Our Latest News
When searching for an estate agent, you want advice and guidance from professionals who are trained and trustworthy, who have in-depth local knowledge and the technology and connections to expedite your sale: in short, you are looking for a Member of The Guild. Our exclusive Membership is awarded to just one agent in each area, selected on the basis of their high standards and professionalism.
The Guild of Property Professionals is the latest evolution of The Guild of Professional Estate Agents. As a company which has been working with the very best independent estate agents for the past 20 years, it understands how to combine innovation with its core principles of knowledge, expertise and professional standards. Marcus Whewell, CEO of The Guild, explains why it is rebranding itself, what the future holds, and why a Guild Member is the intelligent choice when selecting an estate agent.
How would you describe The Guild, its purpose and objectives?
The Guild is a membership body representing a selection of the best independent estate agents in the country. We help and support our members by working together to deliver higher standards and a better result for buyers and sellers.
How many guild agents are there? What part of the country do they cover?
We have approximately 800 independent offices across England and Wales: you are never far from a Guild office!
What are The Guild’s core values and why should a member of the public seek out a member?
For more than 20 years, we have built our business around three core values:
- Firstly, that our member agents have the relevant specialist knowledge to suitably advise clients in the property market.
- Secondly, that all Guild agents have undergone extensive training to ensure that the guidance they give is correct and appropriate at all times.
- Finally, that by dealing with a property professional who is committed to acting with integrity, and by accessing the services of the Guild and its extensive network, they will secure a better result than would otherwise have been the case.
Changing to our name to The Guild of Property Professionals brings our brand into alignment with changes and developments in the industry – we are as dedicated to lettings as we are to the residential sales market.
Tell us about your vision for The Guild, and where to do you see the company in 10 years?
In many ways, the property industry is changing extremely quickly, led primarily by the emergence and development of new technology. As the leading portals altered the way potential buyers search for property, marketing is being revolutionised by new digital opportunities to help people search and engage in new and exciting ways. We understand that the public expect more for their money as the internet facilitates new methods and solutions – requiring businesses to better justify their fees.
However, we passionately believe that the vast majority of property movers want to secure a successful outcome with minimum of stress. To do this, clients need timely and appropriate advice from someone they can trust, and who knows how to market their property effectively. It is these high standards you can expect from every Guild Member agent, and we will continue to meet their client’s needs well into the future because moving is for most an emotional journey as well as a logistical one.
Why have you chosen to rebrand The Guild?
Our brand is now 20 years old and much has changed in the property industry during this time. We want to convey that we represent thousands of property professionals who live and act by our core values. The brief was to modernise and update our look whilst clearly communicating our fundamental values and retaining the brand’s heritage.
You have just launched a new logo, what was the development and selection process?
We approached four different agencies with our brief, asking them each to pitch, showing their understanding of the brand and its key characteristics. Each was then asked to present their ideas, which were whittled down to three leading concepts. These were developed and tested with our board, our employees, and also a panel of our leading agents to help make the final decision.
The digital property world is increasingly important. How are you incorporating this?
We are embracing the digital world through interactive e-zines and videos to help market properties. We also offer free, instant online property valuations, including relevant and comparative historical sales statistics. We are now also launching technology to allow clients to request online appointments 24/7.
What are the advantages of using a ‘high street’ agent over a purely ‘online’ agent?
Technology can help communicate a property’s features, but cannot replace appropriate knowledge and expertise. This is best delivered by a team who really know the area. Perhaps as importantly, most agents offer a ‘no sale no fee’ service, whereas the vast majority of the pure online suppliers require a non-refundable marketing fee (meaning that they are rewarded even if they ‘fail’ the client). Guild agents are fully motivated to secure a positive result for their clients.
What are the advantages of choosing a Guild Agent?
Every member has been personally selected for their commitment to delivering an outstanding service. Secondly, because these are intrinsically connected through a mutual network, clients have an opportunity to engage and market their property with almost 800 offices across the country, all working together to deliver the best possible outcome.
What about the outlook for lettings market?
The lettings market continues to play an essential role in the property sector, as the UK population continues to grow and rentals remains a lifestyle choice for many people. We therefore offer our members extensive training, advice and support to ensure they are up to date with the latest legislation. Landlords and tenants know they can trust The Guild, so they rent with confidence.
How do you see the property market changing over the next five years?
Technology will continue to increase access to better information and more choice. This means there will be less room for agencies who can’t or don’t demonstrate some form of differentiation or advantage.
Service will be improved by the power of testimonial sites and social networking. What’s more, individuals will need to be better qualified and informed, requiring agencies to prioritise training and development in their businesses.
For lettings, I can see a growing emergence of corporate ‘build to let’, but still believe the private rental sector will play a fundamental role in delivering affordable choice to renters. Local professional agents are key to driving standards and consistency using their unique knowledge and influence.
The Guild has got a new look - as well as a new name. Watch our video to see the new look for the brand.
This is the biggest change in fifteen years, and includes changing the company name from the Guild of Professional Estate Agents to the Guild of Property Professionals.
Lenders have started to announce changes to their buy-to-let policies following the Prudential Regulation Authority’s decision to phase in new stricter rules.
The PRA said in September that lenders must take the borrower’s income and personal circumstances into account as well as rental income when assessing buy-to-let mortgage applications.
Lenders must also apply a ‘stress test’ of a minimum interest rate of 5.5%, unless the mortgage rate is fixed for 5 years or more.
These requirements don’t come into effect until January next year, but some lenders have already announced changes to the way they underwrite buy-to-let mortgages.
Santander was the first major lender to confirm their changes, and will tighten the rental calculation from 23rd November.
The bank currently requires landlords to receive 125% of their mortgage liabilities in rental income. This will change to 145%.
At the moment Santander applies a stress rate of 5% for some deals with a 60% loan to value, or 5.50% above that, but this will change to 5.50% for all borrowers.
Other lenders are expected to announce changes in the coming weeks.
Buying a home can be stressful, so it is always best to research the area before starting a property search. Being aware of how quickly the market moves and what is most popular is key. Not only will it shed light on how long it will take to exchange on a home, but it also lets you know who you will be up against. There is nothing worse than deliberating over a property, only to find that someone else has put in a full-price offer. Being prepared is key.
For investors, this information is particularly crucial. Buying a high-demand property in a popular part of town will ensure an availability of tenants, as well as good price growth.
So what type of properties sell the fastest? And where in the UK is the property market moving the fastest?
“Here in PO14 Stubbington village, we sell properties at the right price within a couple of weeks,” said Darren Challis, Director of Chambers Sales and Lettings in Bursledon. “We can even sell three new bungalows within a few days. Bungalows are most popular with cash buyers or those downsizing from larger properties. Other properties usually take around four to six weeks.
“The demand is there for bungalows and properties like detached bungalows that can be extended in a chalet. The demand comes from far and wide due to the value for money and being close the the sea. It also helps that the village is a traditional area with good old fashioned shops.”
“Properties in St Neots sell fastest close to the town centre and the train station,” said Karen Keightley, Branch Manager at Thomas Morris. “Properties that are priced right can sell in first few days. The most popular properties are 2/3 bed houses under £250,000. Mostly, enquiries for these types of properties are coming from young professionals and families that need more space.”
“In our area, four bed modern family homes and Victorian terraces are very popular with first time buyers, and they’re selling quickly,” said Elizabeth Daker, Director of Charles Orlebar Estate Agents. Last month alone, we had a property like this sell in two days and another in five.”
“Last year passed in a flash with a continuing upward trend in house prices locally, although this increase slowed marginally in second half of 2016. We saw houses in most price ranges seeing competing bids by buyers keen to secure a purchase with a limited availability of stock. I do think we have seen such significant growth locally over the last few years (largely in anticipation of Rushden Lakes development and commutability factors) that the inevitable slowdown now cannot be unexpected. 2017 should be a year of slow but steady growth in prices compared to previous years.”
“Haywards Heath is a prime commuter town 45 mins from Victoria and London Bridge,” explains Jaime Wallden, Senior Director at Mansell McTaggart. “Having worked here for the last 30 years, I can honestly say that this is one of the country’s hotspots, but it remains affordable.”
“Properties sell fastest in Agnes, Cornwall,” said Andy Goundry of Goundrys Estate Agents. “They often sell before we even put them on the internet. Most sell within 2 weeks. Cottages and any properties with a sea view usually sell fastest.
“In Truro, where I am based, properties usually take three times longer to sell. The fastest sales are to second home owners and medical professionals, due to proximity to a very large hospital. The current lack of new instructions means in certain areas we have more than one buyer per property so often the asking price is exceeded.”
“Properties in Lutterworth town are selling very quickly,” said Trish Perrone from Bartram & Co Lutterworth Ltd. “The only properties that may take longer to sell are those a few miles outside the town, and any which are quirky or overpriced.
“In December, I had a four-bedroom detached home on the market for £350,000, which is slightly more than the market value. However, it was viewed with 24 hours and an offer was made for the full asking price the following day. The couple who purchased it said that they wanted to secure a purchase because properties in the area are selling so quickly and they didn’t want to lose the house.
“Similarly, I had a property within walking distance of the town centre. The sellers wanted a minimum of £400,000 and planned to market it in January. I suggested they list it at £425,000 in December instead. The house was sold within two weeks for the full asking price. The buyer said that they wanted to relocate to Lutterworth and having been searching the internet for months. With so little to choose from, they offered the full asking to ensure they secured this purchase.”
Frances Bowling, from Moss Properties said “Properties sell fastest in the Woodfield Plantation, Doncaster. Townhouses here typically sell within six days. This contrasts to the average time on market in 2016 for Doncaster, which was nearly 12 weeks. Most of the people buying have viewed 7-10 properties, and most are investors or young professionals.”
Martin Moore from Morris Marshall & Poole said: “The Tywyn office of Morris Marshall & Poole is located on the West Wales coast and is a popular holiday destination with many beaches and the Snowdonia National Park on the doorstep. This attention combined with the growth in outdoor and extreme sports has resulted in many more people considering the area for the purchase of holiday homes or, even relocating permanently.
“The seaside resorts of Aberdyfi and Tywyn are proving most popular and accurately priced houses will sell fast in these areas. Condition of the properties does not seem important so long as the price reflects the extent of work required, even second home buyers don’t seem put off by a project, that said, new builds tend to be some of the best sellers as there are relatively few of them and the buying process can be very easy. Houses on the coast are most popular, especially if they have a sea view and sales within a couple of weeks, or even a few days, are not uncommon.
“Most of the buyers for these homes tend to be more mature in age, not necessarily ready for retirement but certainly with some flexibility regarding work commitments. This benefits the sellers as most buyers are chain free and only seek small mortgages if any at all.
“It doesn’t mean everything is easy - the population is very sparse and travel time to employment centres and even supermarkets can make living in the area impractical for many.”
Catrina Horsley, Branch Manager at James Du Pavey, said: “The most popular locations are areas with good amenities, schools and commuter access for rail and road connections as well as major places of employment.
“We have recently seen cases where multiple offers can be received within 24 hours of the first viewings. Mid-range properties are most desired, particularly £200,000 - £300,000, three or four bedrooms, traditional or modern semis and detached but good condition. Presentation and contemporary fixtures and fittings can be key.
“Large property developers make their products very appealing and a move relatively easy with incentive schemes, together with availability of help to buy, which in my experience although it is available to any buyer on a new build, first time buyers have found this very attractive.
“The old saying of ‘location, location, location’ is still very much in evidence in the Staffordshire area. We have found that within Stone there have been huge numbers of buyers coming in to the area who are unfamiliar to the area, so are asking colleagues and locals for their advice on locations.”
“Saffron Walden is one of the fastest selling areas,” said Kevin Moll, Director of Kevin Henry Estate Agents. “Besides constantly appearing in the top 10 places to live, a beautiful market town, it has one of the best comprehensive schools in the country and is a retirement town as well. Properties can sell within days and there are regularly multiple bids.
“There are a number of brand new developments which are selling well. Anything under £300,000 is in short supply and a lot of the old cottages in the town centre sell very well. There are a number of fairly central streets that always sell well as they give access to popular primary schools. At the right price, anything will sell well in Saffron Walden.
“We have a lot of people downsizing locally and from further south. London buyers are always in evidence. We have a number of professional people from Cambridge such as those employed by Astra Zenica who have moved down from Cheshire. Investors are still about in reasonable numbers, and first time buyers are more noticeable.
“New builds have been doing well, but so have all parts of the town. It is a town with much demand, squeezed between Cambridge and London - two of the most expensive places in the country. There are good schools, low crime, rail links road links and lots of employment within an hour’s commute.”
“Across our network, the properties that sell the fastest are in Ruislip and Ruislip Manor,” said Luke Allday, Sales Director of Gibbs Gillespie Estate Agents. “ Properties will usually sell within two to four weeks if priced correctly. Two and three bedroom end-terraced and semi-detached houses seem to sell the fastest as they are the most in demand.
“These areas are very popular because of schools and public transport links. There are four tube stations all within close proximity of each other; West Ruislip, Ruislip, Ruislip Manor and South Ruislip, and the A40 and M25 are also easily accessible. The transport links make the area very appealing to investors.
“There are lots of first time buyers and young families whose circumstances are changing regularly due to schools, starting a family, job promotions etc. so they tend to move more frequently.”
Town centre properties and strong school catchment areas are most in demand, however all stock is in demand if priced correctly,” said Roy Spalding, from Your Ipswich.
“We are in receipt of some offers within 24 hours but as an average I would say that properties normally sell within 10 days. There is demand across the range, but standard mid-range family three-bed semi-detached homes are more popular and first time buyers and second movers are the most common types of buyers.
“New builds have been attracting a premium, which tends to equate to a longer sale period.
“Some news suggests Ipswich and its surroundings are bucking some trends with a bounce. I think this is due to lesser valued stock when compared to surrounding county towns and forecast improved commuter links.”
“The core city centre in the Jewellery Quarter is selling the fastest here,” said Philip Jackson, Director of Maguire Jackson. “Properties typically sell within one or two weeks, with good purpose-built one and two bedroom flats and authentic loft apartments proving to be most popular.”
“Properties here are particularly popular with buy-to-let investors, professional singles and couples who enjoy a City Centre lifestyle.
“New builds are popular here, particularly if the scheme is launched within six months of the targeted completion date. Longer completion date projects in our experience become more sought after by investors, especially from overseas, who perhaps might not need to see a show apartment/showroom of finishes, which do assist owner occupiers.
“Camden Lofts in the Jewellery Quarter is a block of twelve loft apartments developed by Javelin Block, priced from £255,000- £515,000. This has just launched with occupation in June. 50% is already reserved. Javelin Block are acknowledged Jewellery Quarter developers and whilst they are not supplying a show flat, we are able to guide purchasers through obtaining access into their other schemes locally.”
Mark Sparrow, Sales Manager at Wood & Pilcher said: “The fastest-selling homes are within walking distance of Tunbridge Wells mainline railway station. Most properties sell within three to four weeks. “Three to four bed period family homes with parking are in high demand. We are seeing a lot of fast offers from London workers with school-age children.”
Jo Woolley, Director at Debbie Fortune Estate Agents said: “Popular local villages with good/outstanding Ofsted reports and a sense of community are in high demand. These include Wrington and Congresbury are in North Somerset and Chew Magna and Compton Martin are in the Chew Valley.
“Typically homes sell within three to five weeks of marketing. Period cottages or modern family houses on popular quiet new build estates are selling fastest.
“Young professionals, families and retirees from nearby Bristol are the most common buyers. We are fortunate to have two offices both within 30 minutes’ commute of the City of Bristol, in Wrington and Chew Magna, both beautiful sought after villages. Whilst schools are always a big draw for any discerning buyer they are also attracted by good local amenities, transport routes and a good local pub. Statistics tell us that villages and communities with these attributes appreciate in value greater than those without, so buyers should definitely consider this.”
“Central locations, near amenities, train stations, and good schools are traditionally always in demand”, said Adam Farrell, Director at Sawyer & Co Sales & Lettings.
“Properties in commuter belts, offering good job prospects with a wealth of culture and a vibrant restaurant and nightlife, offer people a good quality of life and the opportunity to enjoy a great work/life balance. Here in Brighton and Hove, we’re blessed with a strong arts, music and creative scene offering people a wealth of things to do and enjoy when they’re not relaxing on the beach.
“Our city maintains a strong market and properties continue to sell at a good pace. In terms of how fast properties sell, it really depends on the market conditions at any one point. However, with a good market a sought-after property can be sold on the first day just from the agent making a few calls to their hottest buyers. Flats and houses in central locations near to the local amenities or seafront are always the fastest selling in our area, especially if they have parking.
“Generally new builds sell faster because they’re in short supply. However, even new-builds do still need to be priced correctly to sell.”
Gina Burbidge, Sales Negotiator at Royston Lund said: “Properties sell the fastest in Central West Bridgford. Some sales can happen in a matter of days, but timing really varies. Anything with character, Victorian and Edwardian especially, can sell quickly. Homes that require some renovation can be quite popular here, too.
“Properties that appeal to families often sell the fastest – a property with three of four bedrooms in a good school catchment area.”
“Correctly priced properties usually sell within six to eight weeks,” said Darren Richards, Director at The Estate Company. “Apartments are the fastest to sell. We see the fastest offers from overseas cash buyers, and new builds tend to get faster offers than other properties.”
Simon Miller, partner at Holroyd Miller, said: “We’re in the fortuitous position of attracting buyers looking for a cheaper alternative to Leeds. Professionals and first time buyers are attracted to the suburbs of Wakefield, which are ideally placed on direct commuter links to Leeds without the premium price often seen in the suburbs of Leeds. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of professionals relocating here as they embark on new jobs in Leeds.
“The suburbs of Sandal, St John’s and Wrenthorpe are areas where properties sell quickly. Re-furbished semi-detached bungalows are always an extremely quick sell usually taking only two weeks to sell. Any re-furbished property, or incredibly looked after/furnished property offered at £200,000 or less in these areas will sell between four to six weeks. Our properties tend to move quicker than the local average, which is 12- 16 weeks, but that’s because we only market properties we know people will buy.
“New builds definitely sell quicker, especially the ones we market. New builds are offered with incentives galore, so it’s no surprise. From financial incentives like Help to Buy, Sales Assist Scheme, and Stamp Duty paid, to the security of the guarantees you receive, not to mention other offers such as part exchange, furnished kitchens, carpets etc. the benefits go on - it’s minimum effort for maximum return.
“Generally, people are drawn to the practical benefits of Wakefield. From good schools, to leisure facilities and pursuits, and excellent transport links to the rest of the country, this attracts professional couples and families, of which we tend to deal with the most.”
Contractors and people who are self-employed can face additional challenges when securing a mortgage, which may sometimes cause delays during the property buying process.
Around 22% of the UK workforce are now self-employed or contractors, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skill (BIS), but many of them worry that this will work against them when they apply for a mortgage.
Recent research revealed that just over one in five contractors and self-employed believe that the fact they aren’t in full-time employment has made it harder for them to get a mortgage, with almost a third claiming that lenders see them as a bigger risk.
More than one in ten (16%) claim that they found the process of applying for a mortgage difficult, with over half of those who have been self-employed between one and ten years preferring to get their mortgage via a broker who can help steer them through the process.
The main obstacles the self-employed and contractors often face when applying for a mortgage are:
- No more self-certification mortgages. The self-employed and contractors used to be able to tell lenders how much they earned without having to provide any proof, but following the Mortgage Market Review in April 2014, lenders now require evidence of income for all applications.
- An irregular income. Often the self-employed and contractors earn a different amount each month, but lenders usually want to see a steady income that doesn’t fluctuate over time.
- Some work contracts might only last for a few weeks or a month, which makes lenders nervous that this could result in missed mortgage payments in future when contracts finish.
Despite these challenges, most lenders are willing to provide mortgages to the self-employed and contractors, and some have adapted their lending criteria so that they can better cater for this group.
That said, the more years of accounts they have showing a consistent or rising income, the better their chances of being accepted for a mortgage. Typically lenders will want to see at least 2 years’ worth of accounts.
It will also help if they can prove that they have plenty of work going forwards, or if they will be working as a contractor in an industry that they previously worked full-time in.
Having a substantial deposit in place can also be a real advantage for self-employed or contractor homebuyers, because it reduces the risk for lenders.
Often an intermediary who has experience finding mortgages for the self-employed can advise which lenders tend to look more favourably on applications for contractors or people who work for themselves, which can help speed things along.
If you are considering an offset mortgage or simply need mortgage advice, then please speak to the Guild Mortgage Service provided by fee free L&C Mortgages.
You can contact L&C mortgages on: 0800 073 1945
Homebuyers are enjoying record low mortgage rates, but must make sure they understand that there will usually be a penalty to pay if they want to leave their deal early.
In return for securing the lower rates on the market, borrowers are typically ‘locked in’ to their deal by lenders imposing hefty early repayment charges. These are usually charged as a percentage of the loan.
Early repayment charges are payable if you want to come out of a deal early, switch lender, or make significant capital repayments over the 10% that is typically allowed.
Only once the deal ends, and the borrower moves onto the lender’s standard variable rate, will they be free to move without penalty.
Early repayment charges can run into thousands of pounds, and the earlier you want to get out of your deal, the steeper the cost will be.
Borrowers should therefore always read their mortgage small print carefully before signing up to any deal so they understand the true cost of leaving that deal before it ends.
There are options available for borrowers looking for greater flexibility. Some lenders offer deals with no early repayment charges, which would suit those wanting to overpay their mortgage, or who think that their circumstances might change before their deal ends.
Before committing to any mortgage deal, borrowers should always consider their future plans and the financial impact that early repayment charges could have.
Guild agents take a look at 2017, and comment on what they think we can expect in their respective areas.
Ben Whiting, the Branch Manager in Victorstone’s Shoreditch office, comments on what he expects from 2017:
While most market commentators are predicting a dip for London house prices as a whole in 2017, London has become an increasingly segregated market as the impact of Brexit has taken hold. While prime central and more mature, high-value postcodes saw prices dip significantly in the aftermath of Brexit, East London, which had been experiencing high growth prior to Brexit, simply saw prices remain stable and are already showing signs of recovery.
In recent years, more central East London postcodes have seen remarkable growth, driven by development drawing both overseas and domestic buy-to-let investors with the promise of high yields and tempting capital appreciation opportunities. 2016 saw a significant rise in the proportion of first-time-buyers and other residential purchasers following suit.
In 2017, with rents expected to rise, first-time-buyers will not be deterred by potential short-term dips in capital values while faced with increasingly exorbitant London rents. We expect to continue to see increasing numbers of residential purchasers, often helped by down-sizing parents, look to snap up properties in Eastern postcodes pegged for future growth; preferring to risk temporary dips in value than to continue to pour their deposits into the pockets of landlords.
Stock levels in East London remain strong, especially in the ex-council bracket, as original right-to-buy owners look to finally realise their assets and invest in freehold properties on the outskirts of London. This gentrification, combined with the continued re-development and completion of transport schemes such as Crossrail, should continue to make the area an attractive prospect to buyers. With interest rates looking more likely to remain stable well into 2017, we expect East London to weather the storm far better than the rest of London as a whole.
Kate Howell from Woodhead Oswestry Sales and Lettings, based near the Welsh Border, also sees an increase in first time buyers:
I predict 2017 to be the year of the first-time buyer. In a lot of cases monthly mortgage repayments are cheaper than the rising cost of renting. Low interest rates will help to fuel this and we expect to see the two bedroom properties traditionally purchased by landlords snapped up by first-timers instead.
We need every kind of property for waiting buyers and my team are preparing for a surge of activity in the spring market. Despite the ongoing political uncertainty over Brexit and invoking Article 50, people still want to move home and the new year is an ideal time to do that.
Chris Sawyer, Director of Sawyer & Co Sales & Lettings in Brighton and Hove, expects to see a stable market:
Obviously the vote to leave the EU has created some uncertainty with none of us knowing what Brexit will mean to us, particularly in economic terms. There is no precedent for such a situation and if there is any fragile sentiment amongst buyers this could create a drag on price growth. I think we can expect a stable market next year with static or modest price growth. Brighton & Hove will certainly continue to be an extremely popular place to live and invest.
To find your nearest Guild Agent to help you move in 2017, take a look at our website.
This December has certainly not been the coldest on record, but looking after your home during winter in really important; find out how to winter proof your home before it gets too cold.
There are almost 800 Guild Member agents in the UK; this Christmas, we thought we would showcase some of the most festive sounding locations and how to get in touch with the nearest Guild agent.
Cold Christmas is a Hamlet in Thundridge, Hertfordshire. Just over ten minutes from Hertford and just under ten minutes from Ware, Thundridge is a great, quiet home for commuters who can be in the capital within the hour.
Cold Christmas’ claim to fame is the ruins of Little St Mary’s Church, nicknamed Cold Christmas Church. It dates back to 1086 and is famous for rumoured hauntings!
If the paranormal isn’t for you, there is plenty of festive activities to enjoy, including a The Ware Dickensian Evening in early December and the Hertford Christmas Gala at the end of November.
If Cold Christmas has captured your imagination, take a look at Ensum Brown Estate Agent’s website to further explore Ware and Thundridge.
St Nicholas Lane, East Lewes
Good old St Nicholas has his own land in Lewes, but if you are seeking more than a festive name to send your letters to Santa from, Lewes Estates has a lot going on.
With a castle to conquer and priory remains to explore, there is plenty of history in Lewes. But, this Sussex town is full of life and they have embraced the festive spirit. Find their events and discover more here.
To find a new home in 2017 in this vibrant town, get in touch with Lewes Estates.
Christmas Lane, Farnham Common
Christmas Lane can be found in Farnham Common. It is a small town which adjoins the ancient woodland of Burnham Beeches meaning there is ample room to wander the countryside with your dog – perfect for walking off your Christmas lunch!
One of Farnham Common’s claims to fame is that Fuzzy Felt was invented here during WWII!
If you want to move to Farnham Common, only 3 miles outside of Slough and great for commuters, get in touch with Foreman King Estate Agents.
Turkey Street, Enfield
The bird of Christmas: the turkey. Supposedly, the UK consumed approximately 10 million turkeys. Although a comparatively new addition to the Christmas table, only really becoming widely available after he 1950s, the turkey is a firm tradition these days.
Turkey Street station is in Enfield and you can be in London in 30-40 minutes. Enfield Town Park is a 9.5 hectares of space and you can visit beautiful stately home Forty Hall for a touch of culture.
Explore Enfield with the help of Barnfields.
Rudolph Street, Bolton
No matter the time of year, there is no mistaking the red nosed hero of Christmas hiding out in this street in Bolton. This town in Greater Manchester is a former mill town, which means there is a rich past to delve into at the museum.
Take the family down to Smithills Farm and see Santa in his Grotto followed by party games, arts and crafts. For the more adventurous, you can feel the wind in your hair on the giant snow slide or go ice skating in Victoria Square.
Interested in moving to Bolton? Pearson Ferrier can help.
Reindeer Road, Fazeley
If Rudolph is not enough, you could find the whole heard in this street! Fazeley is a small town on the outskirts of Tamworth, just around the corner from Drayton Manor Theme Park and Zoo. If Drayton’s Magical Christmas isn’t enough festive spirit for you, the Snow Done offers skiing, snowboarding and ice skating!
Get in touch with Mark Evans Estate Agents to get under the skin of Fazeley.
Elf Row, London
If you are seeking a little helper, it is Elf Row in London you’re looking for. London is the perfect place to enjoy Christmas; from Winter Wonderland to a host of pop up bars which mimic chalets and igloos, there is something for everyone.
To find your own home in London (not too far from Elf Row), get in touch with Relocators.
Sleigh Road, sturry
Sturry is a village on the Great Stour River, just five miles North East of the historic cathedral city, Canterbury. With Dick Wittington and Hansel & Gretel on at the theatre and a carol concert this is a great place for a traditional Christmas.
Canterbury has plenty to keep the whole family occupied, including punting, ghost tours, and cycles to hire – it isn’t just for Christmas!
Contact Gordon Miller Property Consultants to find out more.
Clementine Walk, Woodford Green
There’s several explanations for the iconic clementine at the bottom of our stockings, the simplest being they were once a very scarce treat. Whatever the reason, there is no denying there’s usually a clementine laying around the fruit bowl.
Clementine Walk is in Woodford Green, in the London Borough of Redbridge and not far from Essex. Surrounded by forests, lakes, country parks and open spaces yet only 35 minutes from London, this town has so much to offer – not to mention a Beauty and the Beast at the pantomime this season!
If Woodford Green is tempting you, contact Victor Michael Estate Agents for more.
The Bank of England decided unanimously to hold the base rate at 0.25% in November, despite suggestions back in August that a further rate cut was possible.
Following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union back in June, economic activity was widely expected to weaken.
This could have triggered a further cut in rates.
However, markets have proved resilient, and economic growth has been higher than expected. The more positive economic outlook means rates are on hold for now.
A change in rates has not been ruled out though. The Monetary Policy Committee, which sets interest rates, indicated that they would move rates in either direction to respond to changes in economic outlook.
Factors which could affect their decision include rising inflation, or the cost of living, and the impact of Brexit.
According to the Bank of England, inflation is set to increase sharply next year. If it exceeds the Government’s 2% target, the Monetary Policy Committee may decide to raise the base rate.
However, if Britain’s negotiations over how we will leave the EU affect business activity and supply growth, this could lead to a cut in rates.
London & Country give you the run down on the latest house price growth news.
(Released October 2016)
The August 2016 house price index data showed a monthly rise of 1.3 per cent across the UK, 1.4 per cent in England and 1.3 per cent in London. Regionally, the South West region experienced the highest monthly growth at 2.3 per cent, while prices in the North East region fell at minus 0.2 per cent.
On an annual basis prices across the UK rose by 8.4 per cent, bringing the average house price to £218,964. In England the increase was 9.2 per cent and the average house price £235,573. London prices rose by 12.1 per cent making an average London home £488,908. The East of England again saw the greatest annual rise at 13.3 per cent, while the North East saw the lowest annual growth at 3 per cent. Annual price increases by property type across the UK were 9 per cent for flats and maisonettes, 8.7 per cent for terraced houses, 8.7 per cent for detached and 8.3 per cent for semi-detached. Terraced property prices rose by 7.8 per cent.
Just five local authority areas saw a fall in prices over the year, notably Hartlepool at minus 6.7 per cent. The highest annual rise was seen in South Bucks at 23.6 percent.
Completed sales for England in June 2016 totalled 57,637, a fall of minus 32.2 per cent compared to a year ago.
The average price of a new build property in England in August was £294,832, up 12.7 per cent on July and up 24.8 per cent up on a year ago. Meanwhile, resold property prices averaged at £214,029, a rise of 0.5 per cent over July and 7.3 per cent higher than the same time last year.
When it comes to Christmas selling, there is no single answer. Your estate agent will be able to advise whether your home could benefit from being on the market over the festive season, or whether it is worth waiting until the New Year.
If you are looking for a balanced view, these points will help:
But remember, the busiest time for property portals is Boxing Day. If you decide to market your home over Christmas then make sure your home is online.
The bottom line of raising a deposit is that you need to save money! Here are some top tips to help start you on your campaign to turn your pennies into pounds:
· With a realistic monthly saving plan, you can rest assured you have started the wheels in motion – there is a lot to be said for initiating the ‘saving’! A deposit can seem like a daunting figure, so taking it month by month will take some of the pressure off. Even if you aren’t sure how much you will ultimately need, you can always begin saving.
· There are plenty of free online budget templates you can download which will help you to assess your finances. As well as fixed monthly costs, such as bills, you would be surprised how much you spend on seemingly small items. Start this process by reviewing your previous months spend to avoid forgetting or being too optimistic.
· Avoid overestimating the amount you can set aside each month. Settle on a minimum figure and, if you have an extra good month, you can always transfer some extra pounds into your savings account. Trying to save too much is likely to put you off and leave you feeling disappointed.
· Before you choose an account, do some research as interest rates can vary. Since saving for a deposit is a long-term goal, it may be that an account which gives you better interest rates, but does not allow you instant access is more appropriate. Take your time working this out as it’s important to make your money work hard for you! Remember that a savings account is not for life: periodically assess whether moving your savings could be more beneficial.
· Take the chore of transferring out of your life and transfer the money automatically with a standing order or direct debit. This stop you from thinking, hesitating or reallocating those funds.
· Your family and friends will understand your goal – so ask them for support. Find cheaper midweek deals to meet with friends and swap dinners out for a nice meal in.
Saving can be a struggle; often, the first few months are your best as you are focused and dedicated. Since this is a long-term plan, you may need to find ways to reinvigorate your savings at varying points, but also remember there are times to give yourself a break as long as you continue to save your minimum amount.
Moving house can be a stressful time but, for buyers
who already have a mortgage, it doesn’t necessarily mean ripping up the deal
and starting again.
Most mortgages are portable, which means that they can be transferred from a borrower’s current property to their new home when they move. This can be particularly useful for homeowners who want to avoid paying Early Repayment Charges (ERC’s) on their existing mortgage, which can amount to thousands of pounds.
Those who have secured a competitive interest rate may also find it more beneficial to port their mortgage to a new property rather than taking a new deal.
Staying with the same lender can still throw up its challenges however, so the ability to move the mortgage to a new property is by no means guaranteed. A lender will still carry out an assessment before approving the loan, and this will be based on their current criteria.
The Mortgage Market Review of 2014 saw more focus placed on affordability, with lenders asking more questions and examining incomings and outgoings in greater detail. As a result, some may be surprised to find they are turned down by their existing lender, even if they are not asking for any additional borrowing. Those whose circumstances have changed since last applying, for example becoming self-employed or starting a family and paying for childcare, may also discover that they no longer meet the criteria of their lender.
For many, moving home means buying a more expensive property, and asking for a top-up on the mortgage. A lender might not be willing to lend the additional funds however, leaving borrowers with little choice but to pay a penalty to move elsewhere. If they are happy to lend, then it could be on a different and potentially higher rate.
Whatever the options are, it is still important to take the opportunity to review the current market and compare new deals with those on offer through the existing lender. With rates over the last few months coming down to historic lows, it could even make financial sense to pay a penalty and take out a new loan with a different provider, but it’s vital to do the sums first to make sure this is the best course of action.
If you are considering moving home and need mortgage advice, then please speak to the Guild Mortgage Service provided by fee free L&C Mortgages.
You can contact L&C mortgages on: 0800 073 1945
The author of Adrian Mole fame, Sue Townsend’s, former home is for sale. The four-bedroom property in Stoneygate, Leicester has many happy and creative memories. Now the property is on the market for offers in excess of £700,000.
Colin, Sue’s husband, talks fondly about life in Homefield Road:
“Every house has a story to tell. But perhaps none more so than Holmfield Road, the former home and creative hub of one of Britain’s best-loved authors and playwrights.
On securing her first million-pound publishing deal for her Adrian Mole diaries, Sue Townsend bought the former manse in Leicester’s leafy Stoneygate more than 30 years ago, moving in with her husband, Colin, and their family.
“I will always remember looking around the house with Sue,” recalls Colin.
Although they didn’t make an offer on the house straight away, it stayed at the forefront of their minds, and when Colin spotted an advert for it in the paper with a different agent 10 days later, he showed it to Sue. “She just rang the estate agent and said ‘I’ll buy it." When asked, do you want to view it, Sue said "No" And that was that,” he continues.
The two-storey property was the manse of St Margaret’s Church and was the first of its kind in Leicester to be built beyond the city limits. It provided the perfect backdrop for the family of six, the main selling points for the children being the potential for hide and seek, as well as each having their own room.
The couple quickly embarked upon a long period of renovation, knocking down walls and reducing the maze-like feel of the late Victorian accommodation.
“Originally, there was an outside toilet, a scullery and accommodation for a maid and butler,” says Colin. “So we simplified it to make bigger rooms.”
"One of the best things about it was that Sue could get out into the garden in her wheelchair. She loved the garden. It’s walled and not at all overlooked, and despite being relatively close to the A6 London Road, it's a peaceful space to sit and relax."
According to Colin, Sue’s favourite place to write was at the kitchen table, amid the bustle of family life.
“We spent most of our time in there,” adds Colin. “It’s without doubt my favourite room in the house. It has doors that open up on to the garden. I can’t even begin to think how many celebrations and dinner parties we’ve hosted in there, but I do remember one Christmas with 26 people around the table.”
Parties – often to celebrate a new book launch – were frequent, often with 50 or so guests. And invites to various neighbours’ houses were equally abundant.
“We loved entertaining,” he says. “There is so much space here, which makes it perfect for a sociable, growing family.”
Rob Shields, from Aston & Co Exclusive Homes commented: ‘After more than 20 years I am still honoured when anyone entrusts me with the sale of what is probably their most valuable financial asset.
As Aston & Co’s Exclusive Homes Manager, I get to see some stunning properties but to be involved with the sale of a home of such historic significance, where so many literary masterpieces have been created is a bit special.’
On the 23rd November, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, will present his Autumn Statement to Parliament. This will be his first opportunity to define the Government’s strategy for the forthcoming year, and it will be carefully scrutinised given the political and economic uncertainties which have occurred in the last 12 months.
So what would we like to see in the Autumn Statement in relation to the property sector, and how will these changes affect you / the property market?
When buying a residential property, you pay Stamp Duty in increasing portions of the property price above £125,000.
Reports all indicate that the market has been relatively resilient in the last 12 months in the light of increased economic and political uncertainty, but that activity at the top end of the market in particular has been notably depressed by the higher tax payable.
Currently, buyers pay 5% Stamp Duty on homes between £250,001 and £925,000; over that the tax is calculated at 10%. In many instances, this has prevented or delayed people from moving up the property ladder. Higher tax rates can act as a powerful incentive towards developing and extending a current home as opposed to moving house. Therefore, a reduction in rates could give transactions a welcome boost.
The following Government website can provide more information about Stamp Duty charges.
Investors will also be hoping for some relief from the recent tax changes (Stamp Duty, MIRAS) which have reduced rental yields. It has been calculated that interest rates were to rise to 2.5%; a large percentage of private rental stock could no longer be profitable for the landlord. The Government seems to prefer a model where large institutional investors provide a majority of residential rental stock, but currently the small private landlord still plays a crucial role in matching supply and demand - and also keeps down average rents which are staring to pick up following the tax increases mentioned above.
A clear, balanced strategy towards the private rental sector would be very welcome, including some reductions in the recent, punitive tax changes.
Housing Supply & Demand
Of greater concern is the supply of residential housing stock. The need for more housing is a very real concern as the UK population is expected to rise to 67m by 2020, and 73m by 2035. We are not even meeting the current demand for property, especially affordable housing- and the knock-on effect of this is to boost the private rental sector and push rents upwards, further disadvantaging potential first time buyers.
Several conservative party ministers prioritised housing supply at the recent Conservative Party Conference, and so it is expected that the government will announce financial support for smaller house builders.
As a more radical option – if the Government really wants to get people moving and encourage more building of new homes, why not scrap Stamp Duty altogether and replace this with a tax on companies who sit on undeveloped plots? Downsides could include the loss of Treasury income or even the return of a more ‘speculative’ housing market…but some new thinking is required to solve what is now a chronic issue.
The weather is getting chillier by the day; the leaves have fallen and the time has come to put the fire on. With bonfire night just around the corner, winter is on its way.
Caring for your home in the colder months is really vital. If you are planning on selling your home this winter, the last thing you need is frozen or burst pipes you have to fix and décor to replace.
Here are our top 5 tips to help your home through the winter:
1. Gleaming guttering
As pretty as those falling leaves are, they will collect in your guttering. Designed to prevent damp and leaks, the water should be able to flow through the pipes, well away from your walls. When it comes to selling, shoddy looking guttering can significantly diminish your kerb appeal, but the occasional clean out can make them look as good as new and keep them in good working order.
2. Loft insulation
Without insulation, you can lose a significant amount of heat. Not only does decent insulation keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, but will also add value to your property; prospective buyers will be looking out for homes which are more energy efficient.
3. Frozen Pipes
If the water in your pipes freezes up, you could end up with a soggy mess. To save yourself some costly repair work here are a few simple tips:
Don’t trap heat in areas of your home; keeping doors open and allowing the air to circulate will help to prevent isolated cold spots, which is good news for your pipes.
Set your heating to come on low during the day, this will help to keep frost at bay. If you go on holiday, keep the heading scheduled and retain some warmth in your home during your absence.
Wrapping your pipes with lagging is a good precaution, especially in the coldest areas of your home such as the garage or a chilly utility room. It is fairly cheap and easily purchased online, you just need to wrap it around the pipes.
Do you know where your stopcock is? Although not a prevention tactic, you need to know where to switch your water off in case of emergencies.
Like this post? Read more about preparing your home here.
4. When was the last time your boiler was serviced?
Now is the ideal time to get your boiler serviced. There are several reasons to get this looked at: it will reduce your fuel bills by making your boiler run at its most efficient, it will save you money on future repairs, and your annual service will ensure that you meet any insurance requirements.
5. Safe and secure
As the daylight fades and we get cosy in our warmly lit living rooms, it becomes easier to see the contents of our homes if we are home or not. Do you have a sensor light? Do you draw your curtains in the evening? Do you leave keys, handbags or tablets on display?
From now on, get yourself into the habit of leaving a few lights on when you go out and remember to keep valuables out of sight – there is no need to make your home vulnerable.
Having good relationships with friends and neighbours is invaluable; they can pop in and check your home while you’re away. They will naturally keep an eye out for your property and notice when things are amiss – so this could be a good time to invite them round for coffee.
As the month comes to an end, children Trick or Treating isn’t the only thing to make you jump! If you love the paranormal and are looking for somewhere to live that’s occupied by more than just the living, here's our pick of some of the most haunted places to live in Britain:
Pluckley, near Ashford, Kent
Holding perhaps the dubious honour of the Most Haunted Village in Britain, Pluckley is said to be haunted by over 12 ghosts and is a must-visit for those with an interest in the paranormal. Purportedly haunting the village is a Screaming Man, a Red Lady, a White Lady, a monk and a little bonnet-wearing old lady and, as if that wasn’t enough, Fright Corner is where a local highway man met his demise after being on the wrong end of a lawman's sword. If this doesn't convince you, perhaps the sounds of a horse drawn coach ringing out over Maltman's Hill will have you questioning your hearing and your sanity...
Prestbury is also well renowned for its ghostly activities and is perhaps best known for The Black Abbott, a hooded shade of a monk. He tends to appear at the same time and always takes the same route, so it's up to you if you wish to visit or avoid the Old Priory and its churchyard at Christmas, Easter and on All Souls Day. Keep your ears pricked for the sound of hoof beats pounding along the oldest street in the village, The Burgage, as it could be announcing the arrival of a Royalist despatch rider on his trusty steed, murdered during the Civil War. The cold misty mornings of spring are the best time to catch sight of another victim, a messenger who was shot dead by a Lancastrian Archer in 1471. The spectral horseman is known to gallop along Shaw Green Lane in the early hours on his white charger.
Boasting a number of supernatural sightings, Rushton is home to a ghostly monk who is often seen drifting along a quiet, leafy road carrying an unknown item. Whilst travelling along the road, some drivers have reported looking into their rear view mirror and seeing a man's face staring back at them from the back seat. Nearby, in the grounds of the stately Rushton Hall, a rider on horseback and his hunting dog are reported to haunt the area around the hall. The place they are reputed to wander is said to be where their bodies were once discovered during building work in the 1580's. Also found in Rushton is the Triangular Lodge where the sounds of fiddling can still be heard beneath the structure. Sent down to investigate a secret passage, the unlucky fiddler had only travelled 12 metres or so, when the tunnel collapsed and trapped him inside for the rest of eternity.
Although Castleton is home to several ghosts, perhaps the most tragic story is that of a heartbroken bride-to-be. Jilted on the morning of her wedding, it's believed that she committed suicide in the Castle Hotel and can sometimes be found in the gallery, still wearing her wedding dress. Also be on the look out for a smartly dressed man wearing a pin-striped suit, sneaking into the side entrance to stop his wife from catching him drinking. He loved his pints so much that not even death can keep him away! The spectre of a nurse wearing her uniform has also been reported in the cellar of the hotel, whilst a ghostly 60-year-old housekeeper can be seen to roam the corridors.
The English capital has the reputation of being the most haunted capital city in the world with ghosts that span the passing of centuries, from headless queens to phantom highway men. From those who perished inside the Tower of London – famed for being the most haunted building in Britain – to the victims of the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper, oh, and not forgetting the boys and girls of the Ragged School Museum, London has more than its fair share of spooky goings-on. Why not find yourself a ghostly walking tour and be scared and entertained in equal measure.
Cannock Chase, Staffordshire
Designated as the 'Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty', the region was once the hunting ground of ancient royalty and is a picturesque area of woodland walks and abundant wildlife. However, it's also home to an eerie entity known as The Black Eyed Child, a girl with coal-black eyes. Although her history is not known, it's claimed that she could be one of many buried in an unmarked grave after dying in a workhouse.
The pretty village of Borley is home to Borley Rectory which is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a nun, two headless horsemen and a phantom carriage. This, coupled with the unexplained ringing of the servant’s bells and bottles mysteriously being thrown, has all the elements of a ghost story waiting to be unravelled...
Nestled in the shadow of Pendle Hill, the tiny village of Newchurch is home to the infamous story of the Pendle Witches. Back in the 17th century, a dozen residents were accused of practicing the dark art of witchcraft and – all bar one – were subsequently found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging on Lancaster Moor. Naturally, with such a bloodthirsty history, the area is rife with hauntings and in a field just outside the village lies a toppled stone, near which the ghost of a young girl has been seen weeping for her soldier lover who never returned from war.
Home to the Villagers Who Chose to Die, the village of Eyam is surrounded by hills stretching upwards onto moorlands. With pretty stone cottages, a manor house and a haunted inn, there are reminders everywhere of its tragic history. Next to the Parish Church there is a line of houses known as the Plague Cottages; it was here in 1665, where the innocuous opening of a parcel of cloth from London, would set off an event which would devastate the community. The cloth contained fleas carrying the Plague which spread like wildfire throughout the village. Victims succumbed to the illness every day and so, under the leadership of their Vicar, the villagers took the brave and selfless decision to quarantine themselves in an attempt to contain the illness. Today the cottages are adorned with small plaques commemorating the residents.
Blackpool attracts millions of fun-seeking tourists each year, however there is a darker side to waiting to be discovered. Claimed to be home to a number of ghosts, including scorned lovers, demented clergymen and the unfortunate residents of the ancient town of Kilmigrol, thought to have been once situated just off the coast of Blackpool. Coastal erosion has claimed many villages throughout the ages, Kilmigrol was one of its ill-fated victims. Thought to have been consigned to its watery fate sometime in the Dark Ages, residents and visitors to Blackpool have reported ghostly occurrences over the years, including the mournful sound of eerie sea shanties drifting across the water, sometimes accompanied by ghostly lights shimmering on the horizon. Listen out for the sounds of church bells tolling on stormy nights, warning the villagers of their impending doom.
Without a crystal ball, how can you possibly know where an up-and-coming area might be? Finding a location that is on the cusp of a boom is not just about finding the trendiest spot in town; the right location which could make a property a much stronger investment for the future.
Local estate agents have in-depth knowledge of the local area and are the perfect people to guide your property search. However, there are several pointers to help you spot the next best thing:
When people have a greater disposable income, there tends to be a larger number of independent retailers. Keep your eyes peeled for new boutiques, delicatessen or niche food chains. Bear in mind that for bigger stores there is a significant volume of market research conducted before the expensive of opening a new store is considered – use this as a steer in your search.
Anywhere within a five-mile radius of good transport links has a lot of potential. Many will already be popular and therefore expensive, but taking a closer look at the map could pay off. While this approach may mean going a little further down the train line, you should consider this as a tactical, and practical move.
The age within a local area can be a good indicator of future desirability. With young professionals in their twenties and thirties in abundance, there tends to be a subsequent influx of retailers and businesses to accommodate.
Days on Market
If a property is selling fast, it can only be a good sign! Take a moment to investigate how long properties in your search area are taking to sell, if it is a long time it would suggest the market is not working its way up to fever pitch in the near future.
As well as what is already in close proximity, it is also worth investigating whether there are any future development plans, such as new transport links or schools. New build developments are another tell-tale sign that the area is worth investing in.
To make the absolute most of your search and get the detailed knowledge you require, find your local Guild estate agent.