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All properties require ongoing maintenance, but when you’re not there to keep an eye on things, the safety and security of your property may be at greater risk.
You may be a landlord with a void in the tenancy or own a holiday home mothballed for the winter months. Perhaps you’re working or travelling abroad for an extended period, leaving your flat or house unoccupied. Whatever the circumstances in which the building is left empty, it’s worth taking some simple measures to protect your property.
Starting with the outside, make sure general maintenance regimes are up to date, and that any necessary repairs have been carried out before winter arrives. A poorly maintained roof that collapses under the weight of heavy snow can easily run into five figures to put right.
Begin by clearing the gutters which, by autumn will be full of leaves, moss and other debris. Left undealt with, this can result in weeping joints and overflowing or sagging gutters, causing water damage and damp issues.
Next, check the roof to ensure that roof coverings are intact without any missed, slipped or damaged tiles that could become dislodged in bad weather. Pay particular attention to mortar beds and joints to the ridge tiles as any deterioration and dislocation here could allow rainwater into the roof space.
Once the cold season has passed, it’s good practice to check over everything again, just in case the winter weather has caused any new damage that now needs addressing.
One of the biggest issues with an unattended property is the risk of water damage. Even the smallest leak can, over time, do untold damage to your furniture, furnishings and entire interiors. It can even cause structural damage to the building.
Water damage is often caused by burst pipes in winter, so keeping the house warm enough to avoid frozen pipes in the first place is the most important job.
Service your boiler annually to make sure that it can be safely left on over the winter, and check that all radiators are working properly.
Set the heating to come on daily for a few hours morning and night to prevent the water in the pipes from freezing.
Keep the thermostat on a low temperature. 12-14 degrees should be sufficient to get warm air circulating.
Open the loft hatch and cupboard doors under the sink to encourage warmer air to flow into these areas and protect your pipes.
Any exposed, vulnerable pipework (external, in the loft or garage) should be adequately lagged and the installation of frost protection systems considered.
In case of emergencies, you should familiarise yourself with the exact location of the stopcock for your mains water supply to the property – often found in the kitchen under the sink, or in the garage. Check periodically that the stopcock can be operated easily, and share its location with a trusted neighbour, local friend or property agent.
If you prefer not to pay utility bills for an unoccupied property through the winter, an alternative is to drain down the plumbing and heating system. t’s not a fool proof solution since some water may remain trapped in parts of the system, but any damage should be limited.
External taps should be turned off securely, hose pipes disconnected, and the tap covered with an insulated cap or box. It is important to eliminate any risk of outside taps dripping since these are most at risk of freezing.
If you choose to shut down the heating system for the winter, be warned that the cold building might be more susceptible to condensation, which can lead to mould and mildew deposits, and cause damp issues in the longer term.
Unfortunately, an empty property tends to stick out like a sore thumb, particularly at night time. Would-be thieves are more likely to take advantage of breaking into a house or flat that is obviously unoccupied.
In addition to ensuring that all windows and external doors are securely locked or fitting an intruder alarm, there are other measures you could take to give the impression that someone is home in order to deter any opportunist burglars in the neighbourhood.
If you do nothing else, fit simple timer switches for lights or radios (spoken word stations are best) in several rooms. At the advanced end of the scale, smart home security systems allow you to view, monitor and control various home operations from a smartphone app. Some even come with a moisture sensor that detects water leaks or floods in the home!
Finally, you must tell your home insurance company if the property will be left empty for more than 30 days or so (check your policy for details), and you may have to arrange unoccupied property insurance.
Some insurers have specific stipulations for unoccupied property cover, particularly for vacant properties during winter. These may include maintaining a low-level degree of heating around the clock, leaving the loft hatch open or draining the system. For your own peace of mind, contact your insurance company to check their specific requirements to make sure you have adequate cover, should you ever need to make a claim.
Looking for further advice on property related matters, then contact a Guild Member in your area.
Whether you are an avid Brexiteer or have staked your flag in the Remainer’s camp, one thing is for certain, and that is at the moment - nothing is certain. One thing there is no doubt about is that the continued political turmoil and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit have left their mark on the housing market.
We spoke to Guild Members about their views and opinions on Brexit and how the current political climate it is impacting their local property markets.
The latest data from HMRC UK Property Transaction Statistics show a dramatic year-on-year drop of 12% in the number of residential transactions in July 2019 (86,630), the lowest figure since April 2016.
According to Philip Bartlett of Carringtons Estate Agents in Kingston on Thames, Brexit has had an impact in terms of reduced activity in the region. He notes that, despite the lower levels of activity, there is still a good demand for homes priced between £600,000 and £800,000, however not much supply in this price range. “It is also very apparent that many buyers are waiting to find a property to buy before placing their own property onto the market. As there is a shortage of property, they are reluctant to risk placing their property onto the market as they fear that they will not be able to find a suitable property to purchase. The trouble is, when a good property does come to the market – they find themselves in competition with other buyers and, quite rightly, vendors are selling to proceedable buyers.”
Operating in the affluent Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Managing Director of Rickman Properties, Kieran Ryan says the current turmoil in Parliament, is seriously affecting any property from £2 million upwards. “Brexit is on everyone’s lips and the uncertainty of everything that is said is having a negative impact in our market place in the Royal Borough. The complete uncertainty of whether we are out or in leaves people’s minds well away from moving.”
With Brexit edging closer, house price growth has slowed everywhere but Wales, which has seen an improvement. House price growth in England was the weakest with a 0.72% year-on-year increase. Source:UK House Price Index, released 14 August 2019
Joe Masterson, Branch Manager at Benjamin Stevens Estate Agents in Bushey, says that their local market has seen a levelling off of the relentless increases which were the norm before 2017. “Whereas previously buyers were paying extra for ‘off-market’ properties to secure them or viewing and offering within short order, this is no longer the case,” he says, “Often buyers are being cagier with their offers and trying to feel out what price points a seller will accept. Indeed, this has led to several occasions where buyers make ‘off the cuff’ offers with little or no intention of backing it up even if the offer were to be accepted. This has meant agents need to scrutinise not only a buyer’s offer, but also their intention to actually move forward if a price is agreed.”
According to the Rightmove House Price Index, in January this year, the average time for a property to receive an offer was 77 days, the highest on record. This has dropped to 54 days in July.
Partner at Holroyd Miller, Jonathan Kidd, comments: “To be perfectly honest, the sooner the government reach a decision, the better. The current political indecision has resulted in a distinct lack of urgency in general decision making. Whether dealing with developers or vendors, no one is in a rush. Don’t misunderstand me, there’s no panic, or fear, just apathy, most people we speak to are absolutely fed-up of the current situation, but more than happy to get on with their lives rather than leaving things on-hold.”
Servicing the Cardiff market, Kelvin Francis, says that while matters were building to a head in Parliament during August, the Cardiff market remained buoyant. “There were a record number of properties coming onto the market for sale in July, followed by a higher number for sale in August than 12 months ago. The number of properties sold equated to those in May, which were the highest number, by some way, of any other months in 2019. We have noticed a “bounce” in activity before each Brexit deadline. It happened in March and again in August, but generally we would say the market is healthy and steady, indicating that the general view is that “life must go on”. We will be watching to see what effect these recent most turbulent events in Parliament may have, but so far we have observed no noticeable effect,” he explained.
A Director at Home Sales & Lettings, Graham Wood, says that he has spoken to investors who are looking at the current state of uncertainty as an opportunity. “One of the investors I spoke to is looking to purchase two one-bedroom apartments in a town centre location where the developer had recently rented out four units because he could not sell them. After almost 12 months the developer still has eight out of the original 12 units sitting vacant. The investor saw this as a good opportunity to acquire for his growing portfolio.”
Miller points out there is still high demand in some sectors. “We’re still receiving plenty of interest in residential and commercial properties, and interest in development stock is high. However, there has been a slowing down of interest in the higher end of the market, mainly in residential properties over £700,000. In reality, the high-end market has never been fast-moving, so it hasn’t been a cause for concern for us. Like everyone else, we’re just waiting for a decision.”
According to Ryan, in Kensington and Chelsea, there are quite a few overseas buyers taking advantage of the low pound and a 20% price drop in purchasing selective properties in the area.
Bartlett says that for many, life moves on and they have no desire to wait for Brexit to unravel. “Some buyers have their eyes fixed on the future and know that over a five to ten-year period they would have benefited from great capital appreciation of their property and now have good deposits to transition upwards, benefitting from the superb mortgage products currently available. If only there were more supply for the buyers to choose from.”
The Guild CEO, Iain McKenzie, says: “While there is currently a lot of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it is essential that homeowners recognise that economic data remains remarkably strong. The housing market, albeit slightly down in transactional volume, is remarkably resilient with correctly priced homes selling well. The lack of clarity surrounding Brexit is disconcerting, however, once a decision is made, and we know the future direction of our country, I expect to see the pent-up frustration of hopeful movers released and a mini resurgence of the housing market.”
Looking to take advantage of the opportunities in the current market, contact a Guild Member in your area.
As his first major move in the job, Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick has revealed plans that would help more first-time buyers get onto the property ladder. The plans involve overhauling the shared ownership scheme, allowing people to increase their home share in smaller increments.
Under the current model, homeowners who have bought through a shared ownership scheme are only able to buy back the government-owned part of their property in 10% increments. Jenrick has said that he would like to change this so that homeowners would be able to increase their stake by just 1% at a time. The Guild of Property Professionals, CEO, Iain McKenzie, says: “A 10% jump for many is just too much, especially in expensive areas, whereas 1% increments will be far more financially manageable and will help shared-ownership buyers work towards owning their property outright. Considering that shared ownership buyers have to pay rent on the government-owned portion of their property, it is important for them to have a plan in place to increase their share of ownership over time. Smaller increments will make this more accessible.”
Jenrick also announced that he would make the Help to Buy incentive more affordable by enabling buyers to take out 35-year mortgages. A loophole had prevented buyers from taking a mortgage of more than 25 years, however, in the announcement the Government has said this has been rectified.
The changes are to ensure that younger generations will be able to own property. “We will be looking at ensuring young people from Cornwall to Cumbria aren’t priced out of their home areas and how we can build public support for more housebuilding and better planning,” says Jenrick. “This Government will help a new generation to own their home.”
McKenzie adds: “Any changes that would help people get onto the property ladder are welcomed. The upcoming generations have struggled to get their foot in the door, and any changes that could assist them would be good for the market and buyers who have been forced to sit on the side-lines because they simply could not afford to be a part of it.”
In addition to the shared ownership changes and mortgage terms, the minister also said that he would look into reforming the planning system with the goal of increasing housing delivery. "My mission is to increase the number of homes that are being delivered and to get more young people and families on to the housing ladder, particularly those on lower incomes,” said Jenrick. "Building the houses this country needs is a central priority of this Government.”
“The country has faced a housing shortage for some time, so further effort from the Government to address this is needed and overdue,” says McKenzie. “Hopefully Jenricks changes will open doors to many more first-time buyers and drive activity in that sector of the market,” he concludes.
Education is one of the most important factors when it comes to your child’s future and where you live has an impact.
There are a growing number of families who are considering moving to increase their chances of securing a place for their child in a preferred school. If you are considering such a move, the initial step is to do some research on the implications. Moving to a catchment area can boost your child's chances of getting a place at the school of your choice, but it may not guarantee a place.
The first hurdle is to select the right school, and this can take some time. Researching schools by using league tables or achievement and attainment tables, together with Ofsted reports, provides only part of the picture when deciding if a school is right for your child’s individual needs. Attend open days, but keep in mind that you are being presented with an optimal view of the school. One of the best sources is first-hand information from parents with children attending the school in question.
Narrow down options by shortlisting schools that fit your criteria. Speak directly to the schools you have in mind, as well as the local education authority, about what your choices are and what the criteria is for placement. This will help you assess how successful your application is likely to be.
Catchment areas are a simple way to decide who can attend a school. They are based on the premise that local children will become friends with other local children. Catchment areas vary in size, depending on whether the school is in a rural or suburban area. They can also change from year to year, often due to the school’s growth in popularity. For example, if a large number of younger siblings are starting school in the same year, the catchment area could be reduced to stop it becoming over-subscribed. In this situation, it is unlikely your child will be accepted.
Ask if there is a waiting list you can be added to. However, bear in mind if your child is already attending school they may have to remain at their current school until a place becomes available. Consider how you will handle this transition period, which may require your child commuting.
Any move comes at a cost, and it is important to factor education options into your decision. Properties in the catchment area of highly regarded schools command a much higher price. Moving to another home also means establishing yourself and your family in a new environment.
Notwithstanding, buying a house in a school catchment area can be a sensible decision, but it requires research and planning. If you are confident the school of choice will have an available place for your child, and the property prices are within your budget, it is worth doing.
Here at The Guild, we have properties in school catchment areas around the country, so search here.
This month, we caught up with Val Shakespeare, Sales Director at Royston & Lund to discuss her idea of a perfect home and top tips for working in the property sector.
I have 38 years of experience in the property industry and I’ve worked for the company for 17 years.
Royston & Lund was founded in 1994 to offer a professional estate agency service in West Bridgford, Nottingham. Today, the business still operates from the same premises on Gordon Road; a prime position right in the heart of West Bridgford town centre.
In 2018, we opened a second office in Keyworth, which is also thriving. We now employ 25 staff and are ranked by Rightmove as the leading estate agent in our area.
My typical day starts with an early morning team meeting to discuss events from the previous day as well as planning for the day ahead, sharing tips, knowledge and tea with our team. My role includes managing the sales office, head of new homes, HR, compliance, maintenance and facilities manager - as you can imagine, my days are often varied!
We are extremely proud to employ the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the area. We work as a team to provide a friendly, effective service. As independent agents we rely heavily on reputation. We endeavour to always do a fantastic job so that our clients recommend us time and time again. After 25 years of operating in West Bridgford, we feel we have gained the trust of our community. As testament to this, we were named ‘Best Estate Agent in the UK’ at the prestigious ESTA awards in 2018.
We are seeing a lot of new developments in our area. Period properties in close proximity to the town centre are particularly sought after. There is a definite shortage of this style of property and we hope to see more of this style coming on to the market over the coming months.
Last Christmas, we did some fundraising for a local homeless charity, The Friary, with the amazing help of the local community we managed to raise £550. This fantastic cause helps homeless and vulnerable adults to rebuild their lives by offering practical services, advice and emotional support. We have also supported other charities such as, Children in Need, Comic Relief and Macmillan.
We sponsor local cricket teams, West Bridgfordians Cricket Club and Keyworth Cricket Club. In addition to this, we support four of our local schools with the Royston & Lund Sporting Achievement Award; the schools include Abbey Road, Pierrepoint Gamston, Edwalton and West Bridgford Juniors.
I would make the house buying process much simpler; I think one way of doing this would be by reintroducing the HiP (Home Information Pack).
I believe solid customer service and excellent communication are the key skills for anyone looking to start off in the industry.
Having empathy and patience with people is a must and a sense of humour often helps!
An understanding of the property market is essential along with knowledge of different house types/styles/periods.
Having a great understanding of the local market and the wider area as well; in terms of amenities, local schools, employers and events etc are invaluable knowledge for anyone looking to move to the area.
Professionalism is a key point to remember when dealing with clients, solicitors and other professionals.
Master multi-tasking for those particularly busy periods!
Modern, clean lines, a spacious ground floor space, plenty of light meaning lots of glass, a nice south facing garden, good local schooling and amenities in close proximity. Oh, and somewhere with enough space for my two chocolate Labradors.
We have just celebrated our 25th birthday! I am so immensely proud of the team’s hard work throughout the years, we have managed to maintain an excellent rapport within the West Bridgford and Keyworth communities. We want to say a big thank you to our customers and we look forward to continuing to offer them great advice and the best possible service.
For more information regarding membership to The Guild of Property Professionals email email@example.com or to see more click here.
On Sunday 21 July this year, the Government announced that they had launched their consultation on the abolition of Section 21. The consultation, which will only cover England, will be open for 12 weeks closing on Saturday 12 October.
In the consultation, the Government proposes to remove Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) from the Housing Act 1988, essentially making assured tenancies the only type of tenancy available to landlords.
In the proposal that the Government has put forward, tenants will have the option of agreeing to a fixed-term assured tenancy, which means both parties are committed to a predetermined time or a periodic assured tenancy. In the case where a fixed-term tenancy has not been terminated by the tenant or the landlord using the Section 8 Notice process, it is possible for it to be renewed to a new fixed term. If this doesn’t happen, it will automatically revert to an assured periodic tenancy.
If the decision is made by the Government to move forward with the proposed changes and they are passed into law, there will be a transitional period of six months before the law comes into full effect. So, if nothing else changes and this matter is prioritised, we could see it come into place either towards the end of next year or perhaps early in 2021.
According to Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, there has been confirmation that the Government plan for the changes not to be retrospective. “What this means is that should the law come into place, it will not impact tenancies that are already in place at the time it is passed. So, landlords in these agreements will still be able to use Section 21 until the tenancy comes to an end. Any new agreement thereafter will then become an assured tenancy,” he adds.
If the landlord wishes to terminate an assured tenancy, they will have to give the tenant a Section 8 eviction notice based on one of the grounds specified in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988.
“In the instance where the tenant decides to end the tenancy, they would have to give one month’s notice, but only at the end of a fixed-term tenancy or during a periodic tenancy, unless their agreement includes a break clause,” explains McKenzie.
If Section 21 is abolished, other aspects will need to come into play to protect landlords such as the improvement of the Section 8 notice process. The Government is proposing that the process for possession be accelerated, removing the need for a court hearing if unchallenged by then tenant.
McKenzie says: “There are several other changes that the Government will be looking to make to Section 8 to mitigate the loss of Section 21, such as adding a new ground into Section 8 for when a landlord wishes to sell the property or widening the current grounds to cover a landlord, their spouse, partner, or family member, should they wish to move into the property.”
It is also proposed to strengthen the current mandatory ground 8, which pertains to rent arrears, as well as ground 13 to allow landlords to use this if tenants routinely refuse access to the property for safety checks and repairs.
For tenants, the Government wishes to include the prescribed information requirements that currently exist via the Deregulation Act for the valid use of Section 21 in the Section 8 process to ensure their existing protection is maintained.
Even with the proposed amendments to the Section 8 process, with Section 21 abolished, landlords will feel they have fewer options when dealing with defaulting tenants – which will have repercussions on the rental market.
“If landlords feel they have less protection the likelihood is that they will become far more risk-averse and less likely to want to rent out their property. This could mean the supply of rental properties would decrease, which in the long term could push up rental prices. Landlords will also be far more stringent in their tenant selection process, meaning some tenants may find it far more difficult to find a place to live,” says McKenzie.
The Guild’s inhouse Compliance Officer, Paul Offley, says: “It is important that landlords have a workable process for obtaining possession where there is a justified need for them to do so. Any process which helps execute this process, whilst being fair to the tenant, has got to be seen as a positive move. Any change brings concern but providing MHCLG is working with organisations like The Guild and that they listen to the feedback they receive, then hopefully this will benefit all parties concerned.”
To find out more about what the Government is proposing read this article.
While leaving your home to a family member is a very generous act, there is the matter of inheritance tax to think about.
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was once attributed to saying that ‘nothing is certain except for death and taxes.’ Combining the two in the form of inheritance tax seems to only add salt to the wound. Often referred to as “death tax”, inheritance tax is levied on the estate of someone who has passed away. Although this tax only impacts a small number of estates, approximately around 4% in 2014/2015, the amount of revenue has increased annually. As property prices increase, so will the number of people who will be liable to pay the tax.
Inheritance tax is charged at 40% on assets above the current tax-free threshold of £325,000 for an individual and £650,000 for a married couple. Amendments which were introduced in 2017 mean an individual can now transfer an additional £125,000 during the 2018/2019 tax year to their direct descendants, this increases to £150,000 in the 2019/2020 tax year, rising again to £175,000 in 2020/2021.
It is imperative to ensure the right people benefit when you pass away. If you die without a will in place, your estate will be dispersed according to intestacy rules and may attract a higher level of tax.
While inheritance legislation is complicated, there are a lot of ways in which you can legally avoid paying inheritance tax. One of the best ways is reducing the value of your estate by gifting sums of up to £3,000. Every year gifts of up to £3,000 can be given to your spouse or legal partner, a registered charity or a political party and are inheritance tax free. The legislation allows for other types of gifts too, such as variable amounts for weddings or civil ceremonies, the value of which is determined by your relationship. The golden thread is that you must not benefit from the money or assets you give away, because if you do, your estate will still have to pay inheritance tax.
It is possible to give away larger amounts, however, it is far more complex, and you must live for seven years for it to be completely tax free. It is also important to note that, while you might not need the excess cash now, it may be needed later in life, so take that into account before gifting larger sums of money. Concerns about gifting to younger children or grandchildren can be allayed by setting up trust funds to ensure the money is spent wisely.
Certain investments, such as a trust fund, do qualify for tax relief provided they are structured in the right way. Remember, however, all investments carry a level of risk and should be assessed on its merit as a sound investment, rather than a means of tax avoidance.
Another effective and essential part of the planning is taking out life insurance, which can be placed in a trust so that your executors can pay any outstanding tax outside your estate.
Before you give everything away though, remember to enjoy the money you’ve worked for and spend it. There’s no need to live on a tight budget just to save money that will be taxed.
Looking for further advice on property related matters, then contact a Guild Member in your area.
Understanding credit scores can be tricky yet essential, as it affects your ability to borrow loans for mortgages. Lenders such as banks, credit card companies and mortgage lenders look for low-risk borrowers who have a history of making repayments on time, so it’s vital to know your credit score and determine whether you’d be a suitable candidate for a loan, especially if you would like to apply for a mortgage.
Experian, Equifax and Transunion are three credit reference agencies (CRAs) that calculate credit scores and create reports based on your credit history. The CRA’s are sent information about your credit from lenders, and this is how they calculate your score. Your score may be checked if you make a big purchase on finance, take out an insurance policy, apply for a loan, or apply for a mortgage or to rent a property. It’s required by law to have free access to your credit report, so checking is simple.
If you have a poor credit score, there are numerous ways to improve your score, so don’t fret. For starters, paying bills on time, tackling existing debt, and registering on the electoral roll are all ways in which you can improve your score. The higher your score, the lower the risk you are for lenders.
Traditional countryside cottages are highly coveted all year round. We reveal five delightful homes filled with character and charm.
This quaint, unusual Grade II Listed one-bedroom detached cottage can be found in the heart of Little Milton, Oxfordshire. It is a small village with many period properties, which are predominantly built from local stone.
South Lodge is one of a pair of identical early 19th century timber-framed gate lodges with thatched hipped roof, planking the west entrance to the village’s Manor House. The lodge has been well-maintained and modernised over the years, whilst retaining an abundance of charming period features. The accommodation comprises a front-facing sitting room with exposed beams, vaulted ceiling, Inglenook fireplace and a pair of pretty pointed arched diamond leaded windows.
There is a single storey side extension providing a well-proportioned kitchen/breakfast room. It overlooks the beautiful gardens with terracotta tiled flooring and side door access to the paved terrace. To the rear of the property, there is a light and airy double bedroom with vaulted ceiling and exposed beams, as well as a modern shower room.
The garden is one of the highlights of the property which is laid to lawn with beautiful herbaceous borders. The home also benefits from driveway parking for two cars.
Little Milton has a primary school, a pre-school, church, post office, public house, shops and cafes all within a short walk. The nearby market town of Thame provides a wide range of shops and supermarkets. The location also offers excellent access to the city of Oxford.
Situated in Burford, Oxfordshire, this charming Grade II Listed three-bedroom period property has been stylishly extended to offer contemporary interiors. Plum Tree Cottage retains a wealth of character whilst benefitting from sophisticated updates with an abundance of storage and integral appliances.
The sitting room has exposed beams, stone flooring and a wood burning stove, whilst on the first and second floors there are exposed wall timbers. The home also offers three excellent double bedrooms, two stylish en-suites, ground floor shower room and boasts a picturesque, fully enclosed rear garden.
Burford is a picturesque small Cotswold market town with many historical connections. Situated on the Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire border and known as the gateway to the Cotswolds, the town offers a good range of shopping facilities, local schools, a fine parish church and a number of public houses and restaurants.
Maytree Cottage is a beautiful Grade II Listed three-bedroom detached cottage situated in the idyllic and sought-after hamlet of Little Haseley, Oxfordshire. The popular rural setting comprises many attractive period houses and thatched cottages and offers excellent commuter links, with easy access to London and the Midlands.
There is a first-class range of independent and preparatory schools in the area and shopping facilities can be found in the nearby market town of Thame or the city of Oxford. In the neighbouring village of Great Haseley, you will find the village-owned public house, The Plough, and Great Milton is home to the renowned restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. The Oxfordshire Golf Club and the Waterstock Golf Club are also nearby.
The picture-perfect stone cottage is believed to date to the early 18th century and is well-presented both inside and out. The property has an incredibly romantic garden, billowing with fragrant blooms. With the private mature garden comes a summer house and a separate stone-built home office. Quintessentially British, featuring a wealth of character features, including wooden beams and Inglenook fireplaces, the interior of the home is bursting with charm.
This three-bedroom family home is a quintessential Grade II Listed ‘chocolate box’ style thatched cottage, of which the roofing has recently been replaced. The beautiful property oozes with character and charm and has been immaculately presented throughout to a high specification.
A sweeping path leads to the front of the porch, which you enter through into the main sitting and dining room. The room is lovely and light and features exposed timber beams and a large Inglenook fireplace with a gas burning stove.
The kitchen has been attractively fitted with wooden cupboards and marble type worksurfaces. The room benefits from wood flooring, cedar boarded ceiling and a door that leads out onto the rear garden.
The accommodation sits on a corner plot and is fully enclosed by hedging, walls, bushes, trees and fencing. The current owner has recently converted the outbuilding with insulated cavity walls and insulated roof spaces which lend for various buyer’s requirements. The property also benefits from a workshop and garage.
The rear garden is of an excellent size and is mainly laid to lawn with a variety of mature trees, shrubs and borders and there is a generous front garden with ample driveway parking. The cottage enjoys direct forest access and is situated in the popular village location of East Boldre.
This stunning four-bedroom home is located in a quiet corner of the sought-after town of Charlbury on the edge of Wychwood Forest and the Cotswolds.
The home is presented exceptionally well and has been well cared for by its one previous owner. It comprises an entrance hall, a kitchen with a vaulted ceiling which leads onto a lovely dining room, a separate pantry, cloakroom, study, sitting room with a feature fireplace, master bedroom with an en-suite shower room, two further bedrooms, a family bathroom and a guest room with an en-suite shower room.
Externally, the property offers a double garage, driveway parking and attractive landscaped gardens to the front and rear which have been lovingly planted.
Charlbury is a historic and sought-after market town located midway between the Blenheim and Cornbury estates, with lovely country walks to be enjoyed along the nearby footpaths and bridleways. There is a thriving and vibrant community, with good facilities including a range of local shops, a medical centre, dental practice, veterinary surgery, library and a well-regarded primary school.
The delightful town is particularly well-placed for commuters, with the railway station providing a regular mainline train service to Oxford and London Paddington. Junction 9 of the M40 is within easy reach as well.
Looking for your next home? Find your local Guild Member today.
When it comes to selling a house, ‘staging’ is of the utmost importance. You might spend hours upon hours dusting ceiling corners, scrubbing at the kitchen floor or rearranging the furniture. However, there are other changes you could make which you might not have thought of.
Recent research carried out by Carpetright explores how our living spaces can often dictate how we feel. Given that we spend 80-90% of our time indoors, it makes sense that, as people, we want to go to great lengths to ensure our surroundings make ourselves feel happy and positive.
Key findings from the study found that three-quarters of people surveyed agree that the layout of a room can impact their mood. Two-thirds of the group found a messy room stress-inducing, while a third associate gardens with relaxation.
Feng Shui master, Alan Stirling, recognises that “our environment is very often an expression of how we feel inwardly. Ideally, it should inspire us to make the most of our lives from when we open our eyes in the morning and help us relax after a rewarding day”.
If Carpetright’s findings tell us anything, it’s that if we can positively influence how people feel when they step foot in our home, they are more likely to be open to purchasing. So, how can you harness this knowledge and achieve ultimate zen within your soon-to-be-sold home in preparation for viewings?
The study showed that 81% of participants agree that having an outdoor space at home is important. Many other studies have also shown that adding plants to your household creates a calming and colourful environment.
Plants are quick and relatively inexpensive additions to make; simply head on down to your nearest garden centre and stock up on ones that go nicely with the colour palette and space you’re working with. According to Mark McCance, Director of Hortology.co.uk, ‘The Indoor Plant Experts For Home & Office’, some of the best house plants include Dragon Trees, Kentia Palm and Snake Plants because of their air-purifying qualities.
“Plants in the home have generally been linked with improved well-being, optimism, calmness, particularly as they dampen sound in noisy environments, and a sense of stability and reduction in stress and anxiety”, says McCance.
In addition, natural materials such as wooden flooring not only offset the human-made parts of your home visually but also have positive effects on yours and your guests’ mental states, simulating proximity to nature.
“The introduction of greenery such as houseplants, green walls or natural materials is an important element of health and wellbeing”, says McCance.
The abundance of plants and natural materials will leave your viewers feeling relaxed and calm, with a positive impression of your home.
You want your home to ideally be bright and airy when expecting visitors or viewings. A dingy, poorly lit environment will be an immediate turn-off to potential buyers, whereas standing lamps, intricate fairy lights or mood-boosting colour-changing LED lights signal warmth and comfort.
Lighting can instantly influence the mood of your guests, so it is definitely something to take into account when preparing your house for viewings.
This can be in the form of bright, eye-catching rugs, essential oil diffusers or scented candles. These small additions to your household stimulate at least one of the five senses and have a big impact on your space and how relaxed your guests will feel.
Entering a house that smells divine and oozes colour is going to immediately impress your visitors. When it comes to décor, certain colours can evoke specific feelings and sentiments too; for example, yellow is associated with optimism, green and blue with harmony, while reds and oranges go hand in hand with warmth and excitement. Decide how you want your guests to feel and adjust your colour palette to suit.
But this ‘sense awakening’ doesn’t have to be synonymous with splurging; miniature adjustments to cushions, rugs and small furnishings can make all the difference.
It goes without saying that too much clutter can be very off-putting to potential buyers. By placing bits and pieces into storage units and boxes, you enable visitors to get a clear picture of the space on offer. Mess and clutter can often hinder this.
Home organisation expert and Netflix show host Marie Kondo has taken the internet by storm with her trademarked ‘KonMari’ methods. By only keeping items that “spark joy” within you and discarding those that fail to have the same effect, you are able to both declutter and surround yourself with plenty of positive vibes.
In addition to this, two-thirds of people feel stressed in messy rooms – the last thing you want your guests to feel when thinking of potentially buying your home.
Are you looking to sell your home? Find your local Guild Member today. Don't forget to use our free instant online valuation tool on our website to get an instant quote. For a more accurate valuation of your property, we advise you to contact your local Guild property professional.
Many in the property industry have called out for the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to act decisively on his previously proposed plan of possibly scrapping Stamp Duty on homes under £500,000, at the same time cutting it from 12% to 7% on properties valued at over £1.5m. The hope is the proposed changes would mitigate the potential negative impact of the recent political instability and would improve buyer confidence in the market.
In the past, Johnson had said that he would potentially call for an emergency Budget meeting in September where he would implement changes to current Stamp Duty legislation and drastically raise the threshold to the aforementioned £500,000. Excessive Stamp Duty charges have long been a challenge for those on all levels of the housing ladder, so both buyers and sellers will now be eagerly awaiting confirmation on how he intends to address this.
Should the proposed changes be made it would essentially free up over 300,000 property buyers from having to pay Stamp Duty, based on figures from 2018/2019. The number could even increase as sellers just over the threshold drop their price to entice interest. When you consider the homes sold that are already exempt, over 650,000 transactions from last year would not have had to pay the tax.
The change could mean that entire regions where the average price of property is below £500,000 would be lifted from paying Stamp Duty. This would boost transactions in these pockets of the market and assist with economic growth in these areas.
Johnson had also said that he may switch the responsibility of paying the tax from buyers to sellers – a drastic move that would greatly benefit potential buyers. Taking Stamp Duty off the table for prospective buyers would be a huge advantage, particularly for those who are looking to upgrade to a larger home to meet their growing family needs. However, the change would bring about a few issues. For example, someone who is currently selling their home would have paid Stamp Duty on it when they purchased it. With the proposed change, they would then have to pay it again when they sold. Essentially, this would equate to double taxation. Sellers may also push up their asking price in a bid to cover the additional Stamp Duty charge they would incur.
There is also the question of retirees who are selling to downsize. Selling a large home would mean paying higher levels of Stamp Duty, which would be a blow for someone planning for their golden years.
As it stands, buyers purchasing a home under £300,000 are exempt from paying Stamp Duty. The proposed increase in the threshold would give them the option to purchase a higher-priced home, while still being exempt. This is provided of course, they can afford a home over £300,000 and have the money for the deposit and other costs involved in purchasing a property. A study from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors found that there had been no significant positive impact on property sales after the change in Stamp Duty in November 2018, so perhaps it is unlikely that any further change would bring more first-time buyers to the market. That said, the number of first-time buyers continues to increase, which can be attributed to other aspects such as Help to Buy.
The idea behind the proposed policies is to the get market moving in sectors below £500,000, as well as those at the top end. The hike in Stamp Duty for homes over £925,000 in November 2014, greatly effected the top tier of the market slowing it to a near standstill. Ever since, transactions in the upper end of the market have suffered. The proposed cut from 12% to 7% would do much to invigorate this end of the sector, even if only for a time.
Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, said he would welcome any positive move by the new Prime Minister on Stamp Duty and taxes on landlords. “I am in favour of anyone who is going to improve sentiment or confidence in the housing market. Current economic data is strong, but the uncertainty of Brexit has caused stagnation in the market. Mr Johnson’s commitment to ‘deliver Brexit’ on 31st October with a new ‘can do’ spirit is therefore very much welcomed.”
While the changes are merely talk at the moment, should they come about, it will be intriguing to see what impact they will have on the market moving forward. For more information about the current Stamp Duty thresholds read our blog on the subject.
There is one thing that all property professionals agree on, whether they work in commercial property or residential, and it’s that location is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a home. Property gurus around the world continue to emphasise the importance of location because it has such a massive bearing on a property’s desirability and potential investment return.
There are several key elements to consider before making your final decision. If a location has more positive elements, than negative, it will be in higher demand and will have a greater potential resale value in the future. Essentially, it comes down to desirability and whether buyers would want to live where the home is situated – there is a direct collation between demand and property prices.
There are a lot of buyers who focus on the property itself and perhaps compromise on where it is situated. However, when it comes to the appreciation potential of the home, this will end up hurting their back pocket. A home can be changed, updated or renovated, but you can’t alter its location. Therefore, it is always better to prioritise location and compromise on the property.
A good location is where there is the potential for growth and development. The area needs to be able to support the demand for property over the long term and subsequently increase its value in time. However, bear in mind that certain developments can devalue a location, such as the construction of a power plant or dump within proximity to the home. Before purchasing in an area, find out about future development plans. Developments such as new industrial sites, new roads, or railways or even industrial activities can vastly alter the price profile of an area.
National retailers and property developers will do thorough market research before deciding to invest in an area. So, commercial activity, corporate investment and residential and commercial property developments, are all indicators that the area has the potential for strong investment returns. Also, the presence of long-established or well-known brands within the surrounds will indicate that there is a level of confidence that the area has good growth potential.
The infrastructure in an area needs to accommodate the level of service required by its residents. Neglected areas that experience poor service delivery are not a good option. These areas can be distinguished by the upkeep of the general public land such as the parks, pavements and roads.
Another factor to consider is the quality of the amenities in the area. These include shopping and medical facilities, entertainment areas, restaurants, public services and outstanding schools. Convenience is a highly valued commodity.
Properties in a high crime rate zone will not hold their value over time. Research from insurer Direct Line revealed that almost half of Brits would check crimes statistics in neighbourhoods they might live in, and 47% would not buy a home in an area with a high crime rate. Over a third said they would expect to pay less for a property in a high crime area.
Accessibility to transport routes and train stations will also have an impact on an area’s appreciation potential. A large portion of the British population commute far distances every day to get to work, so easy access to public transport is a major consideration.
The adage of location, location, location is as relevant today as it was when it first appeared in print in 1926. While finding the right home in the right location will require time and research, the future benefits of solid growth in the value of the property will certainly make it worthwhile.
In today’s fast-moving technological age, new developments in tech are constantly being introduced that are having a significant impact on the property sector. The most recent is the introduction of virtual tours and virtual reality (VR). While VR is by no means a new concept, rapid advancement in augmented reality technology has meant that it is now at the point of having an impact on consumers’ day-to-day lives.
Augmented reality provides an additional layer of 3D content to the user’s actual surroundings, while VR fully submerges the user into a created environment and virtual world. By wearing a headset, the user is transported to another place offering them a 360-degree view of their simulated surroundings.
According to statistics, around 95% of home buyers use the internet as their initial search method when looking for a property, with approximately half of buyers purchasing a home that they found online. The integration of VR is adding to the experience and making it far easier.
The applications of VR within the property sector are limitless and it offers benefits to both estate agents and their clients. With most people viewing between five and seven homes before they make an offer, VR can save a lot of time and money.
It will also make it far easier to look for homes in other parts of the country or abroad without the need to travel. Buyers can virtually tour multiple properties from the comfort of their own home in a matter of minutes. The process will allow potential buyers to check through several properties and quickly narrow down the field to a few choice homes that they would like to take a second look at in person.
VR can also be an excellent tool for new build developments when the property has not yet been built. A virtual tour will turn imagination into reality, offering the potential buyer a look into what the home will look like once it is finished. Buyers will be able to view an off-plan property, make comments or suggestions and get an idea of the space and how it works before ground has been broken.
Although the majority of people have heard of VR, not everyone has had the privilege of actually experiencing it first-hand. While the technology is in place, it will still be a while before we see everyone searching for a property this way. However, that said, it is becoming more mainstream and accessible and there are already elements of VR that are already being used by the general public, such as Google Street View, which allows the user to visit city and suburb streets that they have never actually set foot on. VR headsets are also becoming far more commonplace in many households.
Technology commentators say that in the near future we will see the introduction of haptic or kinaesthetic communication to VR. Using forces and sensations, the technology will replicate the sense of touch and allow users to see their hands in the virtual world. The user will be able to open doors and cupboards, interacting with their virtual surroundings when viewing a property.
Further developments are also being made to introduce the other senses into the VR world as well, such as smell and taste. During a VR viewing, the buyer will be able to smell the freshly brewed coffee or baking cookies, which will have a subconscious effect on their opinion of the property. These aspects could be used to simulate the same emotional response in buyers, as they would if used in home staging during a viewing in person.
However, even with the advancement in technology and possible application, it remains to be seen whether the virtual world will ever truly rival the actual experience of shopping for a home in person.
If you are looking for a new property, let us help you.
Head over to our website to start your property search today or view our property valuation tools!
You’ve put your property on the market and selected an estate agent to market and sell the home. Now what? A lot of homeowners don’t realise that on average, for every hour that an agent spends with them, they will spend approximately nine hours working on the seller’s behalf to get the property sold.
There are several things that estate agents do behind the scenes when working for a seller:
Estate agents will pay to have their listings advertised both online and in print media to ensure they receive the appropriate exposure to their target market. Agents will also pay to have flyers and brochures printed, have photos taken of the home and place the property on search portals. Not to mention, using the services of a PR and marketing team to engage with targeted media, posting listings on social media and holding show days.
Director of Sawyer & Co, Chris Sawyer says that once instructed he will send a team to the house which includes a professional photographer to ensure the images of the property are good and edited well. “We have a ‘top tips’ guide that we send the seller before the photoshoot to help them prepare the home, something we are also able to assist with. Once we have the photos, a professional copywriter and graphic designers will produce a brochure that we will use to market the property.”
According to Nick Goldsworthy, Co-Owner of Logic Estate Agents, each property that is listed with his office has a six-week marketing plan, which includes vibrant 30-second videos on social media networks and longer videos on portals. This is in addition to portal and website listings, as well as advertising in The Guild e-zines and magazines.
He adds that if the property is not sold with six weeks, he will make changes to the marketing strategy. “We will look at things such as dropping the listing price or refreshing the photographs or using 3D colour floor plans. All of these factors could help entice buyers to make an offer,” says Goldsworthy.
An estate agent will arrange viewings and open houses for potential buyers to see the property in person. This is a fantastic way for an agent to engage with buyers, guide them around the property and answer any questions they may have.
“Viewings are also a great source of information. Based on the feedback from buyers at viewings and the feedback from digital platforms, we can see what buyers are prepared to pay for the house and adjust the price accordingly,” says Goldsworthy.
Agents spend a lot of time engaging with their network of potential buyers to ensure that they can match the right buyer with the right property. To achieve this successfully, the agent must have in-depth knowledge of their listings, as well as the needs and wants of the would-be buyers in their network.
Another crucial factor is acting as a go-between handling offers made by buyers, as well as any counter-offers or replies that the homeowner may have. It is at this vital stage of the property transaction that an estate agent can net the seller thousands through their negotiation skills. “We aim to obtain the maximum offer available with the best performing buyer on the table,” adds Goldsworthy.
Under the Property Ombudsman Code of Practice, an estate agent must take reasonable steps to find out the source and availability of their funds for buying the property from a potential buyer. Once obtained, this information should then be passed on to the homeowner. The agent will need to know if the buyer needs to sell a property first, requires a mortgage, is a cash buyer or a combination of these. It is common practice for an agent to ask the buyer to show an agreement in principle from their mortgage lender to prove that they can purchase the home.
“We need know how financially prepared the buyer is to purchase the property,” says Sawyer, “This includes finding out where the money is coming from and how they plan on financing the purchase. If they require a mortgage, we will make sure that the criteria of the property and lender are aligned with the person’s status. Once the offer has been stress tested a senior member of the team will ensure that they have negotiated in the best interests of the client.”
The code stipulates that all offers must be presented to the seller, regardless of whether the buyer has been financially qualified or not. If an offer is accepted, an estate agent will regularly monitor the buyer’s progress in achieving the funds and will keep the seller up to date.
According to Sawyer, agents spend a fair amount of time meticulously preparing for valuations they are attending each day to ensure they provide clear evidence and the correct advice to each seller.
Katie Griffin, Director at Sawdye & Harris, says: “It is important that agents have their finger on the pulse of their local property market, as well as the housing market in general. Agents need to keep track of what is happening in the local market to ensure they correctly price the listing rather than flattering the vendors by over valuing the home to simply win the instruction. While traditional marketing methods have their place, agents also need to be familiar with the latest technology and ‘new’ style marketing methods such as 360 tours and video to ensure they are moving with times.”
A lot of an agent’s time is spent researching changes in legislation and looking at property sales prices and data to ensure that they know their area well and have a good handle on the market. To accurately price a home, an agent will need to fully understand their market and what buyers are prepared to pay. Aspects that an agent will need to consider include the average price per square foot in the area, area development, recent sale prices of similar homes and comparative prices of other properties that are still on the market. This information will help establish a reasonable price bracket for the property.
A homeowner may not want to be at the property during a property survey, which is where the agent can step in. Attending the survey will also provide the agent with valuable information about the condition of the home which will help them to accurately value the property.
Once the homeowner has accepted an offer, the agent will issue a Memorandum of Sale to all parties involved, which will give them all the information they need on each other and each party’s solicitors.
An agent’s job does not end once an offer has been accepted. The truth is that not every property sale will go according to plan, but a good agent will try to ensure that it keeps moving in the right direction by unblocking issues and working to the critical points of exchange of contracts and a date for completion.
“Part of an agent’s job is to establish achievable timescales for completion from each party and the title,” says Goldsworthy. “We track at timed intervals through each stage from survey to completion with all parties.”
A property transaction can be stressful, and people get emotional. A good agent will need to be a problem-solver, keep a positive approach and come up with a constructive solution to any issue.
“Putting all the marketing to one side,” says Griffin, “the main thing that agents do is hold our vendor’s hand in a professional sense, guiding them through what can and often is a stressful and uncertain time for many, especially those who haven’t moved for years and who are sometimes overwhelmed at all the paper work.”
She adds that communication remains at the very heart of the selling process and I believe is the key for all parties to ensure their selling journey is a positive and successful one.
Many agents have a referral network of other agents such as The Guild, that they use to find buyers and potential clients. Agents often spend time helping each other to match the right buyer with the right home. Often agents will refer buyers to other agents if they know that agent has the house that checks every box on their wish list.
A good agent will add value to the property transaction and earn their keep. If you are looking for an estate agent in your area search our network of Members.
Making the decision to take on a renovation project is a huge challenge and commitment and should not be taken lightly. As rewarding as the outcome will be, it can be expensive, time-consuming and takes a lot of preparation.
So, in celebration of our brand-new competition to give away 10 pairs of tickets to the Homebuilding & Renovating Show in Surrey later this month, we reveal five things to consider before you delve into a big home renovation.
Renovations are daunting, and so creating your own detailed schedule, with sections for each room e.g. ‘loft conversion’ will help massively. In each section, write time frames and assign job roles to ensure no jobs overlap or conflict with each other.
When working on a big task, it’s always easier to take it one step at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Without a detailed plan of action, the whole process becomes hectic and stressful. It’s normal to miss deadlines, but do your best to make a schedule and stick to it!
Home renovation projects are never simple and rarely go exactly to plan. You will save yourself a lot of time and energy by pre-empting these potential pitfalls along the way. For example, old buildings will most likely require new electrics.
According to Homebuilding & Renovating, rewiring a typical three bedroom terrace measuring around 100m² will cost between £2,500-£3,000, adding a modern heating system to a typical house will cost around £2,500-5,000 and a new roof can cost about £2,000-£3,000 for a typical three bedroom house.
Whether it’s measurements of each space, who is responsible for what role, or your expenditure, make sure you write it all down and keep it with you – even if it’s in your notes in your phone. This will help avoid any confusion or mishaps along the way.
People renovate for different reasons, whether it is to increase the value of your property, restore an old or derelict property or enhance your return on investment, everyone has their own goal in mind. Renovating for you and your family to live in the home, to rent your property or to sell your home, tailor the renovation to meet your goal. However, even if you are renovating for yourself, think long-term and make sure that the decisions you make will not have a negative impact when you eventually decide to sell your home.
Nothing ever goes perfectly, and renovation deadlines are almost always extended. Remember that you can’t rely on everyone all the time and you’re probably going to go over budget. It’s all worth it in the end though, and if you remain realistic with your expectations and vision, you’ll be on the path to success!
This month, we are giving away 10 pairs of tickets to the Homebuilding & Renovating Show in Sandown Park, Surrey on 29th & 30th June 2019.
Regardless of your stage in the building or renovating process, a visit to this event will reward you with inspiration to help create your dream living space. Gain insider knowledge from versatile property experts, find out how to source the most suitable products for your home or start from scratch with a guide to planning permission.
Through a wide range of free daily seminars and masterclasses on key topics including self-build, renovating, innovative products, extensions, conversions, and home DIY alongside tailored advice about your project, you will leave with the confidence and determination to maximise your home to its fullest potential.
Swap hours of scouring the internet to hold face-to-face consultations with architects, planners, builders and Homebuilding & Renovating magazine’s experts.
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.
The closing date for entries is 20th June 2019. The winners will be contacted on the following day and will be announced on social media when they accept their prize.
By entering the competition, entrants agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.
1. This 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. Alternatively, you can like our competition post on Instagram and tag a friend in the comment section below.
c. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram or like our page on Facebook.
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 winners will be chosen at random by representatives of The Guild.
8. The winners will be announced on 21st June 2019 via The Guild’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. The winners will be notified via private message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
9. Each of the 10 winners will win two tickets to the Homebuilding & Renovating show on 29th-30th June at Sandown Park in Surrey: https://surrey.homebuildingshow.co.uk/
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. The competition is not open to The Guild employees and their immediate family members.
16. The terms and condition 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Be a good listener: this is important when it comes to identifying a motivated seller, or spotting buying signals from a potential buyer.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 help you.
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:
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.
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.
To ensure your property is presented properly: make sure your home is well lit, de-cluttered and sparkling clean.
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.
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.
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