SHOWCASE YOUR HOME’S BEST FEATURES

To the get the most out of your property sale in today’s competitive housing market, it is more important than ever to stand out from the crowd. Post-referendum many investors and buyers have adopted a wait-and-see approach to the property market. With the pool of potential buyers in the market getting less, more than ever before, sellers need to focus on showcasing their home’s best features to gain a competitive edge and realise the property’s true sales potential.

To sell a home at the best possible price within the best possible time requires two crucial elements –  the right real estate professional and some effort on your part as the seller.

There is no need to completely change your existing home or embark on a costly renovation project, rather it is simply looking for ways to highlight your home’s key selling points. If done correctly, subtle changes can make a big difference. Well-chosen, contemporary updates can revamp your entire home, giving it a modern, revitalised look and feel, without being too costly. A fresh coat of paint and tidying up is already a great start to ensuring that the home is ready to hit the market.

Here are a few additional pointers to get your home in top form on show day:

Kitchen

Often considered as the heart of the home, the kitchen is possibly one of the most important areas. For many buyers, the kitchen can be the deciding factor as to whether or not they decide to purchase the home. An updated kitchen will increase the perceived value of the home and leave a lasting impression.

Refurbishing the worktops and cupboards can completely reinvent the space and give it a more contemporary look. Also, by updating large appliances you can breathe new life into the room. Adding an island is also a functional way to add to the room’s aesthetic appeal, while entirely changing the area’s dynamic with additional counter space.

Bathrooms

Another area in the home that draws buyers in or has them heading for the door. Not much needs to be done in a bathroom for it to feel completely different. Just by changing the taps to a more updated style or adding a mirror can freshen up the look and reinvent the space. Modern lighting can also change the feel of the room and breathe fresh life into an outdated area.

Storage and organisation

Although it depends on the availability of space and layout of the home, installing additional cupboards or storage units will be a practical way to create a selling feature. Buyers are often looking for homes with ample storage capacity, so an extra cupboard, expanding existing cupboards or a walk-in pantry can become a selling point. Built-in shelves or a wall unit in areas with a lot of open wall space can also be a unique and interesting feature.  These are relatively easy to install and will be a functional addition that could give the home added interest.

Flooring

Where the home has carpets, they should be in good repair and professionally cleaned. Cleaning the carpets will not only make them look good but will leave the whole house smelling great. If the carpets are in a bad state, depending on what’s underneath it might be worthwhile to have them lifted. Many older homes will have wooden flooring underneath the carpeting, which can be sanded and revarnished.  In the instance where the home does not already have wooden floors, synthetic alternatives are available that look similar but cost far less. The right kind of flooring will make a room appear larger, and it will completely revamp the area’s look and feel.

Outside areas and garden

Exterior features such as decks and patios can impress, however, they aren’t always in the budget and are not necessarily needed to make the garden look good. A garden that is neat and well-kept will make an outstanding impression with buyers.

Ensuring the property is in its best condition before it is listed will increase your chances of standing out from the crowd and achieving the highest possible selling price.

Downsizing – is it the right decision?

The kids have flown the nest, and you no longer need a large high maintenance property – maybe it’s time to downscale? For some, this could be a tough choice to make, especially if they have lived in the home for many years and seen their kids grow up there. However, others may well look forward to a more relaxed lifestyle, unfettered by monthly mortgage payments and the never-ending upkeep and maintenance that is part and parcel of owning a larger property.

Either way, when it comes to downsizing, there are a few aspects to consider.

The pros

There are numerous lifestyle benefits to downsizing from a large property to a smaller one. For one, you are no longer responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of a home, a large garden, and other property features you may no longer use. Also, downsizing can result in significant monthly cost savings on water, gas and electricity, council tax, buildings and contents insurance, ground rent, service charges, and maintenance and building work.

Run the numbers

The biggest expense in most households is the mortgage repayment, and whether you will be free from this responsibility will depend on how well the family’s finances have been managed. If you have paid off your mortgage or at least the bulk thereof, it might be possible to sell the property, settle the outstanding balance and have enough capital to purchase a smaller property without having to enter into a new loan agreement.

On the other hand, if enough equity has not been built up, things could be slightly more tricky, especially if you are retiring. After a certain age, banks are not as willing to grant applicants mortgage finance. In this situation, you will need to carefully consider what monthly rental or mortgage repayment you can afford on your lower pension income. Bearing in mind, it will also need to cover the costs involved in buying a new property, such as a deposit, stamp duty, conveyancing, valuation fees, mortgage arrangement and broker fees, and removals.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

Most people who sell the primary residence will not have to worry about paying Capital Gains Tax because of the private residence relief. However, there are certain instances where CGT becomes a factor in the property sale. You may be required to pay CGT if:

  • Part of the home has been developed, for example, by converting part of it into flats
  • You sell part of your garden and your total plot, including the area you’re selling, is more than half a hectare (1.2 acres)
  • A portion of the home has been exclusively used for business
  • Let out all or part of your home – this doesn’t include having a single lodger (to count as a lodger and not a tenant you need to be living in the property too)
  • You have moved out of your property 18 months or more ago – to move into a partner’s home for example
  • The home was purchased for the purpose of renovating it and selling it on.

Timing is key

If it is not the best time to sell, consider delaying the decision to downscale by a few months as it could result in a better selling price depending on market conditions.  On the other hand, you would be selling and buying in the same market and delaying the downsizing decision could mean missing out on a good buying opportunity.

What about letting it out? 

If your mortgage is paid off, perhaps consider letting out the property, rather than selling. If there is still a mortgage on the property, this option will be far less attractive with the introduction of the Section 24 taxation on landlords. Letting out the property will also come with its own set of challenges such as who will manage the property.  This option will also require you to have enough cash flow to cover any vacancies. While letting out the property can supplement your income, it is important to remember that once you have let the property for 18 months it becomes subject to CGT.

Provided all aspects are considered carefully, downsizing can form part of a comprehensive plan that leads to a simpler lifestyle that offers financial freedom. A real estate professional or financial adviser will be able to give excellent advice on the first steps.

8 TIPS FOR AN EASY MOVE

Get Rid of Clutter Before You Move
The more items you can clean out before you move, the better off you’ll be. Decluttering and getting rid of unused items means you will have less to physically move on moving day, which means you will be less tired and stressed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by how much stuff you have, try the 12-12-12 rule. Donate 12 things, throw away 12 items, and return 12 items to their proper place. It’s an easy, laid-back way to declutter your space quickly.

Pack for a Successful Move
It is essential to pack your boxes well to ensure that all your items arrive at your new place in the same condition they left the old one. To reduce shifting and to maximise space, pack your plates, dishware, frames, and books vertically. Keep clothes on hangers and wrap rubbish bags around a bundle at a time. This makes them easy to carry without falling on the ground. For your beautiful accessories, thread delicate necklaces through a straw and fastening the clasp so they don’t get tangled.

Colour Code and Label Everything!
When packing you need to be thinking about the unpacking process when the items arrive at your new place. Make it as easy for yourself as possible and label boxes with things you will need straight away with “Unpack First.” Load these labeled boxes into the truck or storage container last. When taping up your boxes, buy different coloured tape and assign a colour to each room. This will make unloading and sorting in your new home easier.

Take Photos of Your Audio & Video Components
Take a photo of your electronics wiring configuration before you pack them so you’ll be able to reconnect them at your new place. There are tons of apps, like Evernote, Sortly and Google Keep that let you take images, record audio, and create checklists.

Purchase All Your Moving Supplies Before Moving Day
Stock up on box tape, rope and any other moving supplies you may need before moving day. Make sure you securely pack all of your belongings and have your big items covered in the moving truck or container to avoid damage and minimise shifting. Moving bands are also a great way to wrap blankets around soft furniture, like couches and mattresses, before you tie them down.

Hire Packers and Loaders
Trusted moving and storage companies should be able to provide you with contact details of people that can help you move. Before hiring any help, check their reviews, social media, and ask friends for any recommendations as well. Hiring professional, reputable moving help can be the icing on the cake when it comes to planning an easy move.

Maximise Your “Cubed” Space
Rather than used bags, pack as many of your items into boxes as you can. Boxes stack well and can give you a tight fit in your storage container or van. This makes all your belongings more secure and allows you to efficiently fit more stuff in a smaller space.

For Moving and Storage – Think Outside the Van
Portable storage containers allow you to have unlimited time when loading and unloading your belongings. Stay organised and in control by loading your boxes into your container as soon as you pack them. If you label them properly, this will eliminate confusion and spare you from drowning in a sea of boxes inside your home.

Value vs Marketability

The first distinction to make when listing a property is the difference between the actual value of the home and its current marketability.  There are numerous elements that determine a home’s value, just as there are aspects that impact a home’s marketability in the current economic environment and phase of the market.

While the value of a property is determined by looking at things such as its type, size, features and configuration, marketability is more about the readiness of the property to be sold. It relates to aspects such as the home’s condition and aesthetic appeal.

Value

The value of a property is largely determined by the supply and demand in the market, along with buyer’s personal preferences. For example, when demand for housing is greater than the supply of properties currently listed on the market, the perceived value increases. The opposite is also true, in that when there are more homes for sale than buyers – home values can stagnate. There is a definite link between property prices and demand – the value of a property is not established by the homeowner, but rather the prospective buyer. Essentially what this means is that value is largely determined by what buyers are prepared to pay in the current market.

It is important to note that while renovations or alterations will affect the price of the property to some degree, it does not always mean that the value of the property will increase. Why is this? If the home is renovated with the view of selling, it is important to be aware of the current trends in the market and what buyers are willing to pay more for. A new kitchen or bathroom upgrade will make the home more attractive to buyers, but will they be willing to pay an increased amount which is equivalent to the cost of the renovation?

Another consideration is over-capitalising. If the improvements to the home are beyond what the value of the area dictates, it will negatively impact the property’s saleability. Why would a buyer want to pay more, when they can get a similar home in the same area for less?

Marketability

Considering that the marketability of a home is largely determined by how ready it is to sell, preparing the home before it is listed will increase its marketability and ensure that it attracts a greater number of potential buyers. Essentially increased marketability can result in a higher price for the property. If a home is clean, neat and well-maintained, it will be far more appealing to prospective buyers. The marketability of the home increases by ensuring that it is in the best condition before it is placed on the market. Although adding a coat of paint and having the garden landscaped won’t necessarily increase the home’s value, it will increase its marketability and make it more appealing to a larger number of potential buyers – even though the actual features of the home have not changed.

Staging the property will also have an impact on its saleability. It is advisable to de-clutter and remove unnecessary items, but keep the home furnished. It can often be more difficult to sell an empty home because it can look bare and it will be potentially difficult for buyers to see themselves living there. An experienced estate agent will be able to provide valuable advice regarding staging the home and making it more appealing during viewings.

While there is a distinction between value and marketability, both aspects should be considered to ensure the maximise potential selling price is achieved.

Find out an estate agent that can help your home stand apart from the crowd in this competitive market.

9 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN RENOVATING YOUR BATHROOM

Giving a fresh new look to an outdated bathroom can modernise and add value to your home. Renovations and contemporary remodelling of bathrooms are known to boost the marketability of a home and, also, bathrooms and kitchens are the two areas of a home where the cost of the renovation can be largely recouped on the sale of the property.

Over the past few years, bathroom renovations have become extremely popular with many opting to renovate their bathrooms before any other room in the home, because bathrooms and kitchens are major focal points that buyers look at before they put in an offer to purchase a property. Additionally, bathrooms are smaller than other rooms in the home, so the cost of renovation can be managed more effectively.

Here are some important things to consider before you begin renovating your bathroom.

Select Elegant Fixtures.

Subtle changes can make a big difference to the overall feel of the bathroom. Selecting the right fixtures will be key to transforming your bathroom. An elegant sink with a curvaceous shape will exude beauty much more than a bulky vanity unit.

If you have a large bathroom, decorative feet on a freestanding bath can be a subtle design feature that adds character and elegance to the space. However, you don’t need a huge bathroom in order to make it special.  Accessories like robe hooks and soap dishes can be just as effective in revitalising the room.

Don’t buy a bath until you sit in it.

A 1500mm bath accommodates most people, however, assuming it is the right fit for you by sight can be a mistake you will live to regret. It may raise an eyebrow or two, but before you buy a bath, sit in it, lie down in it and pretend you are having a bath.

Things to think about is whether it provides you with enough room for you to stretch out and be comfortable, as well as whether it provides a strong foothold. First, try it, then but it.

Choose Durable Flooring.

Out of all the floors in your home, the bathroom floor needs to endure the most strenuous daily treatment.  Ideally, the floor needs to be made of a hard-wearing, water-resistant material such as ceramic, marble or stone. The floor will also need to be sealed to ensure that water doesn’t get under the flooring and cause damage. The right floor will prolong the life of the bathroom and ensure you are enjoying it for years to come.

 Mirror, Mirror On The Wall.

Both practical and beautiful, mirrors are a crucial element to any bathroom. A well-designed mirror can be the focal point of the room while proving the illusion of space. A mirrored cabinet is also a great way to add an elegant feature to the room, which is ideal for hiding away an unsightly mix of toiletries.

Floor Space Is Considered Good.

Storage cabinets on the walls are a functional way to save floor space. To avoid cluttering the room, the cabinets should have an interior depth of at least three inches and a door flush with the wall.

A Built-In Shower Area.

A great way to add value to the property is with a built-in shower area. Steer away from the confinement of a traditional shower with an open shower area which eye-catching and will set your bathroom apart.

Good Lighting Is Key.

Lighting sets the overall mood of the room and can make all the difference in creating the right atmosphere. If the lighting doesn’t work with the space it can really undersell a bathroom, so make sure you get it right.

Purchase A Quality Throne.

The toilet is an essential part of the bathroom, which is why it is so important to get the right one. Apart from its aesthetics, it is best to opt for a well-built toilet that is made to last than buying a cheap one out of convenience. Also, make sure it is the right height and size for the space.

Indulge Yourself.

If you have space, make the room a luxury haven where you can escape to and relax. Add a few indulgent elements such as a television, fireplace, some exercise equipment or even a large comfortable occasional chair. The room is yours to create – enjoy it.

Spring clean to help sell your home

As the temperatures rise and more buyers venture out to look for homes, the warmer months are the ideal time for would-be sellers to spring clean their home and prepare for listing on the market. There are a few things that homeowners can do to get their property ready for sale and ensure that it stands out from the competition.

Make the first impression count – It takes as little as eight seconds for a buyer to decide whether they like a property or not.  You only have one chance to make a first impression, so make sure it counts in the right way. If a buyer has to choose between two homes within the same price range and area, both offering similar features, then the distinguishing factor will be the look and buyer’s overall first impression of the property.

The first impression of a home is created by the potential buyers’ sensory perception of the property. It will be based on what they see, hear, smell and feel when they first enter the home. All of these elements contribute to and influence the overall feel of the home, which will generate an emotional response. If this experience is positive and results in a favourable impression, it is more likely that the buyer will feel compelled to make an offer.

Get an objective second opinion – Homeowners often have an emotional attachment to their home, which can make it difficult to have an objective view. Because of this, it’s advisable to call in a trusted second opinion about what improvements might need to be made to get the home ready for sale. You might be tempted to avoid input from others, however, an objective second pair of eyes can help you see your home from an outsider’s perspective. Seek out honest opinions that focus on both the home’s good points as well as the bad. If you are worried about possible conflict with friends or family, a trusted estate agent will give their honest and direct opinion about what should be done to make the home more marketable.

Spring cleaning is not just about cleaning – Once the areas of improvement are identified, it is time to put in the work and clean and make the necessary changes to the home. Apart from washing and scrubbing the home, spring cleaning also entails decluttering.

Attention should be paid to every detail in the home, ensuring that even the slightest cracked window pane is replaced. Buyers will be keeping their eyes open for things that are wrong with the home.  Remember that the home is competing with others on the market, so it is imperative that every effort is made to ensure the home is in its best condition.

Allow buyers to picture themselves living there – Make buyers feel as welcome as possible in the home. Potential buyers need the space to be able to view the home at their leisure and be able to visualise themselves living in there. Packing away personal items and photos will make buyers feel more at ease and will help them envisage themselves in the home. It is also best to decorate or paint the home in neutral, muted colours with only a few well-placed items to add interest and warmth. For example, a vase with some fresh flowers or potpourri in the bathroom will aesthetically enhance the home and make it smell good. Home decor magazines are a great resource for tips.

Do away with bad odours – Unpleasant odours will potentially drive buyers away so ensure that the home smells inviting. Traces of food, pets or smoking and other disagreeable odours can kill deals fast. Having the carpets professionally cleaned, for example, will help remove bad smells and will enhance the look of the home.

Ensuring the home is market ready will be a vital element in setting the property apart from others in the neighbourhood and will give you an advantage in today’s competitive real estate market.

Open houses – Are they worthwhile?

Open houses and their worth has caused some debate among estate agents over the years. While some don’t see the significance or need, others see open houses as an intricate and necessary part of marketing a home successfully and achieving the best possible outcome.

It is interesting to note research shows that often open houses have generated more leads than the online listing. There have been a number of occasions where a property has been sold from a lead generated at an open house – a lead that would have been missed if the home was merely listed online. What does this say? Rather than doing away with traditional home selling methods and purely focusing on the online platforms, it would be advantageous to both the agent and the seller to integrate elements such as open houses into their marketing plan. Using a variety of platforms will increase the home’s exposure to a greater audience, which will result in the optimum outcome.

Some of the advantages of having an open house are visibility and accessibility. It is also possible for open houses to save both the agent and the seller some time, as numerous prospective buyers can view the property on the same day. Regardless of which brand is represented by the sign outside the property, buyers will stop in at an open house to see what is on offer if they are interested in buying a property in that area. Another positive aspect is the fact that buyers have the opportunity to personally interact with the agent and ask them any questions they may have regarding the property. The interaction will also open up the chance for the buyer to be put on the agent’s database or make appointments to see other homes within their portfolio of stock.

In certain instances, open houses can be less stressful than a view by appointment strategy. This is because the cleaning and tidying are only done once a week, rather than numerous times to accommodate the potential multiple viewings in the course of the working week. The seller is also not inconvenienced by constantly needing to be home at a certain time or wait around to let in buyers who want to view the property.  An open house can sometimes be easier from a logistical point of view.

When it comes to formulating the statistical success rate of open houses, it is very difficult because there is different feedback depending on the area and type of property. Every neighbourhood has a unique demographic and dynamics, which emphasises the importance of working with an agent who understands the micro market. Certain agents say that the majority of their sales come from buyers who viewed the home during an open house, while others have not sold a property using this method for quite some time. It largely depends on the area and what works there.

Other simple but effective methods of marketing a property are ‘For Sale’ boards, flyers and print advertisements. Many agents have also embraced the marketing power of social media networks to enhance their connectivity to buyers in the market.

Irrespective of the method used to sell a home, it is vital that sellers use a reputable agent who has working experience in their area. The right agent will find an effective method to successfully sell the home for the best possible price and within a reasonable timeframe.

What agents do behind the scenes

What most people may not realise is that for every hour that an estate agent spends with a seller, they will spend approximately nine hours working behind the scenes on the homeowner’s behalf to get the property sold.

If an estate agent works on a no sale, no fee basis, they will only get paid after the home has been sold. While a risk, working on commission pushes agents to do what is necessary to see the deal through to fruition. In other industries, professionals will charge their clients an hourly rate for the time they spend working for them. However, agents don’t, which means they run the risk of coming away empty-handed or worse – out of pocket. Agents will often spend their own money and resources to market a property, money they will not get back unless the home is successfully sold.

There is often discussion regarding why certain agents charge more, while others charge less. As with most services, it is based on experience and the value offered to the client. If the agent can deliver on the key performance indicators set out from the start, they should be paid accordingly.

So what do estate agents do behind the scenes?

Market the property
It is vital that the property is exposed to the right target market of potential buyers. To get exposure, agents will advertise their listings on property search portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket, as well as in magazines, newspapers, flyers, and brochures. Part of the process of setting up the adverts is having photos taken of the home and having the layout professionally designed. Other marketing tactics include using the services of a public relations officer to engage with targeted media, posting listings on social media, arranging and hosting open houses and facilitating private viewings.

Qualify buyers and negotiate offers
Agents are professional negotiators. A lot of their time is spent talking to their network and ensuring that buyers are matched with the right homes. The agent needs to have an in-depth knowledge of the homes that they are currently marketing, along with what each of the buyers in their network wants.

When a buyer has found a home that meets their criteria, the agent will guide the buyer through the process of making an offer. They will also facilitate any counter offers from the seller – a vital aspect of the property sale, as the agent can net the seller thousands during this stage of negotiations.

Research the market
Knowledge of the property market and specific area information is a vital arrow in an agent’s quiver. A substantial amount of an agent’s time is dedicated to researching property sales prices and data to ensure that they know their area well and have a good handle on the market.

Correctly pricing a home is a valuable skill. To do so, an agent needs an understanding of the economic environment and their target market, which takes time and research. To accurately pinpoint the right price to list a home, an agent will need to complete a comparative market analysis (CMA). Factors taken into consideration during a CMA would include the average price per square metre in the area, recent sale prices of similar homes and comparative prices of other properties that are still on the market. This information will help establish a reasonable price range for the property.

Ensure a smooth ride
The fact is not every property transaction will go according to plan. However, agents will try to shield their clients from any unnecessary drama – unless there is a need to inform them. An agent will work tirelessly to ensure that the property sales process is as hassle-free as possible for all parties involved.

Selling a home can be stressful, and emotions often run high. A good agent will need to be a problem-solver, keep a positive approach and come up with a constructive solution to any issue.

Network with other agents
Networking is an intricate part of being an agent. Most agents will have a network of other real estate professionals that they will use to find a suitable buyer for a home. Agents often spend time helping each other to match the right buyer with the right home. In certain instances, agents will refer buyers to other agents if they know that agent has the house that checks every box on their wish list.

A good agent will add value to the property transaction and earn their keep.

Home staging can create buyer appeal

While not new to the property market, home staging continues to grow in popularity among homeowners who wish to optimise buyer appeal and sell their home for the best possible price, within the shortest possible time.

To get the property sold for the best price, the home needs to appeal to the highest possible number of potential buyers. Home staging is used by estate agents as one of their marketing tools to highlight a home’s best features. It is preparing the home for sale by using techniques that focus on improving the property’s appeal and transforming it into a more attractive and welcoming space.

A prime example of staging is a retail shop window using mannequins to display items in such a manner that it allows people to picture themselves wearing the clothes or using the products in the window. Similarly, home staging aims to showcase the home’s best qualities and entice the potential buyer to see themselves living in that home – it creates aspirations.

It is possible to hire professional home staging specialists; however, this will obviously come at a cost. Professional staging can include the rental of furniture or artwork, buying paint or wallpaper, as well as products that may be required to fix up problems such as cracks in the wall or sanding wooden floors.

You can avoid the cost of a professional stager by doing it yourself, making simple changes to your home that could create a big impact. In this age of information, there are vast amounts of content available to help you through the home staging process. There are many websites, television shows and other mediums that you can use to source information that will assist you to get your home ready for viewings.

Don’t know where to start? Here are a few tips that will help you along your way:

Keep it clean
As a first step, the home should be clean, inviting and exciting for potential buyers to view. The object is for buyers to not only want the home but to want it more than any other homes for sale in the neighbourhood.

Getting the carpets professionally cleaned will make a big difference to their appearance and will leave the home smelling great. Taking the curtains down and washing them will also add to the pleasant aroma of the home. Fresh or new bedding will go a long way in sprucing up the bedrooms to ensure they look their best on an open house.

Get rid of clutter
Where possible, reduce clutter and pack away any unused items. Don’t let your personal items detract from the home’s features. If a space in the home is full of items, try and remove some furniture to open the space up a little. While not always possible, ideally it is good to reduce the number of items in the house by around half. This will mean that you will need to be ruthless in the selection process. Hiring a storage unit while the home is on the market will assist in storing pieces that you want to keep, but don’t want in the house.

If there are fewer items in the home, it will appear larger and it will easier to keep clean.

Smells evoke emotion
If the home smells good, it will conjure up positive emotions in buyers, while unpleasant odours often drive buyers away. There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly brewed coffee or freshly baked bread to make a home feel more inviting.

A few updates and adjustments
If necessary, give the walls a fresh coat of paint to inject some colour into the space and revitalise the look. Any small defects should also be attended to, such as replacing a cracked window pane or broken doorknob. During viewings, it’s best for each room to be as open and bright as possible. Turn on the lights and open all curtains and blinds to let in as much natural light as possible.

Unexpected touches
Small changes can make a big impact in how the property is seen by buyers. It is the unexpected little touches that will leave an impression on buyers viewing the home. Some fresh flowers on display, a welcome mat or fresh fruit in a bowl in the kitchen – all these little things combined will add to the appeal of the home and impress potential buyers.

Factors that will influence the property market in 2018

It is fair to say that 2017 was a year of much change in the housing market, from the abolishment of Stamp Duty for first-time buyers who are looking to purchase a home up to £300,000, to the new way that landlords will be taxed on their portfolio. One thing is for certain, and that is that the government is doing all they can to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to own a home for the first time. The year was geared towards encouraging first-time buyers to get in the game while getting landlords to rethink their portfolios and perhaps releasing some of their current properties into the market.

Here’s a brief look at the things that happened in 2017 that will influence the market in 2018:

Stamp Duty done away with for first-time buyers

The government’s decision to scrap Stamp Duty for first-time buyers who wish to purchase a property up to £300,000 was one of 2017’s biggest changes in the housing market. In addition to the exemption, rates have also been changed. Now, first-time buyers making a property purchase up to £500,000 will pay no Stamp Duty on the first £300,000 and 5% tax on the amount between £300,001 and £500,000.

New taxing for landlords

Last year also saw the introduction of the section 23 taxation change that will impact landlords. The change will be phased in until 2021 and will mean that landlords will not be able to claim tax relief on their mortgage payments from 2021, reducing by 25% each tax year until then. The change will effectively push landlords into a new tax bracket, which will essentially eat away at potential profits.

Interest rate has gone up

For the first time in a decade, the base rate of interest has increased marginally from 0.25% to 0.5%. The increase means that mortgage repayments will be slightly more expensive going forward.

A change in the rental landscape

Over 2017, the build to rent sector has seen growth, which has created an alternative type of accommodation for tenants. Many of the build to rent developments are owned by institutions such as pension funds and are then let out by letting agencies. At the moment, approximately 55,000 build to rent properties exist in London. Depending on the development or site, the developments offer residents features such as gyms, communal areas and other sought after amenities.

House prices are steady

In spite of both the economic and political challenges of Brexit, 2017 showed that the London property market is robust and house prices have remained steady. According to the UK House Price Index, the yearly average house price growth is up to 5% with 29 of the 32 boroughs in London showing house price growth since January 2017. Steady property prices, favourable interest rates and an increase in inventory are positive factors for buyers in today’s market.

An increase in affordable housing

According to recent budget announcements, the UK government will be focused on increasing the number of affordable homes available to buyers. A commitment has been made by the government to build more affordable housing, designating £44 billion to build new homes, with an additional £400 million to improve existing estates.
Approved schemes will also be pushed ahead as soon as possible to help relieve some of the pressure currently placed on council waiting lists.

With all this change during 2017, it will be interesting to see what we can expect of the next twelve months.