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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

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

Five Star Service

A note from our Directors...

We've had a busy summer of helping our clients to sell and let their properties, our buyers successfully purchase homes and our tenants check out or move in seamlessly. In the fast paced world of property, we never forget our primary motivation: to go above and beyond for our clients in every way. Service can make or break an independent business like ours so receiving glowing feedback in emails, letters, cards and in person is always a special and meaningful occasion in our King Street and Turnham Green Terrace offices. We're sharing a handful of sentiments from the month of August; we are immensely proud that Horton and Garton continues to provide west London's highest standard of service.

"Having bought our home through John it was only fitting we used Horton and Garton to rent it. The team was the height of professionalism. If you're buying, selling or renting in W6 I can't understand why you would go to anyone else; this is THEIR patch."
-Joe Bradley

"We switched agent and marketed our flat with Horton and Garton and got results quickly - not just that but we really appreciated their approach; sound advice and good local knowledge, and everything dealt with in an honest and professional way (very un-"estate agent"-y). We'd recommend them highly."
-Timothy Wilkes

"We recently sold in Brook Green through Horton and Garton Hammersmith and bought a new home through the Horton and Garton Chiswick office. We were very impressed with both parties who were incredibly professional, hard working and were a real pleasure to deal with!"
-Alice Davidson

"The best lettings agents I have worked with in the last 20 years. Excellent local knowledge, very proactive and attentive. A pleasure to work with."
-Rupert Carruthers

"A rare find in the baffling world of London estate agents. Horton and Garton may not be the biggest agency on the block, but they are certainly one of the best."
-Sarah Jane Grace

Nomination for Brackenbury Village Parklet

The Brackenbury Village parklet has been shortlisted for the Best Innovation category in the Healthy Streets Awards. The project was delivered in April and is positioned in front of Brackenburys Deli on Adensley Road. The goal was to regenerate the centre of the popular Brackenbury area of Hammersmith by providing more outdoor community space.

This new modular parklet, or urban park, offers seating areas, planters for greenery and cycle parking on sustainably sourced thermo-treated decking. The parklet has proved extremely popular with local residents and is encouraging walking, running and cycling to the local area. Henrietta Bewley said of the parkelet, "As a resident of Hammersmith and Fulham for about 30 years, I am delighted to have started to use the Brackenbury parklet. It is so nice to have somewhere outdoors in the sun to sit and drink an excellent coffee, especially as I can park my bicycle next to it. The parklet gives a focal point to the village. Let's reclaim the streets from the internal combustion engine!"

Sharon, the manager of Brackenbury Deli, says of the parklet, "We were a little apprehensive about losing the parking spaces outside of the shop, but now consider ourselves lucky that this spot was chosen for the first parklet in the borough. Lots of people have commented on how impressed they are with the new seating area and believe that it improves the area while creating a focal point for the village."

Read more here:

Local v Online – a response to BBC Watchdog

Our sales negotiator Phil Coombes shares his thoughts on why an established local independent agency is always your best bet:

Last week BBC One Watchdog Live examined an online agent which came under fire for misleading customers and wildly inflating claims. Watchdog investigated the company after receiving numerous reports they were still attracting new vendors by using exaggerated claims previously banned by the advertising standards agency or ASA. This same business has been censured half a dozen times over the past year by the ASA.

When homeowners come to sell their most valuable asset they might be tempted to think there is little to separate an online agent from a local one. Both organise viewings and market your property via online portals, but scratch the surface and you'll uncover some fundamental differences:

1. Fees: This is where you’d assume online agents would be more attractive, however they like to mislead their clients about how much they can save (though the ASA and Watchdog have now put a stop to these claims). Online agency fees tend to be a fixed amount rather than a percentage of the selling price and this is paid up front with no guarantee the agency will sell your property. After taking this fee, the online agent has little incentive to sell your property and even less to agree the best price possible. Local agents operate on a 'no sale, no fee' basis ensuring the agent will work hard for their commission and achieve the best price for your property.

2. Viewings: Most local high street agents will arrange and conduct viewings for you. But with an online agent, the default setting is for the vendor to conduct the viewing. You might be tempted to think this is beneficial because you know the property best. From experience, it tends to mean that potential buyers feel pressured into viewing the property quickly and feel less comfortable looking around the home. In turn, I would argue this means less chance of receiving an offer and less chance of achieving a sale.

3. Local Knowledge and Valuations: The majority of agents will visit your home to value it however online agents cover a much broader area which is often regional and therefore ultimately will not know the ins and outs of the local market. They might not know critical information about the local Conservation area, school catchment areas and transport routes. This is vitally important when giving you, the vendor, an accurate figure to sell. We understand that this is a figure you will base your future plans on so it needs to be correct and realistic.

4. Vetting buyers: A good local agent like Horton and Garton will ensure that all viewings are vetted. We take the time to get to know our buyers and ensure we bring around quality applicants. Online agencies might secure little information past the potential buyers' names and addresses. When showing applicants a property it’s important to understand their finances, current position and search requirements to ensure the home is a good fit.

5. Sales Progression: Once the sale is agreed, a good agent will come into their own. This can be the most difficult, strenuous and delicate part of the selling process. Many online agents have been slated for their lack of communication during this process with BBC One's Watchdog highlighting how vendors hadn’t been informed their buyer had pulled out of the deal. Horton and Garton handles each sale with kid gloves, investing time in all parties including solicitors, brokers and surveyors to ensure all hurdles are jumped and the sale is seamlessly managed.

The choice is yours. Will an online or local agent work hardest for you, achieve the best price for your property, conduct thorough viewings, source the perfect buyer and deftly handle the challenging process of sales progression - all the while keeping you, the client, at the heart of the transaction? To discuss the sales market in your local area within Hammersmith, Chiswick, Shepherds Bush or Fulham, give our team a call. With over 90 years of combined experience in West London property, we know the local landscape and love to share our knowledge.