Hadley Taylor Blog

picture of nick compressedNick Taylor

Managing Director

At Hadley Taylor we like to keep our clients updated on the latest local property news and opinion.

November 2011

What is the future for new build?

 

With our population growing at about a quarter of a million people every year there is enormous pressure on housing in the UK and this is one factor that underpins and supports house prices. But how sustainable is it to keep building new houses in the way that we do?

 

Now there’s nothing wrong with modern houses – in fact we sell them all the time. What makes them so unsustainable is where and how they’re built. New houses tend to be on estates on green field sites on the outskirts of towns and cities. They are neither in town nor in the country. To live in them you need at least two cars per household in order to transport everybody to work, school and play. Each property has at least two flushing toilets and two power showers which have to be supplied by our dwindling water resource and there isn’t a doctor’s surgery, nursery school or shop for miles around. They tend to be built far too near low lying land and water courses because let’s face it the good sites have been developed already and this often makes them difficult to insure against flood.

 

One wonders who contrived this style of living in the first place and more to the point which bright spark in government gave it the seal of approval.

Very few new homes are built close to amenities within an established community because not only are brown field sites scarce, they are more costly to develop and seeing as profit is the key driver in new housing development that really wouldn’t do would it?

On this tiny island there really isn’t an easy solution to the problem other than the blindingly obvious which is for government to decide that we’re not going to increase our population by 250,000 every year and keep our land green and pleasant.


September 2011

Who’s holding up the purchase process?
The Norwich property market is in reasonable shape as we enter the autumn which is traditionally a good period for buyer activity. Unfortunately Norwich City Council seems to be the biggest impediment to the market at the moment with Local Authority searches taking up to six weeks to be returned.

This rather appalling state of affairs is not due to large volumes of sales but rather because the department responsible for turning around search results is “under resourced”. This is local government speak for “blame the government cuts” as if the microscopic reductions in public spending that we have seen thus far should make any difference at all.

 

Local Authorities and central government would do well to improve the search process and thus speed up house purchase rather than hinder it seeing as the housing market is such a huge revenue earner for the state.

August 2011

When it comes to choosing an Estate Agents is the cheapest the bestest?

 

Estate Agents come and go in Norwich and at the moment there are about 50 agents selling property in the Golden Triangle area of Norwich.

 

New agents come along from time to time and some of these are successful and some are not. New agents either offer something different, something better or something cheaper.In the absence of something better or something different most start-ups offer a cut rate deal when they open for business. So book early and you might be one of the lucky sellers to take advantage of a cut rate commission.

 

Now in life, as in business, I have learnt that there’s no such thing as a free lunch and one always gets what one pays for. In other words a cut rate deal usually means a cut rate service from a cut rate individual and whilst our commission rate at Hadley Taylor is very competitive our clients know that achieving the best possible price for one’s most valuable asset is far more important than using the cheapest estate agent in town.


May 2011

How do Estate Agents work in other countries?

 

I’ve just got back from my annual holiday and many of you may also have been away over the Easter break or will be planning your holiday for later in the year.

 

When I’m on holiday abroad I can’t resist the temptation to check out the property prices in whichever country I’m in at the time. I guess it’s an obsession that goes with the territory when one is an estate agent. What I find is that property abroad is increasingly expensive compared to the UK due in part to the weakness of the pound and those destinations offering bargain homes in the sun are becoming increasingly few and far between.

 

What is also quite interesting is to see how estate agents in other countries work and to learn what they charge their clients. In fact I’m often quite envious at the rather eye watering commission rates estate agents enjoy in other countries. For example it will cost about twice as much to sell a house in the US or in Australia as it will here whilst in France agents charge about 4% and in South Africa agents charge up to 7%. In Italy they really have a laugh because agents charge both the seller and the buyer.

 

Here in the UK estate agents fees are often the subject of endless column inches and media spin but in reality the cost of selling a house here is less than in virtually any other country on the planet. Regulation of estate agents is also much more rigorous here than in most other countries where in many cases redress is non-existent.

 

So if you’re back from your Easter holiday and considering putting your house on the market you can expect great value for money from your local property professional and expect him or her to work within a strict code of conduct rather like the one we have within the Norwich and District Association of Estate Agents.


June 2011

How should I select my Estate Agent?

 

One question I am often asked by would be sellers is how should I decide which estate agent to use? Now I’m bound to say that sellers should choose me but if one is to be more objective let’s look at some more sensible selection criteria.

 

There are many good estate agents in Norwich and many of them can be found within the ranks of the Norwich and District Association of Estate Agents. What might be more useful is to point out reasons why you shouldn’t use a particular agent. Agents that follow poor practice will almost certainly do a poor job and fail to sell your house or sell it for less than it’s worth.

 

For example, sellers should never use estate agents who knock on your door asking if they can sell your house. This is a particularly nauseating practice that preys on the elderly, the infirm or the inexperienced. If it happens to you report it to the NAEA or the Ombudsman but most importantly don’t use that particular agent.

 

Never use an agent that asks for an up front fee. Good estate agents with the required expertise and local knowledge to sell your house at an advantageous price will charge you once they’ve done the job and not before. Volume agents who charge an up front fee rely on banking the income from hundreds of houses they don’t actually sell.

 

Don’t use an agent who values your house at a higher price that anyone else unless they can prove to your satisfaction how they will achieve the price quoted.

 

Don’t use an unlicensed agent. Most agents are members of the National Association of Estate Agents but not all of these meet the required criteria to be a licensed agent. Ask the agent if they are licensed when they call to do their market appraisal.

 

Beware of agents that want you to commit to a sole agency agreement for more than a few weeks. This is because if the agent is not successful at selling your house you need to be able to employ a different agent as easily as possible. Believe it or not some agent’s contracts tie you in for 13, 16 or even 22 weeks but you’ll only discover this when you read the small print in their contract.

 

Don’t use agents who also sell mortgages or conveyancing. These agents have unwittingly introduced a conflict of interest into their business for the sake of making more profit. These agents may be more focused on earning commissions from mortgage and conveyancing work than the job in hand which is to sell your house. Ethical estate agents have only one objective and that is to get you the best price for your most valuable asset.

 

Beware of estate agents who suggest selling your home at auction. Very few properties are suited to an auction sale. The vast majority of properties sold at auction are sold for less than their true value.

 

Most important of all do be assured that estate agents in this country are more ethical, more regulated and offer better value for money than realtors in virtually any other country on the planet.


September 2010

Reasons to be cheerful

 

If one were to take too much notice of the national press and broadcast media one might become rather depressed about the economic outlook and the housing market in particular. However, any decent psychologist will tell you that the national press and the broadcast media are past masters in the art of negative conditioning. In other words the worse the news, the more we read and watch. The EDP does, of course, take a rather more positive approach to local news I’m pleased to say.

 

There are plenty of good news stories about the economy that are buried in the small print. For example the economy is growing, the deficit is being addressed, unemployment is falling, there is stability in financial markets and the culture within government to buy now and pay later is being curbed. The last great period of austerity was in the 1950’s which is a period many regard as a golden era for this country. In fact the measures taken in the 1950’s to balance the books following the Second World War paved the way for prosperity during the following four decades. Rather than fear austerity measures we should embrace them and see them as a necessary medicine for a sick patient.

 

So when it comes to moves in the property market I would advise sellers to choose an agent who is not just hard working, local and well connected but realistic and objective and to be patient in selling because the desired outcome may take several weeks or months.

 

Although I think it would be foolish for any estate agent to use the word “buoyant” when describing the market at the moment, there are encouraging signs. At Hadley Taylor we have agreed three sales in the Golden Triangle each in excess of £600,000 in as many weeks. This is a sure sign that the market is not as depressed as the editors of national newspapers and producers of news programs would have us believe.

 

Times may be hard and confidence in property has been dented but the fundamentals that underpin the UK housing market haven’t changed. Our island doesn’t get any bigger but the population does, new housing development is running at way below the rate required to make up the difference and most importantly of all, Britons have a love affair with property and a burning desire to own their own home. For all these reasons the long term outlook for property is good.

 


October 2010

The things Estate Agents Say

 

If you’ve ever heard an estate agent say “I’ll only put your offer forward if you come into our office to see our mortgage adviser” or “I’ll make sure your offer is accepted as long as you use our legal service” then you have been in the presence of at best an incompetent or at worst a crook. This is because the agent doing the talking either doesn’t know his business or he knows it but chooses to flout the law. You see it’s not just an agent’s moral responsibility to put all offers before his client; it is also his legal obligation to do so.

 

Estate agents who run in house legal and mortgage services do so in order to make more profit although they will tell you they do it to provide a more comprehensive service. What they are doing is running the risk of introducing a conflict of interest into their business and although some agents successfully manage to walk the fine line between providing additional services and falling foul of the law some don’t. If an agent puts their sales people on commission to sell all these services across the board they could have a recipe for corruption.

 

So if you ever hear this sort of thing going on please report it to the Estate Agency Ombudsman who will be very pleased you called. You see not every estate agent wants to be the butt of dinner party jokes or tarred with the same brush as these types. Some of us run businesses following strict codes of conduct where conflicts of interest have been deliberately removed from our day to day activities. If buyers and sellers want advice as to which professionals to use for legal and financial services we tell them who to speak to but this is where the relationship ends. Selling houses is our business and we tend to do it quite well.


October 2010

How affordable is housing in the UK?

 

Call me simple but I don’t buy this line about lack of affordability in the UK property market. The media and particularly the dear old BBC never stop going on about how unaffordable property is in this country particularly for first time buyers.

 

Well let’s just look at the facts. Firstly house prices in East Anglia are about as low as they’ve been for about 5 years – already starting to sound affordable wouldn’t you say?

 

Interest rates are lower than they’ve ever been – sounds even more affordable.

 

Now let’s look at the average UK house price, which is £167,000 according to the land registry, and the average UK income, which is £40,000 according to the Office for National Statistics. Now I know we don’t earn quite as much as those clever folks in London so our average salary here in Norwich is a little less than the UK average but so too is the average house price.

 

So let’s look at the plight of first time buyers – a one bedroom flat in a decent part of Norwich can be acquired for about £90,000 and a person on average income in Norwich earns £30,000. So with a 20% deposit a first time buyer needs to borrow a multiple of 2.4 times their salary – sounds very affordable to me.

 

The issue here is not affordability at all. The issue is that first time buyers have changed the game. They don’t want to buy one bedroom flats which is what people of my generation did 25 years ago, instead they want a 3 bedroom house and that is why the BBC talk about there being a lack of affordability in the UK housing market.

 

The evidence of this trend is all too easy to spot from where I’m sitting. I sell 3 bedroom houses to first time buyers and I sell 1 and 2 bedroom flats to landlords who then let them out to young people who live in them until they can afford to buy their 3 bedroom house.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, first time buyers and indeed any type of buyer are entitled to buy whatever they want but what they shouldn’t do is complain about how unaffordable property is because in truth they haven’t had it so good for years.