Pimlico, London

What Will Be the Effect of Covid-19 on the Pimlico Property Market?

So now we are almost a month into lockdown, yet can you believe it I am still speaking with agents from all over the UK, and I do not jest, properties are still being sold and let even in these unprecedented times. We agreed a sale to a Hong Kong buyer yesterday, close to asking price, after showing the property using videos and virtual tours. Yet, I would like to address the question I have been asked many times recently “What will be the effect of Covid-19 on the Pimlico property market in the short, medium and long term?”

These are obviously unchartered times, yet we can look back in history to give us clues and more recently, the bounce back that is happening in China (and their property market). The Covid-19 situation will touch all parts of the Pimlico and UK property market, and so in this article, I will be considering its impact on Pimlico property prices, transaction numbers (i.e. the number of people that move home), Pimlico buy to let landlords and finally tenants and the rents they pay.

The Three Issues with the Virus and the Property Market

The first issue has to be the lockdown itself. Limitations on society’s capability to go about their normal working life will hinder the house buying/selling process. The practical difficulties of moving home and expediting the property sale; from the viewing itself, the Energy Performance Certificate being carried out, the surveyor checking the property for the lender etc., are all issues. Yet the estate agency and legal industries are coming up with some innovative solutions, from virtual viewings to legally watertight delayed completions, where the old owners stay in the house under licence during the lockdown, and the move will take place after the lockdown period.

Secondly, the UK housing market has never liked ambiguity or uncertainty and this virus will play a part on people’s feelings and sentiment towards moving home (or not).

Thirdly and finally, there is the issue with the money people have, be that wages, whether they have a job (or not) and their overall affluence, on the back of the 29.4% stock market decrease in the last two months (correct at the time of writing this article).

The Background Economics

The economy drives everything including the housing market – and the overall measure of the economy is the Gross Domestic Product figure or the GDP (the GDP is basically the total value of all the goods and services created by the whole UK economy in one year and it currently stands at £2.15 trillion).

Looking at what has happened in China, most economists believe the UK will experience a short, yet sharp economic shrinkage in Q2 2020 with GDP set drop by 4% to 7% in the one quarter depending on the extent of the lockdown. Then GDP is expected to level out in Q3 2020, and then a significant ricochet (how significant depends who you listen to) in Q4 2020/Q1 2021.

Now putting politics aside, I have been impressed with Boris Johnson’s response with wide-ranging support for the UK economy and businesses, and whilst it’s far from perfect, help has been in the guise of the Bank of England reactivating its Contingent Term Repo Facility increasing liquidity and keeping the money markets going (important as that was what the issue was with the Credit Crunch), business grants and Government backed loans, together with telling lenders to take a compassionate line to those unable to make mortgage holidays and finally the furloughing of staff, thus allowing a quicker recovery in the economy.

What Will Happen to Pimlico Property Values?

There are a few doom-monger economists predicting Armageddon, yet I feel a lot of that is to get column inches in the newspapers. The Pimlico property market is less exposed than it was in the previous four historical property crashes in 1972, 1979, 1988 and 2008. This is because of the following reasons..

  1. Before each of the four crashes, there had been a significant upward spike in property values prior to the crash. We have not experienced that over the last 12 months.
  2. Mortgage interest as a percentage of household income (nationally) was a massive 32% in 1988, 18% in 2008 – yet now it stands at just under 8% (because interest rates are so low).

This is all assuming we don’t have high unemployment. Yet historically, it has been proved house price falls are not caused by high unemployment. It is in fact, that it happens the other way round, that a housing downturn can (not always) create unemployment – yet with the Government furloughing people – this shouldn’t be such so much of an issue.

The value of an average Pimlico home currently stands at £1,672,900

As I will explain in the next section, the biggest effect will be on transaction numbers, not on property values. I suspect in the summer there will be some Pimlico homeowners who will want to sell at all costs, and not care what price they achieve. Savvy property buyers will swoop on those properties and drive a hard bargain, meaning there will be some short-term localised reductions in what properties sell in the summer for those that want to sell at any cost.

Yet, these reductions will artificially amplify the property value indexes in a downward direction in the autumn (the ones the newspapers mention when they talk about property value changes) because they will be based on the very low levels of property transactions that will take place in the summer (because there is always a lag). Interestingly we have seen this many times over the years because just about every spring for the last 20 years, we have often seen negative or very subdued figures in the House Price Indexes in the months of January/February. This is because of the lack of property sales on the run up to Christmas a few months before. To give this all some context, property values in Pimlico are 53.5% higher than 10 years ago – and nobody was complaining about those. To give you an idea what that is in pound notes …

The average Pimlico home has risen in value by £582,700 in the last 10 years

 The swiftness of recovery in the autumn/winter from that point will depend on the state of the wider economy. With the measures (mentioned above) implemented by the Government, household incomes should continue to remain steady, and whilst holidays and luxuries may be shelved for a year, those Pimlico people who have been locked up in their Pimlico homes for weeks on end, might just consider making that move later in 2020, taking advantage of the ultra-low interest rates. This in turn ought to encourage a return to sturdier levels of house-price growth in the medium term (2021/2 onwards).

The Number of People Moving Home in Pimlico Will Significantly Drop in 2020

I foresee the number of people moving home (i.e. the number of household transactions) in Pimlico will significantly drop in 2020. This will only really affect the pockets of Estate Agents (as they charge their fee when people move – so if less people are moving, they will earn less) and the people associated with house moving.

Even with virtual viewings and creative legal work, the number of property transactions will be considerably obstructed over the next couple of months. Interestingly, in the Chinese cities that removed the lockdown first (in the middle of March) I have read in the press the number of property transactions has already bounced back to around half of the medium-term average after only three weeks!

This was caused by people delaying their move because of the ‘B’ word (Brexit) over the last 12/18 months, which interestingly saw a massive upsurge with the Boris Bounce in December/January and February.

Worse case scenarios suggested by economists state transactions will drop to 20% of the normal 10 year average number of transactions until the end of Q3 2020, return to 65% by Q1 2021, increase to 100% by the end of Q2 2021 and then 120% in 2022, yet most sensible economists (and often those that stay out of the limelight and don’t go chasing headlines), believe transactions will reduce to 45% to 50% of the 10 year average until the end of Q3 2020, improve to 80% in Q4 2020 and 100% by Q2 2021 with potential for higher transactions numbers in the order of 110% to 130% in 2022.

It all sounds rather grim doesn’t it, until you dig deeper…

Remarkably, it must be stated the number of property transactions over the last 12 months in Pimlico are only at 42.1% of the 10-year Pimlico average … and this was before Covid-19

In the last 12 months, there have been 270 property transactions in Pimlico, compared to a 10-year average of 642 per year

Yet, let’s not forget, these predictions are from the 10-year long term average, and as it can quite clearly be seen, transaction levels are already at a low, even without Covid-19 and nobody was complaining about that apart from estate agents and removal vans!

With the number of Pimlico people moving being held back, I would anticipate seeing a build-up of supressed demand for Pimlico property from Covid-19, on top of the pent-up demand from Brexit, especially with many Pimlico families realising their Pimlico homes aren’t large enough to contain them as the lockdown experience will push many Pimlico households to move in late 2020 or possibly 2021 …and as every economics student knows, when demand outstrips supply (because we can’t all of a sudden build more houses), prices go up.

How Will This Affect Pimlico First Time Buyers, Those Trading up, Downsizers and Landlords & Tenants?

FIRST TIME BUYERS – I believe the banks will be a little more wary when lending money to first buyers with their need for large percentage mortgages. The demand for the Help-to-Buy Scheme has been increasing year-on-year, yet its pace of growth has been declining in the last couple years – I foresee demand accelerating in the later parts of 2020. There could be some good deals to be had from new homes builders looking to release cash in Q3 and Q4 later in the year? Maybe the Bank of Mum and Dad might be able to help, yet they too will be stretched, although they might be able to release equity down the generations to their children and grandchildren (see the downsizers section).

TRADING UP – Many Pimlico homeowners in their starter homes will be going stir-crazy in their smaller homes, and with interest rates at ultralow levels, some Pimlico homeowners might forgo holidays and entertaining, and consider putting their weight and finances into moving up market in Pimlico. That might also be easier, if the Pimlico downsizers start to move as well.

DOWNSIZERS – There are many Pimlico retired people, rattling around their large Pimlico home, with their children having flown the nest and possibly moved away years ago. These Pimlico people don’t need to move, and so are considered ‘optional home-movers’ – yet the Covid-19 crisis could be the catalyst to make them finally move to be nearer their family around the UK – releasing good sized Pimlico family homes onto the property market for the ‘Trading Uppers’ to buy.

LANDLORDS & TENANTS – I suspect there won’t be many Pimlico tenants moving in the next three to four months. Tenants have the peace of mind with a cessation on evictions until the summer and buy-to-let mortgage payment holidays for buy-to-let landlords whose tenants are in financial difficulty (note the tenants have to give proof to their landlord that they are unable to pay with their applications to Universal Credit etc., etc.,). There might be small reductions in average rents, as some Pimlico landlords undertake to help their tenants in these chastened financial times, yet for most people, rents will continue to be paid, making no major impression on rental prices in 2020.

Let’s not forget, the level of average rents is directly related to tenants wages and I can’t see why this relationship between rents and tenants wages should break after Covid-19, so as wages are held back in the latter parts of 2020 the growth rents over the next year will be subdued. Finally, those Pimlico buy-to-let landlords sitting on cash might be able to bag a bargain in the summer from a desperate seller, before normality returns in Q3 and Q4 2020.

Conclusion

We are in unchartered territory, yet for the reasons explained in this article and, assuming there are no other seismic shocks in the coming weeks and months – in a few years’ time – this will be seen as a bump (albeit a rather big bump)  – another part of the roller coaster ride of the UK and Pimlico property market.

Wellness tips for working from home

Adjust your home office with these tips to keep you happy and healthy

As we all do our part to stay home and stop the spread of the coronavirus, working from home has become the new normal for most of us. However, while working from home certainly has its perks, being cooped up inside – not to mention the added stress of the current situation – means that we have to take extra care of ourselves. Read on for some advice on how to stay healthy, physically and mentally.

1. Build a routine

Now that your home is your office, it’s important to set boundaries for your work and private life. However, it isn’t just the risk that you’ll end up watching Netflix all day. Without clear boundaries, you could end up working late into the night or seven days a week. Instead, schedule “office hours” and stick to them, starting and ending each day at the same time. Go to bed at a reasonable hour so that you get enough sleep and are able to wake up at your usual time. Then, start your day with a strong morning routine to get your head in the game.

2. Create an ergonomic workspace

For a lot of people, working from home means being able to be less formal, but slouching on the sofa is not going to do your neck or your back any good. Save yourself the pain and dedicate a corner of the kitchen table to a work-space if you don’t have a separate room you can use for an office. You should make sure that you aren’t sitting too low or too high for your desk, and ideally your elbows should be bent to 90 degrees. If your chair isn’t adjustable, sit on a pillow or use a footstool to take the pressure off your lower back.

3. Move every hour

With gyms and group workouts cancelled you have to be a little more creative about getting enough exercise. If you have exercise equipment or weights that have been gathering dust, brush them off and put them to work. If not, search YouTube for yoga or exercise videos, or do some old-school fitness with sit-ups or push-ups. And don’t sit at your desk all day. Get up every hour and move, whether that’s walking around the room, stretching, getting a drink of water or even using the toilet. Remember that several short breaks throughout the day will be more beneficial than longer but less frequent break.

4. Mind your snacks

Just as we have to resist the magnetic pull of Netflix, we have to watch what we eat. You probably have a kitchen fully stocked with food and given the uncertain times we’re living in much of that may be comfort foods and sweet treats. Remember the occasional indulgence is fine, but you should stick to your normal healthy meals. Eat your meals on a regular schedule instead of snacking all day so that it’s easier to pay attention to what you are eating. And don’t keep snacks by your desk, because as you get caught up in work you won’t notice when you finish the entire bag of chips!

5. Get some fresh air

Not everyone is able to get out and get some exercise, but a little fresh air can do wonders for your mood and your energy level, even if it’s cold. One side effect of everyone staying at home is that air quality has improved for many communities. So bring in a fresh perspective: open the window for a few minutes, stick your head out and take a deep breath. A few minutes of crisp, fresh air can help you feel more alert and awake and ready to take on the day.

6. Skip the email and make a call

While you’re in isolation, you might go all day without speaking to anyone unless you make an effort, and that lack of human interaction can really harm your mental health. So, if you have short work questions or project updates, take some time to pick up the phone and have a real conversation. Hearing someone’s voice is big boost for your out-look, but a phone call can also be much more productive than a long chain of emails. Of course, everyone’s sched-ules have changed, so ask if colleagues and customers are free, and keep your conversation on topic or ask them to call back when they have more time.

7. Be kind to yourself

Finally, remember that some days will be productive and successful, but other days you’ll feel as if you’ve done nothing useful. Set realistic expectations, and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t meet them. Being kind to yourself will help keep you calm but will also make sure that you have the energy you need to take good care of your family. Acknowledge that you’re doing your best during a difficult time and remember that you get a fresh start tomorrow.

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.