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HJ Burt Estate Agents in Steyning and Henfield

Nick Churton of the Mayfair Office finds that finding a great property is a bit like finding a great date.

Like dating, finding the perfect property involves exploring different options until you find the one that suits you best. Sometimes one has to kiss lots of frogs until the right one turns up.  Occasionally though it can be love at first sight.
Viewing a property has many parallels with going on a first date. Whether it’s a date or a home, it’s essential to have a clear idea of each option. A recent survey found that 45% of respondents reported that the top place to find a date was online, and an impossible-to-ignore 93% of UK homebuyers use online channels for their property searches. The similarities don't stop there: most people put looks and personality at the top of their most important factors when choosing a date or viewing a property.
But appearances can be deceptive. Talented photographers can flatter their subjects. People and properties in the raw can often disappoint. What’s needed is not a just-got-up-from-a-bad-night’s-sleep photo but a going-to-the-ball image. And as you can’t always rely on a photo, an in-the-flesh meeting is essential to decide whether you can go through life with a particular person or property.
One UK property portal is the 12th most popular website overall in Great Britain and is number 176 across the world. With statistics like those it’s clear that showing your property at its very best online is crucial, especially as looks and personality are key decision-making factors. Put simply, for a date or for a home you have to get people swiping right and not left.
Our website, designed with your convenience in mind, makes it easy for suitors to browse a wide range of attractive possibilities for the ideal match. And that means not having to kiss so many frogs.

Nick Churton from our Mayfair Office looks forward to a resurgent property market in the New Year.
When a building goes up in flames, the media reports a fire: what it doesn’t do is report the smoke beforehand. Similarly, no one at the moment is headlining the marked increase in property activity witnessed by estate agents in the lead-up to Christmas. In fact, far from a seasonal slowdown, there were more viewings in each month of November and December than in September. There is no smoke without fire, and with this pickup in activity, declining inflation and the likelihood of some falling mortgage interest rates through 2024, we can look forward to an improving property market in the coming months. No doubt also, both Conservative and Labour parties will try to lure the electorate with new housing policies designed to stimulate the property market further.
Nor is this optimism based solely on the above. 2024 saw increased interest from first-time buyers. This trend should continue as we emerge into a more buoyant market that also stimulates second movers, thus making more first-time buyer properties available. This would be the long-wished-for virtuous circle.
Most baby boomers and millennials consider property as part-home and part-investment vehicle. For them property has been the gift that has kept on giving. But let’s look at the property market from the eyes of twenty-year-olds. For them the last decade has been challenging. This group, often priced out of home ownership and suffering increasingly high rents, says they aren’t looking for investment opportunities they’re simply looking for somewhere to lay their heads. Out of the mouths of babes, Generation Z reminds us that first and foremost a home is to live in.
Nor should we forget the role the older generation is playing in this residential resurgence. Baby Boomers might not be moving much themselves at the moment but in 2023 the Bank of Mum and Dad and the Bank of Grandma and Grandpa invested over £8 billion in property: that’s not personal investment but an investment in the futures of their children and grandchildren.
2024 should be a year of looking forward and growing opportunity. Above all it should be a time when property is purchased, but mostly to live in than to trade in. Now that should give the media a blazingly good headline.

Nick Churton of our Mayfair Office compares a new BBC TV series on estate agency with real life.

The BBC will broadcast a new reality show called Crazy Rich Agents on BBC2 at 9pm, Sunday 6th August. The series is designed to focus on high-end estate agency in the UK.
The producers aim to showcase a more American way of selling and buying properties – a high pressure, high energy and high-risk way. But the first thing viewers of the series should bear in mind is that sales commission in the USA is about 6%. So, in addition to high pressure, energy and risk one should add high cost.
Another fundamental point that the producers of Crazy Rich Agents might have overlooked is that you cannot ‘pressure sell’ property in the UK. You can’t persuade a buyer to say yes and then get them to sign on the dotted line. For one thing, it is currently taking between 16 and 20 weeks to exchange contracts - giving buyers all the time in the world to change their minds and pull out with no penalty and no loss of deposit.
Perhaps when the property market is on fire there is an urgency to get things done quickly. But in a market which has recently been doused by a large bucket of cold water through interest rate and cost of living rises, most savvy buyers know they have the upper hand and the pressure is off.  UK estate agency doesn’t work on the will of the agent, but the often opposing desires of buyers and sellers: the agents’ job is to negotiate compromise to achieve a mutually agreeable end. Another worry is that the producers and agents of the new series may overlook the most important attribute of any estate agent - discretion. Ask NatWest’s ex-chief executive, Alison Rose, how a momentary lack of discretion worked out for her.
Crazy Rich Agents won’t lift the lid on how things are done in the UK. For that we invite you to visit us in our office, where you won’t meet apparently inexperienced negotiators with a habit of using inappropriate language while looking for the main chance and grabbing 15 minutes of fame. In our office you’ll find sensible, agreeable, friendly people with your best interests at heart. As likely as not they will also be born and bred in the area, so they have a huge amount to give in experience and local knowledge. Nor do our personnel treat properties as commodities but as people’s much loved and valuable homes. That is the difference between a reality show and real life.

Nick Churton of our Mayfair Office takes a look at the property market as we enter the springtime prime buying months.
In property there are top-down people and bottom-up people. The top-down people seem to believe that it is the wealthy who drive the property market.
On the other hand, the bottom-up people think that first time buyers drive the market. They think market entrants kick-start the chain of events that gives momentum to the market as a whole.

But whatever one believes there is little doubt that from top to bottom most of the action in the market right now is being propelled by need rather than ambition. With fewer aspirational buyers around, all UK regions saw a slowing in price growth in the first quarter of 2023, with most seeing small year-on-year falls - according to Nationwide.

But these falls are not great.  Indeed, they probably represent asking prices that are more optimistic than realistic in these conditions, and certainly do not reflect some of the gloomy predictions of a number of property market commentators about falling values this year.

Without a number of kick-start incentives such as stamp duty reduction and the help-to-buy scheme the market is once again on its own. Higher interest rates have caused house buyers to take a breath, while buy-to-let investors, severely hit by those mortgage rates, are holding fire.
Whilst the property industry often dislikes government intervention, it is the government who can kick start the market again. This will not be through direct intervention but by making the correct economic decisions for the UK as a whole. Because the market isn’t driven by the bottom or the top. It is driven by national confidence through fiscal competence.
Having said that, let’s not forget that some savvy people will be taking full advantage of this lull in the market. Perhaps they are heeding the words of the legendary billionaire oilman, J Paul Getty, who said, “Buy when everyone else is selling, and hold on until everyone else is buying”.

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