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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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What's happening in the London Property Sales Market - August 2021

At the end of June we saw the deadline for the government’s Stamp Duty holiday which is now being tapered down until it is phased out completely at the end of September.   And I am sure many homebuyers are wondering what effect this will have on the London property market.  But this is just one of the factors influencing the residential property market in London so let’s take a look at the broader picture. Looking beyond the Stamp Duty holiday Of course, the Stamp Duty holiday has had a major influence on the UK property market which has outperformed all expectations in recent months, with house prices across the country reaching record highs.  The average price of a home in London in May was £497,948, around £7,000 below March’s record of £504,384, but still £17,000 above the level at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.  And there is no doubt that the holiday contributed to the outstanding performance of the UK property market.  But it was only one of the driving factors. In London, the property market has not experienced a surge in demand to the same extent as other parts of the UK, with transaction levels remaining steadier and the gradual tapering of the scheme should ensure that there is little or no negative impact. As a result, we expect demand to remain consistent, and in fact, for momentum to build over the next few months due to other influences. Lockdowns prompt a shift in priorities Homebuyers’ changing requirements have also been a real catalyst in the buoyant London property market.  We have been spending much more time at home over the last 18 months, making us appreciate just how important our home is.  In particular, we crave more space – inside and out – as our homes become somewhere we can both live and work – and this has become a driving force in what we are looking for in our perfect home. In fact, space is now often more important than traditional requirements such as proximity to public transport and this is prompting some people to move further out where this space is more affordable than in central London. New ways of living – and working While there is always a lull in demand over the summer months, as people take their annual holidays – at home this year if not abroad – we expect enquiry levels to continue to grow as we move towards autumn, with strong activity prompted by workers returning to their offices (at least part time) and maybe considering a new area to call home.  We will see this trend continue as we all start to adapt to new ways of working – and living. Meanwhile, as travel restrictions ease, international buyers are considering a move back to London and perhaps buying a home rather than renting.  Of course, some of these will be executives moving to the UK capital as they are on secondment with their firms, while we are also seeing growing numbers of BNO passport holders from Hong Kong seeking a permanent move to the UK. Financial incentives influencing the London property market Increased demand has also been prompted by incentives such as the government’s 95% mortgage scheme, together with historically low interest rates.  While for overseas investors the weakness of sterling is probably the key driving force, bringing significant cost savings. In addition, many potential homebuyers have been saving significant amounts of money during the recent lockdowns.  Those who have remained employed have had nowhere to go and not much to spend their money on!  The Bank of England estimates the amount saved by individuals could be as much as £100bn.  This gives buyers a substantial deposit for either their first property or their next move up the ladder. Shortages of good properties across London And of course, a continuing shortage of properties in London and the UK generally contributes to the strength of the property market, keeping house prices buoyant.  The government says we need 300,000 new homes a year to meet demand yet on average we build only 250,000 – so demand continues to outstrip supply across the country. Larger homes being snapped up in Hampstead and Highgate Areas like Hampstead and Highgate are extremely popular and we've seen many corporate executives relocating to London with their families, thanks to the outstanding schools in both areas.   This year is no exception and the Hampstead residential property market is changing quickly.  We have been receiving a lot of instructions recently and these are selling well.  In particular, larger family homes (three/four bedrooms) are being snapped up by the domestic market, families mostly, who are keen to move to the area before the start of the September school term.  Some of these buyers have down-sized from central London homes and prefer the extra space they can get within their budgets and of course, being near the Heath is a real bonus. We desperately need more stock so if you are thinking about selling your property in Hampstead, please get in touch with our Hampstead Sales branch to arrange a free market appraisal of your property. Read more comment from Benham and Reeves in the national press If you’re interested in the London residential property market you won’t want to miss our regular market comments in the national press.   Our director, Marc von Grundherr, gives regular interviews to national newspapers including the Times, The Guardian, the Evening Standard and City AM, giving his perspective on the latest property news and trends.  One of the most recent is his contribution to an article in The Times about investing in a property along the route of The Elizabeth Line (Crossrail), outlining Marc’s own experience of investing at The Green Quarter in Southall. And of course, you’ll also find plenty of interesting articles by going to our News area where you can see recent press coverage. Are you planning to buy or sell a London property soon? If you are planning to buy a property in London soon, or if you plan to put your current property on the market for sale, please get in touch with our sales team to discuss your requirements or arrange a free market appraisal.

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