About to be a First Time Parent like Meghan and Harry? 5 tips for Baby-Proofing your Home

From stair gates to non-slip mats and locking the oven, there's lots you can do to make your home more baby-friendly.

baby proofing your home

One can only imagine the challenges involved in baby-proofing a royal residence. Fitting stairwells with the world’s widest baby gates; locking down toilet seats in 78 separate bathrooms – well, Buckingham Palace has 78, but the Duke and Duchess of Sussex won’t have quite that many to contend with, when they take their baby back to their new home in Windsor.

baby proofing your home

Still, whether you’re a royal or a regular Joe, baby-proofing your home for new arrivals can be a pretty big task. Your little prince or princess might spend all day, every day snoozing at first – but they’ll soon hit curious mode, wanting to clamber on, poke and explore everything possible.

“More than a million children are taken to hospital every year in the UK because of accidents in the home,” says Lorna Marsh, senior editor and parenting expert at BabyCentre. “Falls are the most common accidents, and you need to minimise hazards before your baby starts crawling.”

So where to start? Here are five tips for ensuring your home is a baby-friendly zone…

baby proofing your home

1. Prepare early

A couple of points to note up front: First of all, no amount of baby-proofing can substitute for watchful supervision, so don’t let gadgets lull you into a false sense of security. Many a baby gate has been scaled by an enterprising infant, and some youngsters make a habit of turning up in unexpected places.

Secondly, it’s never too early to start thinking about baby-proofing. Young children tend to grow alarmingly quickly and by the time they’re crawling, you want to be confident with your new safety features. Getting the job done is much simpler when you’re not knee-deep in nappies and battling sleepless nights, so it’s a good idea all round to prepare early.

Before you begin, it’s worth getting on your hands and knees to get a child’s eye view of your home. Are there any edges or corners that look threatening, or furniture that’s invitingly climbable? Silly though it may sound, this is a worthy way to identify potential trouble spots before your child starts to explore.

baby proofing your home

2. Consider how things look from toddler height

Start with the big stuff. Any furniture that can topple (bookcases, we’re looking at you), should be fastened to the wall securely with furniture straps or brackets, while tall, unstable lamps should ideally be removed. Attach cushioned corner protectors to desks and coffee tables to avoid painful bumps and bangs.

“A new arrival means you’ll see your home in a whole new light,” says Marsh. “Things that you took no notice of before suddenly become a potential danger.” Cupboards should be sorted into safe and not-safe, and the latter latched with baby locks.

There are some obvious things to keep out of reach – knives, medicines, cleaning products and so on – but even apparently innocuous items can represent a risk if not considered carefully. House plants, for example, can be poisonous if nibbled on, and even the harmless ones are often potted in earth or dirt that might look appetising to a curious bub.

Beware the chest of drawers – you may think it’s a safe place for your unsecured television to sit on, but adventurous children use drawers for climbing practice, and anything heavy on top can topple off, potentially ending in serious trauma.

baby proofing your home

3. Make stairs and windows safe

If there are stairs in your home, baby gates are essential – consider installing one at the top and bottom of the stairs. It only takes a second for a littl’un to scale a set of steps!

Window blind cords can be particularly dangerous for children and must never be overlooked. “Replace corded window blinds with cordless ones,” says Marsh, “and put stickers on glass doors to make them visible to your child. Fit window locks, and never open them wide enough for a crawling baby to get out.”

Electrical cables represent trip, choke and entanglement hazards for small children, so use cord holders to fasten them to the walls.

baby proofing your home

4. Check every room

Once you’ve dealt with the basics, give your whole house a systematic sweep. Different dwellings pose different dangers, and the only way to know that you’ve got everything is to take a proper stock-check yourself.

The bathroom is one of the most perilous places for a tot who’s just finding their feet. An infant can drown in just 5cm of water, so invest in a baby bath seat and never, ever leave a bathing baby unsupervised. Toilet seat locks are a must too, and you can prevent scalding by adding soft covers on bath taps and spouts. Wobbly babies and slippery surfaces don’t mix, so put down some non-slip mats in tiled areas.

The kitchen is also high on the danger-o-meter. Avoid place mats and tablecloths on dining tables (an inquisitive child will tug on them, and bring the table’s contents crashing down), and make sure your oven is always safely locked, with covers on anything likely to get hot to the touch.

Sitting rooms can be deceptively hazardous, especially those with fireplaces. “Fit smoke alarms and keep a fire extinguisher nearby if you have a fireplace,” says Marsh. “By law, you must have a fireguard, and keep matches and lighters out of your child’s reach.

“In the bedroom, make sure your baby’s cot or Moses basket is sleep-safe,” she adds. “And, if you have a cat, put a cat net over [the baby’s bed].”

baby proofing your home

5. Think about how you’re using your home too

Making alternations is vital – but think about how you’re doing things around the home too. Is there a more child and baby-safe way to adapt everyday tasks?

For example, cook on the wall-side hobs if you have them (they’re further from reach!), and keep kitchen appliances away from children where possible. “Keep mugs of hot drinks away from edges,” adds Marsh. “And when cooking, make sure that the handles of saucepans are turned away from the edge.”

Be sure to unplug appliances like irons (we should all be doing this anyway!), and remember that visitors to your home may not be holding their habits to the same standards.

Be careful what you throw away too, as some babies are relentless scavengers. “Old batteries, plastic bags and sharp objects should be discarded safely,” says Marsh. Toys like Lego are well-established choking hazards, and the same goes for items like marbles, coins and paperclips.

“Keep plastic bags, including nappy bags, well out of reach of your child,” she adds, “and make sure pens, scissors, letter openers, staplers and other sharp instruments are kept in locked drawers.”

Even when they’re clear of all apparent danger, crawling children are still wiping their mitts on the floor, so it’s important to keep a hygienic home too. If you don’t already, enforce a no-shoes policy inside the house, and clean regularly to keep your surfaces germ-free (you don’t need a gleaming show home, of course – we’re just talking about getting the important basics done).

Tenant Fees Act (2019): An overview

The Tenant Fees Act will come into force on 1st June 2019. At the centre of the new law is a ban on all tenant fees, including agency and any third party fees.

tenant fee act 2019

The guidelines from the government will come soon, but here’s what we know so far about the Tenant Fees Act (2019).

What does the Act comprise of?

Here are the key parts of the Act:

tenant fee act 2019

All Payments Are Prohibited Except Rent, Utility Bills, Deposits (and 2 Exceptions)

Tenants will no longer be responsible for any costs except: the rent, the tenancy deposit and a holding deposit (more on these below).

This means it is no longer possible to ask tenants to cover the cost of their own referencing. Tenants will not be able to be charged for check-in, inventory or set up fees. These fees will be deemed prohibited by law

The only two exceptions are two forms of ‘default’ fee. These fees are chargeable during the tenancy in the following circumstances, provided the relevant clauses are written into the tenancy agreement.   

a) Late Rent Fees

Fees will be charged for rent payments that are over 2 weeks late. The fees can be up to 3% over the prevailing Bank of England base interest rate. Because this is an annual interest rate, the amount will need to be calculated for the pro rata interest accrued on the outstanding rent.

For example:

The tenant is 30 days late for one £1,500 rent payment.

The base rate of interest is currently 0.75%, therefore the amount the tenant can be charged for is the outstanding rent plus a fee of 3.75% of outstanding rent, pro rata for the 30 days. (3.75% of £1,500 is £56.25.) 30 days is 30/365 of the yearly rate. Therefore, the pro rata amount is calculated by multiplying £56.25 by 30/365, which is £4.62.

Landlords will of course still be able to serve Section 8 notices for late payment of rent provided the rent is 2 months or more in arrears.

(b) Lost Keys

Tenants can be charged for losing their keys (or other security device) but the charge must be a reasonable amount for which evidence must be provided.

Both default fees will need to be included in the tenancy agreement to be able to charge them, and previous rules about fair clauses will still apply.

It has also been advised that landlords shall be able to charge up to £50 for a change of tenant, and with regards to an early surrender request by a tenant, a landlord shall be able to charge the tenant for the remaining unexpected void period.

tenant fee act 2019

Cap on Tenancy Deposits

The amount of security deposit that can be requested is being reduced to 5 weeks for AST’s (Assured Shorthold Tenancies) and licences where the rent per annum is up to £50,000, and up to 6 weeks for those tenancies over £50,000 in rent per annum.

This applies to all tenancies regardless of the reason a higher deposit was taken previously. (ie: if there was poor credit etc.)

The ability to request a higher deposit due to the applicant having a pet has also been removed, however, if landlords will consider a pet, when marketing the property, it can be advertised at 2 rental amounts (ie: £1,500 p.c.m. or £1,550 p.c.m. with 1 x pet)

tenant fee act 2019

Cap and New Rules on Holding Deposits

Holding deposits will be limited to one week’s rent.

The holding deposit can only be held for 15 calendar days unless another ‘deadline’ date is agree in writing subsequently by both parties.

After the deadline, the holding deposit must be repaid within 7 days.

The holding deposit must be returned to the tenant via a refund or by being put towards the first rental payment if agreed in writing.

There are some exceptions. In these cases the holding deposit shall be forfeited  but a reason must be given in writing to the tenant within 7 days:

  • The tenant withdraws
  • The tenant doesn’t take all reasonable steps to enter the tenancy in the required time
  • The tenant fails a right to rent check
  • The tenant provides misleading information which materially affects their suitability to rent the property
tenant fee act 2019

What Are the Penalties to Landlords Who Charge Tenant Fees?

Any person,  landlord (or agents) or any third parties who charge fees to Tenants could face paying huge fines.

The first offence would be a civil offence, with a fine of £5,000.

If the offence is repeated within five years, this would be deemed a criminal offence and levies a fine up to £30,000.

Local Trading Standards organisations will enforce the ban.

Hoping to sell your home? 11 Value-slashing pitfalls to avoid

Ahead of the spring selling season, an industry expert outlines some common 'blunders' that could put off potential buyers. By Vicky Shaw.

With the spring house-selling season around the corner, many home owners eyeing a move in 2019 may already be sprucing up their properties to get them ready for market.

But while moving can be an exciting time, estate agents warn that it’s easy to make blunders while trying to sell, which could potentially knock value off your property – and some of these may be quite surprising.

Mark Bentley, president of NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) Propertymark, cautions: “Sometimes the improvements and changes you have made might make the property less attractive to buyers. So before you start marketing your home, it’s worth taking stock and making any necessary alterations, to give you the best chance of securing your asking price.”

For those in two minds about making changes, he suggests: “You can ask friends or family for their honest opinions, or your estate agents can help advise on any small changes you may want to make before placing your home on the market.”

Of course, the extent to which something would add or take away value from a home can vary, depending on factors such as individual circumstances and local market conditions.

With that in mind, here are some of the key factors that NAEA Propertymark members have experienced as having a negative impact on a property’s value…

Phil Spencer home buyer questions

1. Over-personalisation

People’s homes suit their personalities. But if you like your decor big and bold, it may be worth toning it down a bit – unless you can find a buyer who has similar taste. Typically, modestly-decorated homes are most desirable, as home owners can easily see how they could make it their home.

2. Property condition

Tell-tale indications of damp, cracks on walls, a poor roof condition, an old boiler, and single-glazed windows can all impact on the value of a property – and interest from buyers.

extension-property-hampshire-diy-renovation

3. Bad presentation

Show off your home at its best. Everything should be clean, clutter tidied away, and any outstanding DIY jobs should be finished. If a home smells fresh and clean, it has a much greater chance of selling quickly.

4. Swimming pools

They may be great fun in the summer, but swimming pools in the UK can put some potential buyers off – although others may be wowed. As well as the issue of maintenance, pools take up space, and some buyers may see them as a hassle.

If a property has an outside swimming pool that is run down, owners might want to consider filling it in. But if it’s great condition, then selling the home in the summer could show the pool off at its best.

tips for selling your home

5. Not having the right paperwork

If you have had work carried out while living in the property, such as extensions or conversions, make sure you obtained appropriate planning permission and building regulations, and have access to these documents. If you haven’t got the right documents, you may have to pay for them retrospectively before agreeing a sale.

6. Darkened rooms

If you’ve planted lots of bushes and trees close to the windows, your home may appear gloomy to buyers. Frosted glass windows or netted curtains can also sometimes have the same effect.

property interior

7. Japanese knotweed

If you think you can see any in your garden, call a professional to excavate is as soon as possible.

8. Clutter

Clean each room from top to bottom, paying special attention to ‘high-impact’ rooms, such as the kitchen and bathroom. Things like too much furniture, children’s toys and unused gym equipment can make your property feel smaller.

tips for selling your home

9. Dated fixtures and fittings

Kitchens are often the focus for buyers, so it’s important they don’t look too outdated. Painting kitchens and replacing cupboard handles and old taps can be a cost-effective way of getting kitchens up-to-date.

10. Over-improving

As well as not doing enough, you can do too much. For example, putting fake grass in the garden may have benefited your sporty family but it may not appeal to buyers who love the smell of a freshly-cut lawn. Keep improvements simple.

11. Not being energy-efficient

A home’s energy performance has become increasingly important, so if your home needs an energy efficiency boost, consider steps to make it happen, such as installing double glazing.

sold board

To discover more about the local market and how your home could thrive with the assistance of McCarthy Holden, contact your local branch:
Estate Agents Fleet, Estate Agents Hartley Wintney, Estate Agents Odiham.

House Buyers Ignore Brexit in January

house buyers ignore brexit image

With the first month of 2019 trading behind us, it appears that despite the chaos in the Palace of Westminster around Brexit, house buyers are simply getting on with making decisions around matters of day to day life, which are the drivers for a house move.

All of the McCarthy Holden branches experienced an uptake of buyer interest in January and the McCarthy Holden web site enquiry hits were up on the January 2018.

Whilst it is too early to comment on the market direction for 2019, it nevertheless appears that house buying decisions are mostly made by very localised factors such as schooling, access to work and general employment levels and family situations ranging from the three D’s (death, divorce and debt) through to the three N’s (new job, new baby, new beginnings).

high levels of house sales image

Amongst the Estate Agents in Fleet, our own branch had a particularly productive January with, witnessed by events such as £3.4m. worth of residential property sales exchanging contracts in just one 24 hour period.

As we said in our 2018 / 2019 market review, who knows, there might well be some pleasing outcomes to report at the end of 2019.

So, if you are considering a move this year, now is a great time to get ahead of the competition by calling one of our property experts for a free, no obligation, advice on how is best to market your home.

Pantone Colour Of The Year 15 Ways To Add A Splash Of Coral At Home

wisteria trees wall paper

With Living Coral set to make make waves across decor trends throughout 2019, Sam Wylie-Harris reveals the sunny-hued finds to shop now.

If you’re hankering after some winter sun and desperate to get your glow on without having to leave home, Pantone’s new Colour of the Year – Living Coral – could be the next best thing to basking in some natural warmth.

A gorgeously rich coral hue with a golden undertone, we can’t think of a better way to welcome in 2019 than by brightening up the home with this happy, sunny shade.

Every year, design company Pantone look at the latest trends influencing our lives, before revealing the shade taking top spot. The colour experts cite Living Coral as a release from digital technology and social media, and a nod of recognition towards our increasing concern over environmental issues, the energising aspects of colour found in nature, and our desire for playful expression. All sounds good to us.

To celebrate everything coral without having to be ‘sur la plage’, we’ve rounded up the latest must-have decos and homewares inspired by 2019’s hottest shade…

Monkey Table Lamp
MW by Matthew Williamson Monkey Resin Table Light, £85, Debenhams (available late February). Attention-seeking and showy, if you can't resist a little bit of monkey business and thoughts of far-flung places, this designer lampshade will steal the spotlight very nicely.
wisteria trees wall paper
Wisteria in Coral Floral Wallpaper, £120 per roll, Woodchip & Magnolia (sofa and floor lamp, stylist's own) Woody wisteria trees may charm us with their violet flowers, but why settle for the usual purple petals when you can adorn the walls in climbing coral?
Seafern Wallpaper
Cole & Son Seafern Wallpaper - Coral 107/2011, £85 per roll, John Lewis Or for something closer to the real deal, this classic design inspired by botanical prints from the late 1700s delves beneath the sea to illustrate living species of coral (although more allusive), such as Staghorn and Ivory Tree.
Embroidered Velvet Palm Tree Cushion
Embroidered Velvet Palm Tree Cushion, £46, Audenza To evoke memories of tropical holidays and palm-fringed beaches, this luxe velvet cushion with its gold palm tree motif has a timeless allure
Unity Cane Wall Mirror
Unity Cane Wall Mirror, currently reduced to £95 from £145, Oliver Bonas To mirror our fascination with tribal art, this brass frame has been wrapped in woven red raffia inspired by West African celebratory masks. To make a real statement, hang one either side of a dresser or wide chest of drawers.
Orange Coral Table Lamp with Linen Shade
Orange Coral Table Lamp with Linen Shade, £125, Graham & Green An attractive objet d'art you'd expect to see in a swank retreat by the sea, the exotic coral base and pristine white shade channels beauty while also being functional. Style it with some collectible seashells for maximum impact.
Clarissa Hulse Filix Bed Linen
Clarissa Hulse Filix Bed Linen - Coral Ombre, from £19-£125, Lambswool Throw - Coral Ombre, £150, Clarissa Hulse Rise and shine... Nothing spells sassy like a burst of burnt orange, dazzling coral and a splash of lemony yellow in a bright sunrise, ombre effect. Enriched with fabulous feather fern motifs and styled with a luxurious, fringed throw, these sateen sheets are a wake-up call to wonderfulness.
Debenhams Cosmo Painterly Bud Vase
Debenhams Cosmo Painterly Bud Vase, £15, Debenhams (available late February) This bowl-shaped vase adds a fresh dimension to the colour by picking up the golden accents and adding interest with some conch pearly pink and a wash of pebble stone grey.
Bird by Toikka Red Cardinal
Oiva Toikka Bird by Toikka Red Cardinal, £282 (130 x 200mm), iittala A flight of fancy - but if you don't have to penny-pinch, this striking songbird makes a lasting impression. According to mythology, cardinals are spiritual messengers and a sighting brings good fortune, making this a deco 'defo' worth the outlay

Latest Property Event Kick Starts 2019

Whilst it is undoubtedly too early to comment on the market for 2019, at McCarthy Holden we felt it was worth letting you know that the usual seasonal spike in online activity in the run up to New year followed that of previous years.

Based at our Fleet Estate Agents branch, Associate Director Ben Murphy witnessed the success of our Boxing Day Live, with 18 new properties entering the market for sale and a further 9 properties all reduced in price.

According to data from Rightmove.co.uk, 25,147,701 properties were viewed on Boxing Day alone with activity still strong leading up to New Years Day.

“During the Christmas / New Year period we opened our doors for trading and secured 18 viewings, 5 valuations and two instructions.

Off-street activity was also high with new buyers registering looking for property. Not a bad result in 12 hours work” Comments Ben Murphy.

“Opening our door again yesterday saw activity at a good level, with this weekend filling up with viewings on a wide range of property. “

“Clients tend to think marketing before Spring is wrong but there are some fantastic advantages to marketing before the daffodils blossom. This is because there is usually less competition and therefore clients can hope to achieve a good price for their property. Furthermore, people tend to spend more time at home over the Christmas/winter period and begin to feel their home may be too small/too big and look into moving.”

So, if you are considering a move this year, now is a great time to get ahead of the competition by calling one of our property experts for free, no obligation, advice on how is best to market your home.
Contact one of our branches:
Estate agents in Fleet
Estate agents in Hartley Wintney
Estate agents in Odiham

Ben Murphy photo
Ben Murphy - Associate Director

Sell Or Add Value To Your Home? Phil Spencer Shares Some Top Tips

Phil Spencer photo

Whether you’re thinking longer term or considering putting your property on the market soon, TV’s Phil Spencer has some advice. By Vicky Shaw.

Here, TV property expert Phil Spencer, shares his insight into current housing trends, as well as the property pitfalls to watch out for…

“I’ve been involved in the housing market for over 25 years and, as with all things, there are trends. There are elements of fashion and, as with clothing, fashion changes, so be careful of that and don’t go too far out on a limb.

“There was a trend for open plan and generally opening things out, but I’d say that’s changing again.

“More en-suite bathrooms have been prioritised recently. They take up more space and don’t always add huge amounts of value when re-selling, so it will be interesting to see if this lasts. Pantries and larders are also on the up, as we crave more and more space.”

sold board

What do home owners need to be mindful of when thinking about making improvements – are there pitfalls to watch out for?

“Simply put – bad DIY. It’s obvious when somethings been done cheaply, we should all be mindful of that. You also need to be realistic with the space you’ve got. Every property has a ceiling price and as long as you’re aware of that, then you’re good.

“I would say you need to be consistent. I’ve seen expensive bathrooms in cheap houses and it can look very out of place. Always match the price bracket of fittings to that of the house.

“Also, not to make things too personal to you and your taste and lifestyle. If you’re doing it for you, great, but if you want to re-sell be careful. You always need to appeal to the largest possible denominator – there is a reason people use magnolia!”

What should home owners bear in mind when considering whether to move or improve?

Forexpert advice on your property valuation and top selling tips, go the McCarthy Holden home page and click on valuation, for a free no obligation property appraisal.

Ask An Expert: Why Is My Toddler More Interested In The Christmas Packaging?

A psychologist tells Lisa Salmon why children often like the box more than the toy.

My two-year-old son plays with the Christmas boxes and wrapping paper more than his presents. Why does he love the packaging so much?

Dr Shona Goodall, a clinical psychologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital who has appeared on Channel 4’s Secret Life of 4 Year Olds, says: “Many of us have spent a small fortune on Christmas presents only for our toddlers to seemingly push them aside in favour of the cardboard boxes or wrapping. But Christmas packaging has more benefits for children than you might realise.

“Children of this age tend to take a great deal of interest in packaging at Christmas because removing it is often the first thing we encourage them to do. The sensory sound of the ripping noise is a quick win for them to master – it improves their hand-eye coordination and strengthens their finger pincer grip.

Childe in Christmas box

“Free (but safely supervised) play with packaging therefore offers a blank canvas to explore what they can do with the paper and boxes at their developmental stage and get creative and learn, without fear of getting it wrong.

“Playing with packaging can have other beneficial effects on their development too – it can help your son instigate positive behaviours like recycling.

“Young children love to copy at this age – you might have noticed your son will often look at you right before he’s about to do something. Caregivers attune to their child’s responses and assist them to make sense of the world, and research has shown praise will positively reinforce them to do it again.

Child in cardboard box

“By encouraging the behaviour you want to see more of, such as putting something in the bin or recycling, you can lay a fantastic foundation upon which to teach him about sustainability. That’s your chance to chat through some of the materials being played with to educate him about where they come from and where they could go next.

“So, playing with packaging will not only aid your son’s development, but also sow the seeds for him to learn all about recycling and sustainability for both your children and future generations”

For more on cardboard packaging, visit Beyond the Box

Dr Shona Goodall
Dr Shona Goodall - Interveiwed by Lisa Salmon, Press Association

The unknown, or a property market that bucks the Brexit fears?

estate agent sold board

The Market 2018

Let us start with 2018, which was peppered with challenging market conditions for residential property sales.

Because our trading year runs January to December we can report on the full picture for 2018, which may indicate the direction of travel for 2019.

Surprisingly, some branch productivity levels for house sale revenue was at or above 2017 levels, especially in the village locations. That outcome however doesn’t for one moment disguise the fact that during the first half of 2018 we saw one of the poorest levels of house sale transactions for some time, however, buyer positivity surfaced in the summer and remained reasonable through to December despite the increased chaos around Brexit.

When we say house sales were up in the second half of 2018, we are talking about house sale volumes not prices. Large house price gains are gone for a while, but like all markets when they rebound from a low they come back with a sharp and fast uptake.

The rental market performed extremely well in 2018, with a notable uplift in activity for high end rentals outside of London, especially in our core area of operation on the Berkshire / Hampshire borders.

Properties taken to the rental market in the £7,000 to £10,000 p.c.m. sector frequently saw rental offers from multiple tenants. This was driven by high end house buyers deciding to pop into a property rental for the next year or so, using some of the stamp duty funds they would have allocated on a property purchase around £2.0m. or £3.0m., and then wait and see how property values shape up post Brexit.

house let
High end rental activity compensated for house sales

One certainty

One thing that is certain, is that uncertainty impacts on the property market especially around the times of a General Election or a Referendum. How this uncertainty works its way into tangible outcomes for 2019 is not straightforward and varies in different house price sectors of the property market.

In the short term, house buyers generally will be more cautious and slower in their decision making. This doesn’t mean house prices will fall, because buyer demand remains steady and employment levels are excellent. There is the prospect of a flat market in respect of property prices, however, discerning house buyers are seeing the current market conditions as an opportunity to move whilst prices remain static. House sellers will sell successfully in the 2019 market, but they can’t expect a fancy or inflated price and must engage with the reality that over pricing will fail in a market where buyers are cautious.

Different sectors, different outcomes in 2019

Different market sectors will have different outcomes in the forthcoming months ahead. Buying decisions on property sales from around £250,000 to £1.5m. are mostly made by very localised factors such as schooling, access to work, general employment levels and family situations ranging from the three D’s (death, divorce and debt) through to the three N’s (new job, new baby, new beginnings). Decisions around such matters of day to day life will continue to be made by house buyers against the backdrop of political uncertainty, so house sales will be maintained at the current level with price sensitivity being the watchword.

Further up the property price sector, and especially in the £2.0m. to £6.0m range house buyers will be more influenced by global and political factors so we could see further negative price impacts in this sector. Savvy top end buyers are playing a waiting game, but they are there on our books and will respond to excellent marketing and a competitive price strategy.

House sellers and buyers should approach 2019 with realistic expectations, engaging positively with the new beginnings for the country and house moving opportunities and, who knows, there might well be some pleasing outcomes to report at the end of 2019.

We wish you a happy Christmas and the very best for 2019.

 

John Holden – Chairman and Managing Director McCarty Holden

POST BREXIT IMAGE LEAP

Boxing Day due to be the next big property search event

boxing day go image

According to Rightmove there was a 200% spike in traffic between Boxing Day and 2nd January in 2018, suggesting an uplift in house buyer searches online on Boxing Day. This  is why McCarthy Holden are offering a special incentive to join the next big event in property.

Boxing Day Go Event

During November and December all a would-be house seller has to do is instruct McCarthy Holden to offer their property for sale from Boxing Day.

You can indulge in all of the traditional Boxing Day activities, happy in the knowledge that house buyers are tapping on mobile devices searching for the right property and, who knows, your house could be top of their list for viewing in the New Year.

Many of our clients have already asked to go live on the Boxing Day Go property launch, so if you are contemplating a house move in 2019 then go to our home page and click on valuation, for a free property appraisal and discover the benefits of being part of the no sale no fee and no obligation Boxing Day Go property event.

House of Horrors at number 10 so what next for the house market

image of Mrs May behind doors

High drama and high stakes on the political and Brexit front have set the scene for more uncertainty, so how will this impact on the domestic residential property market?

With the imminent prospect of a challenge to Theresa May’s leadership, the resignation of Cabinet ministers including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, seemingly no prospect of the draft Brexit agreement being passed by Parliament and the increased likelihood of a harder Brexit, there is now in place a wide range of serious uncertainty factors rarely seen conspiring at around the same time. Furthermore, with Mrs Mays party in revolt and many of her colleagues departing we don’t know yet, if a General Election is also around the corner.

One certainty

One thing that is certain, is that uncertainty impacts on the property market especially around the times of a General Election or a Referendum. How this uncertainty works its way into tangible outcomes is not straightforward and varies in different house price sectors of the property market.

In the short term, house buyers generally will be more cautious and slower in their decision making, and the impact on prices will mean large house price gains are gone for a while. This doesn’t mean house prices will fall, because buyer demand remains steady and employment levels are excellent. There is the prospect of a flat market in respect of price rises, however discerning house buyers are seeing the current market conditions as an opportunity to move whilst prices remain static. House sellers will sell successfully in today’s market, but they can’t expect a fancy or inflated price and must engage with the reality that over pricing will fail in a market where buyers are cautious.

Different sectors, different outcomes

Different market sectors will have different outcomes in the forthcoming months ahead. Buying decisions on property sales from around £250,000 to £1.5m. are mostly made by very localised factors such as schooling, access to work and general employment levels and family situations ranging from the three D’s (death, divorce and debt) through to the three N’s (new job, new baby, new beginnings). Decisions around such matters of day to day life will continue to be made by house buyers against the backdrop of political uncertainty, so house sales will be maintained at the current level with price sensitivity being the watchword.

Further up the property price sector, and especially in the £2.0m. to £6.0m range house buyers will be more influenced by global and political factors so we could see further negative price impacts in this sector. It’s perhaps no surprise that in 2018 we saw a significant uplift in house rentals in the £6,000 to £8,000 p.c.m. sector, driven by future potential house buyers who have decided to retreat into the luxury rental market and watch for when the top end house sales market starts to recover. Such recovery could be a year or so away, but one thing is for sure, all markets when they rebound from a low come back with a sharp and fast uptake. Savvy top end buyers know this and are playing a waiting game, or taking care of business now by buying at extremely competitive levels.

Respond with investment, no time for the faint hearted

Check out what McCarthy Holden are doing to maximise selling and letting opportunities for clients between Christmas and New Year. If you would like and up to date market no obligation valuation, go to our home page and click in valuation.

The Christmas and New Year 2019 magazine In The Country & Town

House hunting starts between Christmas and New Year

The Christmas and New Year 2019 magazine In The Country & Town

The time between Christmas and New Year is a time for people to relax, read magazines and it’s when people start house hunting. So having a property featured in the lifestyle and property magazine In The Country and Town, could be a smart move for house sellers and landlords alike.

Over Christmas and New Year people take time out to relax and indulge in the pleasure of reading magazines, so a special edition of In The Country and Town is being distributed over the festive season.

If you are thinking of selling or letting a property, this is the ideal opportunity to get the attention of buyers and kick start your plans to move house in early 2019.

A lifestyle and property magazine with reach

This leading lifestyle and property magazine reaches thousands of buyers, search agents and tenants from London to Beijing, all of whom will receive the ‘In The Country and Town’ magazine in time for Christmas and New Year 2019.

The Opportunity for house sellers to appear in this magazine, without obligation or cost unless the property is sold or let is a big appeal.

The real story of this successful magazine is that it brings new buyers to the market, many of whom are not actively in the market looking around agents or property portals, hence the reason we tag the magazine name with ‘Creating the inspiration to move.’

Does it work?

This quality magazine is showcasing wonderful content from stunning properties, to celebrity chefs and motoring features, great interior design, market insight, politics and gardening. So, does it work?

Thousands of copies of each issue are distributed by Royal Mail and many more by direct distribution. Looking back on previous issues, there are many examples of properties which were sold directly from this magazine, despite these properties already being on the open market on property portals such as Rightmove. So yes this old fashioned print marketing can work and in many cases outperformed the digital property portals such as Rightmove. Take a look at this example.

farm sold
The house above sold as a result of the successful buyer picking up a copy of the magazine in a railway carriage travelling from Waterloo to Fleet

How to advertise without obligation or cost

So in summary, if you are thinking of selling or renting a fine home then don’t just focus on digital marketing but in addition think about the role of quality print. Fortunately at McCarthy Holden we are leaders in digital and video marketing as well as professional print.

Without obligation or cost, unless McCarthy Holden sell or let your property, you can have your property promoted in our property magazine. You simply give McCarthy Holden the instruction to promote your property in the next issue of In The Country & Town and online also – all on a no sale no fee basis.

Then sit back and let the power of high-end professional print and digital marketing go to work.

The pages will be filled with property, features and advertising on a first come first serve basis, so contact your nearest McCarthy Holden branch for details and if required a free no obligation valuation.

Who knows, early 2019 could be a Happy New Year for some house vendors and landlords!

magazine photos

Rental Boost £7,000 to £10,000 p.c.m.

Uplift in activity for high end rentals outside of London

High end rental property

During 2018 there has been a notable uplift in activity for high end rentals outside of London, especially from our perspective on the Berkshire / Hampshire borders.

Recent properties taken to the rental market in the £7,000 to £10,000 p.c.m. sector have seen rental offers from multiple tenants, so what’s driving this demand?

With residential house sales sub £2.0m. seemingly trading well as we approach the close of 2018, the over £2.0m. sector is still on the quiet side, with a number of high end house buyers deciding to pop into a property rental for the next year or so, using the stamp duty funds they would have allocated on a property purchase around £2.0m. or more, to pay for the property rental instead of going into the Government coffers by way of stamp duty (about £154,000 at £2.0m. and £274,000 at £3.0m.).

Take the property shown above, which is a typical example of a fine home that recently went to the rental market and discovered interest and offers from multiple potential tenants.

The medium term outlook for top end rentals is positive, and for home owners selling in the £2.0m. to £5.0m. sector there could be good news post Brexit, because the level of hot buyers in rental property looking to exit and buy will be at a good level.

The news for house sellers is that you can and will sell successfully in today’s market, but don’t expect a fancy or inflated price.

Large house price gains are gone for a while, but like all markets when they rebound from a low they come back with a sharp and fast uptake. Savvy buyers know this and are taking care of business now. The hot houses sales market post Brexit could be the £2m. to £5m. sector. In the meantime home owners with such luxury property, in prime real estate areas such as Finchampstead in Berkshire, can take time out from selling and enjoy some extra dividends in the rental market.

If you would like to know more about the market for rental property in the £7,000 to £10,000 p.c.m. sector, do email Nicola Bremner nbremner@mccarthyholden.co.uk

Nicola Bremner Residential Lettings Director
Nicola Bremner M.A.R.L.A. - Director McCarthy Holden

Considering a village life for retirement? Look no further than Hartley Wintney

Voted ‘Best Place to Live’ for 5 consecutive years, Hartley Wintney is the jewel in the crown for village life, with an active community and easy connections for travelling.

For anyone looking for a place to retire, Hartley Wintney has to be worth further exploration..

duck pond in Hartley Wintney photo copyright John Joe Photography
Photo of Hartley Wintney duck pond - picture copyright John Joe Photography and Video Production

This oversized village features five greens, two delightful duck ponds, an attractive High Street lined with period buildings, mostly dating from the 18th and 19th centuries when Hartley Wintney grew as a coaching stop on the London Road (aka A30), plus a scattering of barns, cottages and farmhouses from the 17th century.

High Street in Hartley Wintney photo copyright John Joe Photography
Photo of Hartley Wintney high street - picture copyright John Joe Photography and Video Production

Over time, the High Street has developed into a highly browsable shopping destination with a selection of fashion and interiors boutiques, galleries and antique shops. The recent addition of William Dyers amazing delicatessen offering everything from luxury cuts to a frozen dinner party has completed the luxury treats.

From a more practical and useful side, the  Whitewater Health doctors surgery is tucked just off the High Street and the village also offers a dentist and opticians.

duck pond in Hartley Wintney photo copyright Alamy
Photo of Hartley Wintney cricket green - picture copyright John Joe Photography and Video Production

The community is incredibly active and offers something for everyone, from cinema nights and plays at the Victoria and Jubilee Hall to plant sales and crafting with the local Womens Institute to the highly regarded Hartley Wintney Golf Club tucked just off the end of the High Street. One of the main focus areas of the village is Hartley Wintney Cricket Club, with their pitch just behind the High Street and with the obligatory pub next door.

Culturally, Hartley Wintney offers unlikely musical experiences – ranging from the sublime to the ridiculously fun. The former is the highly regarded opera season at West Green House; an 18th century country house known worldwide for its gardens. The latter is Lowde Fest at Hazeley Bottom: 11 hours’ non-stop live, food market and funfair.

Hartley Wintney photo copyright John Joe Photography
Photo of Hartley Wintney - picture copyright John Joe Photography and Video Production

There are a number of purpose built retirement schemes, all within easy access to the High Street and amenities and at a range of price points and size to suit different needs. To find out more please call the Hartley Wintney office on 01252 842100 to find out more.

Phil Spencer shares 5 questions all buyers should ask when house hunting

As a survey reveals many buyers wish they'd known more about their property, TV's Phil Spencer shares his expert tips.

Phil Spencer home buyer questions

Buying a property can be a very lengthy process with lots of back and forth – but many buyers still end up wishing they’d found out just a few more crucial details before the deal was finalised.

California Shutters (californiashutters.co.uk) recently asked 1000 UK homeowners what they most wished they’d known about before purchasing their property: Competition for parking spaces came out tops (20%), followed by noisy neighbours (19%), high renovation costs (13%) and traffic noise (11%).

Oliver Robertson at California Shutters comments: “With all the challenges and decisions to be made when finding and choosing a new home, it’s easy to forget about the little things that will impact on your home life day to day. Whilst our survey shows most movers have a good awareness of problems like damp and pests prior to moving in to a new home, they can still be caught off guard by other things such as having to fight for parking spaces or deal with noise from next door or traffic from the road.”

Phil Spencer home buyer questions

A similar survey of first-time buyers, by My Home Move Conveyancing, found that the level of work needed on the property was the most common thing buyers wished they’d been better informed about. How much this work would cost came out second.

“Aside from the cost of moving, making first-time buyers aware of the practical decisions they need to make when buying their first home will give them a better chance of being able to play the ‘property game’ long-term and benefit from being a homeowner,” says My Home Move Conveyancing CEO, Doug Crawford. “Our advice, and the advice of people that have already learnt these lessons, is to consider questions such as whether the property will increase in value, whether expensive DIY work is needed or whether your mortgage arrangement is going to work long-term.”

TV property guru Phil Spencer, who recently launched the advice site for buyers MoveIQ, agrees that as well as the ‘big’ questions, the ‘small’ things should not be overlooked. “Buying a home is always a mixture of heart and head. Your first impression as you walk through the door is crucial to your decision, but so too are many other less obvious factors,” says Spencer.

“It’s essential that you do your homework, or you risk being blinded by emotion during the purchase. Even worse, you could end up with expensive problems down the line. Asking the right questions before, during or after that first viewing can make the difference between identifying the perfect home and having an unwanted surprise after you’ve committed to buying.”

Phil Spencer home buyer questions

So what questions should you be asking? Here, Spencer, who certainly knows a thing or two about house-hunting, shares his top five…

1. How long has the property been on the market?

“This should be one of your first questions,” says Spencer. “The average time it takes to sell a home in the UK is two to three months, according to the Government. So, if the property has been on the market for considerably longer, it may have an issue that is stopping it selling, beyond just being priced too highly. But you’ll need to get your detective hat on to find out what it is.

“One red flag to look out for would be if the current owners have lived there for an unusually short period of time. There is usually a reason behind a seller trying to get shot of a property after a short period. You’ll need to push the agent or sellers for clues: Is there a nuisance neighbour, what are crime levels like in the area, how busy are the roads and how much does the property cost to run (utility bills, council tax etc)?”

2. Is the property in a conservation area?

“If you are drawn to the history and charm of older homes, bear in mind that your scope for making changes to such a property could be severely limited,” says Spencer. “Specific rules about what you can and cannot do to the property will vary from local authority to local authority. Some may prohibit you from making changes to metal railings, windows, trees and even the colour of the front door. So, if your heart is set on a house with history but you’ve got an eye on modernisation, make sure to ask about anything that might block your plans.”

Phil Spencer checklist

3. Is the property a freehold or a leasehold?

“There are pros and cons to both freehold and leasehold properties. As a leaseholder, you will have to pay annual fees to the owner of the freehold, from ground rent to maintenance charges. These can fluctuate over time, so make sure that when you’re budgeting you factor in the possibility that ground rent will increase or maintenance charges could spike if the building needs major repairs,” says Spencer.

“By contrast, if you buy a freehold property there’s no ground rent to worry about, but you will be responsible for everything, including the roof and the maintenance of the structure. It’s important to get a detailed survey that will flag up any issues that need urgent – or expensive – repair.

4. Are there any pending planning applications that might impact me?

“This is a quick bit research you could carry out before actually viewing your prospective home. Nearly all local authorities have a planning portal on their website that allows you to view any previous or pending planning applications. If, for example, you were considering buying a home close to agricultural land, it might be a good idea to check whether the friendly farmer next door has just submitted a planning application for a new pig-rearing facility!”

5. Has the seller made any changes to the property?

“If changes have been made recently – especially structural ones – you need to know so you can ask the seller for any relevant documents, receipts or guarantee certificates. Equally if the seller has spent money doing the place up, they will have raised the asking price accordingly – so you need to make a judgement on whether the premium is justified. One other question I always ask a seller which can prove revealing is, ‘If you were staying, what other improvements would you make?'”