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Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Migh where has the month gone ... September saw us achieve some incredible results. We're also sharing an update on the housing market, new case studies as well as updates on some of the client projects we've been working on.


If you're thinking of selling, watch out for our next blog withe some insider tips!



Award Winners


We have some incredibly exciting news! On Friday 22nd September, sort style and stage were recognised as business leaders by our local community!


2023 Maidenhead & Windsor Business & Community Awards


Best New Business Start Up - Award Winners

&

Best Micro Business - Finalist



We had a fabulous black tie evening at The Castle Hotel, in Windsor. And now to the chicken - not only did it make it to our blog headline, it also featured on the menu! The veggie choice was also delicious!




Entertainment was provided by a brilliant group of students from The Eagle Claw Kung Fu School, based in Maidenhead.




This is what the judges had to say about us:



Ceri Owen, our founder, has this to say on our wonderful achievement:

"I'm incredibly proud of us being recognised as a leader by our local community. What an honour to have won the Best New Business award and making it through as a finalist for Best Micro Business.
This would not be possible without my incredible team and our amazing clients.
Thank you to everyone."

Best Supplier of the Year ...


Hot on the heels of our latest award, we can't quite believe that we've just heard that we're a finalist for Best Supplier of the Year 2023 at this year's The Negotiator Awards 2023. This is two year's on the trot now! This is a hugely prestigous recgonition given that The Negotiator is a leading platform for the UK estate agency community and their suppliers.


The award winners will be announced at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on 24th November 2023 - we hope to see some our estate agency community there!




New Case Studies


Our client base is diverse - this includes investors, homeowners, developers, estate agents, solicitors and others. The majority have our clients have never heard about staging or have little insight on how to add value to their properties so they sell or let quickly and for more. This is why they come to us.


When we have the initial discussion with our client, we begin to understand what help they need and we discuss with them and show how we add value and get the results we do via our numerous case studies.


Our case studies page has many, many different client projects - each covers the specific brief, recommendations, actions taken and the tangible value added. Although each service we provide to our client is bespoke, the result is the same - high quality, cost effective solutions which achieve a tangible result for our clients. This is why we consistently achieve the accolades and 5* ratings we do.


We're constantly updating our case studies page and here's some recent updates:


Virtual Staging


Virtual staging is a really popular service of ours, and can be used for many different reasons - it will:


- significantly improve online images on property portals, whether you are selling or letting

- allow you to see the potential of any space, indoors or our

- allow you to change the use of a room or space eg. a kitchen can become a bathroom, new flooring can be added to a living room

- avoid you having to do any physical works which can expensive and take lots of time

Virtual staging digitally shows the potential of a space, cost effectively and quickly without compromising on quality.


Virtual possibilities through virtual staging are endless. We can:


- clear a cluttered space and stage with virtual furniture to show the scale and potential use of a room

- show a proposed extension or renovation and stage with furniture

- even transform an unloved garden into a more desirable outdoor living space


Below are two examples of our garden virtual work - these show just how a space can be transformed through virtual staging.


For Berrycroft Lane, the priority was to change a winter set of images into a summery set of images - by transforming the sky, the trees, the trees and even removing snow from the roof! The reason, is that the estate agent's sale for their client had fallen through so they wanted a quick solution which increased interest in their client's home. After re-launching the home, the interest increased, there were multiple offers and the agent has now sold this home.



Our client says:


Following a sale fall through, we needed to present the property to the market to source a new buyer. Previous photos of the garden show wintery scenes and as this is a key selling feature, I wanted to showcase a summery scene. The virtual transformation is incredible and my client’s home has received multiple offers already, with further interest coming in. This was a quick, cost effective and more importantly impactful solution – thank you sort style and stage - you are the best!

Edwards Conlon, Bespoke Estate Agency


For Royston Place, our client had a conservatory which made access to all areas of the garden very difficult. They wanted to see the potential of their outdoor space without first having the cost and incovenice of doing hard landscaping. Removing the conservatory and pushing back the garden virtually has opened up the way the garden space can be used - what a transformation!



What a transformation!


Snug Transformation, Stoke Poges


Work continues on transforming a home office into a snug for one of our clients. The brief is to completely change out the space - new flooring, new decor, create a faux chimney breast wall to house an electric fire and tv with surround sound, new bookcase on either side, electrical work as well as changing out a modern radiator to a stunning Victorian replica. Once finished, we'll supply furniture and accessories and style this snug.


Take a look behind the scenes:






Forever Home Transformation, Weybridge


One of our long term estate agent clients, has recommended us to one of their clients. Their client is moving into their first and forever home, so a very exciting time all round!


Our new client is looking for help to transform their home, inside and out. We're currently in the planning phase and look forward to sharing more details with you very soon.


Staging Update


We've had a number of new clients this month, each one of them unique, including:


Spinners Development Ltd, Woodgreen


This developer team have a fabulous semi detached Victorian property in Woodgreen, North London.


They are transforming it from a single family home into two apartments. The property has so much potential and the developers wanted our expertise in coming up with a design plan to add value to increase their resale value and sell quickly.


The project is still in its early stages so an ideal moment for us to provide our interiors expertise. We spent two hours on site with our client walking through works to date, planned works and looking at ways we can add tangilbe value. We followed up the visit with a detailed set of recommendations and here are three - look out for a future case study on this with all the detail:


  1. The attic which is reachable from the new first floor two bedroom apartment, is huge so offers lots of potential to add further value. Given the current progress of the build, it makes sense for my client, to obtain planning permission on this space to add additional living spaces, including two bedrooms and en-suites. My recommendation is to obtain (the precedence already exists on the road) but not build out the attic. This way my clients benefit by adding value without doing the work and the buyer also benefits by being able to extend up to 5 years after the planning permission approval date.

  2. Given the tight floorplan in the bedrooms, it makes sense to build out fitted wardrobes. The other benefit, is that the ceiling height is tall so full floor to ceiling wardrobes will signficantly improve storage capability.

  3. Redesign the kitchen layout. Their kitchen designer had recommended a layout which meant the hob and oven was placed to the right of an unsused chimney. We redesigned the layout so the hob and oven are centred in the old chimeny, including how to build a bespoke hood for the hob, stylishly and cost effectively.


Take a sneak peek ...





Our client says:


We’re part way through converting a Victorian property into two apartments. We want to maximise the resale value so we decided to seek interior advice and staging expertise. We called in Ceri.
Immediately we were impressed by the depth of her knowledge on how to add impact and value to our projects and doing so in a cost effective way. We’re busily getting on with her recommendations.
If you have a development, we’d recommend that you speak with Ceri so you maximise your return.


Once the works are complete, our client will stage their apartments.


Long Term Family Home, Edgeware


Our lovely clients have lived in their home for many years. It is incredibly well maintained although lacks a little personality and the way its presented needs to change if they are to grab the attention of multiple buyers.


Our clients put their home on the market in September and are disappointed that they've had limited interest to date. Although the housing market is now more price sensitive, properties still sell if they are priced right and presented well. They asked for our expertise to learn what they need to do to get more interest in their home. Focusing on the presentation, we've recommended a number of changes and improvements including:


- turning the garden room into an Annex (more on that below)

- add personality and interest to a number of the bedrooms so families can see how each of these spaces can be used. Why do we say that? We know from experience that when a family walks into one of our bedrooms set up for child, that the child will say to their parents, "this one's my bedroom". This is the reaction you need if you want a family to connect with your home.


In terms of our client's marketing collateral here's some of our recommendations:


- although the home has 5 bedrooms, it is currently listed as a 4 bedroom home with Annex. Given the Annex is attached to the home and therefore integrated and in addition there is a fabulous "building" in the garden, the home should be presented as a 5 bedroom home and the Annex shoud be used to describe the garden building.

- the garden building has huge potential but it is not described as a space families would want to be in. It's worked well as a storage facility for our client, however to entice buyers, it should be set up as an additional living space and seperate storage space with home office capability.



Ceiling Transformation!


One of our client's has recently moved into a modernist home and they are looking to add impact to their hallway whilst respective the mid-centry design. We've designed a solution and will be implementing this very shortly.


Join us next moth to find out more.


Housing News


Rightmove


August was a quiet month, with 6% fewer properties coming onto the market (and 7% down compared to 2019). The number of sales agreed fell by 18% (compared to 15% in July) due to less properties being listed for sale, the economic conditions and holiday distractions.


Positively, the first-time buyer sector has consistently outperformed the larger home sectors since February, and this trend continued in August. Buyer enquiries in this sector rose by 1% compared to August 2019, despite a 13% drop in sales agreed in two-bedrooms and fewer properties.


Although first-time buyers still face challenges, the downward trend in mortgage rates should help some, since we've seen seven consecutive weeks of declining mortgage borrowing rates. There is a reduction in average five-year fixed rates across all loan-to-value ratios from their peak in July, when they were 6.11%. With house prices and mortgage rates falling, and average earnings increasing, there are small steps towards improved buyer affordability.


Encouragingly, many sellers responded to the summer holiday slowdown by lowering their property prices. This means that:


- at least one price cut has increased from the pre-pandemic five-year average of 31.2% to 36.3%, the highest since January 2011.

- the average price reduction, now at 6.2%, is the highest since January 2011, compared to the pre-pandemic five-year average of 5.5%.

- applying this reduction to the average asking price of £366,281 results in a reduction of £22,709, indicating that some sellers initially set overly optimistic prices and subsequently made larger than usual adjustments.


The outlook is improving for buyers as the holiday season ended and children returned to school. In the first week of September, new property listings increased by 12% compared to the unusually low August average. In terms of sales listed:


- first-time buyer market experienced a more modest 7% increase

- second-stepper market surged by 11%

- top-tier market (a smaller segment), saw an impressive 24% increase in new listings


So what do the average numbers show?

Source: Rightmove

Tim Bannister Rightmove’s Director of Property Science says:


As we enter a key selling season, more people who have been thinking about what they need from a home and where they want to be living next year and beyond are taking action and coming to market. This has helped to improve buyer choice, especially for those looking for larger homes, which also means that new sellers in the middle and upper sectors need to be extra careful not to set their price expectations too high.
Plenty of sales are being agreed for properties that are priced at the right level, and those that are selling are still taking five days less than at this time in 2019. We’re also seeing the number of fall-throughs decline as market conditions and mortgage rates stabilise.

Learn more here.



Zoopla


Their September House Price Index shows a rise in buyer demand after the summer break. Enquiries to estate agents were up 12%. This percentage is in line with 2019 data, although 33% lower than in 2022.



Source: Zoopla


Buyers are waiting for price falls or lower mortgage rates to avoid compromising on their move. They expect that mortgage rates will fall slowly over the coming months and whey get below 4.5%, they expect to see more buyers return to the housing market.


Average house prices have fallen for the first time since 2012 with prices down -0.5% over the last 12 months. There are 80% more homes for sale compared to September 2021.

This gives buyers more negotiating power and has resulted in an increase in discounts to asking prices over the summer. Asking price reductions are at 4.2% on average (eqivalent to £12,125), the highest level since 2019, although still below the highs of late 2018. Reductions to asking prices are greatest in London and the South East, where sellers are knocking 4.8% off their asking price on average, with a 2.8% discount being the average across the rest of the UK.


Zoopla indicated that prices on track to fall between 2% to 3% over 2023.


Learn more here.


Mortgages


The Bank of England held the base rate at 5.25% in September. This freeze comes after 14 months of consecutive rises since December 2021. At that point, the base rate stood at just 0.1%!


Source: Bank of England


Learn more here.


The latest fall in inflation (August 6.7%, from 6.8% in July and 7.9% in June) and the steadying of the base rate, has improved the outlook for mortgage borrowing costs in the coming months.


According to Forbes, the average cost of a:


- two-year fixed rate is 5.96%

- three year fixed rate is 5.89%

- five year fixed rate is 5.44%


The average two-year tracker rate mortgage is 5.67% A standard variable rate is at 7.73% (compared to around 4.78% in July in 2022).


As of 1 September, there were 5,338 residential mortgage deals on the market, compared to 5,056 in August as lenders begin to reintroduce deals as the market settles.


Out and About!


We're constantly looking at ways to add value to our clients so this month, we met with Rebekah and the team at their incredible Extreme Design Furniture studio in Sunningdale.


They carry out luxe kitchen and furniture designs for residential projects across the UK and internationally from their three studios in Sunningdale, London and Gerrads Cross.


Source: Extreme

Learn more here.


What are we up to in October?


We have a busy month ahead with staging, interior and landscaping projects coming to an end or underway. We've also got an exciting bit of news to share - stay tuned for that!



How we can Help You

If you are looking for inspiration or need help with the following:

  • Staging

  • Property refurbishment

  • Interiors

  • Garden Landscaping

  • Property repairs


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