Archive | Richard’s Comment RSS for this section

What’s Good for the Goose

Richard Ashton - Director

Richard Ashton – Director


Richard Ashton of Allan Morris suggests a new way of thinking when it comes to selling property.

Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, thinks that we overestimate the amount of change which will happen over two years but underestimate the amount of change over ten. This certainly seems to be the case with housing. Our tastes move on hugely over a decade as new materials, technology, design, and even watching home and property shows on the television increasingly influence us. Public opinion and governmental policy also have their effect. The horrific Grenfell Tower disaster will prove to be another turning point we hope.

But underlying all these developments are the changes we see in our own lives; the amount of space we need to occupy, running costs, convenience and the time that could be spent doing other things – sometimes at stages in life like parenthood or retirement when time is increasingly precious.

Retirees for example have much to consider. Do they want to continue living in large family houses when there is no large family living there any more? And the desire to head off to the country or coast, once the dream of many, is being overtaken by the desire to live in an exciting urban environment where there is life, opportunity, convenience and grandchildren. Growing old gracefully no longer means what it used to.

In the new homes sector this is a big challenge. Few of us live or want to live in the same way we used to. Developers must work out how people will want to live tomorrow and then create that model for today. For some this might seem courageous speculation, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

In the pre-owned home sector there are different challenges. We are beginning to see a real trend in adapting dated, single use reception rooms that segregate people within the home into larger more inclusive living areas. Eating, dining, entertaining and relaxing with family and friends are now often in one large area where the bi-fold door also brings nature into the equation and makes the garden an integral part of the house.

Therefore buying a home has become akin to trading in an old car for a brand new one. When most people change their cars today they expect plenty of innovative features, not the same outdated ones their old car possessed. A new car is a finely engineered and brilliantly designed machine for driving. Buyers of all ages now think that a home should be a finely engineered and brilliant machine for living.

Those who seek to leave their old homes behind and look forward to enjoying all the benefits that the next one should offer might spare a thought for the people they want to sell to. Don’t these buyers crave modern styles and fittings also? Home sellers should remember that and either make their home as attractive as possible to the modern buyer or accept that the price will have to reflect essential modernisation works. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

If you are interested in having a chat with us to discuss your new home, please feel free to give me a call on 01684 561411 or email me at richard.ashton@allan-morris.co.uk.

Negotiating the Deal

Richard Ashton - Director

Richard Ashton – Director

Richard Ashton of Allan Morris looks at one of the fundamentally important issues in selling or buying a property – negotiating the deal.

There is currently an awful lot in the news about negotiating. In Europe the Brexit negotiators are sharpening their pencils while on the other side of the Atlantic President Trump would have us believe that he is the best negotiator who ever walked the earth.

In fact selling houses has more to do with negotiating than just about anything else – the better the negotiator you have on your side, the better the deal you get. The trouble is most people are not too comfortable negotiating the purchases and sales of their own homes. That’s why they get someone to act for them – an estate agent.

Negotiators should never be confused with hagglers. Anyone can haggle. The government, we hope, will not be haggling our future away with the EU. Instead they should be carefully and painstakingly figuring what the EU wants most and then trying to work out how we can give them what they want at minimum cost and maximum benefit to ourselves. At the same time the UK team should be making demands that are realistic, as unrealistic demands just annoy the other side and then no one gets anywhere.

In the end both sides will compromise a little here and a little there. Neither side will end up with all that they want – although each will claim that they have. But both sides will reach an agreeable level of what they do want. Everyone will come away happy – or acceptably so.

At first there will be a few threats – or sanctions – as those in the negotiating business call them. These will reach the press. Most headline arguments will be limited to the first initial skirmishes – just to show serious intent. But this is also sabre-rattling theatre for the sake of the folks back home. Then tentative proposals will be put to sound out the other side. This will lead to counter-proposals. Slowly, point-by-point, day-by-day, progress will be made. Each side will review and confirm what has been agreed as it goes along so there will be no doubt or question in the future. Watch the Brexit negotiations carefully. They will unfold this way. All negotiations do.

Good negotiators have years of experience during which they learn the skills of the trade. Whether the negotiation is for world peace, buying or selling business conglomerates or simply debating which film you will go and see with your children over the weekend, all negotiations run in roughly the same way – argument, proposal, counter-proposal, agreement. We are all good at negotiating to some extent – my children perhaps best of all, as they never back down and tears make a good sanction. But how good are we at multi-hundred-thousand-pound deals when it’s our own money at stake? Then it can often get too personal. That’s where many do-it-yourself negotiations break down – over small points of petty principle which prevent both sides from following a clear and dispassionate path to the desired end.

So why is a good estate agent so important? Because he or she will be a skilled negotiator. Without a skilled negotiator an already complicated house selling process can fast become an impossible one. If you think that buying and selling a property is hard when you use an estate agent, just wait until you try to do it without one. Marketing a home is the easy part, making that into a move if where the hard work really begins!

If you are interested in having a chat with us to discuss your new home, please feel free to give me a call on 01684 561411 or email me at richard.ashton@allan-morris.co.uk.

Thoughts on Property and Magical Advice Now that the General Election is Over

Richard Ashton - Director

Richard Ashton – Director


I have just been reading J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books to my daughter that contain the Sorting Hat at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When a new student puts on the hat it tells him or her to which of the four houses – Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin – they are most suited.

Well a property is just like the Sorting Hat. It’s as if it instinctively knows whether it’s right for you – and you for it. All you have to do is listen carefully to the conversation the property is having with your inner self.This is important, as you don’t want to be put in the wrong house. You want to be somewhere which fits your personality, as well as your pocket and your spatial needs.

Of course every now and then even Sorting Hats can become a bit confused by the choice. Just look at what the electorate Sorting Hat has done with the 2017 general election! It may even have to have another go sooner rather than later. Yes there are many things to be confused about, especially in property. And it’s not just about finding the right home for you. What about the market? Then there’s Brexit, the economy, schools, transport, mortgages and even the neighbours. And what about prices are they going up or down? When is the right time to buy?

But finding the right home can magically make many of these concerns disappear. That is because, apart from our families and ourselves, our homes are one of the most important things in our lives. Our homes protect and nurture us. They keep us warm. They keep us secure. They inspire us. Why do we become homesick when we are away for too long? When we are away we like to create a home-from-home and find somewhere that is homely. We have home thoughts and like home cooking. We certainly like home comforts. When we look for somewhere to live we home in on a place that we can call home-sweet-home, for our home is our castle.

Yes the property market is important. But more so is belonging to the right house. So this weekend why not forget the general election and Brexit negotiations for a while. Go and try on a house and let it tell you if you should move or not.

If you are interested in having a chat with us to discuss your new home, please feel free to give me a call on 01684 561411 or email me at richard.ashton@allan-morris.co.uk.

Vote For Housing

Richard Ashton - Director

Richard Ashton – Director


Richard Ashton looks ahead at the 2017 general election and an all too often ignored – but vitally important – area of government policy.

Brexit, the economy and the NHS will no doubt dominate the 2017 general election. Energy, education and defence should also get a strong look-in while the devolved governments will be fighting each other to get as much air time as possible. But what about housing, as, on the evidence of the recent past, it always seems an after thought or knee jerk policy creator for any of the political party’s. This is clear as over the past nineteen years, and during the tenure of four prime ministers, there have been no fewer than fourteen housing ministers.

This housing minister’s post seems to have become a stepping-stone for those who are either on an upwardly mobile career path or heading in the opposite direction into the political wilderness. That such an important part of our daily lives can be dealt with in such a way seems short sighted and negative to most outside Westminster. Property is a national obsession yet the politicians seem to treat it as a short stop to somewhere else. Property also provides important jobs and revenue through associated industries such as furniture, flooring, lighting and decorating, and in the service sector – finance, legal, surveying, etc.

We are always hearing we need more housing in the UK and we need better housing. Yet successive governments have failed to plan, have failed to act and have failed to build the 250,000 new homes that we are estimated to need each year. They have failed to establish any sort of meaningful housing policy – indeed how could there be a meaningful one with so many different housing ministers? By contrast, in the same nineteen-year period there have been only seven home secretaries.

Too few new homes being built creates greater demand for the properties that are already here. Strong demand and insufficient supply inevitably means rising property prices. The lack of any cohesive housing policies over two decades has not just added to the housing problem but has helped create it.

No market likes uncertainty and for the fourth year in succession we have an important election which will bring fresh uncertainty. Brexit will rumble on for several years yet, adding to this uneasiness. But we hope that whichever party prevails on 8th June the new prime minister will take his or her housing ministry more seriously and not just kick the subject into the long grass. We need a committed housing minister prepared to stay in the job for more than sixteen months.

We also hope that the new chancellor will not use housing as another easy way to create revenue without first thinking through the implications a higher rate of tax will have on the property market as a whole, and more importantly on our lives as – after all we all have to live somewhere.

If you are interested in having a chat with us to discuss your new home, please feel free to give me a call on 01684 561411 or email me at richard.ashton@allan-morris.co.uk.

Springwatch…

Richard Ashton - Director

Richard Ashton – Director

Richard Ashton from Allan Morris takes a fresh look at the property market this spring.

Spring has arrived and the migratory instincts of home movers are at their annual peak. Some home migrants will only be moving a short distance from their existing habitat. Others will have a longer passage to different parts of the country or even overseas. But this is certainly home moving season. Can nothing stop this natural urge? Well yes, there are a few things. Some commentators spreading doom and gloom about Brexit and higher stamp duty won’t help. Then there attractive-sounding but unrealistic prices – peddled by new-to-the-industry agents working from laptops in their distant far away habitat! All this chatter can confuse some buyers and sellers. It certainly doesn’t help to point them in the right direction.

But it needn’t be like this. The property market isn’t a big scary place of self-serving hangers-on and an empty horizon with no end in sight. Instead it can be an exciting place full of new birth, regeneration, ambition and hope. It can also be a place of honest and sound advice.

Now moving home is seldom easy. Just ask the millions of birds who make their journeys each year. It can be an exhausting business. But it is worth it in the end. A new habitat brings a wonderful change of scene and fresh opportunities.

So carefully choose where you are going, prepare well and spread your wings. Birds use the stars to help them navigate. In-the-know people use experienced estate agents to help guide them. They don’t use inexperienced ones, as they will only get them lost!

Migration isn’t only for the birds and happily most of us migrate for life-improving and life-affirming reasons. But we are the lucky ones. Do spare a thought this Easter for all those around the world migrating for life-threatening reasons.

If you are interested in local migratory patterns in South Worcestershire, or would just be keen to know the value of your home in this Spring, please feel free to give me a call on 01684 561411 or email me at richard.ashton@allan-morris.co.uk.

The Ying and Yang of Opposing Forces in the Property Market

Richard Ashton - Director

Richard Ashton – Director

Richard Ashton of Allan Morris considers opposing forces that are affecting the property market this spring.

The post-Brexit property market is turning into a paradox. With low interest rates, declining numbers of unemployed and an economy that appears to be on a strong path of sustained improvement, things should be booming. Confidence, the lifeblood of the property market, should be surging though its heart, pumping up prices as the numbers of available properties dwindle. It should be the classic sellers’ market. Except it isn’t. Why?

The answer is that confidence is muted. Concern over Brexit is a factor. So too are the criteria needed to get a mortgage these days. There is mounting concern over major spending decisions and heightened house price-to-earnings ratios. With rising inflation affecting household incomes, house price rises could be suppressed and in some areas even reversed this year.

So who does one turn to when the going gets tougher, when selling is harder and when finding a great buyer can’t simply be left to the internet (not that it ever could)?  Like most things in life when you need someone to show you the way it is best to find someone who has been along that particular road before.

So if you are selling your home in 2017 here are some important points about this current market that experienced estate agents understand only too well.

  • Don’t believe everything you read in the press. The media is invariably three months behind the market and the national newspapers cannot reflect local market conditions that can swing wildly from county to county and even town to town. Conditions in some areas might be better than expected, whereas in others there are growing challenges.
  • First time buyers should take advantage of this period while investors are still reeling from stamp duty hikes and tax changes.
  • Those at the upper end of the market should understand rapid changes in taste, income, lifestyle and generational requirements within the modern family unit. Buyers’ needs are not the same as they were a decade ago. These changes affect desirability, suitability and affordability.
  • Start planning your 2017 sale early. Don’t wait. In market terms there is little benefit in waiting at all.
  • Be prepared to be flexible on price and timing. This positive attitude will bring material benefits as well as peace of mind.
  • Remember that property values have risen over the past few years so even a negative correction in prices will have little real effect on those who have owned their property for over three years or so.  The notion of losing out is uncomfortable to anyone, but experienced movers understand they have to ride the ups and the downs.
  • What one loses on the swings one gains on the roundabouts.  Price corrections work both ways – on the sale and the purchase.  2017 could be a great year for finding a property.  But selling may be a challenge. In property one thing is sure: one rarely wins out both ways!  Be realistic.
  • Use an experienced professional to show you the way.  Fee-cutting or online-only estate agents can be very attractive to the uninitiated, but don’t be beguiled.  You get what you pay for.  In this market a wise seller needs sage advice based on experience and know-how.  Sellers will need the services of those who offer their clients skill and candour as well as respect – not the scant attentions of those who regard other people’s homes simply as fee-generating units of residence, or as another tick on a Microsoft spreadsheet.  If you are selling and don’t just want to be a number make sure you get market appraisals from several reputable local estate agents and be certain to ask each one how long they have worked in the area.  Also ask if they have worked through several market cycles and, most importantly, what they learnt from them.
  • Finally there is no reason why a property that is well presented, in good order and priced correctly should not find an eager buyer. But getting the right advice from the start of the process is crucial.

If you are interested in learning more about the current forces acting on the housing market in South Worcestershire, or would just be keen to know the value of your home in this Spring, please feel free to give me a call on 01684 561411 or email me at richard.ashton@allan-morris.co.uk

Love is in the air!

Richard Ashton - Director

Richard Ashton – Director

Richard Ashton offers some timely estate agent matchmaking advice as we head towards Valentine’s Day.

Hard as it might be to believe, good estate agents can be your perfect sweetheart.  It is always best to have someone by your side who values you, who will fight for you, who won’t argue (much), who will only hang around your house when you want them to, and who always has your best interests at heart. Such a person may not make such a bad partner.

Of course there are good partners and bad partners.  Selling property well rests heavily on the partnership built up between seller and estate agent.  A good agent will lovingly put you and your property on a pedestal and then expertly and fiercely negotiate to achieve the best deal for you.  On the other hand, a lesser agent may just put your property on the internet with all their others and then give away your secrets to find the easiest deal – easiest for them. There’s nothing good about a selfish Valentine.

There is a great difference between the two – often many thousands of pounds in the final price you achieve.  You would come to love the former but hate the latter.  The trick is finding the right Valentine agent at the outset. It’s a bit like finding the best boyfriend or girlfriend.  They may look roughly the same at first but over time they all act very differently.

So if you are searching for the type of estate agent you could come to love this spring go on a few dates – invite a few round to give you some marketing advice and see how you get on. Then ask yourself which you would prefer, the cheaper flashy one who brags a lot or the one with whom you feel most comfortable, the one with a background of stable and successful relationships – the one you would most like to introduce to your parents and friends.

If you are thinking of moving whilst love is in the air, or would just like to know what your home may be worth, please give us a call on 01684 561411 or send me an email richard.ashton@allan-morris.co.uk.