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20May

Guild Agents win a record number of awards at The ESTAS, the most prestigious awards in the UK property industry

The Guild Member agents around the UK were recognised at the prestigious ESTAS Customer Service Awards for 2019, the biggest awards in the UK property industry. The winners were announced at a lavish luncheon and awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House, Park Lane London attended by 1,000 of the UK’s top property professionals.

The awards, celebrating their 16th year, determine the best estate and letting agents in the UK based purely on feedback from customers who are asked a series of questions about the service they have received from their agent. Over 45,000 surveys were completed by customers via the ESTAS feedback platform.

After receiving a record 59 nominations in the regional shortlists (up 10 on 2018), the odds were good for Guild Members as Phil Spencer announced the winners for 2019, and they weren’t disappointed. Guild Members walked away with nine regional golds, five regional group golds and the prestigious Grand Prix for Best Estate Agent Office won by Dourish & Day in Stafford.

Phil Spencer, who has hosted the ESTAS every year since their inception in 2003, said “The ESTAS encapsulates what your typical agent is trying to do, which is to provide honest, transparent service for their clients. These awards are special because shortlisted and winning firms are selected purely on the service they deliver. Real feedback from real customers experiencing real service, I don’t think there can be a greater honour in the industry than to receive an award based on that mantra.”

Simon Brown Founder of The ESTAS said “At The ESTAS we’re proud to say we believe in old fashioned values like customer service. We know how hard it is to deliver it and that’s why we put the spotlight on property firms who are committed to providing excellent service. The ESTAS review and awards platform brand help agents generate consumer trust.”

Iain McKenzie, CEO at The Guild, said “For so many Guild Members to have been recognized at The ESTAS is a phenomenal achievement that the network can be proud of. We want to set the standard for professionalism and service in the industry, and the awards achieved are the recognition that Guild agents are among the best of the best.”

10May

This month, we caught up with Dawn Dickinson, General Manager at Midcalf Nicholls who talks us through the property market in the West Midlands and her advice for those looking to move home.

 

Tell us about yourself…

I’m Dawn Dickinson, General Manager of Midcalf Nicholls. I’ve worked in the property industry for many years in all roles to work my way from the bottom up. At one time I was the Area Manager for a large independent firm which was lots of fun, but there’s nothing like being at the helm of a strong, local agency.

 

What makes the perfect home for you?

It may sound obvious, but one that feels like a home. There’s no point having a beautiful show home if your spirits don’t lift each time you walk through the front door.

 

If you became the Housing Minister for a day, what would you change? 

I would impose rules to ensure the conveyancing process better embraces modern-day technology. It still takes too long, on average, between agreeing a sale and exchanging contracts – the point at which everyone can plan with certainty and the stage before which people can often be in a state of nervous limbo. 

 

Tell us about Midcalf Nicholls…

The firm was established in 1992 by Robert Nicholls and Stuart Midcalf, initially with one office in Stourbridge. Stuart retired some years ago, but Robert remains at the head of the practice. 

The business has grown significantly over the last 27 years, with the addition of a second office in Kinver in 1998 and the acquisition of two other businesses – one sales and one lettings. 

Our ethos has always revolved around a simple mantra: treat clients, buyers and tenants as you would wish to be treated yourself. We invest in our clients and benefit from repeat business and referrals.

 

What is next for the property market in your area?  

Properties are currently in short supply in many of the areas that we cover. We cover Stourbridge, Kinver, Dudley, Wolverhampton and Kidderminster, so most of the West Midlands. It’s good news for sellers and landlords, because premium prices are being achieved and properties are selling and letting very quickly. Our hope is that more properties will come to market. 

 

Why do customers choose Midcalf Nicholls?

Reputation is a huge factor. Feefo reviews have spread the world further afield as well, and are proving to be somewhat of a Godsend for us. 

 

Describe your typical day

No one day is the same! That’s the joy of working for an independent firm. I’m involved in HR, marketing, market appraisals, social media, business development, viewings, morning meetings, trouble shooting and keeping the team caffeinated. 

 

Can you give five tips for anyone who wants to work in the property sector? 

1. Be a people person: estate agency isn’t just about property, it’s about dealing effectively and empathetically with people from all walks of life, at a time that is potentially very stressful for them.

2. Be a good listener: this is important when it comes to identifying a motivated seller, or spotting buying signals from a potential buyer. 

3. Know your stuff: ensuring you give the best possible advice to your clients is important. Estate agency is becoming increasingly technical, with an ever-expanding raft of legislation to comply with.

4. Learn diplomacy and bite your tongue: keeping both parties of a transaction happy requires tact and discretion. The reality is that disappointed parties often blame the messenger. 

5. Be upbeat and enjoy yourself: always wear a smile – it makes everyone feel better and is good for business. Estate agency isn’t an easy ride, so you shouldn’t be in it unless you enjoy it. 

 

Do you have any advice for those thinking of moving home?

If you’re ready to move, now is a good time as any. Don’t put your life on hold because of Brexit and if you’re thinking of downsizing, don’t leave it too long. You’d be amazed how many people tell me how they’ve struggled for years to maintain an overly large house. Think it through, obviously, but then bite the bullet!

 

What charities do you support in your local area?

We like to support a wide variety of local activities. Currently, our focus is on Kinver: we’ve sponsored Kinver KRUFTS, Kinver Light Operatic Society and the Open Garden Weekend. Sue Capon, our Lettings Manager and Eliza Little, our Lettings Coordinator are currently training to run the 5k Race for Life to raise money for cancer research. Support them and donate to a worthwhile cause here

For more information regarding membership to The Guild of Property Professionals email parklane@guildproperty.co.uk or to see more click here.

09May

Spring has arrived, and with summer just around the corner, flowers are blooming, and the focus is turning to gardens. In celebration, we discover homes with spectacular spring gardens guaranteed to inspire. 

 

Falmouth, Cornwall. Guide price £780,000

With the aesthetic of a classic fairy-tale, this idyllic Georgian former rectory was built around 1812 and is set centrally within gloriously established gardens of nearly one acre. The captivating property lies within an unspoilt farm hamlet, up a long tree-lined drive between Falmouth and Constantine, about five miles from the Helford River. The enchanting farm hamlet is part of a privately-owned small country estate with the Grade II Listed Bosvathick House and gardens at its heart. 

The handsome family home benefits from the richly stocked Cornish garden with various fine trees and shrubs including many Magnolia, Rhododendron, Camellia, Hydrangea and Azalea. Lawns are carpeted in Primrose and wild flowers with pathways meandering around, brimming with evidence of its 200 years of planting and evolution. The garden is surrounded by Cornish hedges, smaller bushes and raised borders, and noticeably features a flagstone and cobbled terrace, steps and thresholds. 

 

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. Guide price £1,395,000

This charming five-bedroom detached property features a generous driveway, providing ample parking, leading to a large tandem garage. The generous area of lawn is landscaped with mature flower beds, trees, shrubs and an attractive portico porch to the front door which opens into an inner porch. 

The pentagon-shaped reception room with a feature brick open fireplace and wooden mantle, benefits from French doors opening onto the gorgeous front garden. The beautiful, bright dual-aspect kitchen/breakfast area also features French doors that open onto the rear patio and the garden beyond. The large private rear garden has an immaculately manicured lawn, raised vegetable beds and a summer house. 

This family home has been sympathetically enhanced to combine traditional character and a modern aesthetic, offering flexible accommodation and plenty of potential. The property is situated in a sought-after location and within an easy walk to the centre of town and mainline train station. 

 

Shilton, Oxfordshire. Guide price £700,000

Rose Cottage is a charming semi-detached period Cotswold stone cottage with delightful gardens situated in the heart of the quintessential village of Shilton, close to Burford. Dating back to the 18th century, the cottage boasts original features including exposed beams, a traditional open fireplace and stone hearths. Two pairs of French doors open out onto the terrace area and beautiful gardens beyond. 

The private and enchanting cottage garden to the rear of the house is a delight and provides a glorious setting. A patio area beside the French doors makes an ideal place for al fresco dining. The garden is partly laid to lawn and bordered by a variety of trees and shrubs. A path runs beside a pretty and well-stocked herbaceous which reaches down to the far end of the garden where a stream meanders its way amongst the willow trees and under bridges to the pond. In addition, there is a vegetable plot, greenhouse and several outbuildings. 

 

Benington, Hertfordshire. £2,100pcm +Fees

This exceptional detached Grade II Listed farm house on the outskirts of Benington village in Hertfordshire is spacious and beautifully presented throughout. The captivating country property includes a living room with a log burning stove, a dining room, snug, a beautiful modern kitchen/breakfast room with an AGA cooker, a utility room, cloakroom, a family bathroom, ample driveway parking and three generous bedrooms, one of which features an en-suite. 

The family home is filled with character and charm and benefits from central heating and traditional exposed timbers throughout the residence, however, perhaps the most appealing feature of the property is the large landscaped gardens with a delightful duck pond and south facing patio terrace. This fantastic, colourful garden is perfect for entertaining family and friends throughout the warmer months or simply sitting and reflecting on life while listening to the sounds of nature. Manicured lawn areas meet vibrant flowerbeds exploding with colour and life. 

 

The Guild is a network of over 800 of the best independent estate agents around the country. To find your dream home, visit our website.

17Apr

Getting into the property market and owning a home is a milestone that many aspire to. Buying a home can have an impact on your financial situation for the rest of your life. However, while the idea of owning a home is exciting, it is vital that you only take that step when you are completely ready to do so. This is because being a homeowner requires desire, sustainability and a long-term financial commitment.

Aside from finding the ideal first home and dealing with the sometimes-complicated home-buying process, there are other elements to consider and contend with, such as other buyers.  There are several aspects that need consideration from both a financial perspective and an emotional standpoint before making the decision to purchase a property and knowing that it is the right time for you.

Here are a few pointers to think about before making your final decision:

Are you settled and ready to put down roots?

Buying a home often requires a deposit, mortgage costs, solicitor fees, insurance premiums and maintenance costs. For this reason, it rarely makes financial sense to purchase a property for a short period. Depending on the market, it can take between five and seven years to build up some real equity, so buying only makes sense if you are planning to stay in the house for at least that period.

Are your finances in order?

There are buyers who can afford to buy a property in cash, but most still require a mortgage. Before applying for a mortgage, you need to focus on minimising your expenses and paying off debts to create as much expendable income as possible. The last thing a prospective lender wants to see is that you owe a lot of money on credit cards or outstanding loans. Paying off your debts will demonstrate that can manage your finances.

Remember, credit scores matter, so get a copy of your credit report to see what lenders see when they review your application. If need be, there are lots of simple things you can do to give your credit score a boost, such as checking you are on the electoral roll.

Are you thinking of switching jobs?

Lenders want to see the you have been with your employer for a while before they are willing to give you a mortgage. This means that you can either wait until you have a mortgage and then move jobs, or delay buying a home and settle into your new job before applying. Usually you will have to have been with your new company for at least three to six months before approaching a lender for finance.

Do you have the savings in place?

You can’t separate savings from homeowner readiness, they go hand in hand. Home buyers are required to put down a deposit and the more you can the better. Having a large deposit will increase the number of mortgage choices available to you. Lenders will reserve the best rates for people with big deposits, so you will benefit from a lower monthly payment.

A deposit is not the only aspect to consider when it comes to savings. You will also require money for any updates or renovation to the home, possibly some new furniture and appliances and moving expenses.

Transitioning from a tenant to a homeowner means taking on the full responsibility for the property. If anything in the home requires repairs or maintenance, the buck stops with you. For this reason, it is a good idea to be financially prepared by having a contingency fund in place to be able to deal with any repairs as and when required.

Is it the right time?

Timing is a crucial aspect to homeowner readiness. Ideally you want to be ready to buy, but also be able to wait if necessary. As a tenant you don’t want to have another six months left your lease and lose out on the right home, Conversely, you also don’t want to rush with only a month to find a home.

Purchasing a property is a big decision - it is never good to rush into it without giving it the consideration it deserves. That said, it is also not ideal to hold back too long and let an opportunity pass by because you are not prepared.

Be realistic

One of the signs that show you are ready to own a home is understanding it is not always going to be easy. Being a homeowner takes time, effort and money. However, even though there are likely to be a few challenges you face along the way, the result is a home that you can call your own.

Ready to be a homeowner? Let one of our agents help you.

10Apr

Moving home is a complicated process, and so getting it right is crucial. Whether you are a first-time buyer, or an experienced home owner, here are our top five tips to help you sell and move in as quickly as possible:

 

1. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Preparation is pivotal to selling your property. Make sure your photos are done, have all your paperwork in order and be prepared to accept viewings.  

2. Make sure the price is right

This may seem obvious, but ensuring your property is priced correctly and competitively will save you time in the long run. Your agent will give you the best advice based on the market and current demand.

3. Perfect presentation

To ensure your property is presented properly: make sure your home is well lit, de-cluttered and sparkling clean.

4. Choose a mortgage provider

A mortgage provider can talk you through the steps of getting a loan and calculating how much you can afford for your property. Your estate agent can put you in touch with the right mortgage provider, or you can do the research yourself to find the best for you.

5. Find the right solicitor

The more efficient your solicitor is, the quicker the process will be. Make sure you provide all the necessary identification and initial paperwork so that your solicitor can prepare in advance. You could save yourself a lot of time and energy. 

 

If you are looking to sell your property, contact your local Guild Member today.

09Apr

Research has revealed that around 80% of homeowners have at least one noteworthy regret regarding their home buying decision.

Here are our five top tips to ensure you make the right choice while on the hunt for your next home:

 

1. Focus is key

A property may appeal in terms of your wants, but not necessarily tick the must-haves boxes. Make sure that the property meets your main objectives otherwise it can’t be the right home for you. 

2. Find the right solicitor for you

It is imperative that you choose and work with a solicitor that you not only trust but feel comfortable with too. A good solicitor will keep you well-informed and will guide you through the buying process. The service your solicitor provides can dramatically alter your home buying experience.

3. Get a second opinion

Whether you have a close friend or trusted family member, it always helps to get a second, unbiased opinion. Better yet, hire someone to look at the property to give you an idea of the work that will need doing once you move in. 

4. Check your finances

There are various unexpected costs of owning a home. Make sure you calculate what is within your budget, taking costs such as council tax, insurance and service charge into consideration.

5. Don’t engage in a bidding war

Focus on finding the right home for you, and don’t get caught up in a bidding contest. Walk away from the deal if it gets out of hand to ensure you don’t overpay. Remember, a higher price will mean a larger deposit, higher fees and thousands in additional interest on a larger mortgage. 

 

Are you looking to sell your home? Contact your local Guild Member for help through the moving process.

08Apr

When it comes to selling your home, making a good first impression is vital. Here are our top five things to avoid when trying to entice prospective buyers:

 

1. Poor light

Light and warmth are two of the most important factors to attract a potential buyer, especially in the colder months. Make sure your home is well-lit: open your curtains or blinds and if there is low natural light, turn on some lamps. 

2. Noise 

Most people expect their home to be a place of peace and tranquillity. Avoid organising viewings at a busy time of the day and if you have noisy neighbours, avoid the time of day they are usually at home.

3. Smells

Persistent smells such as pets, cigarettes or pungent food can be a real turn-off for prospective buyers. Avoid these smells by taking your dog for a walk, lighting some candles and opening a window. 

4. Clutter

Clutter is not only distracting, but it could indicate that the property does not have adequate storage. Make sure your home is tidy when viewers arrive and if all else fails, self-storage is a great solution.

5. Untidy gardens

The first thing most visitors see is the exterior of your home. Make sure your bins are tidy and your garden is well-maintained. No one likes an overgrown, messy garden. 

 

Are you looking to sell your home? Contact your local Guild Member today.

04Apr

The sale is complete, you have the keys in your hand and the moving van has delivered your household contents to your new property. All that is left is for you to unpack and turn your new house into a home. 

Here are a few tips to help you settle and make the labour-intensive process a smooth and easy as possible:

Many hands make light work

Dividing the work among friends and family who are willing to lend a hand and get involved will make things move along much faster. Delegate the work out by providing a list of tasks to each person. It is best to focus on the larger jobs first, such as moving and placing furniture and then working down to the items that you would be able tackle on your own if need be. If possible, get at least one room set up as quickly as possible so that helpers have a place to put their feet up and take a well-deserved break during the process.

Put safety first

It takes a few days to feel settled in a new property and often even everyday sounds can be strange or unnerving. Making sure you and your family feel safe in the new environment will help everyone feel settled sooner. Ensure all the doors and windows close and lock properly. Also, make sure that each family member has a set of keys to the property. If you think it’s best to change any of the locks, schedule a locksmith and change the codes to any coded entry points, such as automated garage doors and security systems. 

Get to grips with the electrics

Ensure you know where the fuse box or circuit breaker is and how it works. Have a look at the boiler and heating and familiarise yourself how it turns on and off and how to set it. 

Also, remember that often electric cables are hidden behind walls, so before making any holes in the wall to hang something, make sure you know what is behind it. It is possible to buy cable detectors from DIY shops.

Update all your details

Don’t wait until the last minute to get your paperwork done and update your details. Redirect your mail online with Royal Mail, notify utility providers and the council. Also, fill out a change of address with your bank and employee and ensure that all the relevant service providers, clubs and creditors have your new address on record. Changing addresses also means re-applying for the electoral role. Remember also to make the time to change the address on your driver’s license. 

Don’t pressure yourself to do all of this in one go, but the sooner you get them done, the more settled you will feel.

Make the place yours 

Changing the colour of the walls and putting up your personal items and photos will make the house feel like a home and can make the rest of the unpacking a much more pleasant experience.

Take time to breathe

There’s no deadline or rush, it doesn’t have to all be done at once. Take some time out to have a family dinner, watch a movie or go on a social outing. Or just relax, step outside to meet the neighbours and take time to enjoy your new surroundings.

If you are looking to move to a new home, contact your local Guild agent.

18Mar

Not all property purchases are equal. While one property investment could be the foundation to building wealth, another could be a monetary black hole. What is the difference between the two? 

To ensure that you are making the most out of your property purchase, it is vital to be well-informed, savvy and make the right buying decisions from the outset. The choices you make during the property buying process will have a significant impact on the potential return on your investment in the long term. 

Simply purchasing a home at what is considered a fair market value will not guarantee that you will see good returns in the future. Here are a few golden principles that you can apply to any property acquisition:

Do the research and ask questions

The first step is to decide whether you are purchasing the property as a home to live in or for investment purposes. This decision will have a bearing on how you will approach the purchase. If you buy the property with the intention of living in it as your primary residence, the decision-making process will be far more emotionally guided. In this instance you will consider aspects of the property and the surrounding area that appeals to you personally. However, if the property is for investment purposes, it is more important to research what appeals to possible tenants in the area and who the tenants might be.

Although it is possible to find a lot of information about an area online, nothing can replace checking out the location in person. Take the time to drive around the area and walk the streets. Consider what the traffic is like and who your potential neighbours could be, as well as the local facilities and amenities. Local estate agents will also be able to provide you with information regarding the local property market and recent stats and figures of sales in the area.

Keep it simple and stick to the basics

Irrespective of the property market phase or external factors such as Brexit, sound property buying principles remain true. These include the property’s location, the value per square foot and the potential rental yield. These factors will always be the key criteria to base your decision on.

Subtle variances can have a large bearing

Never underestimate the importance of location. Two homes can have the same features but have very different values depending on their location. For example, the average house price can vary by as much as £500,000 from one tube station to another in London, so it might be worth sacrificing a few extra minutes on your commute. It is even possible for homes to have different values based on which side of the street they are on. From an investment perspective, purchasing the worst home in a sought-after area is better than buying the best home in an area that is not as appealing.

If you are buying with the intention of letting the property out, you will need to consider that different aspects will be attractive to different people, so discovering your niche market is essential. As an investment buyer, you should also look at how many other rental properties are available in the area before you buy. The rental sector is driven by demand, and an investment could fall flat if there is an oversupply of properties available for rent in the area.

A plan is paramount 

If investing, it is important to think about what you would like to achieve with your property portfolio and what needs to be done to get there. If you are buying a home to live in, it is essential to think about where you would like to settle for the next five to ten years.

Having a clear plan in place will help you remain focused and will give you something to work towards. Never limit your thinking to what you can afford right now, but rather what will be possible for you in the future.

Get rid of debt

Access to finance is a key element to any property transaction. While around 30% of buyers can buy a home in cash, most buyers will require a mortgage to purchase a home. To increase your chances of getting a mortgage approval, ensure you have a favourable debt-to-income ratio and keep a clean credit record.  

It is also vital to have a deposit of between 10% and 20% of the purchase price of the property, as well as additional funds for solicitor’s fees, stamp duty and various other costs associated with purchasing a home. 

A home is more than bricks and mortar

Although a return on investment is often at the core of every property buying decision, there are other aspects to be considered. The basic principle of purchasing a property is that if you wouldn’t want to live in it, it’s not likely many others would either. The property should appeal to you and you should want to own it. 

If you are looking to buy a home you’ll want to own contact your local Guild agent

 

14Mar

It seems everyone is searching for the next up-and-coming area to move to, but how do you find the next budding hot spot?

Is it the development of transport links, good schools or just an expansion of the city? We asked Guild Members to identify key areas around the country that are rising in popularity. 

From Croydon to Cardiff, here are the up-and-coming areas in the UK for 2019: 

 

1. Jeff Dowton, Managing Director at Smart Property Online

St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings:

“This seaside resort may seem an unusual place to nominate for best ‘up-and-coming’ area, but it has a number of impressive features. The main attraction is the potential of the ‘commute to property price’ ratio. Hastings to London Cannon Street takes 1hr 40mins, but with recent changes in the planning stage for improvements to the Ashford line, this journey to London Stratford will potentially reduce to 60mins. This will have a dramatically positive effect on house prices and businesses in the local and surrounding areas.

Recent road improvements and new housing developments, together with local re-generation projects have transformed this forgotten sleepy seaside fishing village into a hub for opportunity. Over the past few decades, Hastings has retained much of its enviable historic past whilst undergoing major surgery to its seafront facades and its splendid Victorian squares. 

And let’s not forget the sunshine! Hastings’ annual hours of sunshine average 1,871 hours. It is one of the top five towns in the UK.”

2. Darren Cray, Managing Director at Cray & Norton

Croydon, London:

“If you’re looking for one of the most up-and-coming places to live in London, then look no further than Croydon. Aiming to be London’s future borough of culture, Croydon has big plans and with huge amounts of investment, the area will soon be one of the most exciting places to live in the UK. 

The £1.4 billion-pound Westfield project will create up to 7,000 new jobs in the borough and put the spotlight on the area. Certainly, the shopping centre will make the atmosphere of Croydon thrive more than it already is. 

With new developments and plans, like the second tallest building in the UK to be built towering over Canary Wharf, there is a range of choice in terms of the tenure of property somebody can buy or rent. Below average house prices and superb transport links around London are a great mix, making Croydon a haven for first-time buyers and investors. 

The near to 400,000 population means that new restaurants and facilities are constantly opening and succeeding. More unusual businesses have even opened including a virtual reality café on the high street giving people a range of choice. 

In recent times, Croydon has been seen by many as the street art capital of the city. You can find fascinating pieces of street art at St George's Walk which is now known as Croydon's Arts Quarter. More than 100 murals cover this area and are always changing to keep the place full of life and spirit. 

Being home to the premier league side Crystal Palace means there is always entertainment for football lovers and with Crystal Palace being based in and around Croydon tonnes of opportunity has emerged in terms of future development, available employment and facilities. 

The iconic Fairfield Halls is currently undergoing a £30 million transformation. When reopened, the facility will host a range of live music, theatre shows, comedians, dance acts and events.”

3. Kelvin Francis, Managing Director at Kelvin Francis

Cardiff, Wales:

“Cardiff is one of the smallest cities – ninth in size in the UK – with a population of 357,200 as of October 2018. However, the city has a university population of 44,000 and its campus of 30,000 is one of the largest in the UK. 

The city has many attractive features, including a fully developed bay area (former docks, at one time the biggest coal port in the world) with extensive leisure facilities.

Cardiff, which was occupied by Romans and Vikings is named in Welsh, Caerdydd, Caer (Fort) and Dydd (Taff) a river running through it.

There is Cardiff Castle, a Gothic design with extravagant interior and extensive grounds built on the remains of a Roman Fort. Cardiff Bay is fully developed with a large Marina, bars and eateries.  

It has been the capital of Wales since 1955 and contains Wales Millennium Centre, home of the Welsh National Opera, Orchestra and dance companies. There is the Richard Rogers designed Senedd Building, containing the Welsh Assembly, providing Government of Wales. 

The city boasts many parks and gardens, including Roath Park, centred on a large lake with boating and popular walks right around it. Cardiff Victorian Market offers a wide variety of goods and foods, and of course we have the Principality Stadium, with the facility for National and International games of Football, Rugby and with its closing roof, concerts as well.”

4. Simon Miller, Partner at Holroyd Miller

Wakefield, West Yorkshire:

“Wakefield is an up-and-coming district with appeal for those looking for affordable living, but with the luxury of excellent transport links and ease of access to Leeds. With a vast choice of property from new build, luxury developments, suburban retreats, country cottages, and trendy apartments, there is something for everyone, and more importantly something in-reach and accessible for most people.

Wakefield is commuter heaven! It is only two hours to London by train and minutes away from the M1 and M62 motorway network, and access to the rest of the country.

At the weekend, you can stay local and take advantage of Wakefield’s upsurge in independent wine bars, delis, restaurants and boutiques, or hop on a train to the vibrant and trendy cities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield where designer shops and cocktail bars await. 

Another huge benefit is the surrounding countryside and access to outdoor pursuits. From country parks and stately homes to much more rugged pursuits in the Pennines, you can kick back, walk the dog in peace and relax in a country pub or hook up the mountain bikes to the car and enjoy the myriad of trails on offer.

We could write an essay on the plus points, but it’s safe to say it has a lot to offer.”

5. Mark Halliwell, Partner at Moore Allen & Innocent

The Cotswolds:

“The dream of owning a property in the Cotswolds once seemed the preserve of celebrities looking to escape London. But after years of sporadic and piecemeal development, a recent building boom around the larger villages and market towns of the Cotswolds has put a honey-coloured house within the grasp of more and more homebuyers.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Cotswolds was recently named one of the Top Ten places to live in the UK in the highly-regarded annual survey by the Halifax Building Society.

And while period properties with thatched roofs and Inglenook fireplaces are in short supply and high demand, the good news is that local planners continue to expect the highest standards from new-build developers.

New-builds are constructed in traditional building materials. Gardens are the rule, rather than the exception – individual properties are given room to breathe – and drystone wall boundaries are not as uncommon as you might think. 

A few miles south of Cirencester, the capital of the Cotswolds, the large village of South Cerney has become a magnet for developers. Gravel pits once dug by aggregates firms have become the Cotswold Water Park – England’s largest wetland nature reserve. Homes with a lakeside view are not uncommon. Some even come with jetties! 

The new research and development facility of Dyson attracts scientists, computer programmers and engineers to work on top-secret projects. 

High levels of well-paid employment have nurtured business confidence in the area – the area's independent coffee shops and restaurants continue to flourish, while businesses looking to capitalise on the leisure time of residents – particularly in water sports, country pursuits, and cycling – are thriving. 

And despite its position in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the Cotswolds are remarkably well connected to larger centres. Motorways and good A roads put Bristol, Bath, Oxford and Newbury within a drive time of three quarters of an hour.

London is easily commutable too, thanks to regular and speedy train services to the capital from Kemble station. Average journey times of under 90 minutes will only improve with electrification of the rail line.”

6. Philip Jackson, Managing Director at Maguire Jackson

The Gun Quarter, Birmingham:

“In Birmingham city centre, the area hotly tipped for 2019 is The Gun Quarter which sits on the edge of The Jewellery Quarter. A former military and sporting gun manufacturing area, with roots going back over 400 years. The area is typified by former Victorian workshops, with new canal side apartment buildings filling in post-war manufacturing sites.

The construction of The Berkeley Group’s St Joseph’s branded development, Snowhill Wharf is now underway, comprising 404 new apartments. The renaissance started with the stunning Comet Works conversion in Princip Street by award-winning developers Javelin Block, and their success has encouraged other smaller developers as well as individuals to now make the area their home.

The district sits behind the acclaimed gothic revivalist St Chad’s Catholic Cathedral, designed by Augustus Pugin. The area is also very close to the handsome new office blocks of Snowhill, now home to various leading companies. 

The Gun Quarter is an area that was once overlooked by many but is now seen as an obvious neighbourhood close to the larger, successful district, the Jewellery Quarter.”

7. Graham Butt Estate Agents

East Preston, West Sussex:

“The coastal village of East Preston is a superb location lying between the sea, English Channel and the A259. The area is easily accessible for Angmering station on the Brighton/Portsmouth coastway line, giving direct access to Gatwick and London Victoria.  

Originally a thriving family community dating from 1087, the village retains much of the former character and has a strong community spirit centred upon social and educational activities.

The beach itself is a real gem, and at low tide provides a huge expanse of sand that’s dog friendly all year round. There is an abundance of leisure activities on your doorstep, with a good range of local shopping and annual Festival Week. 

There are two golf courses in Angmering and others in Littlehampton and Worthing. Littlehampton harbour offers excellent sailing and mooring facilities together with riverside restaurants and bars.”

8. Frances Bowling, Assistant Manager at Moss Properties

Doncaster, Yorkshire:

“We have seen a surge of buyers from the South seek to relocate to Doncaster as they ‘can get more for the money’. We have also noticed an increase in southern investors looking for buy-to-let properties.

Logistically, Doncaster is very well-positioned. There is the M18 motorway & A1 motorways linking Doncaster to the North and South of England. Commuters can be in London King’s Cross train station in around 90 minutes on the grand central line. 

We have the famous St Leger Festival at Doncaster Racecourse with a plush new Hilton Hotel. Yorkshire Wildlife Park expands year on year and has more visitors than Doncaster Sheffield Airport nearby. We have the iPort, home to one of the largest Amazon distribution centres and neighbouring DHL and Ikea warehouses.

The average house price here is £130,000!”

9. Andrew Lodge, Managing Director at Andrew Lodge Estate Agents

Farnham, Surrey:

“Farnham Town Centre is undergoing an amazing time of change with major redevelopments taking place in the East Street area of Farnham which is increasing interest in the town from prospective buyers and investors.

Currently, new major residential and commercial developments are being undertaken by Crest Nicholson, Berkley Homes and Farnham Estates which will change the face of the town centre and provide many new homes, some of which will be affordable housing. 

Along with these new homes, there will be an influx of new amenities and recreational areas including shops, a cinema, and public spaces. It will be very interesting to see the East Street area regenerated for the coming years ahead.”

10. Mick Money, Proprietor at Money Properties

Wymondham, Norfolk:

“Wymondham is a historic Norfolk market town with an impressive Abbey situated 9 miles south of Norwich. The area offers easy access to the main A11 motorway for commuting to Norwich, Cambridge and London, with its own railway station with regular links to Cambridge and London, making it a commuter belt area. 

It is believed that as many as 30% of all houses which are sold to commuters to Cambridge and London, enjoy more property for less money.

Historical points of interest include King Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries which brought about the closure of Wymondham Abbey, which was surrendered to the King in 1538.

Kett's Rebellion was a revolt in Norfolk, England during the reign of Edward VI, largely in response to the enclosure of land. It began at Wymondham on 8th July 1549 with a group of rebels destroying fences that had been put up by wealthy landowners.”

 

To find your dream home, contact your local Guild agent today.

08Mar

In the Budget 2018, Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced that first-time buyers in shared ownership homes will pay no Stamp Duty on the first £300,000 of any property costing up to £500,000. The was made in retrospect back to the previous Budget in November 2017. Before the announcement, first-time buyers were required to pay Stamp Duty on shared ownership purchases, despite the fact that first-time buyers were deemed exempt of paying Stamp Duty on a property that cost below £300,000. 
 
Essentially, now whether in or out of shared ownership schemes, people buying their first property will not pay Stamp Duty on a home that cost less than £300,000. For first homes under £500,000, you won’t have to pay Stamp Duty on the first £300,000, which will reduce the amount you need to save. 
 
While the changes apply to first-time buyers in both England and Northern Ireland, they do not apply to buyers in either Scotland or Wales. 
 

How does it work for first-buyers purchasing a home for £500,000?

If you are buying your first property in England or Northern Ireland, you will pay no Stamp Duty on first £300,000 and 5% on the proportional amount between £300,000 and the remaining balance up to £500,000. 
 
For example, if the home costs £500,000, as a first-time buyer you would pay 5% of the remaining balance of £200,000, after the exemption on the first £300,000 has come into play. The equation would look like this:
 
£500,000 (Purchase price) - £300,000 (First-time buyer exception) = £200,000.
£200,000 x 5% = £10,000 (Stamp Duty payable) 
 
As a first-time buyer, if you purchase a property for more than £500,000, you won't benefit from any change and will be buying under the standard system. This also applies when purchasing a shared ownership property. If the property is worth more than £500,000, the exemption will not count even though you'll own less than the full £500,000.
 

When does it start? 

These changes are in place now and came into place on the day of the Budget announcement in the Autumn Budget 2018. The changes will continue permanently. 
 

Why has it been changed? 

This is designed to make it easier for more people to get onto the housing ladder. It will mean that first-time buyers will have to save slightly less before they buy a home. 
 
It is hoped that it will make the property market move faster at all levels. As there should be more first-time buyers, it will encourage people to take a second step on the ladder, putting more homes on the market. This should help people moving both up and down the housing ladder. 
 

What requirements do you have to meet as a first-time buyer?

If you’re buying with a partner, relative or friend, all the people buying need to be first-timer buyers to register for the discount. This means you will have never owned a freehold or leasehold interest in a dwelling before, and you must be purchasing the property to be your only or main residence. 
 
This includes property all over the world, so if you have a flat in France, you won’t be able to be a first-time buyer in the UK. 
 

What does this mean if your parents are going to jointly buy with you? 

If your parent that has previously bought a house is going to jointly buy a property with you, the sale will not be eligible for a discount. However, you could apply for a “joint borrower sole proprietor” mortgage with a parent. Read this article to find out more. 
 

Does it apply to both leasehold and freehold?

The changes apply to people buying both freehold and leasehold properties, as long as the lease premium is under £40,000 and tax isn’t due on rent.

It all means that it should make it easier for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder and make the housing market move faster at all levels.

Are you thinking of buying a property? Click here to find your closest Guild Member.

26Feb

This month, we caught up with Simon Etson, Residential Sales Manager for Drivers & Norris. He tells us about the history of Drivers & Norris, the property market in North London and his idea of a dream home.

Simon, tell us about yourself…

I am the Residential Sales Manager for Drivers & Norris. I was fortunate enough to join the company a year ago. I have worked in estate agency for seven years, originally with a construction background, and I will shortly attain a Building Surveying degree. I aspire to be known for my extensive market knowledge and my devotion to our clients.

Tell us about Drivers & Norris

We can trace back our origins to Mr. Driver, an agricultural agent in Tufnell Estates, who established his business in 1852 practising as Driver & Co until 1870. The business originated from the Northern Estates Office corner of Seven Sisters Road, Islington, London. 

In 1919 Mr. Driver and Mr. Norris merged their respective companies to become Drivers & Norris, now one of London’s oldest estate agents.

We are a multi-practice business offering Residential Sales, Residential Lettings, Property Management, Block Management, Commercial, Auctioneers and Surveys. 

We are proud to support and are trusted by our community since 1852. 

Why do customers choose Drivers & Norris?

Our clients choose Drivers & Norris because of our innovation, customer relationships and astute recruitment practices. We know our people are our brand and we have created a culture built on intelligent, friendly people. 

We try to utilise inventive technology, but without straying from the traditional values of service and customer care.

What is next for the property market in your area?

There is a lot of negative press surrounding the property market and much of the downbeat forecasts and pessimism is blamed on the lack of clarity surrounding Brexit. 

Lack of supply and affordability will continue to affect the market, but in North London we are still experiencing good instruction levels with motivated vendors. Whilst the market is reporting a lack of new buyer enquiries, (which fell for a sixth month in a row in January 2019) we are seeing positive signs in North London, with buyer registrations remaining solid.

If you became the Housing Minister for a day, what would you change? 

There are no easy fixes, but we need to remove the uncertainly over Brexit. We need a clear plan, regardless of the eventual outcome of Brexit. From releasing more land, relaxing planning laws, and stamp duty changes to speeding up transactions. 

Describe your typical day

We start the day with an effective morning meeting that drives the pace of activity, structuring the day and focusing on maximising opportunities and sharing knowledge.

Most days I carry out Market Appraisals, but I still contribute to canvassing, call out sessions and conducting viewings.

A great part of being an estate agent is that no day is the same. There are always different people, responsibilities and properties to keep you engaged. 

Can you give six tips for anyone who wants to work in the property sector?

1. Excellent customer service – service is the cornerstone of any agent’s success 

2. Professionalism

3. Patience – buying and selling property is a stressful process that can result in high emotions

4. Persistence 

5. Appetite to for learning – constantly looking to improve yourself and your knowledge

6. Multi-tasking

What makes the perfect home for you?

Location will play a big part for my perfect home. Being within walking distance to a park, local pub or restaurant would be ideal.

I also like open-plan living, which is great for entertaining, but with a separate reception room. I would like generous bedrooms with a master with en-suite, a large rear garden, off street parking and a double garage are all preferable! 

What charities do you support in your local area?

Our business is authentic, and we try to show shared goals and values. We speak to people and businesses in our community, ask them questions and tell them about our staff and our business.

Some charity fundraisers and community activities we did in 2018 include: Beacon Festival, Virgin 5k Run, Manor Gardens Street Festival, Tufnell Park Summer Fair, ULHS Housing Fair 2019, Tufnell Park Winter Fair, Whittington Park Christmas Lunch, Whittington Park Big Day Out, Christmas Jumper Day, National Jeans Day, #DoItForDom - Huntington's Disease Association, Agents Giving #AgentsGotTalent, Agents Giving  #OneThousandItemsOfFood, Children with Cancer, MacMillan Cancer Support – Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning, MacMillan Cancer Support - Sober for October, Agents Giving - #DonateACoatCampaign, Tufnell park Primary School Calendar and Tufnell Park “Race Night”.

For more information regarding membership to The Guild of Property Professionals email parklane@guildproperty.co.uk or to see more click here.

26Feb

We all want to add value to our homes. After all, property is one of the best investments so why not make the most of it. The rule of thumb when it comes to adding value is to utilise what you already have. Any additions that are too costly might not bring you much of a return when you sell, so work with the space and think how it could be transformed to make it more useful.

Here’s a list of some of the most worthwhile alterations and additions that can add great value to properties. Remember, it’s important to think about who the most likely buyers are and to go for improvements that will be most beneficial to them.

Remember to always find out how much your property is worth before adding value!


Utilise the garden


Although large gardens are becoming less and less attractive, as a nation, we do value the addition of outdoor space. Making your garden feel like another reception room could add heaps of value to your property, especially if it's currently somewhat neglected. Simply adding decking or a patio can turn a garden into a great entertaining space. Summer houses are other welcome additions, especially when staged as an extra room to enjoy.

Make the most of the garden space you have!

Whether you have a big garden or not, first impressions count! So, if you're selling your property you need to give the garden space that much needed curb appeal in order to gain the right attention! Even simple things like tidying up the lawn or sweeping up the leaves make all the difference - Here is a list of top ways to add value to your garden.
 

 

Convert the garage

Most people would prefer an extra reception room to a garage. If you have permission to do so, then you could convert the garage to add a square footage to your home. Depending on where your garage is located, they can make fantastic playrooms for children or home offices. It is important to utilise the extra space you have. Any added space is better than nothing!


Loft conversions

The loft is another often unused area of potentially functional pace in a property. Most houses don’t require planning permission to convert the loft and they make really stunning rooms. Plus, they’re reported to add up to 20% onto a property’s value. More about the importance of checking loft insulation, boilers and windows


Add parking space

Having somewhere to park the car is a big plus for most buyers. In 2014, 29.6 million cars were registered for use in the UK, which is a 9% increase on the previous year. We clearly do like our vehicles and parking spots are becoming even more scarce, making them especially valuable. Even if your buyers don’t drive, they will value the space for when family and friends come to visit. If you don’t already have parking but do have a front garden, consider paving part of it to create off-road parking. You might have to apply to have the kerb dropped, but it’s still well worth investigating.

Conservatory

Conservatories are another great way of adding square footage to your property. Consider adding one next to your dining area or kitchen to increase the size of this hugely appreciated space. And make sure you keep it at a comfortable temperature as any rooms that are too hot or cold could put buyers off.

Kitchen renovations

Kitchens are the heart of the home and there’s nothing more appealing than a big welcoming room in which to cook up a feast and entertain. If you only want to improve one room, then definitely concentrate on the kitchen and  add a few wow-factor touches to really make it stand out. Read more about renovating your kitchen on a budget.

 

Add an extension onto the kitchen

Expanding the kitchen onto the side and to the full width of the rest of the property means that you will gain valuable space. As previously mentioned, a big open plan kitchen presents a warm welcome and inviting environment - which is guaranteed to add value to your property in the long run. 

Bathrooms

After the kitchen, your bathroom should be next on the list for an overhaul if it’s looking dated. Opt for a crisp white suite so it appeals to lots of people and add a few ultra-stylish features to make it a room to remember. This can be an expensive investment, however, if it's something that needs doing then it becomes a necessity.

Central heating

It might seem obvious, but adding central heating to a property that doesn't already have it will really help to increase its value and appeal. It’s considered essential and buyers could try and offer less money if they need to get it installed.

Fix problems

At the very least, make sure you fix any structural problems before you put your house on the market to maximise your chances of getting your asking price. If your property is structurally unsound, buyers are likely to use this as leverage to negotiate as they will know they will have to invest money upfront fixing those problems. 

Eco-Friendly

Making your home more environmentally friendly with the likes of solar panels, wind turbines and good insulation can increase its value. If your home is cheaper to run, it will stand out in the property market and you can usually add a premium to the price.

If you're looking to add value to your property so that you can sell your property and buy a new home, then make sure you read our top tips for buying a property guide.

Like this post? Read more on this topic here.

22Feb

Packing up and moving to another city, or for that matter, another country, is a major undertaking. It takes a great deal of preparation and is imperative to do the necessary research and weigh up all the options before making the final decision. Regardless of whether it is relocating to another part of the country or abroad, there are essential elements that need to be assessed in each potential neighbourhood to ensure you will settle in. 

Transport 

Does the area provide an easy commute to the office? It’s fair to say that most people spend a significant portion on their day commuting to and from work, so the distance between the two is an important consideration. Other aspects to think about include access to public transportation, service hours, route and stops. If you travel often, find out if the area is within reasonable proximity to an airport, or if there are transport systems linked to the airport for easy commuting.

Location is paramount in real estate and proximity to public transport can have a positive impact on the appreciation of the home’s value over time. Global property market studies have shown that home values tend to rise faster in areas that are close to bus, train and underground stops. 

The local businesses

Are the retailers and businesses in the local area the ones you frequent regularly, such as the bank, pharmacy and grocery store? Ideally, you would want these kinds of establishments conveniently located to your potential new home. A trendy coffee shop or gourmet deli are excellent places to catch up with friends but being close to a grocery store that stocks your daily staples is far more practical. 

Schools

Even if you don’t have children, the quality of the schools in the area is an important aspect to consider because of the influence they have on property pricing. Figures from the Department for Education (DfE) show that homes near the best performing primary schools are 8% higher, and 6.8% higher when near to the best secondary schools. This can largely be attributed to the high demand in these areas due to parents wanting to be located within the school’s catchment area. The catchment areas for schools that have an Ofsted rating of ‘Outstanding’ see the highest returns on investment. 

Amenities

Considering the amenities in the area is important because they influence the home’s investment potential, however there is another element that relates to your personal needs and wants. If you rate culture very highly then you will more than likely want to be near art galleries and theatres, whereas if you are someone who enjoys the nightlife then you would probably want to be close to good restaurants, pubs, or nightclubs. A sports enthusiast would want to know the distance to the stadiums and athletic arenas in the area. There is also the matter of free entertainment, such as parks, museums and libraries.  

Economy

This is not a reference to the country’s economy, but rather more specific factors which influence the neighbourhood, such as a high crime rate. There will be telltale signs if an area is experiencing a financial decline or is poorly managed by the council. These signs include houses in need of attention, rundown parks, littered streets, and businesses closing. People will be eager to move out of the area, so look for an unusually high number of ‘for sale’ signs.   

While there are many other aspects to think about before moving to a new neighbourhood, these guidelines will assist you to find the right area to meet all your needs, regardless of whether it is in the UK or abroad. 

If you are interested in moving, have a look at some of the properties The Guild has to offer.

15Feb

While the government has put several things in place to boost the first-time buyer’s market, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and its full impact on the housing market, deposit requirements and property prices have left many would-be homeowners waiting on the sidelines for now. 

Brexit

According to Chris Sawyer, Managing Director at Sawyer & Co, operating in Brighton and Hove, the area is showing evidence that Brexit is having a significant impact with first-time buyers. “We are seeing first-time buyers showing fragile confidence in the market, which is understandable given the gloomy picture that is painted,” he says. “Many have adopted a wait-and-see-what-happens approach. With an average house price of £400,000, even a small change to value can have an impact on the buying power.” 

Brighton and Hove aren’t the only areas to be affected. Nick Manson, Managing Director at Manson Property Consultants in Newcastle noticed that the uncertainty of Brexit is making the buyers in his area take a pause. He adds that warnings from Mark Carney from the Bank of England that a disruptive no deal Brexit could cause a 35% drop in house prices are also impacting buyer’s decisions. 

It is no secret that London’s property market has also taken a knock. Conran Estates in Greenwich have pointed out that first-time buyers are very apprehensive, much like the rest of the market in the financial hub. Again, uncertainty regarding Brexit was pinpointed as the primary issue, with buyers concerned they could end up with negative equity having no assets behind them, even though they have decent deposits. First-time buyers who are taking the leap are generally giving offers below the asking prices. 

Deposits and high property prices

First-time buyer activity has slowed to a trickle in the Midlands, according to Bill Tandy in Lichfield. However, he says that Brexit is not the main antagonist but rather deposit requirements and the high value of the second-hand market.  He adds that low stock and good availability are the main fundamentals at play, aspects that will not change when the dust of Brexit has settled. 

Not all doom and gloom

For some, it is business as usual in terms of the first-time buyer market. According to Simon Miller, Managing Director at Holroyd Miller in Wakefield, being predominantly a leave area, first-time buyers are not worried in the slightest by Brexit, as employment levels are stable. Brexit has not had a great impact on the area overall and first-time buyers are carrying on as they always have, with no hesitation.

Craig Reynolds, Owner of Urban & Rural in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, agrees. “First-time buyers are generally not holding back but if they are, it is due to other factors - not Brexit. These include elements such as mortgage availability and lending restrictions. House prices have fallen slightly, which has helped first-time buyers. With Brexit having been a saga for two years now, people are just getting bored with it and are carrying on undeterred,” he adds.

In Wales, Melfyn Williams, Managing Director at Williams & Goodwin The Property People Ltd, says Brexit has not impacted his area at all. “First-time buyers seem to be ignoring the press which is the most harmful thing surrounding Brexit. The attitude seems to be that everyone is still going to need a home or to move home at some point.”

Webbers, with offices in North Devon and Somerset, say their area of operation generally has a low number of first-time buyers, but Brexit is not affecting the attitudes of the ones who do. Overall, they say they have seen little impact to their local market. Borrowing is still very cheap and interest rates are low. First-time buyers are not worried. 

Is Brexit keeping you out of the market? If not, have a look of the properties The Guild has on offer. 

 

 

12Feb

Regulatory models: contributions sought

The Government has committed to regulating estate agents to ensure that all tenants, leaseholders and freeholders on private and mixed-use estates are confident that the estate agent they are dealing with is legally compliant and meets the standards of practice. Chaired by Lord Best, the Government has tasked a working group to undertake the process of putting together a new framework that will regulate all facets of the property sector, as well as estate agent themselves.

Wanting input from the industry, the working group has opened channels of communication with The Guild of Property Professionals, inviting Members and industry experts to submit written contributions regarding both the regulatory framework and the strategies that will be used to enforce it. The written contributions will be used to augment the Government’s commitment to listen to and engage with those impacted by or otherwise interested in the proposals that the working group is considering.

“As the outcome of the workgroup’s consideration will have such a massive impact on the industry and estate agents, The Guild has asked its membership network to provide input regarding their views on the potential regulatory framework and ways in which it can be enforced,” said Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals. “There are several aspects that need consideration such as whether there is currently an existing body able to perform the role of regulator for estate agents, as well as the powers that such a regulator should possess to effectively carry out its purpose.”

Other elements that the working group requires input on include whether the regulator should be accountable to Parliament or Government and how this will play out. Also, what resources the regulator would need to carry out its duties, and how it will interact with all parties involved such as the consumer.  “Considering how fast-paced the industry is, there is also the matter of how the regulator will remain agile and move with the ever-changing property sector,” states McKenzie.

Once The Guild has received feedback from its Members it will submit its contribution to ensure that the opinions of the network are heard and considered by the Government.

Please complete the survey on  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/W9LLG67 by 20 February 2019 to ensure your contributions are heard.

01Feb

We spoke with Steven Wayne, Managing Director at Benjamin Stevens Estate Agents about his top tips for success in the industry, the future of the property market and his idea of a perfect home.

Tell us about yourself

I launched Benjamin Stevens Estate Agents in January 2004 when I was just 22 years old. In January 2019, myself and my team celebrated our 15 year anniversary. 

I’m hardworking, ambitious, honest, and strive to be the best at everything that I do. I look after those around me that I care about, whether that be my family, my friends or my colleagues. I treat others how I would like to be treated and I channel that into the way we operate at Benjamin Stevens.

I grew up and continue to live in North West London and operate out of our Edgware and Mill Hill branches. I know them inside out and I love living here which makes it all the easier to sell and let here.

I created and launched my own independent property blog – The Edgware Property Blog. I publish weekly articles ranging from market trends, property news in the local area, and advice pieces for both buyers and sellers. 

I’m married and have a young daughter. I spend my spare time with them, at the gym, or with my second love, Queens Park Rangers.


Tell us about Benjamin Stevens

Benjamin Stevens’ business began from a small serviced office in Mill Hill. Within six months I moved out and opened our first branch in a prime location on Edgware Broadway, which remains Benjamin Steven’s Head Office. 

In 2009, our second branch in Bushey opened and the business has gone from strength to strength. In January 2017, I bought out Frederick George Property Management Services which has been established in Edgware since 1869 and this year celebrates 150 years.

We have large Sales, Lettings and Property Management departments and we operate in Edgware, Mill Hill, Burnt Oak, Colindale, Stanmore, Bushey, Watford, Harrow, Wembley, Luton and surrounding areas. In 2014 we were invited to become a Member of The Guild.

After two years of planning, in September 2018 I launched the first Benjamin Stevens Hub covering the Harrow and Wembley areas, and in November 2018, a second Hub, operating in Luton. In just a few short weeks after starting the operations, we had several listings and viewings. The buzz being received is amazing. I can see in front of my very eyes the changing shape of how the industry can operate.

I chose to grow and develop my business slowly and in the most effective ways to look after my staff and clients. In an industry with a dubious reputation, I’ve tried to make the company different. 

My ethos is making sure that the aim of the business is to always put clients first, and to help them to make their dreams a reality with their perfect home.

After my wife and my daughter, Benjamin Stevens is my sweetheart and my soul.


What is next for the property market in your area?

Benjamin Stevens covers three main areas. North West London, Bushey (Hertfordshire) and Luton (Bedfordshire). 

Luton is the one to watch, having just been awarded the ‘Best Commuter Hotspot for 2018’. The average house price is 60% cheaper than London, and with 24-hour trains into the country’s capital and outstanding road connections, it’s not hard to see why this vibrant town is attracting so many commuters and first-time buyers. 

Despite having already seen massive changes over the last five years, there’s a huge amount of investment being pumped into this area: it’s forever changing and growing. There’s always something new being built or going on, and these developments are happening fast! For example, a new football stadium is opening in Luton and there are plans to build a whole new development of flats around the surrounding the area. 

North West London will continue to grow and develop. It has so much to offer in terms of location, travel links and community. The majority of people buying in the area is shifting from Buy-To-Let Landlords to End-Users. The housing market is fortunate enough to remain stable as it is surrounded by slightly more expensive areas, such as Bushey and Stanmore. For these areas, prices are normally slightly beyond what the average owner can afford, so people flock to Edgware, Colindale and parts of Mill Hill for more affordable prices, without feeling they are having to downsize on the size of property they’re looking for. 

Bushey is becoming more affluent and the place that people aspire to move to. It’s a magnet for the older generation looking to downsize and for families looking for a great property, great schools and a great community feel. 


Can you give six tips for anyone who wants to work in the property sector?

1. Learn the business. Learn to do the processes correctly first. Be prepared to go back to basics, to canvass and door knock in order to win valuations or close sales.

2. Don’t become obsessed with making money. Don’t think you’re going to become a millionaire overnight or you’ll fail before you’ve started.

3. Customer service should always be your priority. If you look after your clients, your clients will look after you. 

4. The Estate Agency industry is about people not property. Your job is to help people find their next home: their dream home. How much money you make and how quickly you make it depends on the service you provide. If you take care of your clients, they’ll not only give you repeat business but they will recommend you to others. 

5. Be professional with whoever you are dealing with at all times. 

6. Work in an area that’s close to where you live. When you’re dealing with clients, they are reassured that you know and love the area you’re selling to them. 


Why do customers choose Benjamin Stevens?

We worked hard to build a reputation of being honest and trustworthy. We have great people in our team who have been with the company for years, who care and want to help people. Our clients know a brand which has been around for 15 years and trust that we will still be here in the next 5-10 years. 

Our sales team pride themselves in their interactions with both existing and new clients. The rewards for these efforts are clear and can be seen in both the cold metrics of sales data and warm metrics of customer feedback. We receive constant five-star reviews on ‘allAgents’ and based on client feedback, we were awarded their Gold Award for Sales in both branches, plus two Gold, a Silver and a Bronze award for individual Sales Negotiators. Most recently, we won Silver for both Sales and Lettings for the London area in The Guild Awards.


If you became the Housing Minister for a day, what would you change?

I would start by lowering stamp duty three percent on investors to reinvigorate the investors market. I would reverse the decision to get rid of the tenant ban. Without it, landlords won’t pay for inventories, nor will tenants, and when tenants move out, we’ll revert to a time when landlords won’t give back deposits.


What makes the perfect home for you?

Everyone has a different idea of the perfect home: that’s what makes the property business so varied and interesting. For me, now I have a family of my own, a safe neighbourhood is my priority. The house you live in should have a ‘warm feeling’ that you immediately detect during a first viewing. I like a nice garden where I can barbeque, a spacious kitchen, and a separate space where I can chill out and watch some TV.


What charities do you support in your local area?

Over the years, we have worked closely with Norwood and Langdon. One of our clients set up a charity called Cure Cancer which we donate to and support with social media marketing. We work closely within the areas that we cover, believing if we can help make our local communities the best that they can be, it will drive new people to the area and stop people moving away. We therefore work with and support a number of local schools, churches, synagogues and community events. This year we hope to find one main signature charity to support.


Describe your typical day

Every day is different which is why I love what I do. I get up, take my daughter to nursery, go to the gym and arrive at the office. I meet with my team and clients and look after the properties in my portfolio. My role has changed now. I have a trusted team of staff which means the business doesn’t need me there every second of the day to oversee it. My role now is to look to the future, to expand and make Benjamin Stevens the best that it can be.


Do you have any news you would like to share?

It’s been a busy start to the year! We’ve won two awards at The Guild Awards, celebrated being in business for a decade and a half, and launched our new 2019 advertising campaign. We’ve received industry press after winning a sole agency contract, whereby the developers approached us (rather than the other way around) off the back of our social media marketing campaign. We’re growing and developing two new Hubs and hope to expand into other areas later this year. Our block management department is celebrating 150 years since it was established. Oh, and I’ve taken up spinning classes! All that, and we have just arrived in February!


For more information regarding membership to The Guild of Property Professionals email parklane@guildproperty.co.uk or to see more click here.

30Jan

A place where family and friends congregate, the kitchen is often described as the heart of the home. A kitchen is the home’s epicentre and must have the capacity to both entertain and bring happiness to those who live there. Here are some of the best kitchens currently on the market that will warm your heart and have your stomach rumble.

1. Doddinghurst Road, Brentwood – Asking price £850,000


Conveniently situated for sought after schools of Becket Keys, St Helens and St Thomas, this beautiful four-bedroom home in Brentwood, has an exceptional luxury fitted kitchen in slate grey finish. The solid wood worktops and copper furniture provides a superb contrast to the tiled floor and white walls. Three sets of bi-folding doors mean that this area of the house is bathed in natural light and a central island makes an ideal spot for breakfast or casual dining. 

2. Bury Way, St Ives – Asking price £575,000


A stunning detached residence situated within St. Ives, this four double-bedroom home has been extended to provide bright and spacious living accommodation and is immaculately presented throughout featuring a beautiful refitted kitchen/breakfast room. Fitted with a range of base level and eye level units, the kitchen consists a half sink bowl with mixer tap and drainer, a five ring Neff gas hob with extractor hood and built-in Bosch double oven. Other features include an integrated fridge and freezer, dishwasher, wine fridge and break bar.

3. West Byfleet, Surrey – Asking price £2,000,000


Set within an outstanding and secluded plot that extends to around 0.6 acres, is this fabulous and luxurious family home with 5,144 square feet of magnificent living space. The whole property has been designed and modelled both inside and outside for those who love entertaining with the kitchen a prime example. The open-plan design and island-based gas hob, lend themselves to sociable dinner parties. Wooden worktops and inset stainless-steel sinks with mixer tap, finish the sophisticated, clean look of the kitchen.

4. Portishead, North Somerset – Asking price £549,950


Constructed in 2001, New Down House is an immaculate, four-bedroom detached residence in an elevated position on a hillside with views of the Bristol Channel towards the Welsh Coastline. At the front of the home is a stunning kitchen and dining room fitted with white high gloss units contrasting granite worktops, stainless steel sink and swan-neck mixer tap. Other standout elements include integrated appliances, porcelain tiled floor, recessed spotlighting and a concealed Valliant gas fired boiler with Natatmo smart thermostat capable of remote operation via smart phone. 

5. Abbey Walk, Shaftesbury – Asking price £625,000


Built circa 1939 in the former orchards of the Royal Precinct of Shaftesbury Abbey, itself founded by King Alfred the Great in 888 A.D, this three-bedroom home was the first religious house built solely for women. The entire property has been re-modelled to an exceptional standard, featuring a bespoke, hand-crafted and hand painted kitchen by an award-winning local firm in Dorset.  The kitchen is fully equipped with Italian quality Smeg appliances throughout.

6. Sprotbrough, Doncaster – Asking price £475,000

A semi-rural retreat, the Brandfield House is located a short drive from Doncaster Town Centre through Cusworth, past the historic natural beauty, Cusworth Hall. The country style kitchen in the home is large enough to accommodate an eight-seater table. A blend of modern and traditional, the design of the kitchen includes exposed wooden beams, ceiling spotlights and granite work tops. The warm wooden units house an under counter fridge, freezer, dishwasher, washing machine, electric fan assisted oven with separate grill and a microwave. 

7. Wood Lane, Stanmore – Asking price £1,999,950


Located high on Stanmore Hill, shielded by trees and set behind a gated entrance, The Cloisters represents a rare opportunity to live in an exclusive development of just ten elegant detached properties in a stunning environment. One of the four-bedroom properties in the development, called The Ash, is arranged over two floors with a large open-plan kitchen on the ground floor which is ideal for entertaining. High-gloss finishes, crisp white worktops, integrated appliances and stainless-steel inset sinks, all work together to create a contemporary elegant space.

The Guild is a network of over 800 of the best independent estate agents around the country. To find your dream home, visit our website.

30Jan

With Valentine’s Day fast-approaching, everyone is thinking of the perfect gift to treat their loved one. This February, The Guild are giving away a Hotel Chocolat gift card worth £100. 

This is your chance to spoil your partner with a chocolate hamper, drinks at their cafes, a meal at one of their restaurants, one of their Chocolate Training Adventures or even their School of Chocolate, all courtesy of The Guild of Property Professionals.

For the chance to win this fantastic prize, simply follow the instructions below:

How to enter:

On Facebook – Share the competition post pinned at the top of the page AND like The Guild of Property Professionals Facebook page @GuildProperty.

On Twitter – Retweet our pinned tweet about the competition AND follow @GuildProperty.

On Instagram – Follow @guildofpropertyprofessionals, like our competition post and tag a friend in the comment section below.


Important dates

The closing date for entries is on Wednesday 13th February 2019. The winner will be contacted on the following day and will be announced on social media when they accept their prize. 

Terms & Conditions

By entering the competition, entrants agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.

1. The Guild Valentine’s Day Competition is open to residents of mainland UK only. 

2. The competition is free to enter.

3. By entering the competition, you hereby warrant that the information submitted is true.

4. Entrants must be over 18 years of age.

5. There are two steps required to successfully enter the competition.

To participate, you need to;

a. Retweet on Twitter or share on Facebook the competition post that is pinned at the top of the page. 

b. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram or like our page on Facebook.

c. Alternatively, you can like our competition post on Instagram and tag a friend in the comment section below.

6. The information explaining how to enter the competition forms part of these terms and conditions. Entrants to the competition are bound by the entirety of these terms and conditions.

7. The winner will be chosen at random by representatives from The Guild.

8. The winner will be announced on Valentine’s Day via The Guild’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. The winner will be notified via private message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

9. The overall winner will win a Hotel Chocolat gift card (RRP £100, https://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/gift-card.html#start=1). If the gift card becomes unavailable, a prize of a similar value will be selected. No cash alternative will be provided, and the prize is non-refundable and non–transferrable.

10. Entrants may be required to take part in media activity surrounding the competition. By taking part in the competition, entrants’ consent to the participation in such activity fully.

11. No responsibility is taken for entries lost, delayed, misdirected or incomplete due to server functions or failures, virus, bugs, technical problems or traffic congestion on the internet or any other causes outside the control of The Guild.

12. Events may occur that render the competition itself, or the awarding of the prizes, impossible due to reasons beyond the control of The Guild. Accordingly, The Guild may at their absolute discretion vary or amend the competition and the entrant agrees that no liability shall be attached to The Guild as a result thereof.

13. This competition is organised and operated by The Guild of Property Professionals of 121 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 7AG.

14. In the event of any dispute regarding these terms and conditions, conduct, results and all other matters relating to the Competition the decision of The Guild shall be final and no correspondence or discussions shall be entered into.

15. Contest is not open to The Guild employees & their immediate family members.

16. These terms and conditions incorporate The Guild’s standard terms and conditions, which can be found at https://www.guildproperty.co.uk/legal/terms 


The Guild of Property Professionals Head Office

Tel: 020 7079 1415 Email: mediacentre@guildproperty.co.uk

29Jan

Looking for a fresh start in 2019? We have scoured the country for homes near pretty parks. Whether you enjoy a gentle stroll in the park, a trek in the hills, or a place to play sports at the weekend, these properties have one thing in common: they are beautiful places to live and explore. 


1. Western Park, Leicester - Asking price £550,000


The Pavilion is an outstanding period home, built circa 1830. With large, picturesque gardens, the traditional property enjoys a prime position within the delightful Western Park. The four-bedroom home offers a wealth of period features including tall ceilings, paneled doors and antique French marble fireplaces. Presented to an exceptional standard, with expansive gardens, a car port and far-reaching, panoramic views, this residence is a hidden gem.


Western Park is the largest park in Leicester, and arguably the most beautiful, offering 178 acres of meadows, woodland plantations and formal areas to explore. This delightful park has a great cycle trail and offers a wide range of activities all year round. This includes two bowling greens, seven football pitches, five cricket wickets, six tennis courts and one baseball field. 


2. Llandwrog, Gwynedd - Asking price £300,000


This Grade II Listed cottage makes for an excellent family home, located in the heart of the charming village of Llandwrog, north west Wales. The house is deceptively spacious and has been extended to offer additional living space. With a captivating front exterior and a lovely enclosed garden and gated driveway that leads to a large garage and useful workshop, the property offers an abundance of charm and character including coved ceilings with exposed beams and a traditional Inglenook fireplace. 


The property is located near Parc Glynllifon in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, a historic country park with an outdoor Amphitheatre, children’s play area, a popular café and gift shop, as well as several water features, including a delightful river. A winner of the ‘Green Flag’ award: A Visit Wales Accredited Attraction, this park is perfect for a Sunday stroll, a bike ride, or a picnic in the warmer months.


3. Chudleigh, Devon - £745,000


A unique detached home designed to blend with its surroundings, Sedgewell Coach House is a rare find set in four and a half acres. Situated to the southern slopes of the Haldon Hills with extensive uninterrupted views across a stunning wooded valley in Chudleigh, Devon. The property effortlessly merges period charm with modern living in contemporary accommodation where you can both relax and entertain in comfort and style. 


Crafted to embrace both space and light, this home overlooks extensive woodland and rolling fields. Dramatic sweeping lawns and drystone walls emphasise the natural beauty of the landscape.  The property is perfect for those who enjoy country walks and a home with an unbeatable view.


4. Sandal, West Yorkshire - £875,000


This breathtaking Victorian stone-built residence is located within a short walking distance of Pugney’s Country Park in the heart of Sandal village, south of Wakefield city centre. The property offers a high degree of privacy and character. The home also boasts mature gardens with Yorkshire stone paving, an excellent gymnasium with useful storage and a sauna.


Pugney’s Country Park is set in 300 acres, offering a variety of walks with good footpath links to Sandal Castle where there are spectacular views to the west along Calder Valley. Cycling is also very popular, and the park operates a rental service. The park also offers additional watersport facilities including sailing, windsurfing and canoeing. Bird watchers indulge themselves in the bird hides overlooking the Local Nature Reserve, while other visitors stop at the café for some refreshments while they enjoy the views across the park.

 

5. Bassaleg, Newport - £1,250,000


This beautifully presented seven-bedroom family home is positioned in the tranquil hamlet of Penylan, overlooking beautiful countryside, near the village of Bassaleg. The property is set within over three acres of picturesque grounds and features a fresh water lake. 


The residence is extremely private and peaceful, with spacious gardens and parkland surrounding the property including a boat deck, barbecue, chalet, out building and fruit orchards. The timber deck relaxation area is adjacent to the lake, which features a magnificent backdrop of the Newport countryside.


The Guild is a network of over 800 of the best independent estate agents around the country. To find your dream home, visit our website.

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