Clifton & Co wins Bronze award at The ESTAS for the Kent region, the most prestigious estate & letting agent awards in the UK
The award was announced by Phil Spencer, the TV property expert at a lavish luncheon & ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane London attended by 800 of the UK's top estate and letting agents in the UK property industry.
The awards, celebrating their 12th year are known throughout the industry as The ESTAS. The ESTAS determine the best estate and letting agents in the UK through research carried out amongst customers who are asked a series of questions about the service they have received from their agent, over 25,000 questionnaires were completed by customers during the competition.
Phil Spencer, who has hosted the ESTAS every year since their inception in 2003 said "The ESTAS are about making people happy, putting a smile on their face and making a genuine difference to peoples' lives. An agent's role is about guiding people through one of the most stressful times in their lives and that's not an easy job. The ESTAS help agencies to focus on customer service levels and that's why firms keep coming back year after year".
Clifton Button, Managing Director said "We are absolutely thrilled to be recognised at this year's ESTAS. It means so much to us as we know it's our customers who have judged our performance. We take our levels of customer service very seriously because we know clients have a choice. We have always been very proud of our personal service and this is a great way to demonstrate how good our offices really are."
To add to its many accolades Clifton & Co Estate Agents have this year been voted a Silver Award Winner for the South East Region by The Guild of Property Professionals at a prestigious Award ceremony held on 29th January at The Millennium Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London.
The awards are designed to recognise outstanding performance and innovation
from a carefully selected network of over 790 independent estate agents.
The judges were particularly impressed by the way Clifton & Co demonstrated marketing innovation, expert market knowledge,a commitment to high standards and expertise, and outstanding customer service.
Marcus Whewell, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, presented the awards to some of the Clifton & Co Team, commenting ‘Rewarding outstanding achievement within our network is an honour and a privilege. The quality of award entries this year is the highest ever, reflecting how our organisation is moving forward and assisting its agents to provide a truly unique and exceptional service to the public. My sincere congratulations go to Clifton & Co who should be very proud of winning this hard-fought and prestigious award.”
Picking the right estate agent to market your home can make a difference, not only to the price, but to the experience
Estate agents can seem about as popular with the British public as traffic wardens. Yet, a good agent who understands the market is worth their weight in gold when selling a property.
Many of us approach selling our homes with the same trepidation we’d feel if we had to organise three back-to-back weddings and a company takeover. The list of what can go wrong is daunting – offers are withdrawn; valuations fail; leaseholds become a minefield; contracts get delayed; surveys scupper a deal; and emotions fray.
Of course, the whole process is a lot smoother if you find the right estate agent to attract buyers and steer the sale along. Unfortunately, we Brits don’t have much faith in them. According to recent easyProperty.com research, 49 per cent of us think their agent is “ripping them off” and 54 per cent say the fees are too high.
But fear not. There are plenty of good agents out there. It’s just a case of knowing what you should be looking for.
Experts agree it is crucial to get a marketing appraisal for your home from at least three estate agents before picking one. The big mistake, however, is to be seduced by a high valuation. Homeowners Alliance recommends picking an agent you are impressed by and who has given a low valuation, reasoning that you can always nudge it up. It warns that a bad agent will start with a high price and then try to talk you down once you have appointed them.
“It is essential that the right asking price is set. Pitch it too high and you will lose the all-important initial impact, which could lead to your property sitting on the market months and eventually selling for less.”
And, of course, you need to trust your own instincts, too. If you don’t have a good feeling about an agent, perhaps he or she isn’t the one for you.
- Look for a company with experience and a high profile in your area
- Check how they present and market other properties
- Consider posing as a buyer to find out how they treat you and whether they have the vendor’s interests at heart
- Ask whether they accompany viewers
- Check the fee covers all marketing costs
- Use a qualified agent, regulated by a body such as the NAEA; Guild of Professional Estate Agents; or Property Ombudsman
New UK Property Portal – OnTheMarket.com
With the New Year comes the launch on 26 January 2015 of a major new UK property portal called OnTheMarket.com, which will compete head-on with Rightmove and Zoopla. At Clifton & Co, we pride ourselves on being progressive in our approach and we are delighted to have joined thousands of other prominent national, regional and local independent estate and letting agents in supporting the most important new venture of its type in many years.
We have reviewed our overall digital strategy and firmly believe that OnTheMarket.com will rapidly become a major player in the market and a “must view” destination for serious property-seekers. OnTheMarket.com is launching with a multi-million pound marketing budget which will include sustained and heavy-weight TV advertising on the main terrestrial and digital channels. In addition, it is running in a high-profile press campaign in titles such as the Daily Telegraph, Times, Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Scotsman, Glasgow Herald and Western Mail as well as in key magazines such as Country Life, The London Magazine and Fabric. There will also be a very heavy digital display and pay-per-click campaign.
The central OnTheMarket.com campaigns will complement local promotional activity by thousands of estate and letting agents across the country who are supporting the new portal.
More and more agents are moving all their properties to OnTheMarket.com from other websites. So when OnTheMarket.com launches, neither Rightmove nor Zoopla will be able to claim their property listings cover the entire market because many estate and letting agents will be leaving them to join OnTheMarket.com as the best platform to display their properties in the clearest and simplest way.
As it is a mutual organisation, OnTheMarket.com has no external shareholders. It is able to plough profits back into improving the property-searching experience and into efficiently connecting motivated buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords. So, from Monday 26 January 2015, we shall be proudly displaying all our instructed properties at OnTheMarket.com.
The state-of-the-art website will provide the most uncluttered, user-friendly and modern UK property search service. There’ll be no distracting ads for other products, no spam mail, no information over-load – just a pure focus on properties, with hundreds of thousands of homes to buy or rent at all price points all over the UK.
Because the technology is new, OnTheMarket.com will adapt seamlessly to whichever type of device and screen size its visitors use. All screen space is used to present the properties looking their best.
In the words of Clifton Button, Managing Director:
“We look forward to supporting the launch of the new OnTheMarket.com property portal from 26 January. It will offer prospective homebuyers and tenants a greater level of choice, however, we shall also continue to market all of our properties on Rightmove, which remains the UK’s largest property portal, which provides us with the highest volume and value of leads.
After extensive analysis of web traffic and the quality and quantity of leads generated for our selling and letting clients’ properties, we have decided that this combination of portals best serves the best interests of our clients in reaching the best quality prospective buyers and tenants.
We shall also continue to market our instructed properties on our own website, www.cliftonandco.com, as well as working as closely as ever with our valuable database of registered buyers and tenants.”
.....Stamp Duty rates are changing as of 4th December 2014
The new levels will be:
* No tax on the first £125,000 paid.
* 2% on the portion up to £250,000.
* 5% on the portion up to £925,000.
* 10% on the portion up to £1.5 million.
* 12% on everything over that
Under the old rules, you would have paid tax at a single rate on the entire property price. Now you will only pay the rate of tax on the part of the property price within each tax band – like income tax.
How to pay stamp duty
This is not changing. As before you will need to submit a stamp duty return and pay what you owe within 30 days of completing on the sale of your property.
You still have to submit a return even if you are not due to pay any stamp duty on the purchase price of your property, unless the property costs less than £40,000.
It is your responsibility to ensure that the return is completed on time, but most people employ a solicitor or a conveyancer to complete the return for them.
On receipt of a valid stamp duty return, HMRC issues a certificate which allows you to register your title to the property at the Land Registry, or in Scotland at the Registers of Scotland.
If you require further information, please do not hesitate to call one of our experienced staff.
Lindsey Ede - Director
Clifton & Co have received the BEST IN COUNTY award for Kent at the prestigious Estate & Letting Agent Awards 2014!
The award was announced by Phil Spencer, the TV property expert at a lavish luncheon & ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane London attended by 700 of the UK’s top estate and letting agents and suppliers to the industry.
The awards, celebrating their 11th year are known throughout the industry as the ESTAS. The ESTAS determines the best estate/letting agents in the country through research carried out amongst customers who are asked a series of questions about the service they have received from their agent, 32,000 questionnaires were completed by customers during the competition.
Phil Spencer, who has hosted the ESTAS every year since their inception in 2004 said
“The ESTAS are about making people happy, putting a smile on their face and making a genuine difference to peoples’ lives. An agent’s role is about guiding people through one of the most stressful times in their lives and that’s not an easy job. In a world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make contact with a real person in a company isn’t it so refreshing that you can phone almost any estate or letting agent in the UK and get straight through to a real person. The ESTAS help agencies to focus on customer service levels and that’s why agencies keep coming back”.
Agents were shortlisted in 18 regions around the UK.
Simon Brown who owns the ESTAS said “winning one of these gleaming ESTAS this afternoon proves that your people can be trusted. In fact just taking part shows your commitment to your customers and to be shortlisted, as all of you here today have, means you already have the trust factor.”
Clifton Button, Managing Director of Clifton & Co said “We are absolutely thrilled to be recognised at this year’s ESTAS. It means so much to us as we know it’s our customers who have judged our performance. We take our levels of customer service very seriously because we know clients have a choice. We have always been very proud of the personal service we provide and this is great way to demonstrate how good we really are”.
Following the government’s five-year overhaul of the mortgage market, known as the Mortgage Market Review (or MMR), much tighter mortgage application regulations are now in force, no doubt in response to high levels of irresponsible lending in the past.
There is concern that the new procedures for applying for a mortgage are likely to enable far fewer people to secure the mortgage they need to buy a home, which could have implications on the property market overall.
There are five key areas where mortgage applicants, including people remortgaging an existing property, will feel the effect of the new regulations most acutely:
1. Mortgage advisors will need to ask more questions to determine what mortgage product is suitable, taking into account the applicant’s personal circumstances in detail. Mortgage interviews could take longer and may even be split into two separate interviews.
2. Lenders must assess the future affordability of mortgages, as well as initial payments, by applying an interest rate "stress test" - to ensure that the loan would still pass the affordability requirements if interest rates rise.
3. Lenders will also have to consider the impact of possible/known future lifestyle changes such retirement or redundancy, when assessing affordability.
4.There will be greater scrutiny of borrower's expenditure. For example, the impact of school fees or holidays as well as and day to day groceries will be taken into account and borrowers may need to produce more evidence of their spending habits and other commitments than before the introduction of MMR.
5. Interest-only mortgages will be harder to obtain, as borrowers must be able to demonstrate a credible repayment strategy to repay the loan at the end of the term.
At Clifton & Co Estate Agents, we have always ensured that any offer we submit to our clients is from a buyer who is well-qualified and it will now be more important than ever to know in advance that the buyer’s mortgage application will indeed by approved before a purchase is even agreed.
The media is full of talk of the property market once again racing ahead, especially in London. This, combined with stronger economic figures, has led to a widespread increase in confidence levels. This is reflected in the 1.6% monthly hike in average asking prices last month (source Rightmove), although this is about half the increase reported in February following emergence from the Christmas Doldrums. Rightmove is currently showing an all-time high average asking price of nearly £256,000 – some 6.8% ahead of the same time last year. HM Land Registry, based on sold prices, currently shows an average sale price of £170,000 representing 5.3% ahead of last year.
Whilst the figures reported by these two indices differ substantially (for reasons we’ll discuss in another edition), one thing is sure…confidence has returned to the property market. It has also caught it off-guard! The government’s Help-to-Buy scheme prompted over 17,000 buyers to make a move, yet sellers have been slower to respond and there is now an acute shortage of saleable stock on the market.
The type of price rises we have seen in the past few months are unlikely to be sustained in the long term, so there has never been a better time to sell. At Clifton & Co Estate Agents, we don’t just go with the flow – we understand the market and use our exceptional marketing and negotiation skills to maximize every opportunity for our clients. We pride ourselves on our results and frequently conclude sales at or even over the asking price. With our offices reporting around 10 – 15 buyers for every property our role is to maximize today’s high demand to deliver impressive results for our happy clients. Our reputation depends on it!
So whether or not you are thinking of selling, you might be pleasantly surprised at how much your property might be worth (nb you can usually ignore the figures suggested by on-line “valuation” tools). Why not call your local branch today for a friendly and confidential chat to consider the possibilities.