Piazza Progress

Calling green fingered locals…

Having spearheaded the successful Chiswick Timeline under the arches near Turnham Green tube station, Abundance London has come up with another innovative idea to revitalise the area. After consulting local residents on their proposal to create a piazza style area at Chiswick Common corner, Abundance received an overwhelmingly positive response and preparation is now underway, with flower beds, bike racks and benches being installed in the coming months. The project is a collaboration between Friends of Chiswick Back Common and Abundance; funding has been secured to get things off the ground. The Chiswick Piazza project is now underway with the disused, unsightly double decker bike racks removed and attractive new Sheffield installed. The broken benches will be replaced with curved timber benches which will encourage locals to sit and take in views of both the Terrace and the common. Broken bins will be replaced and the pink granite fountain, originally installed in 1902, will be restored and returned to working order under the indomitable Councillor John Todd’s watchful eye. We can look forward to a glorious Abundance London flower bed full of perennials, annuals and bulbs which will be beautiful year round. The area will most likely be entirely unrecognisable! Karen Leibreich of Abundance says, 'We hope to try and reintroduce some beauty to the area; to reclaim it as a place for lingering, meeting, traversing, enjoying.'

Volunteers are needed to help care for the flower bed, under the guidance of the Abundance team, as the council cannot help with the bed’s maintenance. The planting will be low maintenance but weeding, trimming and general care is required. If you have green fingers or would simply like to keep the piazza looking its best, get in touch with Karen or click here to fill in a contact form. 

Julian Dobson, a research associate for improving well-being through urban nature at the University of Sheffield, wrote recently that urban green spaces — including parks, woodlands, riverbanks, and gardens — are ‘an essential part of a web of physical and mental well-being’. Dobson explains that they provide ‘spaces to socialise and opportunities to connect with the natural world, and are restorative enclaves in stressful cities’.

We look forward to enjoying spending time in the new piazza area!


Clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right…

The two most important questions to ask your estate agent

When you consider selling your home, you’ll begin the process of selecting your estate agent by checking their Google reviews and asking friends and neighbours for recommendations. You’ll pour over Rightmove and Zoopla. You’ll then make your shortlist and begin the interview process. You’ll have many questions but here are two you should always ask:

What percentage of the properties you listed in 2018 were reduced in price?

and

What was your average price reduction?

Chiswick sellers continue to be hammered with significant price reductions as a result of ill-advised overvaluing by our competitors. We valued a property this week which has been reduced by the seller’s current W4 agent by a staggering 25%. Chiswick Sales Director Paul Cooney notes, “We have access to invaluable statistics courtesy of Rightmove so we can see exactly what is happening with asking prices. In September, we sold a beautiful family home in a prime residential road just off of Chiswick High Road to a cash buyer after just three weeks of marketing. Another agent listed a similar house in the same street which has lingered on the market for 4 months and been reduced by over 17%. It is still for sale! Empirical research conducted by independent watchdog Which? categorically demonstrates the damaging effect the practice of overvaluing has on the final price achieved for your home. Poor advice on the price of your property can have a five or six figure impact on your bottom line.” Associate Director James Liggins adds, “The average high street agent in Chiswick reduced the asking prices of one in two properties they listed in 2018. The worst offender, who we won’t name, reduced the asking prices of 64% of their properties. Overvaluing has shambolic consequences for the seller: their homes end up selling for less than their true value.”

Paul advises, “When you are considering selling, always ask your agent about their record on price reductions. What percentage of their listings did they reduce in 2018 and by what an average of what percentage? In 2018 we reduced just over a quarter of the properties we listed by an average of just 6.8%. These small and sensible tweaks in price resulted in fresh interest and sales agreed; we’re incredibly proud of our record. Estate agency is full of dubious characters who will say just about anything to list your property only to hammer you for price reduction after price reduction until your home finally sells – for significantly less than its real value. For us, honesty, integrity and achieving the very best result for our clients are paramount. Overvaluing is a practice we will never employ here at Horton and Garton. The combination of keeping our clients’ requirements at the heart of each transaction with precision pricing means we’ve been able to achieve fantastic results across the board. For an experienced, professional and honest approach to your property, we’re at your service.”

“Paul is someone who I have and will continue to recommend to friends, something I rarely do. He is an extremely hard working individual and his passion for Chiswick property clearly comes through.” -Glebe Estate seller

“Paul did an amazing job helping me to sell my Chiswick flat in a tough market. He’s a fantastic agent!” -Bedford Park borders seller

“Paul is certainly the best agent in Chiswick and, very probably, in London. He offers a service that is both professional and personal and gets results. He’s streets ahead of the competition.” -Chiswick Park seller


Diary of an Estate Agent: Stars and Sundays

Diary of an Estate Agent

James Liggins, Associate Director, Chiswick Sales 

Diary of an Estate Agent: Stars and Sundays

Monday

Gym, coffee, feedback. Before the sun comes up Paul and I are halfway through our regular Monday morning workout at the Hogarth Health Club: weights and sauna followed by breakfast to forward plan the week that lies ahead. I firmly believe that if you have a great Monday you’re going to have a fantastic week so Monday always gets the attention it deserves. The coffee is hot and the phone is cold but that’s about to change. First thing’s first on a Monday morning – every buyer I’ve met over the weekend is called so I can gather, collate and communicate their feedback to our sellers. Every seller has already been contacted so I could relay my impression of how the viewings went, but the buyers’ feedback trumps my gut instinct. An offer comes in (these phone calls are always lengthy as there is a lot of due diligence on our part) and I discuss it at length with Paul before putting it forward to our client for their consideration. Then it’s swiftly on to the new enquiries that have filtered through over the weekend.

Tuesday

Diary day. Monday’s offer is still being mulled over both by our client and our team so I spend the day generating first and second viewings and then coordinating them with our clients and buyers. We are selective with our buyers, working only with the very best and – in our jargon – ‘proceed-able’ purchasers. Our monthly Negotiator Magazine landed on my desk and our Artists At Home sponsorship board has been featured! A brilliant surprise for the whole office! We’re gearing up for the 10th annual Negotiator Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Friday. Paul has been shortlisted for Rising Star of the Year but it’s a crowded shortlist with 19 other incredible agents so we’re tempering our excitement… for now…

Wednesday

Sales progression. Between us, Paul and I speak to every solicitor, mortgage broker, surveyor, client and buyer to ensure each of our 14 agreed sales are coming along swimmingly. Appointments are put in the diary and missing paperwork (not in our office as we are paper-free!) is sourced so all is running smoothly. Each bit of progress is then fed back in real time to our sellers. We often say a ‘sale agreed’ is not a ‘sale indeed’ and our work really begins when the public often believe it ends! Progression, which is an absolute minefield of a process, is such an important part of what we do. This is where we earn our fee and when most sellers begin to rue the day they instructed an online agent or the cheapest agent to manage their sale. This is where the value of Horton and Garton Chiswick is felt by our sellers. Our sellers have decided to reject the first offer from Monday morning so it’s back on the phone straight away to the buyer to guide them on where we go from here. It’s open mic night at the George IV, one of my favourite pubs in Chiswick, so I’m popping along for a cold pint and a warm welcome.

Thursday

Final push. Today we push for an extra round of weekend viewings and focus on our strategy for managing Saturday and Sunday. Once every relevant buyer has been contacted we step into strategy, planning and marketing ideas for 2019. Our brainstorming session is interrupted by a call requesting a valuation. Eighty percent of our new listings come our way via word of mouth but this gentleman has read a commentary on the W4 property market by Paul and wants to meet him at lunchtime today which is, of course, perfect with us. If you can’t rearrange your diary to accommodate a first meeting with a potential client at their preferred time, that first point of contact won’t accurately tell the story of our service. After a brilliant valuation in the Glebe Estate, we’re back in the office for a flurry of creative thinking. We loved using humour in our Halloween campaign, which was well received by both Chiswick locals and property press, and are wondering if we could integrate some more fun into our plans for 2019.

Friday

Ready to launch. We have arranged five off-market viewings for a property that won’t officially come to market until January. I’m readying myself for a weekend packed with meeting brand new buyers and carefully gauging their responses. This is one of the best bits of my job. I love meeting our buyers so I can get to know their exact requirements and source their ideal home. For us, agency isn’t a numbers game. We look after our buyers and sellers for life, truly getting to know each of them. We change into our black tie and head to the Grosvenor House Hotel for the 10th annual Negotiator Awards. Paul brings home Silver in the Rising Star category – we couldn’t be prouder!

Saturday

Best day of the week! I love Saturdays. Not because it’s a day off (it never is!) but because I’m meeting new people and making new friends. (I pray for sun to showcase our properties at their very best.) Two of the lovely buyers I met last weekend will be, I’m certain, my friends for life. We’ve already put a dinner in our diary and I couldn’t be happier to be handling their purchase. The day is always so packed that I’m rearranging viewings on the fly and working from either my bike or car… and there is never time for lunch! There is lots of mad scribbling in my diary which I then decipher after the fact and a flow of instantaneous feedback that is sent through to sellers as the viewings are taking place. Those client feedback conversations go on well into the evening…

Sunday

Reserved. Sunday is – officially – my day off. However. I do reserve the occasional viewing for the most important and serious buyers. There is a very high chance of a very good offer if buyers are requesting a Sunday viewing. My second ever sale in Chiswick was agreed on a Sunday for well in excess of £2m. This taught me the value of a Sunday viewing… a lesson I won’t soon forget!


Horton and Garton's Chiswick Sales Director Wins Rising Star Award

From a national shortlist of 19 agents, Horton and Garton's Chiswick Sales Director Paul Cooney was awarded Silver in the Rising Star of the Year category at the prestigious Negotiator Awards, hosted in the Grosvenor House Hotel. The category identifies "a potential industry leader who demonstrates enthusiasm, innovation, implementation and leadership... an individual who has been exceptionally successful." Paul says, "It's a huge honour to be shortlisted, never mind take home an award.I'm thrilled to have the affirmation from the property industry's most successful figureheads, the judging panel, that I'm on the right track and serving the best interests of my clients here in Chiswick."

Associate Director James Liggins adds, "We have a winning formula in that there is no formula. We take a tailored approach to each home we bring to market which has ensured our properties are far and away the most viewed in Chiswick on Rightmove, achieving 25% more views than our closest competitor. We're honoured to be in the top three agencies in W4 for sales agreed in 2018 after less than two years of trading; the trajectory is definitely upwards!"

On what sets Horton and Garton apart from the average agency, Paul notes, “As our work is entirely client-led, we let our clients tell our story. We keep our sellers and buyers at the heart of what we do. Their feedback means the world to us. If you've never met an estate agent you've liked, come shake a hand at Horton and Garton. For a fresh approach from career property professionals that put your prerogative over our profit, we’re at your service.” Unlock your Chiswick Market Update for your guide to each area of the W4 market here: https://www.chiswickmarketupdate.co.uk/guide.

“Paul Cooney, who recently sold our family property, went above and beyond our expectations. His empathy, energy, knowledge and communication skills are second to none. A breath of fresh air!” – Veronica, Seller

“It has been an amazing process dealing with Paul and James at Horton and Garton. Communication has been excellent throughout, not a deadline missed. The guys were true to their word and I highly recommend them if you are looking to buy or sell in Chiswick.” – Michael, Buyer

“Paul Cooney has sold a couple of houses for me. He's a big character and personality whose level of Brexit-proof optimism is incredible to behold. Importantly, he's a nice chap, frank and honest. In this regard he is head and shoulders above the procession of crooks and chancers I've had the misfortune to encounter from a range of other Chiswick agents.” – Rob, Seller


Movers need Horton and Garton

Locals support independent agencies

As Foxtons closes six London branches, the signal has been sent that locals no longer want nameless, faceless corporate agencies to represent their properties. BBC property expert Henry Pryor said of Foxtons, “A branded Mini now looks so last year. Successful selling requires more than a driving license and a shiny suit.”

Foxtons announced the closure of its Barnes, Park Lane, Beckenham, Enfield, Loughton and Ruislip offices. At the time of its first-half results in July, Foxtons revealed it had swung to a loss of £2.5m compared with a £3.8m profit in the first half of 2017. The slowdown represents a sharp reversal in fortunes for Foxtons, which made its stock market debut in 2013. By 2014, a time of bumper profits and shareholder payouts, shares hit a high of 374p. The shares are now worth less than 50p.

Jeremy Leaf, former RICS residential chairman, said Foxtons closing down branches is “symptomatic of what is happening in the wider market” with corporate agencies. Three of the top five estate agencies in Chiswick for sales agreed are locally owned, independent businesses. Paul Cooney of Horton and Garton says, “At Horton and Garton, we’re honoured to be in the top five agencies in Chiswick and in such good company. Long live local businesses! Our two independent offices agreed more sales in 2017 across the W4, W6 and W12 postcodes than any other agency. Genuine local knowledge, experience and longevity in your area makes up a large part of what it takes to achieve such success for your clients.” Horton and Garton’s flagship Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush branch, based in King Street, has long retained the crown for most sales and lets agreed in W6 according to Rightmove statistics. Owner and Director John Horton says, “With over a century of combined experience in West London property and ten years serving local sellers and landlords, we’re proud to offer an unparalleled, award-winning service to our clients. Running a successful independent business in the current economic climate presents many challenges; we are endlessly appreciative of our clients’ ongoing support and their honest, unvarnished testimonials.”


Brexit Property Forecast

JLL predicts West London house prices will bounce back

A recent housing market forecast published by the Evening Standard predicts a 14.3% house price growth across London in the next five years. Despite house price adjustment and a low volume of transactions in the last three years, the West London property market is set to enjoy a post-Brexit bounce-back, experts are predicting.

Published figures anticipate a 15.3% rise in prices at the luxury end of the prime central London market and 14.3% across the local Chiswick, Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush areas in the next five years. Despite recent political uncertainty, experts predict that there could be good news on the horizon for our local property market.

Chiswick Sales Director Paul Cooney adds, “Mark Carney highlighted the impact of a no-deal Brexit in relation to house prices this autumn. It was very much a doom and gloom forecast. In that very same week, we agreed £6.2m of property sales here in Chiswick and we matched that result in another week in October. We are very much hoping for a deal to be agreed before Christmas, as this should have a visible effect on our local property market, injecting both new sellers and buyers into the Chiswick market though I don’t believe we’ll see an obvious adjustment in prices until the Brexit dust has settled.” Martin Clements, Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush Sales Manager, adds, “We’ve seen a significant increase in the volume of sales here at Horton and Garton in 2018. Our local market is definitely moving. It’s absolutely a buyers’ market so sellers must be mindful of this adjustment and also ensure they instruct the very best and most experienced local agent.”

Adam Challis, head of residential research at JLL, an investment management firm agrees, “Once we have confirmation of a deal and a reasonable transition period, people will start to feel more confident and this will encourage home owners and investors to buy again.” Challis also anticipates a slight rise in house prices next year.

Positive economic indicators underpin the optimistic housing outlook: GDP is forecast to grow by 1.5% next year, followed by 2% in 2020 and peaking at 2.2% in 2021. Earnings are also expected to rise by as much as 4% for three consecutive years in 2021, 2022 and 2023, in line with London house price growth. For an honest overview of how the market is moving in your street or an up-to-date valuation of your Chiswick home, give us a call on 0208 996 5120, or email Paul. For the expert’s view on Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush, reach out to Martin Clements on 020 8819 0510.

 


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!