Quiz: Which TV Show Does This House Belong In?

This week, American estate agent David Guzman released the results of a
survey to find out what the most loved TV homes were.

Sheldon, Leonard and Penny’s apartment from the hit US show The Big Bang Theory came out on top. Unsurprisingly, there was just one British TV home in the Top 10, with what they described as “The Downton Abbey Castle”.

Their research also found that 23% of American property buyers have looked for an apartment or home with similar features to their TV dream home.

Just for fun, to celebrate some of the most memorable homes and properties from British TV, the team at My Online Estate Agent have put together a little quiz – take a look at the 10 property photos below and see if you can identify the TV shows they belong to!

February 2015 Property Trends from Rightmove

Rightmove have released their February 2015 house price index, which offers data and insights into the property market based on over 100,000 properties put up for sale over the last month. We’ve taken a closer look at the numbers to see the insights and learnings to be gained for any property sellers and potential buyers.

Rightmove HIP February 2015 Key Conclusions

Rightmove’s latest data highlights a few points of interest:

  • A lack of new homebuilding is affecting supply
  • Asking prices are on the rise – 6.6% over the last year
  • Buyer activity is higher than ever, but is being impacted by a lack of available properties

The Rightmove website is one of the most visited sites in the UK. The public remains fascinated with property, but their approach to buying and selling is changing.

 

Sell before you buy, or buy before you sell

A few years ago, most people would put their own property up for sale, and once some interest was shown would then start to look for a house to buy. The Rightmove index reiterates that this trend is changing – people are now spending time looking for a property, and only then will they put their own property on the market.

This is a brave approach! If you find your dream house, but then cannot sell yours, there is a real danger of losing out with the homeowner taking an offer from elsewhere. In this modern impatient world people are no longer prepared to wait for long, time-consuming chains to complete. Our experience at My Online Estate Agent is increasingly that vendors become very nervous about accepting offers from people who haven’t themselves got a buyer for their property, and certainly if it is not even yet on the market. This is now extending to viewings, where some vendors are insisting that the only people that can book a viewing are those that are also actively selling.

Our advice is simple – buy and sell at the same pace, and have your ducks in a row when you make an offer. By all means scour the market to hone down on what you want from your new home, but when you are starting to view in earnest make sure that similar effort is put into selling your own house. There can be few things more demoralising than losing out on your dream home because you haven’t sold your existing property, but we are seeing this happen more and more.

 

The North-South divide

The Rightmove index illustrates that prices are increasing faster in the South than they are in the North, but the difference is reducing. This trend has been seen many times, the North lags behind the South, driven mainly by economic recovery (and recession!) starting in London before spreading to the rest of the country.

So:

  • If you are based in the South, don’t expect another bumper year for price rises
  • If you are based in the North, waiting to sell could get you more for your current house, but you may have to pay more when you buy. This is good news if you are trading down, but bad if you are trading up

My advice for buying and selling this month

“Valuation” in the property world is a misnomer – your property is only worth what you agree to sell it for to somebody that wants to buy it. Emotion, and desire to buy or sell, has a bigger impact on a sale price than most people realise. If you want to move house, put yourself in the best negotiating position – don’t get too attached to your dream house, and have a buyer lined up, and you will get the best price!

For more insights on Rightmove’s index, take a look at the infographic they have created.
Rightmove

[Source: Rightmove Property Portal]

Ten Top Tips On Preparing Your House For Viewings

It is fascinating what we hear when we ask people how a viewing went – you do have to wonder if the owners were prepared or did they forget about the appointment?

Viewings are best conducted by the property owner – they are the people that know the property best, can highlight its major selling points, and can also answer questions that the viewer may have.

Here, CEO of My Online Estate Agent, David Grundy, shares his ten top tips on getting your property and yourself ready for viewings:

1. De-Clutter

Always have a good tidy and take out unnecessary furniture and ornaments. What may seem to you like a spotless room may seem like a cluttered one to someone else, and they will want to imagine how their furniture may fit in. It is always best to have the bare minimum in a room to make it look bigger and more appealing to the viewer.

The same goes for the garden, especially as this is often the first impression – make sure it is tidy and well looked after.

2. No strange behaviour

You would be surprised at the feedback we get on obscure behaviour from vendors. The advice I would give is don’t get too close to the viewers, don’t ask them out for a drink and maybe take them round the property at first but then leave them to have a further look round at their own pace.

3. Dress well

Although the viewers are looking at your house they will take note if you are wearing a top with last night’s tea down it or even your pyjamas! Take pride in your appearance along with your home.

4. Bake

First impressions count, so why not bake something before they arrive so that the smell hits them as they walk in?

5. Light a fire

This is a tough one if it’s summer but a nice roaring fire, if you have one, will give your lounge that cosy touch and make viewers feel at home in the first room they see. Similarly it is always a good idea to have the heating on and have every room nice and toasty for your visitors.

6. No life stories

Sometimes it can be easy to go into your personal life when showing a viewer around, especially if you are leaving the house due to a divorce or someone has passed away – try and brush past those reasons and focus on the positives like how long you’ve loved living there and all the happy memories. It also helps to have a positive reason why you are moving, rather than anything negative about the house or your situation.

7. No odd photographs

It is always a good idea to take personal photographs down for both advert photography and for viewings too. Again, it makes the room look bigger and you don’t want people seeing your family or intimate photos. But make sure that there are no obvious nails and hooks, so replace personal photographs with something more generic.

8. Have your pets minded

It’s always a good idea to keep animals out of the way – either in a kennel, in the garden or at a neighbour’s house. The last thing you want is to be tripping up over a pet on a viewing, and some people are put off by animal smells.

9. And maybe your children as well

If you have young children who are quite active it may be best to send them out with family for the viewing to make your home look less crowded and to dissuade visitors from feeling in the way. Cruel but true!

10. Smile!

And overall I would say always be welcoming and kind to your visitors, it’s nice to be nice and people remember a smiling approachable face.

You can never be too prepared for these things and most people do make a decision in the first few seconds so first impressions are key.

It is not always the extremes that can lose you a buyer like the skeletons in the closet – yes, that has been reported! Simple things like unpleasant smells, dirty dishes or making buyers feel uncomfortable can stop you from securing a sale.

Prospective buyers want to see a property that they can imagine themselves living in, a blank canvas that they can make their own. When selling a property, it is crucial to put your own preferences and style to one side, and let viewers see what the house can be for them, not what it is for you.

OnTheMarket.com – all about high street estate agents maintaining their profits?

Onthemarket.com was launched in January 2015 as a new property portal to challenge existing online property giants Rightmove and Zoopla – what does it mean for those buying and selling houses?

Why has Onthemarket.com been launched?

OTM has been set up by a group of bricks-and-mortar estate agents, ostensibly in response to the high charges levied by Rightmove and Zoopla, but in reality to try and protect their historical business model.

Historically, estate agents sold properties by having a high street presence. If you wanted to buy a property in a particular area you had to visit local estate agents and browse through their shop windows. Rightmove and Zoopla took this away, and they are now the shop window for selling houses – more than 90% of property sales start via a search on one of these portals.

One result of this change in buyer behaviour has been that estate agents no longer need to have the same high street presence, bringing with it the advent of online estate agents such as MyOnlineEstateAgent.com. These new entrants are able to compete in a very price-competitive way as they are not burdened with high property and staff costs, and can pass these savings on to consumers. Research by MOEA shows that UK house sellers could have saved more than £3billion in 2014 by using this modern, online alternative.

What’s so good about Onthemarket.com?

By launching a new portal, OTM is challenging the Rightmove and Zoopla duopoly. If this results in lower charges to estate agents, then this saving can be passed on to house sellers, which must be good. Rightmove and Zoopla are very profitable businesses, and charge high fees, as their latest published results show:

Revenue Pre-tax profit
Rightmove: Revenue – £140m. Pre-tax profit – £97m
Zoopla: Revenue – £80m. Pre-tax profit – £29m

In getting to this dominant position, Rightmove and Zoopla have spent £millions on developing their brand. Zoopla spends in the region of £20m on advertising every year, and has been doing so for a number of years in order to challenge RightMove. It is unfeasible that OTM will ever have the resource and clout to compete, but they are at least trying to challenge.

What could stop Onthemarket.com from being a success?

At present, they only have about 20% of agency branches signed up with them. So first-time buyers and anybody else looking to buy a property will only see a small proportion of available houses on this new portal. The OTM website has no new features that aren’t also available on Rightmove and Zoopla, so there is no compelling reason to use it.

Secondly, OTM is very clearly set up for its member agents’ benefit, not for consumers, creating an inherent conflict of interest. This is illustrated by the lack of a valuation tool on this new website, with OTM stating that providing such a tool would be bad for its members. Shouldn’t advertising portals look after buyers, and let estate agents look after sellers?

OTM has a very low share of web visitors. It launched on 26 January, and announced on 18 February that it had recorded its 1 millionth unique visit in that time; conversely Zoopla achieves over 500 million visits per annum, so has hugely more traffic. As such, if you are selling your property, it will be seen by a lot less people if your agent is advertising through OTM.

To compound this, OTM requires that its agents only advertise on either Rightmove or Zoopla, not both, so you can’t be on all three sites. If you are currently selling your property through an OTM agent you need to assess the impact this is having on finding a buyer – if you want to maximise exposure, advertise through an agent that is on both Rightmove and Zoopla, and this gives you the highest possible viewings.

Lastly, OTM does not allow online estate agents to list on their portal. Although not said outright, this is because they wish to protect the historical business practices for their members, and are threatened by the inevitable move to online models, as has happened in all other areas of consumer buying. OTM is using its new portal as a proverbial head-in-the-sand, but this won’t win consumer support.

Some final thoughts about Onthemarket.com

It is incredibly expensive to build a consumer brand that can challenge the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla – many have tried and failed. As OTM is purely funded by its members it simply does not have this marketing strength, and is highly unlikely to succeed. Once its departing trickle of agents becomes a stream and then a river it will eventually become a non-entity. But, whilst they are trying, it is making it hard for consumers to sell their properties, and this cannot be in the best interests of house-sellers.

Ultimately, it has been set up by high-street agents as a protectionist measure against cheaper online competitors. It is all about estate agents maintaining their profits, despite the general population have long-standing resentment to the fees they charge. Online estate agents have saved the average consumer £2,900 in 2014, and this represents a huge threat to the historical cartel operated by old-fashioned estate agents.