All posts by davisbrown

Maintaining Your Home

All estate agents know that tenants and buyers alike can’t wait to get their mitts on the keys to their new abode and start making a property a home!  Whether it’s a full refurbishment project or a case of putting your own furniture in, moving is exciting but exhausting – once the slog of moving is over, the temptation is to put your feet up and enjoy your property – which of course, you must!   However, it’s important to go back and check over your property regularly to ensure that your home is maintained.  And as a property management company and estate agents in W1, we know the key things to keep an eye on, and the easiest way to keep your home looking its best.

I.            Keep the place clean! Needless to say that you should aim to have a good clean of your property at least once a week – staying on top of it keeps it smelling fresh and looking smart, but it will also keep unwanted intruders such as ants and mice at bay.  Apparently though, if you want to have a clean and tidy home, you need to allow sage to grow in your garden (but that’s only if you believe in Old Wives’ Tales…)

II.           Move your furniture around – items left in the same spot can leave marks on the floor and the carpet; an easy way to avoid this is to have a shuffle around once or twice a year.  Plus you’re giving your home a fresh, new look!

III.          Keep on top of your paintwork.  Scuffed the paint? Give it a gentle wipe with a damp cloth! Looking after your walls and gloss work is vital to maintaining the appearance of your property – real no-no’s include dragging items along the wall and touching the walls with dirty hands (difficult with small children – we know!).  It may sound picky, but looking after your walls will keep your property looking newer for longer and keep the costs down in the long run.

IV.         Regularly air your property.  If the weather’s nice, open those doors and windows! Letting the air circulate for a good few hours dries out any damp areas, whilst bringing some freshness into your home.

V.           Don’t forget about those rarely seen or used areas.  Under the sofa… behind the radiators… the back corner of the spare room… keep an eye on parts of your home that aren’t always in use, plus I have never not found money under the sofa!  Dust and mould can quickly grow in areas that are sparsely used, whilst cracks and damp need to be kept an eye on – if you have areas of your home which you don’t always use, check on them a couple of times a month just to be safe. 

So there we have it, maintaining your home is an easy and relatively stress free way to keep your property looking in good nick for longer – small things build up over time and so little and often is the best way forward.  The most important thing to remember is that if you look after your property, it will look after you!

For more information about residential lettings, sales or property management, please contact Davis Brown, W1 on 0207 637 1066.

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How uncertain is London’s Property Market post BREXIT?

Since the UK voted to leave the European Union on 24th June there has been an overwhelmingly pessimistic response from London property agents and the media in regards to the future of the London property market.

Despite this, a number of commercial agents in London have reported that investment deals have not been as affected as predicted, with less than 10% of deals made prior to the vote failing to proceed. Although there has been some renegotiation there has reportedly not been a noticeable drop in prices.*

Estate agents in Central London have continued to suggest that house prices have dropped within the most expensive postcodes. Despite this, viewings of residential lettings for London’s luxury homes have reportedly increased by 15% in comparison to last year. Many have been by commercial tenants, as experienced by Davis Brown through the letting of a newly refurbished flat with patio on Goodge Street.

The Bank of England’s reduction of the base rate to 0.25% could encourage more people to move their savings into property with a chance for better ‘tracker mortgage’ deals. As London still seriously suffers from a ‘housing crisis’ it is difficult to see if it really will see a significant drop in housing prices as many are predicting.

Halifax*** has reported that despite erratic changes in the House Price Index immediately post BREXIT, the market remains robust overall. There were severe falls recorded in Knightsbridge, but this was an area favoured by overseas investors, which had already seen a significant drop in investment due to increased stamp duty. Outside of these few areas the property market has appeared to remain stable overall.

Although the future remains uncertain, evidence suggests that the impact of the BREXIT vote has been less than expected so far, and where prices have fallen this appears to be most influenced by change in stamp duty.

Changes in the property market over the next few years may be largely influenced by negotiations and decisions made by the Government both overseas and in the UK. If the approach is to incentivise people to work and invest in London and the rest of the UK once leaving the European single market, the pessimists could be proven wrong. We will just have to wait and see.

 

 

 

*CoStar article 25th July – Investment transactions holding up well post Brexit vote

** Telegraph 3rd August – What Brexit property lull? Renting London’s luxury homes on the up

*** The Week August – Post-Brexit house prices remain ‘robust’ in July

Get Fit in Fitzrovia!

Get Fit in Fitzrovia!

These 4 years have flown by since our fabulous city of London hosted the 2012 Olympics, and here we are again on the eve of the 2016 Olympics – this time with Rio being the hosts. The opening ceremony starts late tonight with the first races being held tomorrow. Now, if you are feeling inspired and want to take the first step to a new healthy you, I’ve found a few places to help you get fit in Fitzrovia! There are plenty to choose from so get up out of that office chair and get moving! Firstly you’ll need to get yourself kitted out and Runners Need on Great Portland Street is just the ticket! A useful shop where they will help you find the best sports clothing and equipment and even analyse your gait while running to help you find the best sports shoe.

Now for the tough stuff! Let’s start with Psycle on Mortimer Street, apart from having a clever name the trainers here will get those adductors toned in no time! Spin classes with an eclectic mix of energetic music to keep you motivated. Sohot Bikramyoga on Clipstone Street, get ready to feel the heat, sweat profusely and don’t forget your towel (very important Bikram etiquette!). Good Vibes on Tottenham Street – you have everything under one roof here including yoga, power plates, spin, personal training, and if you’re feeling like a bit of pampering they also offer alternative therapies and massage. Pure Gym on Great Portland Street offers a no frills experience and the bonus here is you can pay as you go, plus they offer free classes each and every week! Then we have Studio on Mortimer Street; they have all sorts of classes from Pilates to ballet.

Part of getting healthy is eating well so if you’re feeling hungry after your workout but don’t want to undo all the good work you’ve just done, you could pop upstairs from Studio to the Detox Kitchen (a firm favourite of ours here at Davis Brown Estate Agents) and grab yourself a delicious nutritious meal and feel smug in the fact that it will be doing your body the world of good! Other establishments to grab a healthy bite are Maple and Fitz in Berners Street where you will find an abundance of superfood salads and delicious fresh juices, Crussh on Rathbone Place, and if you fancy giving meat a miss why not try the new Veggie Pret on Broadwick Street?

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Spare Room Inspiration!

Do you have a spare room, or an area in your home that isn’t being used for more than – well, let’s be honest – a dumping ground?   I’m sure there are a fair few of us who could put our hands up to this so why not take the bull by the horns and do something about it?  Not only will it provide you with a useful space, it’ll stop you muttering under your breath “I MUST do something about that room!” every time you walk past it!   So we at Davis Brown Estate Agents have put together some ideas to get you started in making the area something you’ve always wanted.

Home Office

If you are a home worker – or are planning on becoming one, an office in your home is a great idea.  Rather than sitting at the kitchen table with your laptop, it’s a good idea to have a space specifically for working in.  This way you have a quiet oasis for working and a separate space for living.  Easy to kit out relatively cheaply too, with a desk and chair and neutral décor.

Gym

If you are one the many who has spent a fortune on their gym membership, only to ever use it once in a blue moon because you don’t have the time, or simply can’t be bothered, then turning your spare room into a home gym negates these excuses!  You can often pick up free or cheap second hand gym equipment on websites such as Freecycle, Gumtree or Streetlife.  Mount a TV on the wall, tune in to MTV and voila – there’s no excuse not to get fit!  

Walk in Wardrobe

Ok so this is where all your winter coats and shoes are anyway – but on the floor in a mess!  How about flexing your DIY muscles and getting some proper storage where you can neatly store away your clothes, shoes and handbags.  Ikea has some great storage ideas and at very reasonable prices.

Bedroom

Rather than having guests staying on a blow up mattress on the sitting room floor, how about clearing out the junk you’ve accumulated over the years – car boot sale springs to mind – and give them a proper bedroom to stay in.  Sofa bed, wardrobe and chest of drawers; it’s not going to break the bank and you may find yourself a little more popular with friends!

Movie Room

A largish wall, comfy chairs, a projector, some black out blinds and popcorn and you have yourself a home cinema for all the family!

Sauna

Just for that touch of luxury!

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It’s all about kerb appeal!

Everyone knows not to judge a book by its cover…but we all do – and in this case it could make all the difference!  As Estate Agents in W1, as soon as we approach a property we can see our buyers starting to make their initial judgements.  Is the outside clean and tidy?  Are the windows in good condition?  Does the building look secure?  Whether it’s for sale or to let, the ‘kerb appeal’ of your property is crucially important – first impressions do count!  As estate agents with years of experience pounding the streets, viewing many a property, we thought we would give you our top tips for giving your property that “wow” factor from the off.

From the moment buyers set eyes on a property, they may be asking themselves Is it structurally sound?  Is it well maintained?   Is it going to cost me a fortune to renovate?  Regardless of the size of your property, a manicured exterior gives the impression of a careful homeowner – and if the buyer believes you have looked after your property they are going to be more confident in you and your home.  There are a few easy ways to instantly freshen up the exterior.

  1. Take five minutes to look at the exterior of your property. How does it look – is the guttering in good order?  If your budget allows a repaint of the windows and downpipes give an instant refresh.   But what if you’re in a flat and this is not possible?  Give the windows a good clean, and ensure that the panes are sparkling.
  1. Make use of what you’ve got! Regardless of size, if you have outside space, make sure you are using it to its maximum.   Start by removing any clutter and weeds.  Once tidy, plant up a couple of tubs with bright coloured flowers and arrange them around the front door.   If you have a balcony, why not use a couple of window boxes to add a bit of flora and fauna?  Ikea has great ideas for adding colours and quirks to small outside areas.
  1. It’s important outside as well as in. Especially in the shorter, winter days – lighting outside is a must.  A welcoming light outside the front door is always a nice touch as no-one likes standing around in the dark!
  1. The front door. We see the front door of our homes so much that we probably don’t notice that it may be looking a little forlorn!  Is the number or name intact and clearly visible?  Does the paintwork look a little tired?  Sanding down the front door and repainting it is a great way to freshen up your property’s look.  Choosing a bright coloured paint or quirky lettering or numbers will make your property stand out and help to differentiate it from the others.   People always remember something a little unusual.
  1. Lastly, is the property secure? A sure-fire way for a potential vendor/tenant to be assured that it is would be if they saw two good quality locks in the front door!  That said – make sure you don’t go overboard otherwise you’ll leave the potential buyer/renter wondering why there’s a need for such extensive security!   Your local hardware store will be able to advise you on all things locks!

 

The Urban Beach

If, over the last few days – like us here at Davis Brown Estate Agents in W1, you have been longing to get to the seaside to walk along the beach, feeling the soft sand between your toes with an ice cream in hand,  but you’ve not been able to as you lives miles from the sea!  Well, panic not –   if the mountain won’t go to Muhammed, Muhammed must come to the mountain!  There’s no need to step foot outside the M25 as tonnes of sand have been transported to all over London to create several different urban beaches, which come along with plenty of beach activities and paraphernalia.  Now I can’t promise you blue skies, hot temperatures and sparkling turquoise seas, but if you’ve decided upon a staycation this summer you could do worse than to take your family or friends to one of these urban beaches. 

Camden Beach

“NW1” and “beach” aren’t usually words you would normally hear in the same sentence, but now this urban beach is being very much talked about!  150 tonnes of sand has been installed on the terrace of the Roundhouse, with deck chairs, beach huts and ping pong tables!   

Cabana’s Copacabana Beach

You’ll find this tribute to Rio’s most famous beach down on the Southbank this summer.  BBQs and cocktails galore!   Great for kids to dig around and build the perfect sandcastle too!   

Beach East

You’ll find this one at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, food outlets and 2 bars will be on hand to keep you refreshed, and kids can keep cool in the paddling pool or be entertained on the fairground rides.   

You will also be able to find beaches in Brixton, Brent Cross, Greenwich and at London’s Royal Docks in E16.  Spoilt for choice! 

Remember to sunbath responsibly and don’t forget your sun cream!

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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.