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London Property Market 22 July 2016

Housing market in London shows little sign of Brexit decline

The past few weeks have seen a number of hysterical news articles and doom-laden predictions about the housing market and how much money will be wiped off property values in the wake of Brexit. In all truth the majority of such stories are off the mark, aimed more at generating headlines than accurately reading what is a very fluid market. The simple truth is that it is just too early to predict with any degree of accuracy what the medium to long-term effects will be. What we do know is that London homes are still a much sought-after investment, and that as a business we have seen many deals agreed and exchanged since the Brexit result. At the moment it feels like "business as usual", with buyers out there and deals being agreed.

At the same time it has never been more crucial to get the best impartial advice from a local and long-established property expert if you are thinking of putting your home on the market. There are a myriad variables involved in a property sale, and no one-size-fits-all approach can possibly work. Speak to your nearest agent, and explain fully and frankly what you hope to achieve.

By all means do your research beforehand, look at which agent or agents in your area have been around a long time, and ask around to find out which agents are most likely to achieve a sale by pitching your property at the right price, first time, and by helping present and market the property to the right buyer. Some agents will tell you a property is worth more than it really is just to win your business, only to come back a few weeks after you've signed on the dotted line telling you the market has changed and you'd better reduce the price.

Most reliable local high street agents will be able to tell you of all their local success stories, and can point to key deals in your street that were done at or around the seller's asking price. If a home has been on the market with one agent for a long time without selling, this can be a warning sign that the property is overpriced or the agent is not proactively marketing the property. Sellers (and buyers) are ill-advised to play their cards close to their chest when dealing with an agent – the ideal outcome is to match the right property to a motivated buyer who is purchasing their perfect home; that way everyone comes out of the exchange with the desired outcome.

Beware of online agents or those who promise to sell your home for a flat fee, usually paid upfront. The supposed savings always sound tempting, but in reality there are often a whole host of add-on charges for upgrading your online listings or to show would-be buyers around if you're not able to do it yourself. Traditional estate agents are effectively incentivised to sell your house quickly and at the right price, as only then do they get paid. If you paid up front then you're relying entirely on the professionalism and enthusiasm of the agent in question to try as hard as they can to sell your home, while some clients of online agents complain about the lack of help during the sales progression period – for instance by making sure the documents are all in place, and closely managing the conveyancing process.

Presentation is absolutely key, and first impressions really matter. Timing is important too, as you need to make sure the property is looking its best and hits the market at the perfect time to maximise interest. Likewise it probably isn't advisable to spend ages trying to paint the porch on your weekends, as for a relatively small outlay you can get the professionals in, do a smart job and get the property on the market without needless delay.

There are many options worth considering if you are looking to sell – price and presentation are key, of course, but you may also consider letting the property rather than selling, or even listing the property for sale or to let at the same time, to maximise your market. A short-term or "corporate" let could also suit with rent and bills paid upfront for a fixed period, usually under six months. Likewise if you already rent out your property which is tenanted, then this can be very appealing to overseas investors, who are especially motivated at present by the cheap pound and typically want the security of rental income already coming in.

If you can put yourself in a buyer's shoes, taking a non-emotive position and asking questions of your property, your agent and your own expectations as best you can. When you are sure you've found the right agent, it's important to ask for feedback from both those who come to view the property and your agent – listen to what they are telling you, as a lack of viewings and/or offers can often be solved quite easily with a small change of approach. It most often relates to price, if your home is not selling then buyers are clearly seeing better value or more suitable properties within their budget elsewhere. Price – don't always be enticed by the highest price you hear, and be aware of typical "price points" on search portals such as Rightmove. There's no point being on at say £659,950, when pre-set price searches run up to £650,000, with the next one up from £650,000 to £700,000, you could well be missing out on the right buyers for your property. This is especially important when attracting buyers who have never bought before.

In short there's no substituting the market knowledge of the friendly high street estate agent. Contact Chestertons today or for specific Brexit-related property queries, simply email our dedicated property clinic by emailing or call us on 020 3040 8240 and one of our panel of senior experts will be in touch to address your concerns.