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Where did my industry go? The future of Estate agency?


  

Last week Friday my colleague Germain Gulevic and I found our way to the Eight Members Club, EC2A 2BX  to attend the Iceberg Digital course with Mark Burgess, CEO and the author of the top selling estate agency book “Where did my industry go?” speaking…

Every page and chapter of this book resonated with my own two decades of industry experience so when the opportunity to attend the course I was first to sign up.

To be brutally honest the thought of sharing a conference room with 48 other estate agents is not my cup of tea, however by the end of the day I found all delegates on the same page realising that the landscape of our estate agency businesses and the property world is rapidly changing and we either accept and adapt to the change i.e. ride the wave or face the alternative… carry on as we have always done and most likely get washed out/dumped by the wave of change.

The refreshing news for me attending this course was realising that our evolving Horton and Garton business plan and market strategy is already 80% ‘ish’ in line with the guidance and advice of the speakers and whilst I recognise there can always be improvement on existing systems and procedures, which can only assist and strengthen our position as West London Hammersmith and Shepherds bush market leading estate agents, I know that our ability to adapt and react sooner to market changes keeps us on the forefront of every update to our business and industry.

To be brutally honest there are simply just too many estate agents open for business today ‘working in the wrong age…’ you know who these corporate offices and companies are… many of these failing offices and agencies are simply dinosaurs - simply too slow to adapt to change, they cannot attract and employ qualified and experienced staff to manage any genuine market share and the corporate agency garavy train is buffering.

There has already been some high profile corporate estate agency offices closures in central and west London in recent weeks and months and reading the property industry press I predict there will be more blood on the carpets and closures of failing high street estate agents… watch this space…

For every business owner or any estate agent who values their profession this book is a must read… it’s a lightbulb moment for the industry… option 1 adapt, innovate and embrace change or option 2 … fail to adapt and ask the question “Where did my industry go?”

John Horton is the Director of Horton and Garton and we are the market leading selling and rental estate agents in W6, W12 and W4.

Chiswick Director Paul Cooney shortlisted for Rising Star of the Year


Horton and Garton’s Chiswick Director Paul Cooney has been shortlisted within the Rising Star of the Year category at The Negotiator Awards. This category identifies “a special individual – a potential industry leader – who demonstrates enthusiasm, innovation, implementation and leadership qualities. The judges are looking for someone who has been exceptionally successful.” With 18 agents on the shortlist and only 3 winners, we’re crossing every appendage for our Paul! The Negotiator Awards, in its 12th year, is organised by the residential property industry’s only trade magazine, The Negotiator, and honours the very best agents and agencies across the UK.

Paul says, “I was taken by surprise when I was told to log on to the web page announcing the shortlist. My team created an entry for me on the sly. I had no idea what they’d been up to and was thrilled to discover my name on the list for Rising Star of the Year! It’s the highest honour; I can’t stop smiling!” The finalists will be revealed by Julian Clary at ‘The Oscars’ of the property industry during a black tie gala on the 30th of November at the Grosvenor House Hotel. Horton and Garton is proud to represent Chiswick and West London at this prestigious industry event.

The School Premium


According to research conducted by Santander one in four parents said they had either bought a new home or rented one in order to be in their desired school’s catchment area. Families are prepared to pay an extra 12% for a home that is close to their chosen school. The premium parents pay for a property in a superb catchment area combined with the cost of moving and stamp duty still represents a significant savings compared to educating two children privately. In west London, we're spoiled for choice with:

- 4 Ofsted Outstanding primary schools in Chiswick
- 4 Ofsted Outstanding primary schools in Shepherds Bush

and a phenomenal

- 9 Ofsted Outstanding primary schools in Hammersmith

That's a total of 17 'Outstanding' primary schools in our patch. With your home's proximity to the school gates being the key to a place, many parents are opting to rent or buy as close to their preferred school as possible. John Horton, owner and Director of our Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush branch says, "Having lived through the challenge of securing a coveted place in our chosen school, and having moved locally to secure that offer of a place, I definitely empathise with local parents who are going through the process!" For news on our local primaries, read the latest edition of Our Patch. To discuss how our team can help with a move, don't hesitate to call our lettings or sales team for knowledgable, experienced and sensible advice.

A Masterclass in Matchmaking


In the last week of August, our Chiswick Director agreed four sales - three of these were agreed before the property details were made public or launched online.  Two central Chiswick properties located just off the High Road, a property in the Bedford Park borders and a property in Grove Park were all agreed in one week.  Read on for a masterclass in matchmaking the perfect buyer to their ideal home.

An outstanding property on the prestigious Grove Park Road languished on the market for five months with two other local estate agencies.  Paul Cooney, our Chiswick Director, took on the beautiful home and only two viewings later he'd swiftly agreed the sale.  The property was sold before the details were launched on any of the property portals and in the last week of August when other agents clock out and publicly proclaim the summer market "dead."  His initially sceptical clients, weatherbeaten and exhausted by broken promises from the two other agencies, were over the moon.  They immediately went shopping in the knowledge that their transaction was agreed and in Chiswick's safest pair of hands.  The found their forever dream home - a stunning newly built four bedroom detached house in Hampshire.  With the sale proceeding and the removal service booked, they said of Paul's service, "Paul treats each client to a very personal service and works long hours to ensure they receive this unique service.  I'd definitely recommend him.

The moral of the story is that Paul works differently to the average agent.  He takes the extra time, time that many other agents simply aren't willing or able to devote, to truly get to know his buyers.  He establishes genuine relationships with them, learning the intricacies of their situation: do they prefer Victorian or Edwardian architecture, would a north facing garden really be a deal breaker, what prized piece of heirloom furniture absolutely must fit in the master bedroom, how arduous is their daily commute.  Instead of encouraging his buyers to see every property he lists, which is standard practice for some agencies, he introduces them to the most suitable homes - an exercise that builds trust and ultimately leads to excellent offers, delighted clients and relieved buyers.  His "purple book" of west London's keenest and most proceedable buyers is the stuff of legend.  

If you are considering selling and want your property handled with kid gloves, call Paul on 020 8996 5120 or email him on paulcooney@hortonandgarton.co.uk.

GOLD for Horton and Garton!


Our Chiswick office celebrates six months of successful trading in September - enough time to be selected to receive a prestigious British Property Award. We were mystery shopped over period of several month on the phone and via email by independent assessors which ultimately resulted in a Gold Award for Horton and Garton's Chiswick branch.  Director Paul Cooney says of the accolade, "It took me by surprise as I wasn't expecting to win an industry award this soon after opening our doors but it's a great honour. The British Property Awards are renowned for their impartial assessment of estate agencies across the country. It's a privilege to be selected in such a busy West London marketplace.  It speaks volumes about how we at Horton and Garton treat each and every potential seller and buyer. My team is looking forward to attending the awards ceremony this month."

The mission at The British Property Awards is to highlight and reward excellence within the UK residential property sector at a local level. The Awards were created by a dedicated team of previous Estate Agency owners who believe that the industry is unfairly judged by some consumers, due to the shortcomings of some estate agents. A recent poll suggested that just 25% of consumers trust Estate Agents, making it the second least trusted profession. They passionately believe that agents who provide a fantastic service and go that extra mile for their clients, should be rewarded and highlighted for their endeavours. They independently assess estate agents against a set of 25 criteria and judge all agents who meet a minimum set of criteria over a number of months to ensure continuity and stability. Once the team began researching for the awards, they were shocked by the polarity of the service provided by different agents, service levels also varied wildly dependent on the time of day and the time of the week. 

Paul says, "Our clients are at the heart of every transaction. Horton and Garton is built on a foundation of integrity, professionalism, ethical practice, local knowledge and a commitment to our communities. Our team lives and works in our neighbourhoods and we boast almost a century of combined experience in West London property.  We always strive to be outstanding and I'm very proud that this effort has resulted in a Gold Award."

Local Hammersmith Residents Association Update


News from Brackenbury Village

Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush feature various enclaves such as the beautiful Brackenbury Village. Knowing the importance of these "communities within communities" is part of what sets Horton and Garton apart. We live and work within the heart of our neighbourhoods and know what makes the fabric of our areas so unique. The Brackenbury Residents Association provides an essential channel of information about key events, issues, property planning concerns/plans and news within the Brackenbury Village area of Hammersmith.

Horton and Garton will be championing one of the upcoming events the BRA is highlighting in their May newsletter, The Great Get Together - a celebration of what west Londoners have in common. Stop by our King Street office on Friday 16th of June to buy a delicious baked goodie and help us support the Jo Cox Foundation and The Hub @ 75, our local Shepherds Bush food bank.

John Horton

Don’t Bet The House Without A Broker


James Muncaster of Capricorn Financial tells John Horton why a good broker is worth their weight in gold

With mortgage rates at historic lows, taking advantage of a rock bottom rate is at the top of the priority list for our buyers. Horton and Garton's Director John Horton talks to Hammersmith local James Muncaster, Mortgage and Insurance Adviser for Capricorn Financial Consultancy, about how to find the right mortgage product for your personal circumstance. As one of west London's top advisers, he's in the best position to give our clients in Hammersmith, Chiswick and Shepherds Bush the most informed advice on securing the right product for your property.

John: "What is the most common asked question from a new or existing client?"

James: "There are two common questions. First is 'What is the best rate you can source for me?' In an ideal world, everyone would get the lowest rate but you also have to factor in costs for the mortgage such as arrangement fees and survey fees, to name just two. You may get a temptingly low interest rate but if the fees are high, it is sometimes logical to go for a slightly higher rate but with low fees - meaning you ultimately pay less over the fixed rate period. The second most common question is, 'How much can I borrow?' The answer to this is very much lender dependent as each bank or building society treat a customer’s income and expenditure differently. Loan amount can also be determined, with some banks, by how much deposit you have. Explained simply, the more you put in, the more the bank will lend. As you can see, it makes sense to access a broker who has an accurate and up-to-date picture of the wider market.

John: "How long does it typically take to remortgage and release equity?"

James: "With the right bank and solicitor, this could be as little as 2 weeks. However, on average, I would allow 4-6 weeks from application to drawdown of funds."

John: "If one of our clients remortgages their property and then wants to sell, will they have to pay exit penalties?"

James: "Not necessarily. Many banks offer 'penalty free' rates, so that is one option. Another option is 'porting' your mortgage, or taking it with you when you move. This would also avoid an exit penalty."

John: "We have many prospective buyers who come to us on very low tracker rate, so why should they remortgage?"

James: "The consideration buyers must bear in mind with a tracker rate is that there is just as much chance it will go up as there is of it going down. With fixed rates starting at 1.03%, even those tempting low trackers of pre-credit crunch days aren't attractive as they once were!"

Rules of the Game Change


A new licensing system in Hammersmith, Fulham and Shepherds Bush aims to protect landlords from badly behaved tenants, and renters from poorly performing landlords. But how will it work in practice?

Landlords and tenants will see a change this summer as a new set of standards and licences is introduced in Hammersmith, Fulham and Shepherds Bush. They are designed to shield renters from unscrupulous landlords and raise the quality of properties for rent.
Two different categories of licence come into force from June 5, with landlords required to apply for either a selective or an additional licence, and comply with a new package of minimum standards.
As a third of all H&F residents are renters, the new measures will affect thousands of people… in a positive way, insists the council’s Head of Residential Environmental Health, Richard Buckley. “It means that in this borough, any house in multiple occupation – where three or more households share a bathroom, kitchen or toilet with other tenants – will have to have a licence,” he says.

Licences will last for five years and landlords will have to pay the equivalent of £108 a year, which is tax-deductable and covers admin and inspection costs. The council makes no profit from the fee. There are discounts for landlords who belong to recognised bodies and who sign up to a new landlord’s charter. When the application is made, the property will have an initial inspection, including such things as fire doors, then there is a detailed follow-up full inspection during the five-year term.

The new set of standards was agreed by H&F Council in December last year in an effort to reduce the thousands of complaints received each year; mainly about mould, damp, fire safety, excessive cold and rubbish being put out on the wrong day. By addressing these issues, the new landlords’ charter aims to raise the overall standard of rental properties in the borough.
The council believes that landlords who hold a licence will be in a better position to attract good tenants, and that renters will feel more confident about security of tenancies, property standards and fair treatment on deposits.

John Horton, founder of Horton and Garton, says: “I firmly support the council’s efforts to raise the standards for all landlords across the borough. It’s important landlords understand their responsibilities – and thankfully the majority are extremely responsible. It’s also great news for the huge number of local renters who now have more protection and can expect higher standards from landlords.”

A new social lettings agency will also be set up, putting would-be renters in touch with the best local landlords.
Last summer, a 12-week consultation exercise saw a majority in favour of the new measures. In all, 18,000 leaflets were distributed to properties, while registered letting agents and landlords were also notified.

Two types of licence come into force in July, selective and additional. Selective licences apply to shared flats in more than 100 named streets in Hammersmith & Fulham where antisocial behaviour, noise, overcrowding, litter or the dumping of rubbish on non-collection days has proved to be a problem in the past. Selective licences apply to all rented properties. Each licence – which are physical documents – will cost the landlord a total of £540 over five years. Every council in London is introducing new rules, but many are charging double the fee being levied on landlords by the Labour-run H&F Council.

There are still grey areas. The issue of flats and houses which use Airbnb to rent rooms to visitors for short spells is currently under the radar. However, as the vast majority of H&F tenants are long-term this is not considered a major problem.
The council is trying to strike a balance between improving standards in the rental sector in one go (rather than by regular tweaks) while not risking increasing homelessness. It believes that the new licences will create a level playing field for landlords, with no shortcuts being taken, or blind eyes being turned to sub-letting.
If landlords do not comply with the new system by the 5 October 2017, enforcement action will be taken, ultimately resulting in prosecution. All predictions suggest that the proportion of people renting in H&F will continue to rise in years to come.
Any updates, changes or alterations to the timetable of licence introduction will be announced on the housing department pages on H&F Council’s website. The latest version of FAQs can be downloaded here.

What other West London councils charge for the licences:
Ealing (including some parts of Acton and Shepherds Bush) £1,100 + £30 per habitable room. Selective licence flat rate £500. Discount of £75 for members of LLAS/professional body. Read more in our previous article here.
Hounslow (including some parts of Chiswick) Both selective and mandatory licences are £1,069.36 with £75 discount for members of LLAS/professional body.

Bush Theatre


READY TO OPEN DOORS ONCE AGAIN

The reopening of the Bush Theatre is the major cultural event in West London this year. A £4.3million rebuild has transformed the Uxbridge Road venue unrecognisably!
After a year-long revamp the arts centre burst into life again this spring with a full programme in the main 180-seat theatre and the new-look studio.

It started with a week-long housewarming celebrating the diversity of Shepherds Bush. The major refurbishment was made possible by £1m of funding from Hammersmith & Fulham Council – as well as £2.5m from Arts Council England and donations from generous individuals, trusts and foundations.

If you’d like to have a closer look at the revamped theatre boasting a new garden terrace, Shepherds Bush residents can join tours of the building –contact the Bush Theatre directly!

Former Property rivals set a course for Chiswick


John Horton explains why expanding into Chiswick is the most exciting moment of his career in Hammersmith – and why he’s asked Paul Cooney to captain the ship

Here’s to 2017! It’s already shaping up to be the most significant year in the history of the business since I opened Horton and Garton in 2007. Because we are expanding into Chiswick, I’ve asked my friend and colleague Paul Cooney to run our new Turnham Green Terrace office.
I’ve known Paul for many years. We share the same principles of honesty, integrity and ethical practice. These are the key traits that make independent estate agents such as Horton and Garton successful.
Paul has sold hundreds of properties in west London during his time running a large agency in Chiswick. His knowledge of the area and its property market, as well as his work ethic and enthusiasm, is second to none.
If you’re considering a property move and would like an honest, independent review of the sales and lettings market in W4, Paul is the most qualified agent to call.

COMMUNITY MATTERS
Paul and I also share a commitment to the local community and devotion to supporting other local independent businesses. Our charitable outreach will only broaden in the years to come and we are honoured to help promote this year’s Cancer Research UK Boat Races along the Thames.
We’d also like to extend a special thank you to Fuller’s Brewery – a Chiswick institution since 1845 – for their support in helping us celebrate race day.

ABOUT HORTON AND GARTON
I have lived and worked in Hammersmith for more than 20 years. During my time, I’ve been helped by incredible local clients and staff as we have developed an unrivalled wealth of experience across Brackenbury Village, Ravenscourt Park, St Peter’s Square, Wendell Park, Hammersmith Mall and Stamford Brook.
As a family businessman, I believe our team continues to stand out from the competition by offering an experienced, personable and professional service to vendors, landlords, buyers and renters alike.
Giving back to the community is just our way to say thanks.

John Horton