Latest Blog Posts

Chiswick House & Gardens – Join our campaign to raise funds


Everything you need to know about the Lego brick model campaign to raise vital funds

One of W4’s finest treasures, Chiswick House & Gardens is a popular place to venture if you live in the area.

We’re spoilt to have ready access, totally free of charge, to such a beautifully maintained site.

You might be unaware though that the Coronavirus pandemic has caused funding towards the upkeep of the house and its grounds to dwindle considerably.

Now, Chiswick House & Gardens is in need of our support more than ever to ensure we can continue to enjoy the space freely for generations to come.

To help, Horton and Garton has made a donation of £1,000 – we’re really fond of the house and its grounds, we often take a walk around in our free time, or even between appointments if time allows.

 

Chiswick House

Lego® brick model of Chiswick House

As part of their efforts to raise vital funds, Chiswick House Friends are building Lego® brick models of the stunning Palladian villa at various points during its history, where donations are made per brick added to the model.

Progress of the build is being displayed on the Chiswick House Friends website where daily photos are uploaded.

The model will be on show in the Gardens Café and when restrictions are lifted local school children will help with the build.

Donations can be made via the Just Giving page where further information about the model and history of the house can be found. A donation of just £2 will add one brick; £10 will add five bricks. Donations of £15 or more will add one brick for every £1.50 donated.

Click here to donate

 

Who are Chiswick House Friends?

Who are Chiswick House Friends?

Chiswick House Friends are a local charity with appoximately 600 members who together play an important role, contributing to restoration projects and funding new commissions to improve and enhance Chiswick House and its wonderful grounds and gardens.

Chiswick House and Gardens are managed by a trust who maintain and protect the villa and its grounds, and the Friends work closely with the Trust supporting activities and projects.

We asked Dr John Armstrong, Chairman of Chiswick House Friends, a few questions:

The Lego® Brick Fundraiser has so far raised over £30,000, nearly half of the target set by Chiswick House Friends – what will the funds raised go towards?

All the funds raised by the Lego Brick Fundraiser go to the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust, which runs the park, to replace some of the £0.5m hole in their finances arising from the cancellation of events due to Covid.

The site has annual costs of about £1m – paying for gardeners, rangers and security, maintenance and so on.

As a local resident what is it that you most enjoy about Chiswick House and the surrounding area?

As a local resident, I walk my dog in the park at least once every day and love the Gardens especially the wilderness areas. I am also fascinated by the architecture of the House and love the way it has been through three quite separate arrangements (all of which will be illustrated in the Lego model!)

Which annual event (or events) are you most looking forward to attending once they’re permitted to go ahead?

I used to really enjoy the Opera, which Chiswick House Friends ran every year until about five years ago – maybe we will be able to organise this again once the present difficulties are past.

I also love the energy and excitement of the Dog Show, put on every autumn – at least until last year for obvious reasons. It is a real community event, for everyone, and is I am told the largest dog show in London.

 

Where to live near Chiswick House

Where to live near Chiswick House

As a local estate agent, we know just how much of a draw it is for buyers to live near Chiswick House.

If you’re looking for a property in the area there are a few roads we can highlight that you might wish to consider.

Grove Park

Grove Park surrounds most of Chiswick House and Grounds.

The property in Grove Park is a mix of Edwardian homes and houses built in the Twenties and Thirties. For the most part the properties in Grove Park are substantial houses, some boasting 100ft gardens and those near the River Thames often enjoy private river frontage.

This area of W4 is located to the south of the A4 main road, though several underpasses connect Grove Park to Chiswick High Road if you’re on foot or cycling.

Chiswick Riverside

Though Chiswick has considerable river frontage due to the shape of the postcode area, the Chiswick Riverside area that includes the Corney Reach development, near to Duke’s Meadows, is particularly sought after.

The modern development is a mix of apartments and townhouses that enjoy river views and in most cases off street parking, all within just a few minutes’ walk of Chiswick House.

Estate agent in Chiswick

As a longstanding estate agent in Chiswick, Paul Cooney has an intrinsic knowledge of each of the residential areas within W4.

Many areas of W4 are within walking distance of Chiswick House - it’s a beautiful slice of serenity that Chiswick residents are incredibly fortunate to have free access to.

We’re delighted to have been able to support Chiswick House and Gardens in some way during these challenging times and hope others are encouraged to also contribute in any way they can.

Virtual Property Valuation – Selling your home during the pandemic


Paul Cooney, Director of Horton and Garton in Chiswick, discusses how a virtual property valuation works and shares his top tips for selling during the pandemic

If you’re hoping to take the next step towards selling your home but would initially prefer not to meet in person, a virtual property valuation is the solution.

Here’s how we value your property virtually and our top tips for selling your house during the pandemic.

virtual property valuation

How does a virtual valuation work?

In the current climate a virtual property valuation might be preferable.

We’ve conducted many market appraisals in this manner over the past 12 months, and even before the pandemic if it’s more convenient for a seller.

There are several ways for us to value your property virtually:

  • Live walk-through – We open a video call, and you show us around your property.
  • Pre-recorded walk-through – You send a video tour of you walking through the property for us to evaluate
  • Desktop appraisal – You can send over the property address, number of rooms, describe the decorative condition and approximate size. We’ll be able to provide an estimated price range.
  • Telephone appraisal – If you’d prefer to have a discussion and simply receive a general idea of the value of your property and learn more about the market a telephone appraisal could be a good initial step.

For those who wish, we are now able to visit a property and conduct a valuation, adhering to government guidelines.

Can you sell your property virtually?

Yes, absolutely. As an example, during the first lockdown the Horton and Garton Chiswick office valued a property virtually, photographs and a virtual tour were captured in full PPE and adhering to guidelines by a professional company, the property was showcased online and following an online viewing a buyer put an offer forward. The transaction successfully concluded with both parties very happy.

In the current climate it’s entirely possible to see a property without a physical viewing, this said its wise for vendors to prepare for some in person viewings. Buying a home is a personal decision and many buyers will want the assurance of having stepped inside themselves prior to completing a purchase.  

With the proper precautions in place an in person viewing from a fully vetted and qualified buyer who’s extremely serious about proceeding to purchase, can be conducted in a safe manner at a very low risk.

 

virtual property valuation

Property price advice

A property’s value is determined by a number of factors, these points contribute to the property price advice we share:

  • Condition of property – a property that will require considerable work to be liveable will have a vastly different price than one that has recently been renovated to a high standard.
  • Tenure – houses are largely freehold but if a property is leasehold the number of years remaining on a lease will have an impact on the price.
  • Any planning permissions or scope for improvement – it is sometimes the case that a current owner will have investigated extending or remodelling and have commissioned architects’ drawings and obtained planning permission but not yet carried out any work.
  • Comparable sales – we have access to several databases which provide us with historic property prices allowing us to give an accurate idea of current values based on similar properties that have recently sold.
  • Current market climate – Being on the ground and talking to buyers, and sellers, allows an agent to understand the appetite better. The mainstream media reports only figure for broader areas and does not address micro-markets such as Chiswick.
  • Experience – This cannot be measured but it is incredibly important. An agent who has local experience and a track record of success will be able to offer a much clearer advice on the price and the best strategy for selling.

Pricing strategy

Online property portals show very clearly the date when a property was first listed and when a property has been reduced in price.

Properties that have been online and available for sale for some time often make prospective buyers think there is something wrong with a property for it to have not sold yet.

A price reduction also gives the wrong message with buyers put off by vendors who might have high expectations.

The initial price that your property is advertised for can dictate the level of interest and the eventual selling price.

Horton and Garton is well known for our precision pricing and we will give potential sellers a fair and reasonable value based on the current market climate and the property itself.

 

virtual property valuation

How to sell a property during a pandemic

The strategy for sale will be dictated by several factors including the speed at which a seller wants to move. At this time sellers are generally only putting their homes on the market if they absolutely wish to sell, though time scales vary. 

As well as depending on the type of property and the demand in the local market. Sellers are seeing the greatest success when they prepare their property for virtual viewings – we recently published a blog with more details.

We also recently spoke with a professional home organiser in London who shared tips on how to declutter your property which can significantly improve how a property looks online (and in-person).

People around the world are self-isolating, and the UK is currently in a national lockdown meaning prospective buyers are spending more time than ever on the internet and on social media platforms.

Beautiful photographs, a professionally-written description and virtual tours done correctly can significantly boost the saleability of your property.

 

Steps we take when valuing in person

 We are able to value a property in person and take precautions to ensure the most up to date guidelines are followed.

Should you wish for us to attend your property we will maintain a two-metre distance, we will cover or remove our shoes and wear a facemask.

During the appointment we will avoid touching anything in the property unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.

 

Chiswick estate agent

As a long standing and experienced Chiswick estate agent, I can offer competent and clear advice on selling your home.

With the media releasing information that is often conflicting and misleading, a seasoned local agent can offer clarity, especially during a pandemic.

To talk about the sale of your property in Chiswick please do get in touch.

Making Sense of Scents in W12


We are in the midst of deepest and darkest winter. It is bleak outside and if the ground isn’t hard, it’s pretty muddy. Although nature seems dormant, there is much to observe and tantalise the senses outside. There are fragrant winter shrubs and much loved bulbs pushing through the cold earth which attract and sustain us, as much as solitary bees and insects throughout the winter.

Your guide to 10 winter flowers and shrubs now gracing Wendell Park

Take a journey with me through Wendell Park and I will tell you a story about these plants and people. About two years ago, we gathered, the core group of gardeners who call ourselves the Wendell Park Gardening Friends with a mission to improve and develop the borders in the park by introducing more biodiversity, support our local park keeper and come together to garden as a group.

The north border which boundaries St Saviour's Church vicarage wasn’t looking much with a fallen tree and a lot of ivy covering the ground and the fences. Spearheaded by Frances, and a determined twinkle in her eye, we worked really hard to clear the leaves and debris from the area and demarcated a border, adding much compost. Frances was keen on a winter to spring border to keep us going through the hard winter months. We decided on shrubs that would bring pleasure when winter seems harsh and spring still a long way off. You will find these shrubs all around the park.

  1. The first is Viburnam bodnantense ‘Dawn’ – we have several in the park and the most established one grows against a wall near the Cobbold Road entrance and some younger ones in the north border. It has a fantastic sweet spicy smell born on clusters of small pink flowers. It comes from Bodnant, a beautiful garden in Wales, to which I have distant ancestral connections. Some of the fun of gardening is finding these connections.
  2. The next can be found in the north border and the children’s area and outside my front door. It is Daphne odora Aureomarginata. This lovely small shrub is evergreen and has pretty pink fragrant flowers from now til spring. Daphne was a water sprite in Greek mythology who was pursued by the Greek god Apollo. To escape his unwanted attention, Daphne begged the rivergod to turn her in a laurel tree (Laurus nobilis). Daphne means laurel in Greek and the Daphne plant was known as ‘small laurel’, although it is not related to a laurel at all, all quite confusing! Nevertheless, its smell can bring cheer.
  3. Sarcoccocca confusa or Sweet Box is another small evergreen shrub with deep green leaves and attractive white, deliciously smelling flowers in winter through to spring. Then it has pretty purple, red or black berries over summer until it next flowers the following winter. Sarcococca means flesh berry. It is a hardy little plant, shade tolerant and according to the RHS “tolerant of atmospheric pollution, dry shade and neglect.” S. confusa ‘Little Gem’ is a useful variety.
  4. Next in our north border and flowering now is witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’). I love this plant for its spidery golden flowers – there are also many other varieties with colours from orange, pink to red – and its therapeutic and healing properties. It is deciduous and this cultivar has strong citrusy fragrant winter flowers along its stems until spring when leaves appear and these turn a spectacular buttery yellow in autumn. Hamamelis means ‘together with fruit’ referring to flowers and fruit from the previous year occurring together. The witch in its common name has its origins in Old English ‘wice’ meaning ‘pliant’ or ‘bendable’ and the twigs were used as divining rods. Extracts of the plant made the witch-hazel ointment and remedies in years gone by.

    Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida

  5. Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum - pictured above) is another favourite to brighten up a winter’s day. Its lemon, yellow flowers appear on the stems of this vigorous climber from November until March. The deciduous shrub needs pruning back after flowering and is happy to scramble over fences and walls. The plant originates from China where it is called Yingchun – flower that welcomes spring.
  6. Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) is another bush with a lovely smell. It is also known as ‘sweet breath of spring’.  Rather than its rambling summer counterpart, this is a deciduous shrub which can grow to 2 m. It can be deciduous or evergreen in a mild winter and doesn’t mind partial shade. It was introduced to the UK by a Scottish plant hunter in 1845 called Robert Fortune, also known for his cunning acts of biopiracy, with the shaved head and ponytail he wore to blend into China. 
  7. Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) is the next plant which imparts a strong sweet smell from creamy yellow flowers.  They turn into nuts over the summer.  Like winter honeysuckle and winter jasmine, this plant also originates from China where it is revered and its dried flowers used to scent linen, similar to lavender. Its starry flowers give a strong pungent smell to a winter’s day and Dan Pearson calls it his ‘February fix’ in his Dig Delve blog.
  8. The compact Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ works well in our north border and its compact nature can also be a good plant for ‘winter interest’ window boxes.  It prefers shade and a slightly more acidic soil so plant with ericaceous compost for best results. It smell is divine and its leaves are also aromatic with a citrusy aroma when crushed.

    Skimmia x confusa Kew Green

  9. The two final plants in this list are probably my favourite.  Hellebores (one variety pictured above) with their simple, cup shaped flowers are perennials that appear now and last well into spring. They come in many varieties and colours.  I love the Helleborus odorus and Helleborus niger. They have evergreen strappy leaves which I cut back in the autumn or early winter as the new flowers begin to appear. They can self seed and pop up all over the show once established and don’t mind shade. There are grim and bizarre myths associated with this plant, mainly because it is poisonous. Its name derives from the Greek ‘to harm’ and ‘food’. However, there is a charming legend about a young girl who visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. She felt ashamed that she had no gift for him, and as her tears fell to the ground the helleborus sprouted. She picked the flower and gave it to Jesus. Hence its common name Christmas rose.

    Galanthus nivalis

  10. And last, but not least, the dear little snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis - pictured above). It gets its botanical name from Gala (milk in Greek and anthus flower). It is a bulb and we have planted in the woodland areas around Wendell Park.  Snowdrops are best planted ‘in the green’ in acidic soil created naturally by leaf mould in woods and en masse to get the lovely carpet effect that can be glimpsed in woods and Wendell Park. This humble little flower symbolises hope and purity.

The sense of smell is closely linked with memory. A mossy woodland smell reminds me of my arrival in warm, damp England after a childhood spent in hot, dry Africa, a sense of arrival and a sense of a new life. Winter is a time to slow down, enjoy a walk in the gentle winter sun to replenish Vitamin D levels, observe nature and enjoy the scents of winter.

Decluttering Your Home – Home Organisation


How to Declutter your home is a hot topic - Time to meet home decluttering expert Esme

Hit Netflix shows such as Get Organized with The Home Edit and Tidying Up with Marie Kondo have encouraged thousands to declutter their homes, organise and live in a picture perfect home.

We’re fortunate in Chiswick to have our very own professional home organiser - Esme is a KonMari Consultant and founder of Tidy Coaching.

Esme trained with Marie Kondo in Los Angeles and offers specialist home organisation sessions and a decluttering service in Chiswick and across London.

Decluttering your home can considerably improve the way your home looks in online photos and virtual tours meaning you’re likely to attract more prospective buyers.

In person, a home that is organised and has good storage often proves more appealing to those viewing and, in many cases, a higher sale price can be achieved.

Going through the process of decluttering before you move can also make the process of moving to a new house far easier.

We asked Esme some questions about what she does and how she does it.

Esme - Decluttering Your Home

What is The KonMari Method?

Marie Kondo's KonMari Method™ uses a different approach to home organising: 

Step 1 - Make a plan - what do you ideally want your home to look and feel like? 

Step 2 - Declutter and tidy by category not by location (clothes, books, papers, komono (e.g. kitchen and bathroom), sentimental items) 

Step 3 - Make a positive choice about what to keep and let go of items with gratitude - they have served their purpose for you and someone else will cherish them.

Working with a KonMari Consultant is like working with a personal trainer. We're there to guide you through the process, keep you motivated, encourage and listen and help you achieve amazing and long-lasting results.

The KonMari Method

What Are Your 3 Top Tips for Decluttering and Staying Committed to Tidying?

  1. Finish decluttering everything first before even thinking about beautiful storage systems. Decluttering is like taking an audit of your belongings - you need to know what you've got before finding an organised place for it in your home.
  2. Set manageable goals or it will become overwhelming! When I work with my clients, this is one of the first things I do for them (and everyone is different). Doing too much at once can become demotivating and exhausting. 
  3. A place for everything and everything in its place. Once you have finished decluttering and decided what to keep, make sure everything has a home! This will enable you to keep organised and tidy and will keep clutter at bay.

Tidying your workspace

You offer Virtual Organising Sessions How Do these Work?  

I offer world-wide virtual tidying sessions via Zoom which gives people the ability to work with a professional organiser even if there isn’t one in your area and can be valuable in our current time of Covid-19.

I guide you as you organise your belongings in real time, using Marie Kondo's revolutionary method, while we are on a Zoom call together.

You may want to use virtual organising sessions to carry out your entire tidying journey with your KonMari Consultant or you may feel that you can tackle most of your home organising on your own, but need a little extra accountability - someone to check in with to give you some support and guidance.  

Each virtual organising session lasts a minimum of one hour. It is entirely up to you as to whether you prefer me to stay on-line with you whilst you do all your tidying, or if you would prefer to do most of your tiding ‘off-line’ and just have regular catch ups / check-ins with me. 

I always do an introductory presentation at the beginning of each new category (Clothes, Books, Papers, Komono, Sentimental Items) so that I can talk you through the Konmari Method™ for each category.

Decluttering your kitchen

Decluttering Your Home for Sale

It’s incredibly important to declutter your home before selling to achieve the greatest premium for your property.

Horton and Garton will always recommend a seller have a good sort out and removes unnecessary items from view.

Prospective buyers struggle to imagine a home as their own when it’s cluttered with the current owners’ belongings.

If it seems that a property has inadequate storage space a buyer might be put off or believe they will have to spend significant amounts to create the appropriate storage.

Engaging a service such as the one Esme offers to her clients could make the entire process far smoother.

Homes that are organised and demonstrate excellent storage options will often sell quicker and even for a higher price.

Property in Chiswick

The property market in W4 has gotten off to a flying start in 2021.

Buyers have a real appetite for well-priced property - we’ve recently agreed the sale of a house located off of Strand-on-the-Green which came to the market for just a few days before we received several bids above the asking price.

If you’d like to talk about your plans to sell in the coming months, or simply want an idea of the current climate and the outlook for Chiswick property in 2021, please do contact Paul Cooney.

Selling Glamoursmith and SheBu


A year in review and sales manager Martin Clements MNAEA’s predictions for 2021…

Before you read on, I must pause to acknowledge the knock-on effects the pandemic has had on our fellow independent businesses here in Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush. These unique, independent traders make our communities special places to live and I know that our wonderful neighbours will continue to shop local as soon as your doors are open again.

When lockdown was announced, property professionals – and every homeowner up and down the country - held their breath. In 13 years at the helm of our sales team, I’d never seen anything like it: a frozen market. Photography, floorplans and video tours created by a specialist team in ‘clean’ boiler suits. Was this the new normal?! We knew it wouldn’t be and could forecast this temporary stall as the calm before the storm… we were momentarily at peace in the eye of the hurricane.

An understanding of the basic macroeconomic principle of limited supply and an inevitable surge in demand meant my sales team braced for the madness to come: before the market restarted, the floodgates were already bulging with buyers and sellers chomping at the bit to get moving. Conversation after conversation was had with Shepherd’s Bush and Hammersmith locals desperate to move… buy, sell, upsize, downsize, remortgage, free up equity, home office, outside space, rattling around in a house that’s too big, wanting to move nearer to family… you name it, I had several conversations about it - all with the same question: “When can we start?”

The seven day working week swiftly followed with our already-busy sales team working around the clock to ensure our sellers and buyers were beautifully looked after and never in want of an update. This sterling standard of service meant our market share grew for the 13th year in a row in 2020, with Horton and Garton selling more houses in Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush than any other estate agency. How to best describe 2020? Our statistics tell the story of our team’s dedication:

hammersmith shepherd's bush sold houses

  • Our properties achieved an average of 98.7% of their initial asking price
  • 56% of our W6 portfolio and over a third of our W12 portfolio achieved 100% of the initial asking price or above
  • 85% of our W6 portfolio achieved 95% of the initial asking price or above
  • 17% of our sales in 2020 were agreed fully off-market
  • Our Askew Village sales were agreed in an average of 24 days – less than half the national average for time on the market in 2020 (50 days!)
  • If you sold in Ravenscourt Park, this average time on the market figure – from listing to under offer – drops to just 11 days!

time on the market house sold askew village ravenscourt park

What’s afoot for West London property in 2021? I believe more properties will come to market and forsee local Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush average house prices holding firm with the very best homes near desirable schools and amenities continuing to attract top notch buyers and extraordinary prices. In the first month of the new year, we’ve seen sealed bid scenarios and watched Lockdown 3.0 focussing buyers’ minds and intentions.

The motivation to move is there with the stamp duty deadline adding yet another layer of incentive. Time will tell how the market reacts as the year goes on – check back at the end of Quarter 2 for my overview and projections – but to reiterate, I forecast the family house market holding firm. Growing families will always want and need to upsize into these perennially popular forever homes; they act as a constant lure to our leafy patch of Prime West London.

Whilst I can’t invite you to pop by our King Street office for a cup of tea, I can certainly encourage you to call me and my team or email us any time. We’re even on WhatsApp – click here to connect with us. If you’re a Hammersmith or Shepherd’s Bush local and only the best will do, my dedicated team and I are at your service. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Martin Clements MNAEA

Sales Manager

“As a seller I couldn’t recommend Horton and Garton more strongly. They have a great knowledge of the local market, road by road. I felt their advice was completely sound and definitely aimed at getting the best outcome and the whole process was totally stress free.”

                       -Jane, Brackenbury Village seller

“We chose this agency because it’s local and because we liked the selling strategy – you feel it straight away when you deal with professionals. Even with a four link chain, we managed to move into our new home within four months with no problems whatsoever. They’re professional, reliable, responsible and smart: definitely recommend.”

                       -Dina, Askew Village seller

“I cannot recommend the team at Horton and Garton highly enough. In the past we have had some bad experiences with estate agents however Martin, Phil and Charlie have restored our faith in the profession! We have found their honest, friendly but knowledgeable approach very refreshing.”

                       -Jenny, Ravenscourt Park seller  

Have an old tablet or laptop? Donate your device today and help a family in need


Horton and Garton is appealing for money and laptops to connect children to their schoolwork

Tech laptop donate pupils

 

With schools closed to most children because of lockdown, the digital divide between the haves and have nots is widening. 

Across the country, Ofcom believes up to 1.8 million children have no access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home. 

In Hammersmith & Fulham, more than 1,700 laptops have already been given out by schools and the council.

While in Chiswick, school pupils will benefit from the 750 laptops recently purchased by Hounslow Council.

But sadly it’s still not enough to connect every school pupil in Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Chiswick.

That's why we’re appealing to local residents to donate to West London charity Ready Tech Go. It was set up last year by a group of volunteers who work in IT to bridge the technology gap between those with computers and those without. The mantra of Ready Tech Go is ‘access to technology should be a right, not a privilege’, and its volunteers recondition laptops and tablets, wiping any data that remains on them before giving them free to families in need. 

If you want more details, or can help with a donation of money or any unwanted laptops/tablets, visit the Ready Tech Go website.  

Meanwhile, we applaud Hammersmith charity UNITED in H&F which has already given Ready Tech Go a grant to support its work. 

Need more data?

Mobile network operators are also working to help schools support pupils in need in Years 3 to 11 who rely on a mobile internet connection during lockdown.

Families in need may be able to benefit from free increases to their mobile data if they’re a customer of:

  • EE
  • Three
  • Sky Mobile
  • SMARTY
  • Tesco Mobile
  • Virgin Mobile

(The amount of data available to families will vary by provider.)

Data will be increased until the end of July 2021. Schools can request these free mobile data increases for families during the spring and summer 2021 terms.

 

Making the most out of virtual viewings


Prospective buyers are now taking their time to consider property details online, here we share our top tips to help make the most out of a virtual viewing.

What are virtual viewings?

A virtual viewing of a property is 3D imagery that is viewed in a virtual reality system – it seems as though you’re really there in the property.

The Covid-19 pandemic forced estate agents to stop conducting so many viewings and update the way they showcased properties online. Some agents chose to do virtual tours via video walkthroughs, others chose to do professional video tours.

virtual viewing estate agent chiswick

We believe that together with professional photographs and floorplans, a 3D virtual tour is the very best way to enable potential buyers to get the full measure of a property prior to arranging property viewings. In some instances, a pre-recorded video tour is also appropriate.

How to use a virtual viewing

The Horton and Garton Chiswick office use high quality technology to capture a property virtually. The Matterport cameras provide 3D imagery that feels like you’re in the property, it allows a buyer to see every aspect – good and bad.

 

matterport virtual viewing

Virtual tours

Buyers should take their time doing a virtual walk through as though they were in the property, there are several points to look out for which can be seen on a virtual tour:

· The age and condition of the kitchen, whether quality brand appliances are built in

· Is there adequate storage space?

· Is the central heating system gas or electric?

· The condition of bathrooms and quality of the fittings.

· Any visible cracks in the ceiling or walls beyond what is expected if it is a period property

· What does the property look out onto – from a 3D tour you can see the view from the windows

· Are the windows in good condition, are they double glazed?

From the virtual tour you might have questions to raise with the selling agent prior to viewing in person.

Measure up

The software we use enables buyers to mark out measurements of their furniture online within the 3D tour to make sure their belongings would fit.

If you want to clarify any measurements, such as the width of a door frame to get furniture in, sellers are usually happy to measure for you – just ask the agent.

If you’ve viewed the property thoroughly online and believe it to be a real contender there are certain questions that you might need the estate agent to answer and provide more information:

· Has there been any structural work completed on the property in the last 10 years?

· When were the kitchen, bathroom and boiler installed?

· Older properties can be susceptible to damp so perhaps ask if there has been any damp proofing and if there is a guarantee for the works.

· If the property is within a building confirm the charges applicable and whether there are any building works planned as this could incur cost and cause noise disturbance.

· You might even want to know who lives next door!

· If you’re new to the area you might like to know more about local schools and amenities

Whatever your query the estate agent will be able to help, or they’ll be able to ask the seller and come back to you.

Floor plans

Floor plans have been being used for estate agents for a very long time and remain to be incredibly important. If the property is one that you know you’ll want to improve or reconfigure the floorplan can be hugely useful.

floor plan horton and garton

The floorplan will also confirm where there are storage cupboards that might not have been obvious on the 3D tour such as those in the eaves.

For the purposes of valuing the property the total square footage is used to equate a price based on the price per square foot for comparable properties that have sold recently nearby.

Things to consider before viewing a property in person

Aside from looking around the property virtually make sure you’ve considered these factors before arranging a physical viewing. 

Location

The location of a property and the local transport connections are often easier to check online.

Look at a map to consider the exact location and take a look around at street level by using street view technology as this will give you a better idea of what’s right outside your front door and the outlook. Apps like Citymapper can prove useful to establish how well connected a property is and what modes of transport are nearby, offering an accurate commute time.

Price

The internet allows buyers to easily access sold prices in the area, officially all property sales are registered with the Land Registry. Property portals such as Rightmove will offer an idea of what’s available to buy and some also show recent sold prices of nearby properties.

It’s worth keeping in mind that a property’s value isn’t solely based on what the property next door sold for – there are a number of factors.

If you can’t understand why there’s a difference in the value of the property you’re considering, be it lower or higher than nearby homes, talk to the estate agent as they will have arrived at that guide price for good reason.

Physical viewings

Once you’re sure the property is what you’re looking for it’s appropriate to arrange to view in person. A physical viewing is now more about getting the fuzzy homely feeling when you’re there as you’ve already checked the other factors. Horton and Garton strictly adhere to the government’s Covid 19 guidelines including social distancing and wearing PPE.

paul cooney viewing covid-19

How sellers can make the most out of virtual viewings

We’ve highlighted how a buyer can make the most out of a virtual viewing but how can a seller ensure their property is showcased in its very best light when it is captured by the 3D cameras?

Matterport cameras take a full 360° scan of each individual room so think about the following:

· Declutter – tidying away unnecessary items can help buyers see the property more clearly

· Spring clean – give the house a good clean, wipe away any marks and scuffs and, touch up the paint

· Remove valuables – put them out of view

· Ideally pets should be out – having an animal running through a room when capturing the virtual tour can ruin the imagery

· Open all the doors and turn on all the lights – make sure the property is as light and bright as possible

· Freshen up the garden – give the lawn a mow and trim back any trees and bushes

For professional advice on the sale of your property please do get in touch or watch our recent video to find out how Horton and Garton can present your property online.

Buyers looking for property in Chiswick can find our latest listings here or contact us to discuss your property requirements.

The Lettings Landscape: an overview from local expert Ashley Clements MARLA MNAEA


West London’s year in review

Before I begin my quarterly analysis, I must pause to acknowledge the knock-on effects the pandemic has had on our fellow independent businesses here in Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush. I know the residents of West London continue to offer their support by shopping local. It is these unique, and often independent traders, that make our communities so special.

We can all agree that 2020 has been an unpredictable year for every industry. Back in March, when the first lockdown was announced, viewings were cancelled and the office doors were shut with no idea of when they would be able to reopen. When they did reopen, it signalled the start of a tumultuous period for my lettings team - unprecedented in the 13 years I’ve served as the head of Horton and Garton lettings. A palpable urgency from both tenants and landlords flooded our inboxes and phone lines when we returned to our desks in May. Priorities shifted and outside space coupled with home offices took centre stage with many tenants making the move to upsize and incorporate that all-important garden, terrace or balcony and an extra room.

There’s no other way to put it: with our matchmaking powers in overdrive, listings flew off the shelf and into the hands of discerning new tenants. Meanwhile, our managed landlords could rest easy, safe in the knowledge our capable property management team was working overtime to keep tenants happy and properties in tip top condition during a global pandemic (!).

As for our West London landlords? The phone has been glued to my ear at all hours of the day… advising clients living in the far corners of the world on various aspects of their portfolios. At this time in particular, we are setting in place measure to maximise their return on investment and keep them one step ahead of legislative curve balls.

lettings agent chiswick hammersmith shepherd's bush 2020

Despite ever-changing restrictions and market uncertainty, we quickly adapted to the 'new normal' and kept West London moving – cementing our position in the top 3 agencies for lets agreed across our Prime West London golden triangle of Hammersmith, Chiswick and Shepherd's Bush. In Hammersmith we excelled, agreeing more lets than any other agency. That means that out of the 438 properties let by the top 10 agencies in W6 last year, 1 in 5 were agreed by Horton and Garton. In Brackenbury Village, this lead gets even greater with my team agreeing over 20 more lets than our nearest competitor.*

Predictions for 2021

On to my predictions for this year’s market: I could never have foretold the urgency we’d experience coming out of the Christmas holidays and back to work this month. Relaxing cup of tea and easing into the year? Far from it…! We were floored from the first day with an influx of top quality tenants looking for the finest digs in Hammersmith, Chiswick and Shepherd’s Bush – knowing we’d be the team to help find Home. The hard graft has paid dividends for our landlords - we’re Number 1 for lets agreed in Chiswick, Shepherd’s Bush and Hammersmith thus far in 2021*. An excellent calibre of tenant remains available, however with more time than ever spent at home, properties must be presented in good decorative order.

Our in-house property managers are always available should you wish to have a conversation about their tips and recommendations which will help you to achieve the best price for your property with minimal investment.

Consulting my purple crystal ball, I forsee a considerable amount of market activity for our landlords in 2021 – spurred on by Lockdown 3.0 and then a return to normalcy, with further reasons to move, later in the year. For our West London tenants, 2021 brings moving goal posts and fortunately for our landlords, we’re at the top of the table – securing the highest market value for our listings in record time. We continue to fire on all cylinders through Quarter 1 and will update you again in Quarter 2.

shepherd's bush flat rental lettings askew village

Business is brisk but our sterling standard of service and commitment to our landlord clients and tenants remains the same, and throughout 2020 the 5* reviews kept coming. Whether you're a landlord thinking about letting your property, or a tenant looking for your new perfect home, I’m here for you. Call me any time on 020 8819 0511. My dedicated lettings professionals are at your service.

“I simply couldn't imagine any Hammersmith landlord using another agent.”

                       -Joseph, Central Hammersmith landlord

“I have worked with Horton and Garton for about 15 years and their service and performance have been impeccable throughout. I have no hesitation recommending them very strongly.”

                        -Alex, The Groves, W12 landlord

“After many years renting in London, I have never come across such a diligent, helpful and thoughtful team. As a tenant I have felt, respected, listened to and importantly understood and looked well after. The Team at Horton and Garton have been outstanding. I would highly recommend them for tenants and landlords alike.”

                       -Prudence, Bedford Park tenant 

*According to Rightmove statistics for January – December 2020

The times are a changin’ – John Horton’s predictions for the W6, W4 and W12 property markets in 2021


The start of the year is a good time for reflection. 

The only way is up… Don’t look back in anger… Always look on the bright side of life… Things can only get better… Yes, I always tend to look to comforting song titles.
But this year, my new mantra is forward not backward, stay positive and believe that 2021 will be better.

This year has been extraordinary. Everyone across London and indeed the world have been touched by the effects of coronavirus. Only a year ago, we ended on a record high for sales and lettings and opened our new office at 172 King Street in Hammersmith

While last year's initial Spring lockdown was difficult, everyone pulled together and I’m sure that the Horton and Garton team is much stronger as a result.

We made giant leaps into the virtual estate agency business. Thankfully, our day-to-day office processes were already paperless, while the team adapted well to our new virtual working patterns. When we re-opened, we were ready to go!

As an independent business, the first lockdown gave us the opportunity to reflect on how our industry can change and improve. We took an incisive look to make sure we were as efficient and streamlined as possible. We are very fortunate to have a strong, experienced management team and the support of 24 experts in sales, lettings, property management and accounts.

Over the last 14 years, Horton and Garton has earned the right to say we are the Number One market leader in both sales and lettings across W6, W12 and W4.

 

It is the team’s dogged hard work and professionalism that ensured – despite one of the most challenging markets in my 25-year career – that our local market share grew for the 13th year in a row. I look forward to working with more of the very best properties and clients in 2021.

Unfortunately, the knock-on effects of the pandemic have had a huge impact on the local independent businesses in Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Chiswick. I know they are hurting, so I echo the comments from H&F Council Leader Stephen Cowan and hope that the residents of West London support their local businesses and shop local. It is these unique, and often independent traders, that make our community special.

What’s in store for 2021?

I believe we will see more properties come to the market for sale. Overall, it will remain a buyer’s market throughout 2021.

I see no great change coming to the prices of local houses, while the very best homes near desirable schools will continue to attract the best buyers and prices.

Many established family homeowners sold up and moved outside of London, allowing many local families to move into bigger homes with more outdoor space or room to work from home. Those fortunate to have secure jobs were able to take advantage of low mortgage rates and secure a great deal. While some sellers were minimising their rental portfolios to avoid the ever-increasing legislation in the private rental market.

For flats, it is a different situation. A growing number of landlords are selling and if we continue to see more vacant flats on the market, it could affect prices. Potential buyers should be watching closely.

There have been fewer Buy to Let landlords compared to previous years, and we have seen many buyers who would have bought flats in Zone 2 going on to buy other properties outside of London due to the pandemic.

We understand the current Stamp Duty holiday (allowing buyers to save up to £15,000 on a purchase up to £500,000), will not be extended past the end of March. While other tax increases are inevitable in 2021, with Capital Gains tax, Inheritance tax and Corporation tax all ear marked for an increase. Watch this space…

Choose the right agent the first time

It’s a well known industry fact that a third of all sales completed in 2020 were not sold by the first appointed agent but the second. Never has it been more important to be working with the right estate agent and get the price right from the start. Ask too much and it will cost you more than the discounted fee from the initial agent who told you what you wanted to hear.

If you are buying, selling or renting in 2021, or would just like to hear from the experts, please call the Horton and Garton team on 020 8819 0510 or email: office@hortonandgarton.co.uk and we can help answer your questions.

I wish you a safe and prosperous New Year.

 

John Horton MNAEA MARLA
Director

NEW YEAR HONOURS: Former White City pupil honoured for musical success


A former pupil of Burlington Grammar School for Girls has been recognised in The Queen’s New Year Honours list with one of the highest-ranking awards

Wasfi Kani Dame Honours Shepherd's Bush

Wasfi Kani, 64, was handed the CBE – or Commander of the Order of the British Empire – medal in the latest honours for her services to music.

Born in 1956 to parents who had fled India at Partition to take refuge in the UK, the family moved to west London and Wasfi attended Burlington Grammar School for Girls (now Burlington Danes Academy in White City) where she excelled at music.

The talented violinist played for the National Youth Orchestra and went on to study music at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, before launching Grange Park Opera company in 1997.

The keen musician went on to create Theatre in the Woods, a 700-seat opera house in West Horsley, Surrey, which is the UK’s first new opera house to be built in the 21st century.