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Seller’s guide

As valuable capital assets, London propertyinvariably 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; acareer 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. Theyshould 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 aprofessional 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 trendswhich 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 nextthreepoints 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 havethe 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 market update – April 2020

The Covid 19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is presenting us with serious challenges but we are working hard to maintain as normal a service as possible to both tenants and landlords during these uncertain times, while operating within the government’s guidelines. Collingham-Rd-terraces-W8 Lettings, property management and sales staff all now home-based and fully operational Some sales and lettings companies have closed for now but we are very much operational and here to support our clients although of course, we have had to temporarily shut our branches. All our staff are now home based and our usual phone lines will automatically connect you with one of the team and of course, email addresses are regularly monitored. As an independent family business, we are small enough to make changes to our operations quickly and efficiently, reacting promptly to any new measures introduced by the government so please rest assured that we are doing all we can to manage this difficult situation until normality eventually returns. Rental demand in London – the current situation While applicant enquiries have fallen by around 70% across our 16 lettings branches in central London, west London, north London, the City and east London, we are still receiving enquiries from tenants – and still receiving offers on rental properties – although lower than previously. While many tenants are currently reaching the end of their tenancy agreement are choosing to renew, some are caught in a chain and have no choice but to find a new rental property – often because they had already given notice to their landlord before the current crisis and so are committed to moving out and finding new rental accommodation in London. We are offering these tenants our full support to find a new home as soon as possible. It is helpful that most of our rental properties are furnished which means tenants won’t need a removal van but should be able to pack their belongings into a taxi (or two) for their move. And there is still some optimism from applicants who continue to view our rental properties online using our video tours – we have video tours for over 95% of our rental properties. We are also carrying out viewings via Facetime, WhatsApp and WeChat. Of course, these viewings are mainly for future moves, when the current crisis is over, but it does indicate that demand for rental accommodation in London will bounce back, we just cannot yet say when. How Benham & Reeves is helping tenants and landlords Tenants are finding themselves in a variety of situations, with often difficult decisions to make. For example, we are working with tenants who are currently out of the country and unable to return to London while some are asking to end their tenancy early as they wish to return to their home town to be with their families. Some tenants are concerned they cannot pay their rent although the government’s recent announcement regarding financial support both for employed and self-employed should help to allay these concerns. Each tenant’s situation is different and we are working with each individually to support them through this difficult time. In such a fast-moving situation, those of you who need to stay updated with the latest Coronavirus news from the UK government, should visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus Guidance for landlords Currently, we are reminding tenants that new laws do not mean that tenants do not have to pay their rent. The government has taken steps to protect tenants who cannot pay their rent and is introducing a law to prevent eviction proceedings against tenants for at least three months to ensure anyone who has lost their job is not made homeless. While many of our tenants are corporate professionals and hopefully do not fall into this category, there may be issues with non-payment of rent but our credit control teams are fully operational and regularly liaising with tenants and landlords. If a tenant cannot pay the rent at the moment, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan to make up any arrears. Equally, landlords with a mortgage can contact their lender to request a three month mortgage payment holiday. For more information about the temporary ban on evictions, click here Further help is available We will be regularly updating our clients – landlords and tenants – with the latest information. If you are letting a property through a different agent who is currently unavailable and need assistance, please get in touch here and we will do our best to help.

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