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Flat sale, eventually!

We almost sold last year but sale fell through. This time we have sold but it has taken over 3 months and largely down to our excellent solicitor and Laura at Chamberlains Newton Abbot. She chased all the relevant parties to secure the sale and earned the company it’s fee. I just hope she got a good commission, she deserves a bonus! Not all the sales team were so helpful.

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Buy and house and live longer

New analysis from HomeOwners Alliance looks at the correlation between longevity and homeownership.

Across most of the UK there is a direct correlation between homeownership levels and life expectancy according to an analysis conducted by the HomeOwners Alliance; where homeownership levels are higher, so is life expectancy.

However, homeownership levels have been declining for the past decade (peaking in 2002 at 69.7% down to 63.8% according to latest official figures from the April-June 2016 Labour Force Survey). High demand for homes is pushing house prices to unaffordable levels. Political parties, experts and the government all agree that the underlying cause of the housing crisis is that we have not been building enough new homes for decades.

The decline of homeownership is having and will increasingly have profound, long-lasting and adverse economic and social consequences. For example, it increases poverty among pensioners, increases social problems for children raised in insecure rented accommodation, reduces living standards among lower and middle income earners, pushes up the housing benefit bill and increases inequality. And, as our analysis shows, it also has an impact on life expectancy.

The only exception to the correlation between homeownership and life expectancy is London, where life expectancy and homeownership are not strongly linked.

Paula Higgins, CEO of HomeOwners Alliance believes, “Reversing the decline in homeownership should be one of the government’s highest priorities. We know that homeownership in this country has tangible benefits – including longer and happier lives. But the high costs mean it is out of reach for more and more people – widening the gap between the rich and the poor and fuelling social inequality. The UK urgently needs a functioning and stable housing market as the current housing situation is deeply unfair.”

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Top tips to achieve an autumn transaction

Now that silly season is over and people are settling back in after vacations, if you are contemplating or trying to sell or let a property it’s a good time to take stock of the situation and plan the way forward.

October and November are usually active months for property so it’s a good idea to make the most of them and try to get your property sold or let before Christmas when the market usually stalls.

With the current economic climate, uncertainty over Brexit, levels of Stamp Duty Land Tax and the punitive added taxation for investors and second home buyers, residential property – particularly in London and the South East – is going through a period of readjustment.

It has become apparent over the last few months that even slightly overpriced properties have struggled to achieve sales or rentals. Although there are numerous other forces at work, the internet may also have some part to play. This tool can prove a powerful friend but also a brutal enemy. With the transparency provided by the property portals it is almost impossible to hide the promotional record of a property, thus allowing anyone who is interested to establish the first date of advertising, any price reductions and other information that may give prospective interested parties historic data to use when considering an offer, or during negotiations.

In a rising market these facts may not be so important, but during periods of stagnation or falling price levels, they may be used as a weapon to beat prices down. Consequently during these cycles of hesitation it is essential to make sure that all marketing is strategic, well considered and engineered.

It is certainly not all doom and gloom, as irrespective of the world events and economic ” bulls and bears”, people need to buy, sell, rent or let for various reasons. As a result, there will always be successful deals, although currently perhaps not at the prices or volumes previously enjoyed.

Here are a few suggestions that may help you achieve an autumn transaction:

1. Make sure that you have realistic asking price
2. Keep the property clean and tidy
3. Make repairs to anything that is visibly broken, also touch up scuff marks (but don’t try to hide defects)
4. If you have a garden, keep it well tended
5. On colder days, warm the property through, even for an hour to take away any chill
6. Open windows on brighter, warmer days unless there is extraneous outside noise
7. Ensure that the property smells fresh
8. Remove pets (if possible), such as dogs and cats when conducting viewings
9. Leave the agent to conduct viewings and remove yourself into an alternative room or, go out if you can
10. Make sure that there are keys available for all outside doors and, if providing keys to the agents, that they work
11. If you are away please ask the agent to pick up the post and switch on or off the central heating, so that the property looks and feels lived in and cared for
12. Lastly if you will not be home or the property has been vacated, let the agent know so that he or she can go to the appointment earlier to arrange to switch on lights, open or close curtains etc.

If you do receive an offer get back to your agent as quickly as possible with an answer, even if its negative, so that while buyers or tenants are still interested negotiations may continue:

Employ a good and proactive solicitor
React in a timely fashion to any requests for further information
Have all the required documents such as, insurance papers, guarantees, deeds (if you can), a copy of your lease, service charge payments or invoices, planning permission, etc. available and ready for early access
Make sure that all the curtains and blinds are up, during the day to bring in the light
For evening viewings put lights on in every room and light the front path and rear garden, so that they look attractive and viewers don’t trip over an unseen hurdle.
Remember the old adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”.