Does your estate agent really tell you the truth about your house?

In a frenzied sellers market, many of us are wondering if now is a good time to move. Two local estate agents share the truth about the local housing market – and whether they would be honest about your home.

A vaulted ceiling in a home is a show stopper!” says Laura Lewis of Edwards estate Agents, Wimborne. This property currently available for £1.4m in Struminster Marshall.

Nearly one-third of homes in England and Wales sold for more than their asking price in 2021 — twice the average over the previous decade — underlining the strength of the ‘sellers’ market’ during the pandemic as well as the impact of stock shortages.

What will the property market look like in 2022? With the ongoing pandemic affecting choice of location as homeowners compete for properties better suited to home-working, and interest rates set to rise further, there are plenty of factors affecting the market.

So we gathered two experienced local experts to talk specifically about what’s happening in our own marke in north Dorset, to see what’s selling and who’s buying, and most importnatly, some insider tips on how to make the whole process as painless as possible.
Sarah Cull from Strutt and Parker’s Salisbury office has been an estate agent in the South Wiltshire/ North Dorset area for over twenty years.
Laura Lewis of Edwards Estate Agents is the experienced head of the Wimborne office, with an insightful knowledge of the middle of the county.

Have there been fundamental changes?
Has covid caused any permanent changes to the housing market, or are things returning to ‘normal’?

“I think everyone’s aware the property market has been extremely busy over the last year, with record numbers
of transactions and record- breaking prices being achieved” acknowledged Laura Lewis “Local prices have increased 10.2% in 12 months. Covid has

definitely changed what buyers look for in a home – the way we live and work has altered. The home has to become the office too, and the office and outside space is highly prioritised.” Sarah Cull agrees the changes feel like a ‘new normal’:

”it’s all just business as usual – masks for appointments, a handy bottle of sanitiser in the car door etc. Some things have definitely changed – Virtual Viewing tours which were so useful at the very beginning of the pandemic are now firmly a permanent part of any marketing package.”

What do you see 2022 bringing?
Will the ‘rush to the country’ slow down, are certain types of houses more in demand?
Sarah: “We are still seeing an extreme shortage of houses, and many keen buyers which will continue to drive prices. The impact of the Omicron wave is yet to be seen but we very much feel that country living will remain ‘en vogue’.”
Laura agrees: ” There is currently the lowest ever available stock on Rightmove for sale per estate agency branch. With this, the imbalance between supply and demand means we are seeing multiple buyers per property. Homes which offer space to work from home, generous gardens and desirable locations are very much in high demand and we can’t see this changing!”

What are the popular features?

What makes a house easier to sell – not the basics of ‘number of bedrooms, big kitchen, nice garden’, but something that you know adds a powerful attraction?

Laura: “Buyers are loving garden rooms at the moment, they a great bonus room with flexibility. It offers extra space to work, relax, escape the family or use as a home gym. I also think a vaulted ceiling in a home is a show stopper!”

Sarah: “I totally agree. Outside space is still a big seller; home offices, outside kitchens and beautiful gardens can all really help to sell a home.”

If you have £3.7m, Poxwell Manor near Dorchester is currently for sale through Strutt & Parker

Last minute viewing tips?

A house owner has a presentable but busy family home, and you call to say they have a new viewing; in two hours.

What would you hope they would do with that time to give the house the best chance? Sarah: “Make the beds, air the house, clean and clear any clutter, put the toilet seats down, get the dogs and any dogs beds out of the way and try to pop some fresh flowers on the kitchen table. “
Laura: “Buyers want to see their home in a house. If clients are selling a busy family home then they are likely to be selling to another busy family, who understand and have the same needs! So it’s ok to show where you keep the toys, it’s ok to have a high chair in the kitchen or clothes out in the utility.

We recommend that the house looks clean (if not always perfectly tidy!) and smells fresh.”

Will you point out a problem?

When initially valuing a house you can see a couple of glaring issues which your experience tells you will put buyers off. What do you do – will you be honest with the homeowner?

Laura: “I’m always completely honest. If there are any recommendations that can be made to help a property be more attractive to market, I’ll share them! Also, if there are any issues that cant be resolved, transparency is key with buyers.” Sarah: “As agents we are employed for our expertise and for knowing what buyers think and warm
to – I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I kept those thoughts to myself.”

Is the market still moving super-fast?

If so, what tips do you have for potential buyers who are finding the speed of the market difficult? Sarah: The best advice is to get yourself in a position where you can go ahead, have your finances lined up and a buyer in tow if you need to sell. There is a lot of competition still, with many properties going to ‘best bids’ and the ability to swiftly move forwards is paramount.” Laura: “The market is still moving fast and like Sarah, my best advice is for buyers to get themselves in the best position possible by finding a buyer for their own property first.

Get a mortgage agreement in principle, and be prepared to show the agent you wish to purchase from that you have the ability to buy.”

Location, location, location?

Are there specifically desirable locations within the Blackmore Vale area?
Laura: “We are very lucky to live and work in such a beautiful and popular location. Both Wimborne & Blandford are very well desired and we have very high demand for prices here – and increasing prices”

Sarah: “Tisbury and The Donheads have been very popular locations of late, primarily due to the rail line and good road links, not to mention the great pubs, shops, beautiful countryside and charming village atmospheres.”

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