London Property Match Spring Update
Hello and welcome to our Spring Update
In this edition, we will look at the market trends for the first quarter of 2018, keeping warm – the ubiquitous wood burners and pros and cons of underfloor heating and our Top Ten Tips for selling your house. Read on for some interesting observations on the housing market and how to make the best of your bricks and mortar.
Market Trends Q1 2018
We have been searching in zone two this quarter and in terms of property pricing here, we are seeing 10% off the top of the recent market high.
This is being driven by the uncertainty that still remains around Brexit; sellers have now realised in order to sell they need to be more realistic with their pricing.
Properties – both houses and flats – have to be priced at exactly the right level in order to maximise viewings. Any overage on the price and buyers will often disregard it without even viewing the property. In fact, we have noticed a marked uptick in calls from agents this year who are working hard to generate viewings and encourage offers.
When properties are priced “right” we have noticed that there can then be enough interest amongst buyers for a sealed bid situation to arise – where two or more buyers come up to the asking price and are then asked for their “best bid”. Some properties then achieve above asking price sales. However this certainly is not a return to the behaviour of the peak of the market-it continues to be a buyers’ market, with strong opportunity to negotiate, but it shows you what realistic pricing can achieve for sellers.
In terms of who is moving in this market, it does tend to be those that ‘need’ to move being due to a new job, downsizing or families looking for more space and homes near good schools. Despite all the reasons to stay put, for growing families, life goes on and there is an openness to looking at locations further out to satisfy their need. Outer Prime areas of London, with an extending boundary is increasingly popular with the Central London family and worker. We have observed it is those buying houses, rather than flats for investment, that are most active in the market in areas we cover currently. Those buyers who are more speculative are biding their time, perhaps until after the Brexit deal is complete, before investing. However, we are confident it is a good time to buy as there is less competition and more opportunity to negotiate on price. Those taking the plunge are doing well and securing good value, long term investments.
Looking forward, we can see much less volatility in the market this spring than last. There are no elections or referendums to disrupt the market and so we are anticipating more activity over the coming months albeit still much lower than at peak.
New Developments, New Openings
This will be a regular feature in our newsletter and here we will give you a heads up new building and housing projects, shops and restaurants that are coming to an area near you soon.
The Westfield 2 Development opens its doors on the 20th March and sees a £600 million retail expansion of the current site. A brand new John Lewis is one of the anchor stores.
Baby, it sure was cold outside!
The start of the month was all about keeping warm. Spring makes us think of daffodils in bud, the days getting longer and the weather starting to warm up, but the 1st March this year was the coldest start to spring on record! In light of this, we thought we’d focus on keeping warm and which methods best suit your home and lifestyle.
- Energy efficient – radiators must heat up to at least 65℃ to heat up a room, underfloor heating only 29℃ or less. Radiant heating saves an average of 15% on heating bills.
- Effortless to run – once installed radiant heating requires no maintenance and usually comes with a lifetime guarantee.
- More space and design freedom – with underfloor heating you can enjoy your whole room without radiators taking up wall space. Underfloor heating works with all floor coverings.
- Safety – with radiators out of the way you need not worry about sharp or hot edges.
- The air quality is also better-underfloor heating keeps the air fresh and oxygen rich and means you won’t have dust circulating.
- Installation cost – there are two types of underfloor heating systems: water and electric. Underfloor heating can cost between £75-£100 a sq. m with water-based systems costing 2-3 times that of an electric based system. A water-based system is however cheaper to run.
- Radiators are cheaper to install.
- Floor height – floors with underfloor heating will be about 2-3 cm higher than those without.
- If something goes wrong there could be more disruption if repairs require digging up the floor
Conclusion: Underfloor heating may cost more to install, but in the long run it will save you money on your heating bills as it is a more energy efficient and effective way to heat your home.
We have seen a huge rise in logburners in properties we have been previewing. They make a great focal point for interiors and are cleaner and more efficient then open fireplaces. They may also save you money on your heating bills.
It’s important to do your research before you buy one to ensure it is safe. Think first about the size of area that needs to be heated (as a rule of thumb, 1kW of heat output for every 14 cubic metres of space is needed to make your room 21ºC when it’s 1ºC outside). You’ll also need to factor in the cost of installation and maintenance, as these can change the final price quite dramatically. It’s a good idea to check the size and cost of logs you’ll need and whether you can buy them locally.
For Londoners, using a wood burner in a smoke-controlled area means the stove needs to be approved by DEFRA and that it can burn smokeless fuels as an alternative. In response to concerns over the air quality in London, Sadiq Khan is pushing the idea of banning wood burning in parts of the city, which would mean tighter restrictions on stoves. Only those with low emissions could remain on sale and in some areas stoves would be banned altogether. Michael Gove is launching a consultation on this issue and we will update you once we hear the results.
Check out our Pinterest Board “Keeping Warm” for some inspiration…
Top Ten Tips… for selling your house this Spring
As property finders, we have a unique opportunity to see many more properties than either selling agents or buyers and consequently see the mistakes made by sellers (that can often easily be rectified). Spring is traditionally seen as the time of year to sell your property. Although this doesn’t seem to necessarily be the case in London, we have put together our top ten tips to selling your property in the current market:
- Research your local estate agents and instruct one that has sold similar properties in your area recently. Do not base your decision on who to instruct purely on who offers you the lowest fee. Expertise in this market is crucial and using someone you can relate to will help ensure a good relationship throughout the process.
- De-clutter. Ensure your property is looking clean and tidy. Many clients are put off by mess and it can be distraction from the positive features of the property – make it easy for them to see the good points.
- Be flexible on viewing times. We know it can be hard if you have a young baby or tenants are in the property, but do try and be as flexible as you can on viewing times. Some of our clients are only in London occasionally and if we can’t show them the property on a particular day or time it means they won’t then see it, which could be a missed opportunity.
- Asking price. Listen to your estate agent. We all want to hear our property is worth more but push for an honest appraisal based on recent sales and market conditions to avoid later disappointment. The current market is extremely price sensitive. If you list your property too high you will not get the viewings and your property will sit on the market, delaying you getting on with your own move. The longer it sits, the harder it is to sell because buyers can think there is a problem with the property. If you list it realistically you could end up getting more. The more interest you can gather effectively the higher the offers can be achieved.
- If your property is vacant (even if you are out at work), heat it in the cold weather. A cold property is a huge turn-off and makes it feel uncared for and unwelcoming.
- Think about staging your property if it is vacant. This can be an expensive exercise, but few buyers have the vision needed with a vacant property. It does not have to be expensive though and you can do it yourself. Just focus on illustrating the space with the main items (i.e. beds in bedrooms, a table in the kitchen and a sofa in the living room will help hugely).
- Smells can be a turn off when viewing. Avoid pungent cooking before a viewing as they can be distracting and keep loos flushed in vacant properties to avoid drainage smells. You don’t want the experience to be unpleasant and it may make the property feel uncared for and unloved.
- Instruct a solicitor before you receive an offer in order that when you have chosen a buyer your paperwork is in order and you are ready to go. There will be many forms for you to fill in and return to your solicitor which the buyer’s solicitor will need. You do not want to be the reason for delay preventing you from moving on yourself.
- Outside areas matter. Untidy fronts and gardens of a property can really detract from how well the property is considered. This is the same for a communal stairway; ensure this is clean and looked after. This will give the buyer confidence it has been cared for and will continue to be.
- Try to be out for viewings. As tempting as it may be to stay in, buyers feel more relaxed and comfortable when sellers are out of the way. Brief your agent well about the improvements you have made and be available to answer queries via the agent afterwards.