Why Being An Estate Agent Is Surprisingly Rewarding

Many of you will know that my industry is full of shady practice and sharks. But there is another side to what I do.
I wanted to write an article explaining our ethos, mainly as some may think it’s just a business with no regard for anything else.
 One of the most important and enjoyable parts of the job for me is to truly understand the clients’ needs. My first question whilst on a valuation is always a simple one: “Why are we here today?” The responses have been many and varied over the years from the most common: “schools”, to  “because I am broke”, “I hate my partner”, sad bereavement, happy bereavement (yes it happens), retirement and even lottery wins.
 Selling houses is what we do but our motivation comes from getting clients to where they want to be, when they want to be there, in a manner that works best for them.
For some, this may mean maximum exposure. For others, it can mean our bespoke low exposure method or indeed our increasingly popular auctions.
This more often than not can reveal some very private matters and we are often taken into close confidence over such issues.
The confidence entrusted to us by our clients is never lost on me. In fact, I often feel quite in awe of it.
One of the most rewarding parts for me is when a brother, father, sister – the whole family – send each other along to us for different reasons. The common thread is their trust in our advice, often resulting in no fees but further extending our reputation.
When negotiating deals, we are not thinking just about the money, but more about whether this represents the best opportunity for our client.
The really rewarding side is when clients realise that to us it is far more than just another deal, but that we want the very best for them.
This has transformed some initially frosty relationships to lifelong friendships.
Several of my clients are also now some of my closest friends, including one former tenant who has bought and sold through us – now out of the area but regularly keeps in touch. Some are thousands of miles away, in Spain, India, Africa, Pakistan, Bahrain, Barbados, Jamaica, Australia to name but a few, and of course there is our fantastic local community who often pop in just for a chat!
One of my proudest achievements is our associations and relationships with the local groups and schools, including St James The Great and Norbury Manor Business & Enterprise College, where I am currently chair of their premises committee.
So, in summary, our agency is about so much more than the deal on the table. It is about people and their aspirations, relationships, children and so much more.
This has made my life richer and my friendship groups wider than I could ever have imagined – crossing religions, professions and continents.
I cannot imagine many careers that could have afforded me such a varied and engaging life.
Call me to discuss your needs in confidence.

Pioneering Network Auctions Seeks Property Stock


After a record breaking 2017, that saw James Alexander Network Auctions raise a total of £43m and a success rate of 84%, the company are planning to further utilise their innovative online sales platform ‘Network-E’ to deliver even more in 2018 and are now looking for lots to include in their February sale.

Alongside their traditional “ballroom auctions” held in Park Lane, London, the pioneering company are making full use of innovative sales software, Network-E, to enable sellers to flexibly set the time frame for completion within the dynamic sales space of an online auction platform.

James Alexander Network Auctions’ Ken Hume said: “Our results show the resilience of the auction sector in these uncertain times following Brexit and the snap General Election. Property remains a secure investment vehicle for many people and auction offers a speedy and certain purchase process. Our increased investment in Network-E supports our belief in the sector and cements our desire to meet consumers changing needs and circumstances.”

James Alexander Network Auctions’ Ken Hume said: “February is one of the busiest and best months in our auction calendar. It is our first auction of the year and after the Christmas break we find there are plenty of buyers keen to secure New Year investments. With bigger catalogues, sellers can expect increased competition leading to higher prices, so it’s a win-win situation.”

“With our unique combination of local expertise and national coverage we are able to sell any property anywhere and can advise sellers on the best route to market. We are keen to talk to anyone who is thinking of selling, or who has struggled to sell. We can offer the flexibility of our Network-E product alongside our traditional auction sales which will take place at Grosvenor House Hotel, London on 22nd February, 19th April, 12th July, 12th September, 25th October and 13th December.”

Ken Hume Network Auctions can be contacted at 020 8679 8601, by email at enquiries@jamesalexander.com or via their website at www.jamesalexander.com

Seeing Hidden Value On A Valuation

The hidden value in any instruction could be a pair of jewel-encrusted antique swords in the loft ( i kid you not it really happened right here in Norbury! ) or something more subtle as happened to me recently.

One year ago I was asked to see a house by a local couple.

As I looked at the house, I noticed that there was a potential building plot.

I explained that if I were them, I would commission an Architect to look into what can be built if anything and gave them my local Architects’ telephone number.

One year on I was called back to the house to see the beaming owners with a rather large windfall from the land plot.

As you can imagine, they were delighted, couldn’t thank me enough and we have been instructed to sell for them.

This kind of hidden value is rarely sought out by corporate agents and sometimes, even when it is, they choose not to disclose to the buyer whilst they line up their favourite builder so that they may subsequently divide the spoils.

How can I know this? Sadly, all too often rightful owners are cheated out of their own potential assets for a lack of genuine advice from a professional.

Time and time again I hear stories of how these ducker and diver wise guys cheat people.

My advice is always to use the most professional agent that you can find and ask yourself one question above all others when choosing an Estate Agent, wherever your property is:

Can I trust this person with my biggest asset?

If the answer is no, move on, or better still call me!








Can The Internet Take Over The Property Market & Replace Estate Agents ?

There can be nothing better suited to the internet than property, and hits to property websites far outnumber those of any other industry. 
The ability to be able to search in the comfort of your own home, usually without having to provide any personal details, is certainly attractive and has transformed the way the public begins to look for their new home.
So will the internet replace traditional estate agency?
It would certainly seem not.
Ultimately property search portals are regarded by buyers
as an enhanced local property newspaper, with a fairly comprehensive selection of
homes on offer.
As many sellers will have discovered, the benefits of using a traditional estate agent far outweigh the simple ability to source a buyer. In most cases, the property that a buyer enquires about initially is rarely the one we end up selling to them.
Rather, it is an initial contact from which we can seek to understand their needs and how we may best fit their wish list into our clients’ homes. Then target those serious buyers to our ready to sell vendors.
In some ways, finding the buyer is the easy bit! The internet certainly helps the agent to do this, which in turn frees up time to be more proactive in helping those buyers identified as being particularly motivated.
At the same time, buyers who are just browsing need not feel neglected and the internet is welcome to keep them. No algorithm yet written can ascertain buyers motivation but the internet will keep ‘wall knocker window shoppers’ happy for hours on end browsing away.


“Indeed a good Estate Agent can differentiate a window shopper from a serious buyer with one or two smart questions, saving the seller many hours of grief.”

Indeed a good agent can differentiate a window shopper from a serious buyer with one or two well worded questions, saving the seller many hours of grief.
The internet cannot advise on detailed property matters
in context, cannot interpret the market, cannot provide strategic marketing advice, cannot negotiate, cannot hold a chain of related sales together, cannot chase solicitors,
cannot understand a survey, cannot accompany buyers round property, cannot encourage buyers to view unexpected properties, cannot prompt a buying decision,
and cannot provide reassurance when things go wrong.
Apart from that, we find it really useful!

James Alexander join leading UK auctioneers Network Auctions

James Alexander join leading UK auctioneers Network Auctions

Leading Norbury based sales and letting agents, James Alexander, have joined forces with UK auctioneers and NAVA auction house of the year, Network Auctions, to offer regular auction sales under the branding James Alexander Network Auctions.

Founded in 1994, James Alexander offer a comprehensive range of sales, letting and management services from their prominent offices in London Road and by joining forces with Network Auctions are now able to offer clients a market leading auctioneering service with the benefits of local expertise and national coverage.

James Alexander Network Auctions will be holding regular auction sales from their Central London auction room at the Grosvenor House Hotel which, in conjunction with local marketing, provides sellers with access the largest market possible.

Network Auctions enjoyed a superb year at the rostrum in 2016 with sales in excess of £42 million going under the gavel at their six London and five Birmingham auctions.

The next auction is scheduled for 3 May in London.

Ken Hume, Founder and owner of James Alexander said: “We are delighted to be joining forces with Network Auctions and look forward to providing a comprehensive auction service to clients in Norbury, Streatham and the surrounding area.

With a national network of like-minded partner agents and a London auction room, clients can be assured of maximum exposure and the best opportunities for a sale on any lot they enter into our auctions.

The experience and local knowledge of James Alexander combined with the wide coverage and auctioneering expertise of Network Auctions is undoubtedly a winning combination.”

Network Auctions auctioneers Guy Charrison and Richard Worrall are highly respected practitioners and the huge databases of investors and other buyers that Network Auctions have at their disposal greatly increases the chances of a successful sale.

Toby Limbrick, Managing Director of Network Auctions added: “James Alexander are a fantastic addition to our network and their expertise and knowledge of the SW16 and surrounding marketplace is a great asset to our ever growing rank of partner agents.

We very much look forward to including more lots from the SW16 area in our forthcoming auctions.”

The next auction is on 3 May at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane.

If you are thinking of disposing of a property by auction in and around Norbury, Streatham and the surrounding area, Ken Hume of James Alexander can be contacted by email at ken@jamesalexander.com or by phone at 020 8679 8601

My Tenant Says The Council Have TOLD Them Not To Leave Is This Right?


My Tenant Says The Council Have TOLD Them Not To Leave Is This Right?


If you are reading this blog because your tenant has been told the above, after you have told them you wish to take back your property and have served notice, the first thing to say is, you are not alone.

Hundreds of councils up and down the country have this ludicrous policy that by asking a tenant to stay put until evicted, they reduce the amount of people on their requiring housing list.

Most Landlords are quite shocked when they realise that they must go through the courts to obtain possession and this, if done via a solicitor will cost north of £1000 on average and this assumes no dispute from the tenant which can push the legal bills much higher.

Worse still, the time it takes to get a hearing depending upon the borough will be months away in most cases.

So what can you do next?

Well, it depends entirely upon your circumstances but if you wish to sell, it will be possible to do so with a tenant in place but the price achieved will depend upon factors such as the current rent and the price achieved will be less than the vacant possession value. In these circumstances, we can assist with the sale through our auction partners if this is a route you choose.

“But I want to get the best price”

Ok then we need to start proceedings against the tenant, as vacant possession is usually the only way to obtain the best price. The notice that you serve will be dependent upon the circumstances but we would typically suggest that only a mandatory ground notice be served, if there are no arrears this will typically be a section 21 notice, these have recently changed so you need to ensure that you are serving the correct one.  The section 21 notices will generally be giving your tenant (s) two months from the rent due date to vacate. It is often after you have served this notice that you may have received a letter from your local authority, telling you that your tenant does not wish to be difficult. However, this generally means that they have sought advice and the council have told them to sit tight until evicted.

It’s Not The Tenants’ Fault

Please bear in mind that it is not the tenants’ fault, it is the way local authorities define their council housing lists that is in my view a terrible waste of time and money. In the end, any Landlords forced to evict (usually) housing benefit tenants ( as these are the ones most likely to go to the council for advice) are very likely to be alienated from ever letting to benefit tenants again. So much for shortening the housing queue with this strategy then!

Primary legislation to change this is currently going through parliament but this will not help you right now.

Ducks in a row

Even if you have already served on the tenant, I would suggest that you double check, preferably with the help of a competent solicitor that you have served notice correctly. This will include deposit protection being in place, a gas safety certificate and EPC should also have been given to the tenant. Failure to get the notice right now will inevitably lead to failure to obtain possession in court which will require that you start all over again, from a new two-month notice, starting from the next rent due date!

So if you need further help do get in touch, good luck!








Scandalous Over Valuations Cost Vendors An Average Of £20,000

Lies, damn lies, scandalous valuations end up costing Vendors

Which? The consumer group recently analysed over 370,000 house sales.

What they have discovered makes very interesting reading.

They say that because of ‘greedy Estate Agents overvaluing’, 19% of these sales had been heavily reduced from their asking price.

This indicates a gulf the size of Mexico between some Estate Agents pricing and the real world. Welcome to the seedy world of Estate Agency.

It is fair to say that many agents will set their clients asking price at a level which gains them the instruction but won’t sell the property.

It is no accident that these agents will often require very long contracts, this gives them time to grind down the price or hope for a market uplift.

If you are thinking this is a very unethical way of doing business, you are absolutely right, though it can be hard to hear that your home may be worth a little less than others have said, it can also save you both time and money to get accuracy on the initial sale price.

What may shock you is that Which have found that the properties which were vastly over valued end up getting an average of £20,000 less than those that are correctly priced in the first place.

Bang goes the myth that you set the price high to negotiate! The key to achieving the best price is to set the asking price at a competitive level so as to achieve strong interest from day one.

The internet ensures that things can go stale very quickly as serious browsers search every day, by day ten, they are already ignoring ‘old’ properties.

So how to check your price? Put yourself in the buyers’ shoes, search Rightmove in your postcode for similar homes, then ask yourself objectively, how does my home compare in a given price range? Another handy hint is to check Nethouseprieces.com as this provides actual sales figures for your road, it can be quite revealing. In any event good luck and if you need advice, call me



How To Find A Good Estate Agent

At this time of year with spring fast approaching, many people are thinking about selling their home but are unsure how to go about it.

There are many options open to sellers including the online only or more traditional high street agents. Only you can decide which is right for you and this is a personal choice, there is no right or wrong answer, what may be right for one client could be entirely wrong for another. The downside of online estate agents’ lower prices is that you’ll often have to pay up front; it can be argued that they would not have the same motivation as a no sale no fee traditional agent and telephone contact may be more limited.

The old school advice was always get three valuations and opt for the one in the middle, this unscientific approach is ill advised and can result in an inexperienced agent luckily hitting the mid spot and gaining the instructions to sell for you for no good reason! Think about the best person rather than the middle or higher number.

So then the first part of the exercise should be to find the good ones in your area. A good place to start is online at Allagents.co.uk, just pop in your postcode and look at what others have said about the various agencies.

Once you have found three that look good, start with a telephone call to their office, how quickly do they respond? Bearing in mind they could be responding to a sales enquiry about your home, this can be crucial in getting buyers through the door. If they are not bright and attentive, consider this before inviting them around for a valuation.

When the agents come to visit, think to you, do I trust this person to help me with one of my most important decisions?  Do they seem genuine or are they just scripted sales people? The most important qualities listed by our survey of local sellers in the past six months are honesty and integrity.

Valuations are one of the most difficult areas of estate agency. It requires a lot of investigation to get right, even the professionals sometimes get it wrong. Most agents will start at a figure suggested by the client and quite often the higher valuations are just fishing for the business. It is very hard therefore to know what is true. Do not be afraid to ask difficult questions such as contract length and fees.

A good way to start is to do a search on Rightmove or Zoopla and search for a property like your own. The question that buyers will ask is how does this house compare with others in the price range? You may see some that are worse or better depending upon the price, this should give you a realistic idea of price range. Finally go to nethouseprices.com and pop in your postcode, you will then see actual prices achieved on your street from land registry.

I hope this helps. Good luck with your move and call me!


Housing White Paper – Where Is The Small Landlord In This?

dog reading a newspaper


The government have issued a new white paper in order to fix the ‘broken’ housing market.



You cant live in a planning permission says Mr Barwell the housing minister.barwell

Of course this is true but you also cannot live in a home that you cannot afford.




Let me give you some numbers around this.accountant dog with pencil and calculator

In 1968 the government provided 191,000 public homes.

This year, the government have provided 36,000 public homes.

So where is the fix? What the white paper conveniently ignores are the fact that we have the most highly taxed property market in the world.

Put together with rising construction costs, a lack of skilled workers, the solutions are not easy to find.

The implications of this knock on to both homeowners and of course tenants.

Any review must surely be welcomed but this should be a consultancy between stakeholders  rather than a few well chosen soundbites.

That said, some of the suggestions contained in the white paper  are welcome, particularly in regard to dealing with unscrupulous landlords and one of the more positive ideas is for longer term tenancies ( three years ) for rental.

Handled correctly, this could really assist tenants, particularly those with children in local schools.

We have yet to see the fine detail on the three year tenancy idea and it is rumoured to be aimed at corporate landlords and institutions.

Time will tell if it may apply to smaller landlords.  However if it is like the dark days of the 70’s where removing a tenant is nearly impossible, you will find any affected landlords bolt faster than a speeding bullet.

We will then find an even more limited supply of rental property, leading to rent rises and a a lack of mobility for workers.

In a sector where we have growing demand and many long term landlords leaving the sector, we need to nurture a mutual trust between the government and small Landlords.

Given the governments’ total disregard for the small landlord, the exodus is hardly surprising.

We don’t see that trust or any attempt to nurture it from  this white paper.

I cannot help thinking that Mr Barwell is a strange choice for housing minister given he has no previous experience in this sector and I wonder if the lack of perspective is a result of a career politician being given a job due to his ability to skew statistics as seen on his interview with Andrew Neil.

If you wish to see evidence of this, I give you Section 24, otherwise known as the tenant tax plus the punitive stamp duty increases.

If the government really wanted to assist the private rented sector, they would look to incentivise small, responsible Landlords to acquire a growing portfolio. Unfortunately such foresight seems sadly lacking with this government.

The talk of the day is about ‘greedy’ Landlords. Jealousy prevails in the sector and small Landlords have been made to feel like something on the housing ministers shoe.

Many Landlords feel that the government is actively looking to squeeze out the small Landlord so that their friends with larger companies can ‘professionalise’ the sector.

The lack of foresight here beggars belief. Corporates will answer to shareholders and they will look to squeeze the very tenants that the government claims it will help.

Conversely smaller Landlords are more likely to look at keeping a good tenant ahead of the headline rent.

So the question becomes what are you trying to achieve Mr Barwell? If it is the continued alienation of the smaller landlord with a view to tenants finding rents higher than ever, well done, you are already well on your way to achieving this.

If you want a truly mobile workforce, then you you need to respect, incentivise and help the smaller landlord. We see nothing in this white paper that does this.

Ken Hume











Housing Market Update February 2017

The local housing market has continued to buck the trend with viewings and offers coming in at a healthy pace, mainly driven by a lack of new sellers and a growing realisation that the local  area has great future growth potential .

Buyers appear to have already discounted Brexit and Trump  as not relevant whilst a as lack of supply drives demand.

As indicated by the latest analysis from Hometrackaccountant dog with pencil and calculator, we see demand at its strongest for properties at the lower end of the market with two and three bedroom houses showing the greatest levels of viewings and  interest.

First time buyers dominate in this sector with buy to let taking a back seat for the first time in many years due to the tax changes taking effect.

The new white paper suggesting improvements to planning and pressure upon developers to build once planning is granted will assist in supply but will only scratch the surface of London’s housing issues although longer term tenancies could help with families planning their childrens education.

We are already receiving enquiries from potential spring sellers and we are hopeful of an upsurge in supply to equalise the demand that will no doubt grow stronger as the weather gets warmer.