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The Art of Negotiation Part 3

Richard Ashton - Director

Richard Ashton – Director

Richard Ashton of Allan Morris explains the all-important third phase in a property negotiation.

Most negotiations run on similar lines. The first phase is the easy, posturing part. Both sides get to set out their stalls, dig their heels in, complain how unreasonable the other side is being, bang the table and generally try to show who is boss – who is the least likely to give way.

But all good things come to an end and if both parties want to go forward, someone will have to get serious and make a positive move. This should come in the form of a reasonable proposal.

If the other side is behaving they, while not necessarily agreeing, should make a reasonable counter proposal. This is constructive behaviour that shows goodwill and intent.

The good negotiator can facilitate this for both parties, then get down to the real business of creating a deal between buyer and seller.

Keen Brexit watchers will understand that is exactly where the European Union and the United Kingdom negotiations stand as we enter 2018. Both parties spent most of last year in an unseemly slanging match supported by ever more damaging leaks to the press.

Then suddenly, at the eleventh hour, a proposal was made by one party and responded to encouragingly by the other. This was followed by another proposal that was received with an agreement of sorts. And so the negotiation inched forward and has entered its next phase which will no doubt be preceded by another, but perhaps less aggressive, slanging match.

It is a bit like a property negotiation where, having established the sale price, there can still be lots of details to agree upon such as after-survey findings, moving dates, etc.

Despite all the posturing, both sides in the Brexit negotiations understand that they really should come to an agreement. The ramifications are too great if they don’t. While property negotiations don’t have such national significance as Brexit they are as seriously important to the lives of families and individuals caught up in them.

Property negotiating is a serious business with serious implications. You could negotiate your own deal, or you could enlist the help of those whose job it is to get the best deal for you and are too experienced to be swayed or affected by the antics and tactics of another party. Where do you find such a skilled negotiator? Just instruct a good estate agent.

With over 175 years experience amongst our directors alone, if you are interested in discovering what your home is worth, would like a chat on how to best maximise your property’s value, or just want to gain an understanding on the current market, contact us on 01684 561411 or email me


A Happy New Year From The Chancellor!

Richard Ashton - Director

Richard Ashton – Director

Richard Ashton of Allan Morris comments on the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s autumn budget and whether it means a happy 2018 for the housing market.

Well the 2017 autumn budget arrived and the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond made a series of changes designed to help the housing sector.

Abolishing stamp duty for first time buyers – including those purchasing properties up to £300,000 outside London – is a huge step in the right direction in helping thousands of people afford their first homes, and an early present for those already in the process of purchasing!

The Chancellor had listened to the property industry and made this important change. I can’t imagine my letter sent to him published previously was the only reason, but it may have helped!! He has also started on a path to create more new homes by easing planning obstructions and questioning those developers who may hoard land.

All this is good news, and gives some positives for the housing market this year. But governments often refer to housing as a catch-all subject when it is really several different topics: specifically- new home construction, the rental sector and the pre-owned property sales.

Building new homes is crucial to help ease demand. But so too is making the process of buying and selling homes further up the market chain easier and cheaper as this will stimulate activity and create movement.

A workforce made inflexible because of property market inertia cannot be helpful to lift the economy. Taking the stamp duty away from first time buyers brings welcome opportunities and advantages in that sector. But that doesn’t help second, third or fourth time buyers. At some stage first time buyers usually want to step up. If they are then prevented from doing so through the disincentive of high stamp duty this will create a logjam that will affect the entire market.

So perhaps in the next budget the rest of the market could be given a kick-start too through lower stamp duty.

This also seems a good opportunity to wish all those who follow us and all those we have helped to move in 2017, a happy New Year and a hope for a positive 2018!

To any who are thinking of making a move this year or even just want to chat property, if you would like a valuation or to discuss options please give us a call on 01684 561411 or email me


Post for Mr Hammond

Richard Ashton - Director

Richard Ashton – Director

Richard Ashton from Allan Morris writes an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer ahead of the autumn budget.

Dear Mr Hammond,

The government and opposition parties are now scrambling to put their houses in order over inappropriate behavior. It is not before time.

But neither is it before time to put other houses in order – our houses, the homes of the voters. The house buying process isn’t totally broken but it is moribund and fast becoming unfit for purpose. In a world that is speeding up through technology, house transaction times, in contrast, seem to be slowing down. This is off-putting to buyers and sellers who may already be deterred by the uncertainty of Brexit, the high cost of stamp duty and now the first interest rate rise in a decade.

Clearly this can’t go on. The voting public no longer wish to be hidebound by an arcane and anachronistic system. They want a modern process that allows them spontaneity, speed and assurance without the feeling that they are being exploited and overly taxed.

There may be nothing that can be done about the lumbering Brexit process. Whether one likes it or not that will unfold in its own time. And all the other factors are not going to be a quick fix either. We understand that it’s complicated. But steps could and should be taken now to help what is an important part of the economy. Of course you will have become used to the vast sums of money the government are making through a tax that was originally designed not to affect first and second time buyers – but now does because of steeply rising house prices.

But an active housing market has a knock-on financial benefit to many other areas of commercial and taxable activity. So the government, in taking small but positive steps, could help us all by creating a positive environment for house buyers and sellers. Yes, in time the government can do something about the conveyancing process. But right now, Mr Hammond, you could do something to change stamp duty in the upcoming budget on 22nd November. You could take your foot off the brake.

Fortunately there is a silver lining to this current cloud. This market is primarily made up of motivated buyers and sellers. These are the people who have to move for a variety of life decisions rather than purely aspirational ones. And as any good estate agent will tell you there is never a better time to be in the market than when everyone is motivated to make things happen. Let’s hope, Mr Hammond, you feel the same.

Yours sincerely
Richard Ashton MNAEA
Allan Morris Estate Agents

The Art of Negotiation Part 2

Richard Ashton - Director

Richard Ashton – Director

Richard Ashton of Allan Morris sees yet more similarities between the Brexit talks and property negotiation.

Every negotiation begins with conflict of some sort – different points of view where both sides have strong and seemingly set opinions about what each wants. This is the argument stage.

But negotiations can’t proceed if both parties don’t move from those entrenched positions. Deadlock has to be broken otherwise neither party can proceed to any sort of end, never mind an agreeable one. This means one side has to take the plunge and be the first to make a proposal – to show that they are prepared to soften on their original stated position. This is not weakness. It is strength. It is clever. It is part of the negotiating process, for without a proposal there is stand off.

Theresa May has just made this first move in the Brexit negotiations. After months of squabbling and posturing on both sides of the channel the British prime minister made a proposal during a speech given in Florence. Any decent negotiator knows that they should reward a reasonable proposal with, at least, a reasonable counter proposal. What will the European Union negotiators do? Will they stay in the argue stage and stall the negotiation further? Or will they do the smart thing and signal that, they too, are ready to make reasonable concessions which will help kick start the constructive stage of the process?

Property negotiation is just the same. Without concessions there is no progress. Skilled and experienced negotiators understand this. They understand how to read the negotiation road map. Which is why employing an experienced negotiator in the form of a talented estate agent is so important.

The secret to good negotiating is in understanding when to argue and when to make a proposal. For house buyers the final quarter of 2017 may be precisely the right time to make a strong proposal. So far the property market has had a slow year. This we can really put down to higher property taxs, the general election and Brexit. We certainly can’t put it down to employment and mortgage interest rates.

It may be too soon to call, but there are certain signs that we are approaching, or may even have reached, the bottom of the market cycle. Knowing when to make a move is always difficult. But one thing is certain those people who think they will wait until after the Brexit negotiations are over may well be too late – all the good deals will have been done by people who understand that making a reasonable proposal early is better than reacting when it is too late. The Brexit negotiators should also bear this in mind as they enter the next round of talks this autumn.

If you are thinking of moving and would like any assistance please give us a call on 01684 561411 and we’ll find the perfect match for you.

The Dating Game 

Richard Ashton - Director

Richard Ashton – Director

Richard Ashton of Allan Morris considers some similarities between Love and Property when searching online.

Going back into the singles market after a period of life spent in a relationship can be difficult, troublesome and unnerving. Dating in 2017 is a lot different from ten years ago – never mind twenty! Society, expectations and even the rules of the game have changed. Those entering this arena after some time have to learn these new rules and quickly.

Moving home is very similar. The way we buy property has changed a great deal over the past decade or two. The internet for instance has altered how we search for property, and it has had a similar effect on the dating business. Most people nowadays use a dating site or their smart phone to find a partner, much as they use technology to find a new home.

Then there is the first date. Perhaps there are fewer blind dates nowadays because 21st century technology provides the opportunity to communicate in all sorts of ways before the initial personal encounter even takes place. Home buying is similar. Now, before one visits a property for the first time there is the opportunity to look around it in the anonymity of one’s own home. Through the internet one can see photographs, floorplans, and perhaps drone footage too. Google’s Street View will show the location, position, outlook and the condition of the neighbouring properties. Through Google Earth one can even see what it all looks like from outer space!

Once upon a time estate agents had to know all the local details. Now the internet can provide the entire lowdown on property values, schools, transport, communications, security, crime rates and much more. In the same way a dating site will know the details of its applicants and from that information it will try and find a perfect match.

But like dating, home finding can be a highly personal business. You can try to find an idea partner online but it is not exactly personal and often can be a rather hit and miss affair. So despite the march of time, the change in rules and the advance in technology many still rely on an age-old, tried and tested, highly successful means of finding their perfect partner – a matchmaker. Down the centuries, in cultures all over the world matchmakers have made couples happy.

Well, consider us as your matchmaker. You can do all sorts of research online but being good agent we will understand what your heart wants in the way a machine never can, with empathy, understanding and knowledge. We will also know what is not yet on the market but soon will be – and of course you will want to be the first in line.

If you are thinking of moving and would like any assistance please give us a call on 01684 561411 and we’ll find the perfect match for you.

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

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