have been Estate Agents in the St Albans area for over 30 years,
during which time they have experienced many changes in the housing
market and currently operate four divisions.
response to the increased demand for property in the so called South
St Albans area they opened premises in London Colney in 2002.
Hrstic is the man in charge and he told us all about the current
housing market in the area.
is business going?
Very well. We've been here for 18 months and I think
the change of perspective of there being another agent here in the
village, some new faces and a different level of customer service
has been received very well.
brought Collinsons to London Colney?
I think the amount of registrations we were getting from people
who wanted south side, more affordable housing in any adjacent villages
to St Albans were so large that we tried to get in here as the demand
has the housing market changed in recent years?
Over the last two years it has gone up quite a bit and it's come
back down again and at the moment I think we are at the cooling
is about to start going off on holiday, so it is a good time of
year to see how much interest you are going to get. Summer is the
prime selling time. Up until the end of August, there are a lot
of local buyers around making the market very buoyant.
types of clients are looking for property in this area?
Local people are obviously our first priority. There are a lot of
inter-village moves, people that have been brought up here and want
to buy their first flat, then their second home, then their three
bed semi, and get their kids into local schools.
also have people coming in from Watford, Borehamwood and some areas
of North London. It's not a vast amount of buyers from those places
but they're the usual stepping stones in to St Albans.
types of clients are actually buying property in this area?
People that are selling their flats in St Albans are getting a bit
more house over here for their money. Also people from Watford and
Borehamwood, and local people that are selling their houses here
and want to step up.
you feel this area reflects the true value of property or are people
just scrambling for what they can get?
No, I wouldn't have thought so. London Colney isn't a large place,
and I think if you are driving through you can see that we have
a lot of local amenities and good local schools.
it is attracting the first time buyers which kick start the whole
chains. Then you have some larger properties which people are moving
into and getting their kids in the local schools.
do you see the recent and expected increases in Interest Rates affecting
Well they stayed the same recently and the phones coincidently started
ringing again after that announcement - it sometimes does have an
friend started his mortgage two months ago and it has already risen
by £132! But these rises don't really start to affect the
market until you start getting up to £500K plus, but that
is something I don't deal with, I can only speak for my division.
What advice would you offer to a first time buyer?
Thoroughly research the area where you want to buy, and definitely
get a good grasp of what is actually selling.
register with as many agents as possible and try and find an agent
you can befriend and take to the pub so he can find you a nice flat!
afraid I can't inspire much faith for first time buyers. I'm a first
time buyer myself at the moment and it is getting increasingly difficult
to find a place, because a lot of people from outside the area who
do have the money are coming in.
there aren't a lot of people putting their flats on the market at
the moment either.
that has always been a problem in St Albans is buy-to-let investors.
They are buying the flats to put them on the rental market and therefore
taking them off the first time buyers hands.
seen days of mammoth price rises before but that ended in disaster
for millions with negative equity. What is so different this time
or are we heading for a disaster?
No, things can only fall by however much they have gone up by, and
they haven't gone up by too much.
back to last December, when prices were starting to rise on the
eve of New Year. The Iraq conflict had finished, September 11th
was well gone, the economy was stabilised, the prices went up and
the interest rates went up to combat that. They are now sticking
and the prices have begun to cool.
advert in the paper actively states that more property is needed
and that you have buyers with cash waiting - is this really true?
Yes, if we searched our books for cash buyers between £100K
cash buyer can be determined in different ways - they can be unencumbered
or have nothing to sell. Cash in some agent's terms doesn't mean
they have shopping bags full of money! But there are plenty of people
ready to go, who have had their mortgages and have been looking
for two years and have got a healthy deposit from their parents.
They literally have the money and are ready.
so, how often does property get sold the day it is put on the market?
Not amazingly often, due to the way in which we market the company.
We have a huge mailing list and we like to use it. Details will
always be mailed out to everyone matching that criteria and everyone
will have a fair crack of the whip.
if we do get a super four bedroom detached property for under £300K
- which is good for round here - it can sometimes go at the first
viewing. It's happened before, but it usually gets marketed.
an ideal world how would you alter the entire housing market?
I don't like the legal process whereby you can spend an awful lot
of money on solicitor's fees, conveyance costs, survey fees, and
even on paying a financial advisor just to talk to you - and then
someone can just pull out.
think we need to have a more Scottish structure where there is a
sealed bid system and you are legally and contractually bound from
the minute you offer. This would save a lot of time on everyone's
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