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When it comes to groundbreaking stuff in estate agency we are usually at the forefront! Becuase of this, we get picked up by the press in a number of areas, and we work hard to stay noticed.
Following a record-breaking 2012, Hatched.co.uk have continued to outperform the UK estate agency market, achieving impressive growth in the 14 week period to 14th April 2013. On Rightmove, Hatched.co.uk saw new instructions increase by 64% and its market share grow by 75% when compared to the same period in 2012.
The statistics are even more impressive when, according to Rightmove, the total number of new listings between 6th January – 14th April 2013 actually dropped by 12% overall. Hatched.co.uk listed 503 new properties in 2013 compared to 306 for the same period in 2012.
“In January I stated that 2013 is the year when British house sellers will switch to using online estate agents and I wasn’t wrong! The numbers speak for themselves – our comprehensive estate agency service coupled with 85% lower fees is a winning formula.” says Adam Day, Director of Hatched.co.uk.
“What’s more, according to Hometrack the average sale price achieved through a traditional high street estate agency was 93% of asking price in 2012, whereas through Hatched.co.uk it was 97%. With sales agreed on more than 760 houses nationwide in 2012, we not only achieved higher sale prices but saved clients over £2 million in fees compared to if they had used a traditional high street estate agent.”
Further interrogation of Hometrack’s 2013 data reveals that the number of new instructions nationally was down by 6.8% in January and up by 8.7%, 3.9% and 2.8% in February, March and April respectively. This compares to impressive increases of 62% in January, 73% in February, 69% in March and 26% in April for Hatched.co.uk.
As a ‘full service’ estate agent, a Hatched.co.uk employee personally visits every single property that it puts on the market, thereby guaranteeing that potential buyers receive firsthand knowledge, experience and recommendations.
So, it's the end of the first quarter and we have some basic figures for you from March 2013:
New properties on the market (instructions) are up by an incredible 71% compared to March 2012 and up 30% on February 2013.
So, with all this activity and more properties to choose from, you would expect viewings to be up as well. And they are. Viewings are up 68%, which fits in with the increase in instructions, which is great.
But what about if you’re not getting viewings? Because, in this market, when viewings are taking place on all sorts of properties, in all areas across the country, and you’re not getting any of them, what’s the problem?
What are the factors that sell your house?
Well, we believe that there are just three things that will sell your home. In fact, there are three things that sell any product in the world - everything from chocolate bars, to CDs, to cars. And, as much as homeowners have an emptional attachment to their houses, at the end of the day, it is a product that you are trying to sell. And it must be viewed as such. Selling houses is easy. If it wasn’t, then we wouldn’t be here. So, those three things...
Coverage is how many eye balls are you putting the property in front of. All of our properties appear on Rightmove & Zoopla, and we think this is as close to maximum coverage as you need to sell your house. I suppose there are some (high street agents) who would have us (and you) believe that some buyers still rely on a newspaper advert and an agents’ mailing list to be informed of properties, but we just can't believe that this is the case in this day and age. But, let’s allow them this. So, if we say that 99.9% of buyers come through these sites, then there are still 0.1% of people who might not have seen your house – so, not quite 100% coverage.
Lets take Mars Bars here as a comparison: Mars Bars appear on every single forecourt in the country, so the coverage they have is as large as it can be. But, if there was one single forecourt out of the 10,000 forecourts in the UK that didn’t stock any Mars Bars, then they definitely wouldn’t sell any in that forecourt.
So, coverage is probably the most important thing. If it’s not in front of pairs of eye balls, then you will never sell it, even if you get the next two things right…
Now, when we say presentation, this relates to not only the presentation of the property, but also how it is advertised. We believe in as many photos as possible, as well as floorplans and a set of details is the best way to present your property. But something you could do to tweak your advert is to take new ‘Spring photos’ of your property and add them to your advert.
However, we would say that this alone is not likely to sell your house.
If we’re being honest, we can count on zero hands the amount of times that we have sold a property because someone has added the words ‘No chain’ to their advert, or certain schools have been added to the summary description, or the front photo has been changed, or the garden photo is changed to a Summer one - it just doesn't happen unfortunately. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes: If you’re looking for a property, and someone changes the front photo, you would look at it and think “Oh, they’ve changed the front photo”. We don't think it’s going to make you go and view it – you would have viewed it before the photo was changed if you were interested. It’s probably the next thing that would make you go and view it.
Lastly, and most obviously, it is the price. It is the subject that no vendor wants to talk about and the subject that agents hate to approach. It is such a difficult subject.
Vendors have put their house on the market using the advice of an estate agent (normally), so what they have told you, must be right?! Wrong.
Or, the other thing we see a lot of, is vendors put their property on the market and then start to look at properties that they would like to buy based on their asking price, not based on what they might actually achieve for it – one of the directors' at Hatched's own relative did this just a couple of weeks ago…
She had her house valued at £185k by 3 agents and one other agent told her £200k. So, she put it on with us, (obviously), for £195k, which we told her we thought was too high, but nevertheless, we would be happy to try it. Low and behold, after 6 weeks, we hadn’t sold it (although, we had had on average 2 viewings per week on the property), so a couple of weeks ago, the relative approached our director over Sunday lunch and asked why we hadn’t sold it “It’s the price Louise” he said abruptly. “But I just can’t accept anything less than £192,000 for it, because I have seen a house I like” Louise said. “Well, it’s not worth £192,000, Louise, so you better find another house” he replied (He can be a little bit abrupt when friends and family are 'talking shop’ when I’m trying to tuck into roast lamb on a Sunday afternoon!)
Some might say he was a little harsh, but it was the truth. The house simply was not worth what Louise had put it on the market for and she knew that on the day she put it on. But hope, possibly a bit of greed, got the better of her and she was sat their thinking “But if I do get £192k for it, then I will be able to afford to buy that house that I didn’t think I would be able to afford when I put the house on the market.” The reality was, that Louise was spending money in her head that she didn’t have and was never going to have in the short term.
So anyway, after the chat over the roast lamb, we dropped the price to £189,995, and sold it for £186k within a week. £1,000 more than the ‘realistic’ valuation of £185,000. I wonder…if we had asked £189,995 from day one, would we have created more of an impact, therefore more viewings, therefore more competition and therefore a higher price, within a shorter period of time? We’ll never know I guess…But We think we might have done...
Your property is only worth what someone is going to pay for it, not what you want it to be worth, or what the estate agent told you it’s worth.
If you have the first two things above right, and you’re not getting viewings, then the only thing left is to adjust the price.
As an estate agent, whenever we suggest a price reduction, the assumption/accusation is that it’s because ‘we want a quick sale’. Well, with Hatched, you can rest assured that this is not the case. If we charged £5k or £6k to sell a house, then I could see that argument. But we charge less than £550.
We want to sell the property, of course, but unlike high street agents who are earning a big fat fee from selling the property, we are not ‘desperate’ to sell the property, we don’t need to sell the property. Because we charge up front, we can offer advice that is honest and not based on trying to earn a big, fat, oversized fee. It is very important for us to sell houses, but it is not the ‘be all and end all’ for us.
In most cases, clients pay us up front to market their home. Therefore, we think it is our responsibility to offer the right advice at the right times. We are in a period now, where if you're not getting interest and viewings at this time of the year, then you're never going to get them.
Once you have had your property on the market for 6 weeks or more, then you should use this as a guide:
- If you are getting 3 viewings per week, or more, do nothing - the price is spot on and it is going to sell
- At 2 viewings a week, leave it for another 2 or 3 weeks, see how it goes and re-evaluate again based on these rules.
- If you’re getting just 1 viewing a week, then you probably only need a small-ish adjustment to the price (when we say small, we don’t mean £500! We mean dropping it into a new price range on Rightmove, for example.)
- And at less than 1 viewing a week, then you probably need to adjust the price by a fairly substantial amount to start gaining more interest.
It’s all about reacting to the market. It is the market that decides the value of your house. And if your price is right, the market will react by enquiring and making viewings. If the price is wrong, the market will react by doing the opposite.
Make sure you get those first two things right BEFORE you go messing with the price. But if you have the first two things right, then it is probably the price.
Nothing the government has said in today’s Budget will aid the housing market. A toothless bunch, the market has recovered through hard work and honest advice from estate agents, not the policies or schemes that the government has introduced in recent years. Yes, it is estate agents that have got the housing market moving again by advising sellers to reduce their prices and managing their expectations more carefully. The housing market is fuelled by simple supply and demand, a basic economic principle that the government has failed, and continues to fail, to grasp.
If the government wants to help, then they need to understand that there are simply not enough properties to sell in the UK, which is why many first time buyers struggle to ‘get on the ladder’. The irony is that there are many thousands of properties lying empty in cities across the country, which the government hasn’t tackled.
At the same time, planning laws are far too stringent to encourage house building, which would obviously increase supply and help to keep prices under control, all of which, we believe, would lead to the UK having a sensible and stable housing market.
It’s been a blistering start to 2013 with significant increases in both new properties coming on the market (instructions) and sales agreed.
Instructions are up over 70% compared to 2012, which is an incredible increase (We expected a 40% increase as this has been our average year on year increase for the last 3 years).
Sales agreed are up by 32% on the same period in 2012. And arranged viewings are up from 1350 last year to over 1700 since the 1st January 2013, which is an increase of around 26%.
‘Month on month’ stats stayed pretty much as predicted. January was very similar to the previous October (which it always seems to be (never understood that one…!)). And February’s instructions increased by 14% on January – we predicted an 11% increase in February. For March, we predict a 36% increase on new instructions compared to February. We also expect sales agreed and viewings arranged to increase between now and the end of May - these are generally the busiest 3 months of the year.
So, what can we deduce from these figures over the last couple of months?
Well, there are a couple of things. Firstly, it’s interesting to look at supply and demand; with instructions up by 70%, you would hope to see sales up by around the same margin. It is (only a very) slight concern that sales aren’t up by a little more than the 32%, and perhaps there are a few too many houses coming on the market for the current demand that is out there. But perhaps the slight lack of demand is also down to the time of year we’re in. We will definitely see even more viewings being booked from March onwards – we always do.
A word of warning; as mentioned above, we have seen at least a 30% increase in instructions each and every March since we opened in 2006 (compared to the February), so the issue of too much supply could well remain – if that is the case, it is important to make your property stand out from the crowd and make people want to view it, not just feel like they should go and view it.
Secondly, the viewings percentage is up, but not by the same amount as sales are up. We think this is a very positive stat, and would suggest that perhaps buyers are being less fussy and making decisions more quickly. Perhaps though, it is also banks that are loosening the purse strings a little, which allows buyers to make quick decisions on properties that they go and see. We think that buyers have probably also got to a point where they are fed up waiting for the economy to recover and are just getting on with moving.
So in summary, we are expecting the next few weeks and months to be good – there are no major sporting events to get in the way this year either(!).
So, we’re well on our way into 2013 and it’s about time we gave you some 2012 stats! So, here goes:
It has been a record breaking year in all areas of the business. More instructions, more sales, more lets, more everything, basically!
In 2012, we put well over 1400 new properties on to the market.
We agreed sales on over 760 properties
This is a 54% conversion rate. As a comparison, when we used to work on the High Street, our target was to sell 55% of properties and we regularly hit 52% conversion rate. And this was back in the ‘good old days’ in 2006!
So to be hitting 54% sales ratio in a market which is supposedly struggling, and considering we cover the whole of England & Wales, is an excellent return and proof, perhaps, that your chances of selling with Hatched, are the same, if not higher than your chances of selling with a high street agent…Now there’s a thought!
Interesting to analyse why though…We think that it is perhaps to do with the quality of our customers. We charge up front for the work that we do. And if you’re paying up front, however much it is, you are serious about selling. You're not going to shell out £240, to just put your house on the market. So therefore, we get better clients, who are more motivated to sell, rather than people who pay nothing to put their house on the market to ‘see how they get on’. i.e. those that aren’t bothered whether they move or not…
Secondly, we think that because of our completion fee, there is that extra motivation for us to sell the property. We follow up every single lead and every single viewing to get feedback, because we don’t make a profit unless we sell the property. Unlike other online estate agent who charge up front only – where is their motivation to sell the property?
In terms of growth in 2012, we now have 5 regional offices, with 7 more planned in 2013.
In 2012, we opened offices in Sheffield, Manchester & Birmingham, with already established offices in Exeter and head office in Hitchin. We still continue to cover the whole country, but we now have offices in targeted locations around England & Wales so that we can service customers more easily and more quickly.
Again, one of our USP's is that an EMPLOYEE of Hatched.co.uk will visit every single property we put on the market. It has become common place for other online estate agents to contract this job out to a DEA or similar. How, then, if a potential buyer was to phone one of these other online agents, would the person at the end of the phone know anything about that property!? They won't...
With Hatched.co.uk, if a potential buyer calls the office, then it is guaranteed that someone within one of the offices will have seen your house, therefore, making it easier for us to sell the property!
Offices planned for 2013 are Reading, Norwich, Newcastle, Chelmsford, Cardiff, London & Brighton. And we are only employing experienced estate agents within these branches to make sure that all of our customers are looked after by someone who knows how to sell houses and knows what advice to give and when.
We think this is the future of estate agency – a hybrid between high street agency; multiple 1st floor office locations across the country meaning costs are kept low, but covering much larger areas than a high street agent. Along with this, the ultimate marketing with lots of photos, floorplans and a description on all the major property portals giving you maximum exposure and maximum chance of finding a buyer. But all of this along with online estate agency fees (ridiculously low)!
Online estate agency is growing, and Hatched.co.uk are right at the front, leading the way. We might even have to think about altering our recent predictions about online estate agency if it carries on like this!
You can see each of the regional office pages here:
Central Website – www.hatched.co.uk
Hitchin – www.hatched.co.uk/hitchin
Exeter – www.hatched.co.uk/exeter
Sheffield – www.hatched.co.uk/sheffield
Manchester – www.hatched.co.uk/manchester
Birmingham – www.hatched.co.uk/birmingham
After the recent story on HuffingtonPost.co.uk with our predictions for 2013, we have had a few people asking how we came to the figures mentioned. Specifically how we can suggest that for every online agent that opens, 9 high street agents branches will close.
It is fairly simple really. Let us explain.
By our reckoning (and that is using experience from working on the high street for a combined 35 years), an average high street agency deals with around 180 new properties (instructions) on the market each year, or 15 new instructions per month.
At Hatched, we have streamlined all of our systems; we don’t have a window display or newspaper adverts to constantly update. We text and email viewing confirmations and viewing feedback, saving a huge amount of ‘phone time’. We also automatically chase solicitors whilst a sale is going through – again, saving a huge amount of sales chasing, but still getting the desired updates via automatic emails that go out a specific times throughout the transaction.
We also don’t waste time ‘valuing’ houses that are never going to come on the market. We only go and ‘value’ properties that are definitely coming on with us – this is probably the single most important part of our process.
In May 2012 (when we had one office) we took on 165 properties. And we were at full tilt - we literally couldn't have done any more! So, based on a more 'do-able' figure of 140 new instructions in a month, our single online estate agency office dealt with 9 times more new instructions than an average high street agent branch.
This is one of the reasons we decided to open regional branches around the country - our single office couldn't cope with any more instructions once we got to 140 a month. Our regional branches cover vast areas - miles more than a one office high street branch. Typically a high street agent will cover 15,000 - 20,000 'chimney pots'. At the moment, each of our offices cover millions of chimney pots, however, we believe that in the future an online estate agency office will be fully operational, reliable to customers and profitable by covering 200,000 chimney pots. Again, using these figures, it would actually take between 10 and 13 high street offices to cover 200,000 chimney pots, whereas it would only take one online estate agency office to cover this territory.
Fast forward to 2014. If we take a figure of 2,000,000 new instructions in total coming on to the market in 2014, and online agents taking 10% of the market (as predicted), online estate agents would be taking on 16,667 new instructions per month in 2014.
Based on how we work, we would need 119 online estate agents offices to cope with this level of instructions. (16,667 new instructions in a month, divided by 140 instructions = 119 online estate agents)
Using the same figures above, it would take 1,111 high street branches to deal with this level of new instructions each month. (16,667 new instructions in a month, divided by average level of a high street agent of 15 instructions, which equals 1,111 estate agency branches required to cover this level of business)
It stands to reason that if one online agent, i.e. us, can deal with the same volume as 9 high street agents, then those 9 high street agents are at risk.
We are not in any way saying this is going to happen imminently, but certainly if online estate agency becomes more commonplace and other online estate agents adopt similar systems and marketing techniques, it looks a possibility at some point in the future.
We believe the hard part for other online estate agents will be to use systems similar to our own. Our systems are bespoke and we have invested a large amount of money in our ‘back end systems’ to make us as streamlined as possible. We believe, we are more streamlined than any other agent in the whole of the UK, meaning our fees will continue to be at low levels compared to other online agents who continue to put their prices up.
So perhaps not 'for every online estate agent that opens, 9 high street agents will close'. Perhaps more accurate, is that 'for every Hatched.co.uk that opens, 9 high street agents will close'. But only time will tell, so bring on the future!
When there's talk one minute of the British economy picking up, followed by the threat of a triple dip recession the next, it's difficult to really get to grips with where the UK is heading in 2013. The same goes for the housing market, where confidence appears to be building, yet house prices are still in decline and the market looks to end the year in a fairly dismal state. The economic outlook remains challenging and unclear to say the least.
I am by no means an economist (and I have the utmost respect for those foolhardy enough to be so at this time), but as an independent online estate agent, I like to look at the market myself and see what I can decipher from the tangle of predictions for the year ahead.
1. Firstly, it's important to recognise that the last two years have been rocked by one-off events that have affected the property market in individual months. With no stamp duty holidays, Royal Weddings, Jubilee celebrations or Olympics to celebrate, the market should settle and steadily improve in 2013.
Transactions will rise during the first six months of the year compared to 2012, with house prices potentially climbing by as much as 2% across the year. However, a word of warning, if there is an unexpected rise in interest rates, house prices will fall quite aggressively and, in turn, damage the chances of a full housing recovery.
The outlook on interest rates is that they will remain low at least well into 2013 - but they will have to start to go up to a 'normal' level at some point in the future!
2. The government has yet to do much to help buoy the property market and if this year's policy decisions are anything to go by, it will only be a hindrance to the market's recovery over the next twelve months. The FirstBuy Scheme, the Estate Agents Act, stamp duty tax and planning legislation reforms have yet to do anything to solve the housing market crisis.
As a priority, the government needs to better understand the business of estate agents and the needs of buyers if property legislation is to actually help the market.
3. High street estate agents will face ever stronger competition from their online counterparts in 2013. In fact, I predict that online estate agents will account for over 10% of the market within the next two years (they currently make up around 1.8% of the market today). This will put 1,400 high street agents out of business.
Put simply, it's a sign of the times. Online businesses in every retail sector are growing having successfully adapted the traditional business models to cater for today's online world. By cutting overheads and streamlining processes, online estate agents have the capacity to deal with more properties, require fewer members of staff and can charge much lower fees. Over 90% of house sale enquiries now come via the internet and the majority of buyers will go to the internet first to look at a house before arranging the viewing, so there is a growing demand for the services offered online.
For every online estate agent that opens, nine high street agents will close, saving the public approximately £350million in unnecessary fees.
4. Another trend to watch out for in 2013 is the rise of lawsuits against agents. The repeal of the Property Misdescriptions Act (PMA) will put estate agents under the scrutiny of Consumer Protection laws for the first time. Yes, we may breathe a sigh of relief as this should weed out unscrupulous agents, but it will also place complex, time-consuming and costly burdens on legitimate companies already facing significant economic challenges. Since Consumer Protection is a 'catch-all' law that is not related to the property market, estate agents will be bound by new legislation and this will lead to more agents, respectable or not, being sued for misrepresentation in 2013.
5. The Estate Agents Act is being amended next year in a proposed move to make it easier for homeowners to privately advertise and sell their houses. However, the market is largely controlled by online property portals where all buyers search for properties. These portals, quite rightly, do not want to allow intermediaries and private sellers to list on their sites.
We're going to see a battle against property portals not listing private sellers. The coverage that this new legislation should generate will educate the public on the estate agency industry, as well as the clear benefits of using online estate agents.
See the story online here - http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/adam-day/2013-uk-housing-market_b_2328990.html?utm_hp_ref=tw
Normally at this time of year, you can really see the market quietening down for the festive period. And this year has been no different really.
The surprising factor is that October is normally 25% down on levels of new instructions from September and then November is only 10% down on levels of new instructions from October. (December is expected to be 70% down on November!)
Sales figures slide, but perhaps not as drastically.
And the figures this year for new instructions are bang on trend. However, for sales agreed, it has been anything but bang on trend in November!
Sales agreed soared in October by 50% compared to September and only went down by a fraction in November. But we agreed more sales in November 2012 than in September 2012 - unheard of!
But what does all this mean? Well, we think that this has to be a sign of the market, as a whole, improving. We are predicting the first 6 months of next year to show an increase in transactions, with a 2% rise in house prices over the course of 2013.
Agents and sellers must be careful though; buyers aren't stupid and if prices become too over-inflated, the market will stutter again.
Similarly, if the government make any policy changes, or the BoE increase interest rates by too much, we will also see hesitation in the market.
However, with no Royal Weddings, no Olympics and no Jubilee's, we should see a consistent year, rather than the last 2 having major blips at critical times of the year!
December will be quiet, so if you're selling, don't get downhearted - it is just the time of year.
I'm sure we'll post again nearer to Xmas, so speak to you then!
Buyers Top Ten Tips
1. Go and see an independent financial advisor to see how much you can borrow before you do anything else!
2. Research various property web sites, Rightmove, Zoopla & Findaproperty, to see what size property you can get for your money and in what areas.
3. Make up a tick box of needs & wants in order of importance, for example, the amount of bedrooms, style of property – semi, terrace, flat or detached – do you want a garden, a garage or parking? How many WC’s do you want in the property, how many reception rooms? And most important - location, location, location? There are many things to consider.
4. Register on the Rightmove & Zoopla mailing lists – they will alert you to any properties that come on the market that fit in with your criteria from ALL agents, not just one or two. This saves you having to register on lots of agents mailing lists and getting sent stuff you don't want!
5. Go and actually view some properties – even if you’re not quite sure about it from the outside, or the description – it’s always worth a look inside.
6. If you can’t find anything, don’t despair, you are not the only one. Most buyers don’t find exactly what they are looking for, and it may require some adjustments on your tick box - maybe the bottom few requirements are not as important as you thought. Or perhaps you might just have to be a bit more patient.
7. If you see something you like, but you think the price is a little too high, MAKE AN OFFER. Most owners are willing to negotiate on their asking price, regardless of the market.
8. When you make an offer, make sure the estate agent knows your own situation – Are you a first time buyer or in a chain, what are the chain details, what percentage of deposit do you have to put down and how quickly you are likely to be able to exchange contracts? All of this information will be relayed to the vendor and will be a big help in the decision making process. It may just swing it for you.
9. When you have an offer accepted, make sure the survey (if you are getting one) is done as soon as possible – it shows the vendor and the estate agent that you have spent some money and you are committed to the purchase.
10. Try not to let the whole process stress you out. Speak to people that have done it before, speak to the agent you are buying through, speak to your solicitor and speak to your mortgage advisor – all of these people are there to help. Sales can take weeks to go through - it probably won't be anyone's fault, it's just the system we run in this country.
11. And a bonus tip – when you come to sell the property you have purchased in a few years, make sure you sell through hatched.co.uk to benefit from low sales fees and excellent service.
September has been and gone and our prediction that it would be extremely busy was (sort of) correct. To an extent anyway. So, what are the key facts from Hatched…?
Well, viewings are up by 9% compared to August. This doesn’t sound much, but when you consider viewing activity only rose by 2% between the start of June and the end of August, you can see this is quite a big rise.
Instructions (new houses on the market) rose by 10% compared to August, but again, this was in contrast to a rise of just 3% between June & August inclusive. So there is activity…
For the key stat however - sales agreed – they were up, but only 5% compared to August. With an increase in instructions and viewings, we would have expected this to be up by a good 10%, if not more, with it being September.
So, the question is: Why haven’t sales increased in line with new instructions and viewings?
In August, everyone put it down to the Olympics. In July, everyone put it down to the weather and the start of the Olympics. And in June, everyone put it down to the Queen’s Jubilee (and the weather!)
But maybe it’s time for the ‘experts’ to stop making these excuses and start thinking about what the real reason might be. So, that’s exactly what we are going to do;
We think the reason is simply down to pricing of properties and the competition that is out there at the moment.
With the market still just ‘bouncing along the bottom’, what’s happened since the start of the year is properties have been ‘backing up’. What we mean by this, is that the properties that came on the market in January, February and March, that haven’t sold, are still sitting on the market, rather than sellers ‘giving up’, because they have been given the promise by their agent that ‘next month will be better’.
Along with these, we had the perceived increase in activity over this period of time, which encouraged more new sellers to put their houses on the market between March & June (We had our best month ever for new instructions in May). And then with the increased level of instructions throughout the market, this has all lead to an awful lot of houses just sitting on the market, giving buyers a lot of choice.
As with any market it in the world, pricing is dictated by supply and demand.
With lots of houses on the market, this means that supply is high, with demand still being at a similar level all year (even though our viewing levels have increased in September, I hear you say!). But all of this means, that only the houses that are offering the very best value for money, are selling.
Buyers are also very well educated in a few things. Firstly, the internet has a lot to answer for (Not least, agents like us, as (some) high street agents would say!), with all the information you can get online about ‘valuations’ and what people paid for their property (this is such a frustrating thing for estate agents and sellers, because the ‘valuation tool’ doesn’t have a clue what work has been done to the property, but that’s another blog altogether!). Secondly, buyers are not stretching themselves, for obvious reasons. And thirdly, buyers don’t want to get stung like they did in 2007 – they want to buy somewhere, but they don’t want to find that what they buy is worth less than they paid for it. So, maybe we have just got to a stage, where buyers have decided that all of the above factors, have started leading to a more cautious approach from buyers, who were much braver in March, April & May this year.
We certainly don’t think there is any sort of crash on its way. We just feel that sellers of houses need to be very sensible and completely objective about what their house is worth. And then, they need to price their house competitively and make it the most attractively priced house compared to all the others that they are competing with.
I sounds simple. And it is to be honest. There are buyers out there, and there are plenty of houses out there as well. So, there is the potential for a really healthy market. Unfortunately, we think it requires the sellers to make the first move to create that healthy market - by bringing their prices down...
Interesting news from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills - you can read the full report here http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/consumer-issues/docs/r/12-1006-response-estate-agents-and-property-misdescriptions.pdf
The main crux of it is that private house sellers can now offer more of a service and not be considered estate agents. Although the amount of extra work they can do to still remain as private house sale sites is very small.
For example, at the moment, if a private house sale site were to put a branded For Sale board up, they would then be considered estate agents and fall into the Property Misdescriptions Act and have a lot of red tape to get through (all the stuff we have to deal with!)
Having read through the above link, it looks like a private house sale site will be allowed to put a branded For Sale board up and accept details from the owner of the house, but not be considered an estate agent. But that is pretty much where it ends. If the private house sale site were to offer the production of the property detail or any advice, then they would be considered estate agents! So, it doesn't seem like a huge change. But what are the consequences of the changes?
Well, this has been done to help new models into the market. However, we think this is going to benefit large corporate supermarkets who can now list properties on their site/shelves without coming under the scope of an estate agent.
We think that this change will lead to the large supermarkets to try to start selling properties as well as bread & milk! Because they can now put a For Sale board up and accept the property details and photos from the owner, they will not be under the Estate Agency scope. Imagine all the For Sale boards up and down your street advertising both the property, but also the groceries you can buy from their store?!
But, the key thing here is, will they sell any houses? Because, at the end of the day, people put their house on the market to sell it, not to just let it sit there.
The key to selling, we believe, is Rightmove, Zoopla, Findaproperty & Primelocation. So, either the supermarkets will have to be able to position themselves as 'the place to go to buy a house', or they will have to get on these sites...
Firstly, why would a buyer go to a supermarket to buy a house? A house is not an impulse purchase, like a bottle of wine or a bag of spuds. Therefore, we think buyers will still go to the place that is showing as many properties as possible. Rightmove has such a stranglehold on the market - everybody knows that this is the place to go when searching for a home.
And secondly, in our view, there is absolutely no chance that someone like Rightmove would let someone like Tesco, Asda or Sainsburys on to their portal and risk the wrath of the high street estate agent. Rightmove make so much money out of estate agents; there is no way that any supermarket or any amount of private sellers could make Rightmove the same amount of money that they do out of estate agents.
So, how will it change the market? Not by much, we don't think. What it might do, however, is give more people the knowledge that there is an alternative out there...
The alternative being a mixture of private selling (the low fees) and full estate agency with access to the major property portals and the same chance of selling your house; agents like Hatched.co.uk!
The future is coming...
Apologies for not posting our stats in June. But, if you saw our Facebook page, you'd know that my wife had a beautiful baby daughter at the beginning of June, so I was a little tied up with other things!
For those of you interested, it was a little girl, weighing in at 7lbs exactly and named Lily - the future of Hatched maybe?! (Although, with the Olympics being on, an athlete as her chosen profession, would be preferable to an estate agent!)
Anyway, on to stats for the last couple of months...
The June property market was a little bit slower to be honest. We agreed sales on 42% of stock, even though viewings stayed steady at around 750 viewings arranged. Somewhere in between 700 and 780 viewings have been arranged every month since April this year (That means we arrange approx one viewing every 15 minutes of the working day - a full time job in itself!)
In terms of sales though, July bounced back up to 61% conversion rate of sales agreed to new instructions, which takes us back to our yearly average of 53%, which is a very healthy figure compared to our high street counterparts (perhaps there is actually no difference in your chances of finding a buyer, when selling your house with Hatched, compared to another estate agent?)
August is going to be an interesting one. What with the Olympics and summer holidays, we expect it will be a slower one - similar to June perhaps. But then we expect September to be a crazy month. September is probably the 3rd busiest month of the year anyway, so along with all of this normal activity, we will get all those that decided to 'put it off' until September! We wouldn't be surprised if Septermber breaks all kinds of records...
However, DO NOT delay...If you are selling, or thinking of selling, get organised NOW. Get the property photographed and measured up while it is relatively quiet and then, wait for the 'September storm' to arrive!
In the meantime, enjoy the Olympics and soak up the atmosphere. You never know though, I might be reporting back at the end of August saying we've had a great month - here's hoping!
New sellers outnumber successful buyers by an average of nearly 2:1, highlighting the substantial challenge faced by many sellers during this summer of miserable ‘viewing’ weather and Olympic distractions.
Perhaps in response, those coming to market in July dropped their average asking prices by an average of -£4,138 (-1.7%) compared to sellers in the previous month, the first fall since January. While the onset of the quieter summer selling season often sees a softening of new sellers’ prices, this is the largest drop Rightmove has recorded in July since 2008.
Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, comments:
“Those keen to sell this summer have the challenging confluence of miserable viewing weather, the continuing credit-crunch plus a sporting distraction of Olympic proportions. Those who have been on the market for many months might consider the prospects of achieving a sale to be somewhat of an Olympian challenge given that actual sales completions are just half what they were five years ago. The weather might not be hot but in most parts of the country the competition to sell is. Those fit to buy this summer will be looking for a property that is prepared for sale better than the rest in terms of value and quality. There is evidence that quality remains in higher demand in spite of the downturn, and those keen to sell need to be clear on what it will take to make their property a compelling buy. This will be a difficult goal for some sellers given their circumstances and location but, with buyers even thinner on the ground this summer, you won’t get a second chance to make a first impression”.
Research into buyer behaviour on the Rightmove website shows that potential buyers spend an average of just 2.7 seconds looking at a seller’s summary advert before deciding whether to take their interest further, or move on to look at other properties.
“As a seller your property advert has less than three seconds to make a positive impression with a potential buyer. With lots of property to look at, buyers tend to exclude rather than include, and once dismissed it is a challenge to regain a buyer’s attention. Your property advert needs to give them reason enough to travel to visit your property, especially during one of the wettest summers on record. Given the level of competition for proceedable buyers in many markets, making an immediate and impactful impression is more important than ever, and this means finding the perfect combination of attractive price, compelling photographs and alluring description. Sellers already on the market, and those considering selling, should gather market intelligence on those properties they are in competition with and make an impartial judgement on why a buyer should view their property and why they would prefer to live there.”
Unsurprisingly, agents report that while location remains important, good quality properties in terms of finish and layout are easier to sell but also harder to find. Potential sellers of quality examples are choosing to hang on to what they’ve got if they cannot better it. Conversely, poorly cared-for property is harder to sell, unless the price or potential it offers once improved is extremely attractive.
“Those keen to sell this summer should consult their local estate agent about what it takes to improve their property’s quality, value and appeal to be one of the best in class. Sellers should ask their estate agent if their property is worthy of a medal in terms of the three P’s: Price, Presentation and Promotion. Is it one of the most competitively priced? Is it amongst the best presented in terms of condition? Having ticked those two boxes, then how is it best promoted to ensure a buyer is aware of its endearing qualities over other choices on the market?”
It was anothe record month in May for Hatched. More instructions, more sales and more money saved for our customers.
We saved clients nearly £300,000 in estate agency fees in May alone.
That brings the total to this year to around £1.15Million in fees saved compared to a high street agent. And we are selling a staggering 55% of properties - that is up there with when we all worked at a high street agent back in 2006.
So what does that tell us? Well, simple really - you have as much chance of selling your property through us, as you do a high street agent...
But what if your property is not selling? If it has been sitting on the market for more than 6 weeks, then we would say that the property has been exposed to the whole market and it must therefore be the price that is the reason it is not selling.
Speak to your agent though and see what they think. Once mistake that sellers make, is they compare their house to other house that are ON THE MARKET. You should only compare your property and its asking price with properties that have SOLD.
After all, that is what a surveyor will do when they value it on behalf of the lender...
Anyway, enough waffle. We're off to sell some more houses!
One third (34%) of properties currently for sale have been reduced in price since first coming on to the market, says property portal Zoopla. But the proportion is down from 37% in February.
The average discount is £19,012, or 7.5% of the original asking price – £500 less than in February.
The portal estimates that £2.9bn has been knocked off current asking prices in total, with £1.3bn in reductions in London alone.
Newcastle tops the list of places where the biggest discounts are currently being offered by sellers with average reductions of 11.1% (£22,151). Sellers in Liverpool have also made large concessions, knocking 9.2% (£14,031) off their original asking prices on average.
Rotherham has the highest proportion of discounted properties for sale, with 43.9% of sellers having cut their asking prices at least once. Other areas with a high proportion of asking price reductions include Swansea (42.5%) and Barnsley (41.6%).
* Yesterday, Zoopla announced it has acquired UpMyStreet, one of the longest-standing property information websites, for an undisclosed sum. Launched in 1998, UpMyStreet was one of the first property websites in the UK, carrying local information about places to live.
With immediate effect, users of UpMyStreet will be re-directed to Zoopla. The acquisition will be added into the mix when Zoopla’s own merger with the Digital Property Group completes – expected within the next few weeks.
See the story here - Estate Agent Today
Another amazing month in April. I won't bore you too much with figures though as conversion rates were pretty much the same as March 2012. But suffice to say, we increased amount of houses on the market and therefore sales also increased, meaning we broke all of March's records! So that's 3 records in the last 3 months! And they are still telling us the market is not very good...
One thing we have been asked about is when we are selling so many houses, why are some properties still sticking on the market.
So, I am going to try and address that now.
It's a difficult one to be honest. I suppose the best way to look at it, is that houses are products at the end of the day. It is always very difficult for owners to look at their property like this, as a house has many memories and emotional ties. But it is a product and MUST be viewed in this way to be able to start looking at why your property isn't selling.
So, let's look at some other products; a car, a TV and a Mars Bar...
What is needed to sell these items?
Well. Firstly, the most important thing is coverage. What I mean by that is making sure you have the product advertised to as big a market as you can. So, take Sony, Panasonic & Samsung - you will all have heard of these brands - and these are (probably) the most sold TV's out there. But have you ever heard of Teknika? Probably not. But there is a TV brand that goes by this name, but from what I can see, they only sell these TVs in Tesco. Therefore, the amount of these TV's sold is much lower because their coverage is not as great as Samsung, etc.
Secondly, let's take the car. If you were to sell your car, then you wouldn't allow someone to view your car with crisp wrappers or other such things lying around. You would make sure it was as presentable as possible. (You would also get the best coverage on a website like 'Autotrader' and therefore the best chance of selling it - if you put it in your local paper, you will either not be able to sell it, or get less than you would have done on Autotrader...)
And thirdly, the Mars Bar. Another product which needs coverage and good presentation to sell. However, what if a Mars Bar was priced at £3? How many do you think would sell when they are on the shelf alongside a Twix, a Galaxy bar or a Kit Kat? I would be surprised if any were to sell. This is simply because when people have a choice and they are going to get a similar result/outcome/product for a significant amount less, they will go for the lower priced option. If a Mars Bar was 60p and all the other above chocolate bars were 50p, then, me personally, I would go for the Mars Bar, because for me, a Mars Bar is worth the extra money.
The same goes for houses. You have to offer good value for money compared to your competition.
So, if you have the coverage and the presentation right, but you aren't getting interest in your product, then it must be the pricing that is wrong.
If you are happy with the presentation of your property, then that is the first hurdle jumped.
Secondly, you have to look at your coverage - if you are on Rightmove, then we would suggest that your coverage is sufficient. However, we are fully aware, and we must make customers and potential customers aware, that we do not advertise in the newspaper or have a window display, so there is an argument that, as online estate agents, we don't have full coverage. (Although, anyone who is serious about looking for properties would surely be looking on Rightmove!)
So, if you are happy with the above 2, then there is a strong possibility that the price of your property needs to change to start attracting interest and secure a sale.
As mentioned at the start, we are breaking all kinds of records with regards to selling properties over the last few months. So, with this in mind, if you are not getting interest in your property with all these buyers out there, then the price must be too high.
We would encourage all homeowners to look objectively at their property. And make sure your property offers the very best value for money compared to everything else on the market. If you feel it does offer the very best value, and it is still isn't selling, and none of the other properties are selling, then we would suggest that everything is overpriced in that area and you have to be the one to take the lead and bring the price down.
Remember, if the coverage and presentation boxes are ticked, then the only thing remaining is the price.
If you're thinking of selling, or trying to sell your property with us, or another agent, then get in touch and we would be happy to discuss the pricing with you.
You can reach us on 0800 840 9565 or email@example.com.
Every year is the same. In fact, ever since my days as a young estate agent in the late 90's...
Dozens and dozens of customers who are trying to sell their house, think that Easter is a busy weekend and busy period for buyers looking.
However, it is actually one of the slowest periods of the year for buyers out viewing. I would say, apart from late November and December, it is the quietest weekend for viewings of the year...
Some stats to back this up:
2011. The Easter weeked in 2011 saw just 36 viewings being made by Hatched (and that includes the Friday & Monday). Two weekends before this, saw 114 viewings made and 2 weekends after Easter 2011, saw 99 made (and these were the viewings on just the Saturday and Sunday!)
This year, we have 54 viewings booked for this weekend (and that includes Good Friday & Bank Holiday Monday). Last weekend, on just the Saturday and Sunday, Hatched booked 76 viewings, while the previous weekend saw 102 viewings booked.
So, as you can see, Easter weekend, and the weekends either side, aren't that great for finding a buyer.
So if your house doesn't get any interest over these weekends, then don't panic too much. Give it a bit of time and the viewings will start to flood in again in over the weekend of the 21st April...
In the meantime, have a great Easter!
April already! Where does the year go...?
March was a brilliant month and records were broken all over the place.
We sold more houses than we have ever sold before. We put more houses on the market than we ever have before and we made more viewings in the last quarter than any quarter previously.
In total, we put 121 properties on to the market in March and agreed sales on 68 properties. And we made over 2,200 viewings in the 1st quarter of the year.
Those are stunning figures and in total this year we have agreed sales on well over 60% of properties. Conversion of 'instructions' to sales is one of the most important stats for the general market as it gives a really good indication of what the level of activity is within the housing market. A good conversion rate, would be considered as anything over 50%, so this shows that the market seems to be flying at the moment, regardless of what the media says!
As a comparison, in late 2008 (the bottom of the market), conversion rates were as low as 15%-20% on average and as low as 2% or 3% in some areas of the country.
The lettings market is also busy as well, which is unusual, because if sales is busy, then lettings is normally quiet and vice versa. We're not complaining though...!
And to top it all, we have been shortlisted for the ESTA's (Estate Agent of the Year Awards). The grand final is towards the end of April, so we will let you all know how we get on...
It's been another great start to a year for Hatched.co.uk and the rising popularity of online estate agency continues to grow.
February stats are in and they look really good again. Do not believe everything you read in the papers (apart from the good stuff!).
At Hatched, instruction levels are up by just a smidge, but sales are up a whopping 85% compared to last year. In fact, February 2012 was our best ever month for volume of sales agreed!
Our conversion rate is up at a huge 68% - that is sales agreed compared to new instructions and average sale agreed price is 96.76% of asking price, which is also very pleasing for both us and our customers.
Viewings compared to last year were up 32%, which is strange. You would expect viewings to be up by the same amount that sales are up by, but maybe this shows that last year, people were much more cautious about buying a property. We get the impression from many people that we speak to, that they are just fed up with waiting for the market to settle and have decided that this year, they are just going to get on with living their lives and buy and sell their house.
You can also see above that instructions are a little down. We would expect a 30% rise in levels of new properties coming on to the market, but maybe this is also fueling a bit of a recovery.
Remember, we sell properties online all over England & Wales, so these are not figures relating to just a small section of the country - we are experiencing high demand in every part of the country.
It is still price sensitive though and those that pitch their price too high, will not sell. There are still pockets of the country with an awful conversion rate of less than 5%, but owners of houses in these areas seem unwilling to bring their prices down in line with what the market has done. Either that, or the local estate agents aren't advising their customers correctly.
In any case, if it wasn't for that extra day, we wouln't have beaten our previous record, so it was well worth it!
It is something we should have done years ago, but better late than never we say. We have finally got round to creating a blog and we will be updating it on a regular basis, so watch this space!
We have just launched our new company video: