Five Reasons to Leave Property Viewings to the Experts

In this two-minute read, we look at why it pays to get an experienced estate agent to handle viewings.

When it comes to selling a property, many people overlook the important role viewings play in the process.

They mistakenly believe that viewings are simply about opening doors and making sure would-be buyers don’t nick any valuables.

In fact, buyers share crucial information during viewings that can be helpful during negotiations and push up the final selling price.

Cutting corners on viewings – as many low-fee and online-only agents do by insisting the seller handles them – only chips away at the end result. Here are five reasons to entrust viewings to an experienced professional.

  1. Honesty

Brits are a polite bunch who don’t like hurting other people’s feelings – which is lovely if you’re hosting a tea party, but not much use if you’re selling a property. Buyers are much more likely to give honest, constructive feedback to an agent than an owner.

  • Personal safety

When you open your front door for a viewing, you’re essentially letting a stranger in to wander around your home. In most cases, buyers are genuine and well-meaning, but many sellers prefer to have a professional in charge for peace of mind.

  • Buyers prefer it

There’s a reason why sellers are asked to remove family photos and personal belongings before a viewing: too much personal information is a turn-off for buyers. Similarly, buyers can feel awkward when an owner, especially one with a strong emotional attachment to the property, conducts viewings.

  • Spot genuine buyers

Viewings are an opportunity for the seller to suss out if a buyer is for real. As well as achieving top price, you’re looking for a buyer who won’t mess you around or drop out at the last minute. A good agent will ask the right questions during a viewing to glean if the buyer means business.

  • Negotiation

If you’ve never negotiated a large transaction before (and let’s face it, selling your home will probably be the largest transaction of your life), why start now when so much is at stake? Let an experienced agent with a proven track record handle it for you. They’ll be calm and level-headed and immune to any buyer shenanigans.

To learn more about our sales success in Hertford, get in contact with us here at Abel. 

How to Boost Your 2021 Kerb Appeal in Hertford

This three-minute read will help you maximise the kerb appeal for your Hertford property.

A HomeOwners Alliance survey showed that 68% of potential buyers felt a property’s kerb appeal influenced their decision. Use these quick and easy tips to help your potential buyers fall in love at first sight.

Pathways and driveways

If you access your main entrance via a pathway or over a driveway, make sure you give it some TLC.

  • Refresh gravel
  • Pressure wash to remove discolouration or slippery bits
  • Remove weeds

Top tip: Add solar lights along the route for added elegance.

Front façade

The front of your property is like its shop window. Make sure any soffits, fascias, or guttering are clean and in good order. Clean the windows and frames, or repaint if necessary. Little things like that subliminally reassure viewers that the bigger things have been taken care of too.

Top tip: Clean or repaint your front door, polish the hardware, and add a hanging basket for a burst of colour.

Green fingers

There are low maintenance ways of making a front outdoor area more appealing. You can pick up outdoor plants, even from a supermarket. Pop a few around to brighten any space. If you have a lawn or hedging, keep it tidy. Alternatively, ask a responsible young person if they’d like to earn some pocket money by doing it for you.

Top tip: Choose plants without flowers if you won’t remember to deadhead them. The foliage and pots will still look striking.

Add storage

It might be that you don’t mind your bins and recycling boxes at the front of your home. However, for others it can be off-putting. Broaden your property’s appeal as much as possible by adding a bin store. You can use some trellising to create a divider or go all out and box them in.

Top tip: Surround or cover with pots of flowers or shrubs. You could even train climbers up the side.

Boundaries

If you have fencing or gates, make sure they’re looking their best. This might mean a lick of paint or wood stain. If you’ve got a fence post or panel that’s seen better days, just replace it. It’s unlikely to cost much in time or money. It does, however, prevent any offers from including that as a reason to knock the price down.

Top tip: Add trellising to a fence for some extra foliage.

Identification

You know where your house is. It seems obvious to you. But when you’re travelling around trying to find somewhere, possibly battling with family members, sat nav, or other traffic, it can feel stressful. Make it easy for your viewers. Add a house number or name that is clear and easy to read.

Top tip: Visit your local garden centre. They often have a range of signage so you can choose one that fits the style of your property.

Give your property the best chance of making a good impression. If you would like any advice, please do get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat on 01992 532 222.

COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

Change of Address Checklist for Hertford Property Owners

A two-minute read.

As if selling your home, packing your belongings, and remembering to take the dog isn’t stressful enough, unfortunately, you can’t escape the paperwork palaver that comes with moving. Notifying companies and authorities of your change of address can be monotonous, but (for some things), it’s mandatory. (Not to mention the risk of being deleted from Aunty Marge’s Christmas card list if you forget to tell her you’ve moved.)

To make your life easier, we’ve compiled a handy A to Z guide of who you need to notify.

A is for Animal Care (and includes your pet’s usual vet, groomer and if you use one, dog walker).

B is for Banks, Building Societies,and Broadband.

C is for Council, Clubs, and Cable/Satellite.

D is for Doctor, Dentist, DVLA, and DWP (if you receive money from the government).

E is for your Electricity Supplier (don’t forget to read the meter!) and the Electoral Roll.

F is for your Friends and Family.

G is for your Gas Supplier and Gym membership (or cancel your membership if you’re moving out of the area).

H is for HMRC.(We wish they didn’t know where we lived, either.)

I is for Insurance – House, Car, Business, Life, Pet, Travel, and Health. (You need to insure your new property from the completion date.)

J is for Job.

K is for the Kids’ School(s).

L is for Loyalty Cards and Loan Companies.

M is for your friendly Milkman and the Microchip Database for your pet(s).

N is for Newsagent for your paper deliveries.

O is for Optician and Online Shopping. (Where would we be without internet shopping?!)

P is for Premium Bonds and your Pension Investment Company.

Q is for Quick Food2Go. Imagine when you realise your takeaway’s been delivered to your old address?

R is for Royal Mail Redirect service. You can opt for your mail to be redirected for 3, 6, or 12 months.

S is for Subscriptions, Share Registrars and Services (if you have an accountant, solicitor, gardener, window cleaner or house cleaner).

T is for your Telephone Provider (mobile and landline) and TV Licence.

U is for Utilities and University.

V is for Vehicle Breakdown Cover and Vehicle Logbook

W is for Water Supplier.

X is for X Marks the Spot. Update your address for ‘Home’ on your car’s sat nav.

Y is for Your Buyer. It’s sensible to leave a forwarding address at your old property in case you’ve missed something.

Z is for the Zoo (or anywhere else where you might have an annual membership).

For more tips and advice about how to prepare for a property move in Hertford (or if you can add to this list), give us a call on 01992 532 222.

COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

How to Help Elderly Relatives Move Home in Hertford

A three-minute read.

For an elderly relative, moving on to the next chapter of their lives can be an emotional experience. The need to move home might stem from financial needs, bereavement, health reasons, or the wish to be nearer loved ones. But whatever the catalyst, time, diplomacy, and tact are the order of the day.

Don’t rush

It’s essential to broach the subject of a move sensitively. A move in the twilight years is likely to be a final move, so it’s important to think carefully about future needs. Consider one-level living, a spare room for live-in help, and proximity to local amenities and GPs.

Size matters

For 99% of elderly homeowners, the next home is likely to be smaller than their existing home (and for some, significantly so). Prioritise the essentials in terms of furniture and belongings, being mindful of what will fit in the new home.

Clear the loft

Try to avoid simply moving the contents of one loft to another. If you can, digitise old photos and upload keepsakes to a digital photo frame. Reminders of fond memories can make a new property quickly feel like ‘home’. Shred bank statements and other unneeded paperwork to avoid any risk of identity theft.

Be respectful

When it comes to letting things go, try to help your relative make their own decisions rather than substituting your own. While you may think that their Encyclopaedia Britannica collection is ready for the skip, it may be cherished by your relative. It may be less painful for them to see treasured items go to family, friends, or their chosen charity, rather than auctioned off on eBay.

Have fun

Getting the whole family involved can help make sorting out belongings a more enjoyable experience. If you can, have a photo slideshow scrolling while you work, play your relative’s favourite music, and reward your efforts with a family meal at the end of the day.

Enlist experienced experts

On moving day itself, consider choosing a removal firm experienced in helping elderly people move home. A packing and unpacking service can lessen the load and help make your relative feel settled more quickly.

We’ve been helping elderly Hertford property owners move home for 5 years; we understand the importance of treating seniors with care and respect.

For more advice on helping an elderly relative with their next property move, contact us here at Abel.

COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

How to Avoid Time Wasters When Selling Your Hertford Home

In this two-minute read, we look at ways sellers can identify genuine buyers.

With demand currently outstripping supply in the housing market, sellers are in the driver’s seat, but there is still one hazard that could derail a sale: the flaky buyer.

In a hot market, it’s not uncommon for panicky buyers to make an impulsive offer or go beyond their financial limits.

A buyer might do this because they fear that prices are rising and the market is getting away from them. Or perhaps they’ve been outbid in the past and don’t want to lose out again.

Whatever the motivation, the result is the same: the buyer isn’t committed and drops out weeks or months into the sales process.

Not only is it frustrating for the seller but it could also cost them financially if they’re part of a chain which then collapses because the parties involved grow impatient.

Here are some tips to help you identify genuine buyers.

–  Arrange a second viewing. If the buyer makes an offer after the first viewing, your agent should arrange a second visit to see if they are still as keen as mustard. The buyer should be quizzed about their plans for the property to see if they’ve thought through the purchase.

–  Do the admin. Ensure your agent gets the buyer to fill in an offer form that includes details about their mortgage provider and solicitor. It’s preferable to go with a buyer who already has their ducks in a row.

– What’s the story? Chat to the buyer about why they are moving. If they’re expecting a baby and have family in the same street, it’s a fair bet that they’re the real deal. If they know little about the area or their story keeps changing, question if they are committed to the sale.

Ensure the lines of communication are open. Ideally, your buyer will keep you informed of their progress on the survey, searches, and chasing solicitors. Be wary if things go quiet quickly.

– Work with an experienced agent. Even though it’s a buyer’s market, a good agent can streamline the process for you. They’ll be good at spotting the genuine buyers from the chancers.

For more advice about selling your home, contact us here at Abel.

COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

Three Good Reasons to Shop Local

In this two-minute read, we look at why it’s crucial that consumers shop local.

As we emerge out of lockdown, there’s one thing you can do to help Hertfordrecover from the pandemic – and that’s to shop local.

Independent traders are the lifeblood of communities, generating interest and footfall in our high streets and providing local jobs. But after an incredibly challenging year, small businesses need help to stay afloat.

The good news is that many of us discovered the benefits of shopping locally during the pandemic.

Figures show that 53% of us have shopped locally more in the last year, and 42% say that they will continue to do so in the future (source: Lumina Intelligence).

The momentum is there; we just need to keep it going as the economy opens up. If you’re still not convinced, here are three other reasons to support local enterprises.

It’s character building

If we give all our business to online multinationals, what will become of our high streets? Answer: they’ll become ghost towns. Small businesses, and the people who run them, bring character and personality to neighbourhoods. They make an area feel special and unique, rather than sterile and anonymous.

Social responsibility

Small businesses are rooted in the communities they serve and often support local charities, schools, and sporting clubs. Shopping locally is an easy way you can say thanks to them for lending a hand to the small organisations that make a big difference inHertford.

Good for the environment

Shopping locally can help to reduce the carbon footprint. For example, take the humble veg box. Many people gave them a try at the start of the pandemic – when a trip to the grocery store was like starring in an episode of Supermarket Sweep meets Gladiators – and have remained loyal customers.

Food grown in the UK and picked in season is not only tastier but it also generates far fewer carbon emissions than those transported thousands of miles around the world.

About 500 schemes in the UK provide seasonal, locally sourced fruit and veg (many also supply dairy products and eggs). Why not try one local to you?

From all of us here at Abel, take care, stay cheerful, and support your high street.

Abel 2021

Five Ways to Find a Trustworthy Estate Agent in Hertford

In this three-minute read, we list five things Hertford sellers should look for in an estate agent.

It pains us to say this, but a recent survey found people were more likely to trust a traffic warden or a lawyer than an estate agent.

When it comes to telling the truth, it seems that only politicians have a worse reputation than estate agents (source: YesHomebuyers.com).

As you can imagine, this frustrates us. Firstly, we’re a hardworking Hertford business with a strong track record – just ask our happy customers. We know there are some cowboys out there – and thankfully, the industry is working to weed them out – but we hate being lumped in the same category as them.

Secondly, selling a home is one of the most significant transactions a person makes in their lifetime. We hate to think that people are being led through that process by someone they think is a consummate liar. It must make the whole experience more stressful.

So, we’ve put together a five-point list of things to look out for when you’re hunting for an estate agent you can trust.

  1. Word of mouth 

Speak to friends and family about their experiences of selling in Hertford. Don’t just ask them to name a good agent but dig deeper to find out: how long it took them to sell their property, if the agent’s valuation was realistic, who conducted the viewings, and if the customer service was up to scratch.

  • Marketing research

Identify popular agents in Hertford and scrutinise how they market their properties. Look for good quality photography and well-written property descriptions as these are vital ingredients for achieving top price. Dodgy snaps of cluttered rooms, and minimal information, should set off alarm bells.

  • Are they registered?

All UK estate agents who deal with residential properties must register with either the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme. These organisations deal with customer complaints (hopefully, you won’t have any, but it’s good to have peace of mind). If they’re not registered, steer clear.

  • Are they a member of a professional body?

Many good agents will be part of a professional body, such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) Propertymark, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or The Guild of Professional Estate Agents. Membership shows they take their professional responsibilities seriously.

  • Realistic valuation

If an agent vows to sell your home for a price that far exceeds market trends or your expectations, be suspicious. They’re either over-promising to win your custom or clueless (or both!). Either way, buyers won’t buy it (literally), and you’ll wind up dropping the asking price later. Don’t fall for this time-wasting exercise.

To find out more about why people in Hertford have been trusting us with their home sales for years, give us a call. COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

Why short-term gain often leads to long term pain for Hertford landlords

A two-minute read. A landlords’ advice article published recently said property investors need to think more like the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The billionaire businessman is renowned for his long-term thinking. He thinks decades ahead, and let’s face it, he’s not doing too bad, is he?

The article said landlords should retain good tenants at a reasonable rate rather than aim to get the highest rents in the short term.

It’s wise advice and something we believe in.

When a landlord adopts a short-term view of their property investment, it can often lead to lasting headaches.

The advice you are given can often depend on your letting agent’s philosophy.

Some agents will say things like: ‘The rental market in Hertford is on fire now. We can get you even higher rents and squeeze out every penny from tenants.’

That’s not the way we approach things. Why? Because if you hike up a person’s rent whenever possible, it may mean more money in the short run but can be more costly in the long run.

Our advice to clients and indeed anyone thinking of investing in rental property is this:

Getting higher monthly rents isn’t as crucial in the mid to long term as finding and looking after good quality tenants paying a fair rate.

Here are some of the plus points a good longer term tenant brings:

Fewer void periods.

Fewer unnecessary repair or maintenance call outs mean a reduction in the property’s running expenses.

Good tenants appreciate they are being treated fairly and respectfully, and they look after their home.

Never to be underestimated is that having a good tenant in your property reduces your stress levels.

Going for the highest monthly rent charge as a property rental strategy can often be a mistake.

At Abel, we take the time to find, vet and keep good quality tenants for our landlords. This is the best way forward in the long term.

So, take a leaf out of the wealthiest person in the World’s book (Bezos was ranked #1 by Forbes magazine last month) and think further ahead when it comes to achieving rental property success.

Copyright 2021 Abel

Stress-Busting Tips for Property Management in Hertford

In this two-minute read, we show you how to keep calm and in control when letting your Hertford property.

The idea that investing in rental property is easy passive income is a myth. Letting and managing rental property can be stressful, especially for inexperienced or accidental landlords.

This month sees the championing of Stress Awareness Month; an annual event which recognises the dangers of modern-day stress and provides valuable coping strategies. If you are wading through tenancy treacle, read our top tips to temper your tension.

Do your homework

Whether it’s a simple credit check or a comprehensive background check, referencing your tenant is ESSENTIAL. If you have concerns, you could arrange to meet your prospective tenant in their current property to see how it’s been looked after or even go a step further and ask for a rental guarantor. If you have rental income insurance, check whether the terms of your policy stipulate the level of referencing required.

Build a circle of trust

People buy people. And much like you want the right tenant in your property, you want the right tradespeople working in it. We guarantee that you will, at some point, have some repairs that need attention – whether from an accident or general wear and tear. Building a trusted network of tradespeople that provide value for money will stand you in good stead.

Don’t leave yourself short

Now, more than ever, we understand the importance of an emergency fund. In tough financial climates, rent arrears can be more of a reality than a risk. In situations like this, contact your tenant – there may be a simple explanation which is easily remedied. If not, don’t delay in taking advice. If you rely on your rental investment for income, consider whether rental insurance is a sensible option.

Know when you need help

If it all gets too much, ask for help. A good letting agent can manage the entire tenant journey for you: from tenant sourcing right through to the end of tenancy clean. Inventories, referencing, deposits, rent collection, repairs, and legal and regulatory compliance; you name it, it’s covered.

We understand the pressures involved in letting your property and are here to alleviate your anxieties. If you’d like to hear how we can make your property let a stress-free experience, give us a call on 01992 532 222.

Copyright Abel 2021

Introducing a World First for the Estate Agency Industry

A leading international inventor has chosen Abel to be one of only ten estate agencies in the world to trial his Artificial Intelligence (AI) software.

The reclusive billionaire and his team of experts have created a ground-breaking app that translates a person’s thoughts into a text message by analysing their brainwaves.

It involves the wearing of a baseball-style cap that has sensors in it.

Dubbed the AI Honest Agent Hat the sensors transmit the wearer’s brain activity as a message onto any mobile phone that has been given a password and has downloaded the app.

We are among only nine other agents from across the planet who have been chosen to trial this software over six months.

It will mean our clients will be able to literally read our thoughts on their phones when it comes to selling or renting their homes in Hertford.

The idea is the brainchild of a billionaire French internet genius and leading social scientist, Esh Kalting-Parc.

Speaking from his chateau in Paradise Falls, Monsieur Kalting-Parc said: “I always look to solve problems. And a big problem for estate and letting agents is that people often view them with mistrust.

“Now, with the invention of my AI Honest Agent Hat, that will be a thing of the past. I wanted politicians to take part in this initial experiment, but they universally refused.”

The introduction of our caps will be headed up by our new manager Noel Kusm who will run our AI Honest Agent department.

Noel said: “We’re an open and honest agency, we always share what’s on our minds and now you can literally know what we’re thinking. We’ve been selected because of our honest approach to business, so seeing as the cap fits, we’ll wear it.

“We’d be fools not to go for it, and that’s why we have signed up to be part of this exciting programme.”

Copyright 2021 Abel