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  • Alex Goldstein’s Interview with Kitchen Expert Anthony Rich-Caine. What exactly are you paying for when you are choosing a kitchen and is it worth the extra money to get a hand-built kitchen? What are the latest trends? And what is the real reason large DIY stores charge so much less?


    Interview with a Kitchen Expert Anthony Rich-Caine

    Full transcript below:

    Alex: We are honoured indeed to have Anthony Rich-Kane from Rich Kitchens here in the studio just to give us a great insight into what I think at times a fairly mystical world of kitchens. Now Anthony look, everybody loves a great kitchen but what are you really getting and what are you actually paying for because as I see it and a lot of people see you can go to one of the big shed set ups, the big DIY stores shall we say and you can spend a couple of thousand, you can then go to the very high end and certainly dare I say in London and in and around Harrogate you can then sort of go up to almost 100 thousand sometimes even more for a kitchen, what is going on behind the scenes here and what are you actually paying for?

    Anthony: Ok so realistically you should be paying for the materials that are used, so that’s the man-made woods or real woods in fact and also the methods used. So, is it handmade, it is manufactured in a large factory? That’s the way they can keep the costs down. Are the doors wrapped or are they hand painted? All these things make the cost heighten up massively. However, the biggest cost is really the company’s overheads, that’s what we found we come up against.

    Alex: And you mean by overheads in terms of them having high street presence do you mean, sort of a showroom of sorts, a big department store?

    Anthony: Definitely, so somebody with a showroom, their overheads are astronomical compared to someone that’s potentially working from a small office, has a small studio. Customers will buy into the large chains, however they’re paying a lot more just for that pleasure.

    Alex: Is it not the case, say B&Q, huge huge outfit, is it not a case then of economies of scale? They’re buying in materials and goods at hug huge bulk. Say like the huge supermarkets like Aldi, they just buy in huge bulk and they offer their customers a discount. Does it not work like that necessarily?

    Anthony: Similarly so, though most high street brands and most high street names that we’ll know of in the kitchen industries, they don’t actually keep that much stock. So, they are actually operating very similar to a small operation where a measures done, a design is done, once it’s agreed then the order is placed, then the kitchen is delivered from wherever.

    Alex: And then they make it up, so they are literally running it to order. Thank you very much indeed. You’re quite unusual I think in your role in the kitchen sector. How can you help people? How do you source things? I know you sort of mentioned a bit of a difference between smaller and the larger set ups at the moment.

    Anthony: Ok so the way we generally operate is we can service all the market, so we can offer one kitchen to an individual public member, or we can source the kitchen to a tradesman, maybe buy in a couple of kitchens a week. We can also provide over 300 kitchens as we do to one customer every year. The difference with us is that we have a managed service, so it’s myself at the helm, a couple of chaps helping me out, but generally it’s a fully managed service from start to finish. We carry out the measure, work out designs, we’ll give a couple of difference designs and that’s the difference is we will sit there and make sure the customers happy rather than just saying this is what you can fit in there.

    Alex: So, where abouts are your kitchens coming from? How are you sourcing? I know the larger set ups, they obviously have got the sawmill back out somewhere, where are you actually getting it from?

    Anthony: Ok so, we’re actually members of three different global buying groups, so we’re able to source from the UK and we’re able to source from Germany. It’s a specific type of kitchen or brand that you actually ask for we can source that, and I don’t mean the high street brand kitchens are manufactured in large factories that is the brand. So, if it’s a German brand that you’re after we can pretty much source that kitchen at a fraction of the cost to a high street brand. You mentioned Alex earlier about London, there’s a kitchen currently, I won’t mention the store but there is a kitchen currently in a showroom that’s listed as £140,000. We could probably supply the same kitchen to a customer for round about sixty.

    Alex: Exactly the same, no corners cut, no nothing?

    Anthony: We’ve in fact taken customers over to Germany to view the factory, the warehouse where it’s actually made because people don’t believe the saving, they don’t believe it, so that sometimes they won’t buy from us just because of that.

    Alex: You often hear, and I suppose it’s the same on the builder sites that people sort of get the kitchens and they get stung by the fitters, it’s not put together particularly well, or they’re mid-job and they sort of walk out for whatever reason. Is there any safety net or is there anything that the general members of the public should look out for as a possible pitfall to be mindful of?

    Anthony: Ok, so this question comes up quite often on pretty much every kitchen that we supply, do you install? So as a business we often recommended installers, to anybody I would say always go with the recommendation of the kitchen company supplying the kitchen because they are their installers, they will be installing every single one of their kitchens, so they’re already tried and tested.

    Alex: What’s the current trending kitchens, what’s the new gadget or the new tech or where’s the market really heading at the moment just to set the forefront of kitchens?

    Anthony: Well what we’re finding a lot of customers now, they’re going more for a matte finish door, so the glossier seems to be fading out although there are some people who still want the gloss, generally developers who assume they know what the end user wants and yeah you know sometimes you’ve got to drag them through and say matte is the way forward.

    Alex: And is that actually a sort of hand finished paint that you mean because I know some of the glossy is effectively a high polish plastic, veneer almost.

    Anthony: It’s both really, so I mean you’ve got your wrapped doors that are ever in the matte still then you’ve got our hand painted in the higher ends which have always been matte, so what you’re finding is people are wanting to as we said before, create the better look, create the look that looks more expensive, but of a fraction of the price. People are realising actually the higher end ones are hand painted not gloss.

    Alex: Fantastic, Anthony I’ve got to thank you very much indeed some great insights and some top tips there Now if anyone wants to get in touch with you what’s the best way?

    Antony: So you can get in contact with us on email at

    Alex: That’s great Anthony, really appreciate your time and thank you again.

    Interview With Kitchen Expert Anthony Rich-Caine

    March 2020
  • Property expert Alex Goldstein talks wills, trusts and probate with legal expert Andrew Parascandolo of Powell Eddison Solicitors. He explains why people should make a will, and why they are not just for the rich. He tells us what intestacy means, and why dying without making a will could mean your money doesn’t end up where you want it. They also discuss Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), why and when it is needed, and the effect of the coming increase in probate fees.


    Wills, Trusts and Probate – Experienced insight

    Full transcript below:

    Alex: It’s great to have Andrew Parascandolo from Powell Eddison Solicitors in Harrogate in the studio with me. Andrew thanks so much for coming in, today we’re just sort of talking through wills, trusts and probate and I think it’s often a misunderstood area of the law and again just to guide people through. The big hot topic at the moment as I see it is why should people make a will? It’s very much out there and being talked about but I don’t think people have got a grasp as to why and what it entails.

    Andrew: First of all, thank you Alex for inviting me to your show, very kind of you. Yes, I think it is a very hot topic. The statistics say that around 50% of the population don’t have a will. They still see it as an almost a myth that people think that wills are only supposed to be dealt with by the rich. Certainly not, we do regularly advise clients to make a will, they don’t have to cost lots of money, they can cost a few hundred pounds depending on the type of will. Essentially a will, what it does is it details what happens with your estate after you die. So, things like your money, your personal possessions, properties, what happens to them after you die. Essentially if you don’t leave a will, it’s the law and the laws of intestacy to decide how an estate is dealt with, who deals with it and how its distributed.

    Alex: So, its effectively your estate could effectively just get past to the Government if you don’t have a will?

    Andrew: Yeah, I mean essentially its not as drastic as that. A lot of people think it is but under the rules of intestacy it goes down the bloodline. So, it would be things like siblings, sons, daughters, partners etc. Mainly wives not partners. The will allows you to decide how your estate is distributed, it’s not the laws of intestacy so as I say because they are literally a few hundred pounds to put together its really important for people to make wills and have them regularly updated. We generally say around five to six years to review your wills.

    Alex: Yeah, I agree, and the other major buzzword out there is a LPA or a lasting power of attorney and again it’s a phrase thrown around and very much involved in the will sector. Just talk everyone through that, what it means, what it actually entails and why you should actually look at it fairly strongly nowadays?

    Andrew: Yeah, I mean in my view I always look at it like this, a will is how to deal with your estate after you die and that deals with things like incorporating step children, you may want to exclude family members, you may want to appoint guardians for young children etc. deal with remarriage, divorce as well as estate planning. Lasting powers of attorney are essentially the way of administering your estate whilst you are alive so that if you are unable to make decisions about your property, your finances, your bills etc. not just because you’ve lost capacity, it may be that you’ve lost mobility and then the lasting power of attorney is a really good way of doing that. A lot of carers essentially have the buzzword of lasting powers of attorney, go and make one its really really important. Now the first thing that I say to a client when making a lasting power of attorney is why do you need it? That’s really why people come and get advice abut lasting powers of attorney.

    Alex: So, if for example I suddenly get knocked on the head and I’m in a coma or something and I didn’t have a LPA, or something set up in my will how would it then work? How could someone take charge of my financial affairs? Is there a process someone needs to go through? How does it work?

    Andrew: Let’s look at it slightly differently. A will deals with your state after death and that only becomes valid when you die. In terms of a lasting power of attorney, that is whilst you are alive, that comes to an end upon your death and that is when the will takes over. So, if for example you were god forbid taken ill or run over by a car and had mobility problems and maybe capacity problems, if your spouse or a family member didn’t have a lasting power of attorney and needed access to your funds they would have problems doing that. It just depends, people have different estates, have different combinations of how they hold their money. They may be joint accounts, they may be single accounts and it’s just really talking to the client and not everyone will need a lasting power of attorney.

    Alex: This is a fantastic point Andrew, the phrase LPA, lasting power of attorney, gets thrown around sort of fairly freely actually it’s not necessarily right for all and sundry. You need to speak and talk it through in detail because actually it may not be the right options. How does it work? You hear quite a lot in the news about wills being contested and other family members, I know you slightly joked and said well you know one member of the family has been left out of the will and it all gets into the news, obviously these tend to be very high-profile cases. With your experience and knowledge of the sector, do you find that this is a growing area and what’s the reason for it, has there been a change in the law, or why is that? Or is it just the media?

    Andrew: Contested probate has increased in the last 24 months by 2000% and I do think that a lot of it is to with, there is a case that’s just been in the media which is Ilotts Mix and essentially that was a case where by a lady was estranged by her daughter for a period of 20 odd years, she then made a conscious decision to distribute her estate to charities, her daughter contested that and was awarded a amount of money by the judge, she was then not happy with that so appealed it, the appeal judge effectively increased the amount of money that she got and then the charities then appealed to the supreme court, now the supreme court has now ruled the appeal was not correct and has reduced the amount back to the original amount. So, in my view that case really is a case that sits on its own facts. It did attract a lot of attention, it did attract a lot of empathists for contested probates and contested wills, however in my view that is a victory for testimony freedom. At the end of the day people should be allowed to leave their estate how they feel fit as long as they have been properly advised. That’s the problem, we need to make sure that your listeners are properly informed that they need to just sit down with someone, it need not cost them lots of money to sit down and find out what their objectives and someone will weigh up the pros and cons.

    Alex: A great insight there Andrew and obviously bolted on the back of this is probate, again a term widely thrown around. Just loosely, just talk everyone around what it is, why it exists and how to actually navigate through it all?

    Andrew: I mean essentially probate is the administration of an estate after someone passes away. It is the formal application of the grant of probate if you leave a will. If you don’t leave a will its something that is called letters of administration and essentially it is a series of documents that allows you to proceed with the estate. The grant of probate once obtained allows bank account to be closed and the money to be collected, properties to be sold. The one thing that I do want listeners to be aware of, which has not been publicised very much is that the probate fees are just about to increase. I think that will have an impact on how people deal with their estate. There will be estates whereby people try to reduce the risk of this increased tariff by making decisions such as trusts, they may decide to reduce their estate by the use of trusts. It will also put executives in difficult positions simply because they will need to fund this new tariff which in some cases will be really difficult.

    Alex: I’ve got to say some amazing insight and some great sort of tips for everyone. If anyone did want to get in touch with yourself or your team at Powell’s to talk through wills or probate trust aspect to talk through their personal circumstances. What is the best way to get in touch?

    Andrew: Well thank you for that, it’s my pleasure. If people want to come down and speak with us we offer a free consultation period, it doesn’t cost anything, it’s free of charge, where people sit down with is and we then talk through their objectives. Another thing I would say is we’re no longer on 14 Albert Street, we’ve moved, we’re now at Raglan House on Raglan Street and we are having our official office opening on the 29 March at 5 o’clock, so we invite all of our clients to come and see us, those that can to maybe sit with us and maybe have a drink, a glass of wine or some champagne or some orange juice and to meet the team and the rest of the new team that’s come on board. The telephone number is as it always was so its Harrogate 01423 564551 and the website address or email address is and you can visit our website at

    Alex: Andrew, can’t thank you enough, fantastic information there and thanks for coming on.

    Andrew: Thank you for inviting me.

    Wills, Trusts & Probate Advice

    March 2020
  • Property expert Alex Goldstein’s Property Hospital. Alex answers a question about how to present your home for sale when you are putting it on the market. He reveals that we’ve moved on from the cliches of pots of coffee brewing and bread baking on the over. Clean lines, space and lighting are what you need to think about. Listen here for his top tips.


    How to Present Your Home For Sale

    Full transcript below:

    Alex: The property hospital is all about me answering your property concerns and demystifying the process. This week I’m answering a question from Lisa who’s got this to say.

    Lisa: Hi Alex, I’m putting my house on the market soon and I want to make it look as attractive as possible to buyers. I’ve read that doing things such as having a fresh pot of coffee on the go, baking bread in the oven and the table all set for dinner help, but are they a bit cliched?

    Alex: Lisa, thank you and yes, you’re absolutely right all those ideas are a bit dated nowadays and today it’s more about clean lines and less clutter the better. So clear away anything from the room that shouldn’t be there making sure all the surfaces are tidy and dust free. Dirty homes and unpleasant smells will deter your buyers. Clear any used pots from the kitchen and ensure any pet areas are thoroughly cleaned. Empty all your bins of course, have freshly laundered towels in a sparkling bathroom. I do actually know some clients have even bought brand new fluffy towels which they keep solely for house viewings. Also think about your furniture, what are you going to be taking with you. If you’re not going to be taking it, get rid of it and create more space in your home. Then think about lighting, warm ambient lighting will set the room off to its best so ensure key areas are well lit with lamps, downlighters or pendant lighting. The key is to put yourself in the position of the buyer and think about what would put you off and what you would like to see when you look around someone else’s home. I hope this is some help and best of luck with the house sale.

    How to Present Your Home For Sale

    March 2020
  • Full transcript below:

    A recent poll of the general public put 91%, quite impressive, of those individuals backing and supporting the work of the traditional high street agent. Only 9% of those asked had a poor or very poor service. You may have heard as well of these newcomers to the property sale scene and these are what are termed the online agents. You may have heard of the likes of Sarah Beeny’s, Tepilo, or indeed Emoov. And where these companies are different is whereby they don’t have a high street presence at all and they ship out all the daily estate agency activities, conveyancing and lending out to a big call centre. And whilst they are then able to substantially reduce their overhead and pass this onto the home seller, they can entice you to come onto their website for as little as £495 plus VAT. However, is there a catch? If we go back to this poll, the three key areas that the general public felt the traditional high street agent won over every other possibility and these were; the estate agents ability to negotiate was the absolute rime winner in this category. The traditional agent, that is what you’re investing into, that is what you are buying into. In comparison, the online agents on the most part leave you to it. As the homeowner or vendor, you are on your own. It’s up to you to negotiate the best deal for your property. But, at the end of the day who’s done those sort of negotiations before? Very few. High street agents were also praised for being contactable. Whether it’s by email or phone, that is what the public supported and whilst with the online agencies of course they can be there 24/7, it is part of a very big scheme. You are calling a call centre. Now, when you are selling one of your prize assets you need to be speaking with someone particular, not a generalised call centre so you’re very unlikely to speak with the same individual and have that continuity and rapport.

    The third option is carrying out accompanying viewings. A traditional agent, that’s what they’re known for, they’ve got support staff to do this as well, who will get to know the property and sell it at it’s very best. Online agents by comparison, they don’t do this. Again, as a homeowner and seller, again on your own and you are eft to sell the property, but again have you got the experience to do that and to sell your property to its best? Maybe, but on the most part maybe not. So, at the end of the day in summary I feel that the online agents, yes of course there is a market for them and I think they will be initially restricted to the lower end of the market were finances and budgets are under greater scrutiny and I can really see the appeal of them. But once you start getting into the mid-value and even the higher value it tends to be one of your most important, if not the most important asset and for my money I’d always want a traditional high street agent on the case and on my side. I can see him, I can walk into his office, I know him, and I see him in the street. At the end of the day as they say, you can’t call a website.

    High Street Or Online Estate Agent

    February 2020
  • When it comes to selling your home, what is the ONLY question you EVER need ask your estate agent? Most homeowners completely overlook this area, even though it is the most important! Property buying agent and consultant Alex Goldstein talks you through what to really ask.


    What is the ONLY Question to Ask your Estate Agent?

    What is the only question you need to ask the manager of your estate agency office when they’re looking to sell your property? That is, what is their experience in estate agency? Now, let me explain.

    For example, I had a case a couple of years back, and completely out of area. A homeowner rang me, and they were struggling to sell their property. The area was great, great property, right price. I just personally couldn’t understand why it hadn’t sold, and something wasn’t right.

    Cue a meeting with the estate agent, who also was the manager of that office. Excellent salesperson, full of enthusiasm, couldn’t fault him. However, once I’d actually cut through all of that and asked his experience in the sector, his response was that he used to work for Cirque du Soleil, the circus people, in their Marketing team. He was literally a clown.

    He fancied having a go at estate agency and bought himself a franchise, and whilst he could buy a franchise opportunity and he really was an excellent salesperson, he could not buy hands-on experience, and this is why a sale in this instance had faltered. And as the manager, leading his team, if there was an issue, or to have the foresight to see a problem potentially cropping up on the horizon, he was instantly out of his depth, and therefore, so was the rest of his team.

    Whilst those new to estate agency is a great thing, they need to be backed up by a leader with experience. And some of the most powerful agents have a young negotiator who’s enthusiastic, full of energy, who is then backed up and tempered by the manager, and these guys have the years of experience and know-how. Together, their combined skills can be a very formidable force when selling your home. However, no experience at the top can only lead to issues down the line. Remember, time and experience in any job can only be earned and never bought.

    The ONLY Question to Ask your Estate Agent

    February 2020
  • One of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to selling your home! As the homeowner, you know the property best, so would seem like an obvious choice. However is there another side to this argument? Listen to property consultant Alex Goldstein put light on this very subject having been in the property sector for the last 14 years


    Should Homeowners Conduct Property Viewings?

    Full transcript below:

    Alex: We’ve got a great question from Nathan. Over to him.

    Nathan: Alex, I’ve got a real dilemma. Many of the property television programmes out there see to portray that it’s best for homeowners to conduct their viewings. After all I know the property best and all it’s details and quirks. On the other hand, should I let the estate agent do it as they’re the professionals? What do you think?

    Alex: Nathan, thanks very much, a great question and one very often asked indeed. Now, on the face of it this does actually seem a bit of a no brainer. Of course, you know the property best, you should do the viewings, makes sense. However, in this instance knowledge isn’t necessarily power, let me explain. Firstly, you need to remember that on first viewings purchasers just want a brisk guided tour around the property and giving them details about where you sourced your terracotta kitchen tiles or where the water stopcock is, that’s almost information overload and you could well end up putting that viewer off.

    Second point is that because as a homeowner you are naturally and understandably emotionally connected with the property. However, your enthusiasm could sometimes be misconstrued as over selling or indeed at worst, come across as desperation to sell, which is certainly not the right impression. Now we’ve got to remember an estate agent is not connected to the property and therefore they can have an open dialogue with the viewer. They can recommend works that could add value for example and they’re more likely to get a true reflection from the viewer about their thoughts. Now, for example, how many times have we actually heard stories about the homeowners spending over an hour with a charming couple, showing them around the house, loved it and they’re going to be putting in an offer tomorrow, however, the next day they call the agent and absolutely slate it. This is what I call being British, as the viewer didn’t want to hurt the homeowner’s feelings. An estate agent doing the viewing avoids all of this happening. The final thing is that an estate agent is trained to pick up on what matters to the viewer and reinforce that point to them. So, the viewer loves the open-plan kitchen then the agent can spend more time in that room, refer back to it during the visit and finish the appointment there.

    So overall, I feel it’s best to leave the first viewings to the agents. This is what they’re trained to do, they’ve got a business position rather than a personal emotional one and it means they can get more out of the viewing than you potentially can. However, for second or third viewings you as the homeowner may wish to be in the background to answer some of the more detailed questions and when the viewer is starting to show more interest. Do remember, a purchaser is of course investing in the property, but they are also investing in you and if they meet you, they get to see that you’re a great affable person then this installs confidence in the whole situation. Getting under offer is only step one, getting to exchange of course requires patience and understanding and if the purchaser sees this in you, it again helps the whole process come together. I hope that’s been of some help Nathan.

    Should Homeowners Conduct Property Viewings?

    February 2020
  • You are looking to sell your property, but where should you spend some money to make sure your sale goes with a bang? New kitchen, new bathroom, garden landscaping? Alex Goldstein pulls on his 14 years of experience in the property sector to give you his expert guidance.


    How much to spend on presentation before you sell your home?

    Full transcript below:

    Alex: We are focussing on how far do you go and how much to spend on presentation before you sell your home. The key to this as I see it is put in the minimum, to get the maximum. So, for example do not go to the huge expense of putting in new kitchens or bathrooms when these are highly personal areas on the house, which let’s face it the incoming purchaser may not like anyway. Concentrate on wall colours instead at a fraction of the cost. It really is true that a fresh coat of paint can make all the difference and gives a room a whole lease of life. So, in advance of selling, and if you’re anything like me, book your decorator in to paint your main principal rooms and to touch up areas around the house. We’re not of course talking about a full house redecoration but the key areas only. You’ll find that with some great lighting and combined photography the rooms will really sing off the page and put you ahead of competitors out there. Instruct the decorator in advance of the sale. You don’t want viewers to smell it when they walk through the front door of course and heaven forbid they actually get wet paint on their clothes as they look around. The decorators also know that magnolia colour is not necessarily the way forward. They know what colours work for a room and how to make it stand out, and more importantly which tones are fashionable at the time. They, like me, have equally been around a lot of properties so their knowledge and expertise is vital. It’s a modest cost but you really will reap the reward when you come to sell.

    How Much To Spend On Presentation Before You Sell Your Home

    February 2020
  • Professional property photography is an absolute must when it comes to selling your home, but do you need to know. Tune in and listen to property adviser Alex Goldstein about his thoughts.


    The importance of professional property photography when selling a property

    Full transcript below:

    Male: I’m just about to put my house on the market, I live just outside of Ilkley, had an estate agent round, have taken some photos, not 100% sure that they do my house justice. Just wondering your thoughts on that?

    Alex: Yeah, it’s something that’s often come up against and I feel that whenever you come to sell your property, the one really worthwhile investment is in professional photography. Now, of course, estate agents can be enough, they’re very often trained, and they’ve got good camera kit, however, it’s worth spending a small amount of money just on someone who specialises in this. First impressions are absolutely paramount, after all these guys have lighting kits, they’ve got wide-angled lenses, not the ones that distort properties and the dimensions of the room, it’s about portraying. Remember you’re going from a 3D down to a 2D dimensional brochure. Again, photographers know how to get the best out of Photoshop and it’s about playing with lighting and colours. Do remember the new upcoming area is elevated photography so this is a camera on top of a telescopic pole and the cameraman, the photographer can walk around your gardens to get the best shot. Remember if you are going for this it’s always best to have a slightly oblique angle, a very gentle angle coming down on the property if you’ve got land or outbuildings or it’s quite a difficult shot to take from the ground. What you don’t want is something way up high and you’re doing a sort of birds-eye view down the other angle is of course drone photography. The photographer does have to now have a special license, but it really is incredible what you can do, whether it’s still images with a drone or indeed you can do the full video virtual tour starting from outside and flying down, then actually walking through the house. So, do get your photography absolutely bang on right. You will stand right ahead of the competition in the market and your sale will just go that much more further. I hope that’s of some use to you.

    The Importance of Professional Property Photography When Selling a Property

    February 2020
  • How should you prepare your property? What are the pitfalls? Tricks of the trade?


    Top Tips when you come to Sell your Home

    Full transcript below:

    So really the talk is in two halves, you’ve got selling your home and then once you’ve done that you then go on the buy your next property. So, really initially it’s when you come to sell your personal home, and this is where you are coming from as the homeowner and the way that you should do things or the way that I sort of advise my clients when you come to sell. Now, in an ideal world you should ideally always try and go into rented accommodation. Sadly, the times that we’re in, if we had this conversation five/ten years ago you could have got away with it and you could say well Alex you know well I’ve spotted that great flat that I’d like to downsize to, I’m now going to go on the market and we’ll all very nicely merge everything together. Sadly, for various reasons it just doesn’t work that way. It’s very stressful, you get involved in chains and when you start getting involved in chains, very high risk and this is where it starts then getting into the newspapers and again estate agency gets tarnished with the wrong brush. So, I always say to clients go into rented for a couple of reasons, number one, when you come to sell, you are selling from a position of strength. You are chain-free, you hold the ace card you can call the shots. When you then come to move its low stress, low pressure and you’re then in rented accommodation watching and waiting for the right property, and you then pounce on the right property. The only disadvantage of course going into rented, it’s the ladies that are nodding now, it’s two moves. But, I have to say going into rented is absolute ideally top priority.

    The next thing where people often fall foul when they come to put their property on the market, no one really sort of tells you this until it’s too late is actually appointing your conveyancing solicitor pretty much at the same time you appoint your estate agent. And when I say appoint your solicitor what I actually mean is ring them up, get a file opened for you, get client ID signed off, so you need to send your solicitor a copy of your passport, and recent utility bill, they’ll sign that off. They may ask for nominal funds upfront to cover any searches that they may go and do. And when you’re on the selling side they will want to get the title deeds, the information of the property, check it and if there are any problems or anomalies, get some indemnity insurance for £20/50, whatever it is, then you are ready to sell. The number of occasions in my career where we’ve done a great job, you’ve got the answer and all of a sudden, the vendor, the house owner is saying well actually I hadn’t thought about solicitor, the running around and they’ve basically wasted a week or ten days trying to find a solicitor, get all the client information, get all the title deeds, sort out the problem. This issue with that is your buyer who was initially extremely keen, champing at the bit, want to do the deal, you’ve chipped away at his confidence straight away and you’ve actually given him the buyer the upper hand. So, again top tip is really to get your solicitor on board at a early stage.

    The other thing, I was joking with Carolyn at the beginning, again a bug bear of estate agents and indeed solicitors is building regulations in that people accidentally forget the inform the council and the planning department that we’ve gone into the roof, we’ve converted the garage and they’ve kept it very low key which is great and they’ve enjoyed it, however when you come to sell it may be that you’ve taken a view and you’re buyer may take a view, but Carolyn I’m sure will go on to talk through, you’ve got to think legally, its got to be black and white. So, if you have been forgetful shall we say about getting building regs or planning sign off, it’s not the end of the world but it just takes a bit of time to sort. You can get retrospective planning permission where you go back to the council and get it signed off or you can get a form of insurance to cover you, but don’t run the risk.

    When it comes to presentation please ignore the media – top tip. Because Phil and Kirsty off the TV will say take everything out your house, paint the walls white, take all photographs down, totally the wrong advice and I’ll tell you why. Because house purchase is one of the very few emotional purchases that you actually do in life. If you walk into a sanitised hospital feel of a house, or one like going to hospital, why would you want to go and buy one? Its as simple as that. So, again people want to see the photographs out, the newspapers out. They then talk about the smell of coffee and all of that, they mean it in a genuine sense because someone is buying into a lifestyle at the end of the day and obviously please don’t take it to the other extreme where you’ve got clutter and boxes, it’s all piled up falling over you. It’s about striking that sensible medium in the middle. So, just take the media as always with a bit of caution.

    Top Tips when you come to Sell your Home

    February 2020
  • How do you get the best out of an estate agent? How do you stay front of mind with them?


    What to ask an Estate Agent?

    Full transcript below:

    A couple of things to sort of ask your agent when you are with them, as I’ve slightly eluded to, mystery shop, before you potentially go and see an agent go round to their offices as a prospective purchaser. Walk into their offices, see how you’re treated, how knowledgeable are the front-of-house team, and just get a eye round the office and see how well-run the operation is. Another one just to check is how many hot buyers, how many people are really ready to go, they’re cash in hand, how many people can that estate agent genuinely call. If they are spinning you numbers up into the 50 or 100 they’re probably spinning you a yarn. If you’re actually whittled down into a concentrated number you’re probably looking half a dozen, sometimes maybe up to 15/20 and that as a generalisation is more along the right lines. Another thing is just to check who is actually handling your sale at the end of the day because yes as we’ve said, and we’ve talked through, a very nice chap Fred, he’s sat in your kitchen but as we said, he’s a valuer, he’s going to be on the road quite a lot of the time, who back at the office is going to be handling your sale? You need to know that, you need to build your rapport with them so if there is ever a problem or something needs sorting, you’ve got direct access straight away to the right individual. Viewings is the interesting one, it’s something I always get asked actually, as your agent who would actually accompany. It may be that they’ve got an old sergeant major from the army who’s now retired that does it, it may be one of his other viewing team, it may someone from the office. But again, check who it’s going to be, meet with them, show them around the house so they are knowledgeable and can sell your property. Personally, I always like the fact than an estate agent does the first viewing. This is so that they can sell your property. So, if a buyer is flagging up an issue, they’ve got the skills to get round it and say well yes, we appreciate that it’s an avocado bathroom but actually they’re worth quite a lot of money, plus these are the firms you can speak with to sort it out and they’re trying to sort of get around the issue. When it comes to second viewings, maybe even third viewings that potentially is when you the homeowner, the vendor wants to potentially sort of loiter around in the background, because the end of the day the purchaser is investing yes of course in the property, they’re also investing in you as an individual. Don’t be put off when I say they want to see the whites of your eyes, but they want to get to meet you and get a good feel for you and there are a few hoops to jump through up to the point of exchange, the want to know that you’re going to be on a similar wavelength. So again, going back to this whole sort of personal rapport, it is quite important. The obvious one again, a lot of people will feel rattled by this but do check your terms of business with the estate agent, any penalty clauses, any withdrawal notices. A lot of the time some agents will just turn up on the day to take brochure details, quickly put the terms of business in front of you and say I can’t start until you sign it, you quickly rush sign it and give it back to them, all of a sudden, you’re committed. So, all I would say is please just take your time and say give them the afternoon and you’ll return it. For the most part I have to say a lot of agents in terms of business are fairly straightforward, its just again the odd minority, the old rogue out there who does it slightly differently. So, how to get the best out of your estate agent. As I’ve mentioned it’s getting to know the other staff members. Go into the office regularly, stay in touch with your estate agent and the person in the front-of-house team. But, do keep each conversation or dialogue with them short and brief. At the end of the day estate agents are salespeople, they don’t want to be bogged down with house owner ringing them for 20 minutes, half an hour, they’d much rather lots of little short, bitesize conversations or emails they can quickly get to grips with. And as I’ve said, exclamation mark, albeit, it’d be nice at the end of the day it’s a people business so again if the agents got a great affinity for you and it’s all going very friendly if something goes wrong he’s more likely to do something about it and it doesn’t matter with your estate agent or a car salesman or selling bricks, it doesn’t matter the principal is exactly the same, you always help someone that you get to get along with. And, go into the office, keep in the front of the staff’s minds and this is whereby they always need to be thinking about you, they are handling a large number of properties and they are always sort of plugging your property. One of the best trick I think to do this is actually buy them some cake. Genuinely, I know that you’re laughing but it does actually work, because again, we go back to the personal rapport, if you bring in a selection from Lancaster’s Bakery, six cakes call it, they’re sat out back where everyone’s having tea and coffee in the afternoon, will say thanks for bringing these cakes in, well I didn’t, it was Alex this client of ours, what a nice chap, must look after him, that reminds me we’ve got that viewing I must chase that up, all of a sudden you’re front of their minds. Small point but it does work I promise you, been there and done it.

    What To Ask An Estate Agent?

    February 2020
  • What are the three best tips when buying a property? This discussion will help guide you along the right lines, to ensure you buy from a position of strength and aims to dispel some common myths!


    Three Top Property Buying Tips

    Full transcript below:

    When you’re looking to buy there are three key top tips to get right every time.


    Get yourself into the best possible position

    I know people often think they know what this means but ideally this actually means you’re in rented accommodation. Being under offer is still considered relatively risky by the estate agents as there’s an additional chain involved which they don’t have much control over. Going into rented when you sell means you are chain free for this part of the transaction. When you go on to buy it means that you are purchasing from a position of strength and this is seen as very low risk. Overall, it also takes the stress completely out of your sale and purchase. Appreciate look, I know it’s two moves but honestly it really is well worth it.


    Have your mortgage lined up

    Due to the current financial regulations getting mortgages through takes so much longer and to prove that your part way down the line and more reliable than most, go through your lender and get what’s called an agreement in principal or a decision in principal lined up. This is effectively just a signed paper saying that your lender is going to give you a mortgage for such and such amount subject to a couple of conditions. To get this will mean a bit of work for you and your lender but it really does show good intent from your part when your buying.


    Have your solicitor instructed and ready to go

    This means getting them to open a file for you, sign off client identification checks and possibly have some minor funds on account to get the searches undertaken ASAP. You really would be amazed how long these couple of points can take, so it’s best as I see it to get underway when you’ve got time on your side and you’re not under intense pressure from the seller, estate agents and their solicitor pushing you for answers on other matters.

    If you need to talk these points through further, you only need drop me a line.

    Three Top Property Buying Tips

    February 2020
  • What to pay your estate agent? How to keep them motivated?


    Estate Agent Fees – What Should You Be Paying?

    Full transcript below:

    So, a bit of an interesting one and this is a bit of a hot topic and I suppose it’s a personal one for myself as well because having done it for 13 or so years you hear all the stories, estate agent fees, I think at the moment, certainly where we are in the UK are notoriously low. Just take a look at what’s happening on the European scene and indeed internationally, over in the US 10%, is a vast difference, but they’re doing a lot more for it admittedly but then you look to the continent, you’ve got France 6, Ireland up at 3, English estate agents are seriously cheap by comparison at 1 or 2%. So the problem that often arises and people often the house seller, get a bit of a kick out of it, is if you squeeze your state agent right down, you’ve got him right down, you’ve got him over a barrel, you’ve got a deal and a half out of him at the end of the day, if he’s under that sort of pressure is he really going to be that motivated to push your property for an extra £5,000, an extra £10,000, is he going to remain proactive, no to be honest, he doesn’t give a monkeys, he just wants it straight off his books because every single day, every single week your property is sat on his books you’re costing him money. If he’s on a very mediocre fee you’re making that even worse so I always say at the end of the day reward your estate agent, incentivise him to think about possibly doing a staggered fee, so you could have a two-tiered system so you say well Fred you know what if you get a mediocre result you get a mediocre fee but if you get an exceptional result I will give you a very chunky percentage of that uplift and estate agents like that because they will then be incentivised. You as the home seller, the vendor know that they have your best interests at heart and they really are going for it and don’t necessarily want it straight off their books, they will push it for everything that they’ve got. It then all comes down to what is sometimes actually a few extra several hundred pounds in commission, you know that you’re getting your agent to push a few extra thousand pounds in end sale figures. I know which one I would want at the end of the day, so again just remember they’re salespeople, keep them incentivised, keep them interested.

    Estate Agent Fees – What Should You Be Paying?

    February 2020
  • What is a preferred purchaser and how do you become one? What are the top tips to get you to the front of the queue? How to buy from a position of strength?


    What is a Preferred Purchaser?

    Full transcript below:

    So, we now sort of flip the coin slightly, and this is now, you’ve successfully sold our property and going onto the buying side, so, when you come to buy your property. So, as mentioned at the beginning, the aim when you come to buy your property is to become what I term, the preferred purchaser, and what a preferred purchaser means is that you are seen by the estate agent, you are seen by the house seller as the most reliable and most secure individual or buyer for that property but not necessarily the highest monetary amount. Because of course at the end of the day someone can offer you cloud nine money, but if they are in a five-man link chain and its all looking rather shaky, they can offer what they like because at the end of the day that’s very high risk. If someone is cash in a briefcase, in rented and they’ll do the deal in four weeks, you’re going to go with that option. So how do you become a preferred purchaser? As we’ve mentioned its getting yourself into the best possible buying position, ideally the ace card is going into rented accommodation, it just means that you get effectively red-carpet treatment the whole way and you will outdo anyone else that it involved in a chain because you are seen as low risk. When you come to buy, it sounds silly but do get your cash funds ready. Take them out of the HSBC Swiss bank account, bring them back onshore. Don’t have them in stocks and shares whereby it’s a five-month lead out notice period to get them, you need to think about timings, pull the plug and get them into a nominated account. Key when you come to buy, once they are in the nominated account get a screenshot or a bank statement, scan it into your computer and email it to yourself because when you then co e to negotiate you’ve got proof of your cash funds instantly to hand so you can turn around instantly to the estate agent and say I am cash, bang, straightaway. You are then very much on the forward footing, the estate agent may not have asked for it yet, most agents who are worth their salt and good at their job will ask for it at some point, but you’re just seen as proactive you’re on the case, you know what you’re doing, the estate agent can relax and he gets passed on to the house seller/vendor and away you go, it just makes things so much easier. The other thing which people very often overlook is mortgages, and it’s a big hot topic at the moment and they still remain jolly tough to get. So, when you come to buy sadly gone are the days, it’s not good enough anymore saying to your mortgage broker what do you think I can get, and he’ll turn around and say well Alex I think I can probably get you £300,000, do call me when you find the right property. Absolutely wrong advice don’t do it. What you need to do is get your mortgage broker, not necessarily a high street bank I always say go to a broker that is whole of market. They don’t necessarily charge you anything as well, because they can claim a fee from whichever provider they sort of suggest, but get what’s called a AIP, a agreement in principal so this is taking you on from initial application through various steps and stages and whoever. Natwest will write to you and say Alex, one sheet of paper, very happy to give you £300,000 in a mortgage, that is your AIP. As we do with the bank statements, scan it in, email it to yourself, it’s part of your proof of funding, but again people often trip up at that point so when you come to buy the last thing you want is to be faffing around and you haven’t actually got a mortgage ready and how you will come undone as a result. The other thing again when you come to buy, do get your conveyancing solicitor ready. There’s much less to do but again get client ID signed off with them, get a file open and make sure they’re ready. Have a surveyor in mind as well and make sure they’re not going away on holiday for three months and make sure they’re available. If you are looking at that type of property make sure you’ve got your trusted refurb team on standby and again keep the personal rapport, it’s all about people, keep it up with the agent and the vendor because as we know once you go under offer there are quite a few obstacles to get to exchange, the better you get one with people the more likely you can overcome those issues. So, when I was acting for a client, this happened to be in North London, we were negotiating, we agreed terms and I instantly supplied on my clients behalf, proof of upfront, that’s our cash terms, that’s an agreement in principle he then said it’s agreement I’ll just type out the memorandum of sale, the solicitors can start speaking, he emailed that out, within two hours of that being received I had my solicitor calling him for extra information. I had my building surveyor calling saying can I have access. I had my mortgage broker ringing him saying what are the details, I need it. All of a sudden, the estate agents slightly on a back foot, not quite what he’s expecting and we effectively, we turned the tables. We became the one that was negotiating, to the one that was commanding the situation and calling the shots. So, as I said its about bolting out the tracks, best foot forward and it then meant that if we came to renegotiate post survey, you were doing so from a position of strength. Thankfully in this example, there wasn’t a need, it flew through survey, but it just goes to show if you start of with good intent, get the estate agent, get the vendor with you, you all head off in the same direction.

    What Is A Preferred Purchaser?

    February 2020
  • How do you choose an estate agent? What do you need to look for?


    Which Estate Agent do you Choose?

    Full transcript below:

    Alex: Which agent do you go with? It’s often a conundrum for people. There’s of course option A, the chap who’s quoted you the highest guide price, option B, the guy who’s quoted you the lowest fee or is it option C, the guy that’s given you the best sales pitch and the most professional approach. Few of you nodding in the audience and you’ll probably say well Alex, you know what it’s a mixture of all of those in different measures and that’s how we’re going to gauge which estate agent when I come to sell my house we should go with. You’re all in agreement? Great. The answer is of course none of that, it’s option D, it is of course look at the estate agents front of house team. At the end of the day these are the people sat in the office on most days on the telephone, they’re meeting and greeting people off the street. Those are the guys that are actually selling your house at the end of the day. Not the very nice chap, the valuer sat in your kitchen necessarily. Obviously, he will be in the office taking the odd call but more likely than not it will be the guys that are in the office and that is probably one of the most important points in terms of having to cut through a lot of time, sort of sales sea and getting to the heart of the matter. So, market appraisals and this is where you as the homeowner are inviting agents out to come and see you and I always sort of say to clients get three agents, not more because then it starts to get confusing.

    Most important thing is please ignore your friends and your family, because at the end of the day of course your mother, your wife, your cousin, your best friend are of course going to say that your house is the bees knees and your underselling it and of course you should put an extra 200,000 on the price. Yes, they’re always going to flatter you but at the end of the day they’re not actually in touch with the market on a daily basis and I treat their advice of course with a touch of caution. And again, be careful, I put Zoopla! And Zoopla with an exclamation mark. Zoopla at the moment are an interesting one to watch, they’ve got a very generalised algorithm and again people hang their hats saying well look Alex I’ve looked at my property at Zoopla has churned out that and it’s got to be worth that. Unfortunately, the way maths and statistics work, it’s just done on averages and it’s just there to give you a ballpark guide it’s not there necessarily to hang your hat on and that is it in pounds, shilling and pence. The other misconception is at the end of the day estate agents are not valuing your property, they’re not there to value your property, they’re there to give you market commentary and market advice. By that I mean they are not there to give you pounds, shillings and pence this is what your property is worth this afternoon, they are salespeople, they are marketing people, they will say Alex we think your house is worth £500,000 but in order to get that for marketing purposes we’re going to out it at a guide of 550 or 525 whatever it is.

    So, again just be mindful of that so it goes back to how you chose your agent. You don’t list them out in terms of A, B and C, well this is the price order of guide price, we’ll go with the chap that’s given us the biggest guide. It’s slightly irrelevant in that regard. As I’ve mentioned it’s a people business, everything that I will go and talk through its all about people, it’s all about building rapport with the right people and you are buying with your estate agent, your buying into that individual of course who sat in your kitchen talking all through it, you’re buying into their nice front of house team and all the viewing agents because at the end of the day you strike a good rapport with them, they will look after you and they will on a lot of occasions I have, say bend over backwards to help you.

    Which Estate Agent do you Choose?

    February 2020
  • What is the secret to instructing a great estate agent? Is it making sure they help you set the right guide price for your home? Or do you want to feel like you’re getting a good deal over the fees they charge? Or would a professional sales pitch make the difference when choosing between agents? According to property expert Alex Goldstein, NONE of these should be top of your list when finding an agent. To discover the one thing you SHOULD be doing, listen to this short clip.


    Secret to Instructing a Great Estate Agent

    Full transcript below:

    This month we’re talking about the secret to instructing a great estate agent. Now when it comes to this our most important asset, our home, I regularly have conversations with home owners who are getting themselves in an absolute spin and we will say look it is any wonder. From their perspective estate agents all look the same, are going to say the same and they claim to do the same for their beloved home. Many believe that there are just three main criteria to choose from when they’re looking to instruct an agent, however all of these have got major flaws. Let me explain. So firstly, guide price now rightly or wrongly this subject alone seems to consistently come on top of everyone’s lists. Lenders understandably feel flattered when an estate agent exudes confidence in selling their home and especially when a guide price is quoted towards the upper end of the range. Now listen, agents of course know this and may quote enthusiastic figures just to get your instruction. At the end of the day anyone can quote a high guide price, so you have to look beyond this to get the right agent. The second criteria is fees, now estate agents are sales people, if you agree on a commission structure that’s sensible for both sides, the agents going to remain proactive right up until the point of exchange. However, many vendors feel that if they nail that agent right down on commission then they’ve made a saving, in actual fact they’ve instantly dis-incentivised that agent and it’s unlikely now they’re going to push for a top figure so these also need to be put to one side. The third benchmark lies in how professional the agent was in their pitch. They’re on the most part well dressed, they’ve got bunds of enthusiasm and obviously they’ve got confidence in selling your home. Of course, they love your property, which salesperson sat in your home is going to tell you otherwise so again, this point needs to be treated with caution. So, if it’s not about high guide prices, low fees and a professional pitch what do you really need to look at when picking the right agent? The answer of course lies with their front of house team. These are the people sat in the estate agent office who meet and greet potential buyers walking into the branch, deal with phone enquiries, website requests, know the properties, sell them effectively and have a intrinsic knowledge of the buyer database. The valuer sat in your living room, he’s going to handle a element of those but it’s their team back at the office who’s going to engage with all the buyers and the sellers whilst they’re out. And most importantly, they are going to push your property from being under offer to exchange. So, my advice is before you go and instruct an agent, go and mystery shop them as a perspective purchaser, see how engaging, knowledgeable and proactive the front of house team are. Find a team that is exceptional and suddenly you’re going to find that the estate agents guide price, fees and presentation take on a whole new meaning.

    Secret to Instructing a Great Estate Agent

    February 2020
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