All posts by davisbrown

Wonderful Westminster!

The London borough of Westminster is located in the centre of Greater London.  It was created in 1965 and is steeped in history.  The borough of Westminster is 8.21 square miles and has a population of roughly 219,600.  There are many reasons why one might want to live in, or at least visit this diverse and exciting borough of Westminster… 

World renowned landmarks

Westminster is awash with history and stunning architecture.  Within an hour of a leisurely wander you could have seen Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and 10 Downing Street – to name but a few historical buildings.  For the cultured of you Westminster isn’t lacking in art galleries (National Gallery & Tate Britain), or theatre (you have a plethora of theatres in the West End.).   

Transportation

If your legs aren’t quite up to it, or you simply don’t have the time to spare, getting about in Westminster by public transport couldn’t be easier.  10 out of the 11 underground lines all stop here and Westminster is serviced by 27 tube stations, and the buses – well you can’t go 5 seconds without spotting a London bus! 

Council Tax

Westminster council tax is the lowest in the country – yup, that’s right, the very lowest!  You might think then that it’s going to be a neglected area but not at all!  Our streets are clean and our parks are beautifully kept! 

Green Space

You might think that living in Westminster would be like living in a concrete jungle, well, I can tell you that you would be very much mistaken.  If you want to go for a run/practise some outside yoga/have a picnic/get away from the hubbub of it all – well you won’t have to travel very far to do so.  The borough of Westminster has a grand total of 116 parks and open spaces to lose yourself in; these include small gardens as well as larger open spaces such as Green Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent’s Park & St James’s Park.   

Davis Brown Estate Agent

You will find the best estate agents and chartered surveyors situated at 1 Margaret Street, W1.  Now you really don’t need any better reason than that to visit Westminster! parkpic

A guide for commercial vendors

Considering selling your commercial property?  It’s important that before you consider putting the property on the market you obtain all relevant information from your solicitors including Title Reports and any covenant information which may be relevant.  Davis Brown – a firm of Chartered Surveyors and Estate Agents in Fitzrovia are here to help you with the process.  We are regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors so you can take full advantage of our professional expertise.  Here’s a guide that we at Davis Brown have put together to make things easier for you.

You will need to ensure that your property complies with all relevant Health & Safety Regulations (ensuring gas, electrical and asbestos reports are up to date).  You will also require an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate).  This is a legal requirement that Landlords must provide before the property can be put on the market to let/sell and ensure you have Building Insurance. Our estate agents in W1 can discuss the various options that you need to consider when selling your property.  Do you sell the property “as is”?  Is it worth looking at obtaining full planning consent or outline planning consent for a “change of use”, are there outstanding maintenance or repair works that will affect your properties valuation?  Finally, do you wish to sell the property on the open market or have a “best bids” date for purchasers to submit either “Informal Tenders” or “Sealed Bids”?

Davis Brown will be able to advise you on the market value of your property and explain the different ways of selling and marketing your property to try to obtain the maximum value.

Selling Costs:

As well as your agent’s fees, there are additional costs to consider before putting your property on the market:

  • Solicitors Fees – these can vary from a fixed fee to charging you for their conveyance services, especially if it is not a “clean” sale. Call to discuss before putting the property on the market
  • Mortgage Redemption or Arrangement Fees – check with your mortgage lender
  • Capital Gains Tax – consult your financial advisor or solicitor to establish what, if any, taxes are applicable

Property Value:

This is very dependent on market trends and market forces, our commercial property team at Davis Brown can check the following for you:

  • Property Prices – ask them to provide comparable evidence
  • Market Trends
  • Availability of Similar Properties
  • Property Condition and Features

Agents Responsibilities:

Before you agree a fee with your agent, confirm what their responsibilities are in selling your property.  Most agents should offer the following;

  • Marketing Particulars (will there be an additional fee for a professional brochure/dedicated website?)
  • Bringing your Property to the Market – most agents should market your property free of charge on their website, online and offline marketing portals, window display etc. however, check if there are additional fees for advertising your property in professional publications and if so, ensure you are aware of these costs in advance.
  • Undertake all viewings
  • Collate and submit all offers to you in a timely fashion
  • Monitor and assist in all aspects of the sale from accepting an offer through to completion

Remember, Davis Brown as the Agent work for you, not the purchaser.

Preparing your Commercial Property for Sale:

If you are selling a vacant property, try to present the premises with a view to appealing to the widest audience.  Ensure that there are no “red flags” (unfinished maintenance works etc) which may give the purchaser reason to lower their offer.  Ensure the property is clean and tidy and highlight any original features.

It is difficult to manage the “look” of your property if it is tenanted.  Speak to the current tenants and work with them to show your property off to the highest standard possible.  Ensure that your agent has a good relationship with the current tenants to assist in making the viewing dates as convenient as possible for all parties.

Accepting an Offer:

Decide if you wish to accept offers on the “open market” and have no time scale for submitting an offer, or if you would prefer to set a “deadline date” where all offers must be made by a certain time/date by way of an “Informal Tender” or “Sealed Bids”. Davis Brown will be happy to assist you.

Ensure all offers are put in writing.  Request information on any conditions that are subject to the offer (i.e. subject to survey).  Ask for proof of funding from the purchaser together with their solicitor details and a realistic time scale when you can expect exchange and complete the sale.  Ensure that your solicitor is able to work within the time scale that the purchaser has put forward.

Accepted Offer:

Once you have accepted an offer, request your agent to send Heads of Terms to all relevant parties and their solicitors.  Once Heads of Terms have been agreed and solicitors instructed, the property will then be put “Under Offer”.  Ensure your solicitor has all information to hand to send the purchaser’s solicitor a full legal pack.  Ensure your agent keeps in touch with all relevant parties and updates you with progress.

Exchange of Contracts:

An exchange of contracts takes place once both parties have agreed and signed the contract and the deposit monies have been transferred to your solicitors (this is normally 10% of the purchase price).  As a general guide, allow 4 weeks from receipt of all legal documentation between solicitors and exchange of contracts.  Check with your solicitor with regard to any insurances that may be required on the property between the exchange and completion date.

Completion:

Completion will take place once all remaining monies have been transferred to your solicitors.  As a general guide, from exchange to completion allow 2 to 6 weeks.  Your solicitor will inform you when completion has taken place and it is at that time your agent will release the keys to the purchaser and take any relevant meter readings.

Once you have completed, ensure that you have informed your insurance company, paid any outstanding taxes and contacted the local authority with regard to your business rates.

For more information, please contact Davis Brown – your Estate Agents and Chartered Surveyors based in W1 – who will be happy to help you every step of the way.

 

Exciting Opportunity – Camden!

Camden – a truly wonderful part of London situated in the NW of the city.  Other than its convenience for commuting to the West End and The City, there is so much to explore right there on your doorstep.   You’ve got everything from shopping (Camden market is much like a village all on its own), to theatre, to food and drink, to the beautiful Regents Canal which runs through the heart of Camden.  From Camden Lock you can take a boat tour to Little Venice – the perfect outing for a summer’s day, and a visit to the nearby London Zoo is bound to bring a smile to any child’s face!  Stroll over to pretty Primrose Hill where you will find an abundance of boutique shops, restaurants and pubs to unwind in after a long day at the office.

Having whet your appetite for the area, it just so happens that Davis Brown Estate Agents is bringing to the market 6 unique 2-bed apartments in the heart of Camden. Jeffrey’s Place is situated in a pretty cobbled mews just off Jeffrey’s Street which is believed to be one of the oldest streets in Camden. Each apartment provides luxurious living space within an historical industrial style building.  It was once a pipe factory dating back to 1915 so there’s some interesting history attached to this building too.  Contemporary and minimalistic in design whilst exposed brickwork and smart grey Crittall framed windows unite the original industrial history of the building.  What’s not to love?!  If you’re interested in viewing please contact Emma on 020 7637 1066 or pop in to our office at 1 Margaret Street, Fitzrovia.

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CLICK HERE TO VIEW BROCHURE

 

 

The Personal Touch!

 

If you are looking to buy a new home with the least trouble possible, you should start by finding yourself a real estate agent, and obviously one who knows the area you are looking in!  A lot of people think that they can simply go out by themselves and locate a property, and while it is possibly easier to do this type of thing in the era that we live in, based on the fact that there are tons of real estate listings on the internet these days – working with a real estate agent will make your life a whole lot easier!  A decent estate agent will typically know the ins and outs of the area you are looking in, will be knowledgeable and fully understanding of the market; they will have insider details of the properties that are available, so all this means that when you do find your new dream home they will have all the information at their fingertips, plus hopefully giving you confidence in the property and area you are buying in.

Know what you are looking for.  The more information the agent has, the easier it is to track down a property that is well suited to the client. However, keep in mind that each real estate agent operates differently and will have a varying degree of effectiveness, so do your homework and find an estate agent that is of the highest quality and demonstrates professionalism, flexibility, in-depth knowledge, and is well liked by previous clients.  All of which applies to us here at Davis Brown estate agents! If you’d like to start your search for a new home – renting or buying, our friendly team here at Davis Brown estate agents are looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Moving Home? Time to Declutter!

Some people find decluttering easy (“therapeutic”), some people don’t have clutter to start with (“minimalistic”), but for many people even the thought of decluttering can be traumatic let alone actually experiencing it! (“hoarder”).   The sensible thing to do would be to have a clear out a few times each year then at least you’re keeping your clutter to a minimum.  But as we all know, life gets in the way and before we know it we’re over-run with years’ worth of junk!  Talking to clients of Davis Brown over the years, moving home can often be the sole motivation for getting rid of it all so if you’re currently in that position – moving home but knee deep in clutter let me tell you a few facts to help motivate you with the task ahead.  According to flexispace.com …

  • 80% of the things we keep are never used.
  • People wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time.
  • 23% of adults don’t pay their bills on time because they simply can’t find them!
  • Removing clutter could cut down on 40% of your cleaning time.
  • The average person spends a whole year over a lifetime just looking for things.

As homes seem to be shrinking and space is at a premium here are a few creative storage ideas that may help you avoid cluttering after you move to your new home:

  • Under the bed storage is a great way to hide anything bulky such as bed linen.
  • Ottoman stools are great for storing away books, magazines and newspapers.
  • In the sofa and even in the stairs could be somewhere to hide away shoes and winter coats.
  • Replace your DVDs with an online service.
  • If you’re really short of space you could even install an over the toilet bathroom cabinet, or a great space-saving toilet & sink combo – a talking point if nothing else!
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Inside the mind of …..Emma How, Davis Brown’s newly appointed Director.

Hi Emma!  What is your role at DB?

I am a Director at Davis Brown and Head of Residential Sales and Lettings for central London.

What is Davis Brown’s USP?

We are unique family run property consultancy – offering a wealth of knowledge and a dedicated service to all our clients with that personal touch. 

What is your typical day (best and worst parts)?

I’m an early bird so I am in the office by 7.30am most days, 8 if I’ve been for a run before work!  We have a brief team meeting at 8.30am to discuss potential offers and instructions before we start our day of viewings and appointments.   Since we’re a family run firm, I am involved in many aspects of the business and my days are extremely varied!  Today started with a meeting reviewing a recent marketing campaign with the other Directors before going onto a sales and lettings appraisal for a two bedroom flat in a mansion block in Fitzrovia. Winning instructions is tough with so much competition but when you do you feel really great.   I usually grab lunch from one of the delicious local delis or as a treat I will go to the Detox Kitchen on Mortimer Street.  This afternoon  I have been on a couple of viewings at a gorgeous duplex flat and finished with an existing client who is looking at refurbishing a couple of their properties in Fitzrovia and Soho, and wants our advice on the standard and fixtures and fittings in order to achieve best value.  This aspect is probably one of my favourites of the job as interior design is a passion of mine – it’s extremely satisfying seeing a project from its often humble beginnings through to the finished product.   

My least favourite part of my job is informing clients when an offer falls through.  It’s so frustrating and we are always disappointed for them.  

The best of my job is that my days are so varied. I’m learning all the time!  We are an office of 18 people and we work really well as a team, we all pull together when needs be.

What is your favourite area of London and why?

I love Soho. I think it has some really cool and quirky property, excellent places to eat for all budgets and boutique stores. It’s an ever-changing area and keeps you on your toes! 

What is your favourite building in London?

Now, that’s a really difficult question!  I change my mind often, but the one that I’m really impressed with at the moment is Fitzroy Place – the new development of offices, shops and residential buildings.  It was completed in late 2014 and really adds to the area.   In the middle of this development is the Fitzroy Chapel, a beautifully restored Grade II listed building.  A superb mixture of old and new architecture.

What is your favourite Fitzrovia restaurant?

I love the Bonnie Gull on Foley Street.  The restaurant is quite quaint and they serve delicious fresh fish.  However, Dickie Fitz on Mortimer Street is a favourite newbie! 

How did you get into Estate Agency?

My father established Davis Brown with his business partner in 1998, and we have roots in the business dating back to 1901, so naturally I grew up with property in my blood!  I got to know and understand the property world and soon became fascinated with it.  After working one summer helping out the Residential team I knew property was the career for me!

What do you do after work?

To wind down after a busy day, I usually do some sort of exercise – a spinning class at Psyche on Mortimer Street in Fitzrovia or I run home as I am aiming to do a marathon next year if my legs hold out!   On a sunny summer’s evening I may just wander around the streets admiring all that London has to offer! A lot of my friends work in Fitzrovia so once a week we grab a bite to eat, or for a real bit of escapism I love to go to Theatreland to take in a play.

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Interior Trends

As always we at Davis Brown Estate Agents have our fingers firmly on the pulse of all things property and this of course includes interior design.  We love it! The eclectic mix of people at Davis Brown brings about interesting discussions on interior tastes!  When it comes to styling our living space we are becoming more and more influenced by trends; just like fashion trends come and go so does the way in which we decorate our homes.  Thanks to the growing popularity of home decorating TV programmes and magazines there are more and more shops featuring seasonal home trends – now at much more affordable prices making seasonable changes to our homes accessible to every budget.  

The obvious influence within our homes has been Scandinavian – it’s been huge in recent years and shows no sign of abating either, with shops like Ikea and Habitat keeping that trend very much at the forefront!  And it’s not just Scandi interior design, their food and clothing has been trending for quite some time too.

However much we are guided by trends it’s always nice to put our own stamp on our home, reflecting our personality, and as modern life gets busier and more pressured, our homes have become our sanctuaries where we need to feel comfortable in.  The area in which we live also has a big influence on our style, (or is it actually that we have a big influence on the style of where we live?!).  Certain types of people tend to cluster together in certain parts of the City.  North, South, East & West London all have their very own distinctive features. 

Metallics are a big trend at the moment with copper being a big hit last year, now it’s all about the brass and rose gold tones.  If you don’t fancy going the whole hog a little accent here and there such as a lamp base or vase can keep you up to date.  A more rustic look including weathered woods are beginning to take over from the industrialised look that has been so popular in recent years.  It’s back to nature for a lot of interior designers!   Other trends set to be big this year are leaves & foliage, artisan crafts, retro, modern rustic and wait for it…pink ! So do with that lot what you will! (perhaps not all in the same room though!).

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Best iPhone Apps for Property People

In an age where technology is changing the ball game across all sectors of life, property is no different.  We are all looking for those apps that make our life that little bit easier, give us that bit of inspiration or simply give us a helping hand and we at Davis Brown estate agents are all over it! We thought we would round up our top apps for property lovers, from finding it to styling it for all manner of abodes; so whether you have a city pad in fancy Fitzrovia or a country home in Oxfordshire, you deserve to have these on your smart phones!

Finding your property: 

RightMove and OnTheMarket

These property portal apps are easy to use, and allow you to shortlist and favourite properties until your hearts content.  We particularly like the easy to use, straightforward approach of the OnTheMarket app whilst RightMove’s map search is invaluable for those looking in a specific location.  Every chartered surveyor and estate agent in the land will be using these two!

Citymapper

With your shortlist at the ready, it’s time to get out on your viewings!  It’s a good idea to take public transport where you can when looking for a property as it gives you an idea of the area and its locality.  Citymapper has long been hailed as the go-to app to get about and the ‘Get Me Home’ function is eternally useful for those who have a tendency to get a little lost!

Around Me

Once you have found the property of your dreams, it’s time to get to know the area a little better. Use Around Me to search for the nearest doctors, petrol stations, bars, hotels…anything!  Use this app to get a feel of the property’s surrounding area, and to work whether the location is going to provide you with everything you need. 

Buying your property: 

Stamp duty calculator

Not the most exciting of apps, but definitely necessary for those in property.  Type in the property amount and it generates the stamp duty costs.  Knowing how much stamp duty is owed on a property is an important factor in price negotiations and financial planning – a definite essential.

Mortgage Assist

Created by the independent mortgage broker London and Country, Mortgage Assist allows the user to compare rates and calculate costs provides the user with a good rough guide that can be accessed anytime, anywhere!

Styling your property: 

Pinterest

Stuck for ideas? Head to Pinterest.  With an infinite number of photos, articles and blogs, it’s possible to bring even the most unusual of interior ideas to life as the likelihood is if you’ve thought of it…someone’s already pinned it!

Ikea

Ikea – the ever relevant go to for home furniture and furnishings.  Although you can’t shop on the app, whiling away the hours browsing through their on screen catalogue is definitely not wasted time.  The app also has a clever feature which allows you to take a photo of your room, and place a piece of furniture in it – while it may not look that realistic, it does give you a good idea of how that coveted armchair you’ve been looking at will look!

Ruler

No explanation necessary – a ruler is an essential for any property lovers’ pocket! 

iHandy Level

We have all had those moments…enthusiasm takes over and suddenly hanging your new canvas on the wall at 11:00pm at night seems like a genius idea…until you take a step back and it’s wonky.   iHandy is a handy(!) tool that turns your iPhone into a leveller and will save you many a mistaken hole in the wall.  

Houzz

If you like Pinterest, you’ll love Houzz.  Reams and reams of pictures and postings for all the inspiration you need and handily categorised by room.   You can even create your own mood boards to save the things you like.

Photomeasures

How many times have you been to a shop, seen that perfect photo frame for the living room or the fabric you’re after for your curtains on offer… and realised you can’t buy any of it because you haven’t got the measurements?! We have all been there, but this app ensures you are never lost again.  Take a photo of the window or picture, and add the measurements on to the relevant places! Note, this is especially useful when purchasing fabric so you can get that extra length out of your width!

 

 

The Madness of Summer!

Historically, late spring and the summer months are the busiest for Estate Agents in London. As the days get longer and the sun starts shining, demand in the London lettings market increases – school holidays are upon us, students are arriving and tenants spend time exploring their options. Based in Fitzrovia since 1901, Davis Brown Estate Agents have a wealth of experience behind us and we’d like to offer you a brief guide to navigating the property world in the manic summer months..

1.Think about your search criteria

Everyone loves a list so start by making one.  What would make your ‘perfect property’?  What is important to you and what are willing to compromise on?  The rental market moves quickly in the summer months so you’ll need to make sure time spent looking at a property is worth it.

  1. Make use of those long summer days and prepare!

Take advantage of the longer lighter days.  Are you interested in moving to a new area, or have you seen an apartment on a street you have never been to before?  Pop out after work or early in the morning and take a look around the area, is it somewhere you could see yourself commuting to and from every day?  Doing a recce in the location of a property before a viewing can help you decide if the important boxes are ticked.

  1. Make sure your paperwork is in order

Legislation on renting a property is ever changing so it’s essential that you are as prepared as possible for when you put down an offer on a property.  Agents now need to see original copies of your passports and visas (if applicable), along with proof of your address.  We recommend that you have all of this information to hand and keep an electronic copy on your phone.  Once you have an offer accepted, you can then get your identification over to your agents as soon as possible and secure that apartment.

  1. Get your finances in place

Nearly all estate agents will require a holding deposit to secure a property.  Once the holding deposit has cleared in the agents account, the property will usually be reserved and marked as ‘under offer’.  It’s a good idea to have the cash ready in your bank account to send to the agent as soon as your offer has been accepted on a property – time spent transferring monies from one account to another etc. will only delay you in securing that property.

  1. Don’t delay!

Try not to wait too long to make a decision.  The chances are that someone else has also seen it and likes it too.  With a higher demand, it important to understand that properties are rented quickly and we wouldn’t want you to lose out!

If you are looking for a property to rent this summer, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Emma or Sarah-Jane from the Davis Brown Residential Department on 0207 637 1066.

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Things to Know About the Prime Central Housing Market

London property prices are booming and despite fears of a housing crash in the capital, the market is still healthy. However, new statistics suggest that the prime central London sales market had a slightly slower year in 2015. Expensive properties that exceed £1 million decreased at the end of last year, while houses that have a value of more than £5 million saw an even bigger drop. Here are a couple of facts you need to know about the London market:

1. Expensive properties in London fell for the first time in years during 2015.  Some stats illustrate the current climate of the London housing market. According to LonRes, prices fell by -0.4 percent during the fourth quarter of 2015. Although homes that sold for less than £1 million continued to soar, rising a hefty 7.8 percent during the course of a year, there were concerns about whether London’s property boom was beginning to show signs of fatigue. The most expensive properties in London (those which have a value of at least £5 million) fell even further, decreasing by -8.6 percent during the year. Meanwhile, there were fewer transactions recorded in the final three months of 2015 than the same period in 2014.

2. Market conditions and the value of sterling had an effect on property prices in the capital.  Duty reform at the end of 2014 saw the cost of property in the upper thresholds skyrocket, which affected demand for houses in the capital. This, alongside other price increases in the economy and the value of pound sterling, saw the London housing market slump for the first time in years. When the Conservative government was elected in May 2015, things looked bright;  plans for a mansion tax – one of Labour’s policies – were quickly forgotten when David Cameron won a majority in the House of Commons. However, prices in some parts of the capital stalled, leading some to question the future of the housing market. Other political factors could come into play that could influence the future of the property market in London. The EU referendum, which takes place next month, could lead to a “see-saw” effect, according to some housing experts which could weaken prices further.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – properties in the capital still have a higher price tag than anywhere else in the United Kingdom, and as foreign investors continue to buy property in the Big Smoke, homeowners and developers can still make a small fortune. Whether the price drops for homes that exceed £1 million will reverse – well we’ll have to wait and see. The prime central London residential market is still one of the strongest in Europe and the drops experienced at the end of 2015 could just be a minor blip.primepic