Key to easing the pressure

PUBLISHED: 09:52 30 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:07 22 October 2010

While many corporate estate agencies now offer a “one-stop shop” to clients by handling the legal and financial aspects of house buying and selling, the independent Keys partnership has for decades quietly catered comprehensively in another respect.

While many corporate estate agencies now offer a “one-stop shop” to clients by handling the legal and financial aspects of house buying and selling, the independent Keys partnership has for decades quietly catered comprehensively in another respect. It will sell both house and home.

The company's renowned fine art and antique salerooms have for long periods been a popular tourist attraction, as well as a very useful means by which many of us have been able to acquire and dispose of all manner of items. In addition to selling fine furniture and other contents Keys will, for a modest fee, undertake total house clearance.

“This is a valuable service and one which often also leads to us being asked to sell the house we are clearing,” says Phil Cooper, assistant partner and manager at the Norwich office of Keys. “It is particularly useful for people living outside the county, who either inherit or find themselves responsible as executors for property they do not want to live in or look after.”

Since Keys regularly holds property auctions, it can arrange for the valuation or survey - by partners or senior staff - of any unwanted homes and either sell under the hammer or through the most appropriate branch office.

The long-established company's services as auctioneers, surveyors, valuers and estate agents are now being advertised world-wide through the highly successful rightmove property website, and the Keys partners have been delighted by the positive response.

“For many years we have had our own website, but advertising on a national property portal as well has made a substantial difference,” adds Mr Cooper. “We can combine the best aspects of technology with the traditional service and intimate knowledge of the Norfolk property market for which we are well known, through our county branch network.”

Keys has property offices in Norwich, Aylsham, North Walsham, Holt, Cromer and Sheringham, with surveys, professional services and the large-scale auction operation operating out of Aylsham. It also runs a thriving holiday homes business.

“A growing number of people now search the internet as a means of helping to identify where and what kind of property they want to buy, but there will always be a place for the professional estate agent with specialist knowledge, who can keep deals together to a completion.

“Most people would never buy a car without a test drive, and I firmly believe the majority will never purchase a home just by seeing it on the internet. As an individual, I certainly wouldn't.”

While technology is a valuable tool, homeseekers can be overloaded with a tidal wave of information including floorplans, virtual reality tours and a plethora of digital photographs.

“All this can confuse, as opposed to enlighten. Often more can be gained by talking to an experienced estate agent who knows the property, how it sits in its land or in relation to neighbouring homes, what local amenities and leisure facilities are close to hand.

“You need to entice and excite potential buyers rather than irritate with too much detail. Give them just a taster, enough to persuade them to go and view. At the end of the day, whatever information they have beforehand, it is still better to go and look.”

Technology is also helping to educate buyers and sellers about actual selling prices achieved in their local area.

“The public now has access to internet information which records not only asking prices for specific properties, but also their actual sale price. While most people will have a good idea what property is worth in their local area, the same is not true for incoming buyers.

“Anyone planning to sell should obtain valuations from three agents before coming to market, and not be afraid to ask for justification, especially if there is a big disparity in prices quoted. Some agents may deliberately overvalue in a strongly rising market, believing the market will eventual catch up with valuation, but this situation does not apply currently.”

Whatever happens in the property market in the near future, Phil Cooper believes that sensible valuation, from an experienced agent combining the best aspects of modern technology with traditional customer service, will provide the best way forward to a speedy transaction.

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