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02Apr

With a network of over 800 independent agents, The Guild are dedicated to supporting Guild Members and staying connected, especially during self-isolation. Here are our some of the tools we use to remain connected and maintain efficient communication every day:  

 

1. Microsoft Teams 

Microsoft Teams is an employee hub where you can invite groups of colleagues to work, video call, instant message and collaborate all in one platform to support remote working. The platform aids collaboration and ensures everyone always has the latest version of a file with options to share documents to everyone in a group. You can also share your calendar, schedule meetings and search for important notes in your chat history to always stay organised. 

The impact of COVID-19 has led offices, teams and schools around the country to join Teams and continue business as usual on an easy-to-use platform.  

 

2. Zoom 

Zoom is video solution for remote working. Keep your team connected, wherever they are, through video calls, conference rooms and calls. Users can host a call for free with Zoom and they also provide solutions for specific industries, such as Finance, Education, Government and Healthcare, making it ideal for everyone. 

As it’s such an easy platform to use, Zoom has recently seen a huge rise in users for non-work video calls amongst friends, too. 

 

3. Facebook Live 

On either public or private groups, you are able stream Live videos to your group members or followers. Members have the option to tune into the video and interact in the comment section, enabling viewers to talk amongst themselves or ask questions to engage with the publisher. Facebook Live offers an ideal way to share updates, discussions and announcements in a social way. You can ask people to set their notifications to never miss a video and you can save the live video to share on other platforms.  

 

4. Slack 

Another collaboration hub for document sharing, instant messaging, group collaboration and voice or video calls, is Slack. The platform allows you to integrate other applications, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, to spend less time clicking through different tools and more time being productive. Channels can be created to divide teams, projects or clients into separate messaging and document sharing feeds to keep information more organised.  

 

Contact us 

Our Guild Members are always here, whether you want to buy, sell or let your home. Find your Guild agent today

01Apr

While the housing market has remained fairly stable amid fears of risk posed by the coronavirus outbreak, Guild Members are reporting that many people are avoiding placing their properties on the market due to not wanting possibly contagious buyers visiting their homes.

 

At The Guild of Property Professionals, we are always looking to provide industry-leading service to look after our customers and cater to everyone’s needs. On 1st April, we launched our Virtual Viewing Tool that allows on-demand video tours of Guild properties from hundreds of Members around the UK. 

 

Guild Members can create quick, professional videos to be accessible online to market and promote listings without the need for buyers or sellers having to leave their homes. Alternatively, homeowners can submit videos themselves to be edited, with no need for a physical visit from an agent or prospective buyer.

 

Multiple benefits

Videos can be shared on social media, online, by email and on all other digital platforms to generate easy, instant viewings from the comfort and safety of your own home, on-the-go or anywhere in the world. Developments in digital tools, such as this, increase the publicity of individual listings and allows quick and easy remote viewings , saving time and serving all the needs of all parties involved. We discuss the implications of integrating the latest technology in estate agency further in our blog post, How Virtual Reality is Changing the Property Sector. Click here to read more.

 

The Virtual Viewing Tool benefits all types of people, including:

• Anyone who is taking precaution to limit their contact with other people

• Sellers wanting the most publicity and the greatest advantage for their property

• Buyers restricted by time, who are too busy to visit properties they are unsure about

• Sellers who don’t want to be disturbed by too many viewings

• Buyers wanting a clearer view of all their options

 

The power of social media

Sharing digital tours of your property on social media will have advantageous effects for selling your home. Social media posts are effective for gaining publicity of your property, with videos being more captivating to audiences and shown more favourably by platforms. As social media continues to play a vital role in estate agency, The Guild of Property Professionals continues to set standards for the industry and provide exceptional service for our customers.

Contact us

For more information on how to start using the Virtual Viewing Tool, for buying or selling, find a Guild Agent here.

For more help, advice and information on avoiding catching or spreading coronavirus, go to the NHS website or visit GOV UK to find out more about the government response.

31Mar

As the country adapts to the temporary ‘new normal’ of lockdown, we are embracing digital tools like never before in all aspects of our lives. If you’re thinking of selling your home, we’ve offered some top tips to present your property virtually.  

 

Why getting your house on the market now is a good idea  

Social distancing to protect ourselves and our communities is vital, but it means people are spending more time in their houses now than ever before! So, listing your home and doing a virtual tour or viewing yourself can help you to gain exposure to potential buyers who are in the search phase of moving. Plus, for some, the more time we spend in our homes, the more we start to think about moving.  

 

Talk to your estate agent  

Before you start, arrange a call with your local Guild Member to understand exactly what they are looking for. Start with a video call, so that you can get used to the process and, if this is your first contact with an agent you have instructed remotely, you can show them around your home, too. 

Here are some of the key questions to ask:  

- What technology do you need to do this? Most smartphones will be perfect, but it is worth discussing with your agent. Find out how they want you to send the video to them – free sharing platforms are available such as Dropbox or WeTransfer.   

- Do they want you to present and offer a tour of your home, talking as you move throughout the property?  

- Would they like a silent tour without you in the shot so they can do a voiceover for you? You may actually prefer this, so it is worth discussing.  

- Will they be able to edit the video, or does it need to be right when you send it to them – remember that some agents will be working from home and potentially away from some of the tools they typically use.  

- Will they be adding photos into your video? It can be a great way to give your video more variation and showcase your property in different angles.  

- Would you also be willing to do a live viewing in the future? After the initial video, it may be that your agent would like to set up a remote viewing of a property with you hosting. If this is the case, again think about what kind of technology is required, so that you can get set up – there are plenty of free options for this such as Skype.  

 

Preparation  

Just like with any house viewing, being prepared will make all the difference! Here are our recommendations:  

- There is no reason not to showcase your home virtually, but it is important to be mindful of anything sensitive or especially valuable that you don’t want to include – your viewing could be seen by so many more people right now! 

- Think about which rooms you would like to showcase and plan a route around your home. You do not have to show every room but be sure to include the stand-out rooms.  

- Remember, first and last impressions matter. Start the tour with a winning shot of your home, or a warm, friendly message. Think about which part of your house you would like to be remembered and end your tour there.  

- Tidy up! Make your home look it’s best as clutter or mess will especially stand out in a video.  

- Whether you are narrating, or your agent will add in a voiceover, think about the details you want to showcase in your home and why – for example, tell prospective buyers why the kitchen is your favourite space or what you most love about your patio garden. 

- Do a practice run, so that you know what your plan is; it will help to reduce any nerves.  

 

Presentation  

When it comes to the presentation of your property, there are a few tips and tricks which will help to show your home in the best possible light, from pre-filming setup to the tour itself:  

- For starters, if you are presenting, remember you are showcasing the property and not yourself – buyers want to see your home in the best possible light.  

- Turn on all of the lights, open all of the blinds or curtains and try to do your filming in the brightest part of the day; a light property is so important when you are filming.   

- Open all of the doors, so that your flow through the house is seamless and you aren’t fiddling with door handles. 

- Limit any potential noise – from the dishwasher to cars driving by; it is important to cut noise which will detract from your property tour.   

- Film your property in landscape, not portrait. When it comes to property portals or social media, landscape will be the optimum format. 

- Hold the camera steady. Wobbly camera shots will take attention away from your property.  

- If you are presenting the video, think of the camera as another person you are showing around the house – there is no need to stare at them intently or ignore them completely!  

- Film from around chest-height, so that you are giving a good perspective of each room – higher or lower angles may make the video seem distorted. 

- Ensure you show the room from one of the corners to get the widest possible angle.  

- Sweeping the camera from one corner of the room to another is a great way of show the room off but remember not to rush it. 

- Including a window will help you to draw the eye out beyond the room, giving a more spacious feel. 

- If you are narrating, enunciate and speak clearly, remembering if the microphone is facing the other way, it will be harder to hear you.  

- Again, if speaking, why not take the time to say what’s great about the area you live in and what you will miss about living in the property. 

- Making mistakes is inevitable but forgivable. If you trip on your words, don’t worry we’re all human. If you really struggle, consider it as another practice run and start again.  

- If you are talking, remind potential buyers to get in touch with your estate agent at the end and thank them for taking the tour of your home.  

 

Contact us today! 

Guild Members have some fantastic ways to continue marketing your property at the moment, so be sure to get in touch with your nearest Guild Member and get your property on the market and in front of the right audiences today.   

31Mar

As a result of the outbreak of coronavirus, most of the UK and overseas are having to self-isolate in their homes, many with families to look after and keep entertained. Having so much time at home can be considered an opportunity to spend quality time with the children and keep them occupied. We reveal some fun gardening activities that the whole family can get involved with, while still preparing your home to go on the market. 

 

Plant seeds in egg cartons 

Perfect for the littles ones, and an affordable way to get some new plants started, is to get the children planting seeds in an empty egg carton. Use coffee grounds or an old banana mixed with potting soil and fill each part of the carton level, ready for sowing.  

Ask the children to make one hole in each cup with their fingers and sow a couple of seeds in each one and cover with more soil. Don’t forget to note what seeds have been planted in the carton – you could use little pictures or get them to write it themselves. As the seedlings grow, soon they will be ready for potting. 

 

Plant pot decorating 

While the little seedlings are growing, a great activity to do outside and have a chance to be creative is to paint plant pots. Get some plain terracotta pots, paint brushes and a few different colours of emulsion paint. You could print off a few pictures for some inspiration. You can get even more excited now about the little seedlings. 

 

Games to clear up the garden 

Fun games or competitions to complete little garden clearing activities are perfect for the little ones. 

- To get up all the pesky weeds, show them how to dig up dandelions with a trowel and collect as many as possible in a bucket. 

- Prune the damaged leaves and spent flower buds in another activity but explain that it will be minus points for healthy flowers!  

- Protect your vegetable garden or roses from snails and aphids by creating tasks to trap snails or wash the aphids away. 

The child who completes the task or wins the competition could be rewarded with choosing a film to watch later that day. 

 

Convert a sandbox into a vegetable garden 

Repurpose an old play area and give it a new lease of life – literally. You may not have an old sandbox, but you can section off any space in the garden for the children to learn to garden. This can be a project for them to be proud of while they watch their plantlets grow into food you can enjoy as a family.  

Divide the chosen area into square sections with string and add some compost packed with nutrients. You can create a DIY activity to decorate and label sticks to show where your plants have been sown. Keep a little journal to keep track of the vegetables’ progress. 

 

Sustainable soil 

Creating your own compost is great for reducing waste and teaching your children the importance of looking after the planet. It also means you’ll have a constant supply of compost for your new vegetable garden. Compost enriches the soil and helps plants grow. It also reduces your carbon footprint, so it’s a double-win. 

Check out our top tips to power your home with green energy. 

 

Plan a bug hunt 

Typically, children find bugs fascinating. From caterpillars, butterflies, ladybugs, ants and more, there are all sorts of creatures in the garden waiting to be discovered. Create a little terrarium in a glass jar and poke little air holes in the top for little bugs to be collected in. You could set an activity to learn about each bug and draw them in a journal. At the end of the day, when you’ve learnt lots about them, they can be released back into the garden. 

 

Contact us 

If you’re thinking of buying or selling your house, we have Guild Members all over the UK who are here to help in the current climate. Contact your local Guild agent today.  

24Mar

If you are self-isolating because of coronavirus, it is important to maintain relationships with your friends and family. As human beings, we need human interaction for our happiness and wellbeing. Living in the digital age means we don’t have to sacrifice that. We reveal how to use technology and social media to keep in touch with your loved ones. 

 

Create a group chat

You probably already have a few group chats with friends, which is perfect for informal and instant messaging. Set this up for the most important people in your life so you can send a quick question, keep each other updated and easily communicate and check in on each other. Having an ongoing dialogue makes keeping in touch natural. 

Group chats can be made on all sorts of platforms, with Whatsapp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger being the most popular.

 

Schedule a video call

Having a set time on specific days and times can ensure you’re keeping in touch with those who matter most to you and give you a date to look forward to. As humans, we need face to face communication and video calls mean you can talk to someone as if they’re in the room with you.

If you are home alone for long periods or have a family member who is, set regular dates to video call and make each other’s day. You could arrange for the grandparents to keep the children occupied with a video call and help their relationship grow.

 

Share photos and videos to private groups

Online apps can allow groups to share online photo albums, without having to post them to social media. Create a group with your family and upload all the latest photos and videos for them to print themselves and enjoy at their leisure. 

The Google Photos app or Amazon Photos allow you to upload photos from all devices and can be shared through a private link or with selected users on the platforms.

 

Private groups on social platforms

There are many ways to share photos and videos with a chosen group of people, without having to post it to everyone on social media. Private groups can bring you closer with your family and social media platforms can make it easy and fun.

Instagram allows you to create a ‘close friends’ list to share Stories with a chosen list of people. On Facebook, anyone can create a closed group for approved members only, where you can share statuses, images, videos, GIFs and more. Snapchat Groups is a tool for groups of up to 16 people to instant message with photos and videos using fun filters or video chat.

 

Social media platforms for families

It makes sense to have a platform dedicated to communicating with the most important people in your life. Facebook isn’t suitable for children under the age of 18, but family apps have a similar layout and functionality to Facebook, whilst providing additional security and privacy to communicate in a chosen group.

Cocoon is a social network for families, created by former Facebook employees, allowing loved ones to share media, statuses and instant messages. You can find lots of family social media platforms online, find one that works best for you.

 

Face-to-face social networks

Get involved with face-to-face social networks to feel closer to your friends and family.

The app, House Party, allows up to eight users to join a video chat using a phone or desktop, for a virtual party. You can see which friends are online and can choose to video call with a split screen where you can invite multiple people to chat or play games. 

Snapchat allows groups of up to 16 people to instant message, send photos and videos with fun filters or video chat with multiple people.

Find a video app that can give you precious face time with your friends in a fun way.

 

Start blogging

Blogging about your life can be a great way for long-distance family and friends to catch up with you. You can include topics, such as your latest trips, your favourite recipes and places to go, or your thoughts on various topics. It can be a great way for all your loved ones to feel connected to you in one post.

Website makers, such as Wix or Wordpress, provide hundreds of templates that you can customise, which are ideal for blogs.

 

Contact us

If you’re looking to buy or sell a property, Our Guild Members are available and on hand to help in the current climate. Find your local Guild Member here.

18Mar

Recent updates with the COVID-19 virus has meant a lot of employees are having to self-isolate and adapt to new work routines from home. With flexible working becoming increasingly popular and advances in technology that keep you connected with the office, working from home has never been easier. We delve into our top tips to help you perfect your working from home routine.

 

Create a dedicated workspace

It is important for your routine and productivity to have a dedicated space to work in. Working from your bed or the sofa might seem tempting, but you are likely to be less productive in the space you associate with relaxing. A home office is perfect, if you have one, but any consistent area with a table and chair will help you associate a home space with work. Have the right equipment and technology all set up and organised to help you remain focused. Try to find somewhere with lots of natural light, as this sends signals to your brain to help you feel positive and awake. Finally, if you can, close the door to eliminate distractions or have a rule with family to ensure you are left to concentrate when necessary.

 

Dress for work

To help you get in the right mindset, you’ll want to dress for the part. Wearing your pyjamas all day might seem appealing but taking the time to get dressed properly is not only better for your productivity, but your mental health too.

 

Structure your day

Implementing routine simplifies your day and makes it easier to keep yourself organised. You could start your day with checking your emails and creating a daily to do list while having your morning coffee. Consistency will make it easier to get into the flow of work.

 

Learn to communicate effectively

There are lots of different mediums to communicate and send information to people, such as instant messaging, emails, phone calls, video calls and more.

Learn to use each medium practically for what you need to achieve. Video chats are useful for meetings, while instant messaging is more useful for a quick question or update. Figure out which mediums are most practical for what you need to achieve and for the people you are communicating with.

Remember, working from home can feel isolating at times, so a quick video chat or phone call can make all the difference.

 

Take breaks

Breaks are vital to create a distinction between work and personal time. Just like working in an office, allow yourself a proper lunchbreak so you can walk away from your work area and have some time for yourself. Having a break will clear your mind, allowing you to get back to work with a fresh perspective and more energy.

 

Limit your work hours and stick to them

Working from home can mean your work can creep into your personal life, which can be detrimental to your productivity and psychological health. You are more likely to stay motivated when you set yourself work hours and stick to them. Create a mini routine for the end of the day, such as having a call with your manager or employees, to set a cut-off time.

 

Contact us

Our Guild Members are available and on hand to help with buying or selling in the current climate. Find your local Guild Member here

11Mar

Spring is almost here!

Friday 20th March brings us the first day of spring 2020 and with the new season comes longer, brighter days after a cold and gloomy winter, prompting many people to start thinking about selling their home.

Statistics and many of our agents suggest the best time to sell your house is from mid-February until the end of June, with March being the best month of the year to make a quick sale. HMRC reported 5,120 more sales in January 2020, compared to last January. These statistics suggest a rise in property sales for this March, so prepare yourself with our home décor tips for this spring.

The upcoming season brings all sorts of home décor possibilities, from bright colour palettes, to florals, to simply the natural sunlight returning and brightening up your space. Here are some ideas for you to optimise the space in your home to add appeal to potential homebuyers:

A good old spring clean

A deep clean to help sell your property might be an obvious tip, but it’s an effective and affordable one that can be overlooked during the sales process. It is a classic tradition that involves cleaning your home from top to bottom, including in the little nooks and crannies that don’t get a frequent clean. Don’t forget the windows, mirrors and the hard-to-reach corners. A clean and clear home could make all the difference in a buyer’s mind.

As mentioned in our guide for viewing a house, it takes about eight seconds for a buyer to decide whether or not they want to purchase your home, so the first impression counts.

A fresh lick of paint

Now that the home is clean, you have the perfect opportunity to freshen up the space with a lick of paint. Whites and creams are great for a crisp and clean feel, while pops of colour can add personality with minimal effort required. You could also add a new lease of life to the garden fence, garden shed or front door.

Add fresh spring scents

Make sure the home doesn’t smell of fresh paint. The warmer (or at least milder) months are the perfect time to air out the house. Candles or air fresheners are great too! Remember, when hosting a property viewing, opt for milder, inoffensive scents to not overpower the space as not everyone has the same preferences.

Blooming lovely

Placing a vase of flowers in a room is an excellent way of bringing the outside in and adding fragrant floral scents and vibrant colour into the home. Seeing a bunch of beautiful flowers as you are viewing a home is sure to make you smile and associate the home positively with hand-picked spring flowers. 

Garden

Speaking of spring flowers, don’t to forget about the garden! 

After a long, cold winter, the garden probably needs some attention. The front of the house and garden are the first things a buyer will see, so you’ll want them to be greeted by a lawn and shrubs that are neatly trimmed and a well-maintained pathway taking you to the front door. Even if you just have a modest lawn, it will make all the difference to have it cared for and looking its best. A prospective buyer will want to be greeted by gleaming windows and doors with frames that have no cracked paint or dirt.

Adding flowers in hanging baskets, window boxes or in a flower bed outside the home can add value to your property with minimal effort or cost.

Light it up

As the natural light returns with slightly longer days in spring, your home will look and stay brighter. Consider adding layers of lighting to change the atmosphere of a space. Bulbs with a more yellow light will give a cosy feeling to the space. Overhead lights should be whiter to add an illusion of more daylight but avoid harsh florescent overhead lighting. Consider simple light shades that can be easily matched to different home décor styles.

Embrace the colours of spring with your interior design

The natural colours of spring are a great inspiration and patterns such as florals, geometric shapes or stripes are a great addition against a simple base colour to add some personality. Natural hues of green or sky blue, accompanied by bright pops of colour, 

such as pink, orange or yellow, can breathe life into the simplest of spaces. On a backdrop of crisp white, the natural colours of spring feel fresh, lively and exciting to the eye. 

Add some homely touches

It’s all about balance. You want to avoid clutter in the house, whilst maintaining a lived-in aesthetic. You want the buyer to envision living in the space without being distracted by mismatched décor or clutter.

Accessorise with colourful or textured cushions, scented candles and simple artwork to tie your decor together, or a mirror to add an illusion of more space. 

Check out our top tips for staging your home like a pro for more advice.

 

Contact us today!

If you’re looking to sell your property or would like more help with preparing your home to go to market, contact your local Guild Member.

05Mar

International Women’s Day is a global annual event, Sunday 8th March, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women in a bid to accelerate gender parity. 

According to Forbes magazine, reflecting on the findings of UK government research, organisations with more female leaders on their boards “outperform their rivals with a 42% higher return on sales, 66% higher return on invested capital and 53% higher return on equity.” Other research has found that teams involving women have a higher collective intelligence than teams of only men, and investors are likely to see a business as more competently run than without a mix of genders.

We want to celebrate female Guild Members by asking them a few questions about International Women’s Day and being a woman in estate agency and society.

 

1. Why is it important to celebrate IWD?

“I feel it is so important to celebrate International Women’s Day as growing up in this industry, dominated by the male workforce, I have seen female colleagues thrive, grow and climb the ladder now more than ever. Women supporting women is a huge passion of mine and it’s great to have a day to celebrate each other.” – Fiona Cupples, 15 years at Homes Independent Estate Agents

 

“This is a day to recognise and promote the efforts being taken worldwide to eliminate discrimination against women. It also helps us focus on helping women gain full and equal participation in the workplace. This is particularly important in Estate Agency where the workforce is male dominated and it’s an opportunity to encourage more female estate agents.” – Abigail Grey, Managing Director of Grey & Co, 18 years in estate agency

 

“It is important to celebrate International Women’s Day to recognise and celebrate that women’s rights are evolving and developing. Women now have a greater diversity of choice and support in the pursuance of their goals and dreams than they ever have before, but that there is still work to do in respect of those facing less favourable social economic factors in this respect.” – Maria Morgan, Owner of Platinum Properties, over 20 years in estate agency

 

2. Is there a female figure who inspires you and why?

“Melanie Reid, award winning journalist who became a tetraplegic following a riding accident and still writes a darkly humorous column on how she copes with life daily.” – Kate Taylor, Director at Taylor & Co, 20 years in estate agency

 

“I could say Michelle Obama, but many people will choose her, so I am going for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This woman is fighting the corner for the underrepresented minorities and women all over the world, she challenges the status quo and calls out corruption. What’s not to like?” – Abigail Grey, Managing Director of Grey & Co, 18 years in estate agency

 

“There are many women who inspire me in different ways, my friends, my sisters, The Queen, Madonna, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana. They are not afraid to stand out from the crowd and go about their business in what they believe in.” – Donna Vincent, Residential Sales Manager at Millbank Estate Agents, 23 years in estate agency

 

3. How important is it for women to lift each other up in business and generally in life?

“I have seen first-hand how wonderful and empowering women supporting other women in business can be. It is vital that we do not fight against each other to be heard or valued but that we support each other to make sure all women are supported and seen as equals in all professions” – Rachel Duncalf, Business Development & Marketing Manager for Jackson Green & Preston, one year in estate agency

 

“Very important. Too often we are taught to think of other women as a threat, but we should be treating each other as allies and working together to help each other to succeed.” - Amy Roberts, Branch Manager at Bryan & Keegan, estate agent for 10 years

 

“I think it is particularly important in a male dominated profession for women to stick together. We all share similar knowledge in an industry, regardless of whether we are male or female, but the difficulty can be on social occasions or networking, which can be intimidating for women. By sticking together, we increase confidence and opportunities in these situations.” – Kirsty Keeton, Director at Richard Watkinson & Partners, 22 years in estate agency

 

4. Why did you choose to become an estate agent?

“I love helping people and I feel being an estate agent is a rewarding job knowing you have helped someone move onto their next journey in their life and hopefully alleviated some of the stress they may have had knowing I have looked after them.” – Donna Vincent, Residential Sales Manager at Millbank Estate Agents, 23 years in estate agency

 

“I enjoy meeting different people from all walks of life and have always had a keen interest in different types of properties.” – Lisa Hunt, Residential Director at Maguire Jackson, 20 years in estate agency

 

“I love property and people, the two together make the perfect match.” – Tracey Leonard, Office Manager at Seymours Estate Agents, 21 years in estate agency

 

5. What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting a career in estate agency?

“Be bold, confident and adaptable. Be prepared to always learn more and work on your personal development.” - Amy Roberts, Branch Manager at Bryan & Keegan, estate agent for 10 years

 

“Networking is my biggest key to success. Be bold, get creative and build relationships in the industry. Find mentors to learn from. When I started, I had two top-sales agent mentors and their success inspired me to pursue my career and their advice was priceless and still serves me well even 30+ years later!” – Sandra Tooley, Owner/Director at Castor Bay Property, over 30 years in estate agency

 

“Be willing to work long hours and be aware of public perceptions of estate agents. Forewarned is forearmed. Be honest, genuine and keep to your businesses core ethics. That has been the key to our success.” - Diane Sanders, HR & Operations Director at Shepherds Estate Agents, 22 years in estate agency

 

6. What do you think is the biggest issue facing women today?

“The biggest issue facing women today is the struggle to retain a good work/life balance whilst not appearing to be doing a lesser role than our male peers; quite often a woman feels that they have to do more to get the same recognition.” – Sarah Breeze, Chartered Surveyor and Lettings Manager at Morris, Marshall & Poole, 19 years in estate agency

 

“Ingrained practices that still believe women are less qualified and able to progress to senior positions. Also balancing careers and childcare which usually results with one having to be sacrificed for the other.” – Lisa Hunt, Residential Director at Maguire Jackson, 20 years in estate agency

 

“I think the biggest issue facing women today in the developed world and from my direct experience is the choice surrounding having children and the support/childcare available once you wish to return to the workplace.” – Maria Morgan, Owner of Platinum Properties, over 20 years in estate agency

 

7. In your opinion, why is it important that women are in the estate agency profession?

“We humanise the process by helping people during their peak life moments and their darkest hours by displaying empathy and understanding.” – Kate Taylor, Director at Taylor & Co, 20 years in estate agency

 

“In my opinion, women bring a different skill set: emotion and intuition, they are excellent at the ‘soft sale’ approach. They can be relatable, sympathetic and in-tune with both buyers and sellers, which can give them an advantage in negotiation.” – Sandra Tooley, Owner/Director at Castor Bay Property, over 30 years in estate agency

 

“The same reason as they should be in any profession. Women are equally as capable as men of carrying out this work and it seems a shame that there are not as many women in what has always been male dominated profession.” – Kathryn A Evans BSc (Hons) MRICS IRRV & Registered Valuer, 15 years in estate agency

 

“I think, women have more attention to detail then men allowing us to focus on providing an excellent service that deals with problems before they arise.” - Caroline Wellard, Managing Director, Kent Estate Agenices, 33 years in estate agency

 

Contact us today!

We’re proud of the powerful, influential female leaders at The Guild of Property Professionals. Thanks for making us feel empowered!

To find out more about becoming a Guild Member click here.

04Mar

Reports from multitudes of estate agencies within England have suggested that buyer confidence is returning, and property market activity has improved since the decisive election result at the end of 2019. Can the same be said about the Northern Ireland property market?

According to Daniel Henry, Partner at Bensons in Northern Ireland, the market has experienced a turbulent last few years as a result of political instability both at a local and national level. “The uncertainty surrounding Brexit undoubtedly caused potential purchasers to delay their plans and many chose to extend or modify their existing properties. This had a major impact causing a drop in the number of transactions each year,” he says. “The suspension of the Northern Ireland Executive also impacted significantly on the availability of new housing developments with major delays currently in the planning process due to a lack of authority and accountability.” 

Henry continues that developers have also suffered due to a lack of investment within the water/sewerage infrastructure as budgets were centralised and reduced due to the political deadlock. “As a consequence, a significant majority of the towns within Northern Ireland are currently at capacity and there is a current embargo on the supply of new housing approvals until the required additional investment is available. This problem has been specifically detailed and prioritised in the political agreement reached. The consequence of this has been a limited supply of new housing stock, resulting in a premium being achieved for the new housing stock currently available in the market,” he explains.

Uncertainty has eased

Moving forward into 2020, Henry says that with the resumption of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the decision relating to Brexit, the level of uncertainty has started to reduce. “We are confident this will translate into more volume within the local housing market. Currently, there is limited availability of stock, but this is not uncommon for the first quarter of the new year,” he says.

Sales volumes have increased

Julie McCrory, Company Director at Kingham Property Specialists says that January was a very positive month with homes selling for the full asking price before making it onto the open market. He also notes that there has been a high quantity of viewers, as well as a high volume of new stock coming on for sale. “The decision surrounding Brexit and Stormont back up and running are both possible reasons for the increases we saw at the beginning of the year,” she adds. “Our sales agreed were over 30% higher this January than they were last year.” 

Speaking about her predictions for the rest of 2020, McCrory says: “We spent a lot of time late last year pricing up new build sites for multiple builders and I can foresee a lot of new construction happening halfway to late 2020. I really can start to see prices creeping up and our top end of the market in the region of £350,000 and higher is already attracting high interest.   It's as if there is optimism in the air and people have been holding back for so long, they are now ready to move on.”

Moderate house price growth expected

Economists predict that the economy across the whole of the UK will continue to expand at a modest rate during 2020, with house prices relatively flat for the next 12 months. 

Managing Director of CPS Property, Art O’Hagan, agrees, saying that he believes that while there will be more stability during 2020, there will be no major increases. “Hopefully local government’s initiatives will bring more inward investment to Northern Ireland during 2020. Over the past 12 months, the market has been static with an increase of between three and six per cent. The commercial marketplace is struggling, and mortgage rates are more expensive than rent. It will also be good to get details about government funding for our health and education services, as the industry here is very dependent on the service sector. Foresight in business is not our local government’s focus unfortunately but maybe now they are back in debate this will be the new dawn,” says O’Hagan, who points out that Brexit clarity on a soft border will determine Northern Ireland’s future trading opportunities.

“While I don’t foresee any major long-term changes, Northern Ireland remains an amazing place to live. It is a safe environment and the ideal place to educate children,” O’Hagan concludes.

Find a Guild Member in Northern Ireland.

04Mar

Landlords of a domestic private rented property have until 1st April 2020 to ensure that their property complies with the ‘Minimum Level of Energy Efficiency’ standard EPC band E. This will apply to any property that is let under an assured tenancy, a regulated tenancy or a domestic agricultural tenancy, as well as any other property that is required to have an EPC. 

The Guild’s Compliance Manager, Paul Offley, says that if a property has been marketed for sale or let, or has been modified in the past 10 years, then the likelihood is that the property will require an EPC. If the property has an EPC rating of F or G, the landlord will have until the cut-off date on 1st April this year to ensure that the necessary steps have been taken to improve its rating to at least a minimum band E or register for an exception.

He adds that there are various exemptions that apply, such as the ‘all relevant improvements made’ exemption, which applies when a landlord has made improvements to the property up to a cost cap of £3,500 including VAT, and the property still does not meet the minimum standards. Several others apply, depending on the property and the landlord’s unique circumstances, such as having only recently become a landlord. 

“The Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) is not something new and has been around and with us for a number of years, however, this year is the final cut-off date before the prohibition on letting F and G properties will be extended to all relevant properties, regardless of whether there has been a change in the tenancy. After the deadline, if the local authority believes that a landlord has failed to fulfil their obligations under the MEES Regulations, they will issue a compliance notice, and if a breach is confirmed, the landlord will face a possible financial penalty,” explains Offley. 

“Landlords have had time to either improve the efficiency rating or apply for an exemption – but lettings agents need to be sure that they are able to demonstrate compliance with the legislation from 1st April 2020,” says Offley. “The Guild of Property Professionals has been advising its Members on this impending date for several months to ensure a smooth transition for landlords and tenants – our mission is to ensure our Members are fully prepared and ready for any new or changes to legislation and looking at what is on the horizon over the next few months, this is going to keep us fairly busy,” he concludes.

For more in-depth information see the full Government guide.

 

30Jan

Can having a pet impact your chances of selling your property? In a word – yes. With the often cold and wet weather in the UK, most homeowners allow their pets to live inside their homes as a furry family member. While a pet can make a welcomed addition to a family and one’s emotional wellbeing, they can put some buyers off when your home is on the market.

That said, while selling a property with pets can be a little more challenging, it isn’t impossible and there are things that homeowners can do to get the best possible result from the sale by being prepared. Here are a few tips that could assist with selling a home with pets:

Talk to your vet

Although the objective is to sell the home, it is imperative to keep in mind that your pet has its own needs that should be taken into account. Having buyers in and out of the house during the sales process and moving to a new environment can all be extremely stressful for pets. As such, it is advisable to consult your vet regarding the plan you have in mind and how it could work with your specific animal.  This is particularly important if the pet is older and may not adjust that well to any changes.

A temporary relocation

Having your pets stay with a friend your family member during the sales process will help eliminate some of the stress of having strangers in the home and will make it easier to keep the property clean.  Another advantage is that not having the pets in the home will give you the chance to remove all signs of having a pet in the home, as in some cases these signs could bring down the perceived value of the property. 

While a viable option, there are some aspects to consider, such as the fact that it needs to be someone your pets know and are comfortable with. There is also the matter of the pet needing to adjust to living with someone temporarily and then adjust again to the new home – this could be added unnecessary stress for the animal. 

Dog with boxes

Away during viewings

If relocation during the entire sales process is not something that appeals to you, perhaps consider just having the pets stay away during viewings. In an ideal situation, it is best for the seller not to be home during viewings and leave the viewings to the estate agent. 

If your pets are home while you are not there, it could cause complications for the agent and could put the pets at risk of accidentally getting out of the property. Even if your pet is friendly, with people constantly in their territory they could react badly to someone and result in them biting or attacking them. Leaving a pet in that situation is asking for trouble – even if they are not normally aggressive, it is not worth taking the chance.

If taking them somewhere during viewings is not a viable option, then rather be home with them to ensure they are happy and taken care of. If need be, have a contained area of the home for your pet and let the estate agent know. 

Dog on floor

Repair pet damage

As lovable as animals can be, pet damage is never endearing when trying to sell your home. Often dogs and cats will damage or destroy elements in the home such as the carpeting, flooring, walls, doors, garden beds and fencing.  It is best to get any damage caused by your pets repaired before the home is listed. This might mean an initial investment, but money spent will be recouped by the value added to the property. 

Dispell odours and stains

An unpleasant smell can put a potential buyer off, so get rid of any bad odours and stains left behind by pets. A strong odour is among the top reasons a buyer will pass on a property. This is because smells can evoke an emotional response that will linger in the buyer’s mind. An unpleasant odour will elicit a negative perception of the home that will stay with the buyer. Having the carpets and flooring professionally cleaned will remove stains and have the home smelling amazing. 

While selling a home with a pet can take a little more effort, the extra work will pay off in the end. Although it is not always easy to hide all evidence that a pet lives in the home, buyers will appreciate the fact that every effort has been made to ensure that the property looks and smells as good as it would pet-free. 

Look for an estate agent to sell your property, find a Guild Member in your area.

 

24Jan

Recent reports from London based estate agents have said that buyers are flocking back to the capital in record numbers since the decisive election result. Over the past three years, political uncertainty and the Brexit stand-off were keeping buyers at bay, however, it seems the market freeze has thawed, and confidence is coming back.

“As expected,” says Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, “buyers and sellers who had adopted a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to the market are now back and ready to move on with their lives. It is clear from recent figures that people were eager to get into the market, but the uncertainty was making them apprehensive. Now that there is more clarity and increased optimism, activity in the market is once again on an upward trajectory.”

Average house price growth

The increased activity in the market has had the knock-on effect of an increase in the average housing price across the country. According to Rightmove, the average house price in the UK increased by 2.3% in January 2020, which is the largest monthly rise ever recorded at this time of the year.  

Average house price growth

Outside the capital

Nick Goldsworthy, Co-Owner of Logic Estates in Liverpool, says that the ‘Boris Bounce’ has definitely improved the market conditions. “In our market, there is more confidence, more activity and increased sales. Already for the first two weeks in January, we have had 10 sales agreed per week which is approximately a 30% increase on the 2019 average. New valuation numbers are strong again, as pent up demand begins to be released, which in turn will increase new stock to the market,” he says. 

According to Simon Miller from Holroyd Miller, Wakefield has seen a huge change in the housing market since the election in December. “To start with Wakefield has a Conservative MP for the first time in 88 years, a traditional Labour heartland due to its former Mining roots. The Boris Bounce hasn’t taken long to reach the north of England, there has been a massive increase in the level of viewings being arranged on the sales side of the business and new instructions are quickly coming to the market. The properties over £500,000 are also seeing interest they weren’t getting for the second half of 2019. There feels a lot more confidence in the air buoyed by the prospect of a cut in interest rates making borrowing even cheaper,” says Miller, “There is finally certainty that decisions are being made by a majority government who can now govern and implement their policies, let’s hope the positivity continues.”

Investment activity is also up

Goldsworthy points out that as far as the investment market is concerned activity again is bouncing. However, now in real volume for the ‘real’ investment deals such as sustainable, quality houses and apartments that are built off-plan and will re-sell and rent out at sensible yields - not over-egged, false rental values or rental guarantees that fail to transpire.

Investment growth

He adds: “The exponential growth in our cities is now a key factor in deciding where to purchase a ‘quality apartment’. The conditions right now with low-interest rates and no immediate sign of any increase, coupled with lots of potential growth in values, specifically in some Northern cities and the sustained inadequate pension planning problem for many, is resulting in continuous desire to acquire a tangible asset that will provide income, capital growth and future flexibility.”

McKenzie says that irrespective of political persuasion, the election result has provided us with a clear path ahead, which in turn has improved market sentiment. “With signs of stability returning to the market, even if ever so slight, we are seeing the fires of the property market reignite. Long may it last,” he concludes. 

09Jan

No one wants an empty house. One of the main worries that many landlords experience is the possibility that a month or more will pass between lets without any rental income. It is crucial to minimise void periods where possible by acting fast and making sure you get the next tenant for your property. It is inevitable that circumstances will change and people will move on but there are quick and easy steps to reduce void periods.

Advertise online

This is one of the most effective ways to finding a new tenant. Most people looking to let will firstly browse homes in their desired location on their phone or computer. Using your local Guild Member is an easy way to get your rental property noticed without having to do all the work yourself. 

Social media

Social media has become an increasingly popular platform for those looking for a property to rent. Your estate agent will share the property across their social media channels as a part of their marketing strategy, but it doesn't hurt to also share the property yourself.

Word of mouth

An old-fashioned way to find a suitable tenant, word of mouth can still be surprisingly effective. Talking to people living close to the empty property or your friends could lead to finding someone who might be interested in renting your property. If you live in a city, the chances are a friend or colleague may know someone who is looking to rent. 

Setting the right rent

It’s always good to do a little research into competitive rental rates as this is rent price and location are the two biggest factors when searching for a new home. Make sure the property is good value for money and all repairs are up-to-date as potential tenants will always do a thorough search before making their choice. You want to make sure that your property is at the top of their wish list.

Finding the right tenants

Trying to fill the void period may be quite time consuming, but it is worth spending time trying to select tenants that will be delighted to call your property their new home. Make sure you have the correct references and requirements from the new tenant before having them sign the contract to rent your property. 

 

Contact us today!

Do you have a property to rent? Are you looking for your next tenant? Contact your local Guild Member today. 

 

 

11Dec

Selling your home can be a stressful process at the best of times, but when you need to leave it vacant for an extended period, it can only make the process more worrying. 

Whatever your motive, whether you’ve accepted a job elsewhere or have simply found your dream home, leaving your home empty brings with it a handful of challenges.

From keeping it in tip-top condition while you’re away, to ensuring it’s well-protected against thieves, here are five effective ways of protecting your empty home while it’s still on the market:

1. Check your insurance

When you know you’re leaving your home unoccupied for an extended time, it’s a good idea to let your home insurance provider know. Often, they will offer a special type of coverage specifically aimed at your situation, giving you reassurance that you’ll be protected should anything go wrong. 

When you inform your home insurance provider, don’t be surprised if your policy charges go up slightly. Since nobody will be present in the home to look after it, insurance providers will often require more money to cover the additional level of risk involved. 

2. Contact a neighbour

Another relatively straightforward way of protecting your home is letting your neighbour know that you’re leaving. 

After you’ve packed up your house and are ready to say your goodbyes, pop over to one of your neighbours’ houses, explain the situation to them, and ask them to keep an eye on your property while you’re not there. Often, they will be more than happy to check on it for you anyway, but it never hurts to sweeten the deal by getting them a little thank you gift. 

3. Think about Mother Nature

Mother Nature can be a cruel mistress so it’s important to protect your house from the elements. When the weather turns nasty, you’ll want to be prepared. Consider using a programmable thermostat to keep your pipes from freezing in winter, and to cool your property in the warmer months. Some thermostats have integrated Wi-Fi, so you can have remote access to alter them accordingly.

Why not think about boarding up your home with a high-quality security screen? Security screens can be particularly effective at keeping Mother Nature at bay. Strong, sturdy and virtually impenetrable without specialist equipment, they will stop your vacant home from becoming an easy target for unwanted guests, vandalism or potential break ins.

4. Let there be light

Using outdoor security lights typically act on a sensor, turning on when they sense somebody or something approaching the house. This is an easy and affordable way to offer your home a little extra protection.

Additionally, setting indoor lights to turn on at certain times of day or night can also help deter potential thieves. Using a plug-in timer, you can set lamps and other devices to turn on at certain times, giving the illusion that you’re at home even when you’re not. 

6. Prepare

Before you vacate your home for good, there are several things you should think about doing. From replacing shoddy entry doors to ensuring all your windows are locked, take the time to really think about how you are leaving your property. 

While it may be tempting to get away and start life in your new home, if something goes wrong, you could be left regretting rushing the process of moving out. To prevent this, write a checklist of all the things you need to do before you leave, and do all you can to ensure your home is left in as safe a condition as possible. 

 

Are you thinking of moving home this season? Contact your local Guild Member today!

29Nov

The Guild is delighted to announce its guest judges for The Guild Awards 2020. Together, they will be carefully selecting The Guild winners who will raise their trophy on the 12th February 2020 at QEII Centre in central London.  

The panel of judges includes Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild, Simon Whale from Kerfuffle, Ben Marley from Feefo, Sally Lawson from Agent Rainmaker, Andy Soloman from Yomdel and Chris Watkin, lettings and estate agency business growth specialist. They will be tasked with shortlisting the offices that have excelled in various aspects of the business throughout the year, as well as selecting the final winners. The judges’ decisions will be heavily swayed by customer-centric service, with the Awards Customer Service Rating powered by The ESTAS, the only industry awards based solely on customer reviews. 

“Given the calibre of the agents within The Guild network, selecting those who have been exceptional is no easy feat. Agents within The Guild truly value their customers and are dedicated to excellent service. All of the offices within the network deserve to be acknowledged for their hard work throughout the year, making our job as judges very difficult; we have to narrow it down to offices who have truly gone above and beyond,” said Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals. 

The winners will be selected in each region from the North to the South of the country and everything in between, showing the strength of the network right up and down the country. As a network, The Guild aims to continue to raise industry standards for the better and ensure offices throughout the UK provide their customers with a high-quality estate agency experience. 

“The Guild Awards acknowledge the hard work that offices have put in throughout the year and provide an opportunity for the network to get together and celebrate. The event has become a highlight in The Guild calendar, and the shortlisted offices are always of such high quality it’s always difficult to select those who deserves to walk away with the award. This year, as in the past, with the high standards within the network there will be a lot for the judges and myself to consider,” concludes McKenzie. 

Members wishing to book their tickets to The Guild Conference and Awards can do so here.

27Nov

English former soldier, adventurer, best-selling author and television presenter from Channel 4’s popular SAS: Who Dares Wins series, Ant Middleton has been confirmed as the keynote speaker for The Guild of Property Professional’s conference which will take place on 12th February next year at the QE11 Centre in London.

Ant Middleton

“Having the right mindset is key to conquering any endeavour, whether taking on the enormous task of climbing Mount Everest or tackling the daily challenges we face as professionals within the property industry,” said Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals. “We are delighted that Ant has agreed to be a part of the Guild 2020 conference, sharing some of his experiences and ideas about leadership, teamwork and preparing your mind for overcoming any obstacle. His story is truly inspirational and unique and I think there will be a lot that we can learn from him about leading a team through difficult circumstances and succeeding in the face of insurmountable odds.” 

Joining the armed forces at 16 years old, it wasn’t long before Ant made a name for himself as someone with great grit, determination and skill. He moved onto the Royal Marines, 9 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers and then the Special Boat Services (SBS), a sister unit of the SAS. During his time in the SBS, Ant excelled and showed strong leadership skills which earned him the position as point man, as well as a primary fires operator and sniper, before earning a place in the UK Special Forces Selection.

In his military career, Ant served tours in Northern Ireland, North Macedonia and Afghanistan, achieving what is described as the ‘Holy Trinity’ of the UK’s Elite Forces serving in P Company, Commando Course and UK Special Forces Selection. After his military service, Ant worked as a security expert for VIPs and Government officials before taking on the role he is best known for as the Chief Instructor in Channel 4’s popular show ‘SAS’: Who Dares Wins. More recently he appeared in the Channel 4 hit Extreme Everest, where he conquers Mount Everest and manages to escape an unexpected, life-threatening storm. 

“Ant is able to channel his experience in the UK’s elite forces, his teamwork and leadership skills into invaluable insights for the corporate world.  We look forward to hearing what he has to share with our delegates at the conference next year,” McKenzie concludes.

Members wishing to book their tickets to the event can do so here.

 

11Nov

With global warming increasing at pace, and a number of problems with the environment being caused by our reliance on fossil fuels, there is no doubt that the world needs to start investing in more clean and green energy solutions. And the simple fact is that any changes of this nature need to begin in your own home.

Many of us want to do more to utilise clean energy at home, but a huge number of homeowners do not realise just how easy and varied it is to power your home with green electricity. You might be surprised at all of the different ways that you can use to reduce your reliance on the grid, and invest in green sources.

Here are five ways that you can power your home using clean energy options:

Choose a green energy provider

Firstly, you have the simplest and least invasive option in terms of powering your home with clean energy: switching to a green energy provider. The UK has a huge range of fantastic green electricity providers, so it is actually very easy to make the switch over from your traditional supplier. By doing so, this sends a message to the major energy companies that they need to work on their way of doing business. Use comparison sites such as Simply Switch which identifies the most environmentally friendly and cheapest providers. 

Solar panels

You may want to do more than just change suppliers however, and if you have a property that is suitable, you may wish to install energy generating hardware that can help both to reduce your energy bills, but also to ensure that you have more control over the energy you use.

Perhaps the most obvious (and certainly the most popular) choice of renewable energy technology is adding solar PV panels to your roof. Solar PV modules are used to convert sunlight into electricity that can be immediately used to power your home.   

Wind power

Not all homes are ideal for solar panels. You may not have a roof space, or you might not want the aesthetic changes to your property created by solar PV panels. So, another option is small wind turbines that draw electricity from wind movement. 

However, there are more likely to be issues with planning permission surrounding this, so make sure to do your research beforehand. 

GSHPs

One option that is often overlooked but could actually be extremely valuable for many homeowners is the concept of ground source heat pumps (GSHPs). These pumps are extremely useful for homeowners with grounds, as they are buried underground and draw heat from the soil. So, if you have a lot of ground space, but perhaps lack the rooftop area or access, GSHPs could be a brilliant possibility. 

A large tube of pipe is buried in the ground, and a pump then circulates a mix of water and antifreeze. This draws heat which can then be used in the home to heat appliances such as underfloor heating or radiators. 

Solar water heating

You could consider the possibility of installing a solar water heater, using solar thermal technology to heat your domestic water. It’s a very simple system to install and can be much smaller and less obvious than solar panels on your roof. This option is ideal for your home if you are planning incremental changes and want to take it slowly. 

 

More people making changes to their home can have a huge impact on the amount of energy we use. Adding sources of clean energy can be beneficial for both the planet and your bank balance.

Contact us today!

If you’re looking to buy, sell or for further advice on property related matters, contact your local Guild Member.

 

07Nov

The legal principle of caveat emptor (‘let the buyer beware’) may date back centuries but it still applies to today’s conveyancing process. It puts the onus squarely on the buyer to find out if there are any physical defects with the property before committing to the transaction.

Unfortunately, more than seven million home buyers don’t bother with a professional property survey, leaving themselves wide open to nasty surprises further down the line. Here are five important things that can be wrong with a property that the untrained eye may not notice but any RICS Chartered Surveyor worth his salt would certainly pick up.

1. Structural Movement

Subsidence and heave are two words no property owner wants to hear. Both are evidence of movement in the building’s foundation. Subsidence tends to occur on buildings that have been built on clay soil or in areas of previous mining activity. Most cases of subsidence are the direct result of tree roots nearby taking up too much moisture from the soil, or drainage leaks washing the soil away from underneath the building.

Heave is the opposite of subsidence - pushing the building upwards when the soil underneath swells up. Cut down a thirsty willow tree near the house without proper advice and you may find that the clay soil becomes overly wet and expands.

Your surveyor will be looking out for tell-tale cracks in brickwork or plasterwork, or sticky doors and windows from misaligned frames. Remedial action typically requires underpinning the foundations, which can be eye-wateringly expensive.

2. Damp Problems

Damp can be a common problem but with potentially serious consequences. Not only will a damp property feel clammy and unpleasant, there may be condensation and mould patches on internal surfaces that create an unhealthy living environment. Prolonged exposure can cause respiratory diseases that range from constant colds to chest infections and asthma.

While our layman’s noses may be fooled by a fresh coat of paint or a strong whiff of air freshener that have been cleverly used in an attempt to cover up the obvious characteristics of damp, rest assured that a good surveyor will be able to identify it.

“A RICS Home Buyer Survey includes damp meter readings taken from the wall and an assessment of damp proofing in the building,” confirms Brian Gale Surveyors.

Once damp has been detected, effective treatment is relatively straightforward in the early stages. But ignored and left, both penetrating damp and rising damp can be costly to remedy, and significant amounts of decorating will be needed afterwards.

3. Japanese Knotweed

Unless you’re a professional surveyor or gardener, you may not have heard of Japanese Knotweed, and let us tell you that it is one thing that you certainly don’t want anywhere near your property.

This is a highly invasive, destructive oriental plant that spreads like the proverbial wildfire, growing at an incredible 10cm per day! A 1cm section of underground stem can produce a new plant in as little as 10 days. 

Tough and persistent, Japanese Knotweed can inflict serious damage to your house by penetrating walls and concrete, eroding building foundations, blocking drainage pipes and causing flooding. This nightmare plant is estimated to affect around five per cent of homes in the UK, and the worst-case scenario really is the worst case you can think of: you may have to knock the building down and build again. Little wonder that mortgage companies are not keen approving finance for properties known to be infested by the dreaded Knotweed!

Getting to grips with this pernicious plant and getting rid of it is not easy, and you need to contact your local authority to find out how to dispose of it safely. If your survey turns up Japanese Knotweed, you may want to reconsider the purchase altogether.

4. Woodworm Attack

Tiny holes in woodwork, crumbling sections and evidence of beetles in timber? Chances are that the building is infested with woodworm. Interestingly, woodworm is not actually caused by worms but by beetles - the larvae of woodboring beetles, to be precise. And they can cause havoc in properties of all ages. From ancient timber-framed cottages to new builds, no property is safe from attack. 

Left undealt with, woodworm can cause serious damage to the integrity of the building, especially if structural timbers are affected. From weakening floorboards, ceiling joists and any other timber elements in the property, the damage may be that sections of timber need to be removed and replaced, which can be awkward, messy and expensive.

Your surveyor will look for evidence of new exit holes and dust around the holes, as well as weak floorboards or beams, a sure sign of an active infestation which, if spotted, will need urgent professional treatment. 

5. Rat Infestation

It is common knowledge that rats carry diseases and spread harmful bacteria including E. coli and salmonella. They can also transfer fleas, ticks and mites to pets AND humans. In short, you don’t want rats anywhere in or near your home.

Unfortunately, rats can get into incredibly small spaces. Did you know that a baby rat can squeeze into a 1cm square hole? If you spot evidence of rat activity in your garden, act fast to stop them getting into your home. Block up every conceivable hole you can find and check your pipework and guttering so they can’t gain access via broken pipes or through sewers.

Even if you don’t see any live animals, the presence of rats is also announced by typical signs and symptoms of pest infestation such as the smell of ammonia, small sausage shaped droppings and scratching noises. You may also find signs of destructive activity such as chewed cables and wires, or torn food packaging.

Contact The Guild Today...

Are you thinking of buying or selling? Get in touch with your local Guild Member today.

05Nov

Many people think that trying to move house over the festive period is a mistake, but that is no longer the case. People have more free time and motivation to make a change in time for the New Year, so it can be a great time to buy and sell. Guild agents share their top tips. 

 

Make Your Property Visible Online 

If you are selling your home then needs to be listed and visible on all the major property portals (like Rightmove) over Christmas. People will tend to have more free time and will start to browse properties online over the festive season. 

Ailsa Mather from Andrew Coulson explains: “We are listing a number of properties now because statistically, property portals show that there is a substantial spike on Boxing Day. We appreciate Christmas is a busy time for families, so we operate a ‘Do Not Disturb’ policy, that is clicking the property on the market just before Christmas but refraining from viewings until after the New Year.”

Simon Miller from Holroyd Miller agrees that sellers need to take advantage of this busy time. “Once Christmas Day is done and Boxing Day leftovers are eaten, what do people looking for a New Year move do? They start looking for a new home. Don’t miss the opportunity to sell your house during the holidays - what could be nicer than viewing a very festive home?”

Rightmove say that Boxing Day is their busiest all year, and Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris agrees that it is equally busy in their office. 

“Statistics have shown over recent years that the busiest days of the year for internet traffic on property portals are the days immediately following Christmas and Boxing Day. Our own evidence appears to confirm this phenomenon, showing that during the period from Christmas Eve 2016 up to and including New Year’s Day, we received over 130 telephone calls and 170 email leads from property portals. We even received calls and emails on Christmas Day.” 

But why is this period so busy? Stuart Mills from Rickman Properties has an idea. “The reason? All those lovely new phones and iPads. It is also one of the few holidays that the family will be all together and most likely at home. This means that any discussions about a move can be had, viewings can be done with all the decision makers present, adults and children, and with a coming New Year, what better than a new home?” he asks. 

Winter Weather 

Spring is a popular time to buy and sell, but winter has its benefits, too. 

“Sometimes stepping into a bright, warm, cosy home on a bitterly cold day or drizzly evening can have just as positive an effect as viewing a property on a warm summer day,” said Ben Whiting from Victorstone

Abby Wheeler from Keats Estate Agents agrees. 

“If you walk into a property in the depths of winter, when the sky is moody and the nights are drawing in at 4pm and you still love it, imagine how much you will love it in the summer? If in winter you can see yourself living there, it’s a keeper.” 

She has some tips for winter viewings, too. “Always arrange viewings in the daylight. If you arrange a viewing after work at 6pm, you won’t get the true experience of the property, especially if there are grounds to explore. It is important to view them before the night draws in.”

 

Motivated To Move 

Those people who are looking to move in December and January are committed to moving quickly. It’s a great idea to make the most of this. 

Richard Stovold from Seymours said: “Although there are downsides to house hunting over the festive season, the benefits can outweigh the drawbacks. Houses that are available for sale over the Christmas period have often either been on the market for a while or are very new to the market. This means that sellers are likely to be eager to secure a sale, giving buyers greater control as they find themselves in a much better bargaining position.”

Simon Davies from Norman F Brown completely agrees. 

“The December and the Christmas period is a great time to try to sell your property as the quality of the buyer is higher than at any other time of the year,” he said. “If someone is out house hunting around Christmastime, it generally means they are motivated to buy quickly. The speculative, non-motivated viewings decrease as people are busy preparing for Santa and won’t go out to view unless they must. There also tends to be less properties for sale around this time of year and therefore less competition to compete against for a buyer’s attention.”

Justin Flanagan from Charles Eden agrees that there is a much higher number of motivated buyers and sellers, and the ‘the viewing to sale ratio’ is much higher at other times of year. “From a buyer’s point of view, there is not so much competition and the sellers are probably motivated to move,” he said.

 

Think About Photography 

If you’re thinking of making the most of the Christmas attention, it’s a good idea to think ahead. “Try and instruct your agent prior to putting up any Christmas decorations,” says Gina Burbidge from Royston & Lund. “This prevents the photos from looking dated if it doesn’t sell instantly.”

 

Ready For The New Year Rush 

In the New Year, there will be a rush of people looking to buy and sell. Why not beat the rush by getting your sale registered or getting to know the market in December? 

“January 2nd is one of the busiest days for us at Drivers & Norris,” said Steve Barron. “There aren’t likely to be too many viewings happening over the Christmas period, but it’s nevertheless a great time to get some viewings lined-up for the New Year. 

Many sellers hold off until after the New Year and miss out on the busy online searching that takes place between Christmas and New Year. Additionally, because there are fewer sellers listing their property over Christmas, those who do benefit from having less competition than they typically would have in the New Year or Spring.” 

Don’t underestimate the time that it takes for your home to go on the market, either. 

Steve Wiggins from Bond Residential said: “Given the time it takes for an estate agent to prepare the marketing material for a property including taking photos, preparing floorplans and commissioning an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), we advise our clients to actually start the process now so that they are ahead of the competition and ready to take advantage of these peak periods.”

It is a great time to develop a strategy with your Guild agent to make sure your home launches to market in the best possible way. 

“We are currently running a ‘do not disturb’ campaign which means we are preparing properties to market with EPC, floor plan and images before the decorations go up and then launching them to market over the festive period,” explained John Newhouse from Roseberry Newhouse

“We will then start arranging viewings in the New Year when the household returns to usual. In January 2017, we arranged more viewings on the first day back than in the whole of December,” he revealed. 

It is not essential to wait until Spring to sell, agrees Celeste Hannah from Hamilton Parkers. “Most sellers wait until spring and then there is more supply and more competition,” she said. “Whereas over the Christmas season, there is less supply but still high demand. By selling your home over the Christmas season, you are more likely to achieve a better selling price than you would trying to sell against the flurry of stock in the spring market.  

“My tip for house hunting over the Christmas season is to contact local agents and see what stock they have ready to launch over the festive period, as most agents hold back stock to launch over the Christmas holidays. This way you may get first refusal and will get to register your interest first.”

 

The Property Market Is Still Active At Christmas 

Take our word for it. People are still looking to move, even on Christmas Eve. 

“We have found that year on year we have improved with agreed sales figures in December,” said Laura Scott from Cooke & Co. “I am unsure if this is to do with investors in recent years trying to secure a bargain purchase, believing that anyone on the market at this festive time of year will be desperate to sell and more likely to accept an offer, but we have also seen a vast improvement with first time buyers agreeing sales too.”

Tim Goodwin from Williams & Goodwin says it is never too close to Christmas. “Having sold property at 4:30pm on Christmas Eve before now, I have no hesitation in recommending that potential sellers should place their property on the market sooner rather than later,” he says. 

“I did have a viewing one year on December 20th, with completion due the next day. The sole purpose of the viewing was to measure the oven to ensure it was big enough to fit the turkey in, so make sure you take your tape measure to the butchers as well as the viewing if looking to complete before Christmas Day.” 

Contact Us Today...

Are you thinking of buying or selling during the Christmas period? Get in touch with your local Guild Member today.

 

05Nov

Across England there are a variety of unique and beautiful places to live and work which offer individuals their perfect lifestyle. We asked our Guild agents their opinions on where the best places to live in Britain with a good quality of life are. Here's what they shared...

1. London


“Believe it or not, London is still a good place to live although there has been a mass departure in the last 12 months with many moving out of the city.

“It is ideal for young and old with amazing restaurants, bars and theatres. London’s offerings to its inhabitants are inexhaustible unlike any other city in the UK; ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’ as Samuel Johnson once said. 

“With all the economic turmoil and uncertainty over Brexit, Londoners need to stick by their capital city and tell the planet that it is still the best city in the world.” explains Susie.

Susie Robinson, Rickman Properties in Kensington

2. Wiveliscombe


Image Source: Somerset Life

“Wiveliscombe is the best place to live as it is 10 miles from Taunton and six miles from Wellington. The geography defines the place and it stands on its own two feet - socially, educationally and economically.  Whilst it’s technically a town, it really is a big village, with primary and secondary schools, shops, takeaways, businesses, services, serving a much wider rural community in West Somerset.  

“There is a real diverse group of people of all demographics; young, working, old, retired, matched by a real variety of properties in the beautiful rolling west country Somerset countrywide between the Quantocks and the Brendons and Taunton Vale. 

“The population is less than 3,000 but there are many thriving businesses and further residential and commercial development taking place in the town. There are also numerous clubs and societies, including the latest - Wivey Lele, mini Ukulele orchestra and Wiveliscombe rugby club which is currently top of Tribute Somerset premier." explains Bruce.

Bruce Keay, Wiveliscombe Estate Agents

3. Brighton and Hove


“Sometimes you have to look a bit further than the headline to get the real story, and if Brighton is usually the name in bold sometimes the attractions of Hove actually get overlooked.

“Today it's the city of Brighton and Hove, but because they were originally adjoining towns with separate councils the city's sibling areas still have unique identities. One thing they share is a varied, vibrant lifestyle, though in Hove it tends to be a little more laid back and discrete. 

“You only have to walk the beachfront along from Brighton's piers to feel the change as the promenade starts to be separated from the road by Hove Lawns. A well-kept wide strip of grass which hosts various culinary and sporting events throughout the summer, it's popular all year round with families, dog walkers and sports enthusiasts as are the green open spaces of Hove Park and St Ann’s Well Gardens.

“The Churchill Square retail centre is a big Brighton attraction, but for those who like their shopping to be carried out away from the modern mall experience Hove is the place to be. Church Road runs through from the famous floral clock and has a wealth of restaurants, pubs, cafes and shops. George Street is a traditional local high street with a mix of outlets, both major chains and independents, and recent additions to the culinary scene include MasterChef winner Steven Edwards' first restaurant Etch.

“With its wide main avenues laid out in a continental style grid, when you’re enjoying a coffee in local popular indie Baked or Brighton chain The Flour Pot, you know you are far removed from the more hectic and touristy atmosphere of Brighton.

“If you need to travel to London, Hove train station offers mainline commuter links that travel directly to the capital without needing to change at Brighton, and if you really want to escape the South Downs are on your doorstep offering their own panoramic sea views." explains Jenny.

Jenny Owen, Saywer & Co.

4. Yarm, Teesside

Yarm is a Georgian market town bordered by the River Tees and previously voted Best High Street in the UK.

“Yarm is well regarded as the best place to live on Teesside due to the wide range of shops, cafes and restaurants in the high street. It is popular with families due to excellent schooling in both state and private sectors. There are open park spaces at Preston Park with river walks and easy access to the A19, Darlington train station and Durham Tees Valley airport.

“The area has a wide array of property available from first time buyer price ranges through to million pound residences. Yarm is undoubtedly the jewel of Teesside.” says John.

John Newhouse, Roseberry Newhouse

5. The Test Valley Village



"The Test Valley Village is one of the best places to live as it has very convenient access to London and the West Country by road and rail with main line stations at Winchester and Sailsbury providing fast trains into London Waterloo. 

The Test Valley is blessed with some spectacular walks and countryside and is renowned for the River Test. The area is a favourite for ramblers, cyclists and for its shooting. 

There are many attractions in the Test Valley which include the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Longstock Park Water Garden, Highclere Castle, Houghton Lodge, Romsey Abbey and Romsey Signal Box.

"Test Valley in the west of Hampshire possibly has more pubs and restaurants than any other area of the county. The clear chalk streams of the River Test are famous for the Test Valley trout and there are many producers of quality local food in this area. Thatched cottages and welcoming pubs in Test Valley's picturesque villages add to the area's charm and there are attractions for all ages. There are also excellent schools within the area in both the public and private sector.” concludes Celeste.

Celeste Parkers, Hamilton Parkers

 

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