One of the most interesting parts about working in property is getting to nose around other peoples’ homes; whether it be to draw inspiration or at the other end of the spectrum, how not to live. We interviewed Charles Sampson, director of Emphasis Inventories to find out the nitty gritty of being an inventory clerk in the London Rental Market and to get some tips for landlords and tenants.
How many inventories do you carry out a month?
Approximately 600 a month, but we are always looking to do more.
Your inventory clerks are always very happy, you must instil a happy work culture?
We do try to make a great working environment. Things don’t always go smoothly with bookings, so we are always available at the office to offer advice or help to any of our team. We are all involved in a profit share scheme, so all have a vested interest in making the company the best it can be.
What has been the nicest property your inventory clerks have conducted an inventory for?
We work all over London Surrey and Cambridge, there are obviously some very prestigious addresses in London, but my personal favourite was a 10 bedroom mansion house in Cobham which was built to a very high standard and was often rented out to feature in mainstream feature films.
Any obscure location requests for inventories?
We also do commercial inventories, so have done some interesting pubs, hotels, and shops, but we have also done an inventory on a house on an island in the middle of the Thames, accessed by boat.
Are there any celebrity properties you have performed inventories at?
I like to think that our reports are some of the best in the business and as a result we have attracted a lot of high end clients and celebrities. Not really one to name drop but we did a recent inventory on a 15 bedroom house in Hampstead for a young chart topping singer and his entourage.
From an inventory perspective, how would you recommend landlords dress their properties for tenancy?
I guess it depends on the market they are trying to attract; a high-end property would need a high-quality finish to attract the maximum yield, whereas this may not be cost effective for a property which might be suitable for multiple sharers.
What’s your number one piece of advice for tenants to avoid hefty deductions off their security deposits?
Take care of the property!
Cleaning causes a lot of issues – I would always recommend the tenant uses a cleaning company recommended by the managing agent, this way if the cleaning is not suitable the tenant does not need to get involved – the agent can ask the cleaner to return to amend anything.
You make recommendations on wear and tear, how do you go about measuring this?
All our clerks are trained in-house by our training team and members of the AIIC (Association of Independent Inventory Clerks) we adhere to strict standards. We also have a department who constantly assess our clerk’s quality and standards and keep everyone within regulations.
What areas of a property do you find wear and tear is generally located?
Usually in high traffic areas such as the entrance hall walls or the walk way area to the floor.
What was the funniest items one of your clerks can remember finding in a property?
I found an urn with someone’s grandmother’s ashes inside, it was in a kitchen unit. We took a ride through London on my moped back to the agency, so they could be reunited.
As inventory clerks, do you find yourself overanalysing your own property for damage?
I’d never cleaned my washing machine detergent drawer before doing this job!
How can you tell if a property is professionally cleaned or not?
This is one of the trickiest areas to this job as cleaning companies work to different standards and people often try to find a cheap deal online (you often get what you pay for) and even if you get a professional clean it is not always to a professional standard. We have been in business for over 9 years now and it takes experience to get this right.
What makes Emphasis inventories stand out from the rest of the competition?
We really care about what we do. All our clerks want to work for the best inventory company out there and put every effort into what they do, our office team work hard to make things run as smooth as they can, our typing team work hard to get the reports back to us in time and our proof readers do a great job in making sure everything is of the highest quality
What is the busiest time of year for you?
Our work almost triples during the summer months, we constantly analyse our figures to maximise capacity for our clients. In the summer months, we often do over 70 reports per day
In your experience, what pieces of furniture generally suffer the most damage during tenancy?
Hmm… I guess this would be the bed – I wonder why??
Under New Management. Interview with new owner, Samantha Bonaiuti, from Little Marshans on Lower Marsh
Now that you’ve taken over the business, do you have a master plan?
Now is just the beginning, so we will wait at least a couple of years, but we would like to expand and open a second store, if all goes well. We will start the online business as well, because these days I think it’s very important. We already have a website, but it hasn’t been used for selling. Because of Waterloo station and all the hotels around here; a lot of our customers don’t even live in London, so they already ask us ‘Are you online?’
Also, a lot of people from St. Thomas’ have said they find it very difficult to find quality premature clothes, in independent British shops and end up buying online. So, if possible, we would like to start doing deliveries to St. Thomas’ Evelina London Children’s hospital.
I’d really like to utilise my basement, which is huge, by potentially offering baby yoga or expanding the shop down there, in the future.
How do you think things will change for you personally, now that you are self-employed?
It’s a new challenge, I don’t think it will be much different working for myself or for someone else. You should put all your strength and knowledge in either way. Most of the time I’ve worked in smaller shops, so the owner is never around. Usually it’s us working in the shop and making the decisions for everything apart from our payment! Even ordering the clothes, I’ve always done that. Working in the small shops you have more responsibility; it’s different to working in a big shop with lots of rules and procedures.
What did you use to do before taking over Little Marshans?
Previously, I worked with women’s clothes; I started in H&M, the busiest one in London on Oxford Circus, it was crazy! After I moved to Fenwick on Bond Street, then Gucci. I’ve worked for many retailers, but never children’s clothes. This was a welcome change as it’s a lot more fun; the customers are so much more relaxed! I love choosing the stock for kids as it is always varied and colourful, providing a lot of joy to my clientele.
When you’re buying stock for the shop what are your main considerations and criteria?
Our range is aimed at newborn-7 years old. We try not to go over because firstly the shop is not big enough and because from 7 years up, children really know what they want. It can be quite difficult even under 7, girls know what they want from an early age now. Luckily, they approve of what I stock it’s just the parents having to negotiate with them what they can and can’t have, which can be a problem.
What your most popular selling item?
Toys! We are buying the same brands we had before because they sell very well LE TOY VAN makes unique painted wooden toys such as dolls and pirate ships, then at the other end of the spectrum we have WOW bold plastic toys.
Are there any new items that you’re introducing that you’re excited about?
We have introduced one new brand so far called Kite. It’s a very colourful clothing brand. I think it’s nice for children and spring is coming, that’s why I chose it. It’s also a lower price point than Hatley or Mini A Ture, because Kite is British and the others are Canadian and Danish.
That’s good, it’s great to support other British brands.
Yes, especially now with Brexit, it’s quite worrying. It will be expensive for retailers to buy from outside the EU. I will look consciously to find more brands that are British, but it’s not easy, even with toys. There’s an opportunity to try to develop something, but we will see!
What’s your favourite thing about Lower Marsh?
I think it’s the market stalls. They make Lower Marsh a destination point for lunchtimes, as you can get any type of food you like. They may not be the most beautiful thing to look on to, but it certainly does bring customers to the street.
How do you think the new business rates being introduced will affect the business?
I know they are going to increase them and as a new business it will affect us.
I think it’s too much pressure for new businesses and in fact I think a lot of businesses will be forced to shut down, which is a real shame. I will just have to manage it as best I can, as and when. In the meantime, I am very excited about the shop and growing our customer base and presence on Lower Marsh.
Little Marshans 119-120 Lower Marsh, SE1 7AE
0207 803 0888 email@example.com
The slow down witnessed in central London is a direct result of the most significant change in the housing market in 2016 - a stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let and second homes. Since April, anyone buying a home that is not their main residence has had to pay a 3% stamp duty surcharge. This, alongside a rise in normal stamp duty costs for £1m-plus homes since 2014, had a bigger impact on the market than the Brexit vote last June.
It was thought Brexit would send the market into a crashing downward spiral, but after immediately cooling, it recovered quickly. The lack of new homes being built and the difficulty to move at the top end of the market; means for Greater London the lack of supply will continue to prop up the market and despite all the other pressures on affordability, asking prices continue to increase (even if it is at a steadier pace).
Statistically speaking Southwark’s Cathedrals ward by the South Bank, has been the best performing neighbourhood in London, with the number of sales up an incredible 114% year on year. Camberwell Green, also in Southwark, is performing strongly too, with the number of homes sold up 57% year on year. There has been a boom in new builds launching in the areas, but with a precedence set, these record prices can only trickle out into the surrounding areas.
The London property market is once again proving that despite what is thrown at it; it will bounce back and remain resilient. Stock might not be flying off the shelves as it once was, but we are seeing our well marketed, competitively priced properties sell. Our advice would be if considering selling soon; now is probably a better time than anticipated. London and the political climate are ever changing and things right now are relatively stable. Prices have reached new highs and waiting around for the UK to actually say goodbye to the European Union, could have a detrimental effect on prices.
Being competitively and realistically priced is key to selling as it’s no longer a sellers’ market. This is not all bad though, we have just come back to the normality of putting a property on the market and expecting offers. If priced correctly, in the first instance, negotiating to achieve asking price is still very much possible. Vendors also often forget that in most scenarios they are also buyers. When buying an onward purchase, there is always the opportunity to put offers forward that reflect what you have accepted; you may just get a better deal.
If buying for investment purposes; we recommend to think long term as currently it’s not the market for quick gains made by flipping properties. Improvements across the capital are taking place such as Cross Rail and the Bakerloo line extension from Elephant & Castle to Lewisham. Properties in these areas will surge in price as the completion of these projects approach, so buying before the boom i.e. now! Is advised and rent will provide a steady income until such time.
Published: 13/02/2017 Last Updated: 07/03/2017 09:13:04 Tags: Lunchtime_Run_Waterloo_Friday
Welcome to the Fyfe Mcdade, half hour, Friday lunchtime run club
Staying motivated is perhaps the most important facet of focusing at work. The best method of achieving this; exercise.
It’s been proven!
A quick shot of lunchtime exercise can prevent an afternoon lethargic slump, useful when struggling come the end of the week.
After a run; your metabolism stays elevated for up to four hours, relieving stress, muscle tension & an increase in oxygen flow.
Danny, Fyfe Mcdade’s Lettings Manager in our Waterloo office, is heading up a lunchtime run every Friday lunchtime commencing on:
12.30pm, Friday 24th February
Fyfe Mcdade, 29 Lower Marsh, SE1 7RG.
Danny began running at the age of 10 and has represented Blackheath and Bromley Harriers and more recently; Highgate Harriers. In 2014, he was listed in the top 100 amateur marathon runners and is now featured in the top 200 Pro South of England rankings. Previously he has run not only the London marathon but more recently the New York marathon.
He regularly trains at Hampstead Heath and will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to those proficient in running as well as those who are just starting out.
So, if you are looking for tips, getting fit or an excuse to get out of the office & meet some new people. Please come and join Danny and the team. He’ll be the one in running gear!
For further information please email: waterloo@fyfemcdade or call
0207 401 8088.
How about saving you money?
Yes, you did read that correctly.
In a world that constantly feels like it’s getting smaller thanks to the relentless march of technology and with accessibility to said technology cheaper and easier than ever before, more and more people are looking to alternative avenues to rent their properties. Whether that be online agencies offering small, upfront fees or simply utilizing social media and online marketplaces to advertise, never have there been more options for landlords to find tenants quickly, easily and most importantly affordably.
But how much do these alternative routes really save you compared to using your local agency? Well actually, they might just lose you money.
A recent study of 500 landlords by insurance firm Endsleigh found that on average those who went out on their own to rent their property saved on average £159 per month on fees but that is without considering the lower rents achieved and void periods.
On the contrary, those who used agents saved almost £2,000 across the same period and 76% of the respondents said that their agents helped them proactively find new tenants thus nullifying any void periods and maximising the rental income.
Incidentally 50% of respondents did cite local knowledge as a key factor when appointing an agent and 40% said that the most important thing for them was quality customer service.
It’s often misunderstood what exactly we do to earn our fees and though the many factors are too myriad to outline here the most important is often the simplest, peace of mind. There is no exact science to this industry and things change week to week which can be difficult for landlords to keep up with and the impersonal, distant and sometimes non-existent service of online platforms can leave you wondering why your property isn’t renting.
The service and knowledge that your local agent provides is worth its weight in gold and could, as the numbers suggest, be even more valuable as the options for renting diversify further and more regulations come into effect. 2017 will see additional legislation introduced with regards to electrical safety and Legionnaires disease both of which have not been well publicised and carry heavy fines at the minimum for landlords who fail to adhere to them.
With so much else in the world to worry about now, why add the hassle of going it alone to rent your property when a few streets away are some friendly chaps who can do it for you in no time at all. And they might leave you with a few bob spare too.
The Times, press coverage on Mollie, a 45ft cruiser-style Cheshire Narrowboat residing in the much sought after private residential moorings at Wenlock Basin.
Situated at the far end of the basin, the boat benefits from undisturbed views of the marina and the wildlife; including herons, cormorants, swans, bats and coots.
Published: 16/11/2016 Last Updated: 16/11/2016 15:19:56 Tags: Metro_Press_Newdevelopment_Godsonstreet
Press coverage from the Metro for award winning two bedroom house designed by RIBA award winning architects, Edgley Design. The development itself has also recently secured a London regional award by RIBA.
Last Updated: 09/07/2015 14:31:41 Tags: Property_Sales_Developments_Overview_Onthemarket_Mansiontax_Stampduty
As the fog of sleep deprivation lifted, I returned from Maternity to discover our blog was also ‘overdue’ and life as I’d know it no longer existed!
The furious juggernaut of mass block viewings had ceased, to be replaced with a more civilised market where you might just get a second viewing!
City road was now a towering sea of glass, as yet another development laid its foundations and started its ascent up. Yet more developers set up pitch consuming every last inch of sq footage possible in town. Hard to believe we still have a shortage of property, but we do, and that is what is keeping prices mirroring the dizzy heights of these new tower blocks.
As we entered an election, the potential Mansion Tax, Labour proposed, saturated the headlines. Buyers and sellers held their breath, sighing in collective relief as they narrowly avoided another tax.
There was the change in Stamp Duty. After a lifetime of one system I felt like someone wrestling with the current conversion trend: oz’s or grams, cm or inches, tuppence or pence? Maybe it was baby brain...either way here it is again for anyone who similarly struggles with this affliction.
• nothing on the first £125,000 of the property price
• 2% on the next £125,000
• 5% on the next £675,000
• 10% on the next £575,000
• 12% on the rest (above £1.5 million)
Then there was the launch of the new property portal; On the Market. Oh the kerfuffle... Initial resistance seemed to be over the inconvenience of having to click elsewhere but remember, they were all ‘the new site on the block’ at one point. Generally we don’t like any company to have a monopoly, same thing applies here. As for supposed lack of exposure, any estate agent will still have links to one of the big boys, so anyone looking to buy WILL find your property. Promise.
Personally, I think we ought to give them a chance, so far they’ve been very good and maybe in a year’s time it will be everyone’s first port of call.
Fyfe Mcdade, also changed. Notice the gap, we figured it might help pronunciation. Plus suddenly everyone was giving birth, currently we have 3 Fyfe babies. 2 boys and a girl and all within 6 months of each other! We’ve seen new Managers, promotions within, additional sales negotiators and now the opening of a new office, south of the river in Waterloo, SE1.
I close my eyes and wonder if it’s all a dream, but my phone suddenly starts to ring again as my baby traverses across the floor, at lightning speed, to try and chew the vibrating object. Having wrestled the salvia covered phone from his clutches, I answer the phone to the dulcet tones of my MD.
‘Haven’t you written that blog yet!’
Time sure doesn’t wait for no man, or woman, we just have to run with it.
Last Updated: 15/12/2015 11:46:27 Tags: Lettings_2015_Legalrequirements_Property_Market_Legislation
You’ve scrimped and saved, talked to various banks and mortgage brokers, scanned the internet, viewed x amount of apartments, negotiated on your ideal investment property, waited for searches, management packs to materialise, then all of a sudden you are a second home owner.
Now you need only rent out your exciting new endeavour to secure a bit of extra income and you’ll be a happy camper….
Easy? Well first you will need to….
1. Secure some angelic tenants through an agent, who with Simon Cowell abruptness has vetted the hopefuls and politely redirected the Marilyn Manson look a likes elsewhere.
2. Checked they earn the correct income to afford the apartment
3. Importantly, haven’t had any prior convictions or run ins with their last landlord
4. Registered their deposit with the DPS
5. Checked and inventoried them in…
Then you are good to go…? Yes, but….
The joy of new legislation is it doesn’t stop, each year there is another host of legal requirements that you need to know to not only cover yourself but protect your investment.
So, courtesy of our ARLA qualified Lettings geek, Danny, please see a helpful breakdown of 2015 DO’s and DONT’s to make your life just that little bit easier….
• New section 21 rules. You cannot serve it within the first four months of tenancy. The earliest it can be served is on the first day of the fifth month, and anytime thereafter. The notice is always served in line with the rent due date.
• All S21 notices served going forward will be immediately invalid, unless the following has been served prior to the commencement of the tenancy:
o Condition of dwelling house not improved after tenant has written a valid complaint.
o “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” leaflet. From 1st October 2015, ‘How to Rent’ guides have to be served to all tenant’s commencing a new tenancy from 1st October 2015. Link to government produced guide here.
o Gas Safety Certificate provided before start of tenancy
• A smoke alarm has to be located on each floor of the property, so a terraced house with three floors, will need a smoke alarm on each separate floor. Apartments will only need one, unless they are split level, but it is advised to have more than one if it is a big space.
And to clarify….
• Carbon Monoxide alarms are ONLY necessarily in the same room as any solid fuel appliances, such as log or peat burning stoves, wood fired ovens.
• Legionnaire’s disease (yup) you’re supposed to say you have the all clear for it but at present, we understand, you won’t be prosecuted if not tested. Do it yourself to avoid heavy costs.
If you are lucky to have a few apartments in a block it is RECOMMENDED that communal doors should be fitted with locks/catches which are openable from the inside without the use of a removable key. This should always be the case in HMOs, including shared houses.
Where security locks are fitted, they should be of thumb-turn to facilitate this.
Plus: It is strongly RECOMMENDED that the exit door from each apartment is also openable from the inside without the use of a removable key.
And coming to your investment for 2016…
• Getting the right ID: it’s imperative that you get a valid form of ID. New legislation from February 2016, requires all landlords and managing agents to get a valid form of ID for all adult occupiers. Best practise is a passport, but a National ID card or UK Driving Licence will suffice.
• Finally, they are discussing introducing an electric certificate but nothing confirmed yet…
Easy when you know, not so much when you don’t. Despite all of the above don’t be afraid of letting. If, however you feel slightly overwhelmed, get us to manage your property, we take to stress like a duck to water.
So you may have seen these kicking around Dalston a week or two ago and it got me thinking…
I’m an estate agent, I haven’t always been but I am one now. Over the years, I have bought and sold around 6 times, I started in Fulham Broadway, then spent 10 years hopping around Highbury and Islington, then a sabbatical in West Sussex before diving back into N1. I have consequently dealt with a number of agents over the years, all generally when I was courting another profession, so I can say hand on my heart, I can understand where the above sentiment came from. That said I would also like to say a few words on behalf of those who spend their days tirelessly fighting this perception because of the careless, lack lustre actions of others.
Firstly, why do I sympathise? Well let me give you a few of the scenarios I have personally experienced….
Agents not calling me back having bid asking price, to discover the property was under offer on their website a few days later
An agent buying the property I won a bid on
An agent quoting from a crib sheet, verbatim, what he’d clearly been told by some ‘sales guru’ was a guaranteed formula for securing a deal, despite the fact I’d said I wasn’t interested in the property
Being ignored because clearly I wasn’t the right age/ sex or dressed right, to be able to afford somewhere. Big mistake.
Being told, when selling my flat, that I was a fool for not accepting an offer and I’d never get that again…just got £120,000 more now, thank you.
I’ve also witnessed agents fighting with each other because they don’t want to show someone else, not registered with them a house, despite the fact they weren’t doing anything and the said client was flying off that day.
As recent as last week, I discovered via my tenant, who was attempting not to pay his rent that he had paid my agent in Sussex £500 to remarket the property, funnily enough the agent hadn’t mentioned this to me.
So…I get it, really I do. But in our defence we aren’t all like that. Once you’ve experienced…well… that, you’re not likely to dish it back out again, got to be pretty sadistic for that. Typically you will go to the opposite extreme in a valiant attempt to lead the way in how sales/ rentals ought to be.
One of the reasons I joined Fyfemcdade was yes, I needed a job and they were suitably eccentric enough to take me on, but because they had ethics, believed in building relationships with clients, were open to new ideas, didn’t walk around in suits with clipboards, ferociously clicking ball point pens and saying ‘get in’ whilst high fiving their colleagues….shiver.
As a team, and I say a team because we work as one, we help each other, ask for advice, and admit when we are clueless so we can get the right answer back to our clients instead of constructing some elaborate nonsense that sounds good but means, nothing.
Why do we do this, because we build up a level of trust between vendors/ landlords/ buyers and tenants and as in any relationship you don’t want to be the one to mess it up. It never feels good to be the one at fault, especially if you are hurting or upsetting someone else needlessly.
We are essentially middle men but we are also neutral and often good listeners and at times therapists. It’s stressful buying and moving and it’s important to understand that and try and help where and when we can. Sometimes people just need to vent and we are here for that. At times, we are at the mercy of changing circumstances from clients and have to be the bearers of bad news, in those instances, I’d like to think it was slightly more palatable coming from us as opposed someone else.
Yes, we make money…so do you. But we earn it honourably and can go home and sleep at night.
I watch people entering our office with a variety of attitudes which vary from nervous (having been shouted out by other agents, I kid you not), smiling (they’ve seen one of our dogs lounging on the sofa, we have one in each office) or in full battle defensive gear…It gives me such pleasure to put these people at ease and see the chain mail come off.
We have a testimonial page on our website, which on first reading may make you think we held a gun at these peoples head; surely no one would ever write that, let alone for an agency, but they did, willingly, and off their own back and it is this page that I’m the most proud of.
So, yes I admit it, I’m an agent, working for a good agency with lovely people and dogs and I will not be ashamed of what I do because I, WE aren’t like that. So post this Valentine’s Day weekend, I want to give everyone out there, searching for somewhere to live, a little hope.
There has been a lot of debate recently about how useful or necessary Estate Agents are.
I believe, there are a lot of agencies which like to remain shrouded in a veil of mystery…why?
Beats me, what they got to hide?
So…let me endeavour to unmask the industry in the hope of providing a little insight into our usefulness and how we can achieve great results for you and provide some sanity in this crazy market. Oh, and why that % is money well spent.
I received the below from someone I’d been exchanging emails with who was interested in us potentially marketing his property.
‘Ok I'm interested.
If you were selling a property what would be the top questions to ask an agent looking to sell the property?
What are the most important factors?
I have contacted a number of agents and need to decide when to sell and with who
I look forward to your intelligent response’
Yup, that was it.
His approach maybe a little abrupt, but he has some valid questions, ones he has a right to know.
Ok, I’m interested.
Well that’s a start, always nice to have someone willing to listen.
If you were selling a property what would be the top questions to ask an agent looking to sell the property?
How would you go about marketing the property?
It is vital to get good photographs and not get an agent to do them, otherwise you could end up gaining national press for all the wrong reasons: Daily Mail
We employ a professional photographer to take pictures and draw up a floorplan. We then write a description that consists of more than:
Or, and I’m not sure what is worse, nonsense like this:
‘Slowly drink and savor the Two Double Bedrooms, an open plan Reception Room and Kitchen and get excited about the fantastically fruity roof top Terrace that adjoins a second upstairs Reception area.’
We elaborate on the layout of a property and include information on transport links and key spots nearby, be it the local gastro pub or nearest grocers. We like practical information but importantly we want to create a picture of what it would be like to live in the area.
We also employ a PR agency who are responsible for getting National press coverage on your property.
Sometimes we accidentally generate a buzz from just doing what we do….
Channel Four News...
What price would you market at and why?
The price is based on comparable property sales in the last few months in the area. That said, it’s tricky at the moment as prices in London seem to be soaring almost weekly. You don’t want to be so bullish that your property sits there but competitive enough to drive interest. It is always preferable to have more than one person interested in a property to drive offers and give confidence to buyers that they are not alone in liking somewhere. As I’ve blogged about before, no one likes sealed bids but at least you know you are buying a sought after property and therefore will always be able to sell it again.
Are you on the property portals?
Yes, all of them. Anyone looking for a property in this area, in this price range, will find it online.
What have you sold in the area, block?
Obviously depending on where it is the response is….Yes, typically we are finding that there is a huge demand for 2 bed apartments in this area due to location, proximity to the tube and say, area, plus it is a great Buy to Let or first home. I can see a couple, a young professional…etc.
What is your commission?
This information is reserved for clients, we do occasionally offer discounts but this is not always possible. We won’t however do it for nothing or charge the buyers our fees. Fyfemcdade has worked hard to get to where it is today, ploughing money back into the business enabling it to open 3 offices within 5 years. We pride ourselves on our customer service and developing relationships with our clients, we don’t waste their time or yours by forcing them to view a property that is clearly not right for them. If we did, clearly we haven’t listened to their requirements and they won’t trust us. It’s a bit like the boy who cried wolf, if you continually mess up when you do have something relevant they won’t make the effort to come out.
How long are you going to tie me in for?
We don’t tie you into a month or in some cases 16 weeks, yes 16weeks! If you haven’t sold by then I’d be seriously worried…N.B read the small print. All we ask for is some warning and a few days grace to follow up any existing leads.
Have you got existing buyers for this property on your books?
Yes, we cross market across our 3 offices, so covered by 3 sets of negotiators. We aren’t precious about who sells a property just that we get a good buyer and the right price for the owner. Oh and we congratulate each other rather than mutter, muttley style behind our laptops.
How would you go about showing the apartment?
All depends on the circumstance and what suits you. If tenanted we try to minimise any disruption so will liaise with them and block viewings. As a general rule block viewings tend to be the way forward in this aggressive market. Why? It demonstrates the level of interest in the property to buyers and creates a buzz. It can be daunting though for first time buyers so I would recommend a second viewing slot where possible.
Who will be doing an open day?
If you want one of the managers or the person you have meet to do the viewing day, we are happy to do that. Often sellers met one person who they like and then discover they have a junior, slightly clueless negotiator showing the property. That said all our negotiators are highly skilled and not one of them would feel comfortable holding an open day without being fully briefed.
What happens if you go multi, what are the plus and minus points?
Honestly, not much I can say about going multi that I’d recommend. You will end up paying more commission, and your property will be duplicated on the portals making any buyer think you are desperate to sell. DON’T DO IT, unless you HAVE TO!
Tell me more about your agency, your ethos?
• We are people centric
• We don’t wear suits
• We like brogues/bikes and dogs
• We know our areas
• We like property and people.
• We are here because 2 Scottish guys decided to create an agency which had a fresh approach to marketing and working within the industry. I think the Carlsberg ads have a lot to answer for….
Fundamentally do you like the person you are talking to, chances are if you do, buyers will. Yes, you don’t have to like the person selling a property but the property itself, but you’d be surprised what a difference it makes. You generally receive more offers when buyers trust the agent and don’t feel they are being bullied into bidding.
I have contacted a number of agents and need to decide when to sell and with who?
Truth be told, in this market, the majority of agents can sell your property. Personally I think it comes down to who you like, who’s website you find easy to navigate and who has LISTENED to what you have said.
I look forward to your intelligent response’
Well…not sure if I’d go that far but I have responded
If you are an investor or simply looking for something, anything, vaguely affordable in London to get you into work without having to be out the door at 5am. Then instead of banging your head against your laptop at central London prices, expand your horizons by doing just that; look up and out.
There are 25 new stations to be added to the London Overground in 2015 (Sneak preview map) this will make a dramatic difference to the east of London. Area’s that were once pretty, green and good for the weekend, London Fields, Stoke Newington are suddenly a realistic option for anyone looking to get into the City daily. The Overland will transport residents via Bethnal Green and Hackney to Liverpool Street Station in a matter of minutes meaning; as easy as it is to get into work, it is even easier to escape it at night. Enabling you to make the most of the cacophony of gastro pubs (Cat and Mutton, The White Hart) that are spreading like butter on toast in the area!
If these still seem a little too pricey then I’d look further down the line and East. Crossrail maybe a few years away but the amount of new developments that are underway will transform these previous wastelands of urban existence. Stratford isn’t just for the Olympics but a new lifetime fixture. Eurotunnel, Crossrail, National rail and the tube will be bursting its canal banks making Stratford the new Kings Cross. Yes, it may look like The Dead Zone at the moment but with Westfields, Queen Elizabeth Park already up and running and the promise of West Ham, a new tech city and a designer outlet in the works; give it a year or two and you’ll be laughing at money well spent. Instead of flipping, the clever investor right now ought to be prepared to hold fast to current purchases for a few more months than the previous nanosecond approach. Money can still be made by a quick turnaround but the effort involved, at the moment, isn’t worth the gain.
So where should you be looking….Hackney Wick is already a popular and essential transport link for the artistic crowd who can be spotted at The White Building swapping creative ideas over a pizza and locally brewed ale.
Developments like the Mission that are sandwiched between Hackney Wick and Victoria Park mean you have a win, win situation, urban grittiness verses lush green parkland with boating facilities for those romantics out there.
This year we saw Clapton prices soar however for those looking for a family home, it’s still relatively good value.
Big tip: Watch out for Fish Island, sounds fishy? Well Formans is already there but if you aren’t just after smoked salmon but some classic warehouse conversions with water views, without the Shoreditch price tag….keep your eyes peeled or on Fyfemcdade....(to be continued)….
For those of you that simply can’t be torn away from Central London; Farringdon which currently only provides transport links via the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, will form the axis for travelling in and around London accessing all 3 networks: Thameslink, Crossrail and London Underground. Clerkenwell doesn’t need to win any popularity contests but without trying, it just did. Anywhere within a 10 minute walk of Farringdon is a sure fire solid investment.
I’ve touched on only a few areas but to make a good investment, go old school and look at transport links, just not the old school areas…..
So it’s summer? There’s been Wimbledon, The Commonwealth Games, The Chelsea Flower Show for goodness sake! Is it any great surprise then that the market has cooled a little? Surely everyone has better things to do, like go on holiday, sit in the sun, drink Pimms, entertain the kids.
Okay, announcements from Mr Carney revising bank lending; insisting on larger deposits and only borrowing up to 4 times your salary, have had some impact. Given that this is only coming into effect in September, can this really be the cause of the down turn? Or… is it that certain banks, like Lloyds, have decided to cull the amount of ‘Help to Buy’ properties they give the green light? Or could it be that the media, having beamed its headlights on the market, bombarding us with analytical coverage and speculation; has driven buyers to press the pause button on the past years sealed bid phenomena sweeping the London housing market?
I say pause or perhaps a hiatus, a Pinter’esk pause…
Why am I not sweating profusely from the obvious END OF THE MARKET AS WE HAVE KNOWN IT!?! Well for numerous reasons, mainly, none of this comes as any particular surprise.
Historically it is always fairly quiet in summer, for all the reasons above and then some. For all Mr Carney’s good intentions, generally, well certainly in our patch of London, buyers seem to be cash rich or looking at the Buy to Let market, therefore the impact on salary restrictions won’t make a tremendous difference. Those that do require a mortgage seem to have a healthy deposit, typically 15-25%. As for the Help to Buy scheme, we haven’t come across one yet. I’m not saying these things won’t have any impact, of course they will, but on the whole I’d say they aren’t the sole cause of the current easing in the market.
Notice the word, easing.
This time last year it was widely advertised that interest rates couldn’t stay at the same appetising rate for long. This along with the increasing bun fight for a property in London, which was reminiscent of the sort of mad frenzy you’d expect to see for One Direction, not a one bed in Bethnal Green or Whitechapel; yes the East End is officially HOT, drew a lot of attention to what was going on in the Capital. Subsequently the media got interested and the governor of the Bank of England, funny that.
As an agent, in this sort of market, we are supposed to rub our hands together in glee, but those of us who were around for 2007 know that anything that seems too good to be true; generally is. Now hold your horses, this doesn’t mean we think the market is suddenly going to crumble like Pompeii. ‘Damn’, I hear you cry, ‘We were holding off buying so we could swoop in and get ourselves a bargain!’ And that my friend is why the market is slower. Everyone is on hold. The problem with that is eventually you need to stop the record skipping and hear out your favourite tune. The market hasn’t dropped, it’s just flattened, not at 10% lower than it was at the start of the year but exactly where it was. Buyers maybe more cautious at open days but prices haven’t dropped and sellers require market value, so don’t expect them to discount for the sake of a few holiday months and why should they, you wouldn’t?
Ultimately no one knows what the future holds but if you are looking to invest, London is a good bet. Recently voted the most expensive City in the World; investors from across the globe want a piece of it, parents are helping out their siblings, banks are seeing saving accounts emptied due to the lack of interest and all are looking to invest in The Capital. Even if things don’t continue to escalate, they will at some point, look at 2007, no one thought we’d be able to reach those dizzy heights again and 6 years on we have surpassed those prices in some cases by 40%.
Developers are continuing to build, demand outstrips supply and Crossrail will revitalise areas like the Overland did for E8 and beyond. So, if you are looking to buy, don’t wait for some spectacular drop which is unlikely to happen, just buy smart; somewhere that is on the rise, is a good long term investment and you would happily live in for more than a few months if you had too. Otherwise, I fear, as many did in 2013, that what you can afford now could be out of reach in a few months’ time.
So you’ve spent the best part of your 20’s in your, much loved, one bed apartment. In that time you’ve collected: another half, a few pets and a storage facility all of which are draining your monthly income. It doesn’t take long for you to come round to the suggestion it might be time to look for somewhere a little…. I don’t know…bigger? Or perhaps you fancy yourself as a property tycoon; flipping property, like a Michelin star chef, in the hope of making a quid or two after tax…solicitors fees and potential capital games. Or maybe you want to down size, the family has all grown up, sons and daughters have flown the nest consequently the 5 bedrooms seem a little… excessive?
Whatever the reason, once you’ve decided to up sticks and met copious agents…(not so subtle suggestion…fyfemcdade?) You no doubt want to achieve, make, take home…for your new home, as much cash as possible. Yes, that is the agent’s job but there are a few simple things you can do to help, which potentially could make a sizeable difference.
Now, before you rush out and buy the latest bread-making machine or start your own ‘Great British Bake Off’ there are a few other, shall we say more subtle, ways of making your home more homely.
I realize that this is a tricky one because you LOVE your home; anyone walking through the door will obviously fall head over heels for it, as you did. They won’t mind you can’t open one of the bedroom doors fully; due to the broken wardrobe door brimming with clothes you no longer wear. Or the bathroom with the fused light or the garden that hasn’t been mowed since the mower broke last month. The sad truth is…though you might love it, someone else may find it harder to see past its quaint foibles. Simple put, if it’s broke – fix it.
If you have built-in wardrobes, I’m afraid cramming everything in it, praying no one thinks to look in is a recipe for disaster. Buyers want to see storage space, they want to know if it will fit all their shoes, coats, books, or whatever other paraphernalia they may have. They don’t want to be rained down by YOUR paraphernalia, dissolving the viewing into a clear up operation.
Put your marketing hats on, look at your property objectively, who is the type of person to buy your apartment/house…what would they be looking for? If you have a four bedroom house but one of the bedrooms is being used as an extended wardrobe, clear it out, put a bed in it or a desk…could it make a nice office? Yes, you’d hope people had a little more imagination than that, some do but a lot need a nice helping hand.
If you have a new build property and looking to flip it, without doubt, you will achieve more by furnishing it. Often what scares buyers from these sorts of properties, is not just the price for what appears to be a small box but they can’t visualize where any furniture could go, let alone fit. Empty spaces generally look smaller than ones that are dressed. You don’t need to buy cutlery but the staples; a bed, table, sofa etc are well worth the investment.
As for roof terraces, if you’ve got one. Put a chair, a table, a few plants…you want a buyer to visulizing themselves sipping a nice cold beer, Chablis, whatever their poison, after a long day at the office on their balcony. They do not want to see a washing line, a couple of bikes and, crime of crimes, a full ashtray!
As for flowers…well they are always nice but not essential. As long as your house is clean, as clutter free as possible and doesn’t smell of bins, you’re fine.
Pets; we all love them at Fyfe but we can see that Fido bounding up to lick a potential buyers face might not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you can take him out for a walk when there is a viewing, brilliant. If you could hoover Fido’s favorite sofa that now looks like Chewbacca’s distant cousin, even better.
For those of you who feel that no one could show your home better than you yourself. I get it, and you’re probably right…however, it’s really important a buyer has the opportunity to walk around picturing themselves there. What interests you; may not them. It’s also tricky as you may take an instant dislike to them, so the fact they have just offered asking and are cash becomes a personal issue as opposed an…I want to sell my house issue. I say this, but I agree it is always nice to think your home is going to someone you like; sadly this can’t always be the case.
The frustrating thing is once you have done all this, you’re bound to begin to question why you are selling. This is just how you pictured your home looking when you bought it, 5-10 years ago!
828 espressos, 250 chocolate bars, 999 email exchanges later, we have arrived.
Welcome to our new website!
I’d like to say it’s been a walk in the park, well there were walks where creative musings occurred but there were also marathon runs, 150 meter swims and mammoth cycle rides to expel creative blocks. Was it worth it? We think so. Surely anything good is worth a little sweat.
So what’s new? Clearer display images, better search options and more images than a flip book. In addition we have this…our new blog.
From this we will be updating you with the latest news from our three offices, commenting on the housing market and providing comic antidotes to help you through the buying, renting and selling process. Need a dog friendly pub? Advice on how to avoid running over a celebrity in Shoreditch? What’s new in the area?... .we will keep you posted. Think of us as your eyes and feet on the ground, priority…you.
We here at Fyfemcdade, pride ourselves on our marketing; we recognise that one of the most important things to get right is the photography consequently we hire professional photographers to illustrate spaces at their best. So proud of this and the properties we get to market we decided to set up a Pinterest page so we can share with you all the fabulous architecture , interiors and skylines we get to work with every day.
A lot of estate agents wax lyrical about what ‘they can do for you’. Well, we decided it would be better for you to hear first-hand from previous and on-going clients how they felt about working with us. So if you don’t believe a word estate agents say and are full of mistrust and loathing for us all…(look we have to battle with this stereotype every day, we know what the common perception is) have a read of our testimonials page and hopefully we can change your mind.
So there it is… we hope you like it and make use of it but please remember… nothing is as good as meeting face to face. So if you are in the area, pop in, say hi, we may show a lot of teeth but we don’t bite.
Whether you are a first time buyer, a dab hand looking to increase your property portfolio or a Buy to Let wannabe, nothing really prepares you for the dreaded Sealed Bid scenario. I mention this as it has been creeping back over the past year and during the last couple of weeks in particular; virtually every new property that we have taken on has gone through this nail biting process.
No one likes it when it goes to best bids…well apart from the owners. That said, yes, they do tend to do well out of it, but deciding between offers is no easy task. It’s not always as simple as who has bid highest, deciding factors can be …
1. Who can move the fastest
2. Are you chain fee
3. Flexible on completion date
4. Can provide proof of funds/ brokers details
5. Will put a holding deposit down
6. If the owners have met the buyer they may just ‘want them to have it’
Or it can simply come down to…
7. Owners having to scrutinize various mortgage deposit percentages.
For prospective buyers this can feel like an interrogation and occasionally people opt out of even viewing a property if it looks like it will go this way. What I will say to those people, is yes it’s a little unpleasant but what it does indicate is the property is in demand, so a solid investment and therefore A GOOD BUY! I’d be more worried, if there was no one rushing around to view. Also, you are missing out on your potential dream property in the hope that it will turn up and no one else will want it…see my point?
Best Bids are not a cruel invention of estate agents to extract as much of your money as possible. They are there to make the process fair for all bidders. Everyone is in the same boat, everyone has to make up their own mind as to what they feel happy bidding and importantly, no one knows what someone else is offering. If you don’t want to go up, no one is going to make you, you are in control.
Having been in this position a few times myself as well as of course, professionally, the best advice I can give anyone faced with this situation is ‘bid what you are happy to lose it for’. Meaning: DON’T retort to the agent after finding out you weren’t successful, you could have bid an extra £10,000 etc…by that time, you’ve muffed it. Sorry to be brutal but only being cruel to be kind.
I do appreciate how hard this can be, especially if, like me, you have been bought up to haggle for everything! We all like a bargain and never like the thought of paying over the odds, but there are times when you have to roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath and enter the ring fighting. If you want it, you have to fight for it. Rocky didn’t win any fights by being tentative he went hell for bells. So dig out that old sweat band, grab a dog (preferably not a Saint Bernard, don’t think you want to attempt lifting one of them) and get ready.
One thing I’d like to add on behalf of agents…we do actually want you to win. We want the best for you, yes we are acting on behalf of the vendor but we build up a rapport with you, we know what you want and can see you would be happy there, we get excited because you’re excited. We aren’t callous individuals desperate to drive the price to top up our commission, doesn’t work like that. You will buy where we live and work and I, for one, don’t want my neighbour to be cursing me every day we meet in the street. It’s horrible having to tell people they weren’t successful. No one likes to tell anyone you didn’t get the job or you didn’t get the A+ you hoped for. Same applies to us.
In this market, which shows no signs of slowing…if you want to find a new home… get bullish. Otherwise by the end of the year you may not be able to even afford what you liked at the beginning.
Whilst the number of properties coming to the market was at an all-time high, conversely, rents did not increase as in previous years. Principally it was buy-to-let portfolio landlords attempting to beat the 3% stamp duty deadline so a swathe of new-build SE1 property hit the shelves post April 1st 2016.
Wage increases were also sluggish in comparison to the sharp rise in the cost of living, directly affecting rent affordability. High rents and lower wages did not equal properties going under offer, which in turn created a saturated market. Landlords had to adjust to the stabilising market to ensure they avoided costly void periods.
However, it was not all doom and gloom! The market did settle in the second half of the year and activity levels picked up, further highlighting the resilience of central London, particularly in the traditional heart of Southwark and Lambeth boroughs.
Despite all the negative press in the last few months and the on-going political crises surrounding the UK’s property market, trends indicate that rents will continue to remain strong. According to Savills 2017 forecasts, rental growth is predicted to outstrip sales growth.
This can be attributed to the struggle of the ever-increasing cost to first-time buyers. Consequently, stock levels are predicted to remain high, with fresh instructions appearing daily in the ever-popular Waterloo & Bankside areas.
However too many properties are being brought to market at over-inflated prices by estate agents, eager for an instruction. This bullish approach, fundamentally, costs the landlord money by having a property vacant for numerous weeks.
To achieve quick and effective results, we recommend pricing a property at the true, current, market price; this will ensure landlords secure a tenant fast, minimising losses by avoiding unnecessary void periods.
So the bank holiday is over, the first day back has been and gone and we are now fully entrenched in a deluge of emails, valuations and property descriptions. If you were to pass one of our offices, you would hear the constant tap tap of keyboards, the phones ringing and see the odd streak of light as one of our colleagues, probably our blond haired marathon runner, Danny, sprint out the front door.
Our little white fiats are buzzing around town, heels have been discarded in favour of flats and our nails are worn down to the quick. Amongst all of this, Jimmy coolly pads around HIS office checking that no biscuits are being eaten without his knowledge and that the floor has been suitably cleaned.
Part of his daily routine is to take a stroll around Bloomsbury to check that all of the properties we are marketing are being presented in the best possible light. Today I have been drafted in to accompany him and apparently gain a better understanding of how he operates. Nothing to do with the fact that everyone in Bloomsbury needed to eat of course….
Tirelessly he pounds the streets; he leads me past a 3 bed on Burton Street which he is particularly keen on, as it has a sunny terraced garden for lounging in. A wag to Leigh Street and Queen Alexandra Mansions, both good one beds ideally located for transport links via Kings Cross and perfect for the odd trip to Paris to meet French pals and deliberate over a ripe brie. Alternatively, if you need access into town why not walk… that, after all, is the beauty of living in Bloomsbury!
Of course if you are planning to pop on the Eurostar, Marcus Wareing’s new restaurant in St Pancras; Gilbert and Scott is a must. Apparently the cocktails are good too, although Jimmy rarely drinks so can only bark on behalf of others. The tenants who have just taken our 2 bed apartment in St Pancras chambers won’t have to worry about one cocktail too many though….. a simple lift ride sees them safely ensconced in their decadent apartment.
To clear a head or two, Jimmy recommends a wander up to Swinton Street, where we have another great 3 bed on the market and then up Lloyd Baker Street to check out the 2 bedroom cottage in Hardwicke Mews that we recently sold, and are now renting out for the new owner.
I however, am beginning to struggle in heels so suggest heading back, thankfully Jimmy agrees. As we pass the Cube, he is tempted to check out the communal gardens but thinks better of it and aims for the office on Marchmont Street. Just as I think I’m home safe, he careers off through St Georges Park in hot pursuit of a rogue Squirrel. Whilst trying to catch up with him and regulate my breathing, I suggest cutting through Brunswick Gardens, grudgingly he accepts, well he follows anyway, apparently this isn’t a TOTALLY bad idea.
As we pass through, I comment on Patrick Hodgkinson’s 60’s design and mention the new apartment which overlooks the square that we are now managing. He nods, I believe, approvingly. As I lead him through the complex I suddenly stop, I’m surrounded by shops and restaurants, my weary feet are revived, my dislocated shoulder, from being dragged around town has vanished. Is that my credit card in my hand? Without realising it I am in a store; Jimmy rolls his eyes in despair.
Jimmy it is 8pm you know!
Savvy investors are buying up property that are close to cross rail and maximizing on areas that are on the borders of historical postcodes who’s allure has dwindled to irrelevant letters and numbers. The increasing popularity of eco travel, namely biking, ideally along a canal with trendy Monmouth coffee, croissant selling delicacies to cruise by, if not to purchase then to smell the possibility of decadence first thing, are becoming the trendy areas to buy.
Currently we have 3 such properties that fit this criteria perfectly, the first: Richmond Road, a beautiful one bed sandwiched between De Beauvoir and London Fields. Offering contemporary living next door to a ‘fashionable’ park that runs into Broadway market, which bursts into life on Saturdays with live music and eclectic food and craft stalls selling alternative handmade soaps and potions, second hand clothes, olive chopping boards and flowers.
Alternatively, we have an immaculate 2 bed in the historic ‘Gainsborough Studios’. Historic? Alfred Hitchcock directed some of his first movies there when it was a film studios. With Regents Canal and Shoreditch Park running either side of this now 10 year development it is perfectly placed for easy access to Angel or Old Street.
Or what about this unconventional two bed house in Bethnal Green, moments from the station and Victoria Park. This will appeal to a flock of media, creative types in need of a space that reflects their personality and taste.
If you are really hoping to cash in, try off plan…don’t leave it to just foreign investors, you are missing a trick. Site visits are easy, plans, finish, layouts are all there for you and any questions can be answered by either us or the developer. Plus if you get in early, you can tailor some of those finishing touches to suit you.
Here are a few you missed out on: Redchurch Street, Paul Street, Mentmore Terrace but don’t worry….we have 4 luxury apartments on Hoxton Square left, due for completion in June, and soon to be released The Mission in Hackney Wick by Victoria Park.
The need to be close to the City and good Gastropubs (Dukes, Talbot, Cat and Mutton) which rival any West End eatery but have the added bonus of encouraging you to read the papers and set up residence for the day, welcoming hungover friends to pull up a pew with a swift pint or two, can all be found in East London.
Professor Green closed down his club in town after only a few months in favor of a more appropriate location in and around Shoreditch. Chelsea youngsters who once wouldn’t have been seen dead in the East End have now spurned what they once considered risky ‘Notting Hill’ for large warehouses scattered in around the area. Kiera Knightly gave up her Maida Vale pad for Hackney, one of the Munford and Sons lads have just bought round the corner from our Islington office…what more proof do you need. North East is where it is hot! So hot you have to cycle everywhere, wear Raybans and sport a lot of facial hair…well if you are male anyway….or a dog. Talking of which, East London is probably the most dog friendly area in London.
So don’t be put off, be sensible, come explore the area, talk to us, we all live, work and hang out here, we can help you not only find a good investment/home but point you to the best bar, restaurant, drycleaner and gym in the area. Oh and our office dogs are always eager to show you around their favorite parks!