The Alex Goldstein Property Show (Part 14)
In May 2017’s packed Alex Goldstein Property Show, Alex talks to a financial expert on putting yourself in the best position to get a mortgage in this tough lending climate, and who gives his top tips to first-time buyers trying to get onto the housing ladder. He also asks whether interior designers are worth their money, and in the Property Hospital this month is a question about buyers in a hurry. Lastly, Alex reveals a ‘Must-Do’ when you’re moving house – and which many people don’t!
The Alex Goldstein Property Show (Part 14)
Full transcript below:
Alex: Welcome again to the Alex Goldstein Property Show. The number one property show on Stray FM. We aim to demystify the property sector plus it’s associated industries and give you exceptional tips and expert insight. Now if you need that property hit, connect with the Alex Goldstein social media accounts to get the very best property advice whenever you need it. In this months show we will be getting the inside track from interior designer Eleanor Goddard from Furnish and Fettle, putting Mauro from Cathedral Finance in the hot seat and grilling him about mortgages, plus some great tips and cutting-edge property insight. Lots to fit in so we’re straight on with it.
This month it’s all about client service. Now something I value incredibly highly in business is integrity. The yardstick I use to measure this is the transparency with which people operate and I’ve long said that if you put your clients at the forefront on everything you do the clients are going to come your way. Yet let’s face it client service can be used incessantly as one of those buzzwords on company websites and many claim to care for their clients but do they really? In my mind it’s a case of going back to basics, looking in a client’s best interests putting them at the absolute centre of everything. I ask myself most days, look if the client was a member of my family how would I advise them. I’m constantly amazed how many referral fees go on behind the scenes and this isn’t just in the property sector whilst our third company may be good at what they offer, soon as a monetary incentive is introduced into the mix you’ve instantly got a bias. I’m regularly approached by businesses offering some kind of incentive to gain access to my clients, but I always turn them to the emplacement I have to say of some of them. Now I have been in the business 15 years building relationships with people I trust and yes, I’ve got a bank of solid dependable contacts. I suggest their products and services to my clients, however its safe in the knowledge that they’re the right one for each client and full confidence they’re going to do a good job. None of them ever ask for kickbacks when they send people my way and neither do I seek anything of them. We’re looking at the bigger picture you might say. So, to put this in context, for example, Robert the Decorator I suggest, he’s been in business for over 17 years and he’s of the old school. I say he’s the only decorator I know who listens to Classic FM while he works and that sums him up perfectly. He always does a great job at a fair price and sometimes even offers my clients a discount as he knows they come from me and they’re going to be easy to deal with because I’ve guided the client prior to his visit. It’s a win-win situation for all involved. Robert gets a decoration job on the right basis, my client has a home presented to a great standard which in turn makes mine and the appointed agents job much easier. The property is then sold at the best price. The payback for me is way more valuable than any below the counter monetary backhander and that is word of mouth repeat business and I want people to talk about me to each other and that simply happened by putting them first and doing a great job. As I mentioned in my recent Yorkshire Post column, 92% of my business came from word of mouth recommendations last year and that probably tells you all you need to know.
It’s great to have Eleanor Goddard from Furnish and Fettle here in the studio with me today. Eleanor thanks so much for coming in. Tell us a bit more because it’s quite interesting where you guys are at the moment, because it’s all a relatively new business isn’t it?
Eleanor: It is Alex yes, basically Furnish and Fettle was born last summer on the morning of Brexit actually which was a swell time. We bought the James Brindley business in Wetherby which had to be rebranded so furnish and Fettle was born then.
Alex: Fantastic, and also, I hear there’s some more exciting news as well, you guys don’t really hang about from what I gather.
Eleanor: No, we definitely don’t. So, we had the opportunity to buy the James Brindley interior design division in January this year, so we set ourselves a very short timescale and we opened our second Furnish and Fettle showroom in Royal Parade at the end of March.
Alex: So that’s in Harrogate, right by Valley Garden so within what timeframe is that from opening your doors initially to then opening up your Harrogate branch? Must only have been about six months I guess?
Eleanor: Yeah, I think it’s slightly longer, I think it’s eight, maybe nine months.
Alex: There you go that’s pretty impressive to start with, given that you’ve now also taken on the James Brindley side of things. You’ve got this amalgamation, what are the sort of things that say yourselves an interior designer, what are the services that you actually offer now?
Eleanor: Alright, well essentially now we’ve got the original James Brindley interior design team back together, so we’ve got a very established team of people that are used to working together and not only do we have the design team, we have the installations team and that’s really important because it doesn’t matter how good a design is if actually when you get your curtains arriving if they don’t fit properly and they’re not put up properly and the end result isn’t going to be that great so that’s really key to what we offer is the whole process really. So, we can offer anything whether its just a tin of paint or a roll of wallpaper for a feature wall through to a full interior design service and we can also work on large projects and renovation projects in conjunction with architects. We really can offer that whole process.
Alex: How does an interior designer actually help a home owner? What can you actually do, what do you do?
Eleanor: Yeah, I think it’s a big misconception that interior designers are really only there for people like footballer’s wives in these amazing great big pads so really, we offer two different sides to the way that we work. There’s the very straightforward accessible to everybody option, where you can come into our showroom and can spend the time choosing the right colour and getting that expert advice which won’t cost you anymore than if you went to B&Q to buy a tin of paint.
Alex: Got you, I suppose that’s the more simplistic side of things and general sort of basics for wallpaper and paint, and what’s the reverse side of things?
Eleanor: The reverse side of things is that you would pay an interior design fee which is £175, which we’re confident is market leading for the value that it represents. So, the designer would then come out to your home and would spend as much time as they need to, understanding what it is that you’re really looking to achieve from your project and how you live in the space, how you want it to feel and what it is you are looking for at the end of that project. They would then come back to the showroom and they put a lot of work in behind the scenes, getting different things together and sourcing pieces for you and putting a scheme together, perhaps getting some ideas for different wall coverings or fabrics for putting curtains together and then at that stage they’d probably invite you back into the showroom and take you through it. So, all the way through it’s a collaborative process. I mean essentially, we’re pulling together all the different projects that are out there in the marketplace and it’s a vast marketplace, I mean I think we’ve got something like over 100 different suppliers just of fabrics and I know for a fact that we’ve got over 2,000 fabric books just in Harrogate because we had to move them over from James Brindley into our own showroom at Wetherby.
Alex: So that’s really where an interior designer would come into their own because they will intrinsically know inside out all of that information and can pinpoint the fairest options and save effectively the homeowner a lot of time and hassle and start to hone in on specifics at the end of the day.
Eleanor: Yeah it’s like when you would walk in and we see it all the time, people walk into the showroom and go oh crikey where do I start and you say right ok well what you looking and get all I want is some curtains for my lounge and it’s then pairing that down into what it is they’re actually looking for and then being able to take to perhaps looking through five or six books which might then have thirty fabrics in each, and being able to pair that down to a couple of choices and just taking away that completely overwhelming situation in that you can walk in and go ooo.
Alex: I quite agree and what happens, I mean obviously a lot of listeners have got children everyone’s always mindful and yeah you pick up these fantastic interior design magazines, everything is all beautiful and white and very much sort of the French country look sort of thing. How can you guys fit in with that because again if you’re a family with children you can’t sort of have that pristine white?
Eleanor: Yeah, I think that’s really important because it’s our job really to make sure the space doesn’t just look beautiful, but it actually works. So somebody comes to us and tells us that they live on a farm and they’ve got three dogs, the last thing we’re going to suggest they do is have a beautiful cream sofa, we’re going to suggest to them that perhaps you need something a little bit more practical something that you’re going to be able to get cleaned, something that you’re going to be able to perhaps throw over it to stop is you know getting, the dogs can jump on the throw and you can chuck the throw in the washing machine. We are very practical as well as having that sort of design side with it and I think the two very much need to marry together to make sure that it works.
Alex: How does it work if, I know we briefly touched on the budget side of things, obviously as you said at the beginning if you are sort of a footballers wife territory and budget is no option, its meaningless that’s fantastic but what happens if you’re the other side of the fence and your saying well I just need a helping hand in the right direction but I’m a bit more constrained on budget, how can you then help a homeowner to get that look?
Eleanor: I think it’s going back to that industry knowledge so if somebody tells us that they’ve got a budget we can work within that budget. The designers are trained to know which items are going to make a really big difference so it might be that together with your designer you would choose to spend a lot of money on a real big wild piece in a bedroom or it might be having a beautiful upholstered bed head made in a lovely fabric but then you might chose to use a less expensive fabric on your huge windows and therefore you’re making that budget goa little bit further. There are lots of clever ways and it’s having that access to all of those different suppliers and the knowledge of what to get from where and then that sort of sense of style that these guys have in being able to pull it all together that is really going to make the difference so you don’t always have to spend a lot of money to get a really good look.
Alex: With your experience in the business what are your top tips if someone is looking to appoint and instruct an interior designer? What are the key things in your mind that people should be mindful of and sort of any potential pitfalls that they should avoid?
Eleanor: I think the absolute key to it is finding somebody that you get on with and that you can work with and that will listen to what you’re saying to them and will take it on board and the things they’re coming back with are going in the right direction, and that’s easy to test out because you can come along to one of our showrooms which is what we suggest most people do as a starting point and you can just browse through some fabrics, you can chat to the designers because we’ve got lots of designers and it might be that one designer you particularly gel with more than another. That’s really important as you’ll be spending a lot of time with this person and you’re going to be perhaps having them in your house and sharing sort of your personal space with them so you really do need to be on the same wavelength to make sure that you work together and you need to enjoy working with them because at the end of the day it’s meant to be a fun process.
Alex: It is indeed, I suppose just on a parting note if someone just said well look I just want I suppose re-orientating and pointing in the right direction as you said the designer can come out for £175 but I guess there’s no obligation they can sort of say well you know what you need to do what we think you need to do.
Eleanor: That’s absolutely fine and some people do that and then they might just come in and just buy a mirror and a lamp and we never see them again, other people might decide to take down all the real curtains and start from scratch. Either’s absolutely fine.
Alex: Fantastic stuff, well Eleanor I can’t thank you enough for coming in and if people wanted to chat through everything in more detail with you, what’s the best way to reach you guys?
Eleanor: You can come in and see us, I think it’s the best thing, it’s very much a touch and feel kind of business. We like to think we’re sort of the friendly approachable side of interior design. We have a website as well if you want to have a look and have a read through about us before you do that, we’re www.furnishandfettle.co.uk or you can call us at either of our showrooms. The number for Wetherby is 01937 581451 and our new Harrogate number is 01423 567757.
Alex: Fantastic, Eleanor thank you once again, really appreciate it.
Eleanor: Thank you Alex.
Alex: The property hospital is all about me answering your property concerns and demystifying the process. Now this week I’m answering a question from James, who’s got this to say.
James: Hi Alex, my house sale is under offer and going well and we’re moving quickly in the right direction and the purchasers in a great position, chain free and cash and it’s put me under pressure to exchange and only leave me a couple of weeks until completion. How do I manage this situation and how can I pack up my home in the mean time?
Alex: James, appreciate the question. Now if you’ve got a buyer that is clearly in a strong position and enthusiastic about exchanging, then it is well worth keeping them onside. Shake their hand gleefully and honestly, run for the hills, in other words get them signed up ASAP so you’ve got the security that you’re deal has gone through. Up until the point of exchange transaction is virtually meaningless. Now if you’re worried about the relatively tight timeframe and packing up your home, don’t worry. Many home removal companies offer a home packing service, you literally don’t need to do anything, and their team come in, wrap, pack your entire house and you can even ask them to unpack at your new home. Surprisingly I have to say it really isn’t a huge amount more money and really worth outsourcing this fairly tedious task. I hope this helps.
Mauro: Cathedral Financial Planning
Voiceover: Years’ experience?
Mauro: Ten years
Alex: Fantastic to have Mauro from Cathedral Finance here with me and we really are going to delve into a lot of detail about dare I say the banks at the moment and lending and in particular the first-time buyers out there. Mauro it may sound a bit of an obvious question but why on earth are the banks so reluctant to lend I think to everyone and anyone out there at the moment or is that a bit of a unfair statement?
Mauro: I believe it is a bit of an unfair statement actually to the banks. The banks in the past have been accused of lending irresponsibly to those with little or no deposit and less than stellar credit profiles. That’s got the banks into trouble, it’s also got borrowers into trouble. Since new mortgage rules have come out around 2014 banks have been asked to lend responsibly by the regulator. These new rules-imposed banks to lend no more than 4.4 times gross income.
Alex: Ok, that’s useful to know but why would they just put, it seems, and it comes across to a general member of the public like myself that there are just so many hoops to jump through and obstacles. How and I know we’ll come to first-time buyers but if you are just looking for a mortgage what do you need to do and set up possibly in advance trying to sort of get around those issues?
Mauro: Absolutely, that’s a very good question for first-time buyers. It’s very daunting and I’m sure that you and I have the greatest of respect and sympathy for first-time buyers trying to save this mammoth deposit that they need to buy there first home. You know lenders want to lend to first-time buyers, they just want to make sure that the first-time buyers are going to be a good egg to lend to. In that respect first-time buyers can position themselves in terms of making sure that their credit profile is a good one, has strength, by doing that I’m finding that when I do speak to first-time buyers that they’re fresh out of university or fresh out of college and so they may feel that they have the perfect credit score but in reality they haven’t proved that they can borrow money sensibly.
Alex: Is that about getting your first couple of credit cards but not necessarily using them, sort of thing?
Mauro: Absolutely so I tend to recommend to first-time buyers to take out a credit card and just to put their shopping or put their petrol on there and just to pay it off each month. That shows lenders that you are able to manage credit responsibly.
Alex: And when it comes to first-time buyers, I know you briefly touched on it, is it all about deposit? I mean back in the day it used to be if you’ve got a 25% deposit then you know what you’re going to get the very best rates out there but again house prices especially in and around our areas we know its expensive, do you need to save up that level of deposit, how can one get around it, especially if you’re a first-time buyer?
Mauro: There are a number of options available to first-time buyers and in terms of you don’t need to have the substantial deposits that lenders would like to see. Of course, lenders will reward you if you have a substantial deposit and substantial deposit you’re talking about say 25% of the purchase price, but lenders will look at those with a minimum of 5%. There aren’t many lenders out there that will lend at 95%, but now in terms of open credit what banks are willing to lend you’ll find that probably there are about a dozen lenders who will lend at these high 95%.
Alex: So, is there a sting in the tail because obviously if they’re doing 95% loan to value say to a first-time buyer, is that first-time buyer paying a huge amount more on their interest payments?
Mauro: Yes, you know a bank, a lender will reward borrowers with more deposit with a better rate. The rates do tend to change every 5%, so the minimum deposit that you need to put down is 5%, rates around the 95% borrowing tend to be around the 4% mark. If borrowers were to put down a further 10% then you’ll see an instant lowering of rates so the more you’ve got to put down the better the rate you’re going to get.
Alex: Ok, and I mean everyone sort of talks about the bank of Mum and Dad and trying to sort of get funding that way whether it’s for your deposit, I mean the Stamp Duty rule changes have slightly gone in peoples favours, there is a bit more of a discount when it comes to stamp duty but if your parents are fortunate enough and they can lend you something then obviously that’s a option. Again, first-time buyers, how can you get around that? Yes, if you’ve got that from bank of mum and Dad, but if you do not have that option, are there any other paths you can go down?
Mauro: There are a few other options for first-time buyers to consider. There is what is called a help-to-buy scheme, where you go into partnership with the Government. With respect to help-to-buy schemes, these are designed to help those struggling to save a deposit for their first home or move up the property ladder. The help-to-buy schemes are restricted to new build homes only, the buyer is required to raise 5%of the property value as a deposit. The Government will stump up a further 20% through a local agency and with the combined borrowing, 5% from your own savings and 20% from the Government savings, this will allow you access to much cheaper preferential rates. In terms of other schemes available to first-time buyers if they’ve not got the 5%, housing associations allow you to part-buy and part-rent your home, so you’re able to buy a share of your chosen property, typically between 25% and 75% on which you’ll have to take a shared ownership mortgage. What are the benefits of a shared ownership scheme? Shared ownership scheme allows you to gain a foothold on the property ladder in an affordable way.
Alex: Mauro, some great insight there. You’re actually, most people won’t know this, you’re actually a very qualified chap because you’re able to offer all sorts of bits and pieces, not just about first-time buyers and mortgages, just briefly touch on what you can offer.
Mauro: I’m a qualified independent financial adviser. I work for myself and I’m a sole practitioner. I’m qualified to give advice in investments and pensions and protection. I’m able to offer tailored financial solutions in a simple way.
Alex: All sounds great. If anyone wanted to talk through first-time buyer mortgages, pensions or investments, what’s the best wat to reach you?
Mauro: The best way to reach me is either via my website which is cathederalfp.co.uk on my mobile 07999196984 and I’d be happy to help, happy to give a free initial consultation and until I’m able to understand how I can help you as an individual there is no charge.
Alex: Fantastic. Well Mauro thank you very much indeed for giving us great insight into the world of lending, really appreciate it.
When it comes to instructing a conveyancing solicitor for your sale or your purchase then key is to do this sooner rather than later and I am constantly amazed how rare it is for an estate agent to flag this up to their clients who are selling or indeed to purchasers. Well I go over here you say well Alex that’s great but what it the actual point of doing that? Now look, if you’re selling for example you’re going to need to provide original or authorised copies of your passport and a recent utility bill. Scan and email is no longer accepted. You’re going to need to sign the solicitor’s paperwork, ask them to open a file, plus instruct them to collate the title information go through it and if there are any issues to iron out you may need to get some indemnity insurance. As the vendor you’re also going to need to dig out all your paperwork and the guarantees and the certificate and before you know it you’ve easily wasted ten days trying to secure all this information. Now if you haven’t done this early on you’re now going to waste valuable time sorting this out very often at the point of going under offer and this is really when you should be focussing and progressing towards exchange. Most importantly if you do forget to do this it sends completely the wrong message to your buyer and dents their confidence because you’re wasting 10 days before the solicitors can even do anything with the whole transaction. So, the key, always instruct a quality solicitor and ensure you do it at the same time as instructing your estate agent, then there’s never going to be any surprises down the line.
That’s the Alex Goldstein Property Show and yet again some superb top tips and features. If you need expert information, videos and up to the minute property news then head over to my website alexgoldstein.co.uk alternatively if you require personalised advice or 15 years of experience advice when it comes to buying or selling your property, please get in touch directly. The next episode is out on the 1 June, so make sure you tune in for that. Until next time.