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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.

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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 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.