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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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What’s in a Number? Why Living at No. 13 Could Save You Money

by Sarah Halloran

What’s in a house number?  Well, it all depends how superstitious you are.  Whilst many hotels have avoided using the number 13 for their room numbers, there are many streets with a house brandishing the number 13 on the front door.  There are also many streets without a number 13 such is the mistrust of this number.  However, what might be unlucky for some might be lucky for others.

Whilst superstition about the number 13 might seem a little irrational many of us do believe that this number will bring bad luck and misfortune.  But did you know that houses with this number are likely to be worth £4000 less than their identical neighbouring houses?

A recent study looking into the value of all properties in the UK found the average price of a ‘number 13’ home as being £205,085 whilst neighbouring houses were priced at £209,009.  These houses were identical all apart from the number on the door.

The number 13 has been associated with bad luck for many centuries and even has a phobia named after it – those suffering from ‘triskaidekaphobia’ are petrified of the number 13 and all that it might represent.

Some house builders are permitted to leave the number out of new council housing developments.  Lewes District in East Sussex says the number 13 can be omitted from plans if specifically requested.

The findings on home value come in research from property website Zoopla.co.uk. It said that for those looking to buy a house and who do not care about a number -purchasing an address at number 13 is a chance to save a tidy sum.

There are many reasons why the number 13 is considered less than lucky, but in some countries the number is very lucky.  If you are property hunting, not particularly superstitious and looking for a bargain then number 13 might be for you.  If you are one to not walk under ladders, open an umbrella indoors or put shoes on the table then number 13 is to be avoided!

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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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Buying property at auction

by James Cole

Buying property at a house auction is not for the faint-hearted, ill-prepared or risk-adverse.

That said, its a perfectly viable route to obtaining a house to live in or an investment property at a ‘fair rate’ if you do your homework.  It is possible to pick up a bargain at auction, if you know what you’re doing and have a smattering of luck – but it’s also full of pitfalls for the uninitiated – who can end up getting much more than they bargained for.

Linton Chiswick recently argued that property auctions are the barometer of house prices – giving us an early warning of the direction of prices.  This theory is based on the fact that as I stated earlier, auction prices are very fair – as they very accurately match buyers with sellers in a way that finds the exact highest price that someone is willing to pay for a property.

I looked around an auction property recently – a two bedroom semi-detached bungalow in the Vale of Pewsey needing more than a lick of paint.  At £75,000 guide price (and strategically placed as lot 1) it attracted a lot of attention.  The viewing we attended was characterised by youngsters with mum and dad, probably looking at any which way to get on the ladder – but who were soon frightened off by the sheer amount of work and money needed to get the place into a livable condition.

Our cursory inspection revealed damp walls, outdated electrics,deteriating asbestos gutters (and in the roof), no central heating system and nothing saveable in either kitchen or bathroom.  A lot to take on for a non-tradesam or inexperienced investor or wanna-be homeowner.

House Auctions do have a lot going for them in terms of speed of sale  - with a 20 – 30 day completion period bringing urgency and focus to the legal transfer process that can stretch to weeks and months in ordinary circumstances.

Although, this could all change.   We’ve recently come across the Clear system of preparing the sellers’ legal pack prior to recieving an offer – in theory eliminating the to and fro between conveyancing solicitors and enabling an on the day completion.  We’re watching this novel scheme with interest – one of those ideas that makes you ask ‘why havent we done this before?’

So, if you’re considering buying at auction, do your homework.  Look at some properties, go to a few auctions with no intention of buying.  Read up on the process, and look at opportunities with very critical eye.

This series of short videos from David Sandeman, Managing Director of Auction Information Company EI Group is a good place to start.

There are over 280 Auction Houses in the UK – see our property auctions UK page to see if there’s one near you.

Last year, 2010, also saw the launch of Zoopla online house auctions.  I can’t help but feel that this will become a much more common form of house sales.

After all if people are bidding from out of the room using a mobile phone, why shouldn’t they bid from a computer with the extra security and manageability of online bidding?  This also allows home sellers to extend the period of the auction – perhaps allowing more exposure to interested parties and raising the achievable price?

You may remember an article on this blog nearly two years ago  Neil Singer of Click to Purchase (who offer online auction software services allowing any Estate Agent to offer an Auction service to sellers) argued the case for online auctions becoming the norm.  It’s not now seeming as ‘revolutionary’ as it once did.

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To rent or sell? That is the question.

by admin

My longstanding tenants gave me notice this week and will leave in four weeks and so I’m going through the traditional ‘shall I sell up?’, ‘shall I rent?’ dilemma.

I always start by looking at what’s for sale and to rent in the area and how much is being asked I know I know asking prices can be higher then actual recieved price/ rent – but at least you know the competition and the prices potential tenants and buyers will be comparing you with. After all you have to put yourself in their shoes and see what else they could get for their money.

It may be better to sell a buy to let rather than rent it out again

Letting property in the UK?

I make a list of the properties in excel, grouped by price (£170k, £175k, £180k, £185k etc…), there were a few at either end and a lot for £175k so I know th

ere’s some choice out there – looking at the more expensive ones they had new bathrooms and kitchens whereas mine does not – neither does it have double glazing but on the plus side it has three double bedrooms and a long gar

den which backs on to a private park. Usually these victorian terraces back on to one another with little privacy outdoors.

Primelocation and Rightmove have always been my hunting ground s for t

his type of data – then a look at sold house prices in the area. This is free information held by the land registry but now made available in a variety of places – Nethouseprices is a good one. This Land Registry data is however 6 months old as it is compiled from the new registration of land titles and can

take time to become availabale. In a stable market this doesn’t matter but in recent years prices have fluctuated greatly over relatively short periods. The recent pick up this year for example won’t show in sold prices yet.

Then on to visit The Best Estate Agent In Reading. A former neighbour of

mine, fantastic salesman (I bought a house from him a few years ago) and trustworthy – the latter characteristic being the one i most value in an Estate Agent (or anyone for that matter).

He asked pertinent questions – how much did you buy it for? How long

can you afford to leave it empty? What condition is it in now? Have you updated, modernised? He’s worked this area for about 6 years and remembers the house, knows the road and I trully believe he could sell it for me.

The probalem is the market – 6-8 weeks fto sell, worst case scenario £170

k he says, best £175k – depends if you can afford to wait but the market is slow and doesn’t look to be heading to 2008 levels this year.

His advice? Rent and sell concurrently – ensure the Buy to Let mortageg is covered and start marketing the property – for the price of a HIP at £249 and nothing else to lose.

Finally, I was very surprised by the figures on Zoopla in terms of the pr

edicted value of the property. I first read about Zoopla in .nett magazine in sydney where they were profiled about 18months ago. Looking at the Board of Directors, the technology and knowing a bit about the market I could see great potential but the property data was simply rubbish. I knew my area nd t

he market and prices were way out. But they’ve obviously built up enough data and got smart enough about cleaning it up and kneading it in the right way to bake up a plausable Value Estimate of £176,979. The rental value was still way out – £626pcm when I know that going rate in the area to be around £750. Not bad though and another tool in the toolbox – I think we’ll continue to see good things from Zoopla.

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