Friday, March 24, 2017

‘Flipping’ Heck - Grays Property Values Rise by £48.19 a day

Investing in Grays buy to let property is different from investing in the stock market or depositing your hard-earned cash in the Building Society. When you invest your money in the Building Society, this is considered by many as the safe option but the returns you can achieve are awfully low (the best 2-year bond rate from Nationwide is a whopping 0.75% a year!). Another investment is the Stock Market, which can give good returns, but unless you are on the phone every day to your Stockbroker, most people invest in stock market funds, making the investment quite hands off and one always has the feeling of not being in control.

However, with buy to let, things can be more hands on. One of the things many landlords like is the tactile nature of property - the fact that you can touch the bricks and mortar. It is this factor that attracts many of Grays’s landlords – they are making their own decisions rather than entrusting them to city whizz kids in Canary Wharf playing roulette with their savings.

I always say investing in property is a long-term game. When you invest in the property market, you can earn from your investment in two ways. When a property increases in value over time, it is known as 'capital growth'. Capital growth, also known as capital appreciation, has been strong in recent times in Grays, but the value of property does go up as well as down just like shares do but the initial purchase price rarely decreases.  Rental income is what the tenant pays you - hopefully this will also grow over time. If you divide the annual rent into the value (or purchase price) of the property, this is your yield, or annual return. So, over the last 5 years, an average Grays property has risen by £87,950 (equivalent to £48.19 a day), taking it to a current average value of £299,100. Yields range from 5% a year and can reach double digits’ percentages (although to achieve those sorts of returns, the risks are higher).

However, something I haven’t spoken of before is the more specialist area of flipping property to make money. (flipping - buying a property, carrying out some minor cosmetics and re selling it quickly).  I have seen several investors recently who have made decent returns from this strategy. For example …

•            One Grays Investor paid £275,000 for a 3 bed semi on Pound Lane, Orsett in May 2015. It appears some cosmetic work was done to the property and it was resold a few months ago (December 2016) for £362,500 … 31.82% return before costs (or compound annual return equivalent of 19.13% AER)  

This demonstrates how the Grays property market has not only provided very strong returns for the average investor over the last five years but how it has permitted a group of motivated buy to let Grays landlords and investors to become particularly wealthy.

As my article mentioned a few weeks ago, more and more Grays people may be giving up on owning their own home and are instead accepting long term renting whilst buy to let lending continues to grow from strength to strength. If you want to know what (and what would not) make a decent buy



Thursday, March 23, 2017

“Plans for a Successful LET”

Our research has shown that buyers overwhelmingly prefer floorplans on property details in addition to the usual description and written dimensions. There are several good reasons behind this preference, which is why we always feature floorplans on our particulars: 

Firstly, where several properties are competing for a tenant's attention, the particulars that include a floorplan always make an immediate impression. The layout of a property is a major consideration when choosing a new home, and cannot adequately be described by words and room sizes alone. It is the relationship between the rooms in a property that can make the difference between a comfortable and attractive home and a purely functional one. This relationship is enhanced by our use of 3D floorplans in many instances.   

People make decisions on how a property “feels” as much as they consider its size. Several smaller rooms are often more practical than one impressively large one, particularly when there is a family to consider. Only floorplans can accurately relay how the accommodation actually “works” in practice, illustrating how it could complement the needs of an individual.

Indeed, Rightmove reports that property listings with a floorplan receive 60% more interest than those without a floor plan.

Floorplans suggest an open approach to property marketing. No longer do buyers have to translate euphemistic “agent-speak”. After all, part of your agent’s job is to match the right tenant to the right property without recourse to flowery misdescription, saving everyone time, and reducing the stress of moving home.



PS If you are planning on investing in the property market why not give me a call on 01708 851999 or email me at,uk

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

“Are You Getting Enough?”

Most buyers use the internet in their search for a home, so you need to be sure that your property is found and promoted quickly and easily. It is therefore important that your agent subscribes to the most effective property portals because this is how buyers are directed to your property.  

Many property portals have come and gone over recent years and whilst a few specialist portals remain the overall market is controlled by two giants, Rightmove and Zoopla. Each has so much coverage that many buyers don’t always feel they need to use both, especially as they become familiar with the workings of one or the other and they subscribe to their preferred site’s “mailing list”.

When selling your property, it is therefore really important to choose an agent that subscribes to BOTH Rightmove AND Zoopla. It means that your own property is much more likely to be found on search engines such as Google. Indeed, your estate agent’s own website is also more likely to rank highly if it also has links to more than one portal.

Your agents’ role is to maximise your exposure and harness response, leading to a faster sale where competition between buyers pushes your price to the max.

When selling your home, it is critical that you get it right, first time, so we’ve never held back when it comes to embracing the efficiencies of effective online technology. With M&P Estates you can feel secure in the knowledge that your property will absolutely be exposed to the very maximum number of suitable buyers available. And more buyers means a faster sale at a higher price. That’s what we do!  



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

“What Agents Do” series. Guide No.4…Qualify Buyers

The phrase “Willing and Able” is seldom heard today, as it no longer appears on estate agency documentation. However, it remains important to discover if a prospective buyer for your property is indeed willing and able to proceed, should they express interest in your home.

This is especially the case today, when people are finding it harder to get a mortgage than they did last time they bought. But apart from the obvious financial issues governing the buyer’s “ability” to proceed, there are several other things a good agent will seek to discover when deciding whether or not any offer from the buyer is worth recommending to the vendor (although all are bound to be submitted to the vendor by law)

One of the best questions we ask our buyers is “What has prompted your move?” The answer to this often goes right to the heart of why they are moving. Only then can we offer them properties which will satisfy that need.

Another critical question is “when do you hope to move?” If they say “sometime in the next 12 months” the chance of them buying soon is low. Most good buyers know what they need to achieve and they usually have a date in mind. This date is often linked to school term times, a new job starting, baby due, etc, or it may be to satisfy an acute frustration such as journey time to work. Only when the agent knows what sort of timeframe the buyer has in mind can he/she begin to gauge the buyer’s motivation and hence their willingness to move. Additionally finding out where they are in the moving cycle can also help us to help you as a vendor. Have they sold their own house yet? If so, what do they understand by the term “sold”!

There’s more than meets the eye to qualifying buyers, and if you’d like your own sale handled with kid gloves, you know whom to call! 



PS If you need any assistance in the home moving process why not give me a call on 01708 851999 or email me at

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Marketing Review “Waiting in Hope?”

If your property is currently on the market, it may be tempting to assume that your agent is in full control of the situation, and that sooner or later a tenant will materialise. But don’t be so sure! Sometimes an agent will take the same view and simply sit in hope, having apparently exhausted their own marketing options.  

However, we believe in a much more proactive approach and would invite anyone who is currently “waiting in hope” to contact us for a free and confidential marketing review meeting. Our aim during these meetings is not to criticise your chosen agent, but simply to help you consider some key facts about the progress of your sale from day one and offer constructive advice where we feel there are things you could do to make a difference.   

For example, we would review the following in context:

1.     The response to date and feedback from viewings and advertising.
2.     The number of viewings in relation to local averages
3.     The “drawing” ability of your letting particulars and photographs.
4.     The presentation of your property.
5.     The availability of other properties on the market that compete with yours.
6.     Your own moving plans.
7.     How your property is positioned in the market.

Sometimes it pays to have another pair of eyes to take a constructive and enthusiastic look at your situation. Any marketing advice we offer would be sincere, free, without obligation, and offered with a smile.

Why not call us on 01708 851999 to arrange confidential and constructive meeting over a coffee?   



PS If you need help or assistance with your rental property then pick up the phone and call me on 01708 85199 or email me at

Friday, March 17, 2017

East Tilbury’s ‘Generation Trapped’ and the £230.3m legacy

Last week, I wrote an article on the plight of the Thurrock 20 something’s often referred to by the press as ‘Generation Rent’. Attitudes to renting have certainly changed over the last twenty years and as my analysis suggested, this change is likely to be permanent. In the article, whilst a minority of this Generation Rent feel trapped, the majority don’t – making renting a choice not a predicament. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) predicted that the private rental sector is likely to grow substantially by 1.8m households across the UK in the next 8 years, with demand for rental property unlikely to slow and newly formed households continuing to choose the rental market as opposed to buying.

However, my real concern for Thurrock homeowners and Thurrock landlords alike, as I discussed a couple of months ago, is our mature members of the population of Thurrock. In that previous article, I stated that the current OAP’s (65+ yrs in age) in East Tilbury were sitting on £55.4m of residential property ... however, I didn’t talk in depth about the ‘Baby Boomers’, the 50yr to 64yr old East Tilbury people and what their properties are worth – and more importantly, how the current state of affairs could be holding back those younger Generation Renters.

In East Tilbury, there are 396 households whose owners are aged between 50yrs and 64yrs and about to pay their mortgage off. That property is worth, in today’s prices, £90.3m. There are an additional 371 mortgage free East Tilbury households, owned by 50yr to 64yr olds, worth £84.6m in today’s prices, meaning...

East Tilbury Baby Boomers and East Tilbury OAP’s are sitting
on £230.3m worth of East Tilbury Property

These Thurrock Baby Boomers and OAP’s are sitting on 1,010 East Tilbury properties and many of them feel trapped in their homes, and hence I have dubbed them ‘Generation Trapped’.

Recently, the English Housing Survey stated 49% of these properties owned by the Generation Trapped, as I have dubbed them, are ‘under-occupied’ (under-occupied classed as having at least two bedrooms more than needed). These houses could be better utilised by younger families, but research carried out by the Prudential suggest in Britain it’s estimated that only one in ten older people downsize while in the USA for example one in five do so.

The growing numbers of older homeowners who want to downsize their home are often put off by the difficulties of moving. The charity United for all Ages, suggested recently many are put off by the lack of housing options, 19% by the hassle and cost of moving, 14% by having to declutter their possessions and 14% by family reasons such as staying close to children and grandchildren.

Helping mature Thurrock (and the Country) homeowners to downsize at the right time will also enable younger Thurrock people to find the homes they need – meaning every generation wins, both young and old. However, to ensure downsizing works, as a Country, we need more choices for these ‘last time buyers’.

Theresa May and Philip Hammond can do their part and consider stamp duty tax breaks for downsizers, our local Council in Thurrock and the Planning Dept. should play their part, as should landlords and property investors to ensure Thurrock’s ‘Generation Trapped’ can find suitable property locally, close to friends, family and facilities. 



Thursday, March 16, 2017

“What Agents Do” series. Guide No.3…Advertising

In the old days, a property ad in an estate agent’s window and the local newspaper were all that was required to promote a property. Today we also have our website and numerous portals ensuring that our clients property receives the maximum exposure to the right people – or ideally thousands of them!

But property advertising is not just about exposure. It’s about understanding the psychology of buying and ensuring that adverts, no matter where they appear, continue to pull in new buyer enquiries. Too little detail and buyers will not have anything to hook into; too much detail and they have no reason to view the property – and viewings are critical. Property is seldom sold from an ad – but viewings are!

It’s important to ensure that five main areas are covered in an effective property ad; Where is it? What’s it like? How big is it? How much is it? How do I view it? Anything else is superfluous and distracting.

Of course how your agent handles enquiries from a successful advert is equally important. As well as establishing the ability of the buyer, a good agent will probe further and seek to understand areas of compromise in the buyer that may well result in that buyer viewing, and often proceeding to buy, a property they might never otherwise have considered.

Most buyers buy something different to their original intention, so let various other property ads in addition to yours do the job of making the agent’s phone ring, then leave it to your agent to convert those enquiries into viewings of YOUR property!

Please feel free to contact me today if you’d like advice on how your local property marketing expert would recommend marketing your property. 



Ps please feel free to call me on 01708 851999 or email me at 

Friday, March 10, 2017

2017 Budget Comment Government Ignores Property Crisis

Wednesday’s budget was noticeable for the absence of any mention of the housing market. This oversight was met with derision from almost ever organisation with an interest in the property sector. There has been a succession of housing ministers over recent years, each of which has introduced several, mostly ill-considered, policies which have effectively damaged  the sector by tinkering with it, rather than by providing serious reform.

Of course, if you’re a regular homeowner you could be forgiven for asking “what’s the problem?” The British housing market has proven to be a secure and profitable investment that has withstood considerable economic stresses and has consistently outperformed many other investment sectors, whilst simultaneously providing a roof over our heads.

However, the problem lies in the very success of the market itself. As estate agents, we share our clients’ delight in securing another record price in a street; but how sustainable is this continual growth? And what are the social implications? The plight of the first time buyer, priced out of the market in many areas, must be addressed, but the government seems to be doing little to help. On the contrary, it’s banning of tenants’ referencing fees, combined with a massive hike in SDLT on buy-to-let investments, as well as the phased withdrawal of tax relief on mortgage interest for landlords, all conspire to disincentivise landlords from buying, thereby reducing stock and pushing up rents. What is being done to help the younger generation?

Nationally, transaction levels are already some 25% down on this time last year (fortunately at M&P Estates we have been able to buck this trend) and this will have a knock-on effect on the economy – not least from the home improvement spending that usually accompanies a purchase.

Despite this fall, the government’s SDLT revenues from residential sales in 2016/17 is expected to be some 13.6% higher than last year at a whopping £8.3 billion, due to the new way in which SDLT is charged. Could the government not have done something constructive in the sector from which it takes so much? And to apparently ignore the problem by not even acknowledging it mentioning it in the budget is an insult to a generation.        



‘Generation Rent (Forever)’ – 269 Aveley Tenants have no intention of ever buying a property to call home

The good old days of the 1970’s and 1980’s eh … with such lowlights as 24% inflation, 17% interest rates, 3 day working week, 13% unemployment, power cuts ... those were the days (not)… but at least people could afford to buy their own home. So why aren’t the 20 and 30 something’s buying in the same numbers as they were 30 or 40 years ago?

Many people blame the credit crunch and global recession of 2008, which had an enormous impact on the Aveley (and UK) housing market. Predominantly, the 20 something first-time buyers who, confronting a problematic mortgage market, the perceived need for big deposits, reduced job security and declining disposable income, discovered it challenging to assemble the monetary means to get on to the Aveley property ladder.

However, I would say there has been something else at play other than the issue of raising a deposit - having sufficient income and rising property prices in Aveley. Whilst these are important factors and barriers to homeownership, I also believe there has been a generational change in attitudes towards home ownership in Aveley (and in fact the rest of the Country).

Back in 2011, the Halifax did a survey of thousands of tenants and 19% of tenants said they had no plans to buy a home for themselves. A recent, almost identical survey of tenants, carried out by The Deposit Protection Service revealed, in late 2016, that figure had risen to 38.4%, with many no-longer equating home ownership to success and believing renting to be better suited to their lifestyle.

You see, I believe renting is a fundamental part of the housing sector, and a meaningful proportion of the younger adult members of the Aveley population choose to be tenants as it better suits their plans and lifestyle. Local Government in Aveley (including the planners – especially the planners), land owners and landlords need an adaptable Aveley residential property sector that allows the diverse choices of these Aveley 20 and 30 year olds to be met.

This means, if we applied the same percentages to the current 700 Aveley tenants in their 291 private rental properties, 269 tenants have no plans to ever buy a property – good news for the landlords of those 112 properties. Interestingly, in the same report, just under two thirds (62%) of tenants said they didn’t expect to buy within the next year.

.. but does that mean the other third will be buying in Aveley in the next 12 months?

Some will, but most won’t … in fact, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) predicts that, by 2025, that the number of people renting will increase, not drop. Yes, many tenants might hope to buy but the reality is different for the reasons set out above.  The RICS predicts the number of tenants looking to rent will increase by 1.8 million households by 2025, as rising house prices continue to make home ownership increasingly unaffordable for younger generations.  So, if we applied this rise to Aveley, we will in fact need an additional 125 private rental properties over the next eight years (or 16 a year) … meaning the number of private rented properties in Aveley is projected to rise to 416 households.



Ps if you need any advice or assistance in relation to buying or investing in the Thurrock property market why not drop me an email at or give me a call on 01708 851999. I'm always happy to help.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

“What Agents Do” series. Guide No.2…Valuation

Valuation is possibly the most contentious aspect of estate agency, and emotions run high when discussing most people’s most valuable asset. It is natural that the vendor of a property will want as much as possible for it, as does the agent.

However, vendors should be careful about opinions over value, especially when everyone seems to have one – friends, relatives, taxi drivers and blokes in pubs!

The actual value of a property is of course the maximum figure that at least one able buyer would be prepared to pay. Frankly, the only person to know what this figure could be is an estate agent who is comprehensively familiar with the current market and involved with qualified buyers daily. It may be that potential imminent movement in the market can also be anticipated, although this is a skill few possess. Certainly on-line value calculators are misleading and plain wrong in many cases as they simply cannot take account of the foibles of local buyer activity, which changes from week to week.

When choosing the right estate agent for you it’s certainly worth finding out how accurate their valuations are. A good agent should be able to tell you what percentage of their original asking price they actually achieve on average for their clients, as well as how long they took to find a buyer against national averages.

Needless to say, I'd be happy to provide you with some expert advice on the likely sale value of your home. This would be based on extensive research coupled with an intuition that comes from deep local experience as evidenced by our consistently proven results. Please feel free to contact me today on 01708 851999 or email me at



Sunday, March 5, 2017

Variation in property values across South Ockendon

Over the last week I have had a number of landlords and prospective purchasers contact me asking the same question.  The question has been why is there such a variation in property prices of similar style and type across the South Ockendon and Aveley property market.

There are two simple answers to this one particular question.  The first is that as there is such an under-supply of properties coming on the market many agents have resulted to over-valuing properties to obtain the instruction, then signing the vendors into a long-term contract, 16 – 20 weeks, knowing that they have a reasonable time with which to get the vendor to reduce the property to a price of which they know they can sell it. 

The other answer and the one which we are going to deal with in this article is the fact that there are a number of different types of construction on similar style properties with similar floor plans.

There are a number of types of different types of construction which consist of the traditional brick-built property, Cornish style property, waites property, re-brick property, leca-plan property, scotchwood property and wimpey-no-fines property.

The traditional brick built property will always have a higher value than the other types of construction, the others are all what we would always refer to as “system built” properties.  On a brick built property all lenders will lend, on the system built properties as mentioned above some properties are not mortgagable where others are restricted by the level of lenders that will loan on them and therefore this can affect the ability and value to re-sell in the future.



PS. If you are looking for a buy-to-let or you are looking to purchase a property within the South Ockendon or Aveley property market and are not sure about the type of construction my advice to you is to first ask the agent who is marketing the property, again if you are still unsure and would like some further advice and assistance regarding this matter please feel free to contact me, either drop into my office in Daiglen Drive or e-mail me on

Thursday, March 2, 2017

“What Agents Do” series. Guide No.1…Good Advice

Straight-talking sincere advice can be invaluable in a world where too many people would just tell you what you want to hear! For example, the oldest trick in the book is for an agent to suggest an inflated suggested asking price in order to impress you enough to secure your business, only for tears to follow down the line when the property has gone stale on the market and the price has to be dramatically reduced in order to secure a sale.

So good advice is key. A good estate agent recognizes their responsibility not only to address any questions posed by the vendor, but sometimes, where appropriate, to go beyond the obvious. This is because there is often more than meets the eye to an otherwise straightforward market appraisal.

For example, a vendor might want a quick sale in order to relieve a financial problem. Yet it may be that the property could be let out readily and would immediately start to produce the income needed to solve the problem without the need for a sale.

Most people of course are keen to maximize their sale price and this is also your agent’s objective. So let your agent advise you as there may be value in unexpected areas. Perhaps re-configuring the way in which your rooms are used in order to better fit with current lifestyles could increase the value of your property – if anyone knows what’s hot and what’s not it’s your local estate agent!

So if you’d like some impartial advice, delivered with your best interests at heart, and with no obligation whatsoever, please feel free to contact us on 01708 851 999



Monday, February 27, 2017

Market Report - February 2017 “Slow Growth with Strong Demand”

Everyone knows that the balance of supply versus demand exerts the greatest influence over property values. Yet, as we approach the spring market we find ourselves in a situation where the annual rate of house price growth is at its lowest for four years. at 2.3% (HMLR), but demand remains strong. Could this be the tipping point where buyers are voting with their pockets in respect of overpriced properties?

Certainly pricing appears to be more sensitive than it has for some time. Indeed, properties coming to market are experiencing their smallest February price rise since 2009. According to Rightmove, you are 40% are more likely to sell your property for the best price if is priced correctly at the outset, so it’s important to avoid it going stale on the market. This is supported by data from the Home Owners Alliance, which reveals that just 12 days is the optimal length of time a property should be listed on the market until a buyer is found. Agents who price right and sell within this time also achieve an average 100.89% of their asking price!

It is therefore far better to prompt interest and multiple offers by attracting buyers with a reasonable price than to scare them off with an inflated one. Today’s buyers are too savvy to pay over the odds. So our advice is to be careful when interviewing estate agents who habitually “overvalue” to try to impress you!

Inflation has already started its predicted rise and is expected to hit 2% in the coming months when interest rates could possibly rise as well. Lending criteria remain tight and the uncertainties prompted by a very different political landscape to this time last year, both nationally (Brexit) and internationally (Trump) are not an ideal background for strong house price growth.

However, whilst anybody selling will of course want to secure the highest price the market will pay (and we’re quite good at that bit), for most people, the ability to actually move is even more important. It would be a shame if high house prices prevented people from moving due to a new job, a growing family, downsizing, etc – the stuff of life!

One thing is sure – at this time of year, if you are thinking about a move, it might be worth getting your property on the market now as there could well be a flood of competing homes entering the market this spring. Why not take advantage of this and get ready buy one of these from a position of strength yourself, having sold your own first? Please feel free to call us for an informal chat about the value and saleability of your property – you might be pleasantly surprised! 



PS If you are thinking of putting your property on the market, why not give me a call. Always happy to give you my opinion 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

South Ockendon First Time Buyers borrow £24.1m in the last 12 months

Starting with the bigger picture, over the last 12 months in the UK, 1,061,557 properties were sold with a total value of £223.74 bn. To give that some context, ten years ago 1,581,727 properties sold with a total value of £405.56bn, so it can be seen the number of people moving house has dropped by over a third over the last decade.

Whether you are a landlord, homeowner or tenant, it’s always important to keep an eye on the South Ockendon property market, not just from your point of view, but also from every player’s point of view. Over the last 12 months, 502 properties have sold (and completed) in South Ockendon, worth £134.1m. Interestingly the number of properties changing hands in South Ockendon has also dropped when compared to a decade ago.

It might surprise you that first time buyers in 2017 will benefit from a slight decline in South Ockendon buy-to-let investors.

Those looking to buy a home in the spring and summer of 2017 will face a far less competitive South Ockendon property market than the same time of year in 2016, when the urgency to beat the buy-to-let stamp duty hike was in full swing. 

Many landlords brought forward their purchases to beat the tax, and since then, the number of buy-to-let purchases has dropped slightly. First time buyers have taken advantage of that and have increased their buying. In fact, looking at the Bank of England figures, this is what UK lenders have lent on buy-to-let properties versus first time buyers over the last 12 months  …

Q4 2015 - £1bn buy-to-let mortgages vs £1.31bn for first time buyers
Q1 2016 - £1.35bn buy-to-let mortgages vs £1.08bn for first time buyers
Q2 2016 - £760m buy-to-let mortgages vs £1.28bn for first time buyers
Q3 2016 - £827m buy-to-let mortgages vs £1.42bn for first time buyers

When looking at the figures for South Ockendon itself, first time buyers have borrowed more than £24.1m in the last 12 months to buy their first home. This is a ringing endorsement of their confidence in their jobs and the local South Ockendon economy. Those 20 and 30 something’s who are considering being first time buyers in 2017 will find that the number of properties on the market has never been as good as it has for quite a while, meaning you have more choice of properties and less competition from so many buy-to-let landlords than a year ago.

Rightmove announced nationally that new seller enquiries are 26% up on the same time last year giving the stoutest indication that we may see a slight ease in the lack of properties on the market. When I look at South Ockendon, at this moment in time there are 53 properties for sale, compared to 22 properties a year ago. All this will be welcome news amongst South Ockendon first-time buyers with a combination of a proportional reduction in new investors and landlords.

2017 will be an interesting year for all homeowners, be they buy-to-let landlords, existing homeowners or future homeowners.  For more thoughts on the South Ockendon property market like this, you might want to visit the South Ockendon Property Market Property Blog on a regular basis.



Ps Hope you are all enjoying your Sunday afternoon!

Friday, February 24, 2017

“What Does Viewing Feedback Really Mean?”

Sellers often approach us after an unsatisfactory experience with another agent, particularly in relation to poor levels of feedback following property viewings.  

Surely prompt and constructive feedback should be a fundamental part of any estate agent’s service to their clients! Only when agents understand what buyers think of a property can they deliver practical advice that will enhance its sale prospects. The agent and the seller should be working hand-in-hand to achieve the desired outcome, based significantly on buyers’ comments.  

We also understand the seller’s anguish in simply not knowing whether a sale is imminent following a viewing.    

Sometimes, feedback is obviously positive: “When can you move out?” is clearly a strong buying signal; “What are the neighbours like?”, “Could I bring my partner round?” or  “Will you be leaving that cupboard?” certainly indicate that the property is a distinct possibility, and a good agent should be able to move this interest towards a firm offer.

Some feedback can be helpful in confirming whether the asking price is positioned correctly in the market. Buyers buy by comparison, and sometimes a swift price adjustment can be imperative to avoid the house going stale on the market. For example, “The property is too small for us” usually means, “We have seen larger houses for the same price”. “The street is too busy” usually means “We’ve seen similarly priced properties in quieter streets”.

Of course, many people are just being polite when they say, “We’ll think about it”, or “I’m sure you’ll find a buyer easily”. The key to good estate agency is identifying which comments point to a sale, which point to a negotiation, and which point to a problem with the price. And we think sellers deserve to know, via prompt and supportive feedback.    



Friday, February 17, 2017

24 South Ockendon Households Occupied by OAP Renters

Recent statistics published by the Office of National Statistics show that there are 267,704 private rented households in the Country that are occupied by people aged 65 and older, meaning 4.39% of OAP’s are living in private rented property.

It got me thinking two things. How many of these OAP’s have always rented and how many have sold up and become a tenant?  In retirement, selling up could make financial sense to the mature generation in South Ockendon, potentially allowing them to liquidate the equity of their main home to enhance their retirement income.  I wanted to know why these older people rent and whether there was opportunity for the buy to let landlords of South Ockendon?

The Prudential published a survey recently that said nearly six out of ten OAP renters had never owned a home.  Two out of ten OAP renters were required to sell up because of debt, just about one in ten OAP renters sold their property to use the money to fund their retirement and the remaining one out ten OAP renters, rented for other reasons.

Funding retirement is important as the life expectancy of someone from South Ockendon at age 65 (years) is 18.1 years for males and 20.5 years for females (interesting when compared to the National Average of 18.7 years for males and 21.1 years for females).  The burdens of financing a long retirement are being felt by many mature people of South Ockendon.  The state of play is not helped by rising living costs and ultra-low interest rates reducing returns for savers.

So, what of South Ockendon?  Of the 1,658 households in South Ockendon, whose head of the household is 65 or over, not surprisingly 1,060 of households were owned (63.93%) and 547 (32.99%) were in social housing.  However, the figure that fascinated me was the 24 (1.45%) households that were in privately rented properties.

Anecdotal evidence, by talking to both my team and other South Ockendon property professionals is that this figure is rising.  More and more South Ockendon OAP’s are selling their large South Ockendon homes and renting something more manageable, allowing them to release all of their equity from their old home.  This equity can be gifted to grandchildren (allowing them to get on the property ladder), invested in plans that produce a decent income and while living the life they want to live.

These South Ockendon OAP renters know they have a fixed monthly expenditure and can budget accordingly with the peace of mind that their property maintenance and the upkeep of the buildings are included in the rent.  Many landlords will also include gardening in the rent! Renting is also more adaptable to the trials of being an OAP - the capability to move at short notice can be convenient for those moving into nursing homes, and it doesn't leave family members panicking to sell the property to fund care-home fees.

South Ockendon landlords should seriously consider low maintenance semi-detached bungalows on decent bus routes and close to doctor’s surgeries as a potential investment strategy to broaden their portfolio.  Get it right and you will have a wonderful tenant, who if the property offers everything a mature tenant wants and needs, will pay top dollar in rent!



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

“Might Sell, Might Not!”

The press is currently full of mixed messages about the property market, especially following the Brexit debate. Will it rise, will it fall, is it a good or a bad time to move? Fortunately we have remained extremely busy, and find ourselves in need of stock to support this demand.

Such demand may well be the best indicator of the future of the market than any other indicator. People don’t buy unless they feel confident about the future. At this point in time we are in the transitional stage between a Brexit decision having been made, and actually leaving the EU. The real effects of leaving may not actually be felt for some years. Nevertheless, nobody knows what lies around the corner there could be some volatility in store, with potential knock-on consequences to confidence levels. Fortunately interest rates have fallen to virtually zero, but what effect a 0.25% eventual rise would have on the national mood is hard to predict.

So if you think that you might consider moving in the next year or two, it might be worth bringing that decision forward to take advantage of the strong demand we currently have. By selling for the highest price the market will currently pay you’d not only maximise your sales price, but you’d also put yourself in a strong buying position when you come to look for your next home. Worth a thought!

A good starting point would be to ask us to provide you with an estimate of your property’s maximum expected price and saleability in the current market which we’d be happy to do without charge. Please feel free to call us on 01708 851999.



Ps If you want to have a chat about your moving requirements, then why not give me a call on 01708 851999

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

“Save Time by Helping your Estate Agent”

Buyers often waste an inordinate amount of time viewing property that is either too expensive or blatantly wrong in other critical ways.   

Additionally, more than 30% of UK property-sales fall through due to buyer or seller suddenly changing their minds. Both these annoyances could be attributed to the agent not having gained a good understanding of buyer/sellers requirements, and/or not having earned the trust required to secure this understanding.

One way of overcoming this is for the seller to address a few fundamental issues prior to agreeing terms, which will help avoid false starts, additional expense and wasted time. Here are a few suggestions: 

  1. Ensure that you get your finances in order and know exactly how much you can borrow, with an “in principle” agreement from your lender.
  2. Before viewing properties understand the difference between your preferred “wants” and absolute “needs”.
  3. Locations can vary from one street to the next, and at different times of day. Consider school runs and pub times.
  4. Do not make an offer on a property unless you are absolutely serious about making it your home. The seller’s expectations will be raised and you could damage your reputation as a genuine purchaser.
  5. Don’t lie about your home. Be upfront about any defects or the reason for moving if you are to speed up the sale and reduce stress.
  6. Don’t ignore the facts. If your home has been on the market for several months, it is likely to be overpriced. Promptly reposition it in the market before it goes stale.
  7. If you’re unhappy with your agent – say so! Don’t be afraid to change agents, being careful to note any onerous contract terms, and don’t change more than once, or people with think it’s the property – not the agent!

Please feel free to call us on 01708 851999 if you would like further advice on how to prepare your home for an efficient sale.   



Ps If you need any assistance either purchasing  or selling  property, why not give me a call on 01708 8851999 or email me

Friday, February 10, 2017

With 13,197 people in Private Rented Properties in Grays - Should you still be investing in Grays Buy To Let?

If I were a buy to let landlord in Grays today, I might feel a little bruised by the assault made on my wallet after being (and continuing to be) ransacked over the last 12 months by HM Treasury’s tax changes on buy to let. To add insult to injury, Brexit has caused a tempering of the Grays property market with property prices not increasing by the levels we have seen in the last few years. I think we might even see a very slight drop in property prices this year and, if Grays property prices do drop, the downside to that is that first time buyers could be attracted back into the Grays property market; meaning less demand for renting (meaning rents will go down). Yet, before we all run for the hills, all these things could be serendipitous to every Grays landlord, almost a blessing in disguise.

Grays has a population of 66,620 so when I looked at the number of people who lived in private rented accommodation, the numbers astounded me …

Grays - Accommodation Type and the Number of Occupiers
Owned outright - Grays
Owned with a mortgage - Grays
Shared ownership (part owned and part rented) - Grays
Social rented (aka Council Housing) -  Grays
Private rented - Grays
Living rent free - Grays

Yields will rise if Grays property prices fall, which will also make it easier to obtain a buy to let mortgage, as the income would cover more of the interest cost. If property values were to level off or come down that could help Grays landlords add to their portfolio. Rental demand in Grays is expected to stay solid and may even see an improvement if uncertainty is protracted. However, there is something even more important that Grays landlords should be aware of: the change in the anthropological nature of these 20 something potential first time buyers.

I have just come back from a visit to my wife’s relations after a family get together. I got chatting with my wife’s nephew and his partner.  Both are in their mid/late twenties, both have decent jobs in Grays and they rent. Yet, here was the bombshell, they were planning to rent for the foreseeable future with no plans to even save for a deposit, let alone buy a property. I enquired why they weren’t planning to buy? The answers surprised me as a 40 something, and it will you. Firstly, they don’t want to put cash into property, they would rather spend it on living and socialising by going on nice holidays and buying the latest tech and gadgets. They want the flexibility to live where they choose and finally, they don’t like the idea of paying for repairs. All their friends feel the same. I was quite taken aback that buying a house is just not top of the list for these youngsters.

So, as 19.8% of Grays people are in rented accommodation and as that figure is set to grow over the next decade, now might just be a good time to buy property in Grays – because what else are you going to invest in?  Give your money to the stock market run by sharp suited city whizz kids – because at least with property – it’s something you can touch - there is nothing like bricks and mortar!

For more views and opinions on the Grays Property Market – visit the Thurrock and South Ockendon Property Market Blog 



PS For more views and opinions on the Grays Property Market – visit the Thurrock and South Ockendon Property Market Blog or if you want to have a chat about your next buy to let property give me a call on 01708 851999 or email me at