Alex Goldstein “Live” on Vale FM
Listen to full interview with property expert Alex Goldstein, “live” on Vale FM with Steve Twynham – talking through his career to date, what a property consultant actually does and how he helps people buy and sell residential property.
Alex Goldstein “Live” on ValeFM
Full transcript below:
Steve: It’s drivetime, Steve taking you home between now and 6 and we’re joined by a special guest in the studio this afternoon, Alex Goldstein. Good afternoon Alex, how are you?
Alex: Steve, I’m great thank you very much indeed.
Steve: Great, thanks for joining us and we’re going to talk property this afternoon.
Alex: We are indeed.
Steve: Yeah so, look forward to finding out more about that. First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself, and how did you get involved in the property market?
Alex: Yeah, I suppose for my sins, I have been, I was an estate agent for the last sort of 14/15 years. Started my career in Oxford and London and more recently in Harrogate as well and its just sort of blossomed from there. I’ve been working for some of the UK’s most well-known firms and left that a good few years back.
Steve: So, what’s the difference between being a property consultant and an estate agent then?
Alex: Yeah, an estate agent just solely works for a homeowner when they come to sell their property, that is their primary purpose, whereas I’m now as a property consultant or property adviser, I’m on the other side of the fence and I actually help people buy residential property, both in Yorkshire and London, I happen to help them sell but I’m not an estate agent, it’s purely advisory.
Steve: So, you do both things then?
Alex: Yeah do both things, in both locations as well.
Steve: Ok, so if I was looking to buy, I’d come to you and say Alex I’m looking for a property, lets use York for example, I’m looking for a property in York, for a certain value, in a certain area, is it your role then to go and do the searching?
Alex: Exactly that. I will take all your search criteria and all the parameters exactly that you’re after, either liaise with the agents or the developers or indeed I’ve been in the business long enough now I just ring up the homeowners because I’ve known them of old and just say I can vouch for you Steve and this is the basis, I try and secure that property off market. Off market is away from Rightmove and all these online portals, so we just do it privately. It’s not always possible but that’s always the aim. So that’s the buying side and you pay me a fee for that service and very often it’s people that don’t have the time or they’re not sure and they just need some confidence building into the whole transaction. It’s a big, one the biggest transactions ever in life, you need to get it right.
Steve: Yeah tell me about it, I forget how many properties I’ve bought in my lifetime, luckily, I’m at the stage where I don’t have to buy another one, maybe who knows. And what about on the selling then?
Alex: The selling is a bit more unusual, and very often I get involved with people when they’re thinking of going on the market and very often they haven’t done it for 10, 20, sometime 30 or I had one recently 60 years, they’ve never sold a property and the markets changed even in the last two years. So, if you’ve never done it in that sort of timeframe, what do you do? Or where do you go? Or the other flip side of the coin is when people have been in the market for a long period of time, you’re getting a lot of sales chat, often from the estate agents and they’re wondering well I’ve been in the market a long time, where do I go? Where have I gone wrong? So that’s where I independently come in and say Steve, you’ve been in the market a long time but with my experience you need to change these sort of specific areas, we need to turn the sale around and we head off in a particular direction, and that’s when I bring in and manage and orchestrate said estate agents on your behalf. So, it actually ends up that the estate agent pays my fee, not you the homeowner.
Steve: Right ok.
Alex: It’s quite unusual.
Steve: Yeah, it sounds interesting as well. So, if someone’s been on the property for, I don’t know, what is the average length of time selling a property now?
Alex: It’s the ultimate question, I would probably say from going on sale to under offer, I honestly wouldn’t like to put a timeframe on it because every situation is different. Once you get from under offer to exchange normally it’s between four and six weeks, any longer than that and alarm bells start to ring, and completion, i.e. when you move in and get the keys, tends to be four weeks after you’ve actually exchanged, but again that vary on each transaction, it’s that exchange, it’s getting from offer to exchange, that is the most critical time and you’ve got to keep that window of opportunity very tight indeed.
Steve: Ok, so from your expertise as well, if the house has been on sale for 8 months.
Alex: Yep, it does happen, I’ve had longer.
Steve: Is there something not quite right? Could be price or?
Alex: Very often I always think and in simple terms there’s usually three main factors that tend to go a miss and normally it’s a combination of these, but it tends to be the photographs, the price of the property or it’s the presentation of the property and very often it’s a mix of that. Sometimes people have been hoodwinked if you like by estate agents and they’ve listened too much to the sale speak and they’ve bought into that and they’ve signed contracts and again it’s then advising people how to actually manoeuvre away from that, but it tends to be those three factors and just altering those accordingly.
Steve: Ok so I guess at times as well if somebody’s been around and somebody says well we think you can get, lets pick a figure, we think you can get 359 for this and somebody says well no I think you might only get 310, as the seller you want to hear the 359, don’t you?
Alex: Exactly that and that’s exactly where a lot of people hang their hats, they hear three estate agents and they go with the one that’s quoted the highest guide price, when actually that’s the exact reason you should not instruct that estate agent. You should always go for the estate agent that’s possibly told you something you didn’t want to hear, and you’ve almost got to be illogical when choosing your estate agent. Don’t just go for the guy that as I said overflatters you and grants you things on planet 9, you’ve got to look beyond that and delve behind the scenes, and that’s really where 15 years in property, been there and done it and can advise clients well this is what you actually need to look out for and this who to actually go with.
Steve: Ok we’ll talk some more in a moment and we’ve got a great question about lawyers coming up.
This is Steve, this is Vale Radio across North Yorkshire. We are talking property this afternoon, we’ve been joined in the studio by Alex Goldstein. We’ve been talking lots of things about buying and selling. Alex it’s been quite a turmoil time in the marketplace with Brexit and things, what’s the marketplace doing?
Alex: I think at the moment, I think a lot of people dare I say lost their heads when Brexit came along and I suppose I predicted and a lot of people did, there would be a bit of turmoil afterwards but interestingly it was actually an incredibly good time to buy because if we now look at Brexit it’s all turned around very nicely, and there’s all these countries who want to trade with us and it’s all looking a lot more rosy and obviously Mr Hammond, the Chancellor is keeping it, trying to keep it nice and steady. But interestingly, if you look at London, specifically that’s come back 8/9% percent in recent months, so again of you are looking to buy and you’re ready to go and you’re on the right basis that is a fantastic time to buy. I think at the moment market activity here in Yorkshire is very good, there is a real demand, a real surge for sort of more urban and village lifestyle living, that is a massive driver for activity, it is good, it is very good indeed at the moment.
Steve: Good news to hear then.
Alex: No absolutely, Brexit is long gone, and you hardly hear any bad news about it at the moment I think, it’s great when it comes to property at the moment.
Steve: What about when somebody wants to advice for lawyers, getting a lawyer involved?
Alex: Yeah, I know it’s something certainly I regularly talk about and I don’t know why but estate agents never seem to ask a homeowner or vendor in advance and it’s probably one of the most important things you should do. When it comes to a conveyancing solicitor my advice is never ever cut a corner. You must always go with a rock-solid solicitor, because at the end of the day, you personally have to live with the consequences not them if something goes wrong. One thing specifically to bare in mind is always look for a solicitor that is on low volume, but high quality. You regularly come across these sort of huge swathing open floor conveyancing practices, and the problem is with that, your file, you become a number and your file and your transaction, they tend to be fairly complicated on the most part, it gets lost. And this is where you hear about deals falling apart. You need to then, holiday cover, it gets passed around, who is dealing with the file while someone’s away? You have no idea, you’ve lost control. Best thing you can do when it comes to a conveyancing solicitor is instruct them in advance, ask and pretty much tell your solicitor to open a file, get the client ID signed off and to get the title deeds ready, check for any anomalies and sort it in advance. You as a homeowner are then ready to go so when you find the buyer, you are on the forward foot and that contract pack will be with the buyer’s solicitor in 24 hours. That is how to master the situation.
Steve: Right ok, so it’s do your homework a bit?
Steve: I must admit I was buying a house down in Shropshire some years ago when we had a little bit of trouble with a boundary, we were ready to sign, and my solicitor wouldn’t let me sign and at one point I’m thinking gggrr, but I tell you what they were absolutely amazing because they saved me so much trouble further down the line.
Alex: Exactly and that is where experience, it doesn’t matter whether a conveyancing solicitor or an estate agent, experience is absolutely key critical. It’s a interesting point and actually whether it’s a lawyer or an estate agent, where your money is going is into the time they’ve spent and the expertise they’ve got, and when it comes to estate agents it’s not just about marketing. People just think it’s that initial bit of going for sale, and getting under offer and that’s it job done, it’s not, where your estate agent comes into his own is actually between under offer and getting to exchange. And that is again where you pay the estate agents fee, that’s where they’re worth it.
Steve: Ok, I’ve got my brain in gear again now.
Alex: Glad to hear it Steve. I was worried for a minute.
Steve: Yeah, I did look a bit blank, so the question I was going to ask was about, it seems to be the explosion of online, what about that?
Alex: Yeah, you’ve got three levels of estate agents you’ve got the high street agents that we all know, you’ve then got the pure online agents that just have a website, but you’ve also got a third one which is called a hybrid agent, which is a bit of a mix of the two, so they’ve got most part online and they’ve got a office premises of sorts. Now interestingly I did a very interesting interview the other week and he actually trains all those agents nationally, a very very well qualified chap, he was saying and it was very interesting, where the high street agents have lost a lot of ground is again customer service and not getting in the right experienced people and therefore the buying public, the homeowners have drifted away, they see all the snazzy marketing advertising out there and go with one of the online chaps. As I’ve just touched on, the problem with them and what most people don’t realise is some of these online people get paid in advance. Your signing their terms, they’re actually getting paid in advance via a sort of scheme behind the scenes. Therefore, where is their motivation as an estate agent to find you the answer, they don’t, they’ve already been paid, they don’t care less. And again, unless you know what to look for, you’re going to come aground very quickly indeed, and I worry because these online guys just focus on marketing and advertising. As I just mentioned, an agent comes into their own when they’ve got that experience of getting it under offer, that’s step one, getting under offer to exchange, that’s a whole different ballgame, whereas a lot of these agents now just stand back and let it drift and that’s where you hear of so many fall throughs happening. So, at the moment I see that there is a place for online or hybrid agents, again they’re at the budget end of the market, if finances are tight, fine it’s worth it I think if you are low/mid. If you are on the upper range then there’s no point cutting a corner you’ve got to pay for that experience, it’s well worth it.
Steve: So, what you’ve described there is they’re getting paid for listing the property basically.
Alex: That’s exactly what they’re getting paid for. And you need to be very very careful again remember estate agents again they’re sales people, they’re commission driven, it’s all about that hunger and that drive and if your suddenly paying them upfront, albeit you don’t quite know about it then they can just take their foot completely off the pedal, your sale drifts, you then realise you made a bit of a error, you pull it from the market, you relaunch it again, price reduction, people see you’ve relaunched it with a new agent, a new price, what’s going on, there’s something wrong with it, well it’s got subsidence Alex didn’t you hear, you and I know well that doesn’t exist but again buyers out there put two and two together and come up with five, that’s the problem and that’s where you’ll come undone.
Steve: Right ok thanks for that. Are you ok to stay for a bit longer?
Alex: Very much so.
Steve: We want to talk about some great tips for people who are buying or selling.
Alex: Feel free.
Steve: This is radio Vale across North Yorkshire, we’re talking to Alex Goldstein this afternoon, we’re talking property, buying, selling, all kinds of things and it’s absolutely fascinating. We are talking property with Property Consultant Alex Goldstein, we’ve had a fantastic hour, lots of information. Alex before you go some tips really on selling or maybe buying?
Alex: Yeah absolutely, I think when it comes to selling, how do I put this, the TV and some of those presenters do get it wildly wrong. Never ever paint your house white and remove all the photos and take the pictures down and leave it as a blank room because I always say it then feels like a hospital clinic, who likes going to hospital, absolutely nobody so why present your house like one. You’ve got to remember that, buying and selling a property, it’s emotional, you’re buying into a lifestyle, so leave the magazines out or the cookbooks by the agar that sort of thing, leave the photographs of the children up, that’s what people want to get a feel for. Present it well and clean, clear simple lines and please as I’ve touched on do choose your agent incredibly incredibly carefully, and we haven’t quite got enough time to run through it all but again if you’re unsure, ask. The other thing that I talked about is instruct your conveyancing solicitor at the same time as your estate agent and make sure that file is open, and they are ready to go because I bet your bottom dollar you will find a buyer tomorrow, you won’t be ready, and you’ll be caught out.
Steve: Right ok but keep it tidy I guess.
Alex: Keep it tidy but remember people, it’s lifestyle that they’re buying into, it’s one of the very rare if not the only transaction you do in life where people are dealing in that sort of level of money and that sort of level of emotion, you’ve got to play to that strength, don’t paint it white.
Steve: So yeah it needs to look lived in doesn’t it?
Alex: Yeah, within reason absolutely. You want the photographs and the toys out and that sort of thing, not completely stripped bare.
Steve: Yeah ok and what about buying?
Alex: Yeah buying is interesting because people think sometimes they’ve got it absolutely nailed and I tell you, a week never goes by where someone doesn’t get it quite right. When someone says cash, it means cash in a bank account. A mortgage is something completely different so cash fund, make sure they are ready and accessible, I’ll mention that you should email yourself a copy of that bank statement, I’ll say why in a minute. Your mortgage, you must go through a mortgage broker, I would always recommend that because they will search the whole market. A bank is just there to push their own product of course. And ask for an agreement in principal, an AIP, or a DIP, decision in principal, get that and email it to yourself.
Steve: An independent mortgage broker then?
Alex: It’s an independent mortgage broker, that’s the one. And once you’ve got proof of mortgage, proof of cash, you’ve got it on email, use that in the negotiation. So, when you go to the agent, instantly supply without them asking proof of everything right up front and you’re turning the tables from the one sort of negotiating to the one then commanding the situation. Again, make sure when you’re buying your solicitor is instructed ready to go, same with the building surveyor and I think the bottom line is look, it is a people business. Make sure that you’ve got that great personal rapport of course with the vendor, because they’re buying into you and vice versa and again make sure you’re buying into the agent as well. If you’re getting on well with them, they’re more likely to do you a bit of a favour as when if need be. Again, if you’re unsure of any of those, do feel free to ask.
Steve: Ok and finally you’ve got an event happening in Leeds did you say?
Alex: I do yeah, I’ve got a educational talk on property investment, it’s on the 23 November at the Crown Plaza right in the centre of town. It’s 6pm and I think the talks sort of kick off at 7 o’clock, it’s property investors who its aimed at. Again, if anyone needs a free ticket do come through me.
Steve: If anyone wants to get in touch with you, how do they do that?
Alex: Yeah, do feel free. Look at the website alexgoldstein.co.uk or call me anytime on the landline 01423 788377.
Steve: Alex it’s been a pleasure.
Alex: No thank you very much indeed.
Steve: Thank you for joining use today and maybe catch up in the not too distant future.
Alex: Look forward to it Steve.
Steve: Have a wonderful evening.
Alex: And you.