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Q&A with a client – What’s the Verdict on Ben Siggins?

Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 12.29.14When Ben Hancock decided to sell his self-renovated property to move to a home more suited to his family’s needs, he turned to Ben Siggins to assist with his sale. Here, Mr Hancock offers a very honest review of his home selling process through the agency.

Had you heard of Ben Siggins prior to you selling your home? You seem to see the purple ‘for sale’ signs everywhere now and the name tends to stick in your mind as their branding is by far better than any other agent. Sounds daft, but if you are the sort of person that buys something for the way it looks, like an iPad or an Alfa Romeo, you tend to be drawn to a company that makes similar efforts; it suggests a sign of quality. Also, the photography is by far the best when on Rightmove. It makes a big difference as I’ve seen some nice houses done no favours at all by bad, dull photography.

Did you visit any other local estate agents when commencing your home sale? You do tend to get a feel for a company when you visit their shop to ask to be put on a mailing list for properties. From this, and the fact that through terrible past experience, I would never deal with a certain two national agencies again that happen to be almost next to each other in King Street, I already had a list of ‘definitely nots’. What attracted you to visiting your local Ben Siggins branch? I have to admit, I think I must have subconsciously made up my mind on the branding, photography and the ‘definitely nots’ list. The Owner, Ben Siggins, came to my house to value it and came across very helpful and genuine so I didn’t look any further. I got the impression that being a smaller company than the nationals, he still genuinely cares what happens and wants to give a more personal service.

Who was your point of contact at Ben Siggins when selling your house? Beth was dealing with the sale of our house. I do tend to struggle when something is out on my control so it was good that Beth was staying in contact and giving good feedback. It gave me the confidence that everything was being done that could be. Was the process plain sailing? The process was far from plain sailing, unfortunately – but not on Ben Siggins’ side. We lost the first two houses we tried to buy. The first was because the well-known estate agency did not play by the rules and worked in the interests of themselves instead of their client. My Google review for them was headed, “Greedy, dishonest, law-breaking shysters! Never again”. I say no more. The second unfortunately fell through because the vendors had to pull the property off the market at the last minute. We then almost pulled out of the purchase of the third property as the manager for the agency branch had told the most awful, blatant lie that was only discovered by our surveyor quizzing the vendor. Naughty naughty! I am glad we chose who we chose.

How do you feel that the level of service you received from the team differs from other estate agents?

I have dealt with many estate agents over the years and the difference appears to be a caring, personal touch from a company that hasn’t outgrown itself and forgotten what is important.

Personally, how do you feel that visiting an agent in person is beneficial to a potential seller?

Very important. Get a feel for who you are dealing with by going in and signing up to mailing lists. If they don’t even come back to you when you send an email enquiry, they probably aren’t worth being on the shortlist to visit. There will be far more taxing and important things for them to mess up if you entrust them with the sale of your home.

Did your agent go above and beyond at any point? If so, can you provide us with details?

When we lost the properties we were trying to purchase, I was going to drop ‘are you looking to sell’ flyers through doors in our chosen area. Ben Siggins offered to do this for me – maybe it was the sad puppy eyes!

Overall, how satisfied are you with your experience from Ben Siggins?

As if you need to ask! Very impressed and they will certainly be selling my next place.

How likely are you to recommend Ben Siggins Estate Agents to a friend or colleague and why?

I already have been, which says a lot. I’m always wary of recommending someone to a friend so I have to be totally sure of what I am saying.

I have dealt with many estate agents over the years and the difference at Ben Siggins appears to be a caring, personal touch

Want to speak to us about selling your property? Speak to our Ashford estate agents or our Maidstone estate agents here.

How clean should i leave my house when I move

how clean should property be after tenancy

First and foremost, your current landlord will have to be forewarned if you’re moving property. Furthermore, you must adhere to the specified notice period outlined within your tenancy agreement. After finalising a moving out date, you’ll have to strategically organise your move; this will include arranging an end of tenancy clean up – don’t underestimate this, it can be somewhat deceiving and can cause disputes over the a tenant’s deposit. The condition in which you hand the property back to the landlord will ultimately have a consequence on your deposit being returned in full. Landlords often solicit for their properties to be left at the same level of cleanliness and hygiene as documented in your move-in inventory.

Where do I start?

Prior to your spring clean, it’s appropriate to dig out all documents relating to your tenancy, such as your tenancy agreement – including any attachments or renewals – as well as your move-in inventory and any receipts for repairs or maintenance. With your move-in inventory at hand, you’ll be able to identify any items within this record that require some TLC. Make a list of any items that are in need of repair – regardless of their scale – and find out which items are deductible from your tenancy deposit and which lie under your landlord’s responsibility. End of tenancy cleaning is hard work and moderately time consuming, so it’s advisable to leave at least a day for a full clean. Clearly, a rented flat will require less laborious grafting to satisfy a landlord compared with a leased two- or three-storey home, but there are a few key areas within all dwellings that will need special attention to grant a straightforward moving out process.

How to clean the Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of many a home and probably the most time-intensive room for a clear out. An environment that houses grease, grime, limescale and household dust, the kitchen harbours bacteria and will therefore require special attention when it comes to your end of tenancy clean-out. Ensure you empty the kitchen of all contents, removing any deposits that may have built-up throughout your tenancy. Pull out appliances and clean around their circumference, washing the walls and floor beneath them. Once the surrounding areas of your appliances are spick and span, it’s worthwhile cleaning the inner parts of these devices. Make certain that the washing machine’s soap tray is cleared of any debris and, if applicable, the dishwasher filter is void of waste. Once emptied and cleaned, leave your fridge door open and turn it off at the mains – this will prevent any mould from forming on the inside of the fridge and will ensure your toiling is recognised by your landlord when it comes to a move-out inspection.

Other bacteria-harbouring appliances are the oven and hob. If not frequently cleaned, the oven can build-up thick layers of burnt-on grime and grease. The oven will most likely take the most time to clean and will require effective cleaning products.

Looking for an accurate valuation on your property? Get in touch with our http://www.bensiggins.co.uk/estate-agents-ashford/estate agents in Ashford and Maidstone here. 

Living Room cleaning

This room will heavily rely on aesthetics as well as cleanliness. Particularly for tenants with children, this room will have experienced heavy footfall from both families and guests for social get-togethers and play dates for children. The living room will require extensive vacuuming and polishing to meet landlords’ specifications and there are many aspects to consider within this highly social room.

The living room’s furniture is a good starting point. If your landlord has permitted pets in your tenancy agreement, it’s probable your furry friend’s fleece will have adorned every corner of the property in the duration of your stay. Fur can be relatively tricky to remove from fibres and, while your pet may not be granted the privilege of taking a seat on the couch, these hairs float freely around a home and settle down on any available surface. Landlords will expect their upholstery and any other wooden furniture to be in the same condition as they were prior to your move-in, and to comply with your landlord’s expectations there a few faults you should look out for. Firstly, as aforementioned, ensure any fur is removed from the upholstery, a dry wash solution can be an effective treatment to remove both fur and any odours. Secondly, for wooden furniture such as dining tables and chairs, be extra vigilant for any scuffs and scratches that may have occurred during your stay. A good polish should shape up any furniture in need of special attention.

How clean should the bathroom be?

The bathroom is yet another bacteria-ridden space within a home. Upon your departure, confirm that you have removed soap scum and limescale from all sanitaryware, including basins, taps and, of course, the toilet. Scrub everything from the tiles, floor and bath to the toilet and shower as well as any other inclusive accessories. Additionally, inspect the drainage of the bath and sink and remove any hair that may be preventing a clear drainage run – this will include checking the shower head isn’t clogged up with limescale.

Walls and Windows

Again for those living with children, the walls will be an area that will perhaps require more attention from grubby hands. Look for any dirty marks and scuffs in every corner of the house and try to gently rub them off – without removing the paint. If any marks are proving difficult to remove, you can paint over these with the same paint your landlord has used. If you find any mould while inspecting your walls, it’s vitally important to alert your landlord rather than painting directly over these areas. With your walls in good shape, it’s time to turn your attention to the windows.

Again, look for any scuffs or dirty marks – as well as cracks – and clean the internal side of the windows – this should be reasonably straightforward for those with PVC-U windows as they will wipe clean. If you are unable to clean the exterior of the windows yourself, arrange for a window cleaner to do this for you. While your attention is focused on the windows, remove any curtains and, if they are machine washable, follow the care instructions or take them to the dry cleaners for a thorough clean and return them to their position. If the residence has any Venetian blinds, dust both sides of the slats and, if applicable, repair or replace any blind that has become unusable.

Cleaning Carpets and rugs

A steam cleaner is a great way to bring carpets and rugs up like new. If you don’t have access to a steam cleaner, they’re relatively cheap to hire and include various attachments to ensure every corner of the property will receive its required attention. If you opt not to use a steam cleaner, bear in mind that the minimum cleaning required will be an extensive vacuum and a scrub with a wire brush throughout the entire property – pay particular attention to any staircases and hallways that experience heavy footfall.

Tidying the garden and shed

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden and shed in your rented property, you’ll have to leave the outside area of the home in a well-kept condition. This will include sweeping away any leaves, hosing down any decking, mowing the grass – where applicable – and making sure the flower beds are in good order. If the garden accommodates a shed, you’ll have to remove any personal property upon your departure. Remember, gardens are often tough work – dependant on size – so leave enough time to clean out both the house and its garden. With all your rooms in check, meeting your landlord’s specification, you can ensure your departure and end of your tenancy agreement will be plain sailing.

Are you looking to buy a new house? Make sure you check out our properties for sale in Maidstone, Ashford and Kings Hill here.

Is this your first time? Tips for first time buyers

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 15.02.52 2Save those pennies! Today’s deposits range from 5 to 20% and, in order to acquire this deposit, some devoted economising is demanded. First and foremost, eliminating any unnecessary outgoings is a must; goodbye wild nights out down your local. Account for all your expenditure, from petrol and food to credit agreements and any other outstanding bills. It may be worth creating a spreadsheet to keep track of where your largest expenses fall. With your finances in order, the next step is to consider any other costs that may be associated with procuring your humble abode. Factor in survey costs, solicitor’s fees, removal costs, building insurance, kitting out your new home with furnishings, mortgage payments and valuation fees as well as stamp duty. Remember, hindsight is a wonderful thing!

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Are you ready? While you must ensure that you are financially prepared to commit to purchasing your very own home, you must also make certain that you are additionally, on a personal level, emotionally ready to take this leap forward to safeguard your future. Whether going it alone, with a partner, future housemate, or a family member, you all must be of the same mindset when it comes down to the nitty-gritty. Whoever you’re planning to move in with, remember this is a long-term commitment – so not only considering who you move in with, but also the suitability of both the area and house itself. For many couples, this may mean an extra bedroom for the pitter-patter of tiny feet or keeping an eye on the catchment area and Ofsted reports for local schools. For others, this may mean checking out the local amenities to guarantee that your desired area can accommodate all your requirements. Researching your coveted area is vitally important and, if you’re a commuter, it’s best to confirm where your local means of transport is located. If you’re unfamiliar with the area you wish to move to, take day trips to the town or village and investigate the neighbourhood. Look out for open spaces to relax on your days off – there’s a plethora of parkland within the Kent boundary – local restaurants and bars as well as local supermarkets.

Ben Siggins 1Be realistic. Localities aside, your next step is the biggest; the house itself. Sure, we’d all love to live in a 10-bedroom detached country manor house inclusive of tennis courts and an indoor swimming pool, but let’s be realistic, for the majority this isn’t pragmatic. Remember when starting out your search to only look at what you can realistically afford; it’s pointless for first-time buyers to spend hours cooing over a £4m home in Sevenoaks, unless, of course, you are extremely fortunate. Remember when househunting to never judge a book by its cover; what may seem like an inadequate residence from the outside, could prove to be your ‘home sweet home’ on the inside. The best advice is to view a property in person so you can get a feel of the establishment and see first-hand all the nooks and crannies that may not be visible via the internet. It’s also advisable to view as many properties as possible so that you have a diverse selection to choose from and compare. You’ll no doubt have your favourites and may even fall in love with your first or second viewing, but it’s advisable to give them all a chance. Furthermore, returning for a second viewing at a different time of day can cement your decision-making.

Ellie Dewey - Lrg SqTalk to us When viewing a property, don’t be afraid to ask your estate agent questions. Ask how long the property has been on the market for and make the best use of their expertise. Taking photographs and making notes can influence your decisionmaking, however, check with your estate agent that it’s ok to take snapshots – understandably, some homeowners won’t want their personal belongings documented by a viewer snapping away on their latest iPhone. Alternatively, keeping notes is a great way to document your viewings and will prove invaluable when it comes down to the final choice. Remember buying a home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make, this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, so don’t halfheartedly take a stab in the dark. Take your time, do your research and talk to the experts – after all, that’s what we’re here for.

Looking to take the leap onto the property ladder in the Kent area? Speak to our estate agents in Maidstone and Ashford today!

Is it your first time buying a house?

With millennials now following in the house- hunting footsteps of predecessor generation X, today’s demographic cohort may experience a rather different affair than their parents.

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 15.02.52 2According to Halifax, the current average age of a first-time buyer within the UK is 30. Compare this with figures from 1980 to 1984, when the average age group was 27 (source: The Telegraph), and it’s clear to see why today’s generation’s home search may differ from that 30-something years ago. This may relate to mortgage services, the process itself and housing availability – or perhaps a combination of them all.

It’s beneficial for first-time buyers to gain expert knowledge and take note of some tips before their dream dwelling hunt initiates. After all, there’s little point in going into the process blindfolded. The first port of call is an obvious one; budgeting. Without the financial ability to firstly; secure a deposit for a house and secondly; have the available means to pay for monthly mortgage instalments, house-hunting may have to take a back seat while you set out to attain these goals.

Save those pennies!

Today’s deposits range from 5 to 20% and, in order to acquire this deposit, some devoted economising is demanded. First and foremost, eliminating any unnecessary outgoings is a must; goodbye wild nights out down your local. Account for all your expenditure, from petrol and food to credit agreements and any other outstanding bills. It may be worth creating a spreadsheet to keep track of where your largest expenses fall.

With your finances in order, the next step is to consider any other costs that may be associated with procuring your humble abode. Factor in survey costs, solicitor’s fees, removal costs, building insurance, kitting out your new home with furnishings, mortgage payments and valuation fees as well as stamp duty. Remember, hindsight is a wonderful thing!

 

Are you ready?Ben Siggins 3

While you must ensure that you are financially prepared to commit to purchasing your very own home, you must also make certain that you are additionally, on a personal level, emotionally ready to take this leap forward to safeguard your future. Whether going it alone, with a partner, future housemate, or a family member, you all must be of the same mindset when it comes down to the nitty-gritty. Whoever you’re planning to move in with, remember this is a long-term commitment – so not only considering who you move in with, but also the suitability of both the area and house itself.

For many couples, this may mean an extra bedroom for the pitter-patter of tiny feet or keeping an eye on the catchment area and Ofsted reports for local schools. For others, this may mean checking out the local amenities to guarantee that your desired area can accommodate all your requirements.

Researching your coveted area is vitally important and, if you’re a commuter, it’s best to con rm where your local means of transport is located.

If you’re unfamiliar with the area you wish to move to, take day trips to the town or village and investigate the neighbourhood. Look out for open spaces to relax on your days off – there’s a plethora of parkland within the Kent boundary – local restaurants and bars as well as local supermarkets.

If you’re looking to purchase a home in the Maidstone, Medway or Ashford area, do get in contact with our estate agents today!

Ben Siggins 1

10 Essential questions to ask your estate agents

questions to ask estate agent

Buying a home is usually the single most expensive purchase you’ll ever make, which is why it is crucial to learn all you can about the property before you make that all-important decision. Your estate agent should be your go-to reference for any pre-offer questions, but what exactly should you seek to find out? Here, we uncover the 10 questions every home-buyer must ask about a property.

1) Why is the owner selling?

First and foremost, try and ascertain why the owners are selling. It could be a simple case of the owners are in search of a bigger home to cater for their growing family, or downsizing since their children have flown the nest. Whatever the circumstances, it is important to find out in case of any sinister reasons, such as neighbour disputes, or worst still, crime.

2) How long have the owners lived in the property?

If the owners are moving out after a short period, this could raise alarm bells. Find out if the property has repeatedly changed hands. If it has then this could mean some serious problems, either with the property itself or external factors – again, such as anti-social behaviour from neighbours. Noisy or abusive neighbours can transform the nicest neighbourhood into the worst.

3) What is included in the sale?

Regardless of whether the asking price is above or below your budget, it is essential to find out exactly what’s included in the sale. Items such as white goods and outbuildings (such as sheds and greenhouses) aren’t always part of the package, but your estate agent can advise you on what the owners are prepared to leave behind. It’s also worth enquiring about where boundaries lie. Don’t always assume the pieces of land you can see are part of the property you are viewing. Get the agent to show you exactly what you would be getting as part of the deal.

4) How long has the property been on the market?

It is important to find out how long the property has been on the market. If the house has been on the market for a long time (more than three months), then ask the agent why they think it isn’t selling. Is it overpriced? Have previous viewers identified a problem that you simply aren’t seeing? If the reasons given are no cause for concern then it may be worth asking if the owner would accept a lower price

5) Has there been much interest in the property?

Ask how many viewings there have been and if any offers have been made. Select a busy time to view the property – such as a weekend morning – and if fellow viewers are booked in before and after you then you know its hot property. You should also ask what offers have been made already – the agent will usually tell you, however they cannot disclose the amounts.

6)Is the property listed or in a conservation area?

If you like what you see, but still feel there is room for improvement, such as a structural remodel, it is important to ask if there are any restrictions on the property. For instance, is the building listed or is it within a conservation area? This will limit what work can be done to the home. You may find you won’t be able change the face of the property or affix items to the building, such as a TV satellite dish, so ask the agent to outline any restrictions you could potentially encounter.

7) How much work has been done on the property?

If you don’t intend to carry out a full structural survey on the property, make sure you find out about work that’s recently been undertaken, as the work itself can have both positive and negative results. If the work has been done well, then this can be deemed as something that won’t need to be changed for a while. However, if the work is shoddy, then this could mean extra costs. If you can visibly see that the rooms have recently been redecorated, ask why. This could be a warning sign that the owners have tried to cover up damp or cracks.

8) What is the average cost of utilities?

With the increasing energy tariffs, the cost of utilities is becoming an influential factor for many prospective home-buyers. Having an idea of utility bills will allow you to ascertain your expenses each month. Try and get exact figures if you can – if you brief your estate agent in advance, they should be able to get the information ready for your viewing. While these may seem like small considerations, they’re reoccurring expenses that will add to the monthly cost of owning your home. Look for heat sources too, such as storage heaters or log burners, as these will indicate how costly the property could be to heat. You may also want to enquire about the Energy Performance Certificate as this will reveal how efficient the property is. Has the loft got insulation? Is there wall cavity insulation?

9) What is the crime rate in the area?

Although you could research this information independently, it’s good to hear first-hand experiences of the area. Your estate agent will be familiar with the local area and therefore will be able to make you aware of the crime rate. You may also want to double check that the property isn’t attached to any convictions. A crime, death or murder in the property can significantly affect the resale value of the property later on – so this should be considered if you plan on selling the property in the future.

10) What are the local amenities like?

Lastly, if you’re not familiar with the area, you will undoubtedly want to know what services and amenities are available. This may include transport links, schools, supermarkets or local parks. If the property is in a town centre, this can certainly be advantageous, however keep in mind that this may also mean restricted parking, plus more noise and traffic throughout the day – and even night.

Estate agents are legally bound to tell you the truth about the property you are viewing, so it is important to ask as many questions as you can. It could make the difference between buying a dream home and buying a dud – and it could save you a fortune.

If you’re looking to buy a home, or need some expert property advice, please feel free to pop in to one of our Kent Branches, or contact our estate agents in Maidstone (01622) 524110, Gillingham (01634) 581207 & Kings Hill (01732) 424090 and estate agency in Ashford.

Related Reading

– Living in Ashford? If you’re moving to Ashford, you’ll want to read this!

"When Ben came round and valued my property he explained in detail all the procedures, informed me of all the sites my property would be on."

– Sharon

"They went out of their way to help which should have been the job of our agent who we constantly had to chase."

– Colin Brackstone

"Ben made sure the photos were excellent, which is what really sold the property"

– Anchusa

"I was particularly impressed with the weekly updates from Ben and Dan detailing the number of 'hits' that my property had attracted on the big property search engines"

– Sarah

"I hope to be buying from you next year and will recommend you to future householders and tenants. Thank you Mr Siggins."

– Joe B
Maidstone
Call:

01622 524110

Email:

matthew@bensiggins.co.uk

Address:

29 Pudding Lane,
Maidstone,
Kent,
ME14 1PA

Gillingham
Call:

01634 581207

Email:

mark@bensiggins.co.uk

Address:

227 Canterbury Street
Gillingham
Kent
ME7 5XB

Kings Hill
Call:

01732 424091

Email:

ben@bensiggins.co.uk

Address:

26 Kings Hill Avenue
Kings Hill
Kent
ME19 4UA

Ashford
Call:

01233 646752

Email:

ben@bensiggins.co.uk

Address:

2 Market Buildings
Godinton Road
Ashford
Kent
TN23 1JA

Maidstone
Call:

01622 524110

Email:

matthew@bensiggins.co.uk

Address:

29 Pudding Lane,
Maidstone,
Kent,
ME14 1PA

Gillingham
Call:

01634 581207

Email:

mark@bensiggins.co.uk

Address:

227 Canterbury Street
Gillingham
Kent
ME7 5XB

Kings Hill
Call:

01732 424091

Email:

ben@bensiggins.co.uk

Address:

26 Kings Hill Avenue
Kings Hill
Kent
ME19 4UA

Ashford
Call:

01233 646752

Email:

ben@bensiggins.co.uk

Address:

2 Market Buildings
Godinton Road
Ashford
Kent
TN23 1JA

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