Latest Blog Posts

Celebrating a decade of service to Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Chiswick


Horton and Garton celebrated 10 years of trading in Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Chiswick with a party for over 200 guests at The Hogarth Health Club. Videos, which included well wishes from local Councillors, and speeches followed the delicious barbecue and drinks. Many of owner and founder John Horton's team members have been with him for the bulk of the business's journey.

John Horton notes, "Opening an independent estate agency in what was the worst moment for the London property market in this century appeared daft to some but a foundation of integrity, honesty and professionalism coupled with a rock solid work ethic and dogged determination has seen Horton and Garton rise to the top. Apart from serving our local clients, which is always a joy, I'd have to say the best part of our success has been the ability to support a variety of local charities. Throughout the past decade we've established enduring links with charities ranging from local school PTAs and community choirs to the Lyric Theatre and most recently we were proud to support the Move4Change local poverty awareness walk organised by Crosslight and the Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank. I'm proud that the agency has been a catalyst for good in the community."

Sales Manager Martin Clements, who was with John on the first day of trading, mused, "We've gone from assembling our own IKEA furniture on day one to the top spot for sales agreed in Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Chiswick. I'm honoured to share this occasion with our clients, friends and contractors - without whom this success wouldn't have been possible."

Lettings Manager Ashley Clements joined in the first year of trading, shared, "I owe a debt of gratitude to John Horton for many reasons and not just the opportunity to learn and shine in this industry." He added to a raucous round of applause, "Without Horton and Garton, I wouldn't have met Honor who also worked with the company. I'm proud to say she's recently agreed to be my wife."

We look forward to another ten years of superlative service to home owners, buyers and renters here in Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Chiswick. Don't hesitate to contact us for a conversation on how the sales or rental market in your street is moving.

Reflecting on One Year at Horton and Garton


by Phil Coombes, Sales Negotiator

Another twelve months as an estate agent... that sentence alone would make most people run for the exit! It’s feels like I’ve been at Horton and Garton for years, but last week marked my official one year anniversary. Time flies, they say... it really has! Reflecting on my move away from the rat race and revolving door of the corporate world, I couldn’t be a happier man. My hard working approach to agency hasn’t changed but my values have aligned with Horton and Garton’s approach to business in West London. At the core I found honesty, integrity, professionalism and knowledge. These principles go against the grain of what the public normally associate with estate agents.

We aren’t reinventing the wheel with our approach but we are restoring trust in our industry by demonstrating the highest level of professionalism to the clients we work with - buyers and sellers alike. For me, the company’s success is paramount but the bonus of being able to change opinion of our industry is a life's work. I’ve been most proud of the honest and heartfelt client testimonials which reflect our level of service.

Who knows what the next twelve months will bring but the goal is clear: I'll be the extra mile-goer, delivering the finest service in West London, and thus by default Horton and Garton will retain our status as the market leading agent in Hammersmith. Our two local offices sold more properties in Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith and Chiswick than any other agency in 2017. Watch this space for an update on 2018 or better yet, email or call us on 020 8819 0510 for the inside track on how the market is moving on your street.

Two houses sold next to Cara Delevingne’s Stamford Brook West London home


A detached Stamford Brook stunner featured in this month's Architectural Digest belongs to international supermodel and actress Cara Delevingne. The eye candy interior is revealed in AD's pages after a complete makeover and redesign by renowned designer Tom Bartlett. The magazine reads:

"Homebody isn't the first word that comes to mind when describing Cara Delevingne. Downtime has been so rare that she was living with her society-fixture parents until recently. But even the young and the restless need a place of their own, which now happens to be a listed Georgian house in West London. 'It's got high ceilings and big windows, but it's private and classic,' she says."

West London Architectural Digest

Sales Manager Martin Clements discusses his recent sales success in Stamford Brook saying, "Cara welcomes two new families to two houses also overlooking the Common. In the past four months we've sold two beautiful homes in this popular patch - one for £1.785m and one for £1.8m. We carried our 88 viewings across the two properties and each received multiple offers with one house exchanging contracts within three weeks of the home coming to the market. The popularity of Stamford Brook, especially the semi-detatched properties on South Side overlooking the common, cannot be underestimated as they enjoy large, open aspect, South facing gardens. They're few and far between so when they come to the market they generate a serious buzz."

Horton and Garton's top sales negotiator Phil Coombes sourced ideal buyers for both properties. One South Side buyer says of his service, "From recommending the right property to us, to handling our enquiries, to managing the process, Phil has shown impressive professionalism and acumen. Moreover, he is always very helpful and polite. We really enjoyed working with him throughout the process." Clements notes, "You'd be hard pressed to find many buyers who'd say they enjoyed the purchase process! This is a testament to our exacting standards of service and that we provide a truly seamless service for both our sellers and buyers."

Market update: first time buyers


Since November 2017, 69,000 first-time buyers (FTBs) have claimed stamp duty tax relief according to figures published by HMRC.* With the average first-time buyer saving £2,300 on the purchase of their property, the biggest savings are seen in London with FBTs saving an average of £4,300. Sales Manager, Martin Clements says of the West London property market, "We've had more FTB transactions in Quarter 1 of 2018 than in the previous two quarters combined - undoubtedly and in part a result of the stamp duty relief. One of the highlights of my role is helping FTBs get a foot on the property ladder. This generous tax break puts thousands in the pockets of our local buyers and as they are snapping up their first properties this drives upward movement in the market. The knock on effect means our ‘purple book’ of active, willing and able buyers is growing every day."

We are dedicated to helping buyers find their first homes here in West London across Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Chiswick. If you're searching for your first London property, we'll help you source it. Register today by emailing our team. Our Sales Manager hand picked three properties, all priced £500,000 or below, that would make ideal first-time buyer purchases - simply click the photos to view full property details.

*This is the first time that HMRC has included this information in its quarterly stamp duty report. These figures though cover the period from 22 November 2017 until the end of March 2018 – when this change was introduced.
Hadyn Park Road, Askew Village, Shepherds Bush, W12
Montagu House, Ravenscourt Park and Askew Village, W12
Vereker Road, Barons Court, W14

Ruminations on Long Term Lets


Should You Be Considering Long Term Letting Agreements?

by Ashley Clements, MNAEA MARLA

As a landlord, are you weighing up the prospect of a long term tenancy? A long term tenancy might be just the ticket - but this is rarely the advice I would give to our landlord clients as this type of tenancy largely benefits the agent, who takes a fee up front, rather than the landlord. Some of our competitors push for long term agreements as standard practice; this is not necessarily acting in the best interest of their client. I advise our landlords so they're prepared for any bends in the road - any proverbial curve balls life might throw at them. In my decade at the helm, managing properties to let in West London, I've seen our landlords open new businesses, take a year out of work, retire early, relocate across the globe, help children buy their first homes, bankroll gap years, fund start ups, be made redundant and take time away from work due to unexpected illness or bereavement. Before entering into a long term tenancy agreement, I ensure our landlords understand both the positives and the pitfalls.

A picture of a winding road: advice for landlords about long term letting

Is a long term tenancy right for you? The advantages and disadvantages...

There are several key variables to consider with every offer: the rental amount, the tenancy start date and the particulars of the tenant. Surprisingly, the length of contract tends to feature at the bottom of the list - but this is equally important. The merits of a long term contract, such as a three year period without a break clause, include the financial benefit of the lack of void period and the continuity of the same tenant. However, the potential drawbacks include being unable to increase the rent during this period and being unable to regain possession of the property without taking extensive legal measures. Contracts with a break clause will ordinarily allow service of notice in line with the break and if necessary the option of an Accelerated Possession Procedure should it be required. Consider each offer in its entirety, asking yourself, "Is my agent imparting advice that benefits me or themselves and their bottom line?" We have a dedicated guide detailing tips for landlords, here.

Expert advice on Long Term Tenancy Agreements

At Horton and Garton many of our tenancies contain break clauses for the landlord's peace of mind and to mitigate unforeseen circumstances. Most experienced landlords find the risk of needing to re-let the property again sooner than expected preferable to the risk of spending considerable time and money bringing an unsatisfactory long term fixed tenancy to an end. As our landlords pay their fee monthly deducted from the rent in a ‘pay as you go’ fashion, our clients have no doubt that we are providing them with the best advice for them. Sadly, not all agencies operate honestly. I know of many instances where lettings agents advocate and attempt to negotiate a long term fixed contract for their own convenience and profit, pocketing hefty fees up front or including tenant business break clauses which can negate the benefits of a long contract and can result in disputes over payment of fees.

Intelligent agency, in your corner: why choose Horton and Garton to Manage Your Long Term Lets?

At Horton and Garton, we act with our client's best interests at heart - asking questions like: Are the tenants references and employment status suitable for a long term contract? Has the tenant specifically requested the long term contract? Will your mortgage lender's criteria allow a tenancy of more than twelve months? If you are a landlord these questions and more should be raised and satisfactorily answered by your letting agent in a genuine, honest and timely fashion - this service is par for the course at Horton and Garton. With over a decade at the helm of the most successful lettings department in Hammersmith and Chiswick*, I'm at our landlords' service. Our guidance means they're always in the driver's seat. Choose an agency that keeps your needs at the heart of the lettings process, working for you instead of shoehorning you a cookie cutter "one-size-fits-all" approach. With over a century of combined property experience, our team is best placed to give honest, accurate advice. To learn more about what makes us a cut above, watch our landlord testimonials. If you are considering renting, selling or are looking for trusted management of your property, your enquiry is always welcome at our office.

*We agreed more lets in Chiswick and Hammersmith than any other estate agency in 2017, according to Rightmove statistics.

Need advice on long term letting agreements? Our team of lettings experts can help you to make informed decisions. Call us today on 020 8819 0511.

Property Licensing: Higher standards in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush


Why Has H&F Council introduced Property Licensing for Landlords?

In an attempt to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords, Hammersmith and Fulham Council have made property licensing mandatory throughout the borough. "We're determined to protect renters," says Councillor Lisa Homan, Cabinet Member for Housing. "Landlords (must) license their properties to meet higher standards for their tenants." To date, over 2,100 landlords have applied to Hammersmith & Fulham Council for property licenses. Cllr Homan notes, "These new standards enable us to take action against poor landlords and against tenants who cause persistent levels of anti-social nuisance to their landlords and neighbours."

Raising the Standard of Landlords in Hammersmith and Fulham

With one-third of H&F residents renting their homes, the licensing scheme will touch many Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush locals. John Horton, Director of Horton and Garton, says, "I firmly support the council's efforts to raise the standards for all landlords across the borough. It's important that they understand their landlord responsibilities and thankfully the majority are extremely responsible. It's also great news for the huge number of local renters who now have more protection and can expect higher standards from landlords." Fire precautions and adequate waste and recycling storage space are addressed within the licensing framework. The council has warned that landlords without the right license may face prosecution.

Pen and Paper Posing Question Are You Licensed? Referring to Property Licensing

Need help managing your Landlord Responsibilities?

For an informed conversation on licensing in LBHF don't hesitate to contact Ashley Clements. Lettings Manager at Horton and Garton for a decade, he is fully up to date on the legal requirements for landlords and is available to discuss your licensing application over a cup of tea in our King Street office. He adds, "We appreciate that the licensing scheme is designed to protect tenants and also to benefit those landlords who are already adhering to best standards as obtaining a license will give them further peace of mind that all required safety measures are in place.

The cost and workload do however chip away at what are, for some landlords, thinning margins. Landlords should be looking for best value in the fee they pay their agent - expecting and receiving guidance and help to ensure they are compliant. I'm staggered by how often I visit potential new landlords and they've met other agents who do not advise them of licensing or worse still have no knowledge of it themselves. The best properties with responsible landlords will always attract the best tenants and achieve the highest level of rent possible."

The 'new standards package' consists of five new measures:

• New standards for licensed rental properties to ensure tenants are safe and problems to neighbours, such as rubbish, are managed.
• Additional landlord licensing requires landlords across the borough to get a licence if they let a property occupied by at least three people who do not make up a single household and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
• Selective licensing requires all landlords letting a property on named streets, where anti-social behaviour has been a problem, to get a licence.
• A new landlords’ rental charter encourages landlords to commit to best practice in management, housing standards, living rent, charges, protecting tenants’ deposits and security of tenancies.
• A new social lettings agency puts potential renters in touch with the best local landlords who meet all the higher standards expected.
To hear directly from our landlords, simply watch their testimonials.

Have you been properly advised on property licensing laws for landlords? We can help you to manage your legal requirements as a Landlord. Contact our lettings team on 020 8819 0511 today for more advice.

Buy To Let Landlords pocket over £250k


Buy To Let Landlords in London Make Huge Profits in 2017

The average buy-to-let landlord made a jaw-dropping £253,981 selling their London property in 2017 - almost three times as much as those selling buy to let properties outside the capital.

Approximately 96% of landlords made a profit upon selling with around 28% of landlord sellers doubling their money after putting their property on the market last year, according to research published by the Daily Telegraph this week. The report was unclear on how long on average the landlords had owned their London buy-to-lets leading our Sales Manager Martin Clements to comment, "The London property market has its own microclimate and has been proven to be a great place to invest over a long period of time.

This particular report is vague as it doesn't provide information or an average price increase should you have owned your buy-to-let for 1 year, 5 years, 10 years and so on. I regularly help landlords acquire property to add to their portfolios and also help them sell certain properties so they can invest elsewhere, put their children through university, relocate, renovate, travel or retire comfortably. We deliver expert landlord advice and they certainly benefit from our expertise, whether selling or renting, and that helps yield them the highest possible return on investment."

Why Landlord's Choose Us To Manage Their Investments

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHdWc2hwa5I

Tax Changes May Be The Driver For Buy To Let Landlords

Director of Mortgages at UK Finance Jackie Bennett notes that while mortgage lending for both first time buyers and movers has increased in the first part of 2018 when compared year-on-year with 2017, "Growth in the buy-to-let market remains subdued, reflecting the ongoing impact of recent tax and regulatory changes."  Lettings Manager Ashley Clements comments, "When a landlord chooses to sell, it's often a more considered decision than the original property purchase. Capital gains tax, higher stamp duty if they purchase again and deciding where to invest those funds from a sale are amongst the points that need to be considered.

Good News For First Time Buyers?

First-time buyers, in particular, may find these statistics to be good news as fresh stock coming to the market gives them a wider choice. The properties we have sold on behalf of West London landlords have been providing good homes for tenants who cannot or choose not to buy. The housing sector is complex and cannot be summed up in one article or comment but I do know that our local area thrives on a mixed population of all backgrounds and age groups, some of whom are living here and contributing to our area only as landlords have properties here that they can rent. Tax changes mean some landlords are considering possible exit strategies for their rental investments however it will prove difficult to find other investment routes which have such a long-term pedigree and reliability as London property. For advice on letting or selling your portfolio, Horton and Garton are at your service."

Need further advice? Give our team of expert West London Estate Agents a call today on 020 8819 0511

Woman holding miniature house - buy to let landlord investments

Chiswick Timeline Project supports local schools and libraries


Read on for an update from Chiswick Timeline Project Coordinator Karen Liebreich regarding the success of the educational book and art trail that accompanied the Timeline's launch...

 

"The book that accompanied the launch of the new mural at Turnham Green, The Chiswick Timeline: A History in Art and History, has proved very successful.

Several free copies were sent to all the schools in Chiswick, along with map sheets for project work, and a copy of the art trail showing relevant locations of the art works around the area, the latter kindly sponsored by local estate agent, Horton and Garton. Every library in Hounslow also received a free copy of the book, as did local history archive resources in Hammersmith and Richmond. This was made possible by the generosity of people for the mural project, and we have to say again that we were overwhelmed by the community support. Every person who helped with the mural – whether financially or by clearing flyposting or helping to make ceramic houses etc should by now have received their free thank you copy.

The art trails are available at the library and at St Michaels & All Angels, or you can contact us should you want a pack for your community group or school.

The books are on sale at Foster Books in the High Road, at the Local Studies department of Chiswick Library, from the local history group or via our website at chiswicktimeline.org. They are very nearly sold out, so we recommend you hurry if you want a copy."

- Karen Liebreich MBE

ESTAS Shortlist Success!


Horton and Garton Shortlisted For Best Estate Agent London West

Horton and Garton's two offices have both been shortlisted for prestigious ESTAS awards, in association with property search portal Zoopla. Our West London Estate Agents are shortlisted within the London West region for Sales, Landlords and Tenant feedback. We've also been shortlisted within the Estate Agency Group category on a national level! The ESTAS Customer Service Awards, in their 15th year, are unique because shortlisted and winning firms are selected purely on ratings from their clients. Thanks to our wonderful clients we've been shortlisted for this year's awards!

The ESTAS Awards

 The ESTAS awards determine the best agents in the UK through research carried out amongst clients who are asked a series of questions about the service they've received during the sales and lettings process. This year saw record entries making the competition the toughest yet and one of the biggest surveys in the UK property industry with 36,000 clients competing ESTAS surveys. Agencies have been shortlisted in 30 regions across the UK. Regional and national winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair on the 20th of April. The awards, presented by TV property expert Phil Spencer, will see 1,000 property professionals from across the country gather under one roof. Spencer adds, "Any firm that enters The ESTAS has already sent a clear message that they are passionate about customer service so to make it onto the shortlist is a huge achievement." 

Proud To Serve West London

Founder John Horton says, "To be shortlisted across each category we entered is the highest honour and speaks volumes about our team's genuine and wholehearted commitment to client care. What a fabulous way to celebrate our tenth year of service to West London!" Chiswick Sales Director Paul Cooney adds, "My clients are the reason for my passion for property. I wake up in the morning with the singleminded conviction to do the best by them. I'm truly honoured to be shortlisted within my first year of trading here in Chiswick."

 THANK YOU to everyone who voted for Horton and Garton! For more information on the awards, visit theestas.com

Looking to buy, let or sell a property in West London? You're in safe hands, call us today on 020 8819 0510 or contact our friendly team.

Best Estate Agent London - ESTAS Awards

Diary of an Estate Agent: Managing March Madness


Diary of an Estate Agent

Ashley Clements, West London Lettings Manager

Monday
Our weekly planning session morphs into a lettings quiz - low scorer washes up the coffee cups. This starts the day with with a fun energy but also imparts some key legislation updates to the team. Fortunately I'm not washing up…. The benefit of writing the questions of course! My first incoming telephone call is from a landlord who has just completed a large-scale, high spec refurbishment on a Brackenbury Village house... and I have been invited to visit them later today. Having peeked inside many times walking past during the last year it promises to be a very unique property and after a debrief with the team we already have a particular family in mind for the next tenancy...

Tuesday
Team Lettings had a blinder yesterday with evening viewings resulting in two offers on the same property. As a local and independent agency we have been able to create a competitive but open and honest environment for our team. We work for one person - our client - so instead of choosing the quick or easy option, discussions are held at length about each offer, the suitability of the individual tenants and their positions. We then put the two different tenants to our client because, even though I offer my informed opinion, the choice is theirs. On a side note, I am feeling flash today with a new pair of cufflinks courtesy of my future mother-in-law. I'm convinced they help me type emails quicker... the same feeling you got lining up in new shoes as a child, facing the start line of the dash across the concrete from water fountain to bike shed, safe in the knowledge your new trainers would help you set a record time.

Wednesday
The lettings industry is far from dull; thanks to ever-changing legislation no day is ever the same. What you learned last month has been rewritten with new legal documents to pore over and fresh challenges to overcome. Today I attended a seminar on legislation updates. With a mountain of information to absorb, breaking it down within the seminar certainly helps! It is however reassuring to realise that Horton and Garton is already doing everything as we should, whilst we now have several new ideas to implement within our current systems and procedures. So much sitting today means I need to move so it's time to hit the Hogarth Health Club in Chiswick for a wind down with a swim and a steam.

Thursday
A full diary means I am helping to cover viewings for our lettings negotiators. I grab the brochures and keys before hitting the road. I spend the majority of my time with new and existing landlords and landladies, which I really enjoy, but I'd forgotten how much fun it is to help tenants find their new home! One offer received and a second viewing booked on one of our riverside flats, not a bad day at all… I may be a little greyer and older since I was last a full time lettings negotiator but it's been no trouble hopping back on the bike!

Friday
As usual there is plenty to do on a Friday with recapping on any outstanding points from the week before arranging the jam packed Saturday diary. A fantastic treat arrived today…flapjacks home made by one of our favourite landladies! We get many thoughtful gifts, often food, including home made brownies, sweets and cookies. Thank you to everyone and do keep the sweet treats coming! A team drink in the pub after work to round off the working week and it is noticeable just how much Horton and Garton has grown in recent years with everyone together including our Chiswick office.

Saturday
It's a typical Saturday of back to back appointments. Full diaries are par for the course with appointments often carrying on outside official office hours. A new team member joining us next week lives locally so stops by the office to say hi. Just what I like to see, another keen and enthusiastic person joining our crew. As an independent business in our tenth year we still see every team member and client as a part of our Horton and Garton family. We live and breathe property, working tirelessly to make the lettings process an enjoyable and seamless experience.