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Cridland and Co
Cridland and Co
Market reports, commentary and tittle tattle!
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 13 February 2011 14:15

 

And what of 2016?

The one thing 2016 has not been is easy. It started with the stamp duty changes in March which all-but killed investment and second home buying for a period. Just as that started to dissipate a little, along came Brexit. Then there was the US election. Annus Horribilis?

No. We've had a better selection than ever of wondrous properties, just a handful of which are below.

We've sold and let a bunch that other agents failed to. We've had bidding wars. We've fixed taps. We've ferried, fetched and carried. We've shouted a bit too! But overall we've come out on top because our clients have got what they wanted. Regardless of the reputation of agents, it's still the best job in the world. Roll on 2017.

 

White Cottage, Beenham - timber dated to 1498 

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Wilmere Lodge, Middleton Park - Lutyens Lodge set in 40 acres. 

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The Garden House, Bucknell - two adjoining barns in a walled garden 

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Shepherd's Keep - an 1854 Gothic school house, complete with bell! 

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Our first quadruple deal!

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We like to look after our customers. The first sale was Granny's house in Kennington, then the lovely parents' house in Blackthorn, followed by their move into a gorgeous 17th century house in Chesterton - the owners of which we moved into one of our rental properties in Woodeaton! 

 

How to annoy your competitors - without trying

Whoops! On the same day we managed to secure the triple coverage of an editorial for one of our properties, James' blog, and our standard advert. This lead a competitor to ask what special relationship we had with the editor!

By way of an interesting aside, all of the four properties shown in our ad. We call that successful marketing! 

 

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We have taken on the role of "industry analyst"!

Pleasingly, we have been asked to provide a monthly blog for the Oxford Times! This is because we have such a good proportion of high-quality, architecturally interesting - and therefore challenging - properties we sell hence our opinion on the market has value. The first blog is below, more to come!

 

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 Should you sell in the Winter?

Bluntly, why not? Weather? garden condition? Short days? General feeling of malaise?

None of these are good reasons.

In the Winter the stock levels are low. So are the viewing levels, but the activity is much higher quality. With less competition each viewer you see is far more likely to buy. If that wasnt proof enough see the graph below, we are still awaiting the stats from Christmas 2014 but will update this shortly - this Christmas will be the same.

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How did the other agents not sell these?

 

Nothing else to say other than these were sold by us in just a couple of months this Summer, all failed to sell with previous agents..

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Spring, spring, spring!!!

Frankly, where did it go??? Low sales levels due to ridiculously low stock. But highlights for us included selling a tiny summer house in Oxford for £750,000 (you did read that right) plus a house in Kirtlington at getting on for 10% over its guide price (which was the highest in the development by miles)... So, quality not quantity rules the day!

IMG 3786 copyThe Old Summerhouse, Norham Road, Oxford - 700 sq ft, £750,000!

 

 

 

 

 

16GosswayKirtlington16 Gossway Fields, Kirtlington - sold for £40,777 above Guide!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ending 2014 on a high...

For every easy deal these days there are at least a few presenting major challenges. So, below is the most challenging deal of any of our working lives. Excuse the sepia tones, the main building is actually pink!

This entailed seven property transactions all having to exchange on the same day, contingent on a court adjudication plus different mortgage companies and different solicitors becoming ready to exchange on the same day! Suffice to say we got it through and saved the client an enormous sum of money in doing so.

 

29-31 Banbury Road street scene

The new offices!

From this in April 2014...

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...to this in September 2014!

Greenway final straight

 

 

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Not more editorials? Oh, go on then... 

The media is now changing its tune from "buy it now, property market goes mad" to "RICS says property prices plateau overall and in some areas dip". The actual story is prices have risen so steeply in the last couple of years that the MMR review (see below article) has done exactly what it was supposed to - cool the ardour and frenzy in the market - and most vendors have had to try and catch up.

So, apart from readjusting prices, what do we do about it? If in doubt, shout about it! We're stepping up our editorial campaign again, with the Property Section of the Oxford Times a favourite on coffee tables across the county and beyond this is a form of advertising you cannot buy... Good job the Editor likes our properties and our descriptions!

London House Ed 20-9-14

Is this a year of two halves? The mortgage rule change...

If you're a cash buyer look away now... If you're a possible seller, this is something you should know.
 
MMR, what does it mean to you? No, not the vaccine...
 
Mortgage Market Review. This legislation is in some ways a very welcome change to how mortgage companies assess the suitability of applicants for their lending. In other ways it's hateful. More than one of our buyers has been asked how many Costa coffees he buys per month, another was told that the mortgage company apply a minimum average spend per month for each of his children regardless of the actual amount!
 
The Financial Conduct Authority have decided mortgage companies are too woolly in their lending patterns and they must now tighten up how they assess borrowing. The mortgage companies have, in turn, decided in many cases to be over-cautious in the initial months while they learn how to interpret the rules. Some sellers have found their buyers then cannot borrow what they intended to, and in part this is why for the first time in many months June is reckoned to have seen a fall in prices. Some sales have also fallen through, a fact you may have noticed as properties you thought had gone come back to the market.
 
In the long term this legislation may see a more balanced approach to lending, which can only be a good thing.
 
But for the moment if you are a potential seller looking to choose an agent ask them what their due diligence policy is regarding assessing the credibility of offers.
 
Ours is comprehensive in the extreme, is theirs?
 
 

Spring 2014, and busy again!

We've been getting some cracking properties on this Spring. It appears we are developing a reputation for selling properties that are unusual and interesting, and/ or properties other agents couldn't work out how to sell. By this I mean they couldn't understand what the "hot" points were that should make that property find the right person.
 
It's a classic that agents often forget the emotional beating heart of a house is something built of years of care and attention in most cases. History very often repeats itself, e.g. the selling family who moved in with no children and are now downsizing as theirs have grown up and gone sell to a "new" family looking for the very same lifestyle and emotional buy-in. The sellers and buyer find a meeting of minds, shared values and even in a lot of cases similar careers and hobbies! 
 
The two below are a case in point - note yet another editorial for us in the Oxford Times, something money can't buy. Both exquisite in their ways but quite individual. The Souldern property failed to find a buyer with another agent (and their sales details were shocking - like trying to advertise a vintage Bentley with photos taken at twilight on an old mobile phone...) but we found a delightful family in a couple of weeks. The other - a barn, not everyone's cup of tea - has only been marketing for a short time and interest has been great with most viewers feeling that our sales details capture the lifestyle of both the house and its village surroundings perfectly (Ed. - now sold subject to contract).
 
If you are unsure which agent will give your property that extra thought to sell the lifestyle you have spent time and care creating, we need to talk to you!
 
Ox Times Ed 7-6-14

 

 

 

 Spring 2014

The market started pretty fast in January but yet again finding the stock to satisfy the demand has been exceptionally hard. As the Chief Economist of RICS recently put it "people don't move as frequently as they once did". Most of us hate the costs involved as well as the disruption so if we can avoid moving we will try. And with ever-more clever ways emerging of making the best of a property the number of planning applications goes up while the stock levels go down.

However, this does have one very positive effect. Those moving have a clear motive, be it schools or jobs, being closer to family or getting a change of lifestyle. Hence there are fewer "Saturday tyre kickers"!

Our portfolio is also changing shape as we become better recognised for what we are - a hard working, boutique business with a unique customer focus. We are attracting more properties with land, more one-off period properties for renovation, more conversions of e.g. manor houses and old schools. In the process we are winning a higher percentage of the business we pitch for, with customers commenting they are impressed with how honest we are in our advice in contrast to most.

So, what of the office build? It commenced early March and we moved to a temporary office in one of the beautiful 1920's ex-RAF buildings on the old Upper Heyford air force base. Within days we were reminded why we usually say "building from scratch is easier than converting"! From piers and foundations needing more work than expected to drainage runs and water supplies changing direction it's been quite a big battle. However it's now suddenly started to come together - within 2 weeks it will be watertight again and within 8 we will be finished! Further update when we have a moment to spare...

 

 

2013 - Phew, what a rollercoaster!

 

Funny looking back at the time we must have had free in the past, when did we find the time to write these updates any more frequently?!

It's been one of those years where you can't really believe how much you've increased the brand identity and the level of business. Then you look at the hours worked and the effort applied and realise you make your own luck!

So, the market started slow but only due to the repeated snowfall. Once that melted in late March the World went absolutely mad and stayed that way. The general perspective has changed radically the last few years, few now look for a short-term gain or a flippant move. Instead today's buyer is committed, realistic, analytical and very clear about their motivations. This makes for a much clearer path to the finishing line, albeit with the caveat of solicitors and lenders equally becoming more picky hence the process becomes that little bit more stressful.

This is where we have won as an agency above any other - our honesty, commitment, loyalty to our customers and buyers alike, plus our determination to see the hardest deals as the best-won, means we are building a cast-iron reputation.

All this means that here we are at November 15th looking at the lowest stock levels we've had since we started in 2011.... However we have a significant amount of stock promised for 2014 already, meantime leaflet dropping and contacting everyone we've ever dealt with is the order of the day!

This is where we are as our second full year draws to a close:

 

  • 96.5% of what we have listed we have sold this year, against an industry average of circa 50%
  • Our average property sale has been just 97.5% off the Guide Price, proving we know our market
  • 24% of our sales have been either at or above the Guide Price!
  • We have sold 55% more property this year than last, a vast increase in the most competitive estate agency region in the UK
  • Our staff level has increased from this year, and we are actively planning more in 2014!
  • And lastly, we're expanding the offices, with a build project for 2014 to ensure we have state of the art premises.

 

No wonder we're tired...

 

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Didn't we have fun at Blenheim Horse Trials???

When we were asked for sponsorship we literally "jumped" at the chance! As we have all attended the Trials many times it was a wonderful excuse to get involved. Our designer, Tom Allison at Bread and Honey Design, decided on a distinctly British theme to the logo and the feedback we have had was universally positive. Maybe a fence next year???!!!

 

Cridland Blenheim 

 

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Cridland and Co shortlisted for the Best Estate Agency Newcomer award!

 

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Cridland and Co chosen as industry pundits!

Estate agents have an annoying habit of talking about themselves. We find that a distinctly tiresome subject, our clients and properties are far more interesting! Hence when Gill Oliver, the Property Editor, asked James to write a blog for the Oxford Times he was a little nervous...

But in fact it has given us a direct conduit out to the wider public, not just our clients. The first article makes a light-hearted attempt to offer sensible advice on selling a property, the second is planned to be a little more contentious...

If you have a subject you think James should write about please email him - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

November report

I sometimes chuckle inwardly about the fact that just before Easter the whole of my world smells of paint with every house I see being prepared for the "selling season", and around about now most potential buyers and sellers are writing off this year in preparation for the next.

Let's be clear about this. The traditional seasonal expectations ARE GONE! Today's buyer is far less driven by seasons, they have a clear and definite reason for buying. So as I write this (26th November) our agency is negotiating offers on quite a number of properties and, if anything, our current predicament is a lack of stock not a lack of buyers. 

If you are wondering when to sell or rent your property come and talk to us as soon as you think of it. We can give you chapter and verse on the market as it stands, what you can do to get the best outcome, and plan with you how to make the process as fruitful and painless as possible.

Summer time and the market is... split right down the middle

It has felt like a great Summer despite the weather - how often do we get to shout about being British with some genuine reasons? Consequently most country agents reported a downturn in activity, and we were similar although pleasingly as our stock is mostly a "heart" not a "head" purchase we found our activity was quality not quantity and sales levels remained quite good.

However, a few revealing snippets of information have come to light: Miles Shipside of Rightmove points out average guide prices are pretty much the same as 2007, yet in 2007 1.6 million properties sold in the UK whereas in 2011 that dropped to 600,000; a look at the average agent's stock in rural Oxfordshire locations sees only between 20 and 30% of stock showing as sold; most new email alerts from the major portals are not new at all, they're old stock being reduced (as much as 80&).

In stark contrast, our Summer sales in Oxford have shown that investors will always love a top University town. We secured a deal of 25% over what one vendor had paid for his property as recently as 2010; another has achieved about 7% more than any property in their development has ever sold for; and a third sold in 4 days with 27 calls from the Oxford Times - before it hit the internet...

May

The same Spring story emerging again! As buyers arrive vendors start to worry about what they might be able to buy. Naturally we all want the ideal, but looking for that "forever house" may not be possible. Obstinate and unhelpful mortgage companies combined with the ideal rung of the ladder being financially out of reach make it hard for many of us to see how the move will work.

Our advice is if you can't buy what you think you want, try to focus on what you actually need. Many pedestrian properties could become the dream home with the right advice and attention to detail - the phrase "making a silk purse out of a sow's ear" could be made for some of them! If you need help visualising how a property might work for you talk to us, you might be surprised what can be done... 

April

Family buyers driving the market again, with character properties still the most desirable. Having said that we sold one delightful post-war house in Oxford for clearly £35-40,000 (15%) more than the average for the road, and it only took two weeks.

This is proof that the best of its type carries a premium. If you're considering selling please ask us to assess your property, with the right specification it could be worth more than you might think.

March

A fast moving month with a little more stock coming to the market. But many buyers are still cautious and feel they can afford to be. We have seen the emergence of a new phrase - "my forever house" - showing buyers really are looking to invest their entire future in the next property.

On the flip side sellers are finding it hard to secure the house that completes their chain. One particular client has seen more than 50 properties and lost out on the only one they would have gladly taken on. 

February. "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow"

All those childhood images of snowmen and sledges are as pretty as ever, but the reality is it's not much fun trying to get to appointments! Many buyers could get to the town viewings but the villages were much harder so a number of appointments were cancelled. This is the time when stock levels should traditionally build as we run towards Spring but we are surprised to see how many of those coming up as "new listings" were marketed at the same price in 2011.

CAN YOU GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL SELL THIS YEAR? Amazingly the answer is "YES". Our advice is make your house the best in the road/ area. How?

Price - If you're just starting out on selling, don't "test the market" unless that is all you want to do. If you want to sell, price to be competitive. And if you're on the market already look at what else is for sale, compare them to yours, and be honest - would you buy your house at this price or one of the others??? 

Condition - a scuffed skirting board or a grubby lightswitch isn't the greatest sin. But someone recently, very wisely, likened it to "arriving at a lovely hotel to find the soap is dirty". Give viewers as many reasons to love the property, and as few to divert their attention from the overall attraction, as humanly possible. It will benefit you in the end and you'll be glad you spent the time.

Be accommodating - you can't put your life on hold while selling a house, but you can make sure that whenever a viewer wants to look round they can. If you say "no, Saturday's no good for us" the viewer who might otherwise have bought your house might find another that day....

January - where did all these buyers come from???

We expected to spend all of January calling potential buyers only to find that credit card bill/ new school terms/ January blues made the calls pretty unproductive. But to our surprise we didn't get the chance in many cases! Saturdays were booked solid a week in advance for viewings, we often had to double up with several people looking simultaneously, several properties sold within hours of hitting the market and one didn't even reach the market before our first viewer snapped it up.

60% of our properties sold in one month? If that's a trend, roll on January 2013.... 

 

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2011, a good year in many ways....

With the benefit of hindsight we can now see that the well priced properties sold quickly and at very close to the guide price. Those hanging on in the hope of finding "the right buyer" have found the wait is often frustrating, and the longer their property sits unsold often the harder that right buyer haggles the price down. Heart-driven sales are still the norm with the archetypal village house but unless your buyers' pockets are limitless they are still looking for value for money.

Having said that we have had some wonderful successes. Case study: A property in Lower Heyford which has been on the market on and off for several years with another agent was sold by us just before Christmas, our FIRST viewing on the property. We knew the viewer would object to the road on the grounds of noise, but we also knew that once inside the house noise is never an issue. Knowing us quite well by now the viewer trusted us to show them the "right house for you" and, lo and behold, the sale exchanged mid February - the end of a very long chapter for the owners.

But the headlines from us? Our sold properties averaged 97.9% of their guide prices, proving we know our market.

Autumn report

Winter approaching we look back at the last three months and can now see our predictions were right - increasingly picky buyers. Buyer numbers reduce as we end the Autumn, but this is not all bad news. Those buyers currently looking are more motivated, job moves/ school catchments and the like become strong drivers so most who are viewing are pretty serious about it. Now is the time for agents to refresh the marketing with new photos and descriptions, and for sellers to adjust their prices to tempt a Winter buyer.

And most importantly DO NOT WITHDRAW YOUR HOUSE FROM THE MARKET OVER WINTER!!! If they can't view it they can't buy it! Instead make arrangements with your agent to give greater notice before viewings so you suffer less disruption, and if necessary be prepared to make sure the property is in pristine order for just a few days per week and ask the agent to view only on those days.

Summer round up

What a mixed bag! Some unlikely properties selling instantly whereas others that, on the face of it, look perfectly priced and presented are taking time. The headline is there appears to be one "best" buyer for each property and that buyer is looking to make a deal today. If you receive an offer haggle hard until the buyer digs their heels in then accept their offer - another may not be forthcoming for some months. The good news is once you have a buyer for your own property you can haggle hard on the next and will probably find a deal with a similar percentage reduction against the list price.

June report

Indications are that the market is becoming more "picky". A unique property in the right location will still find strong money with the right buyer. However as supply has increased so the market has swayed in favour of buyers as they are more relaxed about finding the right property - they feel that with so much available something will turn up. With a number to choose from some buyers are now telling us they haven't "found anything perfect yet", meaning they feel they can look to tick all the boxes before making a decision. So our advice is price it right, fix any obvious problems, and ensure you choose the right agent...

...And we're expanding!

We are delighted to announce that just three months' into trading Lucy Antony (nee Harker) has joined us. Lucy has a stunning reputation within estate agency as a caring, "can-do" person who handles the needs of buyers and sellers with both knowledge and sensitivity. She has great experience in Central and North Oxfordshire and if you are looking for a really human agent to work with you Lucy has few peers in this industry. We would like to welcome her to the business, we are sure she will be a great and enduring asset to our service and your success.

May madness...

Still less than three months' old we have found an exceptionally warm response to our service! Our first sales are exchanging contracts shortly, some above their guide prices, and our register is expanding to cover a broad range of property in both Oxford and the more rural towns and villages. Sales are strong if the property is priced sensibly with regard to today's market, and we have been very busy indeed this month!

Best wishes,

Cridland and Co.