What is Sales Progression and why is it so important?

Once an offer is accepted, it is crucial that your agent continues to communicate with you and your buyer throughout the whole transaction, to keep it moving along smoothly and to progress the sale.

At J Lord & Co, our weekly Sales Progression ensures:

  • That your buyer shows commitment from day one
  • Your buyer acts promptly on anything expected of them
  • Both solicitors are acting as swiftly as possible
  • We can anticipate problems and overcome them
  • We can resolve any disputes by acting as the ‘middleman’
  • We can be up front about dates from the outset so there are no last minute surprises
  • We can use their knowledge and experience to help when it is often the only time buyers and sellers have been through the process
  • Can communicate weekly to make it a calm and stress-free time for everyone

Be price clear and don’t confuse buyers

Recently sellers have been asking our advice about price prefixes, such as ‘Offers in the Region Of’, ‘Guide Price’, or ‘Offers in Excess Of’.

Here is our advice:

  • ‘Offers in The Region Of’ suggests to buyers that the price is negotiable, so you are unlikely to achieve your desired asking price.
  • ‘Offers in Excess Of’ can put off inexperienced buyers, as they don’t know how much more than the asking price you want, and if that takes the price to a level they can’t afford.
  • ‘Guide Price’ is ambiguous and creates questions from the outset – rather than letting buyers show interest in a straightforward way.

Our advice is find an agent that is confident with their value, and decide upon the right asking price from the start. It will be clear to buyers, and it will make negotiating a sale much easier. In 2017 so far, we have achieved an average of 97% of the asking price on all the sales that we have agreed, using clear cut asking prices.

Facts about feedback

As a buyer:

  • An estate agent should contact you for feedback the day after your viewing
  • Your feedback will help us get a clearer idea of what you are looking for, so we will be able to show you more appropriate properties in the future
  • We are really interested to know what you think, how the property compares to others you have seen…the more honest you are, the better!

As a seller:

  • Feedback should come to you the day after a viewing – you shouldn’t have to chase it!
  • Feedback should be honest and if possible, constructive. If feedback highlights something you need to change, then it should be done.
  • Feedback can also come in the form of no viewings at all…if your photos look great and the agent is selling other similar properties, perhaps you need to review your price or look into other factors that might be standing in the way of a sale.
  • If you listen to what the market is telling you then you’ll be well on the way to finding the right buyer and achieving a sale.

Driscoll Builders Interview

I met with James and Karla at their amazing Davenham home, which they have totally refurbished. They run Driscoll Construction, a professional builders who project manage full renovation projects and smaller alterations.

What is the most popular way for homeowners to expand their living space? Currently, it is with single storey extensions, to either the side or rear. They are normally the most straightforward way to add lots of extra space, and people are now frequently choosing to extend their kitchens into large family focused areas. For those people that do not have the space around their property to be able to extend the ground floor, there is always the option of converting the loft. Loft conversions can be more complex however, and require careful planning, especially if they require a staircase or Velux windows.

If someone is considering extending their home, where is the best place to start? All you need is an idea, such as ‘I need a bigger kitchen’. You may not know how you will be able to achieve this, but then turn to a professional for advice. We work together with clients, and come up with a variety of different ways to transform their space, some of which they never would have envisioned.

Why are building regulations important? Building regulations are essential for keeping the building in check throughout any project. Building inspectors check everything, from concrete quality and depth of foundations, to final plumbing and electrics. Building regulations provide you with an assurance of quality, and a building inspector signs off completed work, providing certified evidence that the work meets required standards. We use a private firm of building regulation inspectors as they are great to work with and work very quickly, however the local Council also provides this service.

When is planning permission needed? Planning permission is needed right at the start for certain types of refurbishments, if you are extending above single storey, or extending over 3 metres from the existing property. However, it is always sensible to ask the question of the Planning Department, once you have a concept that you would like to develop. It is simple to pick up the phone to the local Planning Department for help or advice. We work with client’s right from the initial idea, to agreeing an overall design, and it is at this point it is worth applying for planning permission. It gives people the opportunity for objections, however sensible, straightforward work gets permission in most cases.

What would your advice be to someone taking on a renovation project for the first time? Manage your own expectations from the outset, it will be dirty and messy, and delays will occur. It’s important to do your homework so you know exactly what will be involved. Getting a professional opinion, even if you intend to try and do most of the work yourself, is essential if you want expert advice that could save you a fortune.

What upcoming home design trends should people be looking forward to? Many people are taking inspiration from countries with warmer weather, and so making the most of their gardens. Homeowners like to bring the outside in with bi-fold doors that open from family kitchens onto large terraces, and there is a move towards people having both outside and inside bars and entertaining areas. Many people want to be able to transform their living space using concertina doors, in order to turn many separate rooms in to one to form a large open plan entertaining space. Utility rooms are always in demand, and another up and coming trend is for the high specification home office, either detached or integral to the house, some of which have kitchens and bathrooms included.

Fiona Watkins Interior Designer Interview

I met with Fiona Watkins, a BIID Registered Interior Designer who lives in Davenham. Fiona has worked in the industry for more than 16 years, and works in private homes providing a full design service, from inception to installation.

What interior projects are you currently working on? At the moment, I am working on a barn conversion, the refurbishment of 2 Arts and Crafts properties, one in Bowden and one in South Manchester, a cinema room project, the refurbishment of a large home in Liverpool and a new build in North Wales. I’ve also just started working with a lady in Davenham, and on an old farm in South Manchester. I work with clients from conception right through to installation, and can provide a full redesign or a few simple changes, so there are often many projects ongoing at once.

There has been talk in the press recently about the ‘imagination gap’, which is preventing homeowners from moving forwards with updating their homes because of the difficulty of imagining how the finished result will look. Where would you advise people look for home inspiration? A good place to start is to look on the wide range of platforms that are currently available for inspiration. Pinterest, Houzz and Instagram are probably the three main ones to get you started. You can collate all your favourite ideas in one place, and start to see a common theme emerging of your likes. It is also equally important to highlight the things you don’t like, especially before you meet with a designer, so that they can establish a clear brief. Once you have collected all your ideas and inspirations together, it is worth speaking with a professional, as they will help to translate your ideas into a concept. It is essential that you speak to a professional RIBA registered Architect or with a BIID registered Interior Designer, as their work is monitored and must adhere to best practice standards.

What advice would you give to someone about styling their home before they put it on the market? I would start with a tidy up, put all the non-essential items away. If there is too much ‘stuff’ everywhere, viewers may be concerned that the property lacks storage, and storage is a really important requirement for buyers. Also, give the house a deep clean. Invest in a visit from a professional cleaning company, and make sure the oven is spotless. This leads me onto making sure it smells great too. Your home is your biggest asset and it has to be appealing to people, so making it smell fresh and clean is vital. And don’t neglect the outside either, jet wash patios and pathways and make sure the garden is neat and tidy. In terms of styling the home, light colours ensure it feels fresh and bright, and mirrors maximise the light and space too. Fresh flowers around the home are especially impressive, and clean the light bulbs and make sure they are all in working order. Finally, it seems like a cliché, but depersonalise as much as possible, to help buyers imagine themselves living in your home.

What is this years ‘in’ colour? The Pantone colour of the year is ‘Greenery’, which is consistent with a shift away from beiges and greys, and a move towards more colour than there has ever been. After being inundated by neutrals, there are now refreshing blues, coppers and metallic tones, and even tribal prints coming through, along with lots of really interesting textures.

What are your design influences? I draw inspiration from everything around me, all the time. I also attend design shows and read a lot of different publications, and the institute I belong to holds regular continuous professional development days and an annual conference too. In my studio I have the William Morris quote ‘Have nothing in your house that you do now know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’, and I always advise my clients not to buy anything unless they really love it. I often draw inspiration from a key piece in a client’s home that will influence the rest of a room. Recently I focused on a beautiful painting, similar to Monet’s ‘Waterlilies’, and translated the colour palette into a piece of furniture.

Finally, the kitchen is the main attraction when it comes to selling houses. What should we be looking out for in the coming year when it comes to kitchen design? People are now being attracted to composite products in the kitchen, and choosing these over the natural alternatives such as oak and granite – granite is often too noisy a surface for some clients. Although composites are manufactured, they are long lasting, and examples such as Corian and Silestone are becoming really popular. Corian has the advantage that it can be sanded back to a brand new finish if it needs refreshing. Dark colours are also coming through in the kitchen too. My advice if you are considering updating your kitchen, would be to employ a kitchen design specialist, as they have the knowledge and expertise you need at the design stage.

Jamie Lockett at J Lockett Building and Joinery Interview

I met with Jamie, a local builder and Davenham resident, who owns and runs J Lockett Building and Joinery, who specialise in bespoke joinery and building services.

In your opinion, what is the best way to add value to a house? Currently, it seems to be by adding kitchen extensions and loft conversions, especially when people need their home to expand to accommodate more children.

If someone can’t afford to move, what’s the most cost effective way to add space? It used to be that people would add space with the addition of a conservatory, as they were a cheaper way to add an entire room without impacting on the rest of the home with messy building work. Now though, there has now been a shift, and people are moving away from adding conservatories, as they seem to be too cold in winter, and too hot in the summer. The other thing people dislike is the noise from rain that you get with a polycarbonate roof, for example. The trend now is to utilise the conservatory space, but to add a proper solid roof, even a solid wall to one side, to form a room that feels more integral to the rest of the home and more useable year round.

What is the best way to approach a loft conversion, using a bedroom for the stairs, or having the stairs off the landing? In Davenham, there is a high concentration of three bedroom semi-detached properties built in the 1970’s. These properties have two double bedrooms and a small single bedroom, with a large loft that really lends itself to conversion into bedroom space. Many people worry that in order to get stairs into the loft, they will have to lose their smallest bedroom. However nowadays, you can be extremely creative with the space, and utilise the landing, whilst still complying with Building Regulations. I am in touch with a fantastic specialist company that concentrates solely on creating bespoke staircases for these circumstances.

What is currently the most popular home improvement? The fashion at the moment is definitely for high gloss kitchens – they are extremely popular. Also, grey kitchens are really popular, in fact grey in general is really taking over all over the home.

Why is it important to choose a local builder? It’s really important, I think firstly because of your carbon footprint. I think it’s a shame when large housebuilders use contractors from further afield, not only because of the impact on the environment, but also when there are plenty of local builders to give the work to. Also, if you use a local builder, you can see examples of their work, and certainly with us, you can visit client’s homes that we have worked in to see our finish. Finally, if you live locally to your builder, you are likely to bump into them from time to time, so this will assure they have done a good job!

Local Expert Interview with Rachel Hudson from Quality Solicitors Chambers Fletcher

I met with Rachel Hudson, part of the team at Quality Solicitors Chambers Fletcher, who are based in Northwich and have been providing legal advice for over 200 years. Rachel lives locally, and is an experienced conveyancing and property solicitor.

What is the average length of a property transaction? A completely straightforward sale or purchase normally takes 6-8 weeks, however it can be completed in a shorter timescale depending on the circumstances of the buyer and seller.

What are your top tips for people who are thinking of selling, and what should they do before they put their house on the market? The best thing to do is put yourself in the position of a buyer, and consider any ‘red flag’ matters that they may question. For example, do you have a shared passageway with your neighbours, or will your property be affected in some way by HS2? Make sure you get your chosen solicitor on board early, so that they can conduct a ‘health check’ of your property in order to pre-empt any questions that may be raised buy a buyer’s solicitor. If you don’t get your solicitor involved until you accept an offer, it can often be too late, and any issues that take time to resolve can cause delays in the selling process.

What is the most common problem you come across during the property selling process? The main stumbling block is missing information, such as FENSA certificates or building regulation certificate. This is why it’s important for sellers to gather all this together well in advance of accepting an offer.

What can people do to maximise their chances of a smooth sale or purchase? Be organised, have all your information in one place, and make sure that you are readily available to be contacted by your solicitor throughout the transaction, ideally on the phone. E-mail contact is great, but it is important to have that face to face or telephone contact regularly when you are selling.

Why is it important to choose a local solicitor? Local knowledge is extremely important when you are buying and selling, so it’s important to choose a solicitor who specialises in your location. It is also important to be able to call in and see your solicitor, either to sign documents or simply for regular face to face contact.

What are your top tips for first time buyers? Make an appointment to meet with your solicitor. They should give you a list of things to do, and really hold your hand and guide you through the process. Also, give them as much information as possible from the outset, as again, finding out in the later stages of a transaction that you are using a Help to Buy ISA for example, can cause delays that could have been avoided.

Local Expert Interview with Weaver Dane

This month I have spent time meeting with ‘local experts’, interviewing them to gain an insight into their company, and to provide home-movers and renovators some top tips and insider knowledge.

To start with, I met with Paul and Katherine from Weaver Dane, a local Hartford – based company who design and manufacture bespoke bedroom and home office furniture, kitchens, and storage solutions.

Why is it important to choose products that are manufactured ‘in house’, like you provide? We are able to provide a fully bespoke service, so we are not limited in terms of choice for the customer. They can select from a wide range of colours and designs, and if they have an idea, we will be able to create a design to match that. The quality of our products is also extremely high, in comparison to a national distributor, for example. We can also accommodate not just new, square houses, but the more quirky, older houses that need tailored furniture. We are constantly training our staff with the newest techniques, such as curves and 3D shapes, and in the latest software available, and we upgrade our equipment regularly to improve our manufacturing speed and performance.

Why should people choose a local supplier for their home installations? Firstly, it is easy for them to contact us if we are on the doorstep, and to keep in touch throughout the design and manufacture process. Also, it’s important to use local businesses to support the local economy, to minimise both yours and our carbon footprint – and, you may also get a better deal than larger companies can offer.

You also supply and fit bedroom furniture, is it just wardrobes that people choose or are there other storage options available for bedrooms? People aren’t just choosing wardrobes at the moment, they are fitting their bedrooms with a whole range of matching furniture to maximise their storage space. Bedside drawer units are popular at the moment, and especially desirable are vanity units with mirrors, lighting and cable management sections. They can also be designed to have specific places for hairdryers, straighteners etc.

How can people improve their kitchen in order to really increase the saleability of their home? If people choose to update their kitchen in order to help their house to sell, they can do this fairly inexpensively if they are having to stick to a budget. We offer kitchen makeovers, where we simply change the doors, not the carcasses, and replace the handles, taps, perhaps even the sink, just to give the kitchen a new lease of life and make it more appealing to buyers. However, there are some buyers that would want to take out the kitchen and fully redesign it themselves, so the kitchen makeovers are only really appropriate to tired kitchens that need a bit of an update.

What storage solutions would you recommend for people who are ‘outgrowing’ their space at home? There are so many parts of the house, nooks and cranny’s, which we can transform into storage space. For example, pull out under stairs storage cupboards for shoe storage, or cupboards in downstairs WC’s that make use of wasted floor space. Simple changes like removing overhead wardrobe shelves and raising the height of the hanging rail, can allow for a second hanging rail to be added, which doubles your wardrobe space instantly. Also, many people are concerned by loft rooms, or bedrooms with sloping ceilings and limited headroom. As we offer a bespoke service, we can use these spaces to create wardrobes or bookcases where you would not think you could fit them.

What interior trends should people be looking out for in 2017? We are seeing lots of orders for high gloss items, and lots of grey in many different tones. Touch opening is also getting very popular, so a move away from handles, with lots of smooth, sleek lines. Grey is also popular in both kitchens and bedrooms, especially mushroom and cashmere type greys, and it is becoming increasingly common to see panels of differing colours to be put alongside each other.

To find out more, visit wwwweaverdane.co.uk

February sees the start of a different approach to our monthly blog!

I have been spending quite a bit of time recently looking at Rightmove statistics, and while we often shout about our success in terms of numbers, I wonder how much this really means to the people we really want to take notice – our potential sellers.

Being a member of Rightmove gives agents access to a world of behind the scenes data about how we are performing in comparison to our competitors. We can display graphics about having sold the highest number of properties in our postcode, or demonstrate that our properties are the quickest to sell on average in the area. But what about the things we can’t quantify?

We are always keen to emphasise that we are different in our approach, so I am beginning to think that it’s time to start showing off about the more personal examples of our service, which really do set us apart from the competition.

For example, just before Christmas we were involved in selling two properties in a chain of three. As often happens at that time of year, everyone involved wanted to be settled in their new homes in time for Christmas Day – but it was a bit of a last minute panic when it came to trying to agree a completion date. A date was decided upon, which unexpectedly had to change at the eleventh hour! Our vendor could simply not move on the new date, she could not get removals, and with three young children and a dog we felt very sorry for her. However, one of the team had a friend of a friend with a local removal company. After several frantic phone calls, it was discovered that they had a cancellation, and so could move our vendor and all her family on the day she needed! What a relief – and what a great example of our service levels exceeding expectations.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of listening and giving someone your time. In early January a lovely elderly gentleman called into the office to book a valuation, as very sadly he had lost his wife. It was clearly an extremely difficult time for him, and despite it being a busy Monday morning, he was offered a cup of tea and we sat with him while he told us all about his memories, his home and what his plans were. There wasn’t a dry eye in the office as his left, but we were able to remain professional while still giving him the kindness and consideration that he needed.

Every day we do more than is expected of us. When the sky is blue we whizz out and re-photograph as many external photos as we can do, to make sure all the properties we are selling look their absolute best. We rearrange interiors to make rooms look bigger and better on camera. We remember details like where are clients are going on holiday and not to let the cat out on viewings! We pick up post rather than just step over it, and we arrive early to viewings to get the lighting just right.

What I’m hoping to get across is that our roles are really very varied, and we enjoy the personal and helpful aspect of serving customers, just as much as we love agreeing sales and overcoming obstacles along the way! It’s great to consider the figures when it comes to choosing an estate agent, but it’s also worth calling into an agent to get the ‘feel’ of their approach. After all, if we are willing to go above and beyond with the smaller details each day, we will go above and beyond when it comes to trying to find you a buyer!

New Year, new start!

Welcome to our first blog of 2017! We are really excited for the year ahead (the 13th since we opened!) and what it will bring.

The New Year has started with the departure of Stewart Milne Homes from our office. Karen from the sales team is now based on site at the Hilltop Grange development in Davenham, where sales of the popular new homes are still going strong.

Following this, we have had a giant spring clean of the office, before tackling the task of streamlining our office procedures! We have made the decision to have a paperless office, to save both space and time, so we are encouraging our clients to follow suit, by communicating with us by e-mail where possible. We will obviously continue to produce high quality paper brochures in house, as they are essential for house hunters!

January has been a busy month so far, with lots of new properties coming to the market and plenty of offers emerging. ‘Most would-be house buyers have moved on from the shock result of the EU referendum and are likely to renew their efforts to purchase a new home’, claims agency chief Paul Smith. This seems to be the case, with a lot of people not wanting to wait and deliberate over the effect of the process. Certainly those with house moves governed by factors such as job relocation or growing families, are still very much actively looking.

The office has decided upon two main New Year’s Resolutions this year, the first of which is to continue to get properties live onto the market within 24 hours of taking the photos. This is something we always strive to do for our clients, but we want to make 2017 the year of perfecting this for every property! The second of our New Year’s Resolutions is also photography related, and that is to re-photograph properties regularly with the changing weather. At this time of year, external photos can sometimes be really gloomy, but then a bright and sunny day can just crop up unexpectedly. We have decided to make sure that we venture out with the camera on those blue sky days, to keep all our properties looking really appealing.

This year, we will also be putting a lot of focus into marketing the fantastic property portal onthemarket.com.  We have marketed all of our properties on this site for a while now, and it is really gaining momentum, with national TV advertising campaigns aired over the Christmas period. We are also offering new and existing prospective buyers the opportunity to register for the onthemarket.com instant property alerts. New properties appear on this site up to 24 hours ahead of Rightmove, so we are encouraging people to sign up for their e-mail alerts to remain one step ahead in their property search.

January’s top tip centres around organising your home, if you are planning on selling in 2017. Use the motivation of the ‘New Year, New Me’ trend, and spend January deep cleaning your home and organising it throughout. Maybe de-clutter your wardrobe, or rearrange the furniture in one room to give it a new lease of life? If there are any jobs around the house that you have been putting off, now is the time to complete them!

Finally, we are delighted to report on the success of our December 2016 charity event. We have been contacted by Mid Cheshire Foodbank to thank us for our generous contribution of 118.6 kgs of food – so we would like to thank everyone that donated and showed their support.

See you in February!