Where did my industry go? The future of Estate agency?

  

Last week Friday my colleague Germain Gulevic and I found our way to the Eight Members Club, EC2A 2BX  to attend the Iceberg Digital course with Mark Burgess, CEO and the author of the top selling estate agency book “Where did my industry go?” speaking…

Every page and chapter of this book resonated with my own two decades of industry experience so when the opportunity to attend the course I was first to sign up.

To be brutally honest the thought of sharing a conference room with 48 other estate agents is not my cup of tea, however by the end of the day I found all delegates on the same page realising that the landscape of our estate agency businesses and the property world is rapidly changing and we either accept and adapt to the change i.e. ride the wave or face the alternative… carry on as we have always done and most likely get washed out/dumped by the wave of change.

The refreshing news for me attending this course was realising that our evolving Horton and Garton business plan and market strategy is already 80% ‘ish’ in line with the guidance and advice of the speakers and whilst I recognise there can always be improvement on existing systems and procedures, which can only assist and strengthen our position as West London Hammersmith and Shepherds bush market leading estate agents, I know that our ability to adapt and react sooner to market changes keeps us on the forefront of every update to our business and industry.

To be brutally honest there are simply just too many estate agents open for business today ‘working in the wrong age…’ you know who these corporate offices and companies are… many of these failing offices and agencies are simply dinosaurs - simply too slow to adapt to change, they cannot attract and employ qualified and experienced staff to manage any genuine market share and the corporate agency garavy train is buffering.

There has already been some high profile corporate estate agency offices closures in central and west London in recent weeks and months and reading the property industry press I predict there will be more blood on the carpets and closures of failing high street estate agents… watch this space…

For every business owner or any estate agent who values their profession this book is a must read… it’s a lightbulb moment for the industry… option 1 adapt, innovate and embrace change or option 2 … fail to adapt and ask the question “Where did my industry go?”

John Horton is the Director of Horton and Garton and we are the market leading selling and rental estate agents in W6, W12 and W4.


Affected by Japanese Knotweed? Here’s what you need to know…

A court ruling has opened the door for homeowners to claim damages if Japanese Knotweed has encroached on their property. The Court of Appeals has ruled in favour of two homeowners whose properties were affected by the notoriously invasive and destructive plant. The bamboo-like species spreads quickly and through its underground root system can undermine the structural integrity of buildings. It’s also costly and time consuming to treat.

The home owners, who own two adjoining bungalows in South Wales, made a claim against Network Rail which owns the land immediately behind their properties. Japanese Knotweed has been present on the land for at least 50 years while the pair of home owners first complained of the encroachment onto their land in 2013.

They brought a successful claim against Network Rail at Cardiff County Court and were awarded damages in February last year. Network Rail challenged that decision at a Court of Appeals hearing last month, but the court upheld the ruling that the homeowners were entitled to damages because the roots had extended beneath both of their properties. This provides reassurance to homeowners who have been affected by Japanese Knotweed that legal recourse is available to them and the law is emphatically on their side.


Chiswick Director Paul Cooney shortlisted for Rising Star of the Year

Horton and Garton’s Chiswick Director Paul Cooney has been shortlisted within the Rising Star of the Year category at The Negotiator Awards. This category identifies “a special individual – a potential industry leader – who demonstrates enthusiasm, innovation, implementation and leadership qualities. The judges are looking for someone who has been exceptionally successful.” With 18 agents on the shortlist and only 3 winners, we’re crossing every appendage for our Paul! The Negotiator Awards, in its 12th year, is organised by the residential property industry’s only trade magazine, The Negotiator, and honours the very best agents and agencies across the UK.

Paul says, “I was taken by surprise when I was told to log on to the web page announcing the shortlist. My team created an entry for me on the sly. I had no idea what they’d been up to and was thrilled to discover my name on the list for Rising Star of the Year! It’s the highest honour; I can’t stop smiling!” The finalists will be revealed by Julian Clary at ‘The Oscars’ of the property industry during a black tie gala on the 30th of November at the Grosvenor House Hotel. Horton and Garton is proud to represent Chiswick and West London at this prestigious industry event.


Diary of an Estate Agent: Prioritising Property Management

Diary of an Estate Agent

Ashley Prowse

Monday

I'm on my bike earlier than usual and and cycling in to our King Street office, basking the glorious summer sunshine. As a Property Manager, I'm in my highest gear on Monday. I log on and immediately begin sifting through the weekend's correspondence to ensure the urgent jobs are dealt with straight away. On Sunday afternoon, a tenant's boiler broke... I have a feeling one cold shower will be quite enough for him! I organise a specialist engineer, check his availability and with permission from the tenant I arrange keys and access so he can sort the problem before the tenant arrives home from work. Fortunately it's a simple fix and the engineer was able to carry out the repair on the spot. I immediately update the tenant and ensure he's received the report. The engineer's invoice goes over to our account's team to ensure it's settled promptly. We endeavour to deal with every incident seamlessly and with as little aggravation to the tenant and landlord as possible. If it's a minor issue, it is reported back to our landlord within their monthly report but if it's significant I notify them personally straight away.

Tuesday

The day begins with some light football banter (I'm a die hard Arsenal fan but our Sales Manager supports Tottenham). Tuesday is property inspection day. As part of our fully managed service, our team carries out regular inspections of our landlords' properties, compile detailed reports and ensure they're up to speed on the tenancy. I coordinate the inspections with the tenants at their preferred time and ensure access is arranged. I visit a terraced house in Shepherds Bush and check every room, take photos and note any potential maintenance issues. A shelf has fallen down and an internal door handle is very loose so I note these and make recommendations within my notes to secure these. Back at the office, I type up the notes and upload the photos. These are sent across to our landlord for their review.

Wednesday

Today I'm returning deposits to tenants, depending on the results of the check out report. Once a tenant has checked out of one of our properties, we send the landlord and tenant the report, compiled by a third party. We then wait to hear how to proceed regarding the return of the tenant's deposit. Of course we want every tenant to receive their full deposit back when they leave one of our properties but if they've not had the property professionally cleaned or they've left items of furniture that the landlord would need to pay to have removed, we encourage them to rectify these before the landlord retains part of their deposit. If, once the tenants have gone, lightbulbs need replacing, decoration is required, removals need to be booked etc, we cost these with our trusted tradesmen, who always deliver to a high standard, and approve the items with our landlords who are invariably very grateful for our efforts. One of our fully let and managed properties in the Hammersmith Grove area is going on the market this week with our sales team. We were able to use the tenants' deposit to spruce it up over the course of a week, fix broken items, decorate and clean the property and make it 100% sale-ready. The landlord is over the moon with our efforts and our sales team is chomping at the bit to get it sold for her.

Thursday

Thursday is gas safety day. This is one of the most important areas of my job. The gas must be checked annually by law to prevent our landlord clients incurring hefty fines and, most importantly, to ensure the property is safe for the tenants' use. I double check my gas safety list to ensure each of our landlords has four weeks' notice when expiration is approaching; I follow up as each week passes. When we reach one week before expiration, if I haven't heard from our landlord, I book in the engineer to ensure both our landlord and tenant are protected. We handpick and triple check our contractors and ensure each has the proper qualifications and insurance required. Our main gas safety contractor does these inspections every day. Our property management team has longstanding professional relationships with most of our regular contractors which means that they bend over backwards to make our appointments when we push the emergency button. Thursday night is the office five a side football match. We meet at Rocks Lane in Chiswick, smash the opposition and have a beer in the Tabard afterward. It's a pleasure to work with people I genuinely like.

Friday

Friyay, people! At lunchtime we order an office Nando's to help usher in the weekend. I love Fridays as it's my opportunity to catch up on administrative tasks, ensure that jobs are updated within our system. All scanned invoices and reports are uploaded and every outstanding maintenance job is actioned and booked in. Every loose end is tied up as I want to be prepared for the influx on Monday morning. Of course we have an emergency system that allows our tenants to contact us 24 hours a day on the evenings and weekends but this is for genuine emergencies only. The weekend's here and we head out for a pint at The Airedale, the Hogarth Health Club's bar. Their beer garden is unbelievable, a private oasis just off Chiswick High Road. Team H&G is currently in the midst of a hotly contested office tennis tournament at the Hogarth so we're frequently spotted tearing up the courts!


50 Sales of Phil

Horton and Garton's most successful negotiator celebrates his 50th transaction in 15 months

Top sales negotiator Phil Coombes who joined the Horton and Garton family just 15 months ago celebrated his 50th property exchange last week. Phil has personally agreed almost 60% of the total office sales since he started with us. Continually proving he is a rare breed of agent, Phil's track record of success coupled with the consistently superb feedback he receives from buyers and sellers alike puts him amongst the elite within our industry. He is, undoubtedly, one of the very best and most successful negotiators in West London today.

Interestingly, Phil's sales have been agreed over 7 different West London postcodes with a total value in excess of £40million and a ratio of 40% houses and 60% flats. He's achieved a remarkable 98% average of listing prices, a testament to both Sales Manager Martin Clements' ability to accurately value, price and list Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush property coupled with Phil's ability to secure the very best value for every sale.

If you are thinking of selling and would like an up to date valuation of your home call the market leading West London estate agents. We're proud to have served local home owners for over a decade. If you're considering listing your property for sale, it's important to have the very best agents on your side. With an unrivalled track record (according to Rightmove statistics) of the most sales agreed in 'Our Patch', we would welcome the opportunity to provide you with our first class, gold standard of service.

Don't just take our word for it... click here to read our google reviews.


An update on Manjit's recovery

An update on Manjit's recovery from her son Inder:

Manjit, who fell down the basement stairs in her shop - The Tipsy Toad - has broken her neck. She can wiggle her toes so thankfully she is not paralysed. Manjit has had three major operations to date. The first was to set a bone in her neck, the second was a tracheotomy to assist her with breathing and the third was for a pace maker to regulate her heartbeat. She is not yet able to speak and needs to rest her lungs and throat muscles before attempting a conversation, but she can mouth words. Manjit is likely to remain in hospital until the autumn for a period of about three months.

Inder says she is conscious and recognises family and nursing staff, is in good spirits and is aware of and grateful for the overwhelming response from the people of Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush who have been sending their well wishes, keeping her in their prayers and donating generously. Inder asks that we all pray for her to have positive energy and hope for a speedy recovery.

Cards and greetings should be sent or delivered to Tipsy Toad at 91 Hammersmith Grove, London W6 0NQ. The shop has now reopened with its usual hours. If you haven't yet donated, please do consider helping Hammersmith's beloved Manjit and her family in their time of need.


Make a Difference for Majit

If you live in the Hammersmith Grove area, you know Manjit Rana. Part of the furniture in this beautiful spot, she and her family have owned and run the Tipsy Toad for almost three decades. Very sadly, Manjit had a very bad fall and is now in St Mary's Hospital Paddington with a broken neck. She is making a slow recovery. Manjit is well known and widely respected within our village; the consensus is most residents would like to help in some way. A group of neighbours have set up a fund for friends and locals to help Manjit and her family during this difficult time. The GoFundMe site enables the community to raise funds for Manjit without having to pay a great deal in fees. We understand donations will go to her eldest son.

Manjit was famously quoted as saying, "Occasionally people will come to the door and there is a sign outside that says 'We're Closed.' It means I am usually delivering to our senior citizens or the infirm who are unable to pop down to the shop for essentials. I found this is a way of giving back to the community. We truly love our customers."

This wonderful woman has a special place in our hearts. Our well wishes and prayers are with her and her family. We've donated - have you?


Breaking Records in W6

Horton and Garton achieves Hammersmith's highest £pound per square foot post-Brexit

Horton and Garton's sales team has just sold Hammersmith's most expensive property on record at a ceiling-smashing £1578 per square foot on Brackenbury Village's desirable Cardross Street.

Martin Clements, Horton and Garton's Sales Manager of a decade, says of the transaction, "Whilst it has broken every Brackenbury Village £pound per square foot record, it also represents the priciest post-Brexit £pound per square foot achieved in the whole of the W6 postcode.

We're extremely proud of this accomplishment in what is supposedly a 'difficult' property marketplace as it demonstrates what an exceptional agency can achieve. The fact is we sell 150% more property in Brackenbury Village than our nearest competitor which demonstrates the firm grasp we have on its unique micro-market."

hammersmith's most expensive property

Director John Horton notes, "Every article on the London property market spouts doom and gloom, and whilst the market certainly has shifted since the Brexit vote, it's tough to buy into that negative mindset when we're doing so well for our clients.

It comes back to one of my favourite sayings: some of our competitors couldn't value a £5 note. It was true ten years ago and it's true today. When you know property in Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Chiswick like we do, nothing is impossible.

My advice to sellers is to instruct the trusted local agent who has a genuine knowledge of your area then take their professional advice on the sale of your property.

We're working hard for you - every step of the way - and keeping our clients at the heart of each transaction. Our recent success with the property on Cardross Street is a direct reflection of our seller putting their total trust in our century of combined experience in Hammersmith property. By taking our advice it enabled us to do achieve an outstanding result."

cardross street

Sales negotiator Phil Coombes, whose years of experienced sourced the ideal buyer, says, "I knew from the moment I saw the house that it had huge potential - the ability to extend on the ground floor, first floor and maximise the top floor with a loft and rear pod conversion.

Within hours of the seller instructing us and before it was listed on Rightmove, Zoopla or hortonandgarton.co.uk we had multiple interested parties chomping at the bit to view.

Our experience and already-established rapport with our buyers ensured we were able to achieve not just the best price for our seller but the best price Hammersmith has ever seen. The deal was negotiated and cliched within TWO DAYS of the seller instructing us to go about our work. One very happy buyer and one very happy seller means it's mission accomplished!"

If you're considering selling in Hammersmith, Chiswick or Shepherds Bush, our sales team is at your service - get in touch today.


Six Things I Won't Miss About Working For A Corporate Agency

by James Liggins, Associate Director, Horton and Garton Chiswick

I'm very excited to join my first independent team and help Paul Cooney build the Horton and Garton business here in Chiswick.

Paul mentored me years ago. I learned the ropes years ago from him and one might argue that the last several years in corporate agency have been an extended training course on how the competition works and how we can outperform them... every day was necessary to ensure I got the job with Paul!

I've always been based in Chiswick so I feel part of the furniture here; I know the local shop owners and residents. Working for a forward thinking independent agency like Horton and Garton is the perfect fit.

My career in agency thus far has been spent working for corporates and the experience I've gained has been invaluable in terms of learning what to do and, more to the point, what not to do. At Horton and Garton we can do things better and work differently to the London-wide chains.

We're an office of committed property professionals; there isn't anyone 'in training' here for us to babysit... you'll never find 'the new guy' who's learning the ropes. The property industry is full of inexperienced people trying to make as much money as possible - your sale will suffer if it's in the wrong hands.

We have a collective experience of over a century and we're proud of this fact. At a corporate, their company-wide policies and procedures means, as a negotiator, you frequently can't take decisions that fully benefit the client. As we don't need to please our manager's area director's CEO, the whole team is fully client focussed, working for them instead of 'the company's' self-centred interests. It's a incredible feeling... I feel like a new man!
Reflecting on my first week in independent agency, here's what I won't miss about the corporate world...

Six things I won't miss about working for a corporate agency:

- Joyless, bland property descriptions. In a corporate agency, I had zero flexibility when it came to writing property descriptions and would often have my sellers calling me to say, "Can you add in our favourite local pub that's just a three minute walk? We think it's a real selling point." I had to tell them I wasn't allowed as it didn't fit in with the standardised description! Utter lunacy.

- Politics. Politicking was part of every day corporate agency life. Ego-stroking and keeping the peace between negotiators was exhausting. I've witnessed clients suffer due to the dark art of office politics. Selling property should be about the client, not inflated egos!

- Up to 50 live listings. I've always believed too many listings is a recipe for failure. You might sell a few of them, but what happens to the rest? If you're considering an agent with 50-odd live sales listings, you should also be considering how many minutes of their day the experienced team members will have to spend on your property. It's just basic maths.

- "Smashing the phones." If I never hear this phrase again it will be too soon! The utter inflexibility of working for a corporate agency meant cold calling was part of my routine. I absolutely hated it as I knew the buyers I was ringing hated it, too. People in West London detest cold calls. They might be received happily in other areas of London or the UK - who knows? - but they don't wash here.

- Leafleting and door knocking. It's still common practice but thankfully not at Horton and Garton. We're good enough at our jobs that we don't need to employ these outdated (and desperate) tactics. In fact, we run a paperless office in Chiswick so printing thousands of leaflets would go against the ethos.

- Ties. Bad ties, silk ties, ties in general. This one speaks for itself - never again!


Reduce your expectations?

My morning routine starts by logging on to Rightmove. I check what's newly listed, what's been sold and get a snapshot of the market before I've had my morning cup of coffee. I'm increasingly disturbed to see that up to half of the 'new listings' on the first page of properties aren't new to the market at all - they're simply price reductions.

 

over inflated housing market

 

My colleagues in Hammersmith have just sold a house on Brackenbury Village's Cardross Street for a post-Brexit record breaking £pound per square foot value; this was not achieved by offering the property to the market at an over-inflated price.
Research demonstrates that listing homes for their true value is the way to achieve the best price for the property but knowing this true value is the job of an experienced agent.
Which? independent research states, "When you want to sell your home, it may be tempting to choose the estate agent that values your property at the highest price. However, the results of our investigation suggest that while it may seem like agents are doing you a favour by trying to get more for your home, the property can end up selling for much less than average."
Their research found three agencies that trade in Chiswick among the worst offenders for over-inflated asking prices - one of them is now defunct. Which? findings demonstrate that properties with inflated asking prices took longer to sell and achieve a lower sale price than their true value.

 

independent estate agents

 

How can you maximise your return on investment when selling? My advice is to enlist a local, experienced, independent estate agent - one with no 'targets' attached to listing properties, one that will advise with your best interests in mind.
Managers are often incentivised to with cash bonuses and will tell you what you want to hear - not what you need to hear - in order to list your property.
In Chiswick, we've sold seven out of eight properties we've brought to the market in 2018. One part of the magic formula is an accurate asking price from the first day of marketing. So when you're selling, remember the research. If you want to achieve the best result, enlist the right agency for the job and let them work for you.