No doubt aided by a large dose of northern down-to-earth common sense, I am pleased to report an eventful residential property market across the county this spring, with a strong emphasis on the word eventful.
Even allowing for seasonal variance; viewings, offers and sales have all increased in recent weeks. One might therefore perhaps conclude that the worst is over and good times are on the way. This is certainly not the case, it is simply the fact that realism has finally arrived and, as a result, the market place has started to move.
So what is making it eventful? Perhaps the recent experiences of my team in Harrogate are a good barometer of what has been happening. One house we handled in the elegant Duchy area of Harrogate generated 18 viewings in 10 days, with more than 50 per cent of potential buyers in a position to buy quickly with the property now under offer following a closing date for offers.
With a sensible price guide from the outset, we adopted a high profile, traditional and electronic marketing strategy with the combined power of our website and iPhone app, national mailing list, eye catching For Sale board, market leading property sale brochures and accompanied viewings all merged to create a highly successful sales environment.
However, by contrast, another instruction we have been handling for some months has been reduced by almost 25 per cent but so far has yet to create any viewings; notwithstanding utilising all the aforementioned marketing tools.
Another sensibly priced house (or at least it is now, following a price reduction) has stimulated a number of viewings resulting in a sale, in what might be considered more sedate circumstances.
Continuing the eventful theme, while not of our making I hasten to add, we have also been involved in a case of gazumping, where competition, determination and perhaps even a degree of bloody mindedness has highlighted one of the flaws of the Subject to Contract system of selling property in England and Wales.
So what can one learn from the above, whether you are selling, buying, considering either or simply an avid follower of the housing market in Yorkshire?
You have to be realistic and accept that if a house has been for sale for a number of months, you need to adopt a different strategy. The best offer example I mentioned above is rare but it demonstrates that where a commodity is considered to be correctly priced, the marketplace responds accordingly.
Unfortunately there remains a lot of optimistic pricing at the moment, some being owner driven, but often by agents who are, shall we say, keen for business.
After all the house doctor and lifestyle television programmes, you would think that sellers recognise the need for suitable presentation. Unfortunately some don’t and they wonder why potential buyers say no. But it’s not just owners. It staggers me that when entrusted to sell residential property, some agents still think amateur photos taken by the office junior, on a dull day are acceptable. Professional photography to show a home in the best possible light is essential to my mind.
Without encouraging viewings, how do you realistically expect to receive offers? And when it comes to offers, do bear in mind it’s not just the headline figure that’s important. Will the buyer actually get the mortgage finance they want; is there a chain of associated sales? Buyers do expect to negotiate, but we are seeing sensible offers being made where buyers view property priced properly.
For sellers it’s also a question of being realistic and accepting that if you buy and sell in the same market, it’s the differential that’s important, not simply a question of getting your price because “we do not have to sell”.
Tim Waring is head of Knight Frank’s residential team in Yorkshire.