UK Homeowners Could Save £3.5b A Year By Selling Online


Estate agents’ fees increase by more than £550m in less than 2 years

UK homeowners could have saved over £3.5b* in 2014 by ditching traditional high street estate agents and opting to sell their homes over the internet instead.

The staggering saving, which has been calculated by My Online Estate Agent, is in part due to the rise in estate agents’ fees, which have increased by £553m* in the last two years because of rising property prices.

MOEA is one of the new breed of online agents threatening the traditional high street model, by offering to market and sell UK homes at a fraction of the cost whilst maintaining the highest levels of professional service.

To date, it has sold more than 1000 properties since 2012 and has saved its customers more than £4m in total fees.

The high street versus online battle is continuing to escalate as consumers become more confident and sophisticated when buying and selling online and realising the savings on offer.

Online estate agents typically charge a one-off fee as little as £349. In comparison to the typical 1.5% charged by high street agents, the average individual seller could save approximately £2,900* by selling online.

This significant saving is possible as online agents don’t have to fund chains of offices, large staff payrolls and commission for sales staff. Although costs may be lower, MOEA maintains a high level of customer service, often praised for this by its customers.
Traditional high street estate agents have also come under fire recently as it’s not just their fees on the up. There have been a growing number of customer complaints recorded this year .
The rising costs and complaints have added fuel to the predictions that just as travel agents were disrupted by the rising popularity of online holidays, estate agents will go through a similar experience.

Just a decade ago, the percentage of online sellers was virtually zero, but this has already risen to 5 per cent and is predicted to increase to over 50 per cent in the next four years, and to as much as 70 per cent by 2020.

Online agents provide the same service you get on the high street, such as arranging viewings, taking pictures, creating floor plans and negotiating with buyers. House-sellers will often be required to conduct viewings themselves. However, a recent YouGov survey showed that over half of Britons prefer this approach, rather than having to arrange keys and mutually convenient viewing times with high street branches. In order to support customers who prefer viewings to be conducted by their agent, MOEA is finalising arrangements to offer this service.

David Grundy, CEO of My Online Estate Agent, said: “Over 90 per cent of property buyers browse the internet when on the hunt for their new home, so it’s no wonder sellers are starting to cut out the middle man and opt for online agents, who can put them in the same online hot spots, such as Rightmove and Zoopla, but without the hefty price tag.

“Traditional estate agents will always have a place in the market for specialist sellers, such as those with unusual properties. But, the ‘no commission, no commitment’ promise offered by online alternatives – especially when coupled with excellence in customer service – is becoming increasingly popular with sellers who want the power to control the sale of their homes themselves and reap the financial rewards”.

My Online Estate Agent charges an upfront fee which start from as little as £349 plus VAT for its full service. It offers exactly the same service you get on the high street, but managed from a central location. It is run by a team of experienced estate agents and regulated by the property ombudsman. For more information visit www.myonlineestateagent.com

ENDS
For further information, please contact:
Laura Harris or Laura Salisbury, Influential
Harris@thisisinfluential.com / Salisbury@thisisinfluential.com
0151 239 5000

Notes to Editors
* UK homeowners would have saved up to £3.5b* this year
No of UK properties sold past 12 months – 1,229,470 (*www.gov.uk)
Average house price – £190,000 (*www.ons.gov.uk)
EA commission (1.5%+VAT) (1.5% of £190,000) £3,420
Paid in 2014 to EA (£3,420 x 1,229,470) £4 billion (£4,204,787,400)
Average online estate agency fee £521 (*My Online Estate Agent comparable fee, incl VAT)
Paid to OEA £521 x 1,229,470 £640,553,870
Total saving- £4,204,787,400 – £640,553,870 £3,564,233,530 (£3.5b)
(Average price saved by individuals £3,420 – £521 = £2,899)

** Estate agents’ fees have increased by £553m* in the last two years
2 years ago average house price = £162k
Today average house price = £187k (averages from Nationwide and Halifax reports).
Increase = £25k
No of UK homes sold past 12 months 1,229,470 (*www.gov.uk)
Average EA commissions = 1.5% + VAT
Increase in fees = £25k x 1,229,470m x 1.5%+VAT = £553m

Top Tips for Winter House Viewings

House prices grew by 8.3% during 2014 and property market demand continues to look steady as 2015 begins to take shape. With Christmas being paid off, we’re heading into peak season for property sales as people look for a new home in the New Year. However, vendors can find it difficult to highlight their home’s best features in the winter months so it is always handy to get some tips to make those viewings warm and welcoming even during the cold, dark spell. Here are 8 to get you going:

Guarantee easy access

If it is snowing, raining or icy on the day of a viewing then a buyer can easily be put off straight away. Make sure that you have salted, or taken a spade, to tricky walkways to clear any snow and ice and present a tidy look. And, if you have driveway parking, leave them a space.

Consider the first impression

This is sage advice regardless of when you are selling your home. However, property can look particularly drab against a gloomy backdrop so keep an eye on things like plant baskets, your front door and windowpanes. If you have a fire, you can create a welcoming atmosphere by lighting it up.

Invest in a good doormat

Winter is known for muddy shoes. There are always discussions – like this one from mumsnet – about whether or not it is acceptable to ask people to take their shoes off before entering a house. Some think it is good manners to offer to remove them before starting a viewing while others think it doesn’t give a welcoming impression to a home if asked. Most people have a no shoes policy upstairs but this often goes out of the window for house viewings. There are no hard and fast rules for this but a good doormat can help, whatever you decide to do!

Get the heating on!

Ensuring that your home is well heated is imperative during winter house viewings. Think about when the buyer is scheduled round and give your house time to warm up by putting the radiators on an hour ahead. Heating will be a key marker in a winter viewing so take steps to make every room a comfortable temperature. Break the ice, and add body warmth, by offering a drink, too.

Freshen the place up

It’s amazing what a difference a fresh coat of paint can make. Use a neutral colour to smarten up a room in your property while also considering a few new tiles or re-grouting in the bathroom. Take a look to see if any doors could do with a lick of paint, consider some chrome fittings and use the old classic of strategic flower placement.

Be Clean

We’re sure that your house is always clean, but take care in making sure it is spotless for viewings. Any carpet stains or faded bits should be taken care of, get a vacuum over the entire house, put fresh towels out, and consider sofa covers for an extra boost. Now could well be the perfect time to de-clutter too, so that you can show space and storage to any potential buyers.

Check the lighting

Again, this is key in winter months. With many viewings taking place after 5pm in the week, it will already be getting dark outside so viewers will be keen to see how outside and security lights, as well as interior glows work. Find ways to use them to your advantage, as you will be without the help of the gleaming sun.

Get your garden in order

Having a presentable outdoor area is easier in the brighter months of spring and summer but try to take the time to make order in your space. From pruning overgrown foliage to adding a bird table for extra nature to keeping paving clean, there are a number of small things you can do that create a big difference.

These are eight top tips for winter house viewings. People often think it is a bad time to sell but the demand is there, and with the right warm environment you can use the season to your advantage. So, take this advice and go grab a winter sale!

Britain’s “ideal home” revealed by Rightmove

The “ideal home” for Britons has been discovered, and it comes with no great surprise that it is a large detached house. Location, style and features are what people look for when choosing a property and this is evident in the findings of a recent Rightmove survey. A three-bedroom home on the south coast that is near the sea and only a small jaunt to a pub, sound about right?

According to results, Britain’s ideal home consisted of:

  • Three bedrooms
  • One kitchen
  • Two living rooms
  • Two bathrooms
  • A garden
  • A utility room

This was all decided under the premise that money would be no object in this particular scenario. Surprisingly, properties like mansions were beaten by the modest dream of a comfortable family home. Practicality was at the forefront of the minds of those surveyed and was highlighted by the desire to have a utility room rather than flashier features like walk-in wardrobes and conservatories.

These findings aren’t pipe dream wishes for many, in fact only 1% imagined of rattling around in a castle. It is clear the focus for everyone was on an achievable house type and this is within touching distance of most around the UK. It isn’t the first time that this has been revealed though, as in 2013 a Prime Location survey found that a detached family home was what Britons wanted. This is evidently still true and the understatement is a quintessentially British trait where quiet, rural retreats rule over bustling city life.

What does this mean for sellers?

If your property is currently on the market then these results can highlight what you should be pushing to potential buyers. With a home, it can be hard to know which areas to focus on but this shows what people want. A conservatory is a great extra but make sure you don’t neglect your utility room because they are an underestimated part to any complete property.

Emphasise things such as en-suites, extra bedrooms and downstairs bathrooms. Keep your kitchen and living areas looking tidy and spacious while also paying special attention to your garden. Whether you are green fingered or not, a pretty outdoor area can make a big difference to a buyer so sweep those leaves, clean the paving slabs and prune any foliage to make them believe this is their ideal home.

Where is the ideal location to live?

In terms of where people wanted to live, this was based around local amenities and geographical location. When they were mixed together, people came up with this top 10 list: St Ives, Cornwall, Poole, Brighton, Edinburgh, York, Liverpool, Harrogate, Bristol, Cardiff and Dartmouth. We all like a seaside break but it seems that many of us would like to move there permanently! Good transport links topped what we want to have nearby and that was followed by pubs, parks, supermarkets and restaurants respectively.

The eclectic mix of historic cities, bustling hotspots and quaint coastal towns means that we are all searching for a different kind of buzz. Ultimately though, the findings conclude that here in the UK we are thoughtful dreamers. People who want a comfortable home that works for their family in a pretty location. Modesty at its finest, and with the right property search it is quite evidently achievable.

For more findings on Britain’s Ideal Home, check out this infographic created by Principality that shares some home truths. A couple of spoilers: 8% would change neighbours while, in more extravagant news, some 30% would love a swimming pool – maybe they should move to the beach. We hear St Ives is nice!

Fixtures and fittings: what items can you take when you’ve sold your house

Selling a house is a long process, where there are a number of hoops to jump through. Completing the sale and exchanging the contracts is the most difficult part and many feel that it is the final step. But, there is still the big move to plan and action. One of the big questions that needs answering is that of what items you can take with you when you leave the property?

This can be a contentious issue, and there is no law that explains this in black and white terms. This leads to different expectations depending on the parties involved and the definitions that they use for classing fixtures and fittings. An inventory is imperative for minimising the risk of conflict.

Both parties agreeing on a list is the best way to deal with the fixtures and fittings problem head on. If this isn’t done then the buyer can take the vendor to a small claims court if something is removed that they haven’t agreed on. You need to know what can be taken, what to leave and what to charge for in your property.

Fixtures: light fittings, central heating, built in cupboards and wardrobes, bathroom suites, kitchen units, plugs, bolted mirrors or paintings, burglar and smoke alarms, outside features like a shed/greenhouse.

Fittings: Pictures, mirrors, carpets, curtains, curtain rails, free-standing appliances like washing machine and fridge, beds, sofas, lampshades, satellite dishes and aerials.

The definitions above are often seen as the classic fixtures and fittings within a property, and it is these that need thought when selling your house. Make sure you know what the buyer is expecting to get with the property and what you are hoping to keep. A few things here and there aren’t likely to make much difference but things like fireplaces, curtains and white appliances combined can add up to thousands of pounds.

It is this that can make a huge problem during the sale of a property – one that can scupper the whole process if it isn’t dealt with correctly. You can clean up the home, repair and improve the exterior and de-personalise as much as like but if you don’t agree on a valuation with or without fixtures and fittings then could find yourself in trouble.

How to deal with the fixtures and fittings problem:

  • Decide what you would like to keep from the home.
  • Negotiate with the buyer for what you will take, leave or sell to them within the deal of the house.
  • Sign an inventory for your legal records.
  • Continue your sale with no problems.

The fixtures and fittings question is something that affects buyers and vendors; it is a part of the sale that can often be overlooked. Selling a home is a process and this is just another step. Be polite, calm and realistic when stating what you want to keep, straining the process is probably unnecessary for the monetary difference. Just ensure that you agree this before moving along with the sale of your property to stop problems further down the line.

Is lack of free time to blame for decline in DIY?

DIY stores have been having a hard time of late. Even the mighty Homebase, one of Britian’s biggest DIY chains, has made the decision to close a quarter of its stores due to a massive fall in business. The reason given for this fall by the chief executive of the Home Retail Group, Homebase’s parent company, is that consumers have ‘less time available to tackle home improvements’. But is this truly the reason?

A study by the market research firm Mintel indicates that homeowners do in fact have the time for DIY but they prefer to use it for other activities. For while 78% of homeowners expect to do some DIY this year, it is not a priority and they would prefer to spend their time on leisure activities and buying. So maybe the decline in DIY is less about a lack of time and more about a lack of interest.

The study further indicates that while there is a lack of interest in doing the work themselves, young people in particular are still interested in improving their homes. This points to a preference to employ professionals rather than have a go at doing it themselves.

This lack of interest in DIY could stem from a change in culture. This is after all the technological age and while every member of the younger generation knows how to work a laptop or the latest Apple product they do not necessarily know how to put up a set of shelves. And everyone who has played sport knows that if you are not good at something you will generally lose interest rather quickly.

However, despite this perceived lack of interest and knowledge in DIY, new research from the charity Electrical Safety First indicates that over 21 million adults would happily use online ‘how to’ videos to carry out home improvements even if they do not have the necessary experience. The study indicated that they mainly sought to add value to their homes although one in sixteen people actually ended up significantly damaging their property

This study certainly indicates that there is still an interest in DIY in the public consciousness and therefore Homebase’s fall in business may be down to other reasons. For example, there are now online DIY specialists such as Screwfix, Toolstation and Wallpapermarket which serve to drive down the sales of their physical counterparts. In addition to this, there has been a 5% increase in the number of people renting homes which naturally decreases the impulse to do DIY.

In summary, there are many factors including lack of time, interest and knowledge that have led to the decline in DIY. However, the popularity of online ‘how to’ videos and online DIY specialists indicates a change in the way we do DIY rather than a decline in DIY itself.