Why you shouldn’t settle for lazy marketing by estate agents.

Welcome to the first blog post from Roberts & Co. For this article I am going to explain why you should think carefully about which agent you would like to market your home, your biggest financial asset. When you put it like that, it isn’t a decision you should take lightly is it?

All too frequently now I am seeing homes being listed on Rightmove and Zoopla by competitor agents with, what I consider to be the basics, simply missing! It baffles me as to why these home owners are happy with their pride and joy being marketed with no floorplans, no professional imagery, social media or virtual/video tour! Surely these are the basics that EVERY property deserves?

Why do Roberts & Co include all of the above as standard? Well, firstly we believe that YOUR property deserves to be shown off in the best way that it can. By showing ALL of your property’s best features in a variety of different media, we will be maximising the amount of interest we can generate for your property. Our job then is to turn this into a good number of quality, pre-qualified viewings for people to explore your home further.

I suppose property marketing is a bit like having an online dating profile in some respects. You have to capture peoples interest before they ‘swipe- left’ to the next one! We ALWAYS put our best image of the property as one of the first 2 photos to ensure your property gets a ‘click-through’ to the more detailed listing.

Nowadays we all do more online, and property buying is no different. We need to get YOUR property on peoples shortlists. If you don’t have a floorplan, how can they plan their renovation, or check there is a room they can convert to a playroom, or see if they can create that amazing dining kitchen with an island they have always dreamt of…?  If you don’t have a full suite of internal photos, why? Buyers may wrongly assume that your property needs renovation. If you have a house on a large plot, why don’t you have drone footage- that is your property’s USP!

And you don’t need to just take my word for it, research has proven it too.  According to Rightmove, 1 in 3 buyers are less likely to enquire about a property if there is no floorplan AND astonishingly, 1 in 5 would ignore the listing completely! If that is not proof enough that floorplans are essential then what is?

Similarly, research* has proven that properties sell up to 14 days faster with an effective social media campaign

By publishing a FULL listing including all of the marketing elements I have mentioned, we see RESULTS for our vendors. We are able to get a great number of viewings from the start, maximising the initial buzz and interest a new listing naturally generates. And, importantly, we know that by doing a fabulous job of marketing the property fully, we are genuinely making every effort to get the best possible price for the owner, our customer…because ultimately, that is important, right?

Aside from this, at Roberts & Co, we believe our listings are an extension of us as a business. We take PRIDE in presenting our properties well and invest heavily to deliver what our customers deserve. As a business we don’t make compromises, so why should you?

Emma Roberts is Managing Director of Roberts and Co in Preston.

* Countrywide Properties

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Rental Market Update August 2021

In this week’s article, Amy McKinlay, Lettings Manager and Compliance Lead for Roberts & Co talks about the current rental demand locally.

One of the questions we get asked all the time is, “What’s happening in the market at the moment?” for both rental and sales properties. In this post I’ll be focusing on the local rental market to help you keep up to date on the latest trends in asking prices, what we’re seeing in our day to day dealings with landlords and tenants and what we’re predicting in the months to come.

In the most recent Rightmove Rental Price Tracker there were some interesting headline statistics:

  • National asking rents outside London have reached another record, and are now over £1,000 per calendar month for the first time
  • Asking rents are 2.6% higher now than in Q1 2021 and 6.2% higher than this time last year, the biggest quarterly and annual jumps ever recorded by Rightmove
  • Rental properties are finding a tenant quicker than ever before at an average of 21 days, and the fast-paced market has led to an annual drop of 36% in the number of available rental properties.

We’ve certainly seen a big jump in asking rents locally, largely due to the incredibly high demand for properties from tenants who are finding themselves in a very competitive marketplace. We haven’t seen the usual churn of properties coming back to the market as tenants naturally move on; we’re finding that unless tenants need to move (whether due to their own circumstances or a landlord selling a property) they are staying put. At Roberts & Co we’re trying to manage demand as fairly as possible, capping viewings at around 10 per property and then inviting applications for landlords to review from anyone who wants to proceed further. As ever, it’s the landlord’s final decision as to who they go ahead with.

In the North West the average asking price has now reached £854pcm, up 6.9% from the same quarter last year. Demand is exceptionally high in particular for family properties which are generally around this price point, although we are also seeing a lot of demand for properties at the lower end of the market as wages and housing benefit payments haven’t kept pace with the increase in asking rents and many tenants are finding themselves in less stable employment situations due to the impact of the pandemic.

There is a lot of talk in the trade press about rising numbers of evictions expected to begin from October this year. From 1st June 2021 the temporary eviction ban was lifted, with landlords being able to serve their tenants with a 4 month notice period. This is expected to reduce back to the usual 2 month’s notice from October. There seems to be a lot of concern around Covid-related arrears and tenants being unable to pay, however we have not recorded any unusual levels of arrears across either the Penwortham or Lostock Hall office. This may well be an issue which becomes more prevalent when the furlough scheme officially ends if there are a significant number of job losses but isn’t something which we feel is a concern at the moment.

As ever, we’re looking ahead and happy to be busy setting up new tenancies amidst the usual maintenance enquiries, inspections and everything else which comes from managing properties. If you’re a landlord with a property to let please do give us a call – we offer a very competitive package and strive for exceptional levels of service at all times. Our Property Management team can be reached on 01772 746100 – ask for Faith or Amy and they will be able to talk you through your options.

Amy McKinlay is Lettings Manager & Compliance Lead for Roberts & Co.

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Top Tips – Sell your home fast and for a great price

In a fast-moving market it can sometimes feel overwhelming when trying to decide what needs to be done prior to marketing your property, especially if you’ve seen something you like and need to get an offer in quickly. Here’s our rundown of top tips to help you sell fast and for the best possible price.

1 – Choose your agent carefully. This is an article in itself, but choose an agent who you have confidence in, who will market your home properly without cutting corners on essentials such as floor plans and professional photography, and who takes time to understand you as a client. It’s really important the initial marketing period is handled well to achieve the best possible price for you; agents who are happy to market your property with a half-completed listing and missing photos aren’t going to be the ones who are booking multiple viewings and taking advantage of the initial surge of interest to gain well-qualified offers for you.

2 – Declutter! It’s almost obligatory to include this but we can’t stress enough – if your stuff is spilling out of every corner, giving the impression of a too-small house with not enough storage, that is exactly what your potential buyers will see. Make sure everything has a place, and if not, perhaps relegate it to the loft temporarily or use this as an opportunity to do a pre-move clear out. You don’t have to leave an impersonal, sterile environment but do make sure that any potential buyers are left with the impression of space rather than claustrophobia.

3 – Presentation is key. You may well have been putting off touching up the paintwork and you may no longer notice that patch your cat scratched off the newel post but potential buyers definitely will and might be left with the impression that there are lots of jobs to do – which will inevitably affect the offer they’re prepared to make. Your property should feel fresh and well-maintained, leaving buyers feeling like all they would need to do is unpack their things.

4 – Think about lifestyle. Buyers are often looking to buy into a lifestyle, particularly those who are moving up the chain. First time buyers are looking for somewhere to call their own, where they might start a family and enjoy the feeling of having their own space. They are not usually particularly confident in making big changes to a property, so if you’ve got a first time buyer property it’s usually wise to make sure jobs are done and they don’t have to think about making major changes they are unlikely to have funds for. Second and third time buyers of family homes might be looking for the best utilization of space for family life and a low maintenance garden which offers a good space to relax (and somewhere to put the trampoline). We’re seeing a lot of enquiries at the moment for houses with home offices – if your home offers this sort of space then this is a huge plus point to emphasise. Buyers who are downsizing often struggle with the thought of going smaller – storage is key here and a well-thought through layout which gives a sense of space.

5 – First impressions count. Although the inside is arguably the most important, think about the outside as well. When your buyer pulls up at your property they will already be making a judgement about whether or not it’s for them. Make sure your front garden is well-maintained; some colourful pots or hanging baskets can make a big difference. Are your windows clean and the bins out of sight? Have you cleaned your front door and does the bell work?

6 – Clean until it’s sparkling. There is nothing more off-putting to buyers than a grubby, unkempt property. Make sure that everywhere is absolutely sparkling clean, it’s a big effort we know but it pays dividends. Try to include skirting boards and other woodwork, windows inside and out and pay special attention to the kitchen and bathroom. If you have integrated appliances be aware viewers may want to look in the fridge – time to wipe out that salad drawer! Another thing to think about is how the property smells, especially if you have pets. Strong air-freshener can be equally off-putting so just open windows half an hour before the viewing and remove any pet food bowls and beds for the duration of the viewing.

7 – Send everyone out for a walk. We know it’s not always possible but if you’re able to send the children and pets out for a walk it can help potential buyers have a relaxed look around the property. If it’s a struggle to get the house free for viewings then it may be easier to ask the agent to carry out the viewings on your behalf.

8 – Relax! We know it can be a bit of a daunting prospect showing people round your home but try and think about the reasons you bought it – chances are your buyers are very similar to you when you bought the property and they’ll be looking for the same things you were. Smile, point out the good points and any work you’ve had done, let them know about the local area and what first attracted you to the house.

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Rental Market Update September 2021

After an exceptionally busy summer it’s time for another rental market update to let you know what’s happening at the moment at both a local and national level. At Roberts & Co we are always interested in general market trends but as a very local agent we like to delve a bit deeper and share our experience of the market at a local level as well.

Following the publication of the Zoopla UK Rental Market Report in early September, we can confidently say this has been one of the busiest years since the portals started producing indexes and market reports. The Zoopla Rental Market Report has been in production since 2008, and this most recent report highlights the highest rental growth nationally since the report began, at +5.0%. There is also a widening gap between demand and supply, with year to date rental demand up 19% on last year, while the total available rental stock is down 13%. The total available stock is actually down 30% compared to normal levels at this time of year.

This is very much the market we are seeing at a local level, with a much-reduced number of new rental properties coming to the market. There are huge levels of demand for all new properties which are listed, with most properties attracting 10-15 viewings within 24 hours of first being marketed. Demand is particularly high for family homes of all sizes and smaller starter-type homes in all areas we cover. There are several theories as to why there are so few new properties coming to the market but one trend we have noted is that tenants don’t seem to be moving as much; the ones who are moving out tend to be those who have bought a property or their landlord has sold, rather than moving from one rental to another to upsize or change areas. It’s possible this is a symptom of the market being so busy – many tenants who are broadly ok in the property would rather stay where they are than risk not being able to find something or have to compete with a large number of other potential tenants.

Legislation and other updates
This Autumn we are expecting a white paper on the Renters Reform Bill which is likely to contain recommendations for further wide-scale changes to the private rented sector including abolishing Section 21 notices, possible changes to possession proceedings including proposals for a dedicated Housing Court, a lifetime deposit model and the potential for all landlords to be a member of a redress scheme. We are watching this very closely as the impact on the sector would be significant and we are poised to act fast to ensure our clients remain compliant with all legislation.

The furlough scheme is also due to end on 30th September, which some are predicting will lead to a number of job losses and potentially an uplift in rent arrears if large numbers of tenants are made unexpectedly redundant. From our perspective we don’t feel it is likely there will be a huge increase in tenant arrears in our local market as they have remained reasonably static throughout the pandemic and at a level we would consider normal – we currently manage well over 200 properties and only a very small percentage have an issue with rent arrears.

Notice periods are still currently at 4 months for a standard section 21. Although it has been widely reported that they will revert to the usual 2 month’s notice in October there has not yet been any confirmation that this will happen.

As ever, we’re working hard to keep our landlords compliant with legislation, up to date with maintenance issues and to make sure our tenants are happy where they live. With regular inspections, a dedicated local Property Management team with decades of experience between them and a focus on delivering exceptional customer service you can be assured that Roberts & Co will look after your property as if it was their own. If you’re thinking of renting a property out or if your agent isn’t filling you with confidence, why not give us a call today on 01772 746100 and see how we can help?

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Return to Pre-Pandemic Notice Periods

This week we have a fantastic guest article from Rebecca Chadwick, solicitor at Landlord Support Legal Solutions. Rebecca is locally based in Ormskirk and specialises in landlord and tenant law, including serving notice, proceedings, disputes and anything else which can arise when things go wrong in a tenancy. Extended notice periods have been a feature of the last 18 months thanks to Covid but will revert to normal from 1st October 2021. Rebecca tells us more below about how to stay compliant.

The government has finally announced that notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels on 1st October 2021.

Since 26th March 2020, Schedule 29 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 has increased the notice periods in relation to most possession proceedings for private residential tenancies with the aim of protecting residential tenants from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schedule 29 has been amended several times since its enactment, amending notice periods and prescribed forms in the process. In addition to this, a total embargo on possession proceedings and bailiff evictions until 21st September 2020 and 31st May 2021 respectively, together with procedural changes to Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules (‘CPR’ – which governs the court process for possession claims) have complicated the process for landlords seeking possession of their property.

The not-so succinctly entitled “Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies and Notices) (Amendment and Suspension) (England) Regulations 2021” will:

With effect from 1st October 2021, revert the notice period that must be given in notices seeking possession of residential properties in England back to the pre-pandemic notice periods, as set out in section 8 and section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
With effect from 1st October 2021, introduce new prescribed forms of notice under section 8 and section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 – Form 3 and Form 6A respectively.
With effect from 30th September 2021, extend the “relevant period” in Schedule 29 to 25th March 2022. This means that the government retains its emergency powers to impose longer notice periods until then.
Tactical Points
It is important to note that these changes will not retrospectively apply to notices served before 1st October 2021. The notice periods which were applicable to those notices when they were served will still apply.

It is therefore now tactically worthwhile waiting until 01/10/2021 before serving section 21 notices and most section 8 notices.

Of course, landlords must make sure the notice is on the correct prescribed form in force at the time and advice is recommended in bespoke situations related to issues such as anti-social behaviour or right to rent cases.

Miscellaneous Points
Landlords should also be aware:

There remains a possibility that extended notice periods will be re-imposed between now and 25th March 2022. This will depend on the effect of the pandemic over the winter period.
The procedural changes to possession proceedings (brought in by Practice Direction 55C of CPR) remain in force until at least 30th November 2021, and this date could be extended. The changes are mandatory and failure to comply with them will prejudice a possession claim.
Court fees are due to rise from 30th September 2021.
Concluding Thoughts
Landlords should be aware that this is not the first time the law related to notices has been amended – section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 has been amended four times and section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 has been amended three times since they were introduced. This is not even considering recent changes brought about by the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 or the Deregulation Act 2015.

And it would be misguided to think that more changes will not occur in the future – the Renters Reform Bill is on the horizon for a start! Are you confident that you are up to date and aware of all legal requirements and potential pitfalls when it comes to seeking possession of your property?

Are you confident that you are up to date and aware of all legal requirements and potential pitfalls when it comes to seeking possession of your property? If you’d like to discuss your requirements in more detail please contact me on 01704 790532 or email rebecca@landlord-support.co.uk

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Don’t get left behind this Christmas … (like Kevin!)

For many people, the thought of placing their home on the market for sale would be the last thing they would dream of doing at this time of year. There is so much to think about with school events, Christmas shopping, seeing family…the list just goes on and on.

But what if you’ve seen the perfect home just go on the market? What if your circumstances have changed and you HAVE to place your home on the market now, despite the time of year?

Or, maybe you are thinking you will get Christmas out of the way and then look to list your home in the New Year.

There are some incredible advantages to placing your home on the market this time of year and in this blog post I will go through some of them.

At Roberts & Co we have always loved this time of year. Why? Because at this time of year we get to work with the really SERIOUS buyers…the ones that aren’t just window shopping…the ones that NEED to or HAVE to buy. We are finding currently that demand from buyers is high. Our biggest problem is the amount of stock coming to the market to satisfy that demand…or lack of!

Yes you guessed it, lots of people are delaying listing their home until the festive period is over, but actually you could be missing a trick by doing this. We have all these lovely buyers ready to go. Their Rightmove alerts don’t switch off for the festive period! Their Roberts & Co email alerts are still pinging into their inboxes! If you want to put your home on the market at a time when competition is limited- then the time is NOW!

Furthermore, the festive period is a great time to have your property listed on the portals because at this time of year there are there more people off work than any other, sat at home, stuffed with turkey and already getting bored of playing charades with Great Aunt Gertrude. So when Grandad starts to snooze on the sofa and the rest of the family are watching the queens speech, it isn’t uncommon for portal visit statistics to go through the roof. Rightmove reported in 2019 that in the period from Christmas Day to 2nd January, visits to their website increased by a whopping 231%! Now if that isn’t great exposure for your home then what is?

So what is the plan if you wish to take advantage? Step one- get your photos done NOW. Before the decorations go up, before you have Christmas gifts lying around. The photos can be taken now but can be used in 1,2,3 or 4 weeks time. It may be that you decide to launch your property on the market on Boxing Day to make the most of the surge in views on the portals…still get your photos, video and floorplan done now…honestly, we don’t mind waiting! We would rather YOU be comfortable with the time of year you start conducting viewings at your home, we just don’t want you to miss a trick!

We would love to speak to you if you feel this strategy could work for you. Please call one of our branches on 01772 746100 or 01772 977100 to speak to a member of our team.

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