There is so much anxiety about what will happen to the housing market this year. Many people have been holding off selling for up to three years, since the Brexit referendum, and Spring 2020 was definitely going to be their moment to make a change.
We know too, that the current situation will find more and more people dissatisfied with the lifestyle their own home offers; not enough space for an office, for a separate playroom for the children and finding the garden too small. There will be people who decide that the person with whom they find themselves sharing their four walls in isolation is no longer the person with whom they want to spend the rest of their life and there will be people who aren’t able to keep up crippling mortgage payments post-corona. There are always people looking to move.
We caught up with Lee Armstrong of Fine and Country in Derby and asked him to share his view on what someone looking to sell their home this year can be doing right now;
What, as estate agents, can we be doing to help through lockdown?
Well at this time of year, we are usually at our busiest bringing lots of new homes to the market, now that gardens are coming into bloom and lighter nights are on their way. Easter weekends can traditionally be one of the best for people viewing and over the next 6-8 weeks we tend to book more sales than any other time of year. Our diaries are normally full of face to face meetings with new sellers looking to come to the market and viewings are very busy and we will often have open houses across the whole Easter weekend. This year….quite the opposite.
When it comes to selling
We can still help. When it comes to people considering moving, we can still provide much of the same service to a seller over the internet. Zoom meetings have become a way of life over the last few weeks. More and more potential sellers are contacting me to say we are thinking of coming to the market and can we chat about what may happen after lockdown ends. By doing this over zoom the sellers then have the ability to show me their home via a live video or can even share a video they’ve already taken of the home and talk me through all the key features the property has. I can ask questions of them and they can ask me all about my services. Again, I can screen share with them and show them my marketing strategies and it’s almost more convenient to be able to do it this way as the clients and I are totally immersed in focusing on the screen.
There are more and more desktop tools available to me as an agent now so I can almost drive past the home using street view. I can look at the gardens and aspect using aerial maps. We can download the title register and get an exact plot size, we can get the previous EPC or planning applications and use these to calculate the square footage of the home. We can gain more and more information about comparable homes recently sold and drill down into the demographics of the location and we are able to value the home just as well if we were face to face.
And when it comes to the home staging, the presentation side of things, it’s a very useful exercise to see the home through a screen as this will often be how buyers first see the home when they are searching. We can still very much offer the same advice as to what to do to the home before they bring to the market. Lemon and Lime Interiors, our staging partners, continue to work alongside us and our vendors to provide presentation consultations via video calls and photos and can offer a full service remotely.
Now is the perfect time for people to be contacting us, as you could spend the next few weeks making sure you spend the time doing the right things to increase saleability and kerb appeal and helping us by getting the home ready for staging and for the photoshoot.
We have already been able to bring a couple of homes to the market this way, The sellers have been able to provide us with some great photos and videos so we can still put together a comprehensive marketing campaign.
So far I have actually enjoyed doing business this way and do think after lockdown ends this may well lead to virtual valuations being the first step for people when it comes to choosing an agent as this can be much more flexible for the client, the kids can be doing their own thing whilst we chat and we can both get a good idea if we are the right agent for you and if your home is right for our brand.
When it comes to buying
Most of our homes already feature video tours. They are great quality and show the homes off incredibly well. We get great feedback from buyers that the video has helped them to decide to view the home, so this clearly works. And many sellers are happy to again remotely host a viewing for us. This allows buyers to question the sellers about things they have done to the home and sales have been put together using this. The further into lockdown we go the more this is becoming a normal procedure, a first step before the final inspection. Of course, this won’t replace the feeling you get from a home and this can often be a very powerful part of the buying process. There are so many buyers who, over the years, have said they bought the home because they felt it was right as soon as they walked in. You can’t get this feeling from a screen necessarily. But you can do your market research and see what’s around. And for me, as your agent, I have the time to talk to you in depth about what you need and want from the home. We can spend a little longer going over all the details of your perfect home and it could genuinely be the case we have something low key or coming to the market which meets all these needs so it’s well worth calling the agent to talk over your needs and wants.
We all fully appreciate this isn’t an ideal situation, but what we know is there was already pent up demand before the lockdown started. The longer people spend in their homes, the more they may either fall more in love with it, or the more they will feel it’s time for a change. Many people will now be looking for homes with studies, or outbuildings, or locations that offer them better value for money yet still have an easy commute into work as one thing that seems clear is remote working is likely to be increased when restrictions are lifted. My advice is whilst you have the luxury of time, use it effectively and let us help you with some key advice and help as early as we can.