According to a recent article in the Daily Telegraph air quality is a factor that people consider when deciding where to move to next. Heavy traffic and the resultant pollution maybe a blight in many of the more built up areas nearer to London, but here in the south west and when away from big cities, we are lucky enough to enjoy less traffic on the roads and hopefully a healthier environment.
This well trained spaniel and his Norfolk terrier friend are not moving but the dilemma of when is the right time to move and enter the property market is a vexing question. With Savills reporting a 10.6% fall in the London prime market - and the current uncertainty in the economy, plus fears over Brexit it is possible that this is contributing to people deciding to stay still for the time being.A lack of stock makes the search for the dream home hard work, but if you do decide to enter the fray, research those prices. One local agent reports that some agents are lowering their fees and overvaluing in order to secure instructions, therefore over promising and under delivering which results in high volumes of reductions as we enter the autumn market.
Using a buying agent who knows the local form will help to make sensible choices. And should you wait? Personally my view is to get on with it as if not we will all stagnate and stay put and what's the sense of that!
(Thanks to David White for the photos)
Once upon a time when corn was harvested the cut corn was stood in stooks to ripen - not so in these days of huge combine harvesters doing the job in half the time. Only sheaves cut for thatching are stood in stooks these days. (thanks to David White for the photos). So when buying a house is it out with the old and in with the new? Viewing a house with clients the other day, I came across a pampas coloured bath suite. How well I remember those from my early days back in the eighties as an estate agent, it was always a toss up between avocado and pampas, highly fashionable at the time! My client was all for retaining this now "period" feature and choosing a wall and tiling colour scheme to compliment it!
It's hard to keep up with kitchen design influenced now I suspect by all the hype around programmes such as The Great British Bake Off. If the budget does not quite stretch yet to a new kitchen why not consider simply painting the units - Ideal Home magazine says that navy and grey are very on-trend at the moment!
Looking at market forces, Rightmove indicate "that 8.6%more properties are coming onto the market this month whilst buyers numbers have not increased." Overall they suggest "prices are remaining the same with some regional differences and that around a third of properties currently on the market have been reduced at least once since they first came on."
It’s holiday time and a scorching one at that, but maybe whilst relaxing in the sun you are planning a possible move once summer is over? I have been giving a bit of help to some friends looking for a house way out of my area and therefore experiencing the problems that many do house hunting in an unfamiliar location. Whilst it might be fun to check out the countryside from a hot air ballon, one of the tools I have been using is Google Earth- great for getting a birds eye view.
Bear in mind that the postcode may not pin point exactly the property, so use the Street View option as well and follow the directions on the property brochure and with luck you might find yourself looking at the entrance and be able to gauge to some degree the desirability of the spot. The birds eye satellite view is useful for spotting possible blights such as main roads, railways, fields of solar panels, quarries and possibly pylons, but the latter are hard to spot. Do then ring the agents and use the information gleaned to quiz them before disregarding something out of hand....how close is the quarry or the neighbours etc.
Finding the perfect property can take time and consider using a good buying agent to help achieve your goal.
As I write, the sun is blazing down and thoughts turn to summer holidays and if this weather continues it might be that "staycations" will be the choice of many. Although these little Arctic terns seem to know the best seaside resorts and the puffins know where best to shop for sand eels, (thank you David White for the photos) the Cotswolds, together with Wiltshire and Gloucestershire is not exactly awash with beaches. However there is still lots to do in this area!
For the sporting members of the family, a game of golf might be an idea - the area abounds with great courses - Lansdowne and Tracey Park both near Bath, Cotswold Edge near Kingscote, Minchinhampton not far from Stroud and beautiful Castle Combe to name just a few.
Water sports at the Cotswold Water Park near Cirencester will help cool you down afterwards . But if your inclination is to watch rather than take part, then pop along to watch the polo at Cirencester Park or at the Beaufort Polo Club near Westonbirt.
In the evening a spot of culture might be on the cards with great theatres in Bath, Bristol and Cheltenham, or the new little theatre on the block, the amazing Barn Theatre in Cirencester can give the West End a run for its money.
Finish the day with a meal in one of the many pubs and restaurants. The gourmet will head for maybe Calcot or Whatley Manor but don't ignore some of the village pubs, The Vine Tree near Sherston does terrific moules and the Butchers Arms at Sheepscombe offers simple pub grub but what a location!
How much say does the younger generation have when it comes to choosing a new home? A surprising amount it seems to me. Whilst children may voice strong opinions when accompanying their parents round a house - `gosh I love this house may we buy
it please` usually refers to a swimming pool or a tree house in the garden or a stable where little Camilla can already see herself tending to a pony - it is the subject of education that usually concentrates a parents mind. Often, one of the major points clients are looking for is access and a sensible drive to a good school.
Here in the Cotswolds and adjacent Wiltshire we are lucky enough to be blessed with a number of highly rated schools both private and state.Near me, many local parents favour Beaudesert at Minchinhampton and further afield Hatherop and Pinewood. Cheltenham has a selection of well renowned educational establishments, Dean Close and Cheltenham College to name just two and away to the east Marlborough College boasts a number of well known ex pupils including the Duchess of Cambridge. Bath to the south with Kingswood, Prior Park and the Royal High can also hold its own in the learning stakes.
Finding a school where your child will be happy must be a nightmare - not having children myself, puppies are more my thing! - I rely on friends to tip me the wink about the upsides and downsides of individual establishments. The Good Schools Guide is a great place to start as well https://www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk/
Spring is finally in the air after that hard cold final kick in the teeth from Winter the daffodils are out in the garden and Iam listening to the birds singing. The latter puts in my mind one of the most important aspects of my job - listening to clients. When viewing with clients recently who had just commenced their search I was reminded how vital it is to stop talking myself and to simply listen and try to ascertain what really matters to them, sometimes they don't even know it themselves until you somehow draw it out of them, helping them focus .
Garden size, how big how small? - then you learn that they have little boys who like to kick a football and need a flat lawn. Roads, how close, how busy? In my estate agent days I often used the "do you have a cat" question to ascertain the answer to the road query. Clients sometimes ask for secluded properties but how secluded, how isolated? Asking the question "if you heard a bump in the night, would you like to be able to run to a neighbour not too far away" sometimes helps the focus on that one, plus of course, are they happy to cope with problems such as an icy hilly lane in the winter. My niece recently got stranded for a week in a rural farmhouse and not having a 4 x 4 was not at all amused! Road noise is a common bugbear, I often use the "do you need to hear the birds sing" to get a feel of how much noise irritates.
Room sizes are another problem. Clients can find it hard to gauge a room size just looking at measurements on a floor plan. It helps greatly if we can meet clients in their own homes and see for ourselves the sort of furniture they have, pianos and grandfather clocks and four posters plus an inherited and much loved antique dining table can cause some head scratching.
Every search is different, clients needs are varied but in the end having hopefully LISTENED, I want to be able to walk into a house and feel like the client I am working for - then you stand a chance of getting it right for them and that is a great feeling!
At this time of the year one usually writes about the green shoots of Spring! Hey Ho not this time as the aptly named Beast from the East decided to blanket us with heavy snow and Arctic temperatures. But for all of you living in towns and cities or even warmer climes it is good to see the Dunkirk spirit out in the villages and surrounding countryside of the Cotswolds and Wiltshire with neighbours offering neighbours a helping hand, whether it is farmers clearing the drifts in the lanes or those with 4 x 4`s offering their help. So fear not townies, it is still safe to live in a rural community!
As ever, the messages regarding the property market seem as confusing as ever - one expert declares a lack of supply of property in January resulted in prices remaining strong but then Nationwide has just reported a 0.3% dip in February. With the London market still slowing, it makes sense for those hoping to move out into the countryside, to first get their "ducks in a row", such as own properties onto the market, and obtaining mortgage advice, and remember when you have a purchaser for your own property and are ready to take the plunge, cautious buyers can gain confidence by using a buying agent.
Now that you have all finished with Dry January and hopefully are feeling suitably detoxed and slightly smug - is now the time tolook forward with renewed energy to searching for a new home this year?Certainly there still seems to be a shortage of stock so if a property does alight your interest you probably need to get your skates on. Therein lies the problem - busy lives and a lack of time.
Maybe it was last night's Super Blue Moon that inspired the little grey cells to concoct this idea - what about using Property Hound to do one off viewings followed by a brief assessment and some photographs? Would that save you time?
Take a look at View for You on the website for more details.
New Year Resolutions - do we make them and even more important do we actually keep them and are they a good idea! Well personally speaking, I suppose they might perhaps help focus the mind - mine? - well that would be telling, but maybe early to bed and early to rise, less wasted time seeing what my family are up to on Facebook, and improving fitness, but if I could influence you - what do I suggest?
As we enter 2018 some of you might be wondering about making a property move. My advice is to explore the process before making a decision. Firstly, get your own property valued by two or three estate agents. I often think that the average price of the 3 valuations gives a seller a good idea of a sensible asking price. Try and chose agents that you feel you could work with and don’t just chose the agent that values your home the highest.
Finances, talk to your financial advisors about the permutations of arranging a mortgage if you are going to require one.
Legalities, it can be a useful to talk early to your solicitor about maybe preparing for a
possible sale of your property. Documents can be collated, title deeds found and any possible hitches concerning planning permissions etc ironed out beforehand.
De clutter the property a little if needed. Probably no need to completely redecorate, but touch up paint work where there are knocks and scratches. Personally, I see little point
in refitting kitchens and bathrooms prior to marketing, as the next occupant might well have a different taste. Overgrown gardens should be tidied up to show to best advantage the space they offer.
As a property search agent, I find that one of the most vexing questions is where to actually move to, so time spent on focusing where you want your perfect property to be is well spent. If you need help, talk to us about areas, where is desirable, where best avoided, where might suit your family socially, for schools, work, commuting, culture, leisure activities and so on.
For later use get some decent photographs taken - blue sky thinking and all that!
Where the market is going in 2018 continues to confuse all.
Rightmove suggest that 2018 will see a 1% rise in property values but with London continuing to show further decline. Savills echos that thinking.
The RICS warns that political and economic uncertainty due to Brexit will continue to affect the market, but with a shortfall in supply, prices should stay steady.
Country Life recently stated that sales of property over £2m have fallen due to punitive stamp duty, but Knight Frank indicate that there are plenty of buyers out there and combined with willing sellers, using a buying agent can help find common ground for an acceptable purchase price.
Happy New Year!
Love it seems is in the air! December, as a month, is not to my mind an obvious choice for a romantic month, but maybe I am wrong as at least 2 engagements (one of a Prince) rounded off November nicely! With Christmas fast approaching, I set my mind to visualising what might be the perfect property in which to spend the festive season.
"Chestnuts roasting round an open fire" so certainly an open fire is needed for a start. As a child, I was brought up in a house with an enormous inglenook fireplace, big enough to stand up in and perfect for Father Christmas to slide down into - heaven only knows how he copes with wood burners! So an inglenook, lots of beams to hang the holly, ivy and decorations from and a good sized entrance hall with stairs leading up to a galleried landing would be ideal for the Christmas Tree.
A large kitchen, well equipped, a separate dining room that seats a big family so that you can shut the door on the mess when the feast is over. A small snug to pop the oldies in after lunch in order that they can snooze and a good drawing room for noisy
party games. I would chose a village with a pretty church so you can walk to Midnight Mass and after Christmas lunch exercise off the excess in beautiful surrounding countryside.
All this of course, a pipe dream for most - and frankly a small cosy house or cottage and the company of good friends, takes a lot of beating.
On a more mundane level, the general feeling about the market is that we might have to wait until February or March 2018 for an indication of where it is going. There seems to be a continuing downward pressure on prices in London, but in this area, providing properties are sensibly priced they should still find buyers.
I find myself pondering as we enter November why on earth we still have fireworks - yes they can be spectacular, but my goodness do animals hate them. Sprightly, my dog gets into a complete lather at the first sound of a whizz bang and then it lasts for days it seems.
Rant over! However, if fireworks are your big thing then where best to live to enjoy them? If children are insisting on a party then the ideal spot is a large garden, with perhaps a bank opposite where you can safely build a bonfire, and launch the rockets into the sky without burning your house or anybody else's down ! And don't forget to warn your neighbours so that all animals are safely secured. My suggestion is to live high on a hill with great views and watch everyone else's without having to go to all the expense of buying them!
Whilst thinking of noise - one of the most common requests when trying to find the perfect property for a client, is the desire for a peaceful location. In this day and age - not an easy box to tick. Some years ago I had clients insisting on complete peace and quiet and the property search took about eighteen months before a tranquil home was eventually found. There was many a fruitless trip checking out noise levels before these clients came to view potential properties - a great deal of time saved on their behalf.
What noise annoys an oyster? And things can change for the better!
Aircraft in some areas can be tiresome. Before RAF Lyneham closed down the area around Calne, and Chippenham in Wiltshire with the big Hercules coming in and out could make selling a property quite tricky and the same could have been said for the countryside around RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire until it reverted to its current quieter role as a designated standby airfield. Yes, Fairford hosts the Air Tattoo every year, but locally many seem to enjoy the annual jamboree of exciting air displays over one particular weekend.
Train lines are another blight depending on the frequency, but it will be interesting to see how much quieter electric trains are as opposed to diesel, when the electrification of the Bristol to Paddington line is complete.
Motor racing tracks such as Castle Combe in Wiltshire can annoy some, unless you love the sound of speed and it is well worth checking out the number of days events take place in locations like that. More difficult to identify is the irritating sound of scramble tracks that sometimes seem to pop up on farmland and spoil the plans for a quiet weekend.
Motorways are the big bugbear and in my part of the world with the M4 and M5, that is always a factor to currently consider, but with the government pushing for electric vehicles by 2040 will motorways one day be silent and therefore might it be worth the gamble of purchasing a property close to a motorway at a good price because of its location, and then see it increase in value when the motorways fall silent - I wonder?
Two conversations with potential clients recently, one on the subject of downsizing, the other on a similar track but in the other direction - upsizing!
Both have their problems. For the downsizer, the task of moving out of a much loved large rambling family house stuffed to the gunnels with a lifetime of ephemera, books, large furniture, attics full of old toys and departed (now adult) children's uncollected possessions, the job must seem like climbing a veritable Everest. My advice is to bite the bullet but do so before you "have" to, do it while you are still robust and nimble
in body and spirit. That way it makes the property search and the whole moving process so much easier together with ensuring that slotting into a new and unfamiliar area is less daunting. Needs are different too - easy driving distance of family or friends, not too far from a decent village shop, a doctors surgery within reach and interesting groups to join to make retirement fulfilling are just a few of the thoughts
Then there is the young couple, perhaps both hardworking professionals, with maybe a very young demanding litter of small children, overflowing from the first house in London they bought together, and ready for the next step into country life. The
endless drives up and down the motorway at weekends to view properties that don't
tick the boxes when they get there can be pretty testing on the happiest
relationships! Needs here, for the upsizer are varied too. Are the local primary schools good, is it a sensible drive to school to collect for the weekend the privately educated? Is, for those children who aspire to have ponies the riding safe and away from too much
traffic? Train service to London, the airport or the motorway network - viable? Will we fit into the community? All that before the house itself is talked about - do they want to renovate, is the broadband speed fast enough, can you hear the motorway and is it too remote and isolated and a bit of a culture shock after the sophistication of London? Funnily enough, in the last few years, one of the most tricky boxes to tick is the
one of ceiling heights - husbands seem to be getting taller and the desire for
a period property can take longer unless he is persuaded to bend ze knees and
wear a crash hat!
Home search is a serious business and not to be taken lightly!
Just a hint of the coming autumn now in the air especially in the early mornings and thoughts turn to thinking about what will heading our way as far as the market is concerned. Will it be a "Time of mellow fruitfulness" I wonder! August for the most part always seems to be pretty quiet - people are on holiday and there is nothing worse than trying to view a house with the entire family in tow, or indeed trying to sell a house with
maybe an errant teenager still abed and his or her trainers lurking about ready
to catch the unwary!
There is still a shortage of stock and sensibly priced properties have been selling. I heard of one attractively positioned smallish farm with a modern but rather nice house in my area having in the course of a couple of days over 48 viewings, and going, I understand, for in excess of the guide price of £2.95m. Over priced cottages are sticking and in my opinion will do so for a bit until vendors realize that a touch of a price tweak is required. The Nationwide in fact, reported a slowing of the market in
August from 2.9% in July to 2.1%.
If you can find the house this is a great time to buy.
Met my associate Peter Hampshire from Peter Hampshire Property Search there last week to discuss the current housing market and we both agree that this is a lovely part of the world to in which to search for a home. The beauty of those almost secret valleys, yet close enough to Cheltenham for great schools, shopping and culture
whilst being within easy reach of a train service to Paddington from Stroud or Kemble
stations. The Butchers Arms
Here goes! Having just spent 16 very happy years with Stacks as a property finder, I have decided now is the time to go it alone. My aim is to provide affordable property search, as I believe there is a need out there. It seems to me, that there are many reasons people might turn to a buying agent, distance, work commitments, being busy parents and sometimes a lack of confidence in the whole process to mention a few. My aim is to provide that special service at a sensible cost.
I look forward to hearing from you!