a lifestyle where everything they need is nearby, without the need to travel too far. Developments such as Nine Elms Point in Vauxhall, Beaufort Park in Colindale and Imperial Wharf in Fulham all meet these criteria and, being situated amidst beautiful, landscaped gardens, they offer buyers a great quality of life. So these are the types of development that we are finding popular with buyers and renters at the moment. Beating the Stamp Duty holiday deadline We expect the market to get busier as we approach the Stamp Duty holiday deadline next Spring and already some clients are reporting to us that they have been told to expect longer than usual delays for conveyancing, carrying out building surveys and local authority searches, due to the increased demand from buyers. In some cases, buyers are waiting 20 weeks to complete – the average is usually 12 weeks. So my advice to anyone thinking about buying a property soon, is to plan well ahead and ensure you can exchange before the March 31 deadline. Contact our sales office to discuss any requirements you might have.

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