8 Things I Love About Agents
By John Horton MNAEA MARLA

How To Be A Good Estate Agent and How To Spot One

If you’ve had a wonderful experience with an estate agent or you know someone who has then you might pinch yourself and ask, "Is this really possible?" The answer is an emphatic YES. Great career estate agents are out there in your community, working smart, working hard, endeavouring to make a make a difference hoping to challenge and switch the public's perception of our profession. The good guys are needles in the haystack - they're out there - you just have to find them. A disastrous experience often puts you on the back foot before you can differentiate between “The Good, The Bad… and The Indifferent”.

8 Things I Love About "The Good" Agents

1. We're human beings. I choose to believe people are fundamentally good. Our profession is reviled in a way that only parking wardens and politicians might understand yet the great and good among us persist, attempting to change the public's opinion.

2. Superb communicators. The very best estate agents are, bar none, some of the best communicators I've ever met, whether it's over the phone, email, WhatsApp, social media, carrier pigeon or - in the (my!) olden days - the fax machine. We can underpin and hold together complex deals, balanced on a knife-edge, with a deft grace that's rarely seen.

3. Our work ethic is in fifth gear. The best agents I know simply don't stop. They find the time to get the job done, taking meetings at unsociable hours, bending over backwards for their clients, buyers and tenants in order to minimise inconvenience and remove the hassle factor. The extra mile isn't crowded and they know it; they love going the distance for their clients.

4. The Power of Positive Thinking. Every successful career estate agent is a glass half full type and it's this winning attitude that helps achieve the best results for clients. An agent with a sour disposition is one to avoid!

5. Proud, passionate professionals. The top performers are full to the brim with pride and passion for property and they possess a tempered, but boundless energy and enthusiasm that’s infectious.

7. Longevity. Any agent worth their salt is a seasoned professional with a genuine knowledge of their patch. These people have breathed the air in their areas for long enough to know what it is YOU need to know about selling, letting and buying.

8. Superlative service. The best agents know when to listen and when to speak. My mother’s mantra is always, "Treat others how you would like to be treated yourself." Service is a skill you can hone. However, the ability to put a client's needs before your own is innate - many people don't possess it so seek out those who do. Speak to current and past clients. The cream always rises to the top.

My advice to sellers and landlords is this: seek out the needles in the haystack. It might take some legwork and several meetings with "The Bad and The Indifferent" but you'll find them. Here at Horton and Garton, as we celebrate our tenth year of business, our guidance and advice are always available to West London locals. Call us anytime for a chat on how the market is moving in your patch of Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush or Chiswick.


Record breaking prices in Brackenbury Village by John Horton MNAEA MARLA

Brackenbury Village Property Sale Exceeds Expectations

I'll set the scene: the bleak English midwinter is upon us; it's January in West London. Most agents will tell you this is their quietest time of the year... phones are dead, inboxes are empty. (To be honest, I can't remember the last quiet day in Horton and Garton HQ!) We listed a fashionably unmodernised Victorian cottage in perennially popular Cardross Street, set in desirable Brackenbury Village. We marketed the property for ten days. Seventy one viewings and thirteen offers above the asking price later, it was sold - for a record smashing pound per square foot price! No other property on Cardross Street has ever commanded such a premium. Our delighted client had thirteen offers to choose from and eleven days after agreeing the sale contracts were exchanged.

Setting TrustWorthy Market Valuations is the Key

But why? Is the market on fire? Flooded with buyers? Is there a historically high volume of transactions in Hammersmith? No on all counts - in fact, quite the opposite. Our unique brand of intelligent agency sets us, and our properties, apart. Research has demonstrated time and time again that properties listed for their real market value from day one achieve a higher price than those initially priced unrealistically. Honest, accurate, sensible pricing - straight from the start - has never been more important. Today's ever-changing market challenges even the most experienced estate agents. Sellers and landlords rely upon our ethics and professionalism to guide and advise them on asking prices. These asking prices then set the scene for the sale or let. Hard work, clever negotiation and experience then come into play when the property is launched. Will it be bleak midwinter with not a buyer to be seen or sun-soaked summer with buyers aplenty?

We Have A Different Approach To Selling Property in West London

If your property has languished on the market for eight weeks or more it's time for a Plan B (or Plan H&G!). Is your agent's marketing strategy as stale a the box of crackers in the back of your kitchen cupboard? Do you get the feeling they intentionally misled you on the real value of your property in order to win the listing? Unfortunately, this is the oldest trick in the book.

In my opinion, these are the agents that give our industry a bad name... they couldn't value a £5 note! If you've been sucked in by one of them you have two options: you can steel yourself for the long haul, make a cup of tea and listen to the crickets (spoiler alert: they won't call you, you'll call them) or you can choose an honest, hard-working, intelligent agent who puts the client first.

There is no doubt the current property market is challenging - it could frustrate any seller or landlord - so if you need an experienced view on how it's moving in your street, pop into our office or call 020 8819 0510 and ask for John Horton. I'd be very pleased to meet you.

House in Brackenbury Village

Diary of an Estate Agent - A Flying Start

Diary of an Estate Agent

John Horton, Horton and Garton

I love Mondays… especially after a previously busy weekend in the office. I knew today would be a good one as I could smell the hops from Fuller's Brewery on the walk to work. I'm not superstitious but when on a Monday morning you feel the sun on your face and already smell the beer brewing, you know it's going to be a great day! This morning I'm approving copy for the Spring edition of Our Patch community magazine which will hit doorsteps in early March. Our two offices agreed half a dozen sales last week - with one Brackenbury Village property receiving twelve sealed bids - so we have a lot of disappointed buyers to look after today. We pride ourselves on being able to match our buyers to their perfect property... a job that never stops in this popular part of West London. I've been the phone for hours and my voice has nearly given out... I need a hot ginger, lemon and honey tea.

This morning I attended a valuation with my Sales Manager Martin Clements and my Lettings Manager Ashley Clements (no, they're not related!). I've worked with both for over ten years and know our combined experience and knowledge of West London's property market is unmatched. From the fashionably unmodernised house to the riverside penthouse flat we're invited to appraise the very best homes in West London. The three of us helped the owner decide whether renting or selling his home would be the best course of action. Our clients are all different but have one thing in common - they're seeking experienced guidance and honest advice without the added pressure. I happily spend hours of my working week deep in conversation about the property market with local residents over cups of tea and coffee.

In the good old days the telephone, fax, paper and pen ruled the office however today it’s the smartphone and internet. My IT skills may not be the sharpest, being the most senior member of the team, but today I was made up as I managed to teach a “shortcut” to the 30+ year olds! My lettings colleagues have been ringing the bell all day to signify lets agreed. To the non-agent it might seem like 'job done' but this is just the beginning for our team. The referencing process, agreement of contracts, and finer points like furnishings and move in dates are all still to be agreed - this is when the years of expertise and skill are put into practice.

The weekend is nigh, but unlike the liquid lunches of the 90's my lunch meetings now consist of espresso or sushi! We're proud to support many local charities and good causes within our neighbourhoods and this morning I've been in an extended meeting at The Hogarth Health Club along with my communications colleague to discuss a charity event we're supporting in March. Helping to raise awareness of charities and giving generously is part of our mission statement. After lunch, I'm feeling brilliant. I have to say The Crucial Café makes some of the tastiest and healthiest food I've ever eaten.

Fridays are usually exchange and completion days; the day of the week when keys are handed over to buyers and fizzy bottles are popped. Completion tends to happen from 11am – 3pm and as the selling agent we cannot release keys until we have confirmation from the seller's solicitors that all monies have been received. This Friday is no exception and I've been able to deliver the highly anticipated news to a delighted seller and ecstatic buyer. Achieving an all-round positive result is, for me, what this profession is about. The office closing on Friday evening means it's Beer O’Clock at The Hampshire Hog!

My Saturday is consumed by back to back viewings and valuations. We knew January would be busy but truly didn't expect such a manic month! With so many sales and lets agreed we've been actively listing new properties that we know will be snapped up by buyers and tenants who've missed out. The evening will be spent on the town at a 1920's "Gatsby" themed Valentine's Ball, at a secret location which is to be announced. The spats are pressed and the brogues are polished - what a way to end the week!

Why estate agents don’t like estate agents by John Horton MNAEA MARLA

A pair of cuff links with Trust Me I'm an Estate Agent Engraved

Choosing The Best Estate Agent Guide - And 5 Traits of a Second Rate Estate Agency

If you haven't had a hideous experience with an estate agent, you know someone who has. The new year ushered in the inevitable tidal wave of letters, emails and - can you believe it - cold callers (!) from our rival competitors. Cold callers knocking at the door! The very mention of them evokes the same uneasy feeling in local residents as it does in me.

With over twenty years of experience in selling and letting property in West London I've seen every shady, and frankly desperate, tactic in the book but door knocking really gets my back up. Why the sudden commentary? Can you believe our clients right here in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush are regularly harassed by random agents on their own doorsteps? Despite being one of 'the good guys', I won't defend the underhanded tactics of the competition - even estate agents hate estate agents. So here you have it:

Five Things I Hate About Estate Agency

  1. Letters through the door. No, I am not thinking of selling. No, I do not care that you sold a property four streets away last summer. No, I do not need a reminder that you are 'valuing on my street.' When we have agreed a sale on a particular road, we might write to the whole street - but only if we genuinely have disappointed buyers looking to purchase in that road. For example, we had a 'best and final sealed bids' scenario on a house in a popular Brackenbury Village road last month (yes, in the bleak January midwinter!) which resulted in 12 sealed bids and several distraught buyers who missed out so yes, in that circumstance, we might write to the neighbours. Do we do this every week, month or quarter? Absolutely not - just say no to junk mail!
  2. Cold callers. This is the most unashamed and desperate trick in the book. Homeowners, here is my honest opinion: if an agency has time to send their employees out to harass you on your own doorstep, they've got a lot of time on their hands! We would never have the ability to engage in such a practice because our schedules are full - each day is busy enough with talking to our clients, often managing complex chains, negotiating for our clients, understanding our buyers, reading up on the latest legislation and London market movements. We agree more sales in Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Chiswick than any other agency - we categorically do NOT have the time or the desire to knock on doors!
  3. Fake news. Social media sites with fake/bought followers, fake reviews on feedback websites, flagrantly false claims about their success, fake offers put forward from fake buyers on fake viewings, fake asking prices they know are unachievable! Over promising and under delivering... time and time again.
  4. Unprofessionalism. Incompetence, overpromising and under delivering, lateness, losing keys, forgetting to lock doors or close gates (oops, there goes the dog!), not calling back, forgetting to chase the solicitor, recommending a shockingly poor mortgage broker, tracking mud through your home, 'ghosting' their own clients, screwing up your completion date because they forgot to write it down!
  5. Indifference. Shiny suits, cheap shoes, limp handshakes, lack of eye contact, chewing gum, halitosis, body odour, eating at their desk (and wearing yesterday's lunch on their tie!).

I wish I could champion and defend my industry. There are many A1 local and community focused estate agents out there today but remember the caveat "buyer beware!" The property industry has a reputation for being a sea full of sharks. It's hard to imagine dipping a toe into the water but selling and letting can be a refreshingly pain-free process if you choose the right agent. Our clients tell our story far better than I ever could. Opt for local expertise, genuine knowledge, an honest, professional approach, a company with integrity that keeps you at the heart of the process - the diamond in the rough. Whether you're looking to buy or sell property in West London, we're at your service in 2018. Contact our team of property experts today.

Diary of an Estate Agent: Farewell 2017

Diary of an Estate Agent

Paul Cooney, Horton and Garton, Chiswick

After a weekend of viewings I relax into the morning with breakfast at Gail's. Fast forward to lunch and an incoming phone call from a concerned client who's requesting urgent assistance: whilst home alone, two aggressive, unsavoury door knockers entered her property and she needs help ensuring they leave! I'm straight in the car to jet over to her house, first ringing two other team members for back up and then moving an appointment. I arrive and whilst they're intimidating they make their exit when Team H&G arrives. We note their license plate and the police take a statement. The adrenalin rush is exhausting but I'm elated my client is safe and her home is now secure.

You never know who you'll meet on viewings. Today brought an unexpected surprise - an international DJ registered under a pseudonym which of course I didn't realise until we were face to face! I showed him several properties and he invited me to his gig in the evening at XOYO in Shoreditch. A standard Tuesday turned into an exceptional and truly memorable evening out!

John Horton and I start each Wednesday with an early morning spin session at the Hogarth Health Club followed by a delicious and healthy working breakfast at HHC's Crucial Cafe where we review the week behind us and plan the week ahead. There's never a dull moment - between our Chiswick and Hammersmith offices we agree more sales and lets than any other agency in our patch according to Rightmove statistics. I squeeze in a tennis tournament at the Hogarth which ends up doubling as a networking event as there as so many clients playing.

I field a distressed phone call from a former client whose home I sold this spring. His colleague is selling a flat on the borders of Bedford Park but the sale has been mismanaged and is on the brink of collapse. My client asks if I'll put in a phone call and offer advice. I carve out 15 minutes at lunchtime to speak to his colleague but the conversation consumes the best part of an hour - it's one I'm happy to have. Selling is never a straightforward process and informed, honest advice is hard to come by in the property industry.

It's a very good day indeed. Today saw my clients exchange contracts at the end of an exceptionally tricky two and a half year sales journey. Where two previous agencies failed, we succeeded. Their Chiswick High Road property will soon belong to ecstatic new owners and they'll be upsizing right here in Chiswick.

It's officially 'the depths of December' but I'm on the Raleigh Chopper for a full day of back-to-back viewings in on a mission to secure buyers for two houses that will be coming to market in January. We agree one in five sales before our listings hit property portals and I love nothing more than matching a buyer to their perfect property. I book in a last minute Sunday lunch time valuation in Grove Park. It's been a busy week but I know January will bring new meaning to the word so I'm soaking up the rare moments of peace. Saturday night is always protected as date night with my lovely girlfriend. The new year is around the corner and to quote John Horton, it's "onwards and upwards!"

We're at your service in 2018

Why We Believe We're The Best Estate Agent in Hammersmith

My career as an estate agent spans over two decades. In those years, technology, business, housing needs and property legislation have evolved but estate agency simply hasn't kept up. The revolving door spins endlessly; agents come and go while the outdated formula of 'drop a leaflet, open the door, hope for an offer' continues to be the norm.

Blinkered by numbers-driven targets and a 'secure the sale or let at all costs!' mentality, agents relegate their clients' needs to the bottom of the totem pole. We look after our clients' most significant financial and emotional investments and as such we have a duty of care to ensure our service is knowledgeable, professional, honest, ethical and unrelenting - in short, intelligent. Our clients are always at the heart of what we do. I challenge the team daily to stop thinking like an agent and start thinking like a client. When we stop to listen and truly comprehend your individual needs, we can tailor our sales or lettings service to meet those needs.

Our 'Client First' Approach is Truly Unique

For most agencies, the common sense of 'Client First' is lost in the blur of targets and bonuses while the valuable skill of matching the right buyer to their ideal property continues to disappear. Sales progression or the management of complex chains involving other estate agents, solicitors, mortgage brokers, lenders, freeholders, managing agents and councils is another dying art. My senior leadership team has over 50 years of property experience within Hammersmith, Chiswick and Shepherds Bush. We are focused and relentless - always one step ahead - with a true command of the sales and lettings process from start to finish. The lines of communication are always open and we are at the helm of each transaction, without fail.

Our Knowledge of The London Property Market is Unrivalled

Our understanding of the local property market is unmatched - not just within Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Chiswick but your patch of the neighbourhood, your street. We have forecasted for 2018 taking into account changes to legislation, the impact of Brexit, the interest rate rise, stamp duty changes and historic and current local market movements.

For our team, estate agency isn't a job. It's a profession - a science - with a precise formula for success. Our intelligent brand of agency has led us to lead the market for sales and lets agreed in our areas of West London (according to Rightmove). We're at your service in 2018 so whether it's a conversation about the first quarter's market movements or a chat about property prices on your street, we'll happily share our knowledge.

- John Horton, MNAEA MARLA

Brook Green Market Christmas Activities

Mark your calendars for festive fun at the Brook Green Market & Kitchen on two consecutive Saturdays - the 16th and 23rd of December. On the 16th, a Christmas choir will sing carols, face painting will be available for the little ones and you can enter the raffle for a chance to win one of several fabulous prizes while enjoying a cup of mulled wine and a handful of freshly roasted chestnuts. On the 23rd, Santa Claus is coming to town! Children can bring their letters to Santa, take a photo with him and each will receive a special treat. With over 25 traders selling sensational seasonal food and drink, make sure to pick up your Christmas food shopping. Visit Brook Green Market at Addison Primary School W14 0DT (Bolingbroke Road entrance) from 10am until 3pm every Saturday. For more information, visit: http://www.brookgreenmarket.co.uk/.

Brook Green Market Christmas Activities

Brackenbury Christmas Festivities

Brackenbury Christmas Festivities

The great and the good of Hammersmith descended upon Brackenbury Village for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting event last week. The event, coordinated by the Brackenbury Village Residents' Association, is a highlight in Hammersmith's Christmas calendar. The Addison Singers made a joyful noise and local residents joined them in singing carols. Hammersmith & Fulham Council Leader Stephen Cowan and Councillor Harry Phibbs caught up with locals over a cup of mulled wine. H&F Mayor Mike Cartwright and Mayoress Rosemary Pettit were in attendance and had the honour of illuminating the tree. Our Director John Horton said of the tree lighting, "I come every year and can attest this event keeps getting bigger and better. It's a testament to the love of the BRA for their community and the generous spirit of local residents, community groups and businesses."

The raffle raised almost £400 for the BRA with generous donations from the Lyric Theatre, the Thatched House and Andover pubs, Stenton Family Butchers, Brackenburys Deli, Body and Brain Yoga and Horton and Garton. BRA Events Coordinator John Ashworth said of the afternoon, "The tree lighting was a lovely and happy event that hopefully brought the community of Brackenbury Village even closer together. The BRA is very grateful to everyone who contributed to our raffle which helped to cover the cost of new decorations for our Christmas tree." For more information on the BRA, click on any image or visit: http://brackenburyresidents.co.uk/

Brackenbury Christmas Festivities

Brackenbury Christmas Festivities

A Modern Masterpiece in Shepherds Bush

Breathtaking Properties: Shepherds Bush Letting Agents

A house with a direct link to a piece of modern music history is available to rent in Shepherds Bush. One of only twelve homes, the 2000 sq ft+, with four bedrooms and three bathroom luxury property is located in the famous Townhouse Studios where, for three decades, some of the world's brightest stars recorded their hits.

The studios which closed a decade ago are steeped in history: Elton John recorded Candle In The Wind, his tribute to Princess Diana and the world's fastest selling number one, while Queen, Coldplay, Eric Clapton, Blur, Oasis, the Sex Pistols and Robbie Williams also recorded number one records. Arguably the most iconic drum solo in modern music, from Phil Collins' 'In the Air Tonight', was recorded in Townhouse Studios.

One of the finest local developments in Shepherds Bush

Horton and Garton Lettings Manager Ashley Clements says, "In terms of design and specification this home is completely unique. This particular townhouse is truly breathtaking - the architectural design is second to none. In my decade of experience, it's one of the finest local developments I've ever seen." The house pays homage to the vast amount of character within the original studios, now benefiting from spectacular windows and vaulted ceilings. The fully furnished home's high spec interior design is sympathetic to the unique architecture. The private roof terrace offers west London skyline views. For the opportunity to live on the site where the world's most beloved artists created their masterpieces, contact our lettings team  on 020 8819 0511.

As one of the leading Shepherds Bush letting agents, visit our lettings page for the latest property updates.

Help's at hand from The Hub @ 75

Less than two years ago a full service foodbank opened on Bloemfontein Road in the White City neighbourhood of Shepherds Bush, W12. Aptly named "The Hub," it's far from a traditional foodbank; the team offer advice, signposting and support services to locals who require guidance and extra assistance. H&F Foodbank, the Trussell Trust and Hammersmith & Fulham Council banded together to develop this unique approach.

CEO of H&F Foodbank Daphne Aikens says, "What sets us apart is we aren't just a food project - we take a holistic approach to poverty. When we started seven and a half years ago it was all about getting food to people in crisis, which is still the most important part of what we do, but as the years went by we realised our clients weren't just going hungry... there were underlying causes of their need to visit the foodbank. We offer debt and legal advice, cooking courses, a school holiday club, gifts for families in crisis at Christmas... the list goes on."

The dedicated team of around 60 committed volunteers help make the H&F Foodbank stand apart. "Our volunteers see each individual that comes in as unique - we get to know them and their circumstances. Last week, a family came in with a tiny baby. They had no cot so we used our contacts and sourced a brand new cot for them. As a small charity with long serving volunteers, we are able to go the extra mile. We had a magician and face painter donate their time to help make this year's fully catered family Christmas lunch even more special."

Horton and Garton are proud to support the H&F Foodbank. John Horton says of the team, "Daphne and her team do salient and extraordinary work. It's an unfortunate fact that poverty and hunger are present in our communities." Daphne adds, "Hunger is a very real issue that is more local than you might realise... your neighbour could be affected. Please donate what you can, when you can, year round - we have collection points in supermarkets, libraries and the town hall or you can make a donation directly via our website.

Always required:
Long life juice and milk
Tinned meat
Tinned vegetables
Tinned fruit
Tinned rice pudding
Tinned sponge pudding