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BBC predicts flat market in 2012

The New Year is nearly upon us and the BBC have their first article looking into the crystal ball and predicting what will happen to the housing market in 2012:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16356568

Although they talk about stagnation, I think there is reason for optimism. They note that the market nationally was “surprisingly resilient” in 2011 with a 1% rise nationally. The picture was much rosier in London with a 5% rise, so the Hertfordshire market will have benefitted from that. In 2012 it looks like the market will be as flat as a pancake, which is no bad thing really.

If people believe the market is stable they are far more likely to be happy to move, which means a market operating more normally. Its dramatic rises and falls that cause problems in the market so a flat market may be boring, but sometimes boring is good!

Traditional applicants are vanishing

There’s a really interesting report in this week’s Estate Agent Today about the changing behaviour of house buyers when they register with estate agents. Expert Agent analysed over 200,000 applicants registering at its member agents (over 1200 branches, so a big smaple) and found that “nine out of ten prospective buyers are registering with an agent only when they see a specific property that they want to view. Instead of registering with agents when they want to start looking in a particular area, buyers now wait to see a particular property pop up online, and only then contact the agent”.

A representative said that “old fashioned applicants have disappeared and house buyers now sit on the virtual fence until they see something they like and then reveal themselves to the agent in question”.

This certainly marries up with what we have been seeing at BigBlackHen.com where last year 90% of buyers…

Estate Agency Contracts are too one sided

I’m always amazed that many High Street estate agents (with one or two exeptions) still insist that their clients sign restrictive contracts with lengthy tie in periods, 12 or even 16 weeks in common, and even ask for 2 weeks written notice in many cases. Signing such a contract is definitely not in the seller’s interest as if for any reason you are not happy with the service being provided, or simply have a change of heart and decide to try someone else, you are stuck. It may be your home but once you have signed the contract you are no longer free to sell it with whoever you wish. To my mind these practices are way out of date, which is why we have always used a client friendly contract, adapted from one recommended by Which? Magazine in their campaign for better estate agency, which has no tie-in…

House Doctor your home

This year we have been working closely with a couple of local independent House Doctor’s (or home stagers) as we believe that helping clients present their homes properly is a crucial part of any successful sale – especially in a tough market. The concept is huge in America and Australia but for some reason has been slow to take off in this country. The results we have seen this year show that sellers should definitely consider this before putting their homes on the market. All six of the homes that used these services have now sold, and often for a better price that would have been the case if they had just been sold “as is”. For a minimal outlay you really can transform a home’s appeal to viewers, redecorating where necessary and even staging rooms with furniture which can be rented where appropriate. You wouldn’t sell a car…

Happy Birthday to BigBlackHen.com Herts!

It is exactly one year since BigBlackHen.com opened its Hertfordshire office, and what a year it has been. Only 12 months on and already our distinctive For Sale boards have become an increasingly familiar sight across the county from Arkley in the south to Old Stevenage in the north, from Furneaux Pelham in the east, to Hemel Hempstead in the west. We have out over £30 million pounds worth of property on the market, have nearly 30 houses sold or under offer, and have registered over 2000 applicants looking to buy in Herts on our database. We’ve had a terrific response to our fresh approach to marketing, our more user friendly attitude to service and, of course, our low fixed fees. Traditional estate agents charge too much for what they do and we are proud to be offering people a more cost effective way to move. So blow up…