Saturday, April 22, 2017

“What Agents Do” series. Guide No.8…Linked Transactions

The adage that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link could not be more aptly demonstrated than in respect of property transactions in the UK.

Whilst a lot of agents focus on finding a buyer, which is obviously important, it is the quality of that buyer and their situation that will determine whether the sale is likely to proceed to a successful conclusion. But what if the buyers themselves have a property to sell?

Firstly, there is no point in accepting an offer from someone who has a property to sell if their own property is less saleable than your own. This would have the effect of reducing the saleability of your property to the saleability of theirs.

However, it may be that their own property is already under offer, possibly from a buyer who also has a property to sell to someone who is in the same position. See the problem?

When we negotiate a sale we look very carefully at any upward chain before advising acceptance. This means following the chain until the strongest link is found – usually a cash buyer! (NB: check carefully when someone says they are a cash buyer. Whilst they may have nowhere to sell, they might need to arrange a mortgage!) We then check the credentials of each linked buyer.

Indeed, much of our time in facilitating a sale is spent liaising with the other agents and solicitors involved in related transactions, who in turn will be liaising with surveyors and mortgage brokers. If one aspect fails, eg someone’s mortgage valuation is insufficient to support their loan, we’ll know about it quickly and will usually have a plan B up our sleeve, such as a back up buyer.

So there’s more to our style of estate agency than you might expect! If you’d like to find out more please call us today on 01708 851999 for a free marketing appraisal.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Only 75 Properties For Sale in South Ockendon

2017 has started with some positive interest in the South Ockendon property market.  Taking a snap shot of the South Ockendon property market for the first quarter of 2017, the picture suggests some interesting trends when it comes to the number of properties available to buy, their asking prices and what prices properties are actually selling for.

Let us first consider the number of properties for sale, compared to 12 months ago:

Type of South Ockendon Property
Number of Properties on the Market 12 months ago
Number of Properties on the Market now
% change




So when we add in building plots and other types of properties that don’t fit into the four main categories, that means there are 75 properties for sale today compared with 36 a year ago, a rise of 108%.

Next, South Ockendon asking prices, compared
to the same as a year ago, are 5% lower.

With that in mind, I wanted to look at what property was actually selling for in South Ockendon. Taking my information from the Land Registry, the last available six months property transactions for RM15 show an interesting picture (note the Land Registry data is always a few months behind due to the nature of the house buying process and so November 2016 is latest set of data). The price shown is the average price paid and the number in brackets is the number of properties actually sold.

£388,800 (5)
£374,833 (6)
£380,000 (2)
£396,000 (2)
£373,333 (3)
£419,167 (6)
£345,800 (15)
£308,000 (9)
£327,437 (16)
£305,237 (19)
£298,429 (14)
£321,807 (13)
£303,678 (28)
£259,824 (17)
£281,527 (37)
£258,444 (18)
£264,647 (17)
£270,850 (23)
£189,613 (20)
£156,250 (6)
£155,813 (8)
£184,316 (19)
£186,200 (5)
£172,650 (10)
£285,680 (68)
£273,039 (38)
£280,349 (63)
£254,232 (58)
£275,077 (39)
£281,818 (52)

So what does all this mean for the property owning folk of South Ockendon?

Well, with more property on the market than a year ago and asking prices 5% lower, those trying to sell their property need to be mindful that buyers, be they first timers, buy to let landlords or people moving up the South Ockendon property ladder, have much more price information about the South Ockendon property market at their fingertips than ever before.

Those South Ockendon people who are looking to sell their property in 2017, need to be aware of the risks of over pricing their property when initially placing it on the market. Over the last 12 months, I have noticed the approach of a few South Ockendon estate agents is to suggest an inflated asking price to encourage the homeowner and secure the property to sell on their books. The down side to this is that when offered to the market for the first time, buyers will realise it is overpriced and wont waste their time asking for a brochure. They won’t even view the property, let alone make an offer. So when the price is reduced a few months later, the property has become market stale and continues to be ignored.

Whilst the South Ockendon property-market has an unassailable demand for property – there is one saying that always rings true - as long as the property is being marketed at the right price it will sell.



PS If you want to know if your South Ockendon property is being marketed at the right price, send me a web link and I will give you my honest opinion. emial me at

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

“What Agents Do” series. Guide No.7…Negotiate

Good negotiation is a skill that adds real value to the service you receive from your estate agent. After all it can be the make or break of a sale.

Many agents focus on “getting the maximum price” for their client, the property vendor. So do we. However, we also recognize that the vendor’s main objective is actually to move house! There is no point in losing a sale by trying to force an unreasonably high figure out of a buyer who might have otherwise bought the property. Or to agree a sale only to find the buyer later regrets it and pulls out. They might even proceed right up to the point of exchange and then reduce their offer (known as gazundering) leaving you forced to accept the reduction or lose not only your sale but possibly your purchase as well!

Please don’t be alarmed! These are worst case scenarios, but not unheard of. The point is that good negotiation is being able to understand the objectives of buyer and seller alike and seeking to achieve the highest realistic figure for the seller with due regard to all parties concerned.

This does not just mean bartering, with each party nudging up or down respectively until some middle line is met. It means your agent using every available resource to justify your price in the context of current market conditions. It also means understanding the buyer’s perspective, their needs, preferences, finances and their flexibility in compromising over certain issues.  
We are proud not only of the prices our well-trained negotiators are able to secure for our clients, but also of our very low fall-through rate, which we attribute significantly to ensuring that the right deal is struck from day one, with both parties feeling they have “won”.

If you’d like to take advantage of our negotiating skills we’d love the opportunity to advise on your sale. Please call us today on 01708 851999 for a free appraisal. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

The South Ockendon housing market has gone through a sea change in the past decades with the Buy-to-Let (B-T-L) sector evolving as a key trend, for both South Ockendon tenants and South Ockendon landlords.

A few weeks ago, the Government released a White Paper on housing. I have had a chance now to digest the report and wish to offer my thoughts on the topic. It was interesting that the private rental sector played a major part in the future plans for housing. This is especially important for our growing South Ockendon population.

In 1981, the population of Thurrock stood at 127,400
and today it stands at 165,200.

Currently, the private rented (B-T-L) sector accounts for 8.3% of households in the town.  The Government want to assist people living in the houses and help the economy by encouraging the provision of quality homes, in a housing sector that has grown due to worldwide economic forces, pushing home ownership out of the reach of more and more people. Interestingly, when we look at the 1981 figures for homeownership, a different story is told.

50.59% South Ockendon people owned their own home in 1981
43.86% South Ockendon people rented from the Council or Housing Association in 1981
 and 5.54% South Ockendon rented from a Private Landlord         

The significance of a suitable housing policy is vital to ensure suitable economic activity and create a vibrant place people want to live in. With the population of Thurrock set to grow to 204,000 by 2037 – it is imperative that Thurrock Borough Council and Central Government all work actively together to ensure the residential property market doesn’t hold the area back, by encouraging the building and provision of quality homes for its inhabitants.

One idea the Government has proclaimed is a variety of measures aimed at encouraging the Build-to-Rent (B-T-R) sector (instead of the B-T-L sector). These include allowing local authorities to proactively plan for B-T-R schemes, and making it simpler for B-T-R developers to offer inexpensive private rented homes.

To do this, the government will invent a distinct affordable housing class for B-T-R, called ‘Affordable Private Rent’, which will oblige new homes builders to provide at least 1 in 5 of a new home developments at a 20% discount on open-market rents and three year tenancies for tenants. In return, the new homebuilders will get better planning assurances.

Private landlords will not be expected to offer discounts, nor offer 3-year tenancies – but it is something South Ockendon landlords need to be aware of as there will be greater competition for tenants.

Over the last ten years, home ownership has not been a primary goal for young adults as the world has changed. These youngsters expect ‘on demand’ services from click and collect, Amazon, Dating Apps and TV with the likes of Netflix. Many South Ockendon youngsters see that renting more than meets their accommodation needs, as it combines the freedom from a lifetime of property maintenance and financial obligations, making it an attractive lifestyle option.

Private rented housing in South Ockendon and Thurrock, be it B-T-L or B-T-R, has the prospective to play a very positive role. 



PS If you are looking to buy or sell  and need a second opinion, why not give me a call on 01708 851999 or email me I am always happy to help!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

“What Agents Do” series. Guide No.6…Offers

One of the most important aspects of your estate agents role is not only to negotiate a price (or ideally secure the full asking price of course) but actually to generate an offer in the first place! Too many agents simply see themselves as people who show buyers around property, hoping that an offer will be forthcoming as a result. It probably won’t!  

Purchasing a property is potentially such a big decision that even if a buyer prefers your property to all the others they have seen, they may still feel reluctant to progress to the offer stage. It can appear “safer” for them to keep looking – just in case they miss out on an even better property!

A good agent understands this and sees him/herself as a facilitator whose role it is to help the buyer make the right buying decision, that is genuinely in their best interests, which, without the agent’s involvement, the buyer might otherwise have had difficulty making. The agent will then use various techniques, including the use of open, closed, leading and closing questions to help the buyer arrive at that decision themselves.

The agent additionally understands “buyer remorse”, which is that niggling doubt in the back of the buyer’s mind that they might have made the wrong decision, and can prepare them for this.

Of course, there is also a lot of skill in assessing the strength of the offer and whether to recommend acceptance. Do the buyers have their mortgage in place? Do they have anywhere to sell and if so do they have a buyer yet? Are they committed to moving to this area and especially to your house?  Are they also considering other properties? Are they likely to let you down? How excited are they about buying your property?



PS So when the time comes to sell your property, please take advantage of our skills in helping you move. Why not call me on 01708 851 999 or email me at

Friday, March 31, 2017

Thurrock’s housing affordability hits a ratio of 9.81 to 1

A Thurrock homeowner emailed me last week, following my article posted in the Thurrock Property Blog about the change in attitude to renting by the youngsters of Thurrock and how they thought it was too expensive for first time buyers to buy in Thurrock.  There can be no doubt that buy to let landlords have played their part in driving up property values in Thurrock (and the UK) and from that made housing a lot less affordable for the 20 and 30 somethings of Thurrock.

In the email, they said they thought the plight of the first-time buyers in Thurrock was like a novice tennis player, playing tennis with Andy Murray. If you played him once you will unquestionably lose and if you were to play him 100 times you would lose 100 times. That is what they thought it was like for all the 20 something’s first time buyers of Thurrock going against all the buy to let landlords.

They went on and asked if the Bank of England (BoE) should be tasked to control house price inflation in the same way as the BoE controls inflation.  The BoE has a target for the annual inflation rate of the Consumer Prices Index of 2%, whilst it is also required to support the Government’s economic policy, including its objectives for growth and employment.  So, should BoE be charged with containing buy to let housing market, by possibly changing the rules on the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio’s?

So, let’s look at how affordable Thurrock is?  The best measure of the affordability of housing is the ratio of Thurrock Property Prices to Thurrock Average Wages, (the higher the ratio, the less affordable properties are).   (i.e. looking at the table below, for example in 2014, the average value of a Thurrock property was 7.89 times higher than the average annual wage in Thurrock)

2016 (EST)

This deterioration in affordability of property in Thurrock over the last couple of years has been one of the reasons why the younger generation is deciding more and more to rent instead of buy their own house. 

... but it’s not the only reason.

A quick look on Money Supermarket today found 169 lenders prepared to offer 75% LTV Buy to let Mortgages and none at 85% LTV.  Lenders have self-imposed a high level of entry for buy to let landlords (i.e. putting down at least 25% of the purchase price in cash).  The BoE don’t need to meddle there!  Also, the Tories have certainly done lots to level the playing field in favour of first time buyers.  For nearly a year now, Landlords have had to pay an additional 3% in stamp duty on any buy to let purchase and over the coming four years, tax rules on landlord’s claiming mortgage interest relief will affect their pocket.  Neither, it doesn’t help that the local Authority sold off council houses in the Thatcher years and so for many on low incomes or with little capital, owning a home has simply never been an option (today or in the past).  

It’s easy to look at the headlines and blame landlords.  First time buyers have been able to access 95% LTV mortgages since 2010, meaning even today, a first-time buyer could purchase a 1 bed apartment in Thurrock for around £145,000 and only need to find £6,000 deposit.  Yes, a lot of money, but first time buyers need to decide what is important to them.  Either save up for a couple of years to save the deposit and go without two annual foreign holidays, the full Satellite or Cable TV package with Sports and Movies costing three figures a month, the latest mobile phone and out socialising ... or not as the case maybe?

I think we as a Country have changed ... renting is returning to be the norm.  So my opinion is, landlords have it tough.  Let’s not blame them for the ‘perceived’ woes of the nation ... because to be frank … we haven’t always been a country of homeowners.  Roll the clock back to 1964, and nationally, 30% of people rented their home from a private landlord – today – its only 15.3% nationally.



PS If you are an existing landlord or someone thinking of becoming a first-time landlord looking for advice and opinion then why not give me a call on 01708 851999 0r email me at 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

“What Agents Do” series. Guide No.5…Accompanied Viewings

The layman’s view of an estate agent is simply someone who shows prospective buyers round properties. Whilst understandable, this simplistic perspective belies the fact that the well-trained agent knows how to maximize the viewing opportunity with the specific view to prompting a sale.

Whilst “showing someone round” might appear straightforward, vendors who do this themselves as opposed to allowing their agent to do so may be missing out on opportunities on several fronts.

Firstly, a good agent recognizes that they cannot “force” someone to buy a property. However, they can encourage buyers to buy a specific property in comparison to others on the market, based on a good understanding of the buyer’s specific needs, and importantly of those areas in which compromise might be found. Most buyers compromise on something! A specific vendor only wants to sell their property and generally has no idea of the buyer’s needs in the context of their stated preferences.

There is also a process involved as well as a degree of psychology. Most people prefer to view a property at least twice before committing. The first viewing is really to “get a feel” for the property – “could we be happy here?” Yet vendors often try to impress with logical/factual statements that would be better kept for a second viewing.

Additionally, buyers prefer to discuss their plans for a property out of the earshot of the vendor and accompanied viewings allow them the space to do so.

Finally, a good agent is trained to spot buying signs and knows how to act on them, thereby helping the buyer to make a decision that genuinely is in the best interests of buyer and seller alike, resulting in a successful sale that will indeed go through to a satisfactory completion. If this is what you’re after then why not call us on 01708 851999



“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 help with your sale or purchase or just need a second opinion then why not give me a call on 01708 851999 or email me at,uk