All posts by Ben.Nicol@stanfordestates.london

House Staging Tips

10 house staging tips to help sell your home

You’re about to sell your house, so you will want to maximise the viewings and maximise the sale price. One of the simplest ways to do this is to stage a house for sale. 

So, once you’ve booked your valuation, follow these tips for how to stage your house before the photos hit the particulars! Let’s show your home off at its best with our clever house staging tips.

Staging a house for sale

Before we dive into the best staging tips, let’s just quickly reassert the point of staging when selling a house. The point of staging is to make your home as attractive as possible to the widest number of buyers, ensuring they are keen to give you the best price. It should be cost-effective, and indeed a relatively low cost process. The point is that you invest a little to reap a lot. In fact, some of our staging tips cost nothing but a little time.

Staging isn’t simply redecorating – that would involve your personal style. Staging is about widening the appeal. What’s more, staging is about showing your home at its best. In England, where the house buying and selling process allows ample opportunities for buyers to drop their price before the deal is secure, it’s important that you help buyers look beyond any cosmetic issues.

So, without further ado, let’s move onto our tips to stage your house for sale. 

Stanfords house staging tips

1. Declutter

Start by channelling your inner Marie Kondo and ditching the clutter. Decluttering is a great idea pre-move anyway as it’ll make your own relocation simpler and more streamlined. 

Clutter is distracting. You want your viewer’s eyes to be on the home and imagining themselves there. Clutter also makes spaces look smaller. Hobby stuff, kids toys, and paperwork should be banished to storage or the bin if not needed! A top tip is to remove as many things as possible from kitchen worktops to give the illusion of more space.

2. Clean

A clean home spells out that you’ve cared for this property. If there’s ever a time for a huge spring clean, staging your house for sale is a great one. Sinks, showers, baths, windows and kitchen worktops should sparkle. Grime should be banished.

3. Depersonalise

Chances are you’ve invested love and energy into making this a home, not just a house. But now you need to hit the rewind button.

 

The odd family photo is ok if you must, but reduce the number right down and tuck away keepsakes ready for the move. Hide away bathroom lotions and potions, and generally reduce the amount of items that say anything about who lives here.

4. Make things fresh

It can’t be seen in a picture, but before your first viewers, you need to banish odours. You can always get baking or brewing coffee right before a viewing! 

Show that your home is fresh by reducing any signs of pets. Spritz soft furnishings with diluted essential oils. Plug in an air purifier. Add in some plants for good measure. From now on, any household smokers should be doing so outdoors.

5. Make rooms clear

It’s really important that each room in the property has a clear purpose. Is it a bedroom or a study? Each room should have a purpose to help buyers to visualise how they can use the home. 

6. Make the décor neutral

It’s tempting to go into redecorating with your usual style in mind. For the purpose of staging, aim to give the house a lick of paint in a neutral colour, without heady patterned and bold wallpapers or colours. This creates a blank canvas that allows the potential buyer to imprint their own design ideas. It also helps them feel less pressured – they won’t need to redecorate the minute they move in.

 

An often overlooked house staging tip here is to choose a warm neutral colour, not stark white. You want the property to feel welcoming, not cold!

Plus, when you are decorating, deal with those cracks. They are always worrying to buyers, even if they are just the plaster settling.

7. Feet to the floor

It’s easy to lose sight of a stain on the carpet here and scratches in the wood there. However, remember that your house viewers are coming fresh to your home. If your carpet tells the tale that you have to walk awkwardly around the furniture by the visible pathway, then it’s off-putting.

One of the best house staging tips is to replace the flooring. Hardwood will add value, but affordable low maintenance options are also a good investment for the overall improvement they make to your home. Focus predominantly on the main living areas.

8. Get the lighting right

Maximise natural light, widening curtain openings and keeping blinds open at their fullest. This gives the illusion of space. Brighter homes are more inviting.

 

9. Furniture sizing

We know that the practicalities of household living mean that you can end up with random furniture. You need to look at each room afresh and think does it look too crowded or too empty? It’s all about balance. 

Make sure your furniture is in good nick and spotlessly clean. 

10. Don’t forget the curb appeal

Staging isn’t just for the inside. Turn your attention to how the property looks from the outside too. Gardens should be neat and tidy, weeds and rubbish banished. The front door should look pristine and inviting. Pathways should be clean and clear. Creating an outdoor seating and eating area helps with staging too.

 

All of these house staging tips will help to make your home attractive to viewers and create a buzz around your home. You’ll secure a buyer more easily and get the best price possible. Keep on top of the tidiness and staging throughout the selling process, and prepare for viewings by adding in a few little extras like fresh flowers, plumped cushions, fluffy fresh towels and a blast of fresh air.

Our professional photographers will show your home at its best – let us help with selling your home

How To Find Good Tenants

How to find good tenants

If you want to let your property successfully and with the minimum amount of fuss, then finding good tenants is key. Whether you’re wondering what the signs of good tenants are or are confused about how to find good tenants, this guide is here to help. 

Here are eight of our top professional tips for attracting good tenants to your rental property. Find the right tenants for your property, watch the rental income roll in and scout around for your next rental property!

8 simple steps to finding good tenants

1. Know your target market

As any decent marketing consultant will tell you, knowing exactly who you’re targeting is crucial when you have a product or service to sell. The same applies to letting a property, so you match what you’re offering to their needs.  

As well as seeking people with the characteristics of a good tenant, you also want to pin down the demographic you’re aiming at. Are you offering a student bedsit, a flat-share for twenty-somethings, or seeking a young family or retired couple?

Attracting the right target market from the outset will help you find the best tenants for your property.

2. Be prepared

Get ready to market your property. Presenting your property in the best light possible will attract the right tenants. Complete any odd jobs like tidying or touching up the paintwork before Stanfords come in to take our professional set of photographs. We always try to take these photographs in good daylight. We recommend working with a lettings agency, such as Stanfords, so you can benefit from the very best marketing for your property.

A clear, tidy picture of each room plus the exterior are minimums – miss out a location and prospective tenants might wonder what you have to hide. Any notable features or unique selling points may also be worthy of their own image. 

3. Do your homework

Another way of getting ready is to stake out the competition. Who is offering what to let, and at what cost? Can you pick up any insider tips from how they’re doing things? You might also like to set a realistic rent by checking out what others are charging. Setting the rent at the right price will ensure that you only attract those tenants who can afford it.

It’s also useful at this point to familiarise yourself with the property properly. This way you can pass this information onto your letting agent. Key facts for us to know include the council tax band, parking facilities, access to any shared areas and if there are any rules and regulations. The latter can particularly apply to leasehold properties like flats.

 

 

4. Marketing, marketing, marketing

So the entire point of establishing your target market is so you can position your apartment, house or bungalow accordingly. Online is largely where it’s at, mainly via sites and apps such as RightMove and Zoopla but local letting agents, close to the property, will be very well placed to handle local tenants and viewings for you. 

But don’t forget the power of the ‘To Let’ sign – it can drum up business by attracting the eye of passers-by. They may then carry the message to your ideal tenants by word of mouth. 

When using a letting agent, you should also benefit from the property being on their own site, and the property details displayed in the window of their office. 

5. Sign up with a letting agent

If you’re not sure what to look for when it comes to good tenant qualities, or don’t have the time to work out how to list on RightMove, then why not consider signing up with a local letting agent?

A decent lettings agency will know exactly what to look for in a good tenant, and which checks should be run to protect everyone legally. Including you, the landlord. They will also know where to find good tenants and how to market the property to that precise demographic.

Using a letting agent can save you so much time and legwork. They can conduct viewings, answer queries from potential tenants and complete all the paperwork. If you don’t let the property then they don’t earn a fee, so it’s also in their best interests to get it off the market as quickly as possible. 

So how do you choose a good letting agent? Ideally, you want an agency who will take great pictures and provide an irresistible property write-up to complement those. Check out how they will approach the marketing of your house or flat. Will it be listed on the biggest apps and sites, like Zoopla and RightMove? How about their own website and the office window?

An agent can also give you their advice on suitability whenever a potential tenant shows an interest in the property. With the benefit of experience, they’ll know just what to look for – as well as what to avoid. 

6. Request references

Getting references from suitable sources – such as a previous landlord – can be a great way to gauge whether a tenant is right for you and your property. 

A key step in how to get good tenants is to request references. As a rule of thumb, the best letting agencies will run a number of checks. These include verification of employment, a credit check and an affordability test, as well as a reference from a former landlord or their agent.

 

 

7. Check the paperwork is in order

If you use a good letting agent, you can skip this step as this will be taken care of on your behalf. Otherwise, you will need to make sure all the documentation is in ship-shape and legally binding.

Is the tenancy agreement in line with the latest and most relevant legislation? Would this contract bind both parties legally in case of future disputes?

Once they’ve signed on the dotted line, you or your agent should also set up a standing order with the tenant’s bank to ensure you receive rent payments in full and on time. An agent can also hand over the keys on your behalf.

8. Be a good landlord

Finding a good landlord is what it’s all about from the tenant’s side of things, so plan how you can address any issues that crop up. Again, a letting agency can help here, as they can field questions from tenants for you.

Think about what you’ll do if there is a repair required or an emergency crops up. It’s wise to have a list of contractors you could use at the ready. Alternatively, you could leave this to your letting agent if it’s all part of the service they provide. Keep your tenants sweet and they’ll be more likely to return the favour by keeping your property in good shape and paying the rent on time.

To find out more about what a great letting agent can do for you as a landlord, why not check out what Stanfords of southeast London have to offer?

Running a Business From a Rented Property

Running a business from a rented property: what you need to know

In the wake of Covid, working from home is now more common than ever. Alongside this, more and more people are actually choosing to run their business from home. In a mortgaged or privately owned property, this comes with a fairly straightforward set of rules. But things get a little more complicated when it comes to running a business from a rented property. There are questions that both the tenant and the landlord need answering before your business can get up and running.

Here we look at the ins and outs of running a business from home, looking at the primary concerns of both tenant and landlord.

A quick nod to tenants working from home

This article is about running a business from a rented property. This is not the same as a tenant working from home, employed elsewhere. Home offices are common now, but, as long as this home working arrangement doesn’t use more than 40% of the rented space, there are no special concerns. 

It’s good practice for tenants to let their landlord know that they work from home, as a courtesy. In most cases, tenants are responsible for all of their own utility, phone and internet bills, so this doesn’t impact the landlord. There is an argument for renegotiating rent if bills are included in the rental price if a tenant works from home.

Can you run a business from a rented property?

The short answer to this question is, generally, yes. But that’s with caveats. 

As a tenant, you must first notify your landlord of your wish to run a business from the property and ask for their permission. Historically, landlords were usually dissuaded from granting permission, making it very difficult for tenants. However, the Small Business and Employment Act (2015) made it more straightforward. 

The legislation makes it harder for landlords to say ‘no’ to “a business of a kind that might reasonably be carried on at home”. There is no set list of businesses, so it can be considered to be quite broad, certainly most desk-based roles. This extends to business owners, such as electricians, builders and beauticians having an office within the home in which to do their administration. 

Can you childmind in a rented house?

One type of business which doesn’t fit neatly into office-based work (for which many landlords will say yes) or machinery-based or practical work (for which many landlords will say no), but which is a common business to run from home, is childminding. 

Again, the tenant must ask permission of the landlord if they wish to childmind from a rented house. The rental agreement may need changing. To register as a childminder, you will usually need written permission from your landlord if you are in a rented house. 

There are important considerations which you will need to factor in. Childminding uses much of the house and you may need to make adaptations to make the premises safe for children, such as stair gates, and other safety features. It’s important that you check with your landlord that they are happy with you making these alterations.  

If you are considering running a childminding business with two or more childminders together, you must explain this to the landlord and also seek planning permission from the Local Authority. 

Does my landlord have to say yes to me running a business?

No, there are many conditions on which your landlord can reasonably refuse the request from a tenant to run a business from a rented property. 

When a landlord is considering whether to allow a tenant to run a business from a rented property, they usually have some legitimate common concerns. There should be no change to the look of the property, for example, large signs or outdoor work structures. They are often concerned about an increase in visitors to the property, with worries over damage to the property and impact on neighbours in terms of increased noise. 

Within the context of these concerns, a landlord is more likely to say ‘yes’ to one type of business and ‘no’ to another. It needs to be addressed on a case by case basis and should the landlord give permission, it’s for that business type only.

If the landlord is content to give permission for you to run the business from the rented property, then you can expect them to revisit the tenancy agreement. You will likely be required to take out business insurance. It will also be your responsibility to find out if there will be changes to council tax or if you are liable for business rates.

 

 

Should I allow my tenant to run a business from a rented property?

Again, there’s no fixed answer to this. It will depend on the tenant, the property, the neighbourhood and your relationship to date. 

You can ask for details of the business and what will be involved and make a decision from this point. If you are satisfied to give consent, then it’s important to confirm the agreement in writing. Here you can establish any requirements or restrictions. You may ask for confirmation of business insurance and require that steps are taken to prevent the business damaging the property. You may wish to also increase the frequency of property inspections. 

You may find it helpful to seek advice from your lettings management company about the issues you should consider about a tenant running a business from a rented property. You will also need to look at the terms of your mortgage and check it doesn’t stipulate that the property only be used for residential purposes. It may also be necessary to check your local council’s zoning restrictions. 

Can you register a business to a rented property?

Not all businesses need to be registered. If you earn under £1000 a year there’s no need to register. Sole traders only need to register for Self-Assessment Tax Returns and everything about the business is linked to the individual, not a company as such. It is more complex for partnerships and limited companies. Limited companies must be registered with Companies House and have unique responsibilities. 

If you would like to register your business to a rented property, you again need permission from the landlord. Where the landlord says no, you can register your company to a virtual address instead.

Can I rent my own property to my business?

If you are considering this then you are probably in a situation where it is prudent to seek dedicated tax advice, as renting your own property to your own business is usually done for tax reasons. It is possible and legal, but there should be a formal lease agreement. 

Get support 

We offer a range of landlord services. If you need advice, please get in touch on 020 8699 6778.

Why You Should Use an Estate Agent

Why you should use an estate agent

If you have a property to sell, then it’s only natural to wonder about the benefits of using an estate agent versus flying solo. The bottom line is that you want to end up with as much profit as possible. So why pay to use an estate agent who will claim their cut? 

Here, we will outline the many benefits of using an estate agent to sell your property. We’ll also dive into some of the most frequently asked questions about using an estate agent, including: how to decide which estate agent to use, the importance of online marketing, and sole versus joint agents.

What are the benefits of using an estate agent?

As with accountants and other professionals, a good estate agent can actually help ensure as much money as possible ends up in your pocket. Who wouldn’t want that? 

1. The estate agency fee is only payable when you sell

Let’s begin by stating a simple truth; your estate agent only earns their share of the sale price once the property has been sold. That means that it’s absolutely in their best interests to get your property sold. If they don’t, any legwork and hours they’ve put into trying to sell your property will all have been for nothing.

2. An estate agent is a marketing expert

If you’re still wondering if you should use an estate agent, you might also want to think about if you really have the know-how to market your property in all the right places. Can you target potential buyers quickly and effectively? Your estate agent has the benefit of years of experience when it comes to marketing your property to the people who are most likely to buy it. 

3. Your estate agent will know the local area

Not only does your estate agent know all about marketing, they will also be very familiar with the local market – and the local community. When considering whether you should use an online estate agent, it’s wise to remember this. An online estate agent may not have such in-depth knowledge of the neighbourhood.

4. An estate agent can get you the best price

Yes, you need to pay your estate agent a fee – but the amount they can help you sell for may far outweigh what this fee costs. Not only are estate agents skilled negotiators, they can also target the sort of buyers who will pay more and see the sale through to the very end. 

Don’t forget, your estate agent earns a percentage of the sale price, so it’s in their best interest to sell your property for as much as possible. 

5. Your estate agent will keep the wheels turning

If you haven’t sold a property before, or for some time, it may surprise you to learn that an estate agent can often make all the difference in making sure the sale completes smoothly. Acting as the go-between for buyer and seller, they can swiftly convey vital information between parties to ensure all the legalities are completed fully and as swiftly as possible.

6. A local estate agent has local contacts

If you need a last-minute boiler service to cajole your buyer into making the final commitment, then the chances are your estate agent can find you a good gas engineer – even at short notice. The same goes for decorators, solicitors and so on. This can be invaluable when you have a job that needs doing quickly – and to a high standard – in order to complete a sale.

7. Your estate agent can save you so much time

If you lead a busy life, then why not let someone else take care of the day-to-day business of selling your property? Marketing, arranging viewings and negotiating can all be stressful and time-sapping tasks. But there’s no need to concern yourself with these when in the trusted hands of a seasoned professional estate agent. 

8. An estate agent has a trained eye

From the conditions of your property to spotting a potential fraudster, a good estate agent knows just what to look for to help ensure a smooth, painless sale for you, the client. From reasons why your property may be worth more to detecting and handling potential pitfalls before they become a problem, your estate agent can help make sure everything goes according to plan. Tell them everything upfront, warts and all, as a good agent will have solutions for all property related issues.

 

 

Why you should use an estate agent – FAQs

Do you have to use an estate agent?

In theory, here in the UK you don’t have to use an estate agent. Remember, though, that they don’t earn their fee until you sell. When a good agent can save you time and stress while ensuring you make more money on the sale, why wouldn’t you take advantage of their professional expertise? 

What about using the same estate agent to buy and sell?

Using the same agent to buy and sell can be advantageous, as you only need to deal with one party who will know what’s going on at each end. However, being based in the right area and having access to the right buyers is key. Using one agent to buy and sell also means that they’re working for the benefit of both parties, rather than just you. 

How many estate agents should I use?

It’s always more cost-effective to use a sole estate agent. This way you only have one party to pay, rather than two or more. Unless your agent isn’t doing their job properly or has no access to part of the market, there’s no good reason to use multiple agents. 

Why use a high street estate agent rather than an online estate agent?

Online estate agents charge you upfront regardless of whether you sell, whereas a high street estate agent will only charge their fee when you move. A good high street agent will market the property better, have a waiting list of local buyers, achieve more viewings and have more offers on your home. This will lead to better quality and most likely higher agreed price covering those higher fees and leaving you with more money from the transaction.

What about using an estate agent for rental?

If you want to let a property, then an estate agent can find you reliable tenants without delay. With all the appropriate checks and paperwork taken care of, all you need to do is sit back and watch the rental income roll in. 

Why use an estate agent?

There are numerous reasons why you should use an estate agent. Leaving property sales to the professionals means marketing your property to the right buyers, quickly and effectively. An estate agent has an incentive to get you the best possible price, and knows just how to make that happen. 

A good estate agent can also ward off potential problems, be proactive in ensuring the sale progresses and save a seller a lot of time. As well as making you some extra money in the process. 

Are you based in South East London and  thinking of selling your property? Get in touch with the Stanford team to discuss how we can help, or arrange a free valuation.

Catford & Cyphers Cricket Club

Stanfords – the 2022 Junior sponsor for Catford & Cyphers Cricket Club!

Stanfords are enormously proud to be 2022 seasons sponsors of the Junior section of Catford & Cyphers Cricket Club. It was an exciting proposition that we leapt at and caught with both hands when the opportunity came up.

Over the past few years Community Sports Clubs have had a torrid time. With little support, and funding, sports clubs up and down the country have needed their local club heroes that are passionate about sports, educating and growing the game to step up. But many clubs across all sports are still paying the price of the pandemic and the Lockdowns.

During this time Catford & Cyphers have taken an opportunity to develop their Junior Section and in 2021 really started to thrive. Cricket isn’t an entitled sport, like football it can be played in the park with a few sticks a ball and something to club at it with. It isn’t a gender biased sport either, as the England Women’s team have proved by reaching the second successive World Cup Final.

All sports should be a happy place for Children and an escape to get outside and meet friends, play team sports, and have fun whilst developing healthy skills and relationships. The benefits of being involved in a local club at a community level are massive when growing up; it brings together children from diverse backgrounds, to compete and develop skills of teamwork and leadership. More needs to be done to introduce girls into sport too by celebrating women who achieve, and at Catford & Cyphers girls and boys from different backgrounds and ethnicities bond over the fun and enjoyment that Asher, Matt and their fellow coaches bring to every session and the Team’s success on the field!

 

 

In inner cities and London there are fewer chances for cricket to be played, whether it be finding a Club or affording to play. Taking a leaf from Rugby’s Kyle Sinckler and recognising opportunities should be there for everyone to play sports; we invited Matt and the team to select 2 young players that we could support through the 2022 season so that they could focus on getting to practice and improving their game. We are incredibly proud of the Club coaches’ decisions of the young players they have recommended and can’t wait to see how they progress with both Bat and Ball this year!!

 

 

Find out more about Catford Cyphers Cricket Club here 

New regulations for Landlords in Lewisham

Landlords

Local changes that might effect your rental portfolio.

Lewisham Borough licencing for Landlords

From 5th April 2022 Lewisham Council have added a layer of licensing in addition to the National Mandatory Scheme. This will apply to both new and existing tenancies.

We’ll explain some of the changes below, but further information can be found at Lewisham Council’s website. For now, you might want to check your position directly here

National Mandatory Scheme

By law, a property must have an HMO licence if it:

  • has five or more people in more than one household, and
  • shares amenities, such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities
  • is split over 2 or more levels

National Mandatory Licences, if granted, are valid for five years.

Lewisham Additional Schemes

Additional licensing applies to properties oustide the National Mandatory Scheme.

Lewisham’s Additional Landlord Licence, if granted, are valid for the duration of the scheme. These will include;

  • properties occupied by 3 or 4 people living together as 2 or more separate households
  • and which meets the standard, self-contained flat or converted building test in Section 254 of the Housing Act 2004.

Lewisham Licencing FAQ – as we currently understand

Why is it important for rental properties to be licensed?
Licensing of Landlords and rented properties is to enforce the safety of tenants in residential properties which may be overcrowded or have inadequate facilities or be poorly maintained.

What happens if a rental property is not licenced?
Property owners letting their properties without a licence may receive a fine between £20-30K. Should the property be empty, a licence is not required.

What is the cost for a Lewisham Landlord’s licence?
From the 5th of April 2022 the charges will be £500.00 per bedroom. i.e a 3 bedroom house will cost £1500 to obtain a council licence. This will not include any costs that need to be spent in order to obtain the licence.

How long will a licence last for?
Licences will be valid for five years.

When to apply for a HMO licence?
Property owners letting their properties are required to apply for a licence once they have intentions to move in new tenants to a property. During the application process, Lewisham council can issue a draft licence to cover any tenancies which need to commence at short notice.

Additional paperwork required to obtain a Lewisham Licence

Separately from the current safety documentation a Landlord already needs to make available to a tenant at the beginining of a Tenancy, further safety checks and other paperwork will need to be provided to obtain a licence, understood to be the following:

  • Fire risk assessment
  • Emergency lighting system documentation
  • Fire detection warning documentation
  • Party wall agreements
  • Building Control Completion certificates

What can Stanford’s do?

With many years’ experience of ensuring valid certificates such as Gas Safety, EICR and EPC are in place before the start of a tenancy, we will continue to uphold this standard to guide our Fully Managed Clients with intentions to let their property with the permitted Licence as set out by the Borough.

Reliable contractors to provide competitive quotes

With years of experience, we build relationships with contractors who are qualified in their skilled profession and produce quality workmanship. Guaranteed works can give our landlords peace of mind.

What do you need to do now?

Check in with your property manager as soon as possible to see if your property needs a licence, we will do our best to get the paperwork in order on your behalf as soon as we can.

In the meantime, you might want to speak to the Council directly.
Their helpline number is 020 8314 6420.

Punk hits Forest Hill

Friday night’s will never feel quite the same again since Teatro vivo visited us last week. Following a knock on the door from the troupe’s Kas and Matthew when they were looking for space for their immersive entertainment, we were more than happy to play a part in the fun. 

A little worrying though when the storyline was explained, that they actually needed an Estate Agency, as their antics through Forest Hill centre was going to end in the unfortunate kidnapping of one of our own!!

Entitled ‘The Maze’, Teatro Vivo’s penchant is to engage with their audience as close as they can get while at the same time being on the move and pulling the audience both in, and along with them.

 

As it happens, it was one of their own dressed like an archetypal Estate Agent, gold watch and all – and we had little to worry about – even though you’re more likely to find us in jeans and jumpers than shirts and ties.

Next time, we’re asking for costumes!

Teatro Vivo are in partnership with SHAPESLewisham 

See more about The Maze, thank you to Doug Southall for the amazing photographs

The Corbett’s coveted homes

The Community 

The Corbett Estate is an area within the Catford Community, not only is it filled with alluring architecture but the residents are the heartbeat and lifeblood of SE6. So often we will do a viewing on a property and a prospective purchaser will ask “who are the neighbors”, “what is the community like”, “Is it safe”. When you can reply and tell people that it genuinely is a great and thriving community it certainly helps and goes a long way to making somebody feel comfortable in making one of the biggest financial decision they will make in their life. A real testament to this would be how many people move within the Corbett Estate and stay there whilst just upsizing. “We love it here, it’s just time to move on” is a phrase heard a lot when valuing a Corbett Property.  

Hosting a whole bunch of child friendly activity throughout the year there really is a warming community and sense of togetherness. Whether it be the Corbett Advent Calendar Trail where the children (and adults)!! Can go along the trail and see the pictures in peoples windows, or the Halloween trick or treat get together there is always something going on in the community. Not to mention the roads that close once a year for summer street parties!  

A hidden gem of green space in an busy spot of London can sometimes be difficult to find but the Abbotshall Healthy lifestyle center certainly will give you your fix of green spaces or green fingers. Hidden deep in the Corbett estate there are amazing activities which take place from footy training where kids dream of becoming the next Harry Kane, or gardening classes where kids may dream of becoming the next Alan Titchmarsh?

The Construction

It was built in 1896 by Archibald Corbett who had a vision of bringing together a community, building sufficient homes within walking distance of Hither Green Station which was commissioned a year before. A vision of 3,000 homes began to take shape, and other than some which were hit by bombs in the war they are just as beautiful and ooze character like they did more than 100 years ago. When you view a Corbett Estate house you will generally be taken aback as to how much wider they are than the average terrace house you will find in South East London. If it is space, character, community and easy access to transport to London in under 20 minutes a viewing of a Corbett Estate house is a must!

 

Social media unites

In the world that we live in today Social Media is at the tip of everybody’s fingers and they say worldwide the average usage in 145 minutes a day! Don’t just take my word for how unified this community is have a look at the socials, whether that be taking inspiration from the Corbett Instagrammers or the Corbett Resident’s Association on Facebook.

Stanfords are supporters of the local community, Lettings and Estate Agents in Catford including the Corbett and Culverley Estates.

 

Catford Arts Trail 2021

Back again in 2021

Its back! It’s that time of year again the amazing Catford Arts Trail and we are so delighted to once again be sponsoring such a fantastic event in our local community!

One of the most highly anticipated events in the Catford Calendar, over 100 artists open their doors and welcome you in to their houses to show off their stunning art. Hosted over 2 Autumn weekends, 9/10 Oct & 16/17 Oct 2021) 11am – 6pm, the trail takes you on a wonderful adventure around this pocket of South East London. The trail will not only take you on a journey of over 40 destinations but also let you explore everything we love about SE6. Kicking the Autumnal leaves on the Riverview walk, to wondering around the famous Corbett Estate, just be sure to wipe your feet for the artists!

Along the route, whilst viewing some of the incredible art by our local artists, why not stop in one of Catford’s famous watering holes? The choice is plentiful whether it’s a pint of Guinness in the Blythe Hill Tavern, a Neck oil in the Catford Tavern or a home made gin Cocktail at Bottle Bar – quench your first with one of your favourite tipples whilst on the trail!

The 6th Catford Arts Trail since 2016 with what originally started as just 5 volunteers has grown into a real showpiece in the calendar with now nearly over 40 locations – these two weekends are not to be missed.

So get on down to the trail and see some really amazing art as well as some of Catford’s famous street art whilst you trot along this special event.

See the Map attached or download the Catford Arts App! Enjoy!

#catfordarts

 

 

Jack Lowis, Catford Branch

What’s the value in that?

Understanding the difference

Valuation is a broad term and an industry minefield. Misinterpretation widely occurs between homeowners and ‘valuers.’ Before starting to calculate how much you can afford for an onward purchase its important to recognise there is a difference between a ‘marketing price’ and a ‘property valuation.’ 

When considering selling, the first step for most homeowners is to arrange for several local agents to pop around for an hour to talk about the house, individual marketing process and their thoughts on the value of the home. You need to know what you are going to sell for so you can also speak to mortgage companies about affordability on the purchase – so often problems can start here as many potential sellers will misinterpret the recommended marketing (or listing) price as the valuation and apply those figures to their ongoing maths. When those higher figures aren’t achieved then the dream home we set our hearts on is potentially no longer affordable – because most of us stretch ourselves as far as we can.

To be fair, many Estate Agents won’t explain the small print because the easiest service to sell is the one that promises the highest figure. So it’s understandable where the confusion might come in, but it can leave homeowners thinking their home will achieve a lot more than a buyer is likely to offer.

There are also different methods and guidance to ensure the property gets a fair amount of interest. However, from a buyers point of view they much prefer clarity in the price the owner is asking for their home.

…..and we’ve all seen properties marketed at a price that makes the eyes roll! Some agents market properties at extraordinary prices.

When it comes to estate agent valuations there should be 2 discussions about price: 

  • The upper and lower figures that buyer’s are most likely to be willing to pay or offer (a valuation window)
  • The recommended marketing price to try and deliver as close to the upper valuation as the market will allow

With those 2 figures, most homeowners can make an informed decision as to how best to proceed with marketing their home. 

Pay close attention to the ‘most likely’ willing to pay. Property valuation isn’t a science – but equally, it shouldn’t be a figure plucked out of the air either. We base this ‘most likely’ figure on the evidence we have of current buyer energy, recent sold properties and prices achieved, the property conditions and desirability both internally and externally, the road, location and distance to services and schools etc – these are the things we can use to recommend a marketing price with. But there are variables out of our control, and that constantly change, that can have a genuine effect on what price you might finally achieve. A simple example; the weather.

We believe that the marketing price should be an optimum figure based on the above considerations to achieve as much interest as possible. This should give your home the best possible chance of achieving the best price from a buyer. 

 

Be aware that one of the easiest ways to get someone to sign on the dotted line is to tell them they will achieve a price over and above what any other valuation has mentioned. This is exciting and flattering, but is very rarely the case. The majority of buyers are far from naïve and will do their research before offering, probably viewed other properties locally and will have a contrast of relevant information as to why your home will be the one for them. If one agent is telling you they will sell your property for 10% more than anyone else, they are probably just trying to get you to sign their terms, rather than providing you with an accurate figure that represents the most likely price achievable based on the current market conditions. 

You also need to look out for any ‘marketing cost clauses’ buried within the contract. Lots of estate agents will provide professional marketing at no cost. However, some will either have an option to pay for upgraded marketing (instead of someone in the office popping over to take photos on their phone) or will suggest it is included within their fee, but if you change your mind about selling you will be liable for the agents ‘marketing costs.’  

The last thing to consider is the fee itself. Fees vary from agent to agent some agents offer a no sale, no fee contract, whilst others will charge you regardless. You’ll tend to find the most motivated agents will be the ones who are instructed on an all or nothing basis aka no sale, no fee – after all what could be more motivating than knowing you will only get paid if you deliver the goods! The fees themselves vary considerably depending on the agent and you will find the old adage of ‘pay peanuts, get monkeys’ still rings true. That’s not to say that paying a fortune to an agent will yield any better results. Ultimately, a reasonable fee for a job well done tends to leave everyone with a smile on their face. 

 

What to do now? 

If you are considering selling, try and arrange for 3-4 agents to visit and make sure you have some variety. A mixture of corporate and independent is always helpful if you want a complete overview of the options available and a comprehensive view of what is happening in your local area. Whatever you do, before you sign, check the reviews (thanks Google & Facebook.) 

Written by James Nicol
Stanfords Forest Hill

Knowing me, knowing you. Ah-ha!

Do you know you’re Estate Agent?

Not the company itself, but the individual negotiators/sales people behind the brand, the person you’ll meet and speak to throughout your search and buying process.

You probably don’t know them all that well. In fact, other than an email address you probably don’t know very much about them at all. But despite the reputation, Estate Agents are normal people and it can pay dividends to make a little effort to get to know who you’re dealing with.

Buying a house is known to be one of the most stressful, expensive and absorbing things you’ll ever do. However, from start to finish, the experience can be made that little bit easier when you know your agent.

 

Relationships

if you’ve taken the time to explain to your agent your reasons for moving, your position and the type of property you’re looking for, they’ll be able to take that onboard and help you in your search. Rightmove is not the holy grail when it comes to seeing new listings, a good agent will be able to spot your dream home before it’s even listed! It takes time to get photos and marketing approved, meanwhile we’ve been talking to contacts that we have registered way before the listing comes on and sometimes properties can have offers on them before they even come to market. Having met you and heard what you’re looking for, often times we might know a property is perfect that you’ve overlooked – those sales make our day!

Its well understand people buy into a lifestyle. Most home owners end up selling to people in similar shoes to themselves when they first bought their home. A house in the catchment area for an outstanding primary school is likely to have been bought by a young family so naturally, in time, sold to a young family. One of the most common questions asked about a property is “What’s the vendors situation?” and “Who are the owners?”. However, it’s not just the buyers who want to know who they’re buying from, it can be of huge significance to a seller as to whom they’re selling to. Homeowners love their homes, they’re their pride and joy, they might adore their neighbours and as such have a genuine interest in seeing their buyers are going  to be good people. Who you are as a buyer can play a key role when negotiating an offer. Don’t forget, it’s likely you’ll never meet the homeowner so if your agent is able to paint a picture of you as buyers and to sell you not just for who you are, but also your position and your desire to buy the property, it certainly helps cement any offer and makes it feel real.

A long slog

In normal circumstances it takes 14-16 weeks from having your offer accepted to the day of completion. It can be quicker and it can be slower, but one things for sure, there is a whole host of things that can add delay and create stress throughout the process. Worst of all, it might not be anything to do with your purchase, it could be somewhere else in the pesky chain – out of your control and your sellers control. This is what agents call the ‘progression stage’ and we find it just as stressful as you do. This might not feel like a time period in which knowing your agent has any relevance to the process whatsoever and if your sale goes through without a hitch, then you’re probably right. However, if there are any hiccups along the way, having the support and a relationship with your agent and being able to speak to a calming, open and trustworthy voice at the end of the line can make all the difference.

Buying a house is likely to be a stressful time but in all walks of life relationship building can ease the pain and be the difference between a bad buying experience or a great one.

article by David Vincent, Catford Branch

Stanfords – Sales & Lettings

That first mortgage. Madness or maturity

To some, owning a property is the most exciting and important purchase of their life, to others, it’s a route of endless repairs bills and lifelong debt. But are the negatives of taking on a mortgage really enough to keep you in paying rent if you have the option?

“Stay in rented, let your landlord pick up the repairs bills”

A comment an old friend of mine once said to me when I questioned his reasoning for not wanting to buy a house, and something I’ve heard from a good number of people over the years. Sure, not needing to worry if you have the spare money to hand when the boiler goes bang is a luxury we would all rather have than not, but is that really a good enough reason?

The freedom to move to something new when you fancy a change and in a lot of cases, rent a property that you may not otherwise be able to afford, are both huge positives of renting. Having a mortgage is a huge responsibility and for some, being tied down can be very limiting, especially if you live life on a whim. London house prices have also been increasing rapidly over the last few years so the desire to live in a house that may be beyond your budget is certainly appealing – although as the old adage goes, cheaper is not always better.

“Stop paying someone else’s mortgage off and get on the ladder”

The opposing view and one almost everyone in the housing industry would likely agree with. Whilst renting is the only route for the vast majority of the population, the thought of optionally paying rent rather buying your own home can be a tough one for people to get their heads around.

The big worry we often see from first-time buyers is when there’s a lack of confidence in the housing market; if the papers aren’t reporting house price surges, they don’t want to buy and risk losing their life savings. Most of this stems from the idea that property is worth buying because house prices always go up, so if prices aren’t increasing, then surely buying is a bad idea, right? What most first-time buyers fail to see is that renting a property is a guaranteed, surefire way to lose money. The rent they pay to a landlord is never coming back, whereas if they had owned property, that property could be worth the same money in 2 years’ time, and even if it does fall by a few % that lose would be offset against the mortgage paid off as opposed to rent paid out that’s gone forever.

To put this into perspective, the average rental runs for 2 years, which is also the most common fixed period a first time buyer may go for on their mortgage. During these 2 years, and assuming a rental of £1,200pcm for a 1 bedroom flat, you would be paying just under £30,000 in rent – that’s £30,000 into your landlords pocket and in most cases, off their mortgage.

Over the same 2-year period, let’s say you bought that same 1 bed for £300,000, a mortgage will be around £1,100 a month if we factor an average deposit size and typical mortgage rate. Over that same period of paying £30,000 to your landlord, you would be paying just short of £28,000 towards your own mortgage. OK, not all of that is money off the mortgage as the interest is obviously lost money, but you would be chipping away at your own mortgage rather than your landlords. Money off your mortgage is money in the bank when you come to sell so even if the property was worth the same money when you come to sell, it’s been one big saving pot and you’re laying down the roots for your future.

Last word

If you want the freedom of moving around and going travelling around the world, owning property may not be for you. However, if you wanting to start building for the future and have a job that will keep you in one place for the foreseeable, I would really suggest that you stop chipping away at your landlords mortgage and get your own. Who knows, in years to come maybe you could be a landlord and could have someone paying off your mortgage for you.

 

“ Written by Alex Gilbert, Hither Green”

Stanford Estates

Don’t Panic, we’re here to help!

The first time I heard the words Japanese Knotweed, I expected Robin Williams to jump out the wardrobe and scream Jumanji!

Who would have thought that this innocent looking plant could cause so much grief around the purchase of a house… I mean, the thing wasn’t even a foot tall!

A similar event occurred upon reading my first damp report – I turned up to my next viewing with wellies and rain jacket in the boot, expecting the River Thames to be flowing down the stairs.

Fear Factor

These are a couple of the many ‘red flags’ that will be  listed on a home buyers report and can be absolutely terrifying to a First Time Buyer. The first time a buyer sent me their survey report, I was terrified for them and wondered why the boss hadn’t made me wear a hard hat to the viewings and I was the one selling the home! But jumping ship straight away could result in more of the same from the next property you get surveyed. So its important to take a step back and a deep breath.

Realistically…is the house going to fall down? Probably not… (and its insured right?!)

Can everything be resolved? Most likely, just needs to be stripped down to its basics

Should you read through your home buyers report more than once…. absolutely! If you get a chance read through a friends too, when you aren’t emotionally involved in their purchase it might give you a level of perspective you need in your own circumstances.

We do our best to establish some balance on the frightening wording and confusing jargon with the daunting issues that are always raised when purchasing a home which, without advice – can leave you feeling like the house you are buying is doomed! (don’t worry, it probably isn’t!)

Buying your first home will be one of the biggest and most important decisions in your life, you want it to be be fun and exciting – unfortunately, it is likely to be arduous and frustrating. Being properly prepared can make a big difference to a potentially very stressful experience.

From the moment you receive the phone call from the estate agent letting you know your offer has been accepted, the 3-month journey (roughly) begins, which will no doubt have its ups and downs and inevitable stresses, which is why it is important to have support along the way to guide you through the process. A common misconception is made that the estate agent is only interested in supporting the vendor given they pay the fee; in reality the buyer is also legally ‘the client’ and therefore should receive the same genuine support, advice and attention throughout. So use your agent, the good ones have amassed experience and knowledge that should provide a helping hand throughout the transaction.

Solicitors and Surveyors

Involved to protect you, but will protect themselves just as much if not more.

I never realised before working in the industry how important it is to instruct the right solicitor – now don’t get me wrong, like every industry, you will have certain solicitors who differ in cost for their services – I would always recommend speaking with family or friends before instructing someone to figure out who is going to be the right fit for you, rather than a quick google search to find the cheapest option!.

If all else fails, ask your agent! (Remember, we’re here to help you!) given the fact we deal with solicitors on a daily basis; the likelihood is your agent will be able to pass over a few recommendations who can really make the difference in having a successful and smooth process and also taking the stress away from you as the buyer.

I often get asked from clients ‘’should I get a survey’? and the answer often differs based on the scenario – for example, If my buyer was asking if they should have a full structural survey on a new build flat, it was be more inclined to recommend they save their money for obvious reasons! however, I do recommend  getting at least a home buyers survey as this will provide some detailed answers around the bones of the property and can sometimes offer recommendations on a few things that may need further inspections.

Reading a survey report for the first time can leave a buyer terrified! I remember the first phone call I had with a buyer who had just received her report and she honestly thought the house was going to fall down! In reality, the issues raised were relatively common  – So I like to make sure that I pre- warn buyers of a few common areas which may flag up,  for example, ‘area is known for subsidence’ – given the fact the majority of buildings in London are built on clay, this is something we cannot get away from and I’d recommend looking outside of London if this is of major concern!. Another one that’s quite common is finding some elements of damp in period homes -. My biggest recommendation to first time buyers is to contact the surveyor after reading through the report as quite often, the reports can be worded in ways which can be confusing; Having the surveyor break this down over the phone can be helpful.

To summarise, every step along the way of buying your first property is a journey into the unknown, but with the trusted help of friends, family, surveyors, agents, solicitors etc – most things are very much solvable (most of the time!) so use them to your advantage and remember, don’t panic, just talk.

 

“Article by Jay Scally, Forest Hill.”

Stanfords