Can I use my own photos to sell my house

I often get asked by people who are selling their home, whether they can use their own photos rather than the ones we want to take.

Very often that is because the photos were taken when the garden was in full bloom, or on a particularly nice summer’s day, or something else that left the house looking really “pretty”.

In truth, it is far better to use photos which the estate agent has taken at the time when the house is put up for sale.
Specifically, people looking at RightMove often gauge how long a house has been on the market by the photos. If it’s August, and the photo has a load of daffodils in it, it looks as though the house has been for sale for months.
Also, we take so much care, and use high quality camera equipment to take the photos which we know will convert into viewings. To explain that a little more, each photo we take is designed to give enough away that people want to view the house, and not so much that they feel they don’t need to. It’s a very fine balance and we are skilled in getting that right.
A really sensible solution, if you have photos yourself, is to make them available to people who may be interested in the home and come back for a second visit.
A photograph is often the first thing that someone sees when they are searching for your property on RightMove or other websites. Let our expertise get that right, so that the maximum number of people want to come round to view the house.

How should I answer viewers’ questions?

help_yourselfIt’s normal when people are viewing a house for sale, that they will have some questions. They will be able to see a lot of the things they want to see, but there are other things they may want to ask you, the owner. How should I answer viewers’ questions?

Typically these questions will be about the neighbourhood, the neighbours, local schools and amenities, and the sort of thing that you most likely know.
Firstly, it makes a lot of sense to allow your estate agent to accompany any viewings to the property. I wrote this article a while ago on that very subject – “Why you MUST let your estate agent accompany viewings”. There are a lot of questions which not only will I be able to answer, but won’t have the emotional attachment to the property you do and so can answer them objectively.
Secondly, if a viewer is asking you something, then answer it honestly and clearly. There will be some questions you may know the answer to very well – if you’re a parent you most likely know about the local schools and their respective strengths, if you’re a churchgoer you will know how vibrant or friendly the local congregations are, and you’re sure to know about local shops and amenities if you’ve lived in a house for any length of time.
People may want to ask other, more specific questions too, such as how much it costs to run the home, in terms of heating and electric. So it is worthwhile having relevant parperwork and bills available for them.
Usually people will have more questions on their second viewing. Buyers often view lots of houses at first, then narrow it down to a shortlist and go back for a second look at the properties they are really keen on. That’s when they often have more detailed questions about the house.
Don’t be afraid to answer any question and, importantly, don’t ever be afraid to refer back to your estate agent and let us do all of the viewings if you want a bit of space between you and the buyers.

5 mistakes often made when selling your home

tom_soldOver the time I’ve been involved in selling property, I’ve often been asked to take over when another estate agent has been unsuccessful and hasn’t been able to find a buyer. I find that there are a handful of common mistakes which have been made in the marketing of the home. I’ve listed them below and hope that they help you avoid the pitfalls.

1. Using the wrong lead photo on RightMove – the first photo which people see WILL make or break whether they click through for more information. So often people are using the wrong photo of the house with the result that potential buyers never get to see the rest of the photos or come round to view the house. Getting the right photo in front of people drastically increases the level of interest, viewings and offers.
2. Having a lacklustre description – we want to use our written description to really SELL your home and not just describe it. We try to bring the property alive and convey some of the feeling of the property in those first couple of paragraphs. It is terribly easy to describe a home, but writing a description which sells will make a huge difference.
3. Not having a “For Sale” board – sometimes people don’t want them for all the right reasons, but it is often overlooked in the internet age that “For Sale” signs do still sell homes. The person who buys your home might not even know they’re looking until they see the sign outside. They might not be checking RightMove or other websites. If you want the maximum price, use every marketing tool available, and the “For Sale” board is an important part of the toolkit.
4. Accompanying the viewers themselves – as an estate agent I am trained and experienced in showing houses to potential buyers. A lot of what we do during a viewing is counter intuitive, it isn’t what you think you should be doing and that comes from our experience of dealing with buyers. During the viewing I make sure the house is shown at it’s best and, at the end of the viewing, after getting feedback from a buyer, I will encourage them to make an offer, something it’s likely you will be uncomfortable doing. When someone is in love with the house, it is really important to seize the moment.
5. Choosing the wrong estate agent – higher fees don’t always mean a better service and local knowledge and life experience have a lot to offer when it comes to selling your house. Being able to have a proper conversation with potential buyers about the local area and the housing market locally will often help a buyer feel confident that they’re dealing with people they can trust.
Getting the marketing of your house right can make a difference of many thousands of pounds. We take that seriously every day. If you have any questions, please do talk to us.

How to increase the value of property

tom_and_trikeFor a lot of people, most of their worldly wealth is tied up in the value of their home, so it’s natural to want to maximise that value before you put your home on the market. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you sell for the highest possible price.

  1. This one is probably obvious, but if you possibly can, declutter. In practical terms this might mean putting some of your belongings into storage for a period whilst you are selling the house. The increase in selling price is likely to far outweigh the cost. Here’s the logic – the more stuff you have in your house, the smaller the rooms look. The more you can remove, without making the house look sterile, the more available space there is. People often don’t see past the clutter and you can make it much easier for them. As a Dad of two, now grown up, sons, I do completely understand where the clutter comes from! Your viewers might not have kids and might not appreciate just how much they can accumulate. Do talk to us if you want recommendations for any removal or storage companies locally.
  2. “Every brush of the paintbrush is worth £1”. I remember being told that by an estate agent back in the 1980s and it does ring true. Those same sons who clutter the place up also have a habit of leaving scuffs and marks on the walls. People who view your home will ALWAYS overestimate the cost of redecoration. If there is any part of the house which is “tired” or could do with a lick of magnolia, then it is well worth doing that before you put the house on the market. TOP TIP – do the hallway and main reception room if you do nothing else. That is where people will spend the most time when they’re viewing.
  3. Be available for viewers. This is surprising lost on too many people. When you’re house is for sale, it is worthwhile to put up with some inconvenience and let people view the house at times to suit them. Nobody is unreasonable, nobody ever wants to come too late at night or early in the morning. But they might only have a Sunday available at first, and you never know that viewer you turn away may be your ideal buyer. Maximise your opportunity by being available for as many viewers as possible.
  4. Have a For Sale sign outside your house. A surprising number of people don’t even think about moving until the house that they want to buy comes up for sale. They might not be even looking in the papers or on RightMove. They might always have walked past your house and wanted to buy it. That For Sale sign is there 24 hours a day, advertising your home for sale not just to your neighbours, but to every dog walker who walks past, every commuter who drives past PLUS all of their friends and neighbours and contacts too. Someone who drives past your house every day might have told a work colleague on the move that he will keep an eye out for them. It does happen, much more often than you probably realise.
  5. Choose the right estate agent who will give you the right advice. An estate agent’s job, by law, is to achieve the maximum possible price for your home. Your estate agent works for you, the seller. Getting the price right, getting the marketing right, maximising the places the property is advertised for sale, having an agent who is always available for viewings and to talk to buyers about making an offer – ALL of this is important and the cumulative effect of getting all of this right can add thousands of pounds to the amount you achieve for your property. The slightest nuance in a photo or description really can make the difference whether someone views the house or not, and we are training and experienced in getting all of that right.
Moving home is something people don’t usually do very often. And quite a lot of people don’t enjoy the experience! Knowing that you’ve achieved the right price for your home and have money to spend on your new home, that makes it all worthwhile.

When should I put my house on the market?

One of the questions which I am asked most often is “when should I put my house on the market?”.

Should it be the busy spring market, when everyone’s gardens look great and you can be moved before the summer holidays? Should it be in September when the market picks up, and look to be in before Christmas? What about January, when people start thinking about holidays and a new home?

It’s true that the property market does have some distinctly seasonal peaks and troughs. January and September ARE great months for new people looking to move and for property sales as a result.
But the most important thing, is to plan the move for when it suits you, and then talk to me about when we sensibly need to start marketing the property, and how much time we need to prepare for that.
Here’s what I mean, if you want to start marketing your property in the New Year, you need to talk to me in early December. That way, we can get the photos and descriptions absolutely right and plan our marketing campaign ready to hit the market hard in the first week of January.
If you think you want to move prior to Christmas then it is worth talking to me in July or August and get everything ready for the busy September market.
A mistake people often make is to talk to the estate agent when the market is already taking off. If you want the advantage of being a fresh property on the market in a busy market, then make sure your property details and photos are ready weeks in advance of that.
Your move, and your timings are very personal to you. Often someone moves because they have a job move, or have spotted a property they wish to move up to, or downsize to. Sometimes people need to sell the house quickly. Other times they can take a more relaxed approach to the marketing.
At Ewemove we have access to huge amounts of statistics and guidance to help you choose when to market your property, so that you have the greatest chance of moving within a timescale which suits you. Even in the depths of winter, or the summer lull when “everyone” is on holiday, we know how to maximise our marketing, and the price you get for your house. Talk to us first, and we will plan your move with you.

How estate agents arrive at their valuation?

 I get asked a lot by people how we value properties. Whether there is a magic figure based on the size of the house, or the location, or a combination of both. So I thought I’d write a few thoughts down about a valuation.

Firstly, before we even come to visit your home, we use some online resources. Specifically we will use the excellent resources provided by RightMove, alongside the Land Registry data, to see if any properties close to you, or similar to yours, have been sold recently and for what price. This is crucial as this is exactly the same data which any surveyor or valuer will use when they are asked to value your home on behalf of your buyer or their mortgage lender.
Typically we will print this information out to bring with us, and use it to compare your property with the ones which have been sold.
Obviously each property is unique, and market conditions change over time. So if your next door neighbour sold six months ago, we will need to look at the differences in the property, and the changes in market conditions.
All of that sounds very scientific, and it is, but there is a large degree of art involved too. And that is where our experience locally comes to bear.
It is our job to know who is out there looking to buy right now. We keep up to date with local trends, where people are buying, who needs to buy something specific and, importantly, where the opportunities are to maximise the value of your home. It is our job, legally, to achieve the highest price for the seller and we will always advise you how best we think we can achieve that.
Our valuation is our opinion, based on the evidence and our experience. We will guide you as to what would be the most suitable asking price to advertise the property for, to achieve you the sale price we believe you can achieve.
Getting the price right at this stage is vital to the successful sale of your home. We spend time, and invest resources, to make sure we give the best advice.

When an estate agent values your home

We were just leaving a house the other day when the owners told us that the valuation had gone much better than they expected, and that they had been quite nervous about inviting an estate agent in. They had lived in the house for a number of years and the whole house moving process wasn’t something they had done many times before.

So if you’re at all nervous, or just want to know the process, here is what a typical valuation or market appraisal appointment looks like.
Firstly, we will always endeavour to arrive at the time we agreed. If for any reason there are any delays we will give you plenty of notice.
When we arrive, the first thing we should do is have a brief chat about your plans and why you have invited us round. It’s useful for us to know your moving plans and timescales. If a property needs to be sold very quickly that can slightly change our advice for example.
Once we’ve talked for a little while we need to take a look at the house. Very often it is helpful if you firstly show us round, and then leave us to have a look round and take some notes afterwards.
At this stage there is no need for us to take measurements or any detailed notes. When we are instructed to sell a property we put together very detailed particulars, including a 3D floorplan and we like to take our time getting that right. At this stage we need an overview.
Please do point out to us anything you think is relevant, particularly any improvements you’ve made to the property. It’s likely that as we are looking round we will already be thinking of how to best describe it to any prospective buyers.
Once we’ve looked round, we will sit down again, and start to talk you through our thoughts on the value. We’ve written another article about how we come up with our price.
If it’s your intention to move soon, we will talk you through the fantastic services that Ewemove offer to property sellers. Then we’ll leave you to think about it, and drop you a line just reminding you of our thoughts.
We know that you may be making a very big life decision, and we aim to be there to help and advise, and make the process as stress free as possible.
The whole process is designed to be relaxed and friendly and, if anyone has anything particular they want to discuss prior to a valuation, they are always welcome to call us first.
Number crunching

Number crunching – how understanding RightMove’s big data can help you get a big price for your home

Back in the day, when a property in Harrogate was put up for sale, an estate agent would put together a set of particulars, and some photographs, and hope they were the right ones.

You would never actually know how many people had looked at the photos of the property in the local newspaper, you only knew how many people had phoned in asking for details.

These days, however, we can accurately see how many people have viewed the photo of your property on RightMove and on the EweMove website. We can see how many of those people have “clicked through” to the full particulars, and we can track how many of those people have asked for a viewing of the property.
Whilst this number crunching might sound boring, this data is vital to us. We spend time every week making sure we study this data for every property we have for sale, so that we can make sure that every property is getting the maximum number of enquiries.
We compare the performance of every property online against our own averages and against RightMove’s national averages. We understand how to make sure that we get the maximum number of enquiries for each property because we tirelessly study which photo and which style of description works best – and tailor that to every property.
Trends change too, so we make sure we keep up to date with those changes. Then we make sure that our vendors are kept up to date with those changes.
That is why our “click through” rate is 7% compared to a national average on RightMove of 4% – this stuff works, ask us why that is so important.
Whenever a property is launched onto the market in Harrogate, it has to hit the market with the maximum impact – this data from RightMove and other sources can make absolutely sure it does that. That way we get the maximum number of enquiries leading to the maximum number of viewings, leading to the highest price for your home.

Facebook & Twitter – how they can help sell your home

Do you remember back in the day when the local Harrogate paper would come out on a Friday and almost every household in north Yorkshire would browse through the property section?

Estate agents would put their best properties for sale in the paper, because they knew that a proportion of people would spot something they would love to move to, contact the estate agent, and put their own house up for sale.
The world has speeded up and nowadays people don’t wait for the paper to come out – and it’s really important for anyone selling their home to realise this.
Even if you’re not a fan of Facebook & Twitter, the people who buy your house may well be. And if not, someone else in their family is. The fastest growing group of people on Facebook are those aged 45 and over – it’s an advertising opportunity we take full advantage of.
None of this detracts from good, old fashioned estate agency. In fact, social media positively complements our other, more traditional sales and marketing efforts.
We make every single property for sale with Ewemove easily shareable on Twitter and Facebook with our handy “Share” buttons.
We also recommend that, once you’re happy with the property details we’ve prepared for you, that you share the property on your own Facebook page or Twitter account. You never know who might be watching who has been thinking of moving.
TOP TIP – when you share the link on your Facebook page, ask your friends to share it too. You will be surprised how many do, and that expands the reach massively.
We promote every single property for sale across our social media channels – and we regularly promote our social media channels too. The power of a “real” person sharing the details of a property, rather than just the estate agent selling it, is huge.
Advertising and marketing methods for selling your home will continue to change, and we will continue to keep up with, and take advantage of every change.

Why you MUST let your estate agent accompany viewings

If you’re thinking of selling your house in Harrogate there must be hundreds of questions you’re asking yourself – which estate agent to choose? Where is the best place to advertise? What price should I expect for my home? And many more.

I’m not going to answer all of them in this blog, but if you tweet me your question about moving home @EMHarrogate I will reply AND write a blog answering it for you.
But here’s one I get asked all the time – “Should I show people around my house, or should I let the estate agent do it?”.
In my opinion you should always let an experienced professional show people around your house. In my opinion all viewings should be accompanied by the estate agent, here’s five short reasons why:
  1. It’s not my home so I’ve no emotional attachment. Someone may want to ask questions, and some people aren’t that subtle. To me it’s a question, to you it might come across as a criticism. Every question gets us closer to an offer – it’s vital that I answer them in the right way.
  2. I’m an expert in working out the best route. I show people around houses all the time and it’s vital that I always have a plan. Without a plan there is a chance we will finish the viewing in the smallest room (literally). I can help show off your house to it’s best, by making sure people start and finish with the best feature.
  3. I know my stuff about the local property market. People will want to ask questions about what is happening locally and why they should buy here. By making sure that we match the right buyers to the right property and then being on hand to answer all of their questions when they are inside your home and falling in love with it can massively speed up the buyers’ decision making process.
  4. I’m always ready and willing to ask for the offer. It’s my job. You might not want to ask someone if they want to offer but if I believe we have found the right buyer the right house, I will never shy from asking them if they want to take it further.
  5. I am trained and experienced in negotiating. This is vital. If someone wants to make an offer there and then I need to handle it absolutely right. Let’s never forget it is my job to achieve the highest possible price for you, the seller and I take that seriously. I have the huge advantage that it is never my decision, I will only put offers to you with my recommendation. You may feel put on the spot if someone wants to negotiate there and then. I use my expertise to encourage the offer, and then act as a negotiator between you and the buyer. Many of my clients find this the most comforting part of our service.
I accompany every viewing for every property. If you’ve read this and have any questions at all about the best way to show off your property, pick up the ‘phone and talk to me.
Lang may yer lum reek!