Spammy Estate Agents

Not content with shoving endless leaflets through my door, estate agents have started to list properties on google maps.

By far the worst offender of this was Alexander Gibson Estate Agents. There where a few others with the odd for sale property, and non of the big estate agents had any listings on Google, that I could find.

There certainly are some dodgy practices employed by some estate agents, these are some of the more common;

1 – Putting boards up on properties they haven’t been asked to sell or let, or leaving boards up longer than needed;

2 – Advising clients on offers from fictional buyers (yes they always fall through);

3 – Not revealing to a seller that a deal has fallen through, while they scramble to find another buyer before they lose the instruction;

4 – Dreaming up fictional offers from non-existent viewings to push buyers into raising their offer;

5 – Refusing to hand over the keys to rival firms when a property is being marketed by more than one agent;

6 – Refusing to pass on an acceptable offer to the vendor knowing the buyer will go higher and boost their commission;

7 – Deleting applicants and their offers from the firm’s database so buyers registered with colleagues are out of the running;

8 – Gazumping their own buyers with a better offer from another customer;

9 – Under-valuing a property in order to sell or let it to a developer or friend;

10 – Recommending offers from buyers just because they are signed up to their solicitors and brokers.

I’m rather hoping estate agents have cleaned up their act since I last had dealings with them, but it’s always a good idea to list a property with multiple agencies, and remember, the only thing they want is their commission on a sale. And there’s little they wouldn’t do to achieve it.

Here’s a quick list of things to look for;

1) Only deal with agents supervised by the property ombudsman. These agents must follow the ombudsman’s code of practice and you can get up to £25,000 compensation if they break the code. Find participating agents from The Property Ombudsman.

2) Get recommendations from friends who have both bought and sold in the area. If you are selling up you will want to know the agent is polite to would-be buyers and turns up on time for appointments, as he or she will be representing you.

3) Value the property yourself. You can do this online for free at Zoopla.co.ukor pay Hometrack.co.uk £19.95 for a detailed property valuation report based on the same database used by mortgage lenders.

4) Deal directly with sellers and buyers using Tepilo. The property search engine, set up by Channel 4 TV presenter Sarah Beeny, allows homeowners to advertise directly to sellers, avoiding the need for estate agents completely. The site is free with no commission fees to pay. Alternatively, try fee-charging sites like emoov.co.uk or House Simple.

5) Contact potential sellers in person. Visit your chosen area and contact the sellers of properties you like directly, perhaps by popping a card through the door. Tell them you are interested in buying their home and give your contact number. They may be considering selling up and be glad to bypass agency fees.

6) Look at how the agent markets other properties. If the descriptions on its website tend towards the jocular, and you seek seriousness, or the pictures look like they were taken through a dirty window, you might want to steer clear – even if the agent is charging the lowest commission.

7) Check any agent you hire is a member of the National Association of Estate Agents. They must undergo professional development training each year and follow a voluntary code of conduct. There is a disciplinary process which includes penalties up to £5,000 for each rule broken. Search the directory of members at NAEA.co.uk.

Panoramic shots

Trying out the panoramic feature of the DJI spark. Impressed, but not blown away by it.

I found it really easy Todo, with the drone doing all the hard work taking the images, a great mode for capturing the vista. However, I find myself unable to position the drone where I want, always seeming to stop short. Not a limit on the drone, but for some reason my brain always stops in that same position!

Power of the edits..

While I always like to process images as little as possible, if at all, some times it’s a requirement of every shot.

Here, for instance this shot taken from my Spark. It lacks depth and colour. Visually, it just didn’t stand out.

However, a little time spent in the Google Photos editor tweaking exposure, clarity, saturation and blacks improve things.

Shadows have a bit more depth, the colours are less muted but still hold the autumn setting.

You don’t take a photograph, you make it

Ansel Adams

So, don’t be afraid to play with the sliders, just don’t overdo it, and keep it realistic and you’ll do just fine.

Wind.

The spark has continued to impress with its ability in windy conditions. I’ve flown it in some questionable wind speeds, bit being careful not to take it too far. So far, there’s only been one occasion where I’ve noticed it not being able to cope and that was on blubber houses crag. And by god, it was seriously windy.

Up til now, I have had no way of actually knowing the wind speed conditions, apart from looking on apps and the weather reports, so I’ve invested little more than a tenner for an anemometer from Amazon to measure the wind speed.

This will let me know exactly what the wind speed is, and honestly, for £12, it’s a good buy.

Toft Gate Lime Kiln

So it was a trip to the top of Greenhow hill today. Lord was it cold and windy. But the little Spark did a sterling effort of dealing with the wind.

Up at the top of Greenhow hill is the old Lime kiln at Toft Gate.

The kiln was loaded with limestone through the top and with coal through the rectangular openings in the end and side walls. A stone lined flue runs from the kiln up a gentle slope to the chimney base in the distance. Life must have been hard up here. I’m suffering just with the cold wind, I hate to think what it was like being up here, mining the ore and loading it, moving the spoil, let alone the children that would have had to clean out the long flue leading to the chimney.

Theres plenty of grassy hillocks and curious dimples in the landscape between Toft Gate and Grassington – many of these are remnants of the limestone industry. People would mine the area, and transport it out to the lime-kiln where it would be burnt and heated to release the quicklime, which was then used in the local farms for fertiliser.

I decided to try the editor built into the DJI Go app, and it’s not bad really. Its most useful if your away from the main editing system you use, and just need a quick and dirty instagram upload or something, it wont really replace a dedicated editing software, but its intended use its not too bad. Once you play around with it and learn what it can, and can’t do as the information on using it is a little thin, it can yeild some good results. The auto create function can be a little odd, but that’s what you get for a random selection..