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A leading buying agent says the phenomenon of ‘buying unseen’ is the most dramatic property trend to have emerged from the pandemic.

Ed Jephson of Stacks Property Search says: “Once the preserve of overseas investment buyers, buying a property without viewing in person has become a domestic practice, and is happening in many of the country’s hotspots.

“It’s driven by the huge demand for rural properties that in many parts of the country, notably the south west and the Cotswolds, dramatically exceeds supply.”

Jephson says factoring in a visit to a property “slows the [purchase] process down so much” and he insists “determined buyers have taken the view that the only way they will make a successful purchase is to conduct a desk-bound buying exercise.”Stacks has help with several ‘unseen’ deals, all around or in excess of £1m, and involving UK buyers as well as those from overseas.

Jephson cont: “I would stress that this isn’t a recommended buying method for over 99 per cent of buyers. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Buyers require nerves of steel, deep pockets, and an overwhelming need or desire to buy a property in the short term.”

He says that some selling agents and vendors may resist the tactic, as it may be harder for a buyer to appear serious in the eyes of the seller.

For those wanting to purchase this way, Jephson says: “You will need to be convincing, looking like the best buyer in terms of price, financial position, and intention to go through with the purchase. Make sure your offer is as compelling as possible, be a cash buyer, and present the agents with proof of funds, and/or mortgage agreement in principle. You will need an excellent solicitor, it may be helpful to volunteer to use a local solicitor that the estate agent works with regularly.”

And he concludes: “If you have an alternative to buying unseen I would strongly recommend you take it. But for those who simply don’t have the luxury of looking at a property first hand, it doesn’t have to be quite as mad as it sounds.”

Read the full article here

Grass looking greener in Devon? Don’t make a move until you’ve read our insider tips from the property pros on where’s hot and how to make it work for you.

Living the Devon dream has never looked so appealing, with beaches, moors and tranquil woodlands on our doorstep, plus value for money if you know where to look.

When I moved here from the South East with my husband and toddler sixteen years ago, where to move was made easier by the fact he had family here. Even so, having since discovered so many gorgeous areas to live, I sometimes wish I’d known more about the county beforehand.

Looking to make the leap yourself? Ed and Grace Jephson of Stacks Property Finders to the rescue! They have their fingers on the pulse of what’s on the South Hams, Dartmoor and North Devon market (sometimes before it’s on the market) thanks to a bulging little black book of agents and insider know-how. What’s more, the pair know what they’re talking about as they made the move themselves with their young daughter.

Over to you, Ed and Grace!

1/ Where’s the best place to start?

We always ask loads of questions to find out what people want: will you need to find work here or will you be working from home? Do you want a good state school or are you going private? Is community key or do you see yourself being remote? Are you boaty or are family walks more your thing? Do you want a morning swim every day or will you be off on the commute?

Try and write down absolutely everything you want from your new life. That way you won’t waste time and are less at risk of falling in love with a property only to have to let it go because it doesn’t meet your needs.

Inside intel: consider not just what you need right now, but try and imagine how your life might be like in ten years’ time and bake that in.

2/ What impact has Covid had on the Devon house market?

The cat is out of the bag in terms of people now being able to work from home, whilst maintaining productivity. In some instances, productivity has even increased! So, if you don’t need to commute, why live in a polluted city where childcare is exorbitant and crime is high when you could live in open countryside or close to the sea? Childcare here is a fraction of what it costs in the big cities and believe it or not, there is always a fantastic hipster coffee house close by and the restaurant scene here rivals any big city. 

3/What’s the best location for commuters?

Anywhere around the A381, including Totnes, Ashburton and towns and villages close to the A38 Devon Expressway which runs between Plymouth and Exeter.

South Devon is warmer and less battered by the storms rolling in across the Atlantic, making it a safe haven for sailors. The harbour towns, such as Salcombe, Dartmouth and Noss Mayo are some of the prettiest destinations on the planet, let alone the county.   

Inside intel: trains to London Paddington and Waterloo run half hourly and take just under three hours from Exeter St Davids.

4/What if it’s a toss-up between Cornwall or Devon?

Because it’s so much further from city-life, a move to Cornwall is more like pulling up the drawbridge. You’re talking anything from 6-10 hours by car to London depending on the traffic or a flight from Newquay. Devon is do-able for a weekend. It also has two cosmopolitan cities of Exeter and Plymouth, the M5 and you can get to Bristol in an hour by train. Devon is less rugged but for our money, the villages are prettier and better put together (but don’t tell Cornwall we said that!)

Inside intel: think about who’s most regularly going to be making the trip. If you have kids of university age, Cornwall might mean they come home less while if you do a lot of entertaining, weekending guests may well want to stay longer. That might be a pro or a con, you decide!

5/Where do you recommend for young families?

Kingsbridge has a year-round community and it’s upmarket without being snooty (though *eek* it doesn’t have a Waitrose!) There are loads of good indie shops in the town and a really good state school, Kingsbridge Community College. (The town was also Devon’s winner in Muddy’s Top 200 Best Places to Live.)

Totnes and the surrounding villages, including East Allington, Harbertonford, Blackawton and Cornworthy are all young and happening, plus there are some good pubs and eateries, including the Maltsters Arms at Tuckenhay and a great al fresco cafe at Sharpham Vineyardwhich is a beautiful place for a walk, right on the edge of the River Dart.

Totnes always reminds us of walking down Portobello Road, with its coffee houses and indie shops, it’s so pretty and higgledy-piggledy. There’s a refreshing lack of materialism too, it’s not flash.

If you want to be on the moors, the year-round community of Moretonhampstead (above) is a bustling little town just within the Dartmoor national park and only 15 miles from Exeter. Being so close to the city makes it stand out as one of the key Dartmoor locations, plus NT Castle Drogo is six miles away and its Green Hill Arts Gallery is fast becoming one of Devon’s most prominent art galleries. There are a couple of coffee shops, three pubs, a bakery and stores. It seems to attract arty cultured types.

Insider intel: if it’s a question of weather, the moors are colder and tend to get snow more often than areas by the coast.

6/How much to be beside the seaside?

If you want a stand-alone property with parking in the South Hams, you won’t get much change out of 2 million for a panoramic sea view, although if you don’t mind compromising on space, a semi-detached or terrace with a view will set you back anything from £650k.

Estuary views are sought after too: in Dittisham, for example you can expect to pay around the £900k mark for a detached property with a garden.

Local intel: look for somewhere either with parking or a property that comes with a pass for the local car park as during the tourist months it’s always a competition to find a space.

7/Where is the best value for money?

Purchase a property in a hamlet just 10 to 15 minutes away from the sea and it will shave hundreds of thousands off the price, and you still have it all on your doorstep, and it will be less touristy in summer. So a win-win.

If you don’t mind remote, Bantham, Start Point and East Prawle is unspoilt and a little cheaper than Salcombe and Dartmouth.

Local intel: lanes are narrow and often only wide enough for single-traffic in rural areas, very stressful if you’re stuck behind a tractor or caravan and you’re commuting daily for work.

8/What makes a good holiday home?

Enough bathrooms or en-suites is key if you want to attract an upmarket holiday crowd. If you’re doing the laundry, a decent-sized laundry as you will need two of each, washing machine and dryer, to do the turnaround, unless it’s a cute one-bed cottage. A boot room and a downstairs shower room where people can get out of wetsuits helps to keep sand confined to one room. A good garden but not too big if you’re doing the maintenance! Parking is always essential in busy coastal towns where it’s hard to find.

Local intel: most holiday makers want to be within walking distance of a pub and at least one shop for essentials.

9/Should I be worried about being seen as an incomer?

It’s not something we experienced when we moved from London, it was the opposite with people putting nice notes through the letterbox. Maybe if you moved to a very tight-knit community where houses rarely come up. It helps if you have children as you tend to meet like-minded mums through nursery and school.

From our own experience we would say the South Hams is particularly cosmopolitan and attracts the worldly kind of crowd. Devon is a friendly county that welcomes and actively embraces outsiders.   

10/Should I rent first?

The housing market is going up so if you rent you are not only spending £20k or so on a year’s rent but you may also be pricing yourself out by waiting. The other factor is that if you are looking in the South Hams area, its impossible to find anything as they are rented out as holiday lets and cost four times as much.  

But for some people it will still make sense to find something to rent, particularly if you want to try out the area and decide to retain your own home, until you are completely satisfied to sell up and re invest down here.   

However, for most people I would always recommend buying and selling in the same market at the same time. Plus, moving twice and living out of storage boxes is exhausting!

A search agent takes away that worry for you, along with endless trawling on the internet, wondering if an area is nice, or if the schools are good. I do all the viewings for clients, and I can video properties, so you only need to come and view a property when you’re sure all the boxes are ticked and it’s the right location for your lifestyle.

Local intel: renting may be less useful if you have kids of school age as it’s unlikely you will want to move them out of the catchment area once they’ve settled in.

Got a burning question for Ed and Grace I haven’t asked? Don’t be shy, get in touch!

Read the full article here

To discuss what you are looking for call
Ed Tel: 01803 732128 / 07711724939 or Grace Tel: 01803 732128 / 07508966975

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“Thank you very much.  We are very excited on the purchase of the flat as well.  Sara has been instrumental in every aspect, we are blessed to have her on our side.
2019-12-06T09:48:50+00:00
“Thank you very much.  We are very excited on the purchase of the flat as well.  Sara has been instrumental in every aspect, we are blessed to have her on our side.”
"great value to us during a difficult, competitive purchase"
2018-11-21T12:39:48+00:00
"great value to us during a difficult, competitive purchase"
"a fantastic job in impossible circumstances"
2018-11-21T12:17:11+00:00
"a fantastic job in impossible circumstances"
"Stacks were a tremendous help and we would never have found our home without them. She is a lovely person with a great sense of humour which was essential during some of our tricky negotiations"
2020-01-13T11:52:24+00:00
"Stacks were a tremendous help and we would never have found our home without them. She is a lovely person with a great sense of humour which was essential during some of our tricky negotiations"
"found precisely what I was looking for, and even on my request made an offer before I had even seen the property!!"
2018-11-21T12:35:46+00:00
"found precisely what I was looking for, and even on my request made an offer before I had even seen the property!!"
“We really enjoyed working with Sara and Stacks and would highly recommend having them on your side in the home buying process”
2019-06-19T13:54:55+00:00
“We really enjoyed working with Sara and Stacks and would highly recommend having them on your side in the home buying process”
"You saved me many miles of driving and were very professional"
2018-11-21T13:19:40+00:00
"You saved me many miles of driving and were very professional"
"Your advice on how to effectively instruct and motivate our professional team allowed us to complete in one month."
2018-11-21T13:22:31+00:00
"Your advice on how to effectively instruct and motivate our professional team allowed us to complete in one month."
"We are delighted with our choice and so are the children."
2018-11-21T13:08:49+00:00
"We are delighted with our choice and so are the children."
"Stacks takes great pride in their service, is an expert in their field and above all, demonstrated integrity in all our interaction with them"
2018-11-21T12:54:09+00:00
"Stacks takes great pride in their service, is an expert in their field and above all, demonstrated integrity in all our interaction with them"
"We cannot imagine how long it would have taken us to find our perfect home without Stacks – and we suspect that we would have compromised a long time ago!"
2018-11-21T13:09:36+00:00
"We cannot imagine how long it would have taken us to find our perfect home without Stacks – and we suspect that we would have compromised a long time ago!"
"helped our parents downsize from the family home, in what was a traumatic move for them"
2018-11-21T12:41:04+00:00
"helped our parents downsize from the family home, in what was a traumatic move for them"
"They've been a close and very helpful part of our discussions with everybody. When you’re new to a town and an area, that’s priceless."
2018-11-21T12:58:19+00:00
"They've been a close and very helpful part of our discussions with everybody. When you’re new to a town and an area, that’s priceless."
"Relentlessly provided us with the context and facts we needed to make an informed decision "
2018-11-21T12:50:28+00:00
"Relentlessly provided us with the context and facts we needed to make an informed decision "
"a calming, guiding presence where nothing was too much trouble"
2018-11-21T12:13:26+00:00
"a calming, guiding presence where nothing was too much trouble"
"The best decision we could have made!"
2018-11-21T12:55:52+00:00
"The best decision we could have made!"
"Being able to 'stand behind' Stacks, whilst they brought their negotiating skills to the fore, took us to another level"
2018-11-21T12:22:38+00:00
"Being able to 'stand behind' Stacks, whilst they brought their negotiating skills to the fore, took us to another level"
"Through the whole process they went above and beyond, and it was worth every penny!"
2018-11-21T12:59:15+00:00
"Through the whole process they went above and beyond, and it was worth every penny!"
"Encouraging me to think creatively about what could work for me."
2020-02-27T09:49:08+00:00
"Encouraging me to think creatively about what could work for me."
"extremely helpful, knowledgeable and tireless in their efforts to assist us"
2018-11-21T12:33:22+00:00
"extremely helpful, knowledgeable and tireless in their efforts to assist us"
"You were able, by taking on much of the responsibility and the effort, to enable us to relax and enjoy the process"
2018-11-21T13:21:20+00:00
"You were able, by taking on much of the responsibility and the effort, to enable us to relax and enjoy the process"
"always courteous and pleasant, and most importantly, in our opinion, trustworthy."
2018-11-21T12:19:57+00:00
"always courteous and pleasant, and most importantly, in our opinion, trustworthy."
"carried out with discretion"
2018-11-21T12:28:29+00:00
"carried out with discretion"
"found us a home in a sought-after area with a high demand for properties and very little on offer"
2018-11-21T12:37:14+00:00
"found us a home in a sought-after area with a high demand for properties and very little on offer"
"We love the house and cannot wait to move in and get settled."
2018-11-21T13:10:27+00:00
"We love the house and cannot wait to move in and get settled."
"Practically, I needed someone to do the legwork and the eye-balling"
2018-11-21T12:49:38+00:00
"Practically, I needed someone to do the legwork and the eye-balling"
"We were in a tricky housing situation, looking to buy a very specific type of house and needing to find it in a very specific time frame"
2018-11-21T13:12:00+00:00
"We were in a tricky housing situation, looking to buy a very specific type of house and needing to find it in a very specific time frame"
"I would recommend using Stacks as they are well connected to the property market and provide a realistic assessment of activity and pricing."
2018-11-21T12:45:49+00:00
"I would recommend using Stacks as they are well connected to the property market and provide a realistic assessment of activity and pricing."
"In essence, you are buying your best ally "
2018-11-21T12:47:38+00:00
"In essence, you are buying your best ally "
"We would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending them to anyone thinking of using such a service"
2018-11-21T13:13:46+00:00
"We would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending them to anyone thinking of using such a service"
"You made a huge difference to our search as I am sure you do for all your clients."
2019-05-02T11:00:08+00:00
"You made a huge difference to our search as I am sure you do for all your clients."
"Thank you very much for the professionalism, patience and understanding"
2018-11-21T12:55:04+00:00
"Thank you very much for the professionalism, patience and understanding"
"We now own a most suitable house in the position of our dreams thanks to Stacks"
2018-11-21T13:11:13+00:00
"We now own a most suitable house in the position of our dreams thanks to Stacks"
"Would not hesitate to use you again."
2018-11-21T13:16:29+00:00
"Would not hesitate to use you again."
"I gained a house, setting and location which are right for me"
2018-11-21T12:43:48+00:00
"I gained a house, setting and location which are right for me"
"You we able to give us confidence that we were doing the right thing"
2018-11-21T13:20:39+00:00
"You we able to give us confidence that we were doing the right thing"
"We were moving country – had booked the packers – and had nowhere to move into!"
2018-11-21T13:12:46+00:00
"We were moving country – had booked the packers – and had nowhere to move into!"
"You gave a much-valued ‘younger’ perspective on our situation, which was a real asset"
2020-01-13T11:52:01+00:00
"You gave a much-valued ‘younger’ perspective on our situation, which was a real asset"
"We found the service extremely helpful and professional at all times"
2020-01-13T11:51:31+00:00
"We found the service extremely helpful and professional at all times"
"I was impressed by the efficient, kind and courteous service provided by Stacks"
2020-01-13T11:52:49+00:00
"I was impressed by the efficient, kind and courteous service provided by Stacks"
"I completely underestimated how much of a difference you would make"
2018-11-21T12:43:03+00:00
"I completely underestimated how much of a difference you would make"
"got our offer accepted even when it was not the highest"
2018-11-21T12:38:34+00:00
"got our offer accepted even when it was not the highest"
"Well done in taking us to a house we didn’t know we wanted … and then fell in love with!"
2018-11-21T13:14:45+00:00
"Well done in taking us to a house we didn’t know we wanted … and then fell in love with!"
"Because I had invested in the process of working with a Buying Agent, I had the confidence to go ahead"
2018-11-21T12:21:23+00:00
"Because I had invested in the process of working with a Buying Agent, I had the confidence to go ahead"
"...negotiate on anything"

Financial Times

2018-11-06T14:00:36+00:00

Financial Times

"...negotiate on anything"
"The house is ideal ... and it is nothing like our first (unsuitable) ideas!"
2018-11-21T12:56:37+00:00
"The house is ideal ... and it is nothing like our first (unsuitable) ideas!"
"I’ve seldom had such consistent, wise support in a major life decision, and I can’t emphasize enough how helpful it is."
2018-11-21T12:46:40+00:00
"I’ve seldom had such consistent, wise support in a major life decision, and I can’t emphasize enough how helpful it is."
“We want to thank you so much for the very professional and sensitive support you have given us in navigating through the various properties we have considered for investment of our small inheritance.”
2018-11-05T22:55:02+00:00
“We want to thank you so much for the very professional and sensitive support you have given us in navigating through the various properties we have considered for investment of our small inheritance.”
"Many thanks for your hard work and patience in assisting in buying our property. You made the whole process infinitely less stressful than it might have been"
2020-01-13T11:50:30+00:00
"Many thanks for your hard work and patience in assisting in buying our property. You made the whole process infinitely less stressful than it might have been"
"I have been delighted with the service I have received from Stacks and will not hesitate to recommend Stacks in the future.

It is not often that one is pleased to part with money but I can truthfully say that I am on this occasion. You have earned every penny of this cheque and what is more, you have done it with great courtesy and good humour. It has been very pleasant working with you. You really did take most of the stress out of our house hunting.

Stacks’ performance on this assignment has been absolutely outstanding and more than met my expectations. Her understanding of the brief and the ‘after-find’ service set a standard of professionalism that I have not met before"
2020-01-13T11:51:03+00:00
"I have been delighted with the service I have received from Stacks and will not hesitate to recommend Stacks in the future. It is not often that one is pleased to part with money but I can truthfully say that I am on this occasion. You have earned every penny of this cheque and what is more, you have done it with great courtesy and good humour. It has been very pleasant working with you. You really did take most of the stress out of our house hunting. Stacks’ performance on this assignment has been absolutely outstanding and more than met my expectations. Her understanding of the brief and the ‘after-find’ service set a standard of professionalism that I have not met before"
"was fantastic at explaining and helping us with everything that was happening"
2018-11-21T13:07:43+00:00
"was fantastic at explaining and helping us with everything that was happening"
"...took just days to come up with the property that fitted all our criteria"

Sunday Telegraph

2018-11-06T13:59:47+00:00

Sunday Telegraph

"...took just days to come up with the property that fitted all our criteria"
"I needed the continuous advice and support on the many issues that can and do arise, and, above all, someone acting in one’s own interest."
2018-11-21T12:44:59+00:00
"I needed the continuous advice and support on the many issues that can and do arise, and, above all, someone acting in one’s own interest."
"Finding a plot not yet on the market and persuading the developer to enter into an exclusive contract with me to build to my specification."
2020-02-27T09:48:25+00:00
"Finding a plot not yet on the market and persuading the developer to enter into an exclusive contract with me to build to my specification."
"How extraordinary to have found what we were looking for"
2018-11-21T12:42:07+00:00
"How extraordinary to have found what we were looking for"
"Despite other interested parties, Stacks were able to help us secure our preferred property."
2018-11-21T12:32:12+00:00
"Despite other interested parties, Stacks were able to help us secure our preferred property."
"They didn’t try to persuade us to buy anything unsuitable."
2018-11-21T12:57:31+00:00
"They didn’t try to persuade us to buy anything unsuitable."
"Without somebody on the ground asking the right questions on our behalf, finding a home would have been truly impossible."
2018-11-21T13:15:37+00:00
"Without somebody on the ground asking the right questions on our behalf, finding a home would have been truly impossible."
"You have an empathetic approach which, added to your knowledge and wise guidance, has made the whole thing a lot less stressful"
2018-11-21T13:17:15+00:00
"You have an empathetic approach which, added to your knowledge and wise guidance, has made the whole thing a lot less stressful"
"Should I move again, I shall definitely use you again"
2018-11-21T12:51:23+00:00
"Should I move again, I shall definitely use you again"
"utterly tenacious..."
2018-11-21T13:06:52+00:00
"utterly tenacious..."
"You have exceeded our expectations for a buy-side property service and have made the process a smooth one for us."
2018-11-21T13:18:01+00:00
"You have exceeded our expectations for a buy-side property service and have made the process a smooth one for us."
"It made a potentially very stressful process very straightforward"
2018-11-21T12:48:37+00:00
"It made a potentially very stressful process very straightforward"
"Stacks had the critical combination of expertise and tenacity to broker a solution for us"
2018-11-21T12:52:31+00:00
"Stacks had the critical combination of expertise and tenacity to broker a solution for us"
"You have found us a superb home which we feel fortunate to call our own."
2018-11-21T13:18:39+00:00
"You have found us a superb home which we feel fortunate to call our own."
"delivered a great service at a reasonable cost"
2018-11-21T12:30:52+00:00
"delivered a great service at a reasonable cost"
"Stacks has been an invaluable source of experience and wisdom on the successful landing of just the right house"
2018-11-21T12:53:20+00:00
"Stacks has been an invaluable source of experience and wisdom on the successful landing of just the right house"

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