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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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Ten reasons to make your home in Hampstead

For those who take comfort in knowing that most of life’s pleasures can be enjoyed within a short stroll from their front door, Hampstead is the ideal neighbourhood. Culture, beauty and well-being fill its historic streets, intriguing shops and cosy eateries. It’s no surprise that virtually anyone who appreciates beautiful surroundings will naturally gravitate towards this leafy, affluent hilltop village that offers everything needed for the perfect cosmopolitan lifestyle. Bike rides, family outings & dog walking on Hampstead Heath The largest urban parkland in Europe, Hampstead Heath is never more at its best than when the dawn mists are rising from its treelines and the air is crisp and fresh. Walking the Heath is a must - not just for the postcard-perfect views of London, but also for social interaction and none more-so than dog walking. Dog walkers are a sociable bunch and love nothing more than chatting amongst themselves while their dogs run and explore. Dog meetups are a big weekend thing on the Heath and are a great way to help socialise your pet. Information about these informal events can be obtained via numerous Facebook groups and communities which are all catalogued on Dogvine. Wild swimming in Hampstead Ponds The benefits of wild swimming have been recognised since ancient times and is championed by pioneers like Wim Hoff. Recent years have seen an explosion of interest and Hampstead, with its year-round, open-air swimming ponds is the natural destination for enthusiasts and experimenters alike. There are three ponds on Hampstead Heath: the mixed bathing facility is the nearest to the High Street, while the Ladies Pond is further north, near Kenwood House, and the Men’s Pond is on the Highgate side. For kiddy-friendly swimming, take a look at Parliament Hill lido with its un-heated outdoor pool which is open all year round. Hampstead’s rich architecture Hampstead’s mix of immaculately preserved Georgian cottages, Victorian conversions and Edwardian residences is an absolute dream for enthusiasts of architectural history. For centuries, churches like Hampstead Parish Church, Christ Church and St John’s have been seen as symbolic landmarks as well as places of worship and community centres. Kenwood House, Burgh House, Keats House and the Freud Museum are historic venues that host art galleries, classical concerts and mini-museums. The Hampstead Antique and Craft Emporium is a unique antique hub hidden away in the heart of the village, reached by a charming courtyard, while the streets around it are dotted with independent art galleries, namely Clarendon, Catto and Zebra One – all well worth a visit. Taking in high drama - Theatres and Cinema Birthplace of many great acting careers, Pentameters Theatre has always served as a handy try-out space for playwrights and directors – many of whom lived in the neighbourhood. Today it is incorporated with the lively Horseshoe gastropub and is still a place to meet, eat and share showbusiness gossip. On the opposite side of the street, the Everyman Cinema has become an inspirational brand for serious movie buffs by combining curated cinema with an emphasis on home comforts, hip music and special events. Celebrity spotting in Hampstead Many celebrities from the world of entertainment live in Hampstead. Among them are musicians, Harry Styles and Boy George, together with actors, Helena Bonham Carter and Ricky Gervais. Eminent author, John Le Carre (The Night Manager) was also a long-time resident and many of his fictional spy encounters take place in and around the neighbourhood. Celebrated fashion and interior designer Mathew Williamson, has turned his ground-floor Victorian conversion apartment into an exuberant synthesis of electric colour and tropical influences that celebrates his quirky sense of humour and sharp eye for design detail. Tasty treats Hampstead has its own take on street food which is probably a bit less grungy than what you’d find in the new East End or Camden. The long-running La Creperie de Hampstead is a firm local favourite that serves up delicious crepes from a stall just off the High Street. Elsewhere, there is a fine selection of artisan bakeries and Mediterranean-influenced delicatessens. Gail’s, Paul’s and Le Pan Quotidien are popular bakeries that offer delicious pastries, sandwiches and snacks or you can find sumptuous hand-made chocolates and ice cream at Venchi the Italian chocolatier. If you’re a big believer in shopping locally, then the independent food shops of Hampstead can provide top quality produce that you can turn into delicious, restaurant-quality meals. The Hampstead Butcher & Providore is a typical example of the genre, with its eye-catching shopfront and cool retro vibe. Apart from a superb selection of meat, poultry, pies and charcuterie, the shop sells artisan cheeses, fine wines and upscale ready-meals. Over the road in Hampstead Community Market, you can get top-quality fish and shellfish from Hampstead Seafoods. For fruit and vegetables, check out Jenkins and Son on the High Street. Indulging in retail therapy - Shops and Boutiques Hampstead has always attracted independent fashion designers and their shops give the main thoroughfare a sense of style and flair. Maje, Sandro and Tara Jarmon all have outlets in the village and remain firm favourites for their unique approach to women’s ready-to-wear clothing lines. Well-regarded chains like Kurt Geiger, Hobbs and Jigsaw are also popular as are a handful of faithful independent boutiques which have been in the area many years. Dining out in style - Restaurants The dining-out scene is made up of a healthy mix of established favourites and family-friendly gastropubs. Sophisticated palettes are usually drawn to Villa Bianca (Italian), La Cage Imaginaire and Le Cellier du Midi (French). Japanese lovers have Jin Kichi and the Sushi Shop on the High Street and The Coffee Cup is just one of the places where Hampstead residents like go for a traditional English breakfast. Hampstead pubs have a deserved reputation of hosting long Sunday lunches that offer some of the best roast dinners available in London. The Freemasons Arms, with its log fire in the Winter and sunny beer garden in the Summer, provides a delicious final destination after a leisurely Sunday morning stroll on the Heath. A drink and a chat - Pubs Hampstead drinking spots embraced the gastropub phenomenon quite early on, but they have also managed to retain their history, character and clientele. They remain quirky and full of legendary stories of famous actors, poets and artists. Here are some examples: The Flask contains some of the finest surviving examples of chromolithography in London. They are representations of paintings by the Belgian painter, Jan Van Beers (no pun intended). The Wells Tavern is named after the water source that first drew artists to Hampstead as they sought to escape the pollution of Central London. The William IV is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a former landlady who was murdered by her husband on the premises (yikes!).  Worth the walk up the hill to reach it, The Holly Bush is probably the most ‘local-feel’ pub in the area, with its charming façade and cosy location. Dating from the late sixteenth century, Spaniards Inn is so revered, that Hampstead Way had to be built round it. It was here that the poet Keats composed his famous “Ode to A Nightingale”.  The pub is a short stroll away from the imposing neo-classical villa Kenwood House, formerly home to the reformist Lord Chief Justice William Murray and now a popular summer music venue and museum. Taking in the view - Parliament Hill For the ultimate in photogenic views of our great city, it’s best to head to Parliament Hill, a vantage point that is geographically adjacent to the Heath, but has better sightlines. It’s a great place for taking dawn photographs of the skyline as the sun comes up over your left shoulder and sets up the picture perfectly. Kite flying, picnics and New Year firework displays are also a major feature here. Although it can be considered by some as an exclusive affluent enclave, Hampstead remains fairly accessible and welcoming as a place where culture and social enjoyment go hand in hand with the finer things of life. To get a flavour of what Hampstead is like, take a look at our Hampstead video guide If you are considering selling or buying in Hampstead, contact our Sales team who would be happy to assist you.

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