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Housing Market Place Blog 

Do You Believe in Santa? 
STEPHEN OAKLEY looks at what tops many people’s lists for Santa at this time of year. 
All over the UK home buyers and sellers have an important date in mind. No, it is not 31st October when the UK is set to come out of the European Union. This particular date will not be delayed, deferred, or cancelled. There will be no heated debates in parliament and Mr Barnier will not discount it out of hand. It is a date that everyone is agreed upon. It is 25th December, Christmas Day. 
This date is etched on our minds. Already shops are stocking for Christmas and very soon Marks & Spencer and John Lewis will be revealing this year’s Christmas special television commercials. 
Anticipation will also be rising for those hoping to move into a new home by Christmas. Historically this is a key date in the home moving calendar. It is an emotional date, a day that suggests a new start and time spent with loved ones in new surroundings - full of familiar things that make a home. 
But the date can also put a great deal more stress onto an already stressful time. Why not complete a purchase two weeks later or at the end of January when things could be easier? Because it is not Christmas. 
So for those aiming to have moved by Christmas here are a few hints on how to make that happen. 
Set your price to sell. You haven’t time to test the market with an optimistic over-the-odds asking price. You need a deal fast and a buyer who is hot to trot. You don’t have to capitulate but you may have to compromise a little. Keep your eyes on the prize of putting up your Christmas tree in your new home. The clock is ticking. 
Don’t compromise on solicitors or conveyancers. Choose a lawyer who is geared to getting a deal through quickly. 
If you need a mortgage, make sure this is in place well ahead of time. 
Finally, do not compromise on your estate agent. Find a great one. The key to being able to open your Christmas stocking in your new home is an agent who will get the deal though. Think of your estate agent’s office like Santa’s factory in Lapland – it’s where the magic happens. 
The Art of Negotiation 
STEPHEN OAKLEY sees yet more similarities between the Brexit talks and property negotiation. 
Every negotiation begins with conflict of some sort - different points of view where both sides have strong and seemingly entrenched initial opinions about what each wants. This is the argument stage. 
But negotiations can't proceed if both parties don't move from those entrenched positions. Deadlock has to be broken otherwise neither party can proceed to any sort of end, never mind an agreeable one. This means one side has to take the plunge and be the first to make a proposal - to show that they are prepared to soften on their original stated position. This is not weakness. It is strength. It is clever. It is part of the negotiating process, for without a proposal there is stand off. 
Theresa May has just made this first move in the Brexit negotiations. After months of squabbling and posturing on both sides of the channel the British prime minister made a proposal during a speech given in Florence. Any decent negotiator knows that they should reward a reasonable proposal with, at least, a reasonable counter proposal. What will the European Union negotiators do next? Will they stay in the argue stage and stall the negotiation further? Or will they do the smart thing and signal that, they too, are ready to make reasonable concessions which will help kick start the constructive stage of the process? 
Property negotiation is just the same. Without concessions there is no progress. Skilled and experienced negotiators understand this. They understand how to read the negotiation road map. Which is why employing an experienced negotiator in the form of a talented estate agent is so important. 
The secret to good negotiating is in understanding when to argue and when to make a proposal. For house buyers the final quarter of 2017 may be precisely the right time to make a strong proposal. So far the property market has had a slow year. This we can really put down to higher property taxes, the general election and Brexit. We certainly can't put it down to employment and mortgage interest rates. 
It may be too soon to call, but there are certain signs that we are approaching, or may even have reached, the bottom of the market cycle. Knowing when to make a move is always difficult. But one thing is certain those people who think they will wait until after the Brexit negotiations are over may well be too late - all the good deals will have been done by people who understand that making a reasonable proposal early is better than reacting when it is too late. The Brexit negotiators should also bear this in mind as they enter the next round of talks this autumn. 



STEPHEN OAKLEY takes a look at the post-Brexit property market and offers some sound advice to those selling their homes over the summer months. 
Most but not all home sales occur because the seller is moving on to another property. Yet time and again many sellers become focused on the sale rather than looking ahead to the move. The sale becomes the be-all and end-all when really it is just a part of the whole move. 
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Stuff Happens 

STEPHEN OAKLEY explains why having good support when selling or buying a home is so important. 
It was two hundred years ago when Napoleon met his Waterloo – at Waterloo. 
Meeting one’s own Waterloo comes to all of us from time to time. I can think of many occasions in property when deals have gone sour, buyers have faltered leaving bitter sellers or sellers have changed their minds at the last minute leaving very frustrated buyers. Sometimes mortgages haven’t materialised or for some legal or survey reason the wheels have come off a transaction. Stuff happens. 
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Safe as Houses 

STEPHEN OAKLEY gauges the effect that the Election result will have on the residential property market. 
For several weeks leading up to the 2015 general election houses didn’t seem as safe as they might be. Across the country, house buying and selling activity stalled as people awaited the result. So the announcement that there would be a winner with a clear if perhaps only slender majority was met by those in the housing industry with a collective sigh of relief. 
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House or Mouse 

Stephen Oakley is pleased to announce the launch of a great new property market resource for buyers and sellers. 
Many property buyers and sellers will soon be aware that there is a new property portal to help them find or market a home. In recent years there have been two main portals, Rightmove and Zoopla. Both these appear on television commercials and, until now, they have been supported by many corporate and independent estate agents up and down the country who upload all their properties onto these sites. 
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An Estate Agent’s Christmas Carol 

Stephen Oakley tells a heart-warming Christmas story. 
Scrooge had been trying to sell his house all year - but to no effect. He was fed up with cold winters and longed to move to Spain where he had found a flat at a knockdown price being sold by a desperate developer. Now it was Christmas again and there was still no sign of a buyer for his own house. Scrooge hated Christmas. 
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A Slab of Christmas Cake 

STEPHEN OAKLEY takes a look at the agreeable change in stamp duty brought about in the Autumn Statement. 
Few people like taxation. Most understand that we have to have taxes. But when they are as unfair as our stamp duty was then taxation seems to be doubly disagreeable. 
In his Autumn Statement the Chancellor, George Osbourne, at a stroke righted many wrongs concerning stamp duty - and perhaps put a serious dent in the opposition's mansion tax plans at the same time. 
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Principally Speaking 

Stephen Oakley offers some words of advice to those selling property over the coming months. 
Standing on principle can be an expensive position to adopt when buying and selling property. In a level or falling market hanging out for a high price because - in one's own view - it is worth it can often backfire, because a property which is too highly priced can look out of step with the rest of the market. Can sellers really know what their properties will fetch? 
Surely they are worth what others will pay for them. 
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Lights, Camera, Action 

STEPHEN OAKLEY looks at estate agency in the media. 
Once again the television cameras have been peeking into the working lives of estate agents. The latest BBC 2 fly-on-the-wall series called Under Offer (Wednesdays, 8.00-9.00pm until 7th May) has become required watching for many. So how are the estate agents in the programme doing? 
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First Love 

Stephen Oakley looks at one of the challenges of buying property in this buoyant market. 
The big challenge with this property market is that there is less time to make a decision to buy. The fewer properties on the market the more pressure there is for buyers to make a choice quickly. Figures show that in London alone, there are sixty buyers for every property for sale. 
So gone are the days of casually inspecting property after property over a number of months and then taking weeks to make up your mind. In this market blink and you will miss the good ones. 
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Estate Agents Buckinghamsire
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