Latest Blog Posts

Preparing your home for sale – 5 top tips from a seasoned estate agency


If you’re thinking about selling your property and want to make sure you achieve the best possible sale price, there are a few key steps you can take to ensure your property is not only showcased online in the best light, but that it also views well in person.

In a world of click bait its incredibly important to think about how your property will show online – getting a potential buyer to not only click on your property, but to view the details and arrange a viewing in person is a lot to do with marketing.

Whilst a selling agent can ensure they use the very best local property photographer and a professional writer to create an appealing listing, there are a number of things an owner can do to really boost a property’s saleability.

Following these top tips on preparing your house for sale could not only encourage your home to sell quickly, but may also push the price upwards.

1. Start with the front door

When a buyer is viewing a property, they're taking everything in from the moment they turn onto your road.

Whilst you can’t control what the neighbours have done to the front of their house or whether the road sweepers collected the leaves prior to the appointment, you can make sure your property makes the very best first impression.

Not limited to the front door, have you trimmed the bush or painted the wall or fence? Are the path tiles in good condition? Is it worth investing in replacements or simply giving them a clean?

Cleaning the windows is often overlooked, but again every detail contributes to making the best first impression.

Stand on the other side of the road and really take your home in, what would you think if you were a buyer and what could you do to make it better – it’s usually not very costly and most things can be done without professional help.

2. Declutter

Removing clutter from your home,or simply having better storage solutions so the clutter isn’t visible, should be one of the top priorities for those who are preparing their house for sale. This is especially important since buyers are choosing to study a property’s images and virtual tours online in advance of arranging a viewing in person – clutter does not make for good online viewing.

Rooms that are too busy often appear smaller and it can be incredibly difficult for a potential buyer to imagine their furniture fitting into space that is crammed filled with belongings. Buyers will also want to look inside built-in storage, so try not to just stuff your belongings behind doors. It’s important to demonstrate that your home has adequate storage.

Selling a house when you have children presents unique challenges especially when there are lots of toys to contend with, so it’s worth putting as many (as is reasonable) away in the loft or in a cupboard.

The effort of tidying these away temporarily won’t go unnoticed and might well contribute to a quicker sale. Furthermore, when they’re brought back out again it’ll be like Christmas morning!

3. Maintenance

Once you’ve cleared your property of clutter, you’re likely to notice more scuffs, bumps and scrapes. Buyers can become very critical and are often put off by the idea of any DIY.

Simple home maintenance, giving the property a fresh lick of paint, tightening door handles, replacing bulbs and generally going over the property to check everything is in working order is a good idea. Buyers are taking more time to study a property online; scuff marks and damaged cupboard doors can make your property stand out for all the wrong reasons and perhaps put a potential buyer off viewing.

Don’t overlook the garden either! No matter what season, the garden is always important when preparing your home for sale. Cut back trees and bushes, tidy plants and mow the lawn. If its spring or summer bring out the garden furniture (be sure to give it a clean!) to set the scene and, if possible, plant some colourful flowers

4. Deep clean

After you’ve decluttered and tackled any maintenance issues, the cobwebs in the corner of the ceiling and the limescale that’s mounted on the shower head are going to stand out.

From the oven to the carpets, giving your property a deep clean is an important step when preparing your house for sale. Depending on how much time you have or whether you enjoy cleaning you can usually give the property a deep clean yourself, or alternatively pay a professional cleaning company.

The difference in not only how clean and shiny everything is, but how your home will smell fresh and clean upon entering will make a huge difference to potential buyers.

Some people love animals and are thrilled to find the home is perfectly suited to their dog or cat as demonstrated by the current inhabitants. However, be mindful though that not everyone loves animals and might even be allergic so it can be a good idea to send your dog to the groomer and to wash his or her bedding too in advance of viewings beginning.

5. Set the scene

Whilst decluttering is important, try not to be too extreme-there’s a fine balance. Whilst you want to remove all the unnecessary items, removing all traces of personality can make a home seem cold and uninviting, and ultimately not a place a potential buyer could imagine living in.

Soft furnishings, splashes of colour, art and photographs can all add to the welcoming feel of a property so try not to eradicate all signs of life.

There’s a reason professional home staging companies are often employed by developers to make their properties ultra-saleable. Buyers will be looking for a lifestyle as well as a home and setting the scene to enable them to imagine living in your property can hugely boost saleability. Add fresh flowers before viewings if possible and open all the curtains to fill your home with light. If the weather is good, open windows to let fresh air in.

Having sold homes in West London for over a decade, we can competently advise sellers on what works and what doesn’t, what is needed to boost a property’s saleability, and what steps to take to achieve the best possible price in the current market.

Contact us for a no obligation discussion regarding your plans to sell your home.

Second lockdown drives sudden movement in the rental market


With tenants looking to move pre-Christmas, now is the time to list your property

Our lettings team report a marked uptick in tenant registrations this month. Swift decisions on the very best properties in Hammersmith, Chiswick and Shepherd’s Bush are being taken as tenants are wanting to install themselves in their new homes before Christmas. In a bizarre twist, Tier 3 lockdown has positively contributed to willing and able tenants’ ability to view and snap up their next home. At the helm of the Horton and Garton lettings team for 13 years, Ashley Clements MARLA MNAEA says of the market shift, “I must admit that we were expecting a quiet month with the lockdown restrictions coming into force but we’ve been rushed off our feet which is fantastic. If you’re a landlord thinking of listing your property this side of 2020, now is the time!”

Thus far in November, our lettings team has agreed 8 lets with many more anticipated before December. Lettings Negotiator Dominika Sielawa notes, “With the rapid changes and lockdown in place, the rental market ramped up several gears! We do feel like our tenants have all the time they need to move now with the current guidelines in place and that is what we’re here for. Our rigorous protocols err on the side of caution and follow government regulations to the letter; we’re here to get you moving!”

"This is the team to go to! They get to know you and what you are looking for, ensure all your needs are met/find alternatives, and see you through to the end. In stressful times, Tom and the team really did bring a sense of comfort and normality to us. You will not regret using Horton and Garton, I can promise that."

                                                                          - Zeena, Hammersmith tenant

Call Ashley and his team on 020 8819 0511 or send us an email for a conversation about how you can make the most of the market movement. Our dedicated lettings professionals are at your service.

 

Interior trends 2021: Chiswick homes leading the way


Having spent more time at home in 2020 than ever before, many are choosing now to give their homes an update. These can be simply cosmetic, the reconfiguration of rooms or in some cases, people are choosing to extend their homes.

Whether you’re thinking of selling your home and looking for a way to add value, or are considering what changes to make, there are a number of interior trends that are seeing a resurgence and others that have been around for a while and are here to stay. 

Here we look at the interior trends for 2021 with a little help from interior stylist Olivia Prentis.

Home Offices

Record numbers are now working from home. Where to begin with people had created a make-shift workspace that would suffice for a few months, the outlook now looks as though home working will become a more permanent set up for many companies and as a result, individuals are seeking more permanent solutions.

Repurposing an existing space or carving out a dedicated area to service as their new home office, there’s now a real need for a place to focus, be creative, attend video conferences and get tasks completed.

What are your top tips for creating a workspace or home office?

As we are halfway through another lockdown and many of us have returned to working from home this subject feels very relevant. I am currently using a makeshift office in our dining room, as my husband is in the home study which is at the top of the house away from the chaos of daily life. But before I moved rooms, I made sure I had some important creature comforts starting my desk chair. 

There are many ways to create the 'perfect home office', but to begin with a good chair is one thing I would focus on, ensuring it is comfortable and supportive. I have always been a big fan of Charles Ray Eames Furniture and found these affordable and comfortable replicas from a company called Boss Living - with over 30 colours to choose from, there’s something to suit everyone! For the more eco-conscious out there that would prefer not to have plastic chairs, fibreglass options are available.

Another top tip would be to find a space which is in a clean, uncluttered and ideally in a quiet corner of your home. If you can, place an aspirational picture on the wall above your desk, or in the room where you are, so that you can have an escape from your screen. These don’t have to be by famous artists and can even just be a print of an inspirational quote. Local colour connoisseur, author and blogger Martha Roberts has created these gorgeous colour filled prints that are all guaranteed to bring some colour and brightness to your home. I also love the work of Carol from Max Made Me Do It, her collection is full of fun inspirational finds. Lastly, Paul Thurlby is a fantastic illustrator who’s sure to bring a smile to your office with his bold and bright eye catching designs.

Something else I advise is to position your desk near a window, the outside world is a wonderful distraction from work and natural daylight is essential for a clear and focused mind.  However, now that the days get dark before the working day ends (and let’s be honest some days it feels like the day is forever dark) it’s sensible to invest in good lighting which isn’t too bright or harsh, and suits the home environment, whilst equally keeping you alert on those very dreary winter days. Ikea have a brilliant new range of work lamps to suit a variety of home styles.

Nordic Interiors

Clutter free, simplistic spaces are said to boost positive thoughts and improve productivity – Nordic interior style epitomises this minimalism. Thanks to IKEA many items that fit this style can be secured at a reasonable price.

Scandinavian furniture is often defined by simple lines and functionality, such items together with a neutral colour palette can quickly transform a space. 

How can you create a clean, simplistic work space when you have clutter? 

When it comes to clever storage solutions there are lots of ideas to chose from. These are my top tips:

  • If you are at a ‘temporary’ desk, with no drawers to store your essential office stationery, find a box to house all of those things so that it isn’t cluttering your work space. Some gorgeous examples which aren’t too ‘utilitarian and office like’ can be found. H&M home also has a lovely range including simple wooden boxes which would suit any interior style. There are also options such as this Wire Desk Organiser from local retailer Greige Lifestyle (but you might need to add some felt to the bottom to stop your pens falling through the squares);
  • Create some kind of at home ‘filing system’. You may already have one for your home life paperwork, in which case you will only need a smaller solution for you temporary ‘work’ filing, but either way The Dormy House and Habitat have some lovely at home filing systems. The first of which, from the Dormy House, I adapted to suit the rest of the carpentry we built in the office. I then painted it to match the other cupboards in the room and had a bespoke filing cabinet at a very reasonable price. For a more modern, Nordic look, Habitat has a great collection of shelves and cabinets in a variety of sizes and colours all of which would suit a contemporary, modern setting.

  • Ensure that any surrounding shelves are styled, organised and pleasing to the eye. This is a service I can offer, or there are some brilliant publications to help you style those shelves including, ‘Shelfie’ by Martha Roberts, and ‘Creative Display' by Geraldine James, both available at all high street retailers.
  • Go wireless where possible to ensure a clean lined look and try to keep your space clear and clutter free.

Winter Balcony or Garden

2020 has made outside space a top priority for home movers and ideally a space that can be enjoyed year-round. A winter balcony or area of the garden that can be used through the colder months serves as an extension of a property’s interior space.

Many images of winter gardens that offer inspiration include festoon lights or fairy lights, potted plants, cosy cushions and blankets and often a source of heat.

Those considering selling in the winter months who have outdoor space might want to consider making the space cold weather friendly to attract potential buyers and make their property stand out. 

Top 3 suggestions for creating a cosy winter garden setting

  1. Ensure it is a tidy and welcoming space. Make sure you’ve gathered up the Autumn leaves, deadheaded the tired looking plants, pulled out all the weeds and show that the garden is ready for ‘bed’ during those winter months.
  2. But, don’t forget, just because the plants are sleeping doesn’t mean the space needs to. Festoon lights are a brilliant addition to brightening up those small spaces, along with fairy lights in the trees, lanterns and lighting in the garden beds or on the walls.
  3. On the days you have viewings add some outdoor cushions to the garden furniture, and light the outdoor fire to create a sense of warmth.

Dried flowers

The indoor jungle has boomed and remains to be hugely popular, not everyone is especially green fingered and it might simply not be possible to maintain indoor plants. In a bid to add texture and some leafiness to their homes many have turned to Pampas grass and dried flowers. With the question – 'How do you dry flowers?' seeing a huge spike in search traffic online.

It’s incredibly easy to dry flowers – its recommended that you remove the leaves before arranging the flowers into a bouquet and tie them together. Then simply hang them upside down in a dry, ideally darkened area for around 3-4 weeks.

Although my skills as a florist are still a work in progress, I find that dried hydrangeas work well to form the basis of any dried flower arrangement. Eucalyptus leaves and pampas grass also add colour and interest to dried arrangements. I often look at Shida Preserved Flowers for some dried flower inspiration.

Sustainable furniture

Sustainable furniture is furniture that has been made out of recycled or reclaimed materials, it could even be a restored or up-cycled piece. Finding items to add to your home that have been created locally or are generally more environmentally friendly is something we should all be more conscious of. Sustainable furniture tends to last longer and wear better.

In 2021 it’s expected that even more individuals will choose to take a more conscientious approach to furnishing their homes.

Olivia's favourite places in West London to find furniture and art

This is a difficult one to answer as with the recent pandemic I haven’t been out shopping as much as normal so like many of us have resorted to going online to source furniture and home accessories. There are lots of online businesses focusing on the sustainable market and I can’t not mention Juliet Haines from who has a brilliant sustainable home furnishings business.

However I do still love to browse the shops for inspiration and my favourite haunts are: The Old Cinema for furniture, Decorexi for lighting, Frivoli for Art and Home Decor and for a wonderful day of finding treasures, I love the monthly Chiswick Car Boot Sale.

Home grown vegetables and fruit

With sustainability in front of mind, many have longed to be able to grow their own produce, taking steps to be more environmentally friendly.

Lockdown saw a spike in ‘grow your own’, those who’d previously wished to have the time to tend to a vegetable garden suddenly found themselves at home with the time and ability to do it.

No matter the size of your garden or balcony, or even in the instance you’re planning on growing vegetables, fruit or herbs indoors – there’s likely something you can grow fairly easily. Fruit and vegetables are often easier to have success with than plants!

What plants are the easiest to grow with limited space?

I would be lying if I said I was a great fruit and vegetable gardener! My green fingers are led by a lot of trial and error, but I can say we successfully grew some sunflowers during lockdown and have always had great results from bulbs over the years plantings lots of tulips and daffodils in the autumn and reaping the benefits in the spring. I know from friends though that courgettes, tomatoes and carrots are apparently easy to grow, no matter what size space you have as all can be done in small pots or large flowerbeds.

If you do want to be brave though and buy a houseplant or two I can tell you (from experience) that spider plants and ferns are rapid growers which need very little TLC and simply need some water when they look a little parched and can add a lot of life to a bare and empty space. House plants can really add to a room.

If you'd like to see some of Olivia's work and find out more about this West London company, view her portfolio at Post Prentis Design.

 

What is conveyancing? A guide for buyers and sellers


Conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of a property – in this blog we break down the steps of conveyancing and the considerations to be made by both sellers and buyers

Put simply, conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of a property. Anyone who has bought or sold a property in the past will know that the process can have hiccups and some stages can take longer than anticipated.

Working together with solicitors, mortgage brokers, the seller and the buyer, a selling agent is there to ensure the process is as smooth and stress free as possible for all parties involved.

The two stages that are worked towards are exchange of contracts and completion of the sale. There is a fair amount of work to be carried out before these stages can be reached.

What are the steps in conveyancing?

The process of buying a property should be straight forward but it can be a winding path that causes both buyers and sellers confusion, there are several key steps in conveyancing that will always take place:

1. Instruction to begin – Upon agreeing an offer both buyer and seller notify their solicitors. The selling agent will send both solicitors a Memorandum of Sale with the full details of all parties.

2. Draft contract sent to buyers’ side – The seller’s solicitor will complete a draft contract and send it to the buyer’s solicitor. The draft contract will include property forms completed by the seller, official copies (electronic deeds) and duplicates of relevant documents for the property.

3. Buyer’s solicitor applies for searches and investigates title – this is usually the longest part of the process – the buyer’s solicitor will review the paperwork sent by the sellers solicitor and raise enquiries they have over the paperwork or questions from the buyer in order to obtain all the necessary information to buy the property. The seller’s solicitor will often revert with their client, and also provide additional information or paperwork. The selling agent can be of use at this stage as a line of communication between both sides on matters that do not require legal attention. Often queries can be raised from the results of a survey. The buyer’s solicitor also applies for searches with the local authority and other organisations relevant to the purchase (See below for more on searches).

4. Report on Title – Once the buyer’s solicitor has received the searches back and received satisfactory replies to enquiries, they can compile a report for the buyer. The final statement is usually sent along with the report breaking down the amount of money due on exchange and completion.

5. Signing papers and transfer of funds – To have arrived at this stage both buyer and seller will be happy to progress with the sale based on the work carried out by their solicitors. The contracts are signed, and the buyer will place their solicitor ‘in funds’ with the deposit monies in order to progress to exchange. By this stage completion dates will have been agreed. Before exchange takes place, a lender will require a buyer to obtain buildings insurance.

6. Exchange contracts – The completion date is set, and the transaction becomes legally binding at the point of exchange. The buyer’s solicitor will send the deposit money to the seller’s solicitor. There are a few things to note at this stage:
a. The seller can no longer accept another offer, the buyer cannot be gazumped after exchange.
b. If a buyer chooses not to complete the purchase after exchange and will lose the deposit.
c. Should the seller choose not to complete after exchange they can be sued.

7. Completion – Also known as ‘move in day’, completion takes place when the seller’s solicitor confirms that they have received all the money due to purchase the property.

After completion a buyer’s solicitor will pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on the buyer’s behalf, send a copy of the title deeds to the buyers mortgage lender (if they’re using a mortgage), they will send legal documents to the Land Registry so the deeds can be transferred officially and will notify the freeholder if the property is leasehold.

What are 'searches' when buying a house?

The buyer’s solicitor will conduct several different types of searches during the process of conveyancing in order to accurately prepare their report on the title.

Local Authority Searches will include information relating to planning decisions in the area or proposals for new roads or railways. Another part of the search reports on whether the property is within a conservation area, subject to tree protection orders, a listed building or in a smoke control zone.

There are additional reports such as Environmental searches that might highlight flooding risks and Water Authority Searches which show the location of public sewers. These are not included within the standard local authority searches but can be necessary for certain purchases and some lenders will request these additional searches as standard – a buyer will incur additional costs for these.

Searches enable a buyer to make a well-informed purchasing decision and, in some cases, result in further surveys or investigations being carried out by specialists.

Though a seller is not involved in the responses provided in searches, it might be that they have useful documents or information relevant to the results from when they purchased the property that can be useful to the buyer and their solicitor.

Is it better to use a solicitor or conveyancer?

This is a question often asked by buyers and sellers and the answer usually comes down to personal preference.

It’s useful to highlight the difference between the two: A solicitor is fully trained in legal services but will specialise in conveyancing and though usually more costly than a conveyancer they’re often able to handle more complex situations. A licensed conveyancer is trained in only in conveyancing and cannot deal with more complex legal issues. A solicitor is usually preferred for properties of higher value.

Buying a property in Chiswick will often mean a buyer will encounter conservation areas or plans for development and it can be useful to have a solicitor on side to ensure everything is researched and reported fully.

There’s also merit in finding a solicitor who has knowledge of Chiswick or at least the London property market so they are able to competently work through leases and many other legalities commonly found in the capital.

Though we’re always happy to recommend a solicitor to our clients and potential buyers, as with mortgage brokers it is always wise to speak with a few professionals in advance of proceeding to a sale to ensure you trust the person you’ll be paying to oversee your sale or purchase.

If you would like to find out more, speak to a member of our Chiswick sales team at chiswick@hortonandgarton.co.uk, or our Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush sales team at sales@hortonandgarton.co.uk.

Interview with the Vicar: Meet Rev. Denis Adide


St Stephen’s Church in Shepherd’s Bush

In the first of our 'Interview with the Vicar' series, we meet Reverend Denis Adide – once a curate at Chiswick’s Christ Church W4, now the vicar of St Stephen’s Church in Shepherd’s Bush. Denis discusses what it’s been like to lead during lockdown, his vision for St Stephen’s and the joys and challenges presented by his blackness in the Kensington Deanery. To find out more, visit the St Stephen’s website.

Q: What was it like to step into your first role as vicar at St Stephen’s?

When I arrived at St Stephen’s, there was one person on the team and she didn’t work on Sunday. We had a dedicated team of volunteers who continue to be invaluable, but there were no other staff members. I’d come from Christ Church where we had a well-staffed team with vicars, curates and leaders to a church where it was effectively just me! This took some adjusting.

We had no WiFi connection in the church and the only phone line connected directly to the vicarage. By God’s grace, we managed to secure WiFi just before lockdown hit so we were able to livestream our services from March until in-person services resumed in mid-July. We continue to live-stream our services but welcome a good number of folks to worship in person each Sunday. We’ve now recruited an administrator, a curate, an ordinary and are in the process of recruiting a worship leader too.

Q: Has lockdown changed St Stephen’s?

Absolutely. We went from one main service of 120+ people to two services of approximately 40 people at each. This has presented an opportunity to create a slightly more formal service at 9.30am – I don my robes and you’ll hear traditional worship songs at this one – and a less formal service at 11am - the robes come off and you’ll praise God to the sounds of a guitar accompanying contemporary worship at this one.

Despite lockdown lifting and our ability to come back to church, we have members of the church community who are still shielding. I am a get around door-knocking and am amongst the community always, but I am blessed with a few members of our PCC who have taken this to heart and been regularly checking in on the members of our church family who are shielding.

Q. What is the best bit about being a vicar at St Stephen’s?

The best bit is watching people expand into the humans God wants then to become. Watching church members try something they haven’t tried before, perhaps something that terrifies them or they’d never imagine they could do, and then discover they can do it… it’s phenomenal. One lady was so frightened when she first met me that she couldn’t even speak to me. She is now leading services! To watch her journey from our first meeting to where she is now has been a great privilege.

We’ve just had a long standing church member take the chance to preach for the first time. What an event to witness! He will be one of two first time preachers this year. When God’s people come to understand who they are in His economy and then live out that journey… that’s the best bit for me. Step into God’s spotlight and see what wonders he will work in you.

Q. Describe your congregation for us.

They are a wonderfully diverse bunch. We have a lot of young families as you may expect – we are next door to one of England’s highest performing state primary schools!

Q: What makes the St Stephen’s community special?

A unique element of the church is the school next door; two of my three children attend the school. The church is at the centre of the school community and the school is at the centre of the church. Most of the people who attend church here live within half a mile of the church. If anyone is in need, if anything happens where the church might be needed to step in as a support system, I hear about it!

Dates for the Diary - Autumn – 2020 - St-Stephens

There is a deep sense of belonging and this has intensified across 2020. People look around and realise – this is my church, these are my people, this is my community. It has been a beautiful thing to witness.

Q: It sounds like you have a lot of families and young children at St Stephen’s. Tell us what the children’s provision is like?

Before I started at St Stephen’s there was a children’s half hour once a month. When we changed the provision to weekly and sent out an announcement that children would be broken into different age groups for fellowship and to learn God’s word, we had 80 children at the first service!

We had just shy of 90 children attending every Sunday prior to lockdown. For the younger children, it has been a special opportunity to meet each other prior to starting at St Stephen’s Church of England Primary. They go into reception with church friends which is wonderful. We have a rota of approximately 60 volunteers for children’s church and we are working on how to safely accommodate both our volunteers and our young church members in a Covid-safe way.

Q: What was the biggest lockdown loss?

Without a doubt the ability to worship. Singing God’s praises with my church family is what I want to do each Sunday. Having that taken away was a hammer blow.

Q: At what stage did you realise Bishop Wood, the first black Bishop in the Church of England, was your predecessor at St Stephen’s?

Before I was properly looking for a role, I had 5 or 6 different people – not connected to each other – message or call me to say, “There is a church in Shepherd’s Bush and I think you’re supposed to be there.” At the time, there was not a vacancy at St Stephen’s. A lot of folks were praying for me to end up here and I’m delighted it worked out that way! I already had a deep affection for Shepherd’s Bush. Many of my friends grew up here, I played football here and I would visit my barber here. About halfway through the appointment process when I was on the road to becoming vicar of St Stephen’s, my friend’s book – Ghost Ship – was published.

The book centres on the black experience in the Church of England and of course Bishop Wood is featured. Ghost Ship is a crucial bit of text when you consider what has happened so far in 2020. If you’re a Christian, this is essential reading. Read it with a friend and have a box of tissues at the ready; it has to be read. 

Ghost Ship: Institutional Racism and the Church of England [9780334059356]

It is through him - Rev. Azariah France-Williams - that I discovered the connection! It is intimidating at times to consider whose footsteps I am walking in. For me, however, I keep it simple: I was called here and I honour the spirit of the Bishop who came before me by simply loving folks in the way God would like me to. I know that I might not be here if it hadn’t been for trailblazers like him so am really grateful. He bashed down the door to make room for folks like me. It’s a beautiful story of deep inner strength and a great gift to both the church and the community.

Q: Tell us about your experience of being a black clergyman.

It’s not been smooth sailing and the experience is varied. On the lighter end there is a funny side to the casual racism I experience: when I’m out front tending the church garden I’m often mistaken for the gardener – which of course I find hilarious! I will also have folks knock on the door of the church asking, “When will the vicar be here?” Sometimes I reply, “Tomorrow!” To which they’ll reply, “What’s his name?” And I reply, “Denis.” They say, “What’s your name?” And I reply, “Denis…” and the penny well and truly drops!

People aren’t expecting the vicar of St Stephen’s to be a young black man with a mohawk! When I am judged by my skin colour and the person initially thinks that I won’t add anything of consequence to their life, they speak to me and discover otherwise very quickly. We are then able to develop a deep connection – quickly. A great positive is having that instant connection with black members of the church and this proves extremely important during difficult events like funerals when it is a great comfort to have someone who represents you, as a black person, taking the service. I am one of a small handful of vicars of colour in the Kensington Area and I’m very proud to be here.

I can see the progression… there was a time when white churchgoers wouldn’t share the peace with churchgoers of colour. In the time between Bishop Wood’s ministry at St Stephen’s and my appointment we can measure how far we’ve come. There is still much to do and the next black vicar at St Stephen’s will be able to reflect on what changed between our tenures. If we can imagine what the world look like if we could end inequality, we give ourselves a target to work towards.

Q: What is your vision for St Stephen’s?

When people think of Shepherd’s Bush, they think Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush Market, QPR – they don’t think ‘Jesus’. We want to change this! We are blessed with a phenomenal location in the middle of the high road where we have several churches dotted around us. We are a prominent, visible symbol of faith and have the opportunity to influence and impact the community around us.

From our lifelong members to our Year 6 graduates from St Stephen’s Primary to our newly wed couples, we want everyone in Shepherd’s Bush to feel they belong here at the church.

The three words that keep coming into my mind when I think of the church’s journey are Belonging, Fun and Encounter. They encompass who we are as a church family and how we are moving within our community. I’d like people to say ‘my church is mine, my church is fun to attend, and I encounter God and his people at my church’. Hopefully that positively affects Shepherd’s Bush.

To get in touch with Rev. Denis Adide, you can contact him on : 0203 3022 050, or visit The Church of St Stephen and St Thomas at 1 Coverdale Road, W12 8JJ.

Thinking about moving to Chiswick? Find out what central Chiswick has on offer.


There are many places to find houses for sale in Chiswick, the W4 area generally has a good supply of larger homes, from 3 bedroom terraces located just off the high road to detached 5 bedroom properties in leafy Bedford Park and gorgeous river facing homes, there are a number of locations to consider.  

Central Chiswick

Central Chiswick, the roads which run off of the High Road, is perfect for access to the local shops, restaurants, cafes and fitness studios. The real beauty of these residential roads is that though you’re right in the heart of W4 and are just moments from the thriving and busy centre, there is quietness and tranquillity.

The majority of these residential roads, such as Cranbrook Road and Balfern Grove are not worth driving down unless you live there or are visiting so there is limited through traffic. Treelined Cranbrook Road has a popular new café at the Chiswick High Road end, Parlé Pantry and Sipsmith micro distillery at the other, nearer Chiswick Lane.

The houses on Cranbrook Road, such as the one we currently have listed for sale, have often had an extension to the rear to make the most of the living space whilst retaining a good size garden, and the loft space is usually also converted or, due to the precedent on the road, it is possible to convert the loft.

Nearby homes such as those on Balfern Grove are a similar style of property and will also have the possibility to extend upwards and outwards, in many cases the property will also have beautiful period features such as those found at the property we are currently marketing.

The Glebe Estate

The streets which run between Devonshire Road, Duke Road, Fraser Street and Glebe Street make the area known as the Glebe Estate. These charming Victorian cottages are popular amongst families and professionals seeking homes in Chiswick.

Devonshire Road is to the East of the estate and is a popular local shopping street with several independent shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants including La Trompette.

The Glebe Estate is an ideal place for families to live, especially due to the schools nearby. St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, The William Hogarth School and Devonshire Day Nursery are all located in the area – the two primary schools on Duke Road and the nursery on Bennett Street.

Bedford Park

The prestigious Bedford Park area is located to the north of Turnham Green Terrace and the underground station. This collection of leafy residential roads is a conservation area known for the impressive architecture and traditional white fencing.

Houses in Bedford Park seldom come to the market and there’s often fierce competition to secure the most desirable homes.

Particularly appealing to families the area has two independent schools; Orchard House School and Chiswick and Bedford Park Preparatory School. Learn more about Bedford Park in our blog post dedicated to the garden suburb.

Bedford Park Borders

The roads surrounding Bedford Park are known as the Bedford Park Borders and many houses have similar characteristics though they were typically built after those in Bedford Park.

Benefitting from the best of both worlds; being outside the conservation area gives homeowners more freedom to modernise the property and potentially extend in ways not permitted within Bedford Park whilst being located on quiet, leafy roads close to the amenities, schools and transport connections.

Streets such as Speldhurst Road, Esmond Road, Somerset Road and Priory Road are all within the Bedford Park Borders area.

Gunnersbury

The Gunnersbury area is located to the western end of Chiswick High Road and includes the roads running between the High Road and Wellesley Road as well as roads such as Silver Crescent which is opposite Gunnersbury Station.

Local residents have access to a parade of shops including a small supermarket and of course Gunnersbury Station offers both London Underground and London Overground services.

Houses in the Gunnersbury area often enjoy generous gardens, such as this 4 bedroom house currently for sale with Horton and Garton, and many enjoy period features. Gunnersbury is conveniently located for access to the A4 and M4 motorway both of which are just a few minutes away.

Chiswick Mall

Chiswick Mall is a short exclusive stretch which runs along the River Thames, these stunning river homes enjoy direct river views to the front and sizeable gardens to the rear, many also enjoy gardens on the river bank. Unsurprisingly, these houses rarely become available to buy.

Millers Court, which is located off of Chiswick Mall is a small development built in 1970 which offers a quiet community setting with off street parking and access to a well-maintained riverside garden.

Due to a nearby underpass, Stamford Brook Underground Station is around 10 minutes’ walk away, the A4 and M4 are nearby for journeys by car.

Chiswick Riverside

The Chiswick Riverside area stretches from Chiswick Mall around to Strand-On-The-Green. There are many popular developments along the river including Thames Crescent, Corney Reach and further along between Chiswick Bridge and Kew Bridge are Chiswick Quay and Chiswick Staithe.

Houses for sale in the area include Horton & Garton’s current listing of a spacious, modern, detached house on Dartmouth Place. Period homes can be found along Grove Park Road and in the surrounding roads such as Grove Park Terrace.

Being located by the river there are several rowing clubs in the area. There are also excellent sporting facilities including Dukes Meadows, King’s House Sports and Club House, Virgin’s Riverside Club and Roko Gym. For Children there is an abundance of activities run locally and the adventure playground and splash park at Dukes Meadows are particularly popular in the summer months.

Grove Park

Grove Park is an incredibly popular place to live and an area where buyers will find a wide selection of houses for sale. The majority of the properties in Grove Park are period and boast beautiful architecture and features, such as the Victorian Sutton Court mansion converted into flats in the Fauconberg Village area. There are more modern additions such as the houses in Fitzroy Crescent on Staveley Road near Chiswick House and Gardens, 

Families are particularly drawn Grove Park for the excellent schools, convenient transport connections and green spaces. Grove Park Primary School which was most recently rated outstanding by Ofsted. Local independent schools include The Falcons Pre Preparatory School for Boys.

Beautiful Chiswick House & Gardens, Lord Burlington’s 18th century villa and 65 acres of gardens, is in Grove Park and can be readily enjoyed by local residents. For commuting into the city Chiswick Mainline station offers regular direct services. By car the A4 and M4 motorway is nearby, Heathrow airport is around 20 minutes’ drive from Grove Park.

Strand-on-the-Green

Strand-on-the-Green is a small residential area by the river near Kew Bridge where buyers can find houses for sale on quiet roads just a stone’s throw from the river. Houses for sale in Strand-on-the-Green, such as this recently sold house on Herne Road, rarely become available to buy and are snapped up quickly by eager buyers who are keen to live in the area.

The schools available to families in the area are some of the best in W4 including Strand -on-the-Green Infant and Nursery School. Families are also able to readily access the popular schools in Kew. Kew Botanical Gardens are also just over nearby Kew Bridge. The area is particularly well known and famed for its riverside pubs including the Bell & Crown.

Chiswick houses

Whether you’re looking to buy a house in Chiswick or are thinking about selling, the team at Horton & Garton would be delighted to assist. Please do contact Paul Cooney MNAEA and the Chiswick sales team at chiswick@hortonandgarton.co.uk.

Or to contact our award-winning W4 lettings team, email lettings@hortonandgarton.co.uk.

Bedford Park – Why move to the first garden suburb?


If you live in Chiswick, or have a keen interest in architecture, textiles or design it’s likely you’ll know of Bedford Park. Described as the world’s first garden suburb, its creation was a model that many planners sought to emulate in the Garden city movement and in suburban developments around the globe. 

The leafiness, the peace and calm, the stunning period homes with generous gardens all just a stone’s throw from the bustle of Chiswick High Road – there’s a lot to love about Bedford Park.

In this blog, we share information about this wonderful part of Chiswick, snippets of its rich history and highlight some of the reasons for moving to the first garden suburb.

Where is Bedford Park?

Located just to the north of Turnham Green Station, The Bedford Park conservation area runs from Abinger Road to the east, Esmond Road to the west, Flanders Road marks the area’s southern border and Fielding Road is officially the last road within the conservation area to the north. Just 23 roads make up the Bedford Park area.

Several roads to the west and north of the conservation area known as the Bedford Park borders such as Rusthall Avenue, Brookfield Road, Priory Road and others in the residential pocket between The Avenue, Southfield Road, Acton Lane and South Parade.

A brief history

A cloth merchant called Jonathan Carr had the idea of creating a ‘garden suburb’ and inspired by the Aesthetic Movement of the 1870’s Carr wanted to create a suburb which appealed to the artistically inclined who could no longer afford to live in more central locations like Chelsea.

The opportunity to purchase a 24-acre parcel of land next to the then relatively new Turnham Green Station, which had only been built 6 years earlier came about when Carr married Agnes, the daughter of civil engineer Hamilton Fulton, who lived in Bedford House and owned the land. Carr purchased the land in 1875 and set about planning the estate.

The appeal of the location was that the City of London was just 30 minutes away via steam train and there were many fine trees on the land – in order to protect these mature trees the informal street plan was laid out around them.

The initial architect was Edward William Godwin but when his plans came under criticism Carr commissioned some designs by the firm Coe and Robinson. Eventually, Carr hired Richard Norman Shaw in 1877, the leading architect of his day who went on to design Albert Hall Mansions and New Scotland Yard, though the layout had already been set, it was Shaw’s Queen Anne style house design that determined the overall look and feel of Bedford Park. Living in the area was the height of fashion in the 1880s.

Property in Bedford Park

Though the area’s popularity dwindled through the 20th century, The Bedford Park Society was formed in 1963 after the demolition of The Bramptons by Acton Council and through their efforts, the government listed a total of 356 houses in 1967.  A few years later, the local councils designated the conservation area protecting the garden suburb from change and maintaining its charm and character.

The style and design vary depending on which road, in the southern part of Bedford Park on there are largely terraced homes such as those on Gainsborough Road. Many fine examples of detached homes can be found on Woodstock Road and on Queen Anne’s Gardens.

Bedford Park is known through history to have been a place where several notable artists, curators, actors and designers have lived such as curator Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, actor William Terriss, stained glass artist Karl Parsons and artist Cecil Aldin.

Though the homes in Bedford Park largely carry Shaw’s distinctive design and style there are notable houses which are different yet represent an important part of the area’s history. Houses designed by Charles Francis Annesley Voysey such as 14 South Parade and others designed by Lindsay P. Butterfield; Maricot and the neighbouring house on Vanbrugh Road, are later additions to Bedford Park that further add to the character of the area.

Maricot , a stunning 6 bedroom detached house on Vanbrugh Road and built for Lindsay P Butterfield in 1906, is incredibly special due to the influences on the design and layout. Where many of the properties in Bedford Park have very separate spaces and rooms running off of corridors, the Arts & Crafts movement embraced openness where rooms had multiple aspects and were filled with light.

Having only had three owners since it was built Maricot has maintained much of its original charm and retains beautiful historical features, if you’d like to learn more about Maricot please do contact us.

Living in Bedford Park

Amongst the many reasons this area is so incredibly popular is because of its proximity to Chiswick’s amenities. Top independent schools including Orchard House School and The Chiswick & Bedford Park Preparatory School are within its boundaries and known for its exemplary schooling options there are many state-run schools in Chiswick within walking distance of the area.

The parades of shops and cafes nearest to Bedford Park include those at Bedford Corner and at Turnham Green. Turnham Green Terrace is filled with boutiques, cafes and useful stores such as Macken Brothers butchers, Bayley & Sage delicatessen and both Natoora and Lemon & Limes greengrocers. The many delights found on Chiswick High Road are less than 10 minutes’ walk from most homes in Bedford Park.

For transport it’s an incredibly well-connected location; Turnham Green Underground Station is just minutes away, several bus routes run nearby such as the 94 which travels to Piccadilly Circus via Shepherd’s Bush and Notting Hill. By car, the A4 and M4 motorway is only a short distance away and Heathrow Airport is around 20-30 minutes’ drive from the area.

Above all, from its inception to today it is the community that is at the heart of Bedford Park. The neighbours are friendly, it’s a village of sorts, one people are loathed to ever leave. Whilst there are many events run locally year-round the highlight of the calendar is the annual Bedford Park Festival.

Finding a home in Bedford Park

Moving to this beautiful part of West London you’re buying a slice of history, homeowners are naturally proud of the area’s heritage and committed to its upkeep – if you’re planning a move to Chiswick a wander around Bedford Park is likely to leave you desperate to find a home in the sought after area.

Here’s where you might come unstuck – homes in Bedford Park rarely become available to buy. Those who move here place down roots for the long haul. Should a resident choose to leave there can be fierce competition to secure a home.

Selling in Bedford Park

If you’re planning on selling Bedford Park property we’d be delighted to assist. With our intricate knowledge of each of the roads, appreciation of local history and admiration of the beautiful homes, you can be sure your property sale is in the very best hands.

Contact Paul Cooney regarding selling your property in Chiswick.

6 DIY Home Staging Tips from Interior Designer Anna Ellis


Anna Ellis shares her top tips to get your home sale ready

If you’re selling or letting your home, you want it to look its best for all potential buyers or tenants that step foot through the door. For this reason, the business of ‘Home Staging’ exists. 

What is Home staging? 

Home staging is a method of decorating meant to highlight your home’s most impressive assets and help buyers imagine themselves moving in and living there. 

Home staging for sales and lettings is big business and a growing industry.  We asked Interior Designer and Hammersmith resident Anna Ellis to share a few tricks that don’t cost the earth and aren’t difficult to implement yourself. 

Anna's Six Top Tips for DIY Home Staging 

1. Everyone knows that a clean house is an obvious must, but often people fail to see and clear the clutter.  Space, especially in London, is at a premium.  Stuff piled on top of kitchen cabinets shouts a lack of storage.  Get rid of it or pack it away.  Same applies to lots of boxes on top of wardrobes, piles of paper etc.  Everyone wants space – even the downsizers.  Showing your home when it is bursting at the seams puts you at an immediate disadvantage.  

2. Shoes are another classic no no.  Nobody wants to see a pile of tired trainers as soon as the front door is opened.  One or two pairs neatly placed presents an image of order; it also suggests the owners remove their shoes once inside – an indication that they care for their home – always a good sign. 

3. It is important for a buyer to imagine themselves living in your home.  The major housebuilders tackle this with glossy brochures with images of loved up couples drinking champagne on their balconies, tables set for elaborate dinner parties, kitchens with the best coffee machines and sofas draped with luxurious throws.  They all try to sell a lifestyle they think their buyer aspires to.  Sellers need to apply the same logic and accentuate aspects of their property that will appeal to their buyer.   

For example, if you have a garden, give it some attention.  Make sure the hose is rolled up and neatly stored.  Collect up any children’s toys that are strewn around, and ensure the patio isn’t littered with bird strikes!  If it is summer and you have a table and chairs, give them a clean and put the parasol up.  Little details help purchasers imagine themselves in your space and that’s the first step to securing your sale. 

4. Light is also a key factor.  Open the blinds and curtains and make sure all beds are made and sofas are plumped.   

5. Sofas should look inviting.  If your cushions are looking a bit tired, invest in some new covers.  Zara Home and H & M Home aren’t too pricey and you can take them with you! 

6. Plants are another great way to dress a property and you needn’t be a Monty Don to keep them alive and fresh.  Loads of companies make very realistic fake plants and they really do lift a room.  Try W6 Garden Centre (aside from plants, they have beautiful pots) and Wheelers Graden Centre of Turnham GreenWest ElmH & M Home and Ikea. 

The list of ways to dress a home can be endless so if you do just one thing (aside from the cleaning of course) it is clear out the clutter. 

See some of Anna's wonderful work here, or read her previous blog“How to design an apartment interior worthy of 25 Beautiful Homes.” Interested in selling? Read our guide for sellers

  

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


The two most important questions to ask your estate agent

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

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

and

What was your average price reduction?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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