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Private Sales Set To Be Made Easier

by Sarah Halloran

In recent months there has been a drive by some property vendors to move away from the traditional estate agents and to look to sell their property by other means. Previously, many private websites had to be treated as Estate Agents by law but new government plans could be set to do away with that legislation and make the whole process much simpler.

The benefit of selling privately is obvious and anyone who is able to complete a sale in this way is able to dispense with estate agents’ fees. Private Websites offered a money saving alternative until they were brought under the estate agent classification but the government now plans to allow both types of business to operate under entirely separate rules.

This could lead to an even bigger move away from traditional forms of selling but there are those within the industry that are concerned over the proposals.

“These [planned changes] mean that prospective homebuyers and sellers will find it harder to distinguish between intermediaries and traditional estate agents,” said Peter Bolton King of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

“Consumers could, perhaps unknowingly, be left responsible for undertaking their own detailed sale negotiations without the advice and guidance of a property professional.”

Mr Bolton King also felt that a greater move towards private sales could lead to more aborted transactions which could, in turn, impact on the property market as a whole.

“This could lead to delays, increased costs and even sales falling through, causing frustration and stress for all involved,” he added.

However, the government believes that the moves are necessary and that they will encourage and increase transactions in the months and years following their implementation. In short, there is a clear suggestion that lower fees might attract more vendors and lead to quicker completions.

One of the problems under previous legislation was highlighted in the case of Tesco. The supermarket giant had a website back in 2007 that charged a flat fee of just £199 for sellers to list their properties. However, once that site came under the estate agent umbrella, Tesco couldn’t justify the additional costs or time that was involved and the portal inevitably shut down.

“These intermediaries help buyers and sellers contact each other at a low cost, but do not engage in other estate agent activities, so it is unfair to expect them to go out and check all the property details of all the sellers on their websites,” said Jo Swinson, Consumer Affairs Minister.

“Reducing the regulations for these businesses will open up the market and increase choices for consumers looking to save costs when buying or selling a property.”

At first glance, it does seem that there are clear benefits for both buyer and seller but will the proposed changes really give a boost to the housing market once they are put into place?

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A Case of First Time Buyer Beware?

by Alison Feemantle

An economist from one of the country’s biggest mortgage lenders has spoken this week about the need for first time buyers (FTB’s) to think carefully about the location of their intended purchase. In particular, it has been suggested that those prospective purchasers are being priced out of moves to certain parts of the UK, particularly London.

“The average Londoner trying to save for their first home has to spend around three-quarters of their income on rent, leaving precious little for savings. This compares to around half [of their income] for the rest of the UK,” said Fionnuala Earley of RBS Group.

In addition, it is claimed that while it takes an FTB 37 months to save a 10% deposit in some parts of the country, that period is extended to 51 months for deposits in London.

If you’re concerned about the variations in cost, depending on postcodes, there are many ways in which you can research any area for prices and suitability of property and they aren’t just exclusive to London.

As far as pricing is concerned, we’ve seen comments from some property experts suggesting that there is a huge discrepancy in some cases between property asking prices and the realistic selling price that a vendor can hope to achieve.

There are, fortunately, many websites where you can find out exactly how much homes have sold for in the area. for example, have prices going back to 1995 and while the earliest of those might not be exactly relevant, more recent examples should give you an accurate picture of sales figures in that postcode.

As far as suitability is concerned, there are many useful tips that have been expounded by property experts for ages but they remain powerful ideas to help you make up your mind.

Firstly, park the car somewhere and take a walk around the area. Look out for noise while you look at present housing and consider its condition, all of which should give you an idea of the neighbourhood. Remember to take this action at all times of the day and night to get a real feel for where you’re thinking of moving to.

If you’re looking for an affluent area with good schools and shops, it is said that there are key names on the high street that only set up in a town when extensive research has told them that the local clientele are financially disposed to their wares. Those names include Waitrose, Starbucks, Pizza Express and others.

The research involved here may not help you reach that 10% deposit any quicker but it could save you money on your property initially before giving you the opportunity to gauge the area and make sure you’ve made the right choice.

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Could Your Garden Help Your House Sale?

by Alison Feemantle

In recent weeks we’ve looked at the many ways in which homeowners have undertaken work around their property with a view to achieving a higher sale price and hopefully, a quicker transaction when the time finally comes to move on.

Even if you’re not in a position to move just yet, it can pay to look at methods recommended by experts that will actually help to increase the value of your home. But what are the best ways to achieve this?

It’s generally accepted that first impressions are crucial for any prospective purchaser so the front of your property is an important area to pay attention to. Doors, garages and their accompanying accessories can easily be painted or replaced but there are other aspects that you should also consider.

Your front garden, no matter how small it may be is also one of the first things that potential buyers will see and particular care should be taken to bring it up to a desirable standard. It seems however that many UK homeowners are doing just that as a survey carried out by HSBC suggests that we will spend an average of £185.00 per person in improving our own personal outdoor spaces.

The HSBC Gardens Survey has been published just ahead of the launch of the Chelsea Flower Show and it claims that households are not only improving the look of their outdoor spaces for their own pleasure, they are acutely aware of the difference such actions can make for property prices.

“Britain has traditionally had a love affair with gardens but with households facing financial pressures, people have to make difficult decisions about where to spend their cash,” said Peter Dockar, head of mortgages at HSBC. The inference clearly is that more is being spent on gardens than we might have expected.

“The survey reveals that spend on non-essential items has gone down in favour of general improvements, including landscape projects. Improving the general outlook of the garden can not only boost quality of life but also help to increase property value,” Mr Dockar added.

The survey also revealed a big discrepancy in the amount of money spent across the country. In the East Midlands, the highest spend of £253.00 per person is expected in 2012 while at the other end of the scale, those in Yorkshire and Humberside are due to spend just £112.00 on their garden this year.

Overall, however, it seems we are a nation of garden lovers and whether we are conscious of the fact or not, our efforts can help to drive up the price of our property.

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