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Hertfordshire market starts to move…

There are definite signs over the last two to three weeks that the Herts market is beginning to move. We have had more offers coming in during that period than for the last 2-3 months and properties are beginning to sell well. A flat in Welwyn has just sold within a week with two buy to let investors making offers. A family house in Old Stevenage has gone to the first viewer in under a week and there are lots of other properties now attracting offers. Knight Frank report today that London prices are now 2% above the peak of March 2008 and expect prices to keep rising this year. It seems the heat of London is warming this area with so many buyers commuting to London for a living. It looks like there is reason to be cautiously optimistic at last in the Hertofrdshire property market!

A world run by estate agents

Imagine arriving at the supermarket checkout with a trolley load of shopping to be told by the assistant that you can only buy the goods if you sign a contract to shop exclusively at that store for the next 12 weeks. Oh, and you’ll have to give two week’s written notice to shop elsewhere at the end of the 12 week period. Welcome to a world run by a good number in the estate agency industry. Since starting BigBlackHen.com in March 2005 I have never once asked a client to sign a contract with a tie-in.  Call me old fashioned by I reckon that as you are the one paying the bills, you should decide if you are happy to carry on using our services. So you’ll find no tie-in or notice period in our contracts, just plain english. We prefer to win your loyalty by delivering first rate…

Estate agents charge too much for what they do

A recent Which? report looked at the way in which estate agents charge for their services and concluded that estate agents are deliberately vague about what they charge consumers and the kinds of commisssions quoted can vary quite dramatically. Personally I have always felt that High Street estate agents charge too much for what they do. After all, the internet, especially Rightmove, has brought down the cost of finding buyers, yet estate agents seem wedded to their 1.5% to 2% commissions (or more for joint/multiple agency). The good news is that internet is a great democratiser as it enables the little guys (ie. me) as much or – used cleverly – more power than the big guys (ie. the large corporate chains). It also allows companies like mine to innovate, reduce overheads and offer sellers something different at a price below what our competition charges. That’s why when I…

Dirty tricks show we have the competition worried!

Our office in Hertford has been open just five months and already the dirty tricks from a competitor have started. A High Street estate agent in Hoddesdon, who shall remain nameless but who are part of a national chain, has so far booked a valuation and a viewing under false names as a way to find out how we pitch for new business and to waste our time. We had this kind of thing happen when we opened in Somerset so know what to expect.

The elusive Mr Falconio who booked a late evening viewing of a house we have just put on the market aroused our suspicions by refusing to give a mobile ‘phone number and true to form didn’t turn up (so wasting our and our client’s time) and didn’t call to say why. When we called in the morning to find out why we went straight through…

Property asking prices fall, but activity is up

There are two conflicting reports out today that sum up the property market at the beginning of 2011.

The first is from Zoopla and shows that sellers are dropping their prices in response to a lack of sales at the end of 2010. Indeed they show that nearly four in ten houses that were on the market at the beginning of the year have had their original prices reduced, and that on average the drop is 6.6%. In London a third of properties have fallen in price, so slightly below the national average, though by a similar %.

The second report comes from the National Association of Estate Agents who in a poll of their members find that the number of registered house hunters with each of their agents is at its highest levels for 6 months, rising around 10% from December.

This seems to support our view, which is that alot…