Now that wasn’t Expected!

Unexpected-property-activity

The first week of Estate Agents being allowed to conduct house viewings has been a real eye opener, with the level of buyer activity much higher than anticipated which hopefully bodes well for a quick bounce back in the house market.

No doubt there will be some readers who will think, well you would say that wouldn’t you, in the hope of pepping up the market, but I can counter any such thought with some hard facts and examples, so here are a few case notes from the first week back.

New House Eversley – Under offer in three days

This fine new home by Aspire was placed on the open market on Monday 18th May at a guide £1,125,000.

By Thursday 20th May a sale was agreed to a proceedable purchaser.

Country House Eversley – Emerging Buyer Interest around £2.0m. guide

We took this property to the market a few weeks before lockdown, so viewings went on hold during the lockdown period.

Yesterday we had multiple viewings at the house and two offers have already been submitted. This home is typical of the kind of property that will be sought after in the emerging market of house buyers leaving London and other major towns and cities for rural living.

Do you have a country house for sale? We have a waiting list of buyers looking right now.

Right now the short to medium term outlook is positive and the biggest demand is for rural / semi-rural properties in all price ranges, but especially in the £1.5m. to £6.0m. sector.

So if you live in a country house and are looking to sell, this summer could be the best time to go to market. If you would like a free and confidential market appraisal contact your nearest McCarthy Holden branch.

Fleet – On £750,000 guide

With marketing help by way of a vendor inspired video tour during lockdown, this stunning detached house has gone under offer.

Blue Triangle, Fleet – Exchanged on guide £1.5m.

In just over one acre in one of the most desirable roads in Fleet, this imposing property was built by the renowned local builder Pool & Son in the 1930’s.

Fitzroy-Road-sold-fleet McCarthy Holden estate agents

As we said in last week’s market update, the prospect of house sales in the short to medium term is relatively easy to judge, because we are working with house buyers and sellers alike every day, so their motivations and the drivers of the market conditions are there for us to interpret.

House Viewing Protocols Working Well

The new way of conducting house viewings is going well, with strict social distancing protocols and excellent co-operation from vendors and purchasers alike.

Some of the social distancing protocols include the following.

• Only one viewer can be present at a time, no children will be allowed in a property (this is because avoiding the touching of surfaces is difficult with young children).
• The owner/tenant will leave property for the viewing.
• We will supply the viewer with disposable gloves and mask, subject to our supply allowing for this.
• The viewers will be allowed to walk around and asked not to touch anything.
• In order to maintain social distancing, the agent will not be able to enter every room with the viewer.
• When the viewing is completed, the agent will lock up the property and leave, then dispose of gloves and use hand sanitiser.

The House Market / Buyer Attitudes

We are impressed with the resilience of house buyers, who continue to remain upbeat about their moving plans. Furthermore, 95% of the sales arranged we had in place at the start of lockdown, continue to remain in place and in the past week many of those have moved forward to exchange and simultaneous completions..

Emerging Markets

In the last week there has been increasing signs of the biggest emerging market being driven by people wanting to leave London and other large cities or towns, to find a new home in a rural or village setting, yet remain within reasonable distance of London etc. That is a positive for the home owners we act for on the Hampshire / Surrey / Berkshire borders, especially those who live in property worth between £1.5m. and £6.0m. in our area of operation.

If you are selling a rural property, contact your nearest McCarthy Holden branch for a free and confidential property appraisal.

EMERGING MARKET PHOTO

The Weeks Ahead

Simply making hay whilst the sun shines!

 

John Holden – Chairman

Property Market Insight During Lockdown

market comment image mccarthy holden estate agents hampshire

We have all witnessed another harrowing week of bleak headlines about the impact of Covid-19, and I was especially moved by the distressing news of the loss of life for some frontline NHS staff.

In many ways to write a few lines about the property market right now doesn’t seem that important in the current circumstances, but I know that house sellers, landlords, buyers and tenants are seeking insight, because the prospect of needing to move house is still a journey they will embark on post lockdown.

Market Insight and Working From Home

The transition to home working has been a relatively smooth operation. This was made all the more easy with the use of technology such as Zoom, and the ability of suppliers such as johnjoe.co.uk being able to create video and online brochures for marketing our clients properties.

We are also able to devote time to upgrading the McCarthy Holden web site, with the services of Servon Design who will be designing bespoke new homes pages on our site as well as improving the overall look of how our clients properties are showcased. We hope to have the new homes pages up and running by the end of this month, and be able to show off the amazing range of new homes we have on offer in many locations such as Virginia Water in Surrey through to Upton Grey in Hampshire.

home working image

Our negotiation staff are keeping closely in touch with buyers on our books, by phone, email, newsletter and even video presentations. This means that post lockdown we are already creating a list of buyers who want to view specific properties as soon as we are released from lockdown.

Our property management services continues with remote home workers, resulting in landlords being paid promptly as normal. Regular inspections have however been put on hold. As with house sales, the creation of new tenancies is very much on hold due to lockdown.

Are Contracts Exchanging On House Sales?

Many solicitors are now working successfully from home, and the intent appears to be that the parties proceed to exchange and agree a late completion date. Most existing sales are managing along these lines and we are expecting a few more existing sales at the under offer stage to proceed to exchange this week.

Vendor Inspired Video Gains Momentum

As we mentioned last week, the biggest surprise during lockdown was in the form of many clients asking if we could produce video content of their property if they sent us video clips and still photographs.

This is working out very well and below is a selection of the latest collaborative results.

video tour from mccarthy holden estate agents hampshire
Click image to view the video tour
video tour from mccarthy holden estate agents hampshire
Click image to view the video tour
video tour from mccarthy holden estate agents hampshire

How This Works

Vendors send us the video clips, and then with some editing help from johnjoe.co.uk a promotional video tour is created.

We are now issuing guidelines to our video focused vendors, which includes the specification of 1920 x 1080 size, landscape video preferred and MP4 output.

The ideal duration for a full property video tour online is 4 minutes. This means the file size is suitable for quick streaming online and also, it is at the maximum time a potential buyer is likely to watch a video.

We look forward to many of these collaborative home grown marketing initiatives in the weeks ahead.

The Week Ahead

As we enter a time of reflection in Holy Week, I have no doubt many in the country will stop to think deeper about the NHS workers and other key workers who keep society on track. Some will think and reflect and some will pray about these people and the risks they face each day at these times. There is no doubt they are very much in our minds and hearts as we all face into another week when the Covid-19 pressures are due to escalate.

The week ahead is also a good time to reflect on the work of political leaders such as Health Secretary Matt Hancock. I hope a positive from these events will be to hold such people in respect for the good they do, and that we don’t return to the corrosive politics and media coverage of the recent past.

We will provide another market update in a week or so, and you are of course welcome to subscribe free to our newsletter (just click the link near the bottom of our home page).

John Holden – Chairman and Managing Director

House Market Comment During Covid-19 Lockdown

covid-new-heading-item-news-page

Insight from last week

A week on from Covid-19 lockdown, and we are starting to get used to living and working in a very different way with some success, a lot of challenges and the unexpected.

We temporarily closed our branches last Monday evening as part of the lockdown process going on throughout the U.K. Right up to that day the market was fairly busy with last minute viewings, during which we conducted the systems of safe distance, latex gloves etc. which we had introduces weeks prior to the lockdown.

In the last week there were many practical issues, such as the six house sales completions on the day the Government suggested house moves be deferred. All six went ahead, because it was just too late to stand down and three of the transactions were in fact to empty properties. On the lettings front, we had different challenges such as it being virtually impossible to get independent inventory inspectors to attend tenancy check in and check out. Many tenants are now opting to extend their existing leases.

House Move Timing

Only three existing house sales fell through, and in each case there was an elderly persons on either the vendor or purchaser side. In such circumstances it wasn’t surprising and bearing in mind the hundreds of house sales we handle at any given time, the loss of three was minimal in context.

In fact, in the vast majority of house sale cases both parties are simply proceeding to exchange and agreeing a late completion date, which in some cases is capable of being brought forward by the parties agreeing a 28 days notice. So, most existing sales are managing along these lines.

McCarthy Holden estate agents sold board

What about creating new house sales?

Creating new house sale is not so easy, with the ability to do in-person viewings now removed. What is happening instead is that buyers are continuing to show keen interest, and simply asking to be place on a viewing list for when the in-person viewings are capable of being undertaken again.

Inventive solutions by our vendors

The biggest surprise this week, was in the form of many clients asking if we could produce video content of their property if they sent us video clips and still photographs.

McCarthy Holden is well known for using video to showcase properties for sale, so our wonderful customers decide to put their spin on this endeavour and suggested a collaborative approach.

Vendors send us the video clips. and then with some editing help from johnjoe.co.uk a promotional video tour is created.

Check out this first creation below from one of our wonderful clients in Fleet, Hampshire who is selling this house which is guided at £750,000.

Now this first collaborative video is a little too long, but the home owner is such an engaging person and so at ease with talking to camera we have run with most of her content.

We are now issuing guidelines to our video focused vendors, which includes the specification of 1920 x 1080 size and MP4 output. The ideal duration for a full property video tour online is 4 minutes. This means the file size is suitable for quick streaming online and also, it is at the maximum time a potential buyer is likely to watch a video.

We also supply links to a some recent videos produced by johnjoe.co.uk which might help vendors plan for capturing some content at home.

Teaser short video – https://vimeo.com/392560182
Normal full length – https://vimeo.com/390207931
Normal full length (just agreed a sale last week 1,300 views of video) – https://vimeo.com/356168136

We look forward to many of these collaborative home grown marketing initiatives in the weeks ahead.

We will keep our customers in touch with market conditions and news through our newsletter, which is free to subscribe to.

We wish you a safe week ahead.

John Holden

Chairman and Managing Director – McCarthy Holden

House Market Comment and Covid-19

house-for-sale-lead-news-item-image2

After a week of extraordinary events, full of contrasts and extremes, this news item provides insight into the impact of Covid-19, at a time when house sellers, landlords, buyers and tenants alike are naturally concerned. Chairman and Managing Director John Holden, provides a shop floor snapshot of recent events and details about forward planning for the months ahead.

Today's Insight – Tomorrows Plans

These times are undoubtedly a time of extraordinary contrasts and extremes, where decisions made one day are buffeted by the events of a new day.

A time where yesterday’s commitments are questioned and where planning for the future is sometimes about considering a worse case scenario.

But the extraordinary thing about the last few days and weeks, is that whilst as a business leader I have to prepare for my worse case business planning, I wake up every morning to a still busy day ahead on all fronts creating property transactions on lettings and property sales.

This last week’s trading typifies the juxtaposition between planning for the worse, but still experience the best in terms of trading for now. In just the last few days we have seen properties exchange contracts, we have arranged new homes sales on properties from around £360,000 in Bagshot through to multiple deals in the £2m. to £5m. country house sector, conducted viewing in the £4m. to £5m. sector, watched many existing sales in progress to exchange of contracts, and we have seen many new lettings being agreed in preparation for a move in next week, and finally we had a diary full of property viewings for this Saturday. Extraordinary activity in the circumstances.

Do you have a country house for sale? We have a waiting list of buyers looking right now.

House sales and lettings McCarthy Holden Estate Agents
Activity across all property sectors remained high last week

Timing A Move

We think that some house buyers and sellers will simply elect to have a delayed completion when the moment of exchanging contracts arrives in the coming weeks, this way both parties secure and achieve their moving objectives but only delay the actual move in day.

Home Working

Things will undoubtedly slow down a little and very soon our staff will be working from home, where we can continue with new house sales, transaction chasing and management and valuations with the benefit of technology using Zoom for example. Phone call and emails will be diverted to our personnel working from home very soon.

Minimising Risk When Showing A House

We are aware that vendors and landlords are worried about even the smallest risk of virus transmission, so when we meet buyers or tenants to show them around a client’s property we will be giving them / asking them to wear latex gloves so that things like door knobs, stairs and kitchen equipment are not touched with bare hands.

Whilst we are, as always, delighted to see people, we ask them not to be offended that we won’t be shaking hands and will be keeping a safe distance. In some cases we may not be able to offer drinks or refreshments as we would normally, but instead we will offer you hand sanitiser and facilities to wash your hands during your time together.

Our public announcement about our operational approach to work was distributed to the public recently and is available at this link

Please do subscribe to our newsletter which will be distributed up to twice a week by email (subscription is free and you will find informative content about property, finance and general lifestyle features). There is a pop up sign up on our home page.

It seems that despite Covid-19, the will and sheer determination of people to lead as normal a life as possible is a winning formula for overcoming life’s extraordinary events.

We are available to help our customers and the local community, so do please contact you local branch by phone or email at any time. Business is operating as usual in every respect and we remain committed to the well-being of our staff and customers at this difficult time.

John Holden

Chairman and Managing Director – McCarthy Holden

Character New Homes For Sale, In Hampshire

TAFISHER-125-logo-PROPERTY FOR SALE ODIHAM ESTATE AGENTS
plot-one-castlebrook North Warnborough Property For Sale
Plots One to Four Castlebrook

7th March Open Day Viewing

Make a diary note to visit the Castlebrook creation by T A Fisher, who have made the centrepiece of their new development the converted Edwardian Jolly Miller village pub into four beautiful and very different new homes with all the passion and care that they are renowned for.

This is a beautiful building carefully bought back to life, and this news item is showcasing plot one, which is for sale freehold at a guide of £450,000.

We have used some photographs with digitally staged furniture, carpets etc., just to help you visualise how wonderful this beautiful property could be as a home.

PROPERTY FOR SALE CASTLEBROOK ODIHAM ESTATE AGENTS MCCARTHY HOLDEN
Plot One Kitchen / Diner

The fine living room space then leads to a fantastic kitchen / diner dual aspect room, with a fully fitted kitchen space which includes a Bosch double oven, a Bosch induction hob, a Zanussi integrated dishwasher, and a Zanussi Integrated Fridge/freezer.

The Living room overlooks the part walled garden, which also features the T A Fisher garden shed as a nice benefit.

PROPERTY FOR SALE CASTLEBROOK ODIHAM ESTATE AGENTS MCCARTHY HOLDEN
Plot One Cloakroom

On the first floor there is a lovely master bedroom, with a superb en-suite shower room. Bedroom two and the family bathroom are also on the first floor.

PROPERTY FOR SALE CASTLEBROOK ODIHAM ESTATE AGENTS MCCARTHY HOLDEN
Plot One En-Suite To Master Bedroom

Location

The location of Castlebrook is perfect for those who want to be on the doorstep of outdoor opportunities from a great selection of places to shop to a wide range of places to eat, drink and relax through to walks and cycling around the Basingstoke Canal and nearby King Johns Castle.

king john's castle Odiham Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents
Nearby King John's Castle - Aerial View By johnjoe.co.uk

For more details about the open day viewing event on 7th March, telephone 01256 704851

You can go to this link if you would like a download pdf brochure 

New Homes For Sale Preview Hook Hampshire

NEW HOUSE FOR SALE MCCARTHY HOLDEN ESTATE AGENTS SITE PLAN HOOK

On the 8th February T A Fisher will be releasing for preview sale plot one at their new development in Hook, Hampshire, their small quality development of only 5 new build homes.

Number one at Acorn Grove(temporary site name) will be selling at a guide of £525,000 and we are delighted to provide this news item early.

NEW HOUSE FOR SALE MCCARTHY HOLDEN ESTATE AGENTS PLOT 1 HOOK

Plot One Preview Day 8th February

This property is a superb new semi-detached house, providing almost 1,100 sq. ft. of space, with the added benefit it’s own driveway and garage independent from that of the main development.

NEW HOUSE FOR SALE MCCARTHY HOLDEN ESTATE AGENTS SITE PLAN HOOK
FIRST-FLOOR-PLOT-ONE-PLAN-ACORN-NEWS
Plot One First Floor
GROUND-FLOOR-PLOT-ONE-PLAN-ACORN
Plot One Ground Floor

The quality of the TA Fisher build quality can be seen at their site in North Warnborough, so for insight into the T A Fisher approach to building superb homes take a look at the video below showcasing the show house at Castlebrook.

The specification will differ at the new house in Hook, but this will give you some valuable insight into the build quality of a T A Fisher new home.

To Be Released For Sale Later In 2020

Plot 2 at this site is another set-detached house and plots 3 to 5 are distinctive terraced houses which will also be released for sale later in 2020.

The CGI images are shown below.

NEW HOUSE FOR SALE MCCARTHY HOLDEN ESTATE AGENTS PLOTS 3TO 5 HOOK
Plots 3 to 5
NEW HOUSE FOR SALE MCCARTHY HOLDEN ESTATE AGENTS PLOT 2 HOOK
Plot 2

To view plot one at our preview event, please telephone 01252 842100 or 01256 704851 to arrange a viewing.

Highly Individual Newly Crafted House Conversion £450,000

Plot 1 Castlebridge header image

As the centrepiece of the new T A Fisher Castlebrook development, they have converted the Edwardian and spacious Jolly Miller village pub into four beautiful and very different new homes with all the passion and care they are renowned for.

This lovely building has a wonderful heritage. It was designed by architect Arthur J Steadman, who was commissioned by Alton -based brewery Crowley’s in 1908. So successful was his distinctive design it was replicated in a number of hostelries across north Hampshire. Sadly, although many survive none are today used as pubs.  However, every improvement we’ve made has been in keeping with Arthur’s original vision, the character of this spacious and unique building and its colourful history.

So behind the carefully restored and characterful facade, you’ll discover every conceivable contemporary convenience and the high-quality specification you expect to make the very most of today’s busy lifestyles.

When you deserve something special

If you’re seeking a different two-double bedroomed home with en-suite, integrated wardrobes and so much more, look no further than this stylish conversion.

From its own entrance hall, open plan living/dining room and fully integrated kitchen to the family bathroom and ever-handy downstairs cloakroom, this property has it all.

The living space is greatly enhanced by the French doors from the living room to the rear garden, which really help to bring the great outdoors in.

We think it’s perfect for the downsizers or professional couples who like to entertain and would love a home that’s just that little more special.

floor plans plot one Castlebrook McCarthy Holden estate agency

Take a look at the download brochure to see floor plans and specification.

To arrange to view 5 Castlebrook, and the show house at 6 Castlebrook early in the New Year telephone our Odiham branch on 01256 704851

Next re-open days for McCarthy Holden after Christmas are Friday 27th and Saturday 28th (both 10-2)

New Homes For Sale Boxing Day

Plot 5 Castlebridge Header Image

T A Fisher will be releasing for sale two new properties at Castlebrook, their small quality development in North Warnborough, near Odiham in Hampshire.

Number 5 Castlebrook will be selling at a guide of £540,000 and we are delighted to provide this news item early.

5 Casltebrook - For sale at £540,000

There are only 11 homes being created at Castlebrook, and at our 23rd November preview event plots 6 and 11 were reserved, so a flying start and the sale of these fine properties which haven’t yet been seen on property portals such as Rightmove.

5 Castlebrook is an end-terraced house, providing around 1,200 sq. ft. of space. The floor plans are shown below and the master bedroom with en-suite shower room and dressing room is an outstanding feature.

floor plans 5 6 and 7 Castlebrook

The above video tour will tell you about the area and showcase plot 6, a mid-terrace house providing around 1,200 sq ft of superb space. We think you’ll be impressed.

Architectural Detail

We have been impressed with many aspects of the T A Fisher new homes, and we were most impressed with the architectural detail of the terraced properties plots 5, 6 and 7. Some of the eye catching features are shown below – 1. Distinctive plinth brick course. 2. The soldier course brick detail to window surround 3. The elegant front doors 4. The substantial porch 4. The wealth of attractive tile hanging to the front and side elevations.

Such attention to detail and styling is to be applauded.

Castlebrook site plan McCarthy Holden estate agents

5 Castlebrook will be available from Boxing Day.

To arrange to view 5 Castlebrook, and the show house at 6 Castlebrook early in the New Year telephone our Odiham branch on 01256 704851.

Next re-open days for McCarthy Holden after Christmas are Friday 27th and Saturday 28th (both 10-2)

New Homes Preview Event Hampshire

new homes from Mccarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire

The T A Fisher new homes in North Warnborough will be previewed for the second time on Saturday 23rd November, so if you are in the market for a new home around £500,000 to £550,000 then take a look at the quality build available at their Castlebrook site.

The above video tour will tell you about the area and showcase plot 6, a mid-terrace house providing around 1,200 sq ft of superb space. We think you’ll be impressed.

Plot 6 Castlebrook McCarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire

The first plot was sold / reserved following our preview event on 5th October, and we haven’t even showcased these fine homes on Rightmove or any other property portal yet. So if you are in the market to buy, then take advantage of these early preview days.

Plot 6 Castlebrook McCarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire

We enjoyed helping T A Fisher at the 5th October preview event, with visitors / house buyers giving their immediate reviews to camera.

There are only 11 homes being built at Castlebrook, and prices are estimated to be in the sector from £475,000 to £750,000. To arrange to see the show house at the preview event on 23rd November, please telephone 01256 704851.

Outstanding Selection Of New Homes Property For 2020

new homes 2020 form McCarthy Holden Estate Agents Hampshire

As we prepare for 2020, McCarthy Holden are pleased to be offering our best selection of new homes in amazing locations form rural Eversley in Hampshire, to Virginia Water in Surrey.

The developers we will be representing in 2020 are as diverse in size and their personal history as you can imagine, but they all share the same passion for creating beautiful homes and leaving a legacy to their brand and reputation.

Finding Best Buyer Engagement

Key to our agency appointments, is the delivery of property marketing with professional video content which increases the level of buyer engagement online.

From short video PR following an open day event, through to a comprehensive video tour with a presenter the outcome for the developer is outstanding marketing and PR as can be seen in the samples below.

Another key aspect of our agency appointment is of course the fact we supply experienced personnel to manage and service the needs of our new homes clients.

Delivering Engaging Video Content

Our marketing for developers is enhanced by quality video production from johnjoe.co.uk who are leading the way in property video marketing, with added benefits from voice over artist Drew Campbell.

New Homes Developments

Some of the sites to be offered in the year ahead include….

Virginia Water, Surrey – Perfectly located for train travel to London and not far from TASIS the American school in England, these high end apartments are simply stunning. Prices range from £425,000 to £1.25m.(enquiries 01252 842100)

Bagshot, Surrey – The first of these new homes will be available to view soon, and prices range from around £450,000. (enquiries 01252 842100).

Eversley, Hampshire – A small select development of 6 luxury homes by Aspire. Plot 5 is shown below and is on the market at £1.125m.

North Warnborough, Hampshire – You can’t help fall in love with this area, steeped in history with beautiful old historic buildings and places of interest such as King John’s Castle and a lovely pub and restaurant which was a watermill just across the road from this site
Castlebrook.

This is a small select development of 11 homes, 7 of which are new build and 4 highly individual and intriguing conversions. Prices yet to be release, so for now a broad guide is that buyers looking from say £500,000 to £750,000 should consider registering interest in these new homes by contacting the selling agents on 01256 704851

Wrecclesham, Near Farnham, Surrey – An outstanding high specification property in an exclusive development of just twelve new homes located on the outskirts of the historic town of Farnham. Prices from £475,000.

Hook, Hampshire – With 5 new builds and a character house conversion, the new homes at this site will follow on from the success of the T A Fisher site at Castlebrook in North Warnborough.

Acorn House Hook Plan McCarthy Holden Estate Agents Hampshire

Hartley Wintney, Hampshire – Shapley Grange is an exclusive development of 3 and 4 bedroom homes, built to a high specification on a small site of only seven houses in a prime location less than a mile from the village of Hartley Wintney. Prices range for around £470,000 to £1.0m.

Winchfield, Hampshire – Winchfield Lodge is a unique refurbishment majestically situated in the centre of a development of new-build houses. A total of four 3 and 4 bedroom homes have been superbly modelled inside the existing shell of The Lodge House, reportedly designed and built by the Victorian Architect William Burges.

Winchfield View, Hampshire – Winchfield View is a select development of stunning high specification new homes by Sunningdale House Developments, in a fine location with pleasing views situated about two miles from the village of Hartley Wintney in Hampshire. Prices from around £575,000 to £1.7m., but nearly all sold as we close 2019.

Contact the McCarthy Holden new homes department at our Hartley Wintney branch for information about land and new homes – 01252 842100.

How to Give Wildlife a Helping Hand with Hibernation this Winter

help with winter hibernation

As hibernation season approaches, Hannah Stephenson looks at how gardeners can help creatures bed down for the colder months.

As the cool nights arrive, animals are getting ready to hibernate – and there’s plenty gardeners can do to make it easier for them.

While the only common creatures that hibernate in this country are hedgehogs, dormice and bats, other wildlife, including insects and amphibians, enter ‘torpor’ – a similar state of inactivity which doesn’t last as long as hibernation, according to leading conservation charity the Woodland Trust (woodlandtrust.org.uk).

So, which animals can we help and how?

help with winter hibernation

1. Hedgehogs

If you have a compost heap, you’re already half way there for helping hedgehogs, because these hibernating mammals love them. So make sure you do any compost-turning slowly and carefully during the winter months so you don’t disturb your prickly friends, advises Helen Bostock, RHS senior horticultural adviser and co-author of How Can I Help Hedgehogs? Also, don’t block off the crawl spaces under garden sheds and decking, because hedgehogs also hibernate happily under there.

If you accidentally disturb a hibernating hedgehog, cover it back up as quickly as possible, leave a saucer of moist cat food and a shallow saucer of water nearby in case it needs to replenish its supplies, and give its surroundings a wide berth.

It’s not unusual for hedgehogs to wake up and move hibernation sites once or twice during the winter, so don’t worry if it relocates, but try and leave natural shelter such as piles of leaves in the garden.

help with winter hibernation

2. Frogs

While they may do all their mating in water, most frogs will enter their winter dormancy on dry land, in heaps of leaf litter in soily depressions under a pile of dead wood or rocks; in fact anywhere sheltered that is cool and damp and where they are unlikely to be disturbed. Toads will create burrows in quiet corners.

To help these amphibians, make a hiding place by digging a hole in the ground, around 10cm deep, lining it with gravel, twigs and dry leaves. Then put a large flat stone over the top, such as a piece of paving slab, leaving them enough space to crawl in.

If you have a pond which is well oxygenated, some frogs may overwinter in the bottom of it, burying themselves in the silt layer and breathing through their skin. Stop the pond from icing over by placing a tennis ball on the surface, which will help oxygenation.

help with winter hibernation

3. Bats

Hibernating from November-April, bats can slow their breathing to as few as five breaths a minute, while some can last almost an hour without breathing, according to the Woodland Trust. They eat nocturnal insects, including mosquitoes, so the easiest way to encourage them to your garden is to plant night-scented flowers and introduce a pond.

They usually hibernate in groups in a quiet, cool roost which they seek out in late autumn. Around three-quarters of UK bats roost in trees, preferably old trees with cavities, while others use spaces under the eaves of buildings or wedge themselves into holes in brickwork or in old barns.

The most important thing is not to disturb them. Being aroused from hibernation costs the bats a lot of energy, which makes them lose body fat and can lead to starvation, according to the Bat Conservation Trust. To help their hibernation, you could erect a bat box, ideally above ground, around 4-5m high, in a sheltered spot that receives sun during the day.

help with winter hibernation

4. Bees

For most bumblebees species, winter is a time for hibernation. Queen bees will feast on pollen and nectar to store fat before burrowing deep into soil in early autumn and stay there for up to nine months.

But for the buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) and honeybees, winter can be just as busy a time as the rest of the year. In the warmer parts of the UK, fully active winter colonies of this species are regularly recorded.

Help them survive by choosing a sunny spot for plants which carry nectar-rich flowers through the shortest days of the year, such as Mahonia x media, stinking hellebore and winter-flowering heathers.

Ivy is also a brilliant plant for honey bees, who rely upon its flowers for the majority of the pollen and nectar they collect during the autumn months.

If you accidentally disturb a queen bee, which may have been sheltering in the soil or even in a pot of compost, cover it loosely with soil in the hope it will resume its hibernation. If this fails, mix together a sugar solution of half white sugar and half warm water as a one-off energy boost, placing it on a teaspoon or bottle lid near the bee’s head.

help with winter hibernation

5. Other insects

Log piles are a great place to house beneficial insects over winter. Just gather some large sticks and small logs and pile them in a sheltered spot. Some butterflies, including the brimstone, peacock, comma, small tortoiseshell and red admiral will go into winter dormancy as adults and are often found in cool outdoor structures such as sheds. If they find their way into the house, move them gently to somewhere dry, cool and dark, as they won’t survive the warm temperature in your home.

How Can I Help Hedgehogs? by Helen Bostock and Sophie Collins is published by Mitchell Beazley in association with the Royal Horticultural Society, priced £14. 99. Available now.

Instant Customer Reviews at Odiham New Homes Event

Castlebrook North Farnborough McCarthy Holden Estate Agents

New T A Fisher Homes At Castlebrook

The preview event at Castlebrook this weekend was really successful, with visitors / house buyers giving their immediate reviews to camera.

We enjoyed helping T A Fisher at the preview event of their new homes at Castlebrook in North Warnborough Hampshire this weekend, with visitors / house buyers giving their immediate reviews to camera.

Contact McCarthy Holden on 01256 704851 about the next open day event at Castlebrook in North Warnborough Hampshire.

These are the Tools you Need to Make Light Work of Autumn Jobs

Whether you're digging, cutting back, planting bulbs or trimming hedges, we select the right tools for autumn tasks.

What are the must-have tools for autumn jobs? There’s an array of leaf blowers, rakes, spades, forks and hand tools on offer, but what shouldn’t you be without as you take on new season tasks?

With help from Louise Golden, gardening expert at Dobbies Garden Centres, these are the right tools for the right jobs…

best autumn tools

1. Winter digging

You’ll need a good fork to break up the ground and a good spade to clear any old, dusty soil before adding a good dose of organic matter such as compost or well-matured manure to the area.

Try quality spades and forks from Burgon & Ball (burgonandball.com) available in lightweight versions (£39.99 each) ideal for a smaller garden, or regular digging size (£42.99).

If you’re creating a new bed or need to clear a lot of ground, consider the new Ego (egopowerplus.co.uk) multi-tool cultivator attachment with a 24cm cutting width (£149).

It provides an easier way to prepare soil for planting. Its rotating teeth remove weeds and aerate the soil, doing all the hard work so you don’t have to.

Golden also advises giving your lawn some TLC to see it through winter by aerating it with a garden fork to reduce compaction, and scarifying it with a springtine rake to remove moss.

2. Clearing leaves

Clear away leaves from pathways and patios before they become too soggy to rake and make the ground really slippery. If you have a small area you can make do with a standard rake, but if there are a lot of leaves on your lawn, go for a rake such as the Fiskars Gardening Action Xact Leaf Rake (RRP £31.99, available from DIY retailers including B&Q and Homebase and all good garden centres).

Alternatively, go for a combined leaf blower and sucker such as the Bosch UniversalGardenTidy blower-vacuum (£109.99, shop.bosch-do-it.com), a three-in-one gizmo which can blow, vacuum or shred, disposing of leaves and other garden debris.

If you can bear a slightly less pristine garden, leave leaves in your borders, which act as a mulch and can help protect overwintering creatures.

3. Planting bulbs

“Planting spring flowering bulbs is a major autumn task, and so a handy tool to use is a bulb planter,” says Golden. “They make light work of the task and speed up the process, particularly when planting lots of bulbs to naturalise in grass.”

Now’s a good time to plant narcissi, crocuses and hyacinths, so make life easy by investing in a long-handled bulb planter (£34.99, burgonandball.com) with a tough footbar to allow you to go easily to the maximum depth, instead of struggling on your hands and knees with a trowel that will make hard work of digging deep enough.

4. Hedge trimming

“Early autumn is the perfect time to trim evergreen hedges and shrubs for a neat finish that will remain crisp all winter long,” says Golden. “Hedging shears are ideal, whether hand, electric or motor, depending on the size of the task in hand.”

If you’ve followed RSPB advice not to cut hedges between March and August – the main breeding season for nesting birds – now may be a good time to tidy up hornbeam, beech, Leyland cypress and thuja hedges. Fast-growing hedges such as privet or the evergreen honeysuckle can also be cut now, but no later than the end of September.

For smaller hedges you could do the job with a decent pair of shears such as Kent & Stowe hedge shears (£17.99, dobbies.com). For larger hedges, battery power may be the way to go.

5. Pruning

“The end of summer is when we should think about tidying the border by cutting back spent perennials,” says Golden. “A good pair of secateurs will do the trick, and you don’t need to break the bank to get cracking.”

You’ll need a good set of cutting tools for clipping overgrown shrubs and perennials which have finished flowering. Sarah Raven’s new range of tools includes steel-bladed bypass pruners (£19.95, sarahraven.com) with non-slip grips and a quick-release locking mechanism.

You’ll need loppers to tackle thicker branches, and if you don’t like heavy kit, go for Wilkinson Sword’s Ultralight Bypass Loppers (£27.99, wilkinsonsword-tools.co.uk) to help to cut back overhanging vegetation. The non-stick coated blade cuts through young and green wood, while the loppers are 50% lighter than standard, saving arm strain when working for long periods of time.

Preview New Homes For Sale Near Odiham

castlebrook-new homes-mccarthy-holden-estate-agents-plots-5-to-7
castlebrook-new homes-mccarthy-holden-estate-agents-plots-5-to-7

The T A Fisher new homes in North Warnborough will be previewed for the first time on Saturday 5th October, so if you are in the market for a new home around £500,000 then take a look at the quality build available at their Castlebrook site.

castlebrook-new homes-mccarthy-holden-estate-agents-plots-5-to-7

We have been impressed with many aspects of the T A Fisher new homes, and we were most impressed with the architectural detail of the terraced properties plots 5, 6 and 7. Some of the eye catching features are shown above – 1. Distinctive plinth brick course. 2. The soldier course brick detail to window surround 3. The elegant front doors 4. The substantial porch 4. The wealth of attractive tile hanging to the front and side elevations.

Such attention to detail and styling is to be applauded.

The video clip below was taken a couple of days ago  at plot 5, and even though the house is still in the construction stage you can really appreciate the space and generous rear garden.

The above video clip showcases the vast master bedroom at plot 5, which features an en-suite dressing and shower. In addition the views over the rear gardens at plots 5 to 7 are noteworthy.

castlebrook-new homes-mccarthy-holden-estate-agents-plots-5-to-7

There are only 11 homes being built at Castlebrook, and to arrange to see the show house at the preview event on 5th October, please telephone 01256 704851.

castlebrook-new homes-mccarthy-holden-estate-agents-plots-5-to-7

Eco-Friendly Decorating Ideas for a more Planet-Friendly Home

eco designer homes

Want your homeware and decor choices to be more sustainable? From reclaimed timber to recycled kitchen tops, Gabrielle Fagan checks out the options.

We’re all aware of the need to look after our environment – and where better to start than at home?

Luckily, more and more companies are embracing eco-friendly approaches and solutions, and designers are becoming ever-more inventive and innovative in their use of recycled materials to create desirable homeware – so you don’t have to sacrifice your style for your principles.

“Year-round, we consistently see people searching for inspiration on Pinterest to shop and live in ways more mindful of the environment,” says Enid Hwang, culture and community manager at Pinterest, who’ve seen a 108% increase in searches for sustainable lifestyle this year.

The site notes that September, when summer holidays are over, is the ‘back to life’ period – when, feeling renewed and refreshed, people look for ways to make small changes in their lives, such as recommitting to their environmental efforts.

“We’ve seen that reflected in searching for sustainable items for their homes, like recycled materials, eco paint and even bamboo bedding. Sustainable lifestyle choices are now a major theme for many Pinners,” notes Hwang.

Need some inspiration? From wallpaper and paint, to furniture and accessories – follow our guide to creating a home to match your values…

eco designer homes

Paint it green

Some house paints use casein – a protein derived from milk or beeswax as a binding agent – while others use ingredients that have been tested on animals.

Mindful of this, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex chose Auro, a non-toxic vegan paint which is also child-friendly, when they decorated baby Archie’s nursery. Auro Coloured Emulsion, from £48 for 2.5L; Wood Paint – Satin, from £16 for 375ml, AuroPaint.co.uk.

A lot of paints contain high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which emit solvents into the air that are associated with causing dizziness and headaches, and may affect those with allergies.

Crown’s Breatheasy Coloured Emulsion range is 99.9% solvent-free and certified under the asthma & allergy friendly Certification Program.

The Breatheasy range starts from £14 for 2.5L of emulsion and, a further plus, comes in containers made of 100% recycled plastic, which are fully recyclable once empty and clean.

eco designer homes

Paper and plant

The desire for wallpaper with good eco-credentials is growing, and Little Greene not only has great designs, but sources and uses paper from certificated sustainable forests.

“We manufacture our wallpapers in the UK and for every tree used four more are planted,” says Ruth Mottershead, Little Greene marketing director.

“Wallpapers are printed using non-toxic pigments and our high-quality wallpaper paste contains no solvent.”

Their London Papers V range, a collection of authentic heritage designs, starts from £73 a roll.

eco designer homes

Recipe for eco cooks

If you want to cook up a storm but reduce your carbon footprint, sustainable timber is a good choice for kitchen units, worktops and flooring.

Deforestation is a major environmental issue that’s contributing to global warming, so look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) ‘tick tree’ logo, which signifies it is certified timber that comes from well-managed forests and/or recycled materials.

Make sure worktops don’t let the side down. Wickes offers worktops made from recycled materials in its range of kitchens.

Details count and bamboo kitchen containers are an excellent alternative to plastic (they look lovely too). Bamboo is a highly renewable, fast-growing natural material with antibacterial, anti-fungal properties, and it’s biodegradable.

eco designer homes

Lie back and think of the planet

You’re setting the bar higher if you want a purely vegan lifestyle – but it’s perfectly possible according to Jo Peters, author of new book, Vegan Life: Cruelty-Free Food, Fashion, Beauty And Home (Summersdale, £12.99).

“Vegans prefer to avoid using materials that come from animals, which can make home furnishing seem like a challenge at first,” she acknowledges.

“But, as with stocking your fridge, once you’ve sussed out what to avoid – and found some reliable suppliers of alternatives – you’ll be able to make ethical choices in every room.”

In her handy guide, she highlights the main culprits to avoid in home furnishings: Leather (and suede), wool (and felt), silk, down, fur and cowhide. She also points out that “when choosing a new couch, remember that you’ll need to consider the padding materials as well as the cover.”

That said, it’s useful to remember that making use of pre-existing leather, wool, etc, items that are still in good condition, is generally more planet-friendly than throwing things away only to replace them with new plastic ones!

eco designer homes

Reclaim and rejoice in style

“As everybody becomes more eco-aware, the demand for sustainable furniture that is kinder to the planet is on the rise,” says Ben Adams, co-founder and master craftsman of Rust Collections, creators of sustainable rustic-luxe reclaimed pieces made from locally salvaged timber. They also use oak certified by the FSC.

“By using local recycled wood, we keep transportation miles down and give new purpose to a material that’s already had a life, and in doing so, the carbon footprint is kept very low,” explains Adams.

“Keeping the use of freshly-milled timber to a minimum also means putting less pressure on our natural timber resources, preserving more for future use.”

eco designer homes

Material concerns

“Over the last few seasons at Habitat, we’ve seen a definite increase in demand from shoppers who are obviously interested in purchasing designs made using recycled and sustainable base materials,” says Siobhan McMillan, head of buying for Habitat.

“In textiles, we’re working with suppliers to increase the amount of designs made from fabric that is recycled from the fashion industry. Fabric off-cuts that would have otherwise been thrown away are instead re-dyed and woven to create new rugs and cushions, and we’ve increased the amount of patterns available.”

In lighting, she notes, there’s a growing demand for designs made from sustainable, fast-growing rattan and bamboo, with three-out-of-five of Habitat’s current bestselling shades made from these natural base materials.

eco designer homes
×
Find a Property
M
Country & Equestrian