Thursday, August 25, 2016

“How Serious is my Buyer?”

As the internet has become the first port of call for most prospective buyers, estate agents can feel somewhat swamped with buyers. The issue is not a lack of enquiries, but which of those enquiries will turn out to be serious.   

This is because many estate agency websites are simply an invitation for buyers to register on line, yet all too often this results in huge numbers of poorly qualified “window shoppers” applying. Whilst this is a good service for the buyer who is “just browsing” it can be difficult to assess the seriousness of genuine buyers from their basic requirements alone.

This is where the skills of a good estate agent come in, and part of your estate agent’s job is to identify the most able and motivated buyers. One of the ways good estate agents do this is actually to speak with their buyers rather than simply accepting a brief on-line “wish list” at face value. The agent can probe and listen, and respond accordingly, saving buyer and seller alike time that would otherwise wasted on unsuitable viewings.

Only by fully understanding a buyer’s needs in context can an agent direct that buyer to the most suitable homes. For example, does a request for a garage mean that the buyer needs to park a valuable car, or do they just need good storage space? If the latter, then the agent will be able to offer that buyer a far wider range of suitable homes than those limited to a garage.

A deeper understanding of buyers also means that the agent can discover what has prompted the move, the likely timescale involved, and whether there are related-sale or finance issues to be addressed. A successful sale does not depend solely on the suitability of the property, but also on whether the buyer’s circumstances are compatible with those of the seller.    



Friday, August 19, 2016

Post Brexit - South Ockendon Property Prices set to drop £24,300 in the next 12 months?

Even the most sane person in Britain has to admit the Brexit vote will, in one shape or another, affect the UK Property market. Excluding central London which is another world, most commentators are saying prices will be affected by around 10%. So looking at the commentators’ thoughts in more detail, property values in South Ockendon will be 10% lower than they would have been if we hadn’t voted to leave the EU.

As the average value of a property in the Thurrock Council area is £243,100, this means property values are set to drop for the average South Ockendon property by £24,310 … batten down the hatches .. soup kitchens and mega recession here we come’s going to get rough.

.. but before we all go into panic mode in South Ockendon .. the devil is always in the detail

Look at the phrase again, and I have highlighted the relevant part “Property values in South Ockendon will be 10% lower than they would have been if we hadn’t voted to leave the EU”

Property values today, according to the Land Registry are 22.41% higher than a year ago in the Thurrock Council area. The 12 months before that they rose by 13.56% and the 12 months before that, they rose by 5.07%. If we hadn’t voted to leave, I believe on these figures, we could have safely assumed South Ockendon House prices would have been 15% higher by the Summer of 2017.

… and that’s the point, we won’t see a house price crash in South Ockendon, it’s just that house prices in a years time will only be 5% higher than they are now (ie 15% less the 10% lower figure because of Brexit). Let’s look at the historic figures and how that compares to today’s figures for the Thurrock Council area and South Ockendon as a whole.

Average Value of a property 20 years ago                               £43,500
Average Value of a property 10 years ago                               £161,900
Average Value of a property 2 years ago                                 £174,900
Average Value of a property 1 year ago                                   £198,600
Average Value of a property today                                          £243,100
Projected Value of a property in 12 months’ time                   £255,300

Therefore, I believe the average value of a South Ockendon property will be £12,200 higher in 12 months’ time than today.

That’s not to say South Ockendon property prices might not dip slightly in the run up to Christmas (in fact they always have done just about every year since the year 2000 and most of those were boom years) .. but in 12 months time this is my considered opinion of where South Ockendon property values will be.. and looking at the historic prices, even if I (and many other property market commentators) are wrong and they drop 10% from TODAY’S figure .. in the whole scheme of things, we have been through a Credit Crunch, Black Monday and 15% interest rates over the last 20 to 30 years .. and still South Ockendon house prices have always bounced back.

 Whilst the UK's vote for Brexit has created an uncertainty in the South Ockendon housing market, there is no need to panic and prospective buyers should merely use common sense about their purchases. I always say to people to be prudent and if you are taking out a mortgage, at some stage during the life of that mortgage, circumstances will be difficult. We won’t have a 2008 Credit crunch fire sale of properties because after the Mortgage Market Review which took place in the Spring of 2013, mortgage borrowers are not as highly leveraged this time around.  As a result of this, with any luck there will not be too many distressed sales, which cause widespread price reductions.

.. and South Ockendon landlords? They have recently been thrashed by Osborne’s tax changes, but yields could rise if South Ockendon house prices fall/stablise and rents grow, and this might also make it easier to obtain mortgages, as the income would cover more of the interest cost. If prices were to level or come down that could help South Ockendon landlords add to their portfolio, as rental demand for South Ockendon property is expected to stay strong as more people find it more and more difficult to obtain mortgages.



Ps. Hoe you all have an enjoyable weekend!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

“Catch 22 –Should I Sell First or Buy?”

Many who receive a good offer for their home turn it down because they have not yet found “the right property” and worry that they will in effect become homeless should they sell first (although we have never known this to happen!)     

Of course the problem would become a self-fulfilling prophecy if everyone were to take this stance, and the entire market would grind to a halt. But in realty it isn’t that bad and, whilst we don’t have a magic wand, the closest thing we have to a miracle cure is to encourage sellers to have a little faith. Because as soon as you find a buyer, amazing things can happen!

First, the fact that you have a buyer in place positions you as a “red hot buyer” with estate agents. This means you will be offered new properties as soon as they come onto the market, often ahead of public marketing or portal exposure. Secondly, you are in a much stronger negotiating position when you do find a property you like, meaning that you are preferred to other buyers who may be in a weaker position. Thirdly, you may well find that once you are psychologically committed to your sale, you’ll have a clearer focus on which property will actually suit you best. It’s easy to “umm and ah” when there’s no pressure!

So, in essence, if you need help making a decision, find a buyer for yours first! And of course, we’d be happy to help on that front as well! Indeed, we pride ourselves on our ability to create and manage linked transactions. Why not call us on 01708 851999 to find out how we might be able to help make you move – smooth!  



Friday, August 12, 2016

Dedicated Sales Progressor

“Why Sales Fail”

Many estate agencies simply act as a broking service that matches people to property. However, we are acutely aware that there is far more to successful selling than this alone. Indeed, about a third of property sales in this country fail to reach completion, for a number of reasons.  

One of the main reasons is that a buyer simply gets cold feet and withdraws as a result of “buyer remorse”. This is a familiar phenomenon to estate agents and occurs when a buyer feels overwhelmed by the apparent enormity of the decision to buy and takes the more comfortable “low-risk” option and does nothing.

Perhaps the buyer is offered another property which they prefer, or something else comes on the market that makes the price they have offered on your home look expensive.

Your buyer may lose their job, or get a promotion. They might decide to get married or divorced; they might inherit or win a fortune, or their business may be experiencing difficulties. They could even die!

Whilst these types of issues are generally unavoidable and naturally have a profound effect on people’s decisions, the main problem concerns timing. Because offers in this country are not binding until exchange of contracts, the longer the time between offer and exchange, the greater the opportunity there is for the buyer or seller to decide to withdraw.

We go to great lengths to help you move, and work tirelessly to reduce this window of opportunity. That’s why we allocate a dedicated sales progressor to every transaction, whose job it is to facilitate a fast exchange of contracts. This will include a focus on the buyer qualification process (if this has not already been done), although most time will be spent in helping other estate agents and solicitors involved in linked property sales as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Our aim is that your link should be the strongest.   



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

26.2% Of South Ockendon Homes Are One Person Households

 I was having an interesting chat with a South Ockendon buy to let landlord the other day when the subject of size of households came up in conversation.  For those of you who read my Brexit article published on the morning after the referendum, one of the reasons on why I thought the South Ockendon property market would, in the medium to long term, be OK, was the fact that the size of households in the 21st Century was getting smaller – which would create demand for South Ockendon Property and therefore keep property prices from dropping.

Looking at the stats going back to the early 1960’s, when the average number of people in a home was exactly 3, it has steadily over the years dropped by a fifth to today’s figure of 2.4 people per household. Doesn’t sound a lot, but if the population remained at the same level for the next 50 years and the we had the same 20% drop in household size, the UK would need to build an additional 5.28 million properties ( or 105,769 per year) .. When you consider the Country is only building 139,800 properties a year ... it doesn’t leave much for people living longer and immigration. Looking closer to home...

In the Thurrock Council area, the average
number of occupants per household is 2.5 people

When we look at the current picture nationally and split it down into tenure types (i.e. owned, council houses and private renting, a fascinating picture appears.

The vast majority of homeowners who don’t have a mortgage are occupied by one or two people (81% in fact), although this can be explained as residents being older, with some members of the family having moved out, or a pensioner living alone.  People living on their own are more likely to live in a Council house (43%) and the largest households (those with 4 or more people living in them are homeowners with a mortgage – but again, that can be explained as homeowners with families tend to need a mortgage to buy. What surprised me was the even spread of private rented households and how that sector of population are so evenly spread across the occupant range – in fact that sector is the closest to the national average, even though they only represent a sixth of the population.

When we look at the Thurrock Council figures for all tenures (Owned, Council and Private Rented) a slightly different picture appears...

1 person households in South Ockendon
2 person households in South Ockendon
3 person households In South Ockendon
4 person households in South Ockendon
5+ person households in South Ockendon

But it gets even more interesting when we focus on just private rental properties in South Ockendon, as it is the rental market in South Ockendon that really fascinates me. When I analysed those Thurrock Council private rental household composition figures, a slightly different picture appears. Of the 8,220 Private rental properties in the Thurrock Council area,

·        25.0% of Private Rental Properties are 1 person Households
·        31.3% of Private Rental Properties are 2 person Households
·        20.7% of Private Rental Properties are 3 person Households
·        14.6% of Private Rental Properties are 4 person Households
·        8.1% of Private Rental Properties are 5+ person Households

 As you can see, South Ockendon is not too dissimilar from the national picture but there is story to tell. If you are considering future buy to let purchases in the coming 12 to 18 months, I would seriously consider looking at one and two bedroom flat. Even with the numbers stated, there are simply not enough properties  to meet the demand. They have to be in the right part of South Ockendon and priced realistically, but they will always let and when you need to sell, irrespective of market conditions at the time, will always be the target of buyers. To read more articles on the South Ockendon Property Market and where I consider best buy to let deals are in South Ockendon, please visit the South Ockendon Property Market Blog



Friday, August 5, 2016

87% of South Ockendon Homeowners are over 35 - The affect of their Brexit vote on the South Ockendon Property Market

Well it’s a month since the Referendum vote and we have had a chance to reflect on the momentous decision that the British public took. Many of you read the article I wrote on the morning of the results. I had gone to bed the night before with a draft of my Remain article nicely all but finished, to be presented, at just after 5am, with the declaration by the BBC saying we were leaving the EU. I don’t think any of us were expecting that.

If you want to read a copy of that original Brexit blog post, please scroll back to late June to find it. In this article I would like to take my thoughts on from that initial article and now start to see the clearer picture as the dust settles on the UK, but more importantly, the South Ockendon Property Market.

In case you weren’t aware, the residents of the Thurrock Council area went against the National mood and voted as follows ..

Thurrock Council        Remain Votes             22,151             (27.7% of the vote)
Thurrock Council        Leave Votes                57,765             (72.3% of the vote)
Thurrock Council Turnout     72.7%

I have been reading there is some evidence to indicate younger voters were vastly more likely to vote Remain than their parents and grandparents and, whilst the polling industry's techniques may have been widely criticised, following them getting both the 2010 General Election and the recent Brexit vote wrong, anecdotally, many surveys seem to suggest there was a relationship between age and likelihood to support leaving the EU.

Interestingly, the average age of a South Ockendon resident is 36.8 years old, which is below the national average of 39.3, which might go someway to back up the way South Ockendon voted? What I do know is that putting aside whether you were a remain or leave voter, the vote to leave has, and will, create uncertainty and the last thing the British property market needs is uncertainty (because as with previous episodes of uncertainty in the UK economy – UK house prices have tended to go down).

Interestingly, when we look at the Homeownership rates in the Thurrock Council area, of the 41,579 properties that are owned in the Thurrock Council area (Owned being owned outright, owned with a mortgage or shared ownership), the age range paints a noteworthy picture.

                              Age 16 to 34 homeowners      5,342    or     12.8%  (Nationally 9.6%)
Age 35 to 49 homeowners    14,327    or     34.4%  (Nationally 29.2%)
Age 50 to 64 homeowners    12,243    or     29.4%  (Nationally 30.7%)
Aged 65+ homeowners            9,667    or     23.2%  (Nationally 30.5%)

So, looking at these figures, and the high proportion of older homeowners, you might think all the Thurrock Council area homeowners would vote Remain to keep house prices stable and younger people would vote out so house prices come down- so they could afford to buy?

But there's a risk in oversimplifying this. The sample of the polling firms are in the thousands whilst the country voted in its millions. Other demographic influences have been at play in the way people voted, as early evidence is starting to suggest that class, level of education, the levels of immigration and ethnic diversity had an influence on the way the various parts of the UK voted.

So what I suggest is this – Don’t assume everyone over the age of 50 voted ‘Leave’ and don’t assume most 20 somethings backed ‘Remain’; because many didn't!

.. and the South Ockendon Property Market – well read my original article in the South Ockendon Property Blog and you can make your own mind up 



Ps hope you enjoy your weekend!

Monday, August 1, 2016

“First Impressions”

You only get one chance to make a first impression! When it comes to selling your home, attention to detail could be pivotal in securing an early sale at the best possible price.  

Most buyers have a good idea of their preferred location, minimum accommodation needs and ideal style of property. Yet it is often presentation that makes the greatest difference. A well-presented property not only looks more attractive, but also suggests that the owners have cared for it and regard it as their home.

So here are a few tips that we hope sellers might find useful:

  1. A new coat of paint on the front door gives a great first impression.
  2. A tidy property suggests that storage space is not a problem, so make a point of clearing away any unnecessary clothes, toys, magazines, crockery, etc.. You never know when you might have a viewing.
  3. Go through your house and donate anything you no longer need to charity.
  4. Have the carpets professionally cleaned.
  5. Introduce positive smells such as fresh coffee, baking bread and freshly mown grass.
  6. Check that the grouting/sealant in the bathroom is not discoloured.
  7. Make sure all the lights work and the house is well-lit – even during the day.
  8. Avoid hanging too much on the back of doors. Overcrowded hooks prevent doors from opening fully, making rooms look smaller.
  9. Keep the windows sparkling clean, inside and out.
  10. Ensure the garden is tidy, lawn mown, leaves cleared away, beds attractive. Screen off any unsightly areas - and keep the car clean as well.
  11. Check and repair any dripping taps, leaking gutters, squeaking hinges, etc..

When the time comes for you to sell, why not contact me, I will be happy to provide specific advice about preparing your own property for sale without obligation. my number is 01708 851999 or email me



Ps. Have a good week!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Great investment opportunity - South Ockendon flat with a rental yeild of 6.2%

I was browsing through the websites on Sunday evening and found this ideal investment property producing a yield of 6.2%.  The property has just come on the market with Aspire Estates on 01268 810815 and is priced at £140.000  Looking at the photographs the property seems in excellent condition and I think is well worth viewing.

I would suggest that if you are interested in this property that you call the agent to book that appointment and if you would like any advice on the rentability of any property that you may be looking at, I am happy to share my opinion on what and what not to buy in the South Ockendon and Aveley property market.



Friday, July 29, 2016

Population in the South Ockendon area set to rise to 202,600 by 2036

South Ockendon faces a predicament. The population is growing and the provision of new housing isn’t keeping up. With the average age of a South Ockendon person being 36.8 years (compared to the East of England average of 40.2 years old and the national average of 39.4 years of age), the population of South Ockendon is growing at an alarming rate. This is due to an amalgamation of longer life expectancy, a fairly high birth rate (compared to previous decades) and high net immigration, all of which contribute to housing shortages and burgeoning house prices.

My colleagues and myself work closely with Durham University and they have kindly produced some statistics specifically for the Thurrock Council area. Known as the UK’s leading authority for such statistics, their population projections make some startling reading…

For the Thurrock Council area ... these are the statistics and future forecasts

2016 population          166,894
2021 population          176,402
2026 population          185,638
2031 population          194,235
2036 population          202,664

The normal ratio of people to property is 2 to 1 in the UK, which therefore means...

We need just over 17,500 additional new properties to be built
in the Thurrock Council area over the next 20 years.

Whilst focusing on population growth does not tackle the housing crisis in the short term in South Ockendon, it has a fundamental role to play in long-term housing development and strategy in the town. The rise of South Ockendon property values over the last six years since the credit crunch are primarily a result of a lack of properties coming onto the market, a lack of new properties being built in the town and rising demand (especially from landlords looking to buy property to rent them out to the growing number of people wanting to live in South Ockendon but can’t buy or rent from the Council).

Although many are talking about the need to improve supply (i.e. the building of new properties), the issue of accumulative demand from population growth is often overlooked. Nationally, the proportion of 25-34 year olds who own their own home has dropped dramatically from 66.7% in 1987 to 43.8% in 2014, whilst 78.2% of over 65s own their own home. Longer life expectancies mean houses remain in the same hands for longer.

The swift population growth over the last thirty years provides more competition for the young than for mature population.  It might surprise some people that 98% of all the land in the UK is either industrial, commercial or agricultural, with only two percent being used for housing, which means one could propose expanding supply to meet a expanding population by building on green belt – that most Politian’s haven’t got the stomach to tackle, especially in the Tory’ strongholds of the South of England, where the demand is the greatest. People mention brownfield sites, but recent research suggests there aren’t as many sites to build on, especially in South Ockendon that could accommodate 17,500 properties in the next 20 years.

In the short to medium term, demand for a roof over of one’s head will continue to grow in South Ockendon (and the country as a whole). In the short term, that demand can only be met from the private rental sector (which is good news for homeowners and landlords alike as that keeps house prices higher).

In the long term though, local and national Government and the UK population as a whole, need to realise these additional millions of people over the next 20 years need to live somewhere. Only once this issue starts to get addressed, in terms of extra properties being built in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, can we all help create a socially ecological prosperous future for everyone. For more thoughts on the South Ockendon Property market, please visit the South Ockendon Property Market Blog

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

“Buyers Buy By Comparison”

Typically, most people look at about half a dozen homes before making a decision as to which one they should buy. Some people look at just a couple, and others spend months considering each and every one of the dozens of properties that come on the market within their price range.    

Even though many of the properties offered to a typical buyer are likely to fit the minimum criteria they request, the buyer is unlikely to buy a specific property, however well-suited it may be, unless it can be seen in comparison with others.

The psychology of the buying process generally dictates that people make realistic comparisons between properties (or holidays, or cars, or shoes, or even toothbrushes for that matter) before they feel qualified to make a decision based on the relative merits of each home they see.

Part of our job involves helping buyers make a buying decision that is genuinely in their best interests whilst recognising our responsibilities to our client the vendor.

We encourage our buyers never to exclude a property without having first seen it in context. Although price is a critical consideration, it is the relative value that is even more important. A property is worth not what the seller put in, but what the buyer gets out of it in relation to an alternative property.

It is therefore important to go the extra mile in seeking to make your property as attractive a possible during the sale, not just by keeping it clean and tidy, but also by quoting a competitive price, and being flexible over completion date and contents. If you make your property attractive in these ways, our marketing will cause it to sell!

Why not call me on 01708 851999 to find out how we can make this work for you? 



Ps Have a good Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

49 days to find a buyer for your South Ockendon Property

I had a homeowner from Brandon Groves email me the other day. She said she had been following my blog (the South Ockendon Property Market Blog) for a while and wanted to pick my brain on when is the best time of the year to sell a property. Trying to calculate the best time to put your South Ockendon property on the market can often seem something akin to witchcraft and, whilst I would agree that there are particular times of the year that can prove more productive than others, there are plenty of factors that need to be taken into consideration.

Even if you are putting your property on the market, you don’t know how long it will take to find a buyer - no crystal ball to help with that one. At the moment, the latest set of figures for the 3 estate agents in South Ockendon, show the average length of time it takes to find a buyer for any South Ockendon property is as follows ..

Detached                     54 days
Semi                            46 days
Terraced                      44 days
Flat                              67 days
Overall average           49 days

If we roll the clock back to January 2016, the overall average time it took to find a buyer (again using data from the 3 South Ockendon Estate Agents) was 78 days.

So, on the face of it, things have vastly improved over the last six months or so. Well, when I looked at the data going back to 2009, and every Spring since then, the average length of time it takes to sell a property drops between January and the Summer months, for it to rise on the run up to Christmas. For example ..

Winter 2009 - 194 days           Summer 2009  - 172 days

and in more recent times …

Winter 2013 - 121 days           Summer 2013  - 150 days
Winter 2014 - 119 days           Summer 2014  -   98 days
Winter 2015 -   78 days           Summer 2015  -   63 days
Coming back to the present, even if you placed your property on the market today in South Ockendon, if it takes you on average seven weeks to find a buyer, then you can expect solicitors and the chain to take an additional eight and twelve weeks after that, before you move. It comes down to personal choice as to when you place your property on the market. Children often affect the decision. On one side you might delay putting that for sale board in your front garden so you can move in the summer school holidays, but on the other side, you might want to move sooner to be in the catchment area of a preferred school, in plenty of time for the next academic year?

There are times of the year when it's better to sell, and times when waiting a little longer can pay off in the long run. In a nutshell, I would say this is the way of the seasons ..

Spring: Customarily there are more house-buyers as the Daffodils show themselves
Summer: Sellers may miss out on house-buyers being on holiday
Autumn: The enthusiasm for buying homes returns
Winter: Interest diminishes as festive period looms 

What this means to buyers and landlord investors is that they often pick up a bargain in later months of the year, as there is less competition from owner occupiers. So, whilst there are better months to achieve a quicker sale, the only piece of advice I can give to every home  owner and landlord in South Ockendon, is do the right thing for yourself, do your homework and buy (and sell) with both your head as well as your heart

For more thoughts on the South Ockendon Property Market – visit the South Ockendon Property Market Blog



Ps. If there is a topic that you would like more information on why not send me an email at

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Market comment - July 2016

Summer 2016 will surely go down in history as one of the most confusing -whichever way you look at it. The intense and controversial political upheavals, the far-reaching economic implications and even the weather have been about as unpredictable as they can be. The Brexit referendum split the country, yet few economic commentators, if any, have put their neck on the line and declared a positive outlook.
Such confusion tends to lead to a lack of confidence. People don’t make big decisions such as moving house unless they feel fairly confident about the future – and few people will feel 100% confident of the future under the circumstances, whichever way they voted.
However, the resilience of the British people has already begun to show itself with most estate agents reporting strong trading since the referendum. Indeed according to Rightmove, there is nothing especially dramatic to report. OK, the price of new properties entering the market is 0.9% down on last month but that is pretty typical of the run-up to summer. The number of new properties coming to market in the two weeks before the referendum fell 8% but bounced back in the two weeks following the referendum.
Certainly the London market has suffered, with some post referendum asking prices having already fallen 10%-15%. But it could be argued that the London market was already overheating and due for a correction.
As for the rest of the UK, life goes on. Interest rates remain historically low and demand considerably exceeds supply, which is likely to support reasonable house prices in the foreseeable future. However any political/economic impact on the local employment situation must be considered when pricing a property to sell. If you are currently considering a move, now might be a good time do so – you’d be taking advantage of pent-up demand that stalled pre-referendum and you’d be putting yourself in a good position as a proceedable buyer by the time more properties inevitably come to market in the autumn.
Confusing times? Maybe not after all! Please feel free to call us on 01708 851999
Best Wishes 

Monday, July 18, 2016

6.2% Rental Yield - Danbury Crescent South Ockendon

Have just seen this nice tidy one bedroom flat come on the market with Patterson Hawthorne (01708 400 400) with a market price of £140.000


This type of flat had been very much sort after by investors over the last 2 years on the basis of capital growth and rental yields

Capital Growth 
On similar properties on this development we have seen a significant increase of 40% to 50% and this is largely due to the competition between first time buyer and investors.

Rental Yields
In the same period the rental paid by tenants has increased from £625 to £725 per calendar month therefore rents have increased by 12%.

My advice is to take a look at this property, but don't forget to check out the length of the lease, the cost of ground rent and management fees all of which will have an impact on your rental yield. If the lease is below 80 years check out the cost of renewing the lease.

Good luck!

Ps. If  you require any advice then please drop me an email