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With 2016 over we wanted to share with you some of Rightmove’s most popular and unusual homes marketed in the last year! From a Scottish castle to Harry Potters house it has been a fantastic year for property.
You’re a wizard Harry!
Just your average family home in Berkshire? Perhaps not this property was used as Harry Potters house in the hit film Harry Potter and the philosophers stone. The property was actually used for the location of 4 Privet drive where Harry famously lived with his family the Dursleys before being whisked away to Hogwarts.
Asking price of £450,000
Castaway… (Thorne Island)
Rightmove have said this may be one of the most unusual properties they have ever seen listed, it is a true retreat located just of the shore of West Angle Bay. The property was originally constructed between 1852 and 1854 as a form of defence, it was built to house a garrison of 100 men. These days the property is uninhabited and could be used for any number of things. It is a true piece of History!
Asking price of £550,000
Agent: Knight Frank
A London Mansion (Belgravia)
It doesn’t get much more London than this. An imposing property, this home boasts 7 bedrooms and six bathrooms as well as a swimming pool and hot-tub. Rightmove have stated that they received over 400,000 virtual tours on the property making it by far one of their most popular.It does however come with a price tag to match…
Asking price of £55,000,000
Agent: Knight Frank
A Country retreat/ Mansion (Near Exeter)
This property has it all at over 27000 square feet it is a mega Mansion. The property located in the Westcountry just a short distance from Devon’s capital Exeter is full of surprises. The property has 6 bedrooms but plenty of fun too including a 9 hole golf course, lake, helipad and hangar, orangery, squash court, walled garden, tennis court and pavilion with hot tub.
Asking price: Price on application (We reckon it might be a lot)
Agent: Knight Frank
Every mans house is his Castle (Scotland)
Well in this case the new owner will literally have a Castle. A charming 16th Century property situated in over Four acres of it’s own grounds and located a short Distance from Edinburgh. Steeped in local history the property is truly stunning and even has it’s own stables and gate house!
Asking price of £6,000,000
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In the world of Estate agency sometimes it is hard to really understand as a customer if you are truly using a local business.
When I say local I don’t just mean they are based there, I mean that it is independently owned by local people who have complete authority to run the business as they wish, and don’t depend on outside funding, or those that have then been bought out by large chains. I know myself that when I deal with a local business as opposed to a chain I am treated as a person and not a number which is why I prefer to buy local and outsource local where and when I can. Many people I have met feel the same. Not only do they wish to feel they are treated with great care but they also care about their local community and using businesses within it.
Having personally worked for large chain estate agents, I know that when it comes to most things a one size fit’s all approach is taken, whether that is the photography the agency uses or to the opening houses the teams operate. This surely cannot work in the most efficient way and provide the best service for the customer? If we hold on to the photography point for one moment, when marketing a one bedroom flat, aerial photography for example would be of no benefit. However, a large detached house with considerable outside space would benefit from this marketing strategy along with land mapping. This is where the local independent flourishes as they can adapt and change marketing strategies to suit the individual property and customer, in doing so, they can go the extra mile for a client without having to go through any red tape. That’s because they are the decision maker!
Many clients will have no doubt felt this shift with agents based in their towns over the years. Companies like Countrywide and Connells have acquired many local independents and even very recently, just a couple of months ago it was announced that the Connells group had purchased Porter Glenny in Essex. Now when these companies change hands, somebody new then makes the decisions. This in turn is then somebody who has not built the brand and generally cares more about the figures than the customer.
To confuse matters further for local people there are companies like LSLi, part of the LSL group who own the likes of Yourmove. Even though I actively work in the industry I only very recently heard of this company and scrolled through their website. Openly on their website they state ‘LSLi provide growth, development and exit opportunities for independent property estate and letting agents who wish to see their business continue to grow whilst maintaining its original brand’. Now this clearly suggests that they will be financing, if not completely purchasing independent companies which would therefore mean they have influence on decisions. Again they are a PLC so they answer to their shareholders. I was absolutely shocked to see that in their portfolio they had three agents who operate in my patch; Hawes and Co, Goodfellows and Lauristons. All of these agencies have a reputation as the ‘local’ agent, which if they are backed by a PLC may now not be quite the clear cut case?
My point in all of this is that there are still local agents out there who are truly independently funded by themselves and run by themselves without any outside input. Maybe if you, like me, want to use local services just do a little bit of digging so you know who you are truly dealing with.
Just a thought!
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With a new age upon us now in the sense of technology and information sharing, have people finally clocked onto the fact that the internet is the new high street? Over the past decade or so we have all watched our high streets steadily decline and the online market place boom. Many large high street stores have sadly ceased to exist with BHS having closed its door’s just this year. This week we see the announcement of the closure of Staples' UK stores. Interestingly enough their online services fared better than the stores. Both of these companies were long standing brands but sadly they did not adapt to the changing buyer interface quickly enough.
With all of this happening, one sector which still just does not quite grasp how serious this shift is in my opinion in my own industry, Estate Agency. Now I will be the first one to say that we are by no means a retail industry as some companies now believe we are, naming no names. However with the rise of companies like Purplebricks, tepilo and house simple to name but a few, when will the rest of the industry wake up and smell the coffee?
In my experience people no longer see the need to pay selling fees ranging from 1.5%-2.5% plus. These agents advertise on the same portals as everyone else so why do they deserve more? The simple fact is that they do not; quite often they will over price a property and state that this is why they should be paid more. In my opinion these over inflated fee’s are there to prop up the now completely unnecessary high street offices and over heads to pay the executives running the show. I believe that the public are also waking up to this fact, and the proof is there for all to see; Countrywide’s share price has fallen from 599.00 on May 29th 2015 to 200.26 on 18th November 2016 nearly two thirds of its value has vanished. Foxtons share price on May 29th 2015 was 282.46 per share and is now down to 119.00 on 18th November 2016 a loss of over half their value. LSL on June 5th 2015 had a share price of 400.50 per share and as of 18th of November 2016 had a value of 222.00 per share, nearly half again. If these big players in the industry along with many others do not get their head in the game quickly who knows where they will end up?
One value of the large agent’s views I do staunchly agree with is that of a local base with good service and focus on a specific area is paramount. Although the likes of Purplebricks have risen on market share can you truly know your market when it is so large? The answer is you can’t if you are being wholly honest. I work in Wimbledon and the surrounding areas, if somebody asked me to value and market their property in Cheam Village for example, although I would be very flattered, in my heart of hearts I know that I would be doing that vendor an injustice as I do not know the market well enough. So called local experts that cover big patches are in my opinion misleading as generally they are neither local nor experts.
So we are left asking where do we go from here? A local agent who knows their area well and gives honest advice will always win. We must however lose the ego and stop having unnecessary over heads like that of the Jazzy high street office fit for a king who gets visited perhaps once a week by a man and his dog. This does nothing for the marketing of a customer’s property. I have the firm stance that being based locally and offering fee’s ranging from 0.5%-1% will ultimately win the day and be the next era of Estate agency. We may now see a new wave of up and coming companies who will be the next big players!