Latest Blog Posts

Fashionably unmodernised sells – when you get the price right


'Fashionably unmodernised’ is the expression for those unique homes untouched for decades that are rarely seen in the open the market.

John Horton, Director of Horton and Garton, describes why it pays to get the price right as a seller or a buyer for these unloved gems.

 

Last month we completed the sales of three homes that were “fashionably unmodernised throughout”. The houses are in Perrers Road (see pictures below!), Hammersmith W6; Sedgeford Road, Shepherds Bush W12; and Carthew Villas, Hammersmith W6.

Each of these houses which recorded significantly more interest, viewings and multiple biddings than the average property. And all three of the properties were listed and sold for at least the asking price. The result? Three very satisfied vendors and buyers.

When your estate agent gets the market strategy and correct pricing right, then the key to achieving best price is managing the buyer interest. Every house and home can only be sold to one buyer and the job of the agent is to ensure best market price is achieved, and a willing and able buyer is secured.

Why should you sell with Horton and Garton?  

Looking for a new home in Hammersmith or Shepherds Bush?

 

 

Local experience is key

Having worked in Hammersmith for 25 years, I am critical of the ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ estate agents, who lazily tell clients what they want to hear to win the business. This practice is as old as the day is long and inflated valuations rarely result in the equivalent sales.

The best price is not easy on these types of properties, because they attract buyers willing to do the work and can stomach the prospect of hidden surprises and renovation costs.

As a result, the best price is always achieved by selling to prospective owners and occupiers – not developers. And it is the rise of the buyer who is prepared to take on the project from start to finish that reap these rewards.

 

Key strategies

Today, the first thing that many buyers do after completion is to hand the keys to their architect, designer or builder.

Over the last two years, 30% of buyers didn’t require mortgage help from banks. This year, we’re seeing even more cash-fluid buyers in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush.

At Horton and Garton, we work with a local architect able to provide indicative plans on the existing floor plan and can advise on the potential of the property. All of this is done within planning regulations – and most importantly – they can offer expert advice on potential build costs.

So, if you’ve got your eye on a fashionably unmodernised property or have one to sell, let Horton and Garton get the price right to unlock your dreams.

 

Got a question?

Or if you’ve got any questions, just send me an email at john@hortonandgarton.co.uk or call me on 020 8819 0510.

 

 

10 questions to ask your estate agent when selling


Are you unsure what questions to ask estate agents when selling a property? Here are the top 10 you should ask

If you’re considering selling your property and have invited local estate agents to conduct a market appraisal you’ve likely got a few questions that you’re thinking of asking the agent regarding their service and the steps they’ll take to achieve the best possible outcome.

As a selling agent who’s worked in the industry for over 13 years, Paul Cooney has fielded many questions from sellers. There are a few questions that potential sellers will ask that Paul thinks are really important, especially those that have come from sellers who are moving and wish they’d asked as they only found out useful information when they were tied in and it was too late.

Here Paul shares the 10 questions to ask estate agents when selling:

 

 

1. How will you make my property stand out? 

In a world where potential buyers are online sieving through details around the clock it’s never been more important that your property stands out online. That first impression as house hunters are scrolling through listings can make all the difference. Once a buyer has opened the full details, they are hoping to be able to gain as much information as possible about the property. Our tailored approach to marketing is incredibly successful, on Rightmove our listings receive almost double the number of page views than those of our competitors. The most recent statistics from the property portal positioned us first out of all the agents in W4 with 199 views per day, our nearest competitors were behind at 124 and 109 views per day.

 

2. How experienced are you and your team? 

Leading the Chiswick team Paul has the greatest amount of experience working in property, having sold more than 500 properties personally in his 13 years in the industry. Giorgia, Paul’s right-hand woman, has over 5 years’ experience selling property. In the office, the rest of the team also has deep knowledge of the W4 area with Emily having lived in Chiswick for many years, Parinda a born and bred West Londoner and Amy, a Chiswick resident of 6 years and each are experts in their professions. Learning more about an agent, their experience and that of the team who’ll be selling your home is hugely important so be sure to ask.

 

3. What extra marketing do you offer? 

From the images to the description our team of marketing experts ensure your property is listed in the best possible light and reaches the most amount of buyers. Social media is also an important place for your property to feature as potential buyers increasingly look at various channels to find their next home, Horton and Garton Chiswick have a dedicated Social Media Manager who ensures your property is being seen online.

 

4. Percentage of asking price achieved from the last five sales? 

To ascertain if a selling agent is really achieving the numbers that they’re providing you with I’d suggest asking for the percentage of asking price they’ve been achieving recently. An agent might tell you to market for a certain figure, often a high figure, but if they’re not actually agreeing the sale at that level, you could find yourself on the market unsold for many months and inevitably likely end up having to suffer a price reduction.

 

5. Who will be showing my property? 

The person you meet at the very beginning, the one who provides a market appraisal and likely the person you form a trusting relationship with might not reliably be the person who’s going to show your property to potential buyers. A small, close knit team can ensure your property receives the due care and attention and importantly that each person who shows a potential buyer around is armed with all the relevant information. 

 

6. Who manages my sale from offer accepted to completion? 

One of the most unique features of our service to sellers is that I personally manage each and every transaction. With Director level care and attention to your transaction you can rest assured it’s in the best and most experienced hands in the office. Across the industry around a third of property transactions typically fall through, since opening Horton and Garton Chiswick just 11% of our sales have fallen through. It’s important to know who’ll be handling your sale as its arguably one of the most complicated parts of the process. 

 

7. Do you have weekend staff?

 Saturday is the busiest day of the week in every Chiswick agent’s diary, with so many viewings being booked for the weekend you should try to confirm that an experienced agent will be showing your property. With some agencies, on certain days of the week a viewing might be conducted by someone who’s never even been into your property prior to viewing with a potential buyer meaning they’re unlikely to make the best impression.

 

8. Land Registry data for my valuation? 

Another very valid question is to ask for evidence to support the asking price an agent is quoting. We’re not talking about other properties that the agent currently has on the market for sale. Anything that’s ‘for sale’ is not a good comparison as it’s not yet sold meaning that price might not be achieved. Land Registry is where all sold property prices are recorded - any comparable properties recently sold near to your home can offer a realistic idea of the possible selling price.

 

9. Contract length and is there a notice period? 

Horton and Garton Chiswick has far shorter contracts than other local agents believing that within 4 weeks you can establish if the property is going to be sold by that agent or if they’re going to achieve the desired price. The contract with Horton and Garton Chiswick is four weeks with no notice period. Be wary of longer contracts and watch out for notice periods – it might be that the contract is 12 weeks with a four-week notice period meaning you are tied in for a minimum of 16 weeks. Always read the small print. 

 

10. Your percentage of reduced properties and what were they reduced by?

This can feel like an unwelcome question to ask but frankly if you don’t ask it, you could be setting yourself up for failure – you need to ascertain if an agent is achieving the prices that they’re proposing. The highest price that your property has been given by local agents might not be the right price but being lured into selling with an agent who overpromises can result in them underdelivering leaving you on the market for an extended period and having to accept a reduction in price after your property has already been online for some time and will have dropped down the listings. So far in 2021 we’ve had just one price reduction, and after consideration we reduced the price by 3.7% to attract the right buyer and achieve a sale.

 

Chiswick Estate Agents

As a long time Chiswick estate agent Paul has a wealth of experience selling homes in W4.

Through working with several other agency brands prior to opening Horton and Garton Chiswick Paul has not only honed his skills as a selling agent, but he has also finessed a service, with the help of his stellar team, that focuses on the client and achieving the greatest success.

To talk to Paul about selling your property in Chiswick please do get in touch.

 

How to improve your home’s EPC rating


Here are our top tips to make your home more energy efficient

Horton and Garton are increasingly asked by sellers what steps they should take when considering how to improve EPC ratings.

In this blog, Paul Cooney, Director of the Horton and Garton Chiswick office, shares useful information on EPCs and top tips for making your home more energy efficient.

What is an EPC?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is used to measure a property’s energy efficiency.

The EPC will include information regarding the property’s energy usage and costs likely to be incurred together with recommendations for improvements that could reduce bills and make the property more efficient.

Sellers have to provide this certificate to potential buyers, so an EPC must be completed prior to the property being marketed.

How long is an EPC valid for?

An EPC is valid for 10 years.  

Who does an EPC?

An EPC is carried out by an accredited energy assessor. They will access all of the rooms in a property and the loft, they inspect heating systems and take measurements and photographs of key information included in the survey.

Unlike a building survey, an EPC is not invasive, it is purely a visual inspection of a property to establish its energy efficiency. 

 

What is a good EPC rating?

The efficiency is measured using a scale of A-G, each letter applicable depending on a score out of 100.

A is the best possible score, these homes will be incredibly efficient, have less impact on the environment and will enjoy low fuel bills.

A property with an A rating will have a score between 92 – 100, a property with a G rating, the lowest possible score, will have a rating between 1 – 20 points.

How do I increase my EPC rating?

Here are some top tips for how to improve EPC rating and make a home more energy efficient.

  1. Replace the windows

Single glazed poorly insulated windows have been said to account for up to 40% of heat loss from a home meaning upgrading windows can significantly improve an EPC rating.

  1. Install better insulation

If you have one, improving loft insulation is perhaps one of the cheapest and easiest ways to boost your EPC rating.

Cavity walls should also be appropriately insulated so be sure to check. If a property has solid walls the EPC rating is typically lower, it is possible to improve this by insulating solid walls internally or externally though this is one of the more expensive actions to take in a bid to improve your EPC rating – it can significantly change the score given to the property so in certain cases is worth considering.

Should the property have a hot water cylinder it’s important to make sure there is adequate insulation around the tank.

  1. Switch to LED Bulbs

Not only do LED bulbs last much longer but they’re more efficient – this easy switch is well worth doing. 

  1. Replace the old boiler

Heating is reportedly accountable for over half of a home’s energy costs meaning an inefficient boiler could be having a hugely negative impact. Replacing an old boiler with a modern A-rated one will reduce bills and boost an EPC rating.

  1. Consider renewable energy sources

If it’s a possibility, renewable energy sources such as solar panels, ground-source heat pumps and biomass boilers can significantly improve an EPC rating. Homes that achieve an A rating will usually have a renewable energy source.

  1. Seal open chimneys

Open fires are beautiful features that many properties in Chiswick do have but if they’re not in use it’s a good idea to block them or install a closed heater in the space instead.

  1. Obtain documentation

Often overlooked by sellers, it might be the case that when they bought the property the previous owner had installed additional energy efficient factors that would boost an EPC rating.

Whether installed by yourself, the current owner, or a previous owner, if these features are not easily accessible, the EPC assessor cannot include them in the score meaning obtaining documentation to prove work has been carried out is necessary. Have such documents available for the EPC assessor when they visit the property.

What about listed homes or those in conservation areas?

In Chiswick there are many older homes and these typically require more attention to boost the EPC rating.

There is also the additional consideration that many Chiswick houses are located within conservation areas, such as Bedford Park, meaning changes made must be sympathetic and in line with the guidance for the area.

Listed buildings do not need an EPC but can be evaluated to ascertain what is possible to improve energy efficiency. The government recommends owners of listed properties take advice from their local authority conservation officer regarding any planned works.

Does EPC affect house price?

Undoubtedly a poor EPC rating will affect the house price, buyers will often view a home with a low rating less favourably.  

Many homeowners actively take steps to improve their property’s energy efficiency throughout their time living in a home when a new technology is released or more cost-effective way to enhance the property becomes available.

There are some elements that are not always considered that can improve a rating – something so simple as switching the lightbulbs!

It’s always advisable for sellers to take the steps that they are able to, to improve an EPC rating, prior to putting a property on the market as potential buyers will need to consider the costs involved to improve the property’s energy efficiency themselves.

At Horton and Garton we work with a group of professionals who carry out EPC assessments in the instance that a property does not have a valid certificate in place.

It’s often the case that a property might have been altered and improved by the current owner meaning when it’s time to sell it can be worth having a new EPC carried out to ensure the rating is accurate.

To talk to Paul about the steps taken when preparing your home for sale please do get in touch, we’d be happy to discuss the process of selling property in Chiswick and answer any questions you might have regarding the current guidelines that must be adhered to.

London’s finest gin owes its start to the Hammersmith shed we discovered


Garages are rarities, garages help sell houses… but garages in west London often boast the kind of backstory that inspires folk songs

Take the modest-looking one-storey brick-built shed in Nasmyth Street, Hammersmith, with its blue doors, rusty padlock and peeling paintwork. 

It doesn’t look like much, but 12 years ago, in that leased lock-up, three pals built the first new copper still in the capital in 200 years, and created Sipsmith gin. 

It has been such a success that the boys sold the business to a drinks giant for £50million. 

Now, while I don’t want to claim the credit for the gin (although sample bottles are always welcome at our offices at 172 King Street and 18 Turnham Green Terrace...), it was Horton and Garton that found the Brackenbury Village lock-up for the entrepreneurs. No wonder founder Sam Galsworthy called their journey ‘a rocket ship ride’ with Sipsmith now the favoured tipple of many of us on a spring or summer evening. 

And it’s not the only garage drinks success. Brewdog, which began in a shed in Scotland, is now valued at £2billion. 

Every tycoon seems to have made use of a garage at an early point in their business – from Walt Disney to Steve Jobs, Bill Gates to Jeff Bezos. 

And while relatively few homes in Chiswick or Hammersmith boast of a garage, the magic of those sacred little creative hubs is being replicated during lockdown in back-garden home offices and spare bedrooms. 

 

What sheds say about us

Sipsmith may have moved to larger premises in Cranbrook Road, Chiswick, but the Hammersmith Society has recently been celebrating the key role that other tiny free-standing sheds and light industrial units play in our lives. 

The Society has highlighted the fact that many big names in music began rehearsing in west London garages, surrounded by oilcans, tins of screws and offcuts of wood, including The Who, The Clash and The Sex Pistols, while Island Records and Island Studios began life in a small unit in St Peter’s Square. 

But it’s the internet giants that really catch the imagination. A humble garage with an up-and-over door was where Steve Jobs started Apple, now the most valuable company on the planet, worth $2trillion (that’s 12 zeros!). 

With Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and Walt Disney all starting out in garages as well, there’s clearly something inspiring about focusing your energies in a little brick building separate from the cares and woes of day-to-day life. 

If it proves one thing, it’s that thinking space matters, and that sheds, lock-ups and garages are valued way beyond the cost of the bricks and mortar. 

Garage battle in Wellesley Avenue

An interesting battle is taking place over the former Aston Martin garage in Wellesley Avenue, where the Brackenbury Residents’ Association and Hammersmith Society are opposing its replacement by a three-storey office block in a small residential street. 

A petition is rapidly gaining signatures, with the underlying message being that homes are urgently needed, not more office space in an era where more of us are discovering we can work part of the time at home. 

Years after his success, Sipsmith’s Sam Galsworthy says he still tips his hat to Horton and Garton when he passes our office. 

I just hope we can inspire the next generation of creative talent to achieve as well, as we slowly emerge from a year of lockdowns and restrictions, and start to dream again. 

 

Chiswick Property Market Update – Spring 2021


Chiswick Director Paul Cooney takes a closer look at the numbers and shares local insights of use to buyers and sellers in W4

The Chiswick property market has continued to be busy through the first three months of 2021 with notable buyer trends and obvious supply and demand issues in parts of the market.

With the Chiswick office remaining in the top three of all W4 selling agents for the number of homes sold so far in 2021, Paul can competently provide well-informed guidance and clarity on what’s happening in the Chiswick property market.

 

What’s happened in the Chiswick property market so far in 2021?

Largely driven by the available saving from the Stamp Duty holiday, buyers continued to be out in high numbers in the first few weeks or 2021 rushing to secure homes and complete transactions before the end of March deadline.

And whilst the extension of the temporary reduction in Stamp Duty Land Tax is welcomed by all buyers this has not been the greatest driver of buyer demand for property in Chiswick.

Yes, a garden has been a popular ‘top three’ requirement over the past 12 months but ultimately space is the key. Buyers want houses.

Of the 500 or so buyers who’ve registered with Horton and Garton so far this year, almost 80% of those searching in W4 have a budget of £1million or more. The market is busy, and the demand is for bigger homes.

If you’re interested to know what £1million will buy you in Chiswick read our recent blog.

 

Why Chiswick?

As those already living in Chiswick will know, it is a particularly green and leafy suburb which is amongst the reasons it saw its popularity grow in 2020.

In fact, one report found it to be the second most in demand area in the whole of London for buyers seeking properties at over £2million in value.

Buyers need little convincing; the green space, the top schools, the shops and restaurants, the community, there is a very long list of reasons why Chiswick is one of the most popular places to live in London.

It’s really of little surprise that many aren’t moving to leave Chiswick and that we’re short of properties for sale.

Where buyers are queueing round the corner to view the latest (correctly priced) house that’s available to buy, sellers are sat pondering if they really want to leave.

 

What’s the outlook for the Chiswick property market?  

With so many factors at play it’s becoming increasingly difficult to predict what lies ahead. This said, we can look at the factors that will have an impact on the Chiswick property market over the coming months.

There are clear deadlines set out through the rest of the year regarding the UK’s return to normality post-pandemic, many of which serve as deadlines for those buyers keen to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday and provide an idea of when we should expect shifts in the property market.

The current reduction in tax is only having a limited impact on the Chiswick market as the average selling price in W4 is well over £1million meaning the overall reduction in applicable taxes isn’t huge, though it is a welcome saving nonetheless!

The strong demand through 2020 did see the average time between sale and completion become longer to an average of 13 weeks. Whilst the delays are reducing and timing is improving, we expect this to return to 8-12 weeks – sellers should keep this timing in mind when considering their future plans.

At present, sellers are in a favourable position with properties for sale considerably outnumbered by the number of buyers looking for homes.

This demand cannot be relied upon indefinitely and if you’re thinking about selling in the next six months you should really be looking at taking next steps sooner rather than later whilst it’s still a market leaning in the seller’s favour.

 

 

Final note from Paul

While there is strong demand, buyers are not happily paying over the odds as they might have done is past seller’s markets.

Homes for sale in Chiswick that are made available to the market for too high a price are not selling as quickly as their well-priced counterparts and eventually are suffering price reductions.

Where we’re usually driving forward to have the highest numbers in the W4 agency rankings on this point we’re proud to be at the very bottom with the least amount of price reductions amongst our peers in Chiswick.

Pricing and strategy are the key to success in these market conditions.

Providing Director-level service throughout the process of selling property Paul and his team work closely with sellers to fulfil their plans to move.

Talk to Paul about your property in Chiswick.

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.