Easter marks the beginning of the househunting season – and with two more bank holidays coming up, estate agents should be gearing themselves up for the traditional rush to find a property.
But if you are currently in the market, either as a buyer or seller, you will probably have come across estate agents that, frankly, you wish you hadn’t.
The internet therefore gives you the perfect opportunity to avoid dealing with estate agents face to face, at least initially.
Most of the major estate agents now have a website – if you are feeling envious, log on to one of the smart sites, such as www.hamptons.co.uk or www.fpdsavills.co.uk. Type in #5m in the search box and see what you find – only FDs or senior partners need apply.
As well as the estate agents’ own sites, there are a number of dedicated house-hunting websites which will trawl through the details of a number of agents and private listings.
www.propertyfinder.co.uk is one of the better search sites – with the weight of Hamptons International behind it, it claims to have tens of thousands of properties listed.
The search process is straightforward, requiring the usual details of area and price range, and it then delivers a wide selection of properties.
As with a number of other sites, it offers advice on moving, finance and conveyancing, including quote engines to help you find removal firms and solicitors.
UK Property Gold’s site, www.ukpg.co.uk, is a similar search facility that again has thousands of details online.
The design is not as clear as propertyfinder and unfortunately some of the pages are still under construction.
But it does have a comprehensive list of estate agents online, although there is no indication of areas covered by the agencies.
Next on the list is www.findaproperty.com, which like the others has a wide range of properties on its pages.
In addition it has a number of feature articles about the property world, and overall the site has the feel of the glossy estate agent magazines that fall on to your doormat every so often.
The ‘virtual tours’ facility is something every estate agent should be doing now.
Once you got an idea of property prices in your chosen area, it is always a good idea to check out the area itself.
www.upmystreet.co.uk is an excellent site that gives you pages of local information once you have given it your postcode.
From bars and restaurants to schools and colleges, it is a well-researched information resource that will give you a good insight into your area.
Of course you will need to find finance.
Again, the web has plenty of sites offering advice for house purchasers, but Charcol, formerly know as John Charcol, has carved an excellent reputation for offering independent advice.
www.charcol.co.uk is the adviser’s main site, and for a bit of amusement it is worth checking out its ‘happiness index’.
This site also links into other pages depending on your requirements.
Apply online through www.charcolonline.co.uk and you will not have to pay any broker fees. Like other sites, it offers comparisons between different mortgage rates, and can help with more unusual requests and situations.
Cowgill Holloway and Warings Business Advisors have merged, with a range of growth plans in the North West put in place
New growth opportunities in Aberdeen, North East Scotland, are being invested in by Grant Thornton
If businesses do not take cyber security seriously in their business planning regulators may do it for them, the ICAEW has warned
The Financial Reporting Council has issued guidance regarding the annual reporting of 1,200 large and smaller listed companies. The letter highlighted the key issues and improvements that can be made in the 2016 reporting season