Latest Blog Posts

Diary of an Estate Agent: We’re Number 1 at selling and renting houses. Not pub quizzes!


The Horton and Garton team were tripped up in a Hard Day’s Night at the Brackenbury Residents’ Association pub quiz

It was a packed house at The Thatched House on Thursday night when the brains of Hammersmith met up for the bi-annual Brackenbury Residents’ Association pub quiz. 

The seven-strong team from Horton and Garton ate dinner and dessert and were impressed with the hearty meals. We recommend the pies and fish. Our compliments to the chef!

The competitive, yet neighbourly, vibe was crackling as teams whispered answers, stretched their brains and delved deep into their memory banks to be first to answer the questions.

Local resident and quiz master Heather rolled out the questions and – well, what can I say – some were more challenging for us than for others. It was a very close result. The ‘Village People’ team, captained by Sharon Isaac Upton, took home the bubbles and the bragging rights. 

While Team HG was looking at a top three finish – until the music and literature round struck! We scored a measly 5 out of 21 in the musical mastermind round. My young team said they were just not the generation to remember The Beatles’ top singles, which kept us off the podium. 

However, if we’re going to be Number 1 for anything then I’d prefer it be for our sterling service to Hammersmith. We are already well-known for being the local market-leading selling and renting agent in W6 0 postcode, which includes Brackenbury Village.

Next week, I’ve challenged our team to compete in the Crucial Cafe quiz and curry night at the Hogarth Health Club in Chiswick. Let’s hope for more luck with the musical history. Watch this space!

Diary of an Estate Agent: Family trip to the Rugby World Cup ended with a typhoon finish


John Horton flew thousands of miles to Japan to watch rugby with his two sons and have a few pints of Asahi. Was that too much to ask? The weather said yes…

A holiday is (or should be) a good time to recharge the batteries, rest, relax and recuperate. But throw the Rugby World Cup in Japan into the mix and the well-earned time away from the day job was shaping up to be a real family adventure for this Dad. 

Our family trip to Japan proved to be an epic holiday with my two boys as we watched three games of rugby - England vs Argentina, New Zealand vs Namibia and Scotland vs Russia, soaked up the remarkable culture and the history of Japan. And what you read was true – the Japanese rugby team “The Blossoms” had the country bubbling over with world cup fever. They did their country proud.

My two boys were almost blown over meeting their hero and England captain Owen Farrell. My boys also made up making the big screen pre match entertainment at rugby stadium and being interviewed by the local Japanese TV crews. There was never a quiet match day moment.

My fear of getting lost in Shinjuku station or in the Shibuya Crossing crowds – or even the boys not eating the sushi I ordered – did enter my mind. But thanks to smartphone maps, a translator and the pedigree of being a seasoned London commuter we had nothing to fear in the busiest city in the world. 

The beauty of travelling somewhere, home or away, is about the new experiences.  The differences in the language, the people, cuisine and scenery... finding yourself outside the usual comfort zone is all part of the fun. 

And for us, two weeks and thousands of air miles flashed by in a blink of an eye.

After all, it’s not every day you find yourself in the eye of deadly typhoon Hagibis. Not only did the storm cause a significant amount of damage and the tragic loss of life, it also had the knock-on effect of creating a logistical nightmare for the family. Thankfully, we emerged unscathed and only missed one rugby match and a few days of tourism. I’m so happy to be back in west London, but I admit that my love of Japanese food has also blossomed!

With Horton and Garton's imminent office move in Hammermsith to distract me, as well as back-to-back half marathon weekends, the holiday is already feeling like a distant memory. So, let’s hope we see England in the final on Sunday November 2! 

BUT first there is a big match this Saturday morning (October 26) at 9am. So if you are at The Cross Keys or The Black Lion in Hammersmith, or the George IV in Chiswick High Road, I may see you there… Swing low sweet chariot!

Onwards and upwards.

Diary of an Estate Agent: How a new love of running changed my life


As John Horton gears up for the half marathon season, he explains how he learned to love running and shed a few pounds as well.

About six years ago I decided I was out of shape and I was carrying too much ‘timber’.

I needed a wake-up call. And it came in the form of my new love of running. It all started with the Gunnersbury 5k parkrun. Week after week, I noticed an improvement on my running times and my overall stamina. My health also noticeably improved and within the year I was taking on the 10K challenge.

Today, the half marathon is now my preferred distance. And it’s that time of the year when the half marathon season is upon us. For the last five years, my medal collection of 10k and half marathons are clinking away nicely on the back of my wardrobe door.

I can’t wait to be back in action for the Chiswick half marathon on Sunday, October 20.

The race starts from Chiswick House and is a lovely excuse to run along the Thames. I’m very much hoping to beat my personal best of 1:49:22. Wish me luck!

It’s a quick turnaround for the Walton on Thames half marathon the following week. It’s known to be a flat, fast, scenic and largely traffic free race through Surrey.

If you want to learn more about joining your local running club, click here

Diary of an Estate Agent: It is survival of the fittest


Independent local agents are stealing the march on their corporate competitors. And long may it continue, says John Horton.

New figures show that 284 offices of estate agents shut down last year – which represents 3.4% of the total number of estate agency offices in Britain.

This was far more than other industries, such as newsagents, women’s fashion stores, delis, hairdressers, Indian restaurants and florists. Over the past few months, I’ve read more and more reports about offices closing down.

It’s survival of the fittest for today’s high street businesses. And more specifically, restructuring of the estate agency industry is needed to weed out the uncompetitive and unprofessional practices within the property world.

It’s no surprise for me that the most highly successful west London estate agency offices today are the established independent agents. While the larger corporate companies are struggling with the challenges of the changing marketplace.  

Many questions still remain: is it just poorly performing businesses that have failed to plan? Is it the greedy commercial landlords charging sky-high rents? Is it onerous business rates? Is it the tenant fee ban? Is it the lack of quality staff and service? Or is it just everyone’s favourite top of Brexit to blame?

In my opinion, it’s a mix of all these factors.

But here at Horton and Garton, we’re proud to say that we continue to expand our market share and grow our business while other agents fail.

There are a growing number of empty and vacant shops in our high streets, and no existing trading business likes an empty unit/shop as their neighbour.

The high street is dying because of our changing habits as consumers. If you cannot demonstrate the quality of what you’re adding as a professional service, then consumers will often choose the service and buy on lowest price. But when it comes to selling or letting your property, you get what you pay for. Call your local, experienced agents and choose carefully.

While it can be a considerable investment to appoint the best local estate agent, it can be far more expensive to appoint the wrong one and watch as they fail to deliver the best result. In today’s market, the client will only know how expensive a struggling agent is until the property fails to sell.

The very good news for Horton and Garton and our clients is that we are experiencing a very promising start to 2019 and we continue to achieving excellent results for our vendors and landlords. Our sales and lettings teams are still busy and we’re continuing to grow our market share by working with the very best clients and their properties in Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Chiswick.

Our success has been down to accurate and realistic valuing accompanied by a clear marketing strategy tailored to each property. If you would like Horton and Garton to look after you and your property, please pop into the office or give us a call.

Diary of an Estate Agent: Sensational service – our clients say it all


When it’s time to choose your estate agent, you’ll meet a handful of local sales managers...

And every one of them will tell you how brilliant their respective agency is and why you should instruct them to sell your home. But at Horton and Garton, we think potential clients would much rather hear from our recent clients before they decide to place the keys to their homes in our hands. We can tell you to expect nothing short of exceptional from our team - and we think our clients tell our story far better than we ever could. Here are just a few:

 

CASE STUDY: Fazina

Fazina sold her picture perfect cottage in St Peter’s Square in Hammersmith with us. “I recently sold my house through Horton and Garton. I had a positive experience with them," Fazina said.

"Everyone in the sales team displayed patience, tenacity and professionalism throughout. Phil Coombes [Senior Sales] always went the extra mile on viewings, while Martin Clements [Sales Manager] ensured the sale went through as smoothly as possible. In addition, John Horton [Director and Founder] frequently checked in to ensure we were happy with the approach and progress. If I were to sell in the local area again then I would only use Horton and Garton.”

“The importance of understanding your buyers’ requirements cannot be understated," Phil replied. "Unfortunately, most negotiators only hear ‘two bedrooms, large garden’ and miss the nuances inbetween. I like to spend time with clients to ensure I can visualise their next home. And then there's the dogged determination and the extra hours that go into the sales process, of course!

 

CASE STUDY: Kate

Kate, who sold her modern riverside apartment with us after a disappointing three months with one of our competitors, said: “We received excellent service from Martin; we would highly recommend him. He delivered results after another agency had failed.” 

Martin, our Sales Manager for over a decade, noted: “I enjoy nothing more than demonstrating to local homeowners that all agents are not created equal. Kate and her beautiful apartment, which we sold for asking price, were wonderful to work with.”

The buyer was Mark, who said this about his purchase: “Martin was helpful, trustworthy, easy to contact when necessary, skillful in building good relationships with different actors in the transaction and energetic in using those contacts to keep the transaction on course. He was pleasure to deal with.”

 

CASE STUDY: Tamara

“I have known Martin and Phil for many years and have found them to be fabulous to deal with," Tamara said. "I know that every time I liaise with them I will be greeted with enthusiasm, sound knowledge and a willingness to go the extra mile. It is a tricky market at the moment and sellers need agents who are prepared to do more than just list their property.

"I would not hesitate to recommend the Horton and Garton team to provide a proactive, professional and friendly service.” 

Martin responded by saying: “The sale of Tamara’s flat in Wendell Park, Shepherds Bush, was another triumph for our team. Her lovely home was joint listed with another estate agency and our marketing attracted three offers where our competitors achieved none.” 

 

CASE STUDY: Clementine

Clementine purchased her double fronted Victorian house in Brackenbury Village, Hammersmith, with us - and contracts were exchanged in just six weeks. Her transaction was managed by Phil. She said: “Working with Phil was a real pleasure from the viewings to completion."

"He is extremely knowledgeable about the area and listens carefully to what his clients are looking for in their new homes. Not once did he show me a place with too few bedrooms or that was wildly over budget. After meeting about 10 agents during my search, Horton and Garton was alone in this.

"Phil also gives clients space and time during viewings so they can make their own minds up about the look and feel of a property. To me, this was really valuable. After our offer was accepted, he worked hard and efficiently towards a smooth completion. We are very happy to recommend him, and Horton and Garton, to anyone looking to buy in Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush or Chiswick.”

 

CASE STUDY: Manny

Manny bought his double fronted Victorian house in Dalling Road, Hammersmith, through Martin.

“The entire buying process with Martin was flawless, efficient and highly professional," Manny said. "Having been in the property game for several decades one rarely comes across people like Martin – highly knowledgeable, honest and straightforward - and a pleasure to deal with.”

Martin responded by saying: “Naturally, our sellers expect an exceptional experience but this level of service is always extended to each and every buyer. Our Senior Sales Negotiator Phil assists our buyers with the care and attention they deserve.”

 

CASE STUDY: Scott

We helped Scott sell his Brackenbury Village maisonette in order to purchase his next house in Chiswick.

“Phil did a fantastic job for us," Scott said. "He worked with us to understand the complex objectives we were trying to achieve in scaling up to a larger property. He genuinely earned his fee through tenacity, hard work, positioning our property in different ways and securing a high quality buyer who could complete the deal effectively. He worked to high ethical standards and I would not hesitate to recommend him.”

 

Want the purple carpet treatment?

Horton and Garton sell more properties in Hammersmith than any other agency. Nevertheless, we pride ourselves on treating every client like they’re our only client. If you’re considering buying or selling, we’re at your service.

If you would like to see our other reviews and testimonials, please click here.

Diary of an Estate Agent: Currying favour at Leiths School of Food and Wine


Curries from around the world land in Shepherds Bush.

Horton and Garton's lettings supremo Ashley Clements dropped by Shepherds Bush cookery school Leiths over the weekend to learn how to cook a proper curry. His wife is reportedly delighted.

If you love curries and want to learn to make them from scratch, this is the class for you. Ashley took a culinary journey around some of the world’s finest curry hot-spots as he learned to make dishes using authentic but easily available ingredients. He also learned how to select and use spices and make curry pastes, marinades and accompaniments.

"Leiths has a very friendly atmosphere," Ashley said, in-between his courses of Goan chicken vindaloo and red duck curry. "The instructor, Chef Cee, was able to design the day to suit experienced or purely beginner cooks. The ingredients were excellent and plentiful with three dishes created, eaten and enjoyed with a glass of wine.

"Plus, the various tips and techniques I used can be used in other cuisines. I think learning to peel ginger with the edge of a teaspoon was the tip of the day!"

A Leiths voucher would be a great gift for any of your foodie friends. Just like Horton and Garton, Leiths is a long-established local business that offers excellent customer service. 

Click here for more details about Leiths' spicy How to Cook Curries classes. 

 

Diary of an Estate Agent: Another victory in Cardiff


Lettings team hits Cardiff ahead of Wales winning the Six Nations.

Three members of the Horton and Garton management team travelled to Cardiff last week.

I took the team on a two-day residential training course at LetMC, our residential lettings software provider.

Cardiff gave us all a very warm and friendly welcome. We even had time to visit the castle, as well as the shop at the Millennium Stadium to take in the pre-weekend rugby match warm up.

A big well done to Wales on winning the big Six Nations title match. Roll on the World Cup in Japan! The fixtures are already in our diaries.

Fuller’s says sayōnara as it sells up to Japan’s largest brewer


Independent Chiswick brewery sold to Asahi

The Fuller’s brewery in Chiswick has been sold to a Japanese firm for £250million on the 60th anniversary of its popular beer, London Pride.

The buyer is Asahi Europe Ltd, a subsidiary of Japan’s biggest brewer.

The deal transfers all Fuller’s beer production, cider-making and soft drink bottling to Asahi, which owns Grolsch and Peroni. The London Pride brand, now marking its diamond anniversary, transfers to the Japanese company.

In a statement, Fuller, Smith & Turner said that the deal would preserve the Griffin Brewery, and said that the board (no longer led by a member of the Fuller family) had made the decision following 'changes to the beer industry' which had helped small, craft breweries to flourish.

A sad day 

Camra, the real ale campaigning group, said that it was a 'sad day'.

But Simon Emeny, brewery chief executive, said that protecting the heritage of the Griffin Brewery was important to the board. Beer has been brewed on the site since 1654. He described Asahi as 'an appropriate custodian of our rich brewing history', and said the deal would bring the Chiswick beers to a wider public.

Regulars are unlikely to notice much of a change – Pride will continue to be brewed in west London, and there are no immediate plans for redundancies.

Akiyoshi Koji, chief executive of Asahi, pledged to continue to brewing at the Griffin Brewery and supplying Fuller’s 400 hotels and pubs in London and the South East, which the remainder of Fuller, Smith & Turner will continue running, and which supplies nearly 90% of profits.

Beware the Grinch! Met Police offer advice to beat Christmas burglars


Keep your valuables safe this festive season

The Met Police is reminding residents in Hammersmith, Chiswick and Shepherds Bush to be extra vigilant during the Christmas period to stop burglars ruining your festive fun.

A retired couple who were burgled earlier this month have said, if only they had double locked their door, their terrifying experience may have been prevented.

With lots of extra valuables in the house this time of year and many families jetting off for a long break, the Met has offered this advice to keep your home safe:

Met Police advice: Three steps to beat the burglars

  1. Safeguard your building

- A significant number of burglaries could be avoided by always locking windows and double locking doors when you leave your premises regardless of the length of time you are likely to be out and keeping external doors locked when you are in your home to prevent ‘walk in’ burglaries.

- Make your home look occupied: use timer lights when the nights get longer and cancel deliveries if you are going away.

- Don’t make a burglar’s life easy: Keep tools and ladders secured, minimising the opportunity for a burglar or opportunist thief to use them in accessing your property. Fit British standard locks, join a local neighbourhood/street watch or similar scheme.

  1. Protect your valuables

Don’t advertise your goods online. Always keep valuables such as tablets and laptops out of sight from windows and store keys away from the letterbox. Similarly, don’t leave empty boxes outside that may advertise the goods that you have purchased.

- Help police identify your property if stolen by using a property marking kit and taking photos. The Met is currently providing SmartWater kits as part of the MetTrace operation. Visit: www.met.police.uk/mettrace for more details.

- Consider buying a safe or using other safe storage providers.

  1. Secure the outside of your house/building

- Keep gates, sheds and garages locked

- Keep hedges at the front low and install outdoor lighting, so burglars have nowhere to hide.

- Install trellises and spiky plants to stop burglars from climbing over fences.

Diary of an Estate Agent: Stars and Sundays


Diary of an Estate Agent

James Liggins, Associate Director, Chiswick Sales 

Diary of an Estate Agent: Stars and Sundays

Monday

Gym, coffee, feedback. Before the sun comes up Paul and I are halfway through our regular Monday morning workout at the Hogarth Health Club: weights and sauna followed by breakfast to forward plan the week that lies ahead. I firmly believe that if you have a great Monday you’re going to have a fantastic week so Monday always gets the attention it deserves. The coffee is hot and the phone is cold but that’s about to change. First thing’s first on a Monday morning – every buyer I’ve met over the weekend is called so I can gather, collate and communicate their feedback to our sellers. Every seller has already been contacted so I could relay my impression of how the viewings went, but the buyers’ feedback trumps my gut instinct. An offer comes in (these phone calls are always lengthy as there is a lot of due diligence on our part) and I discuss it at length with Paul before putting it forward to our client for their consideration. Then it’s swiftly on to the new enquiries that have filtered through over the weekend.

Tuesday

Diary day. Monday’s offer is still being mulled over both by our client and our team so I spend the day generating first and second viewings and then coordinating them with our clients and buyers. We are selective with our buyers, working only with the very best and – in our jargon – ‘proceed-able’ purchasers. Our monthly Negotiator Magazine landed on my desk and our Artists At Home sponsorship board has been featured! A brilliant surprise for the whole office! We’re gearing up for the 10th annual Negotiator Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Friday. Paul has been shortlisted for Rising Star of the Year but it’s a crowded shortlist with 19 other incredible agents so we’re tempering our excitement… for now…

Wednesday

Sales progression. Between us, Paul and I speak to every solicitor, mortgage broker, surveyor, client and buyer to ensure each of our 14 agreed sales are coming along swimmingly. Appointments are put in the diary and missing paperwork (not in our office as we are paper-free!) is sourced so all is running smoothly. Each bit of progress is then fed back in real time to our sellers. We often say a ‘sale agreed’ is not a ‘sale indeed’ and our work really begins when the public often believe it ends! Progression, which is an absolute minefield of a process, is such an important part of what we do. This is where we earn our fee and when most sellers begin to rue the day they instructed an online agent or the cheapest agent to manage their sale. This is where the value of Horton and Garton Chiswick is felt by our sellers. Our sellers have decided to reject the first offer from Monday morning so it’s back on the phone straight away to the buyer to guide them on where we go from here. It’s open mic night at the George IV, one of my favourite pubs in Chiswick, so I’m popping along for a cold pint and a warm welcome.

Thursday

Final push. Today we push for an extra round of weekend viewings and focus on our strategy for managing Saturday and Sunday. Once every relevant buyer has been contacted we step into strategy, planning and marketing ideas for 2019. Our brainstorming session is interrupted by a call requesting a valuation. Eighty percent of our new listings come our way via word of mouth but this gentleman has read a commentary on the W4 property market by Paul and wants to meet him at lunchtime today which is, of course, perfect with us. If you can’t rearrange your diary to accommodate a first meeting with a potential client at their preferred time, that first point of contact won’t accurately tell the story of our service. After a brilliant valuation in the Glebe Estate, we’re back in the office for a flurry of creative thinking. We loved using humour in our Halloween campaign, which was well received by both Chiswick locals and property press, and are wondering if we could integrate some more fun into our plans for 2019.

Friday

Ready to launch. We have arranged five off-market viewings for a property that won’t officially come to market until January. I’m readying myself for a weekend packed with meeting brand new buyers and carefully gauging their responses. This is one of the best bits of my job. I love meeting our buyers so I can get to know their exact requirements and source their ideal home. For us, agency isn’t a numbers game. We look after our buyers and sellers for life, truly getting to know each of them. We change into our black tie and head to the Grosvenor House Hotel for the 10th annual Negotiator Awards. Paul brings home Silver in the Rising Star category – we couldn’t be prouder!

Saturday

Best day of the week! I love Saturdays. Not because it’s a day off (it never is!) but because I’m meeting new people and making new friends. (I pray for sun to showcase our properties at their very best.) Two of the lovely buyers I met last weekend will be, I’m certain, my friends for life. We’ve already put a dinner in our diary and I couldn’t be happier to be handling their purchase. The day is always so packed that I’m rearranging viewings on the fly and working from either my bike or car… and there is never time for lunch! There is lots of mad scribbling in my diary which I then decipher after the fact and a flow of instantaneous feedback that is sent through to sellers as the viewings are taking place. Those client feedback conversations go on well into the evening…

Sunday

Reserved. Sunday is – officially – my day off. However. I do reserve the occasional viewing for the most important and serious buyers. There is a very high chance of a very good offer if buyers are requesting a Sunday viewing. My second ever sale in Chiswick was agreed on a Sunday for well in excess of £2m. This taught me the value of a Sunday viewing… a lesson I won’t soon forget!