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Broadband speed will affect your house saleability

by Andrew Potter

In the UK today, according to the Office of National Statistics, 85 percent of the population are regular internet users. With advances in internet technology, individuals and businesses alike are becoming increasingly more reliant on having instant access to high speed broadband.

“69 percent of UK internet users would be put off from purchasing a home if it did not have a high speed internet connection”

How much of a Factor is Broadband Speed in today’s Property Market?

There are all sorts of factors that a buyer will take into account when choosing a property. Typical factors buyers have always taken into consideration when choosing a location to buy a property are distances from key transport links such as the train or tube station, the quality of local schools for those that are parents, the crime rate compared to the neighbouring towns and so forth.

So how much does broadband speed play a part in determining the price buyers are prepared to pay when you come to sell your property ?

A recent survey by ISPreview.co.uk found that buyers would be prepared to pay more for homes that have a fast broadband connection. The survey discovered that 69 percent of UK internet users would be put off from purchasing a home if it did not have a high speed internet connection. Furthermore, 74% percent of people surveyed considered having access to broadband to be of ‘critical importance’ which shows the growing demand and dependability on broadband in modern times.

How is Broadband Speed reflected in today’s Housing Market?

In March this year, Rightmove, the UK’s number one property portal announced that it would be teaming up with BT to list the internet speeds of all the properties listed on its website later this year. Broadband speed will be listed alongside other key information such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms, reception rooms and room size dimensions demonstrating its importance in today’s property market.

It is expected that other major property portals such as Zoopla, Find a Property and Prime Location will follow suit as the demand for high speed broadband connectivity continues to play a key role in the considerations when searching for a new home.

How much does Broadband Speed Vary across the UK?

Currently broadband speed does vary considerably across the UK which is ultimately why is becoming a determining factor in many cases when choosing where to purchase a property. It has been found that in some rural areas internet connection speed is so slow it can take up to 45 minutes to download a music albums compared to a matter a seconds in city locations. It is clear then for people who are very depend on being able to have access to a fast broadband connection at home, that such rural areas where this is not available would may well be excluded by this latest search criteria.

Broadband speed inequality is set to reduce in the future. The UK Government has committed to spending £830 million of public money to ensure that superfast broadband connection is available to every community.  However, for the time being broadband connectivity speed it is an important factor that home buyers are taking in serious consideration and therefore can affect the saleability of your property.

Author Biography

Andrew Potter has worked in the property and finance industry for the last ten years and regularly contributes his ideas and opinions to the online arena. Andrew has recently launched My Online Estate Agent which is one of the UK’s fastest growing online estate agents and offers all the online tools and guides required to successfully sell or let your property.

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Localisation – local knowledge moves online

by James Cole

As more of us start our home-buying search online there is a growing need for sources of local information.

The last few years have given us instant access to objective information such as sold house prices, bus routes, school catchment boundaries and distances from shops, restaurants and train stations,  but we now have an appetite to digest the subjective information online as well.

 a hand drawn map of an area

Local Knowledge: Invaluable

Not only do we want to know the house prices trends for the area and what our target property sold for last time around but we want to get a feel for the area itself, and we want to hear it from people who live there.

Internet people call this ‘user generated content’ and it means that we write for each other.  No more do we consult the a restaurant guidebook written by a professional critic but we ‘Google’ the restaurant and read reviews written by other diners.  Word of mouth moves online.

The same applies to local area knowledge.  We want to read what residents are saying about an area to put some depth and colour behind those dull statistics.  Yes there may be 12 restaurants within a 10 minute walk – but are they any good?  Has the map eaten there?  The software? Perhaps the website dropped in for a coffee and croissant?  I don’t think so.

The merging of mobile phones with personal computers has really put the ‘location’ into location-based search.   Rather than typing a postcode into your office based computer you can, in theory, use an ‘app’ on your phone that already knows your exact location – and provides information relevant to it.  You can be standing outside a flat you’re about to view and access the Ofcom score of the local school or read what residents think of the local library.

Property websites have recently woken up to the power of localised information, not only because house-hunters are demanding more access to it, but because the internet’s Chief Whip Google demands it.

In Google’s quest for localization, the search engine has started giving precedence in search results to websites that show that they have local relevance to queries.  This means a search for ‘Hotels in Glasgow’ is less likely to return a list of national hotel booking websites and more likely to return a list of actual hotels in Glasgow, represented by the business’ own website.

Likewise a search for ‘houses for sale in Brighton’ may, in the future, be more likely to reveal the websites of estate agents in Brighton than a national property portal website.

To stay relevant and retain the enormous footfall they (we) receive from property-related search queries, property portals are developing local strategies online.  In Rightmove’s case by developing a place to share local knowledge and reviews: Rightmove Places.  Zoopla were ahead of this game with their AskMe! feature where you can ask and answer location-related questions and their recent acquisition of  houseprices.co.uk will allow them to give customers access to sold house price data from the Land Registry should they so wish.  Personally I could never buy a house without knowing how much the previous owner paid for it.

Rightmove places Logo

The property search engine Nestoria has a number of data sources that add flavour to the home search, if not colour – giving census information, healthcare facilities, house price trends, post office locations and other hard facts.

Findaproperty.com have a ‘how far is this from…’ tool allowing you to measure the distance of certain services from a given property.

For property portals serious about catering for the needs of their users, location based information services are more than a nice-to-have feature and not only adds to the experience of the online home-hunter – allowing them to do more of their research in one place – but will attract more home-hunters to the website by capturing more of the home-hunt research queries made in search engines.

Check the Area - a service form home hunters

For those without the time to do their own research,  a new service called Check The Area uses a nationwide network of retired police officers ‘each tasked with using their local knowledge and investigative skills to research your potential new neighbourhood’.  The service starts at £150 for their bronze package.

Their website claims that ‘ a bad neighbourhood can knock up to £30,000 off the value of your property’.  Friends of mine recently pulled out of purchasing a flat at the 11th hour when they discovered, quite by accident, that the flat above was owned by a charity that re-homed ex-prisoners and recovering drug addicts.  This flat shared an entrance and, stairway and hall and being in their early 60s and planning to retire to this flat my friends didn’t feel safe and backed out of the sale.  Had they commissioned an area search earlier they could have made a significant saving in abortive solicitors’ fees.

If your budget will stretch to it, using a property buying agent can also reveal more about an area than you might have time to find out yourself.  The Association of Property Finders and Buyers Agents could be a good place to start looking for one.

Online forums can also be a great place to get an inside view on an area – many hyper-local forums serving just a postcode or a whole town can reveal what residents are talking about whether it be crime or the local library.

Websites such as Local Mouth, We Love Local and Qype bring together sources of information about an area – as well as providing a forum  for local people to post reviews and comments about their area.

If you know of any good online resources for local knowledge and house hunting research feel free to add them in the comments below.

(The hand-drawn map image in this post is used courtesy of Danny McL.)

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How do I upload my property adverts to The Big Property List?

by admin

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions that should answer this question, if it doesn’t or you have further questions then please get in touch.

How do I upload my properties to thebigpropertylist.co.uk?

The property adverts listed on The Big Property List come from Google Maps.

You may have heard that you can now see properties for sale and to rent on Google Maps – well, we take a feed from Google so if your adverts are displayed on Google Maps (and you opt in to ‘re-syndication), they will be displayed on The Big Property List too!

You can submit property listings to Google Maps in the UK

Search for property listings on Google Maps

How much does it cost to list my properties on The Big Property List?

Nothing, it’s free.  Free to list and free to receive enquiries.  We do ask that you link to our website and display our logo on your website to show that your customers that you are marketing their properties on The Big Property List.  You can download our logo here.  We will shortly be sending out marketing packs with window stickers too – so if you want one please send us your postal address.

We display properties listed for sale and to rent on Google Maps in our property portal

Adding property adverts to Google Maps

This can be done manually or by setting up a regular ‘feed’ in the Google Merchant Centre – the file types accepted are tab delimited (text or Excel spreadsheet), RSS and Atom files – these feeds can work in a similar way to the Rightmove feed but are not the same.  Your Estate Agent software provider or other partner portals may already be sending your feed to Google Maps, but it’s worth checking the quality of the information they are sending.  It is free to submit property adverts to Google Maps.

I’m not very technical, how do I send a feed to Google Maps?

The simplest place to start is to talk to your existing IT support, software vendor or portal about sending your feed to Google Maps – this may be just a click of a button for them.  If you do not have this support and would like us to help you set up and manage your feed then we can do this for a fee.  If you would like to know more about our feed set-up and optimisation services please get in touch.

Which property portals and software providers already send a feed to Google Maps?

These providers already send a feed to google Maps:

Software Vendors

  • Web Dadi
  • PropertyADD

Property Portals

  • Zoopla
  • Zoomf
  • Property Pal
  • Vebra
  • SmartNewHomes
  • Ezylet

…and others

Why do my property adverts show incorrect prices/ have missing information/ few photos or lack detail?

The property adverts at The Big Property List contain information exactly as provided in the ‘feed’ sent to Google Maps.  So if the feed lacks a price or contains only a one line description and no photos – this is what will appear in the property advert at The Big Property List.

This is why we recommend a full review of your feed – to get the most out of our free property portal and to maximise the number of enquiries you receive, include as much information in your feed as possible – this means a full description and lots of photos and an uploaded floor plan as a minimum!

If your feed does not contain enough information please get in touch with your IT support/ software provider to discuss it with them.

When I click ‘link to vendor’ on my adverts I don’t get taken to my website – why?

Whoever is submitting your feed to Google Maps (maybe an outside company such as your software provider or another portal) is not using your website address in the feed and may be using their own – so any enquiries and customers may be directed through their website instead of directly to you.  You should get in touch with them and request that the links in the feed correspond to the relevant property advert page on your website and that your email address is used as the main contact.

If you have further questions please do not hesitate to ask – we have been overwhelmed with enquiries since our recent launch and I hope you will understand that we will try to respond to everyone as promptly as we can.

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The Big Property List officially launched today!

by admin

The Big Property List has been quietly online for some time and although the blog has been running for over a year (and has become quite popular) we only opened up the main property portal a few weeks ago.

The initial feedback and response has been good and people are using the site to find properties for sale and to rent in their area.

We are also seeing a suprising number of enquiries being send to Vendors to request viewings – especially given the recent press about fears for the housing market.

Why not look to find out what properties are on the market in your area?

Press Release 11 August 2010 – revised version

LAUNCH OF THE BIG PROPERTY LIST SEES THE UK’S ONLINE PROPERTY REVOLUTION MOVE ON – BIG TIME

The Big Property List (www.thebigpropertylist.co.uk), a new, free-to-use property portal, has been launched, laying down the gauntlet to everyone in the business of buying, selling and renting property in the UK.

The Big Property List displays details of available property, which have been publicly listed on Google Maps the UK, in a familiar portal style, tackling head-on the critics that suggest that users and those looking for property do not like property displayed in a map format.

In June the search engine announced that users were able to search for properties on Google Maps.  This announcement led to intense public debate in the property industry about the future of UK property portals such as Primelocation and Rightmove.

Many industry commentators and property portals have dismissed the threat posed by Google, saying that house hunters don’t want to search for property using the Google map view but prefer a list format.  The Big Property List addresses this by presenting the information in a familiar listing design.

The Big Property List offers what everyone hunting or selling property wants – a nationwide listing service to match Rightmove, which is free to use by agents.  It gives agents, home seekers and sellers on a budget, a no-cost, no frills, nationwide shop-window.

The Big Property List’s managing director, James Cole, says: “Any agent can send property details for free to Google Maps, and if they choose to syndicate this information then this will appear – for free – on The Big Property List.

He adds: “Estate agents fork out millions of pounds a year to advertise on nationwide sites. There will be no reason to do this anymore, with thebigpropertylist.co.uk providing a similar service, in a familiar style, for free.”

“At thebigpropertylist.co.uk we do not have to justify how we have to charge the fees normally paid by estate agents to a portal, allowing us to focus totally on what the consumer wants.  If we help people find the property they want, this results in better quality enquiries for estate agents.  So what benefits the consumer benefits the agent.”

-ends-

Notes for editors:

·         The Big Property List is an independent business and NOT a Google product or service.

·         The Big Property List uses the Google Base API to display details of properties which have been publicly listed on Google Maps.

·         Anyone choosing to list their property details on Google Maps can choose whether or not to syndicate this data.

·         If a user chooses not to syndicate the data, the information regarding their property WILL NOT appear on The Big Property List.  Submitting a listing to Google does not mean it will necessarily appear on any other website.

For further information please contact:

James Cole, The Big Property List +44 (0)7551 237 085 press@thebigpropertylist.co.uk www.thebigpropertylist.co.uk

Andrew Barber, Revolution Public Relations +44 (0)7989 553 903 andrew@revolution-pr.co.uk www.revolution-pr.co.uk

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Online Marketing for Estate Agents: Pay per Click

by admin

Estate Agency is changing.  The world is changing.  No matter what your stance or perspective you can’t disagree with this basic premise.

However for those at the forefront of the online migration the pace may seem faster than to those Estate Agents whose business model has remained more or less the same for the last 10 years.  For those bringing up the rear the greatest changes will be the use of an online property portal to reach buyers – probably Rightmove and no other – and the use of email instead of fax and post.

I sat in an Estate Agent’s office a few months ago and asked what a secretary was doing – she was entering property details in triplicate – to three seperate systems.  It doesn’t take A level maths to work out that a 66% time saving could be made by the introduction of a smarter system.

One of the simplest online advertising tools for an Estate Agent that doesn’t want to rely solely on Rightmove for it’s online marketing is Pay Per Click.

Essentially Pay Per Click (PPC) is a form of online advertising where you set a budget of say £20/day and your advert is displayed all over the internet – normally alongside search results (for example in Google) and on other websites that relate to your subject.  When a user clicks on your advert and is redirected to your website, you pay for that click.  Hence the name Pay Per Click.

Google Adsense for Estate agents screenshot

Google Pay Per click advertising is displayed above and beside 'natural' search results in a Google search

The most favoured system is Google Adwords – a very clever system which a new user could set up and use in just a few hours, but that has the tools and features that an advanced user requires.

In our next article in this series we’ll show you how to set up a basic Google Adwords Pay Per Click online advertising campaign in a few simple steps.

Sign up below to recieve the next article by email.

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Commercial Property Portals lag behind Residential online

by admin

When it comes to searching for a new home most people are aware of the various offerings of the internet.  The residential property portals such as RightMove, Primelocation, Fish4Homes have, as the recent OFT (Office of Fair Trading) report says ‘changed the face of (residential) property search’

It could not be easier for users to search for residential properties and rich features from 360 degree tours to virtual refurbishment options add to the experience.  Residential property portals are used all through the market from high-value sales to low-value lettings.  However, the commercial market has not been so receptive to online developments. There are portals that are available to those looking for commercial property, however, they are significantly less advanced than their residential counterparts.

Quartermile One in Edinburgh uses a website to promote the site

EGPropertyLink, NovaLoca and Focus are the market leaders, but compared to the residential property portals only provide the most basic of information such as photos, maps, and property description. The only steps that have really gone beyond these are individual property websites such as Quarter Mile One in Edinburgh.

But the use of the internet by the commercial property market has and continues to lag behind that of the residential market.  The reasons for this include the differing liquidity of the respective markets.  In the case of residential lettings, properties will sometimes be on the market for only a matter of days whilst it is not uncommon for commercial properties to be on the market for many months or even years. It is therefore more suitable to make use of more permanent advertising mediums as they are less likely to date.

Biography: Tim Denny is a regular contributor to The Inside Edge.  He is currently a Commercial Property Asset Manager for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and has an extrensive background in commercial property.

LinkedIn – Tim Denny

Twitter – @tim_denny

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Is now the right time to buy an Overseas Property?

by admin

An overseas property investment is a unique investment and unlike buying property at home. Overseas buyers are generally buying a dream and not a property as this is what the bulk of this market is all about.

Rightmove Overseas recently reported that 42% of the searches on its site were from people that want a permanent relocation, compared with only 12% who were looking at pure investment. Some people, perhaps understandably, often get wrapped up in the quantitative world of rental yields and capital gains and what is going on in the marketplace.  However, experience shows that about 85% of the people that we, as a company, deal with are looking at a lifestyle investment.

Quatro Villa on the Costa Blanca

One of our clients at Altlas International recently broke down in tears at the thought of buying a property in Spain. It had been her life long dream to do so and it was humbling to see an outpouring of emotion when she realised she could now afford to realise her dream having finally retired.

Therefore I always say it is the right time to buy Overseas Property, but people have to look at their own situation to work out whether it is the right time for them. Every day now sees the market strengthening across Europe with exchange rates strengthening almost daily (the pound is at a 20 month high against the Euro), property search figures show far higher search rates than last year (Atlas International search figures show a 35% increase on the same period last year) and sales increasing month on month. The Ministry of Housing in Spain for example has recently reported property sales in the first quarter of 2010 were 7% higher than the same period last year and 17% higher than the last quarter of 2009.

The Overseas Property market is incredibly broad what with a huge variety of countries on offer and therefore there will always be winners and losers. However, certainly the winner at the moment is the market itself. People are regaining confidence and certainly we are seeing more of the attitude “if we are going to have to endure a recession we would rather spend it somewhere hot”

James Dearsley is the European Sales Manager of Atlas International, a family firm who have been involved in the Overseas Property Business for over 30 years now and have helped move more than 75,000 people into their dream homes abroad. For more information about the company visit our website: www.atlasinternational.com

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How to choose an Estate Agent

by admin

Finding the right estate agent can be a daunting task.  After all you’re entrusting them with the sale of your largest asset and the difference between a good one and a bad one could be weeks of stress and thousands of pounds. That’s why it’s important to find a quality estate agent like the ones found at Propertywide.

Choosing an estate agent can be difficult

Choosing an Esatte Agent can be tricky

If you’ve recently bought a house then you’ll have an insight into how the local agents treated you as a potential buyer and what they did that you liked and what you didn’t.

It’s a bit like recruitment in many ways – you know they roughly fit the bill, you interview them and some you will instantly like or dislike and you will have some in the middle that are hard to differentiate – after all they all give roughly the same patter and attempt to tell you what they think you want to hear.

So how do you assess them?

Start by getting clear on your needs and the qualities that you want in the person/ company that you want to work with.  What are your aims?  A fast sale, the highest price, a personal service, low fees, a local agent, a person you trust?  If you can order this list in priority descent then you have a system by which to rate your potential agents.

Six areas we feel are important are listed below:

Property Valuation

You will get a range of valuations from different agents and the most important thing for me is that a valuation is realistic and demonstrable.  There’s no point an agent feeding your dreams of a huge profit if the price is unrealistic and will not sell.  Likewise a low price will likely achieve a quicker sale but if one of your aims is to make a capital gain then this does not serve your purpose.  Most agents will bring comparable properties that are either on the market now (so you know what the competition is) and what has been recently sold, by them and by other agents in the area.

Estate Agents’ Fees

These days the typical fee is around 2% and have been known to go as low as 1% and up to 3%.  Some agents work on a set fee, which you could argue removes the incentive for them to achieve the best price, or you could argue that it stops them favouring one property over another.  I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for – but it doesn’t necessarily follow that the most expensive is the best – you have to assess value.Sell your house for £399

Marketing

Broadly speaking estate agents all do similar things to market properties, but the details matter.  Look at some agents’ brochures and there will be only one photo, look at others and there will be myriad, all taken with care and attention to detail to show off the features of your house.  A badly taken picture can make the largest, sunniest room look dingy and pokey.  The reverse is also true.

Consider where you’ve been looking for properties – does your prospective agent advertise there?  The local paper, Rightmove (of course!), Primelocation, what does their own website look like?  Is it easy to find (search for ‘properties for sale in …” or ‘estate agents in…..’ on google – are they on the top half of the first page?  If not, who is?

Big Office vs Small Office

 

A small agency may offer a more personal service – a single point of contact and the knowledge that your property is not likely to get lost under a heap of instructions.  However, a larger agency will have more resources under its belt, for making calls to prospective buyers, sending out mailing lists and advertising in the local papers.  A big office will more likely attract more buyers in to register – but then the overhead cost of that office has to come from somewhere – your fees!  Weigh up what is more improtant to you.

 

 

Personality

For me the most important aspect.  Do you like the agent as a person, do you trust them and believe they can sell your house, and are they the sort of person you want to deal with?  If you like them then its likely others will as well, and as the old adge goes: ‘people buy people not products’.

Recommendations

After all this consideration you can get an idea for what it might be like to work with the estate agents you’ve been considering – but you can get an even clearer picture of what this is like by speaking to people who have had the experience.  A personal recommendation goes a long way and likewise a negative recommendation can save a lot of pain.  Ask friends and family in the area what there experience has been of local estate agents – or even knock on a door displaying a sign, why not!

In the end you have to make a decision based on the sum of these factors and your ‘gut feeling’.  Keeping a checklist of things you want in an agent and a list of services that are important to you should make this process much easier – also keep notes on each agant so afterwards you can sit down with a cup of tea and review what they said, how much they valued the house at and any other pertinent advice or information they offered.

Whoever you choose, giving clear instructions and explaining your aims from the start will  help the relationship from start to finish.

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Are you wondering ‘how much will my house be worth in 2010′?

by admin

 If you are wondering how much your house will be worth in the coming year then you are not alone.

The latest Halifax House Price Index published last week reported that house prices rose for the 5th successive month, rising 1.4% in November to bring the average house price to £167,664. Housing economist Martin Ellis said that rising prices this year have been due to

…increased demand for property, largely due to the improvement in affordability for existing homeowners and first-time buyers who can raise the necessary deposit…combined with a low level of properties available for sale (which has) push up prices.

But where do we go from here?  Most house price surveys have reported rises (albeit timid) that have exceeded most industry expectations this year.  We review some predictions for the coming year from the leading sources.

Predictions for 2010

Halifax (Lloyds Banking Group) 

‘Further ahead, the prospects for the market will depend on how the UK economy evolves and whether there is a significant increase in the supply of properties for sale. Overall, our view is that house prices will be flat during 2010.’

Rightmove.co.uk

- New Year burst followed by post-election uncertainty, leaving prices on average static at 0% by year end
- Shortage of new sellers and price rises in better locations to continue, though more forced
sellers and price falls in recession hit areas post-election
- Recession-induced structural changes encourage landlords to expand their portfolio
- 2010 transactions to exceed 2009, but still predicted a third down on historic norms

 Jones Lang LaSalle (Global surveyors)

The recent pick up in house prices is based on fragile economic fundamentals such as a weak pound, which has driven overseas buyer demand, and a boost from the stock market recovery, both of which are unlikely to be as supportive during 2010. It is very probable the present recovery will stall next year with prices falling by 7% as the rate in the increase of new buyers to the market eases, while the low number of properties on the market bottoms out and starts to rise again.”

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICs) Housing Market Survey Oct 09

  • Prices continue to rise with surveyors increasingly optimistic
  • New buyer enquiries continue to grow strongly. 
  • Sales expectations and price expectations also improve, although the former does so at a slower pace than in August.

Nationwide Building Society

Rising consumer expectations…could signal a period of moderation in house price inflation ahead, which is fully consistent with October’s less pronounced increase in prices.

Nationwide Chief executive Graham Beale says: “The growth in house prices over recent months appears to be driven by lack of supply, and growth in unemployment throughout 2010 will inevitably exert downward pressure on house prices.”

What do you think?

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