All posts by davisbrown

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!


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: 


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 – 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!


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.  


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.


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.


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

Mayor of London – Election 2016 – Goldsmith vs Khan

A bit of history about the Mayor of London Elections…

Labour Ken Livingstone -the first London Mayor took up his post on 4th May 2000, and London Mayoral elections have taken place every 4 years since.   Ken held his position until 2008 when he was succeeded by Conservative Boris Johnson who is still Mayor of London – but not for long!  We have the next election looming, on 5th May when Londoners will be voting for their third London mayor – the bookie’s two favourites being Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan.

How did the first London mayoral elections come about?  Londoners voted in a referendum in 1998 to create new governance structure for Greater London, and the Mayor of London was created by the Great London Authority Act 1999.  Main functions of the Mayor of London include decisions on transport policy, fire and emergency planning, policing and crime policy, environmental planning and economic development.


Zac vs Sadiq

In the upcoming election for Mayor of London the provision of housing has been a key issue for all candidates, with many feeling it is London’s greatest concern.

As we draw closer to the election date it has clearly become a two horse race between Zac Goldsmith, Conservative and Sadiq Khan, Labour. A brief summary of Zac and Sadiq’s proposals to solve London’s housing problem are as follows:


Zac Goldsmith

  • Build 50,000 homes a year by 2020 by:
  1. Releasing public sector land
  2. Creating a team of ‘flying planners’ to unblock stalled sites and speed up the planning process
  3. Ensure sector is competitive as possible by ‘tackling’ land banking to help smaller builders compete
  4. Setting up a House Building Academy
  5. Lobbying Government to grant councils and housing associations to borrow and build
  6. Creating a council-led London-wide Housing Fund
  7. Amend London Plan so that estate regeneration will only happen with resident support


  • Help Londoners on average salaries get their first home by:


  1. Homes built on Mayoral land ring-fenced for Londoners
  2. ‘Mayor’s Mortgage’ to help Londoners buy off-plan
  3. Ending backroom deals
  4. Requiring Local Councils to support ‘mixed communities’
  • Build houses people want to live in by:
  1. Appoint a new Chief Architect to drive high quality design across London
  2. Backing genuine consulting over box-checking exercises
  3. Helping communities co-design developments, creating better homes and speeding up the planning process
  • Assist tenants in getting a better deal by:
  1. Fining & blacklisting the ‘rogue’ landlords
  2. Strengthening London’s Rental Standard so 3 year tenancies become standard
  3. Lobbying Government to ensure estate agent fees are upfront and cost-reflective
  4. Amend planning rules so that more homes are built to rent, not just for sale.


Sadiq Khan

  • Set up ‘Home for Londoners’ team bringing together experts in councils, housing associations, developers, investors, businesses and residents’ organisations. This will lead to the construction of:
  1. Homes for social rent
  2. Homes for ‘London Living Rent’ – third of average local wages
  3. Homes for first-time buyers – ‘part buy/part rent’ on public land for people who have rented for 5 plus years
  4. Londoners to get first chance on public land
  5. Homes on NHS sites for NHS workers
  6. Planning for new affordable homes near new transport infrastructure


  • Work with boroughs to make 50% of new homes affordable by:
  1. Setting clear guidelines for developments
  2. Supporting councils in their enforcement of clear rules to maximise affordable housing
  3. Helping councils, housing associations and co-operatives to invest in land
  4. Right-to-buy receipts for smaller organisations
  5. Developing public land
  6. Incentivising businesses to invest in new homes for work force
  7. Bringing in a ‘Use it or lose it’ policy to end land banking


  • Support London’s tenants by:
  1. Setting up not-for-profit letting agencies
  2. Promoting landlord licensing schemes
  3. Naming and shaming rogue landlords


  • Protect London’s social housing by:
  1. Working with housing associations to keep rents down
  2. Only allowing estate regeneration with residents’ support and demolition if there would be no loss in social housing


  • Change planning regulations to:
  1. Give residents greater protection from basement excavations
  2. Support ‘tenure-blind’ development
  3. Protect greenbelt, green areas, play spaces – prioritising on brownfield sites.
  4. Support councils to bring empty homes to use on a ‘buy-to-leave’ basis.
  5. Improve planning policies to give elderly more choice
  6. Make 10% new homes be wheelchair accessible


Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan’s policies overlap with the intention of speeding up the planning process, making more land available for development and getting tenants better and more secure deals on their lease.

Despite this Sadiq Khan is more focused on social housing and putting increased pressure on a higher level of affordable housing. Many would argue that this is necessary, however on the other side of the coin, there is the possibility that many projects may become financially unviable. If so could this lead to a drop in residential development or a drop in quality of new build housing?

According to recent polls (which are known for their reliability) Sadiq Khan is several points ahead, however all is still to be decided on Thursday. The question is: how much will you be affected by the proposals and who has won your vote?



May Day

May Day!

At this time of year we seem to have a flurry of bank holidays.  First it was Easter – always grateful for when Easter comes along after the long winter, then in May we are hit with a double whammy – 2 Mondays off in a month woohoo!   The first bank holiday in May (May Day) is this coming Monday and its customs go way back.  Back in the Dark Ages the Celts divided the year into four major festivals, and Beltane or the “Fire of the Bel” (May Day) represented the first day of summer and bonfires were lit in the celebrations.   These pagan festivities did not go down well with the Church or the State and in the sixteenth century May Day celebrations were banned, riots occurred and people were hanged!  Henry VIII is said to have pardoned a further 400 who had been sentenced to death.   May Day festivities were almost lost when Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans came to power in 1645, which described maypole dancing as “heathenish vanity generally abused to superstition and wickedness” – and that was the end of festivities for a while!   Dancing returned to the village greens when Charles II came to power and erected a 40 metre high maypole in the Strand in London –and it remained there for 50 years.

To this day all over the country traditions are still held strong; in Oxford you will find the May Morning revellers gathering below the Great Tower of Magdalen College singing madrigals, some then will leap off the Magdalen Bridge in to the river below, although the bridge has been closed in recent years on May 1st for health and safety reasons!  Other May Day celebrations include crowning a May Queen and that oh-so-English of dances – Morris dancing!   There is the May Day Run where thousands of motorbikes drive the 55 miles from London to Hastings, this has been tradition for 30 years and is growing in popularity.  In Padstow, Cornwall they hold the annual Obby-Oss (Hobby Horse) day of festivities. This is believed to be one of the oldest fertility rites in the UK and revellers dance with the Oss through the streets accompanied by accordion players and followers dressed in white with red or blue sashes who sing the traditional May Day songs.   Whatever you choose to get up to on Monday, all of us at Davis Brown Estate Agents in Fitzrovia wish you a fun-filled day off!


Beautiful Blooms!

If you weren’t already aware, it’s National Gardening Week and today specifically is National Open Gardens Day. Yes it’s a little damp in London today but remember it’s not about us – it’s about the nations beautiful gardens this week and without the rain we wouldn’t have them to enjoy!  Every cloud….

All over the country gardens will be opening their doors to the public today, and places which normally charge entry or are closed to the public, are opening their doors for free so take advantage and take your brolly! Many of the gardens have a magnificent building set within them, so as well as seeing an abundance of flowers, plants and trees you can also experience architecture and history at the same time.  Hever Castle in Edenbridge is one such place and was the home of Henry VIIIs most famous wife – Anne Boleyn.  At Kew Garden you can adopt a seed and be part of the world’s most important conservation project – brilliant idea!

We have some keen gardeners here at Davis Brown Estate Agents too, multi-talented us lot – I’ve tried some of the home grown fruit and veg! And whether you have acres and acres or simply a modest balcony there is no reason why you can’t grow your own.  We have had in the past many properties on our books and currently have on the market too, some fine examples of outside space from large walled gardens to balconies and roof terraces; the montage below is a collection of outside spaces from our properties in Archer Street and Lupus House in Soho, Crawford Place & Welbeck Street in Marylebone, Ordnance Hill in St John’s Wood and Clapham Common.  Just because you’re in the centre of town doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some fantastic outside space and get those green fingers to work!  Garden collage

Put a Spring in your Step in Marylebone!

Marylebone – strange name whose pronunciation has been under scrutiny for many years, but where did the name come from?   It comes from the name of the Old Tyburn church which was pulled down and relocated in 1400 to what is now known as Marylebone High Street.  The church was re-named St Marys and the areas soon became known as St Mary’s on the Bourne (“bourne” meaning small river or stream), then St Mary-la-Bourne, then St Marylebone.  So it is basically translated to “the church on the river”.   Several spellings have included Mary-le-burn, Mariburn, Mary-la-bonne and my favourite – Marrowbone!

Nowadays Marylebone is characterised by major streets such as Baker, Wimpole, Marylebone High & Harley, and is regarded as one of London’s most salubrious areas.   On buzzy Marylebone High Street and close by you will find a plethora of fabulous boutiques including hair salons, clothes shops including charity shops which are a must for anyone searching second hand designer gear!  Restaurants and watering holes, and talking of Marrowbone, even the best butcher in London – the Ginger Pig has a branch here.  Being payday for many of us, you could venture this way this weekend!  Over the years the area has drawn in all sorts of folk such as Charles Dickens, the actress Vivien Leigh, the Cambridge spies Anthony Blunt and Guy Burgess and many more so keep your eyes open for those little blue plaques!

As well as all the above you will also find a delightful 1 bedroom property that has just come on to the market with us at Davis Brown Estate Agents. It’s at Melcombe Regis Court, so if this area appeals do pop in to us at 1 Margaret St in Fitzrovia and we will happily introduce you to the flat!


Fish Friday

Following on from our Markets of London theme, Billingsgate market is one of a kind. You will never have experienced anything quite like it (unless you work on a trading floor in the City – then you might feel quite at home here.).  By the time we mere mortals arrive at work the fun and games at Billingsgate will all be over, it’s an early start here at 4am and is done and dusted by 9.30am – but the earlier you get there the better.

It’s the UK’s largest fish market, based in Poplar E14 and set within 13 acres; it covers 2 floors, with 98 stands and 30 shops including cafes, an ice making plant and freezers and other culinary paraphernalia. It’s policed by market Constables appointed by the Superintendent – this market means business!  It’s not just open to traders, restaurateurs and the like, the public are welcome too if you don’t mind the early start and its open Tuesdays to Saturdays.

25,000 tonnes of fish are sold here each year and surprisingly 40% of the fish is imported from abroad. You can buy fresh or frozen fish, and many live crustaceans too – not for the faint hearted.  Billingsgate offers a seafood training course so for those of you who feel inspired by your visit can learn how to prepare and cook delicious, nutritious meals.

Being Estate Agents in this magnificent city we are always interested in anywhere that has an historical background – and Billingsgate isn’t short of that! Before it moved to its current home in 1982, Byllynsgate (as it was originally known) was situated in the City of London and was a general market for corn, coal, iron, wine, salt and fish and it wasn’t until the 16th century that it sold fish exclusively.  The original site is now known as Old Billingsgate Market and remains a major London landmark and a notable Grade II listed building.  If I’ve piqued your interest and you fancy making the trip to Poplar, make sure you have £2 in change for the car park and be sure to don your wellies!FISHPIC



One of my most favourite things about London is its markets; it’s easy to while away hours and hours on a weekend rummaging around stalls, finding yourself a bargain, or simply sitting al fresco at a café watching the world go by. This time of the year – when the days start to elongate and Spring is just around the corner is prime time to visit.  The diversity of our London markets means there is something for everybody, but my favourite has to be Portobello Road – which translates from Italian as “Beautiful Road”.  It’s nestled in one of the trendiest areas of London –Notting Hill, it’s a hotspot for tourist and visitors flock from all over the world.

Although it is predominantly known as an antiques market with over 1000 dealers, Portobello is open to everyone, you can buy yourself a kilo of oranges as well as a vintage Rolex watch. It is loosely split into 5 sections: clothing, household essentials, fruit and veg and the largest part – antiques and it stretches over a few different roads.  There are plenty of pubs along the route to quench your thirst, and sate your hunger, you could even try their very own Portobello Gin, distilled locally!

Up until the 1940s, Portobello Road market was like many other London markets and mainly sold food and other essential items, still being sold today. However in the 1940s, ‘rag and bone’ men started selling their wares and were soon joined by other traders specialising in brick-a-back and antiques and this part of the market grew to what it is today.   Saturday is the best day to visit.

Davis Brown Estate Agents in W1 have sold and let in this area including properties in Hereford Road, Moorhouse Road and Hatherley Grove. It truly is a fabulous place to live with pretty tree-lined streets, you will never be short of things to do, plus transport to central London is quick and easy!

Home of the famous antique market.
Home of the famous antique market.

A Flurry of Flowers!

Florists all over the country will have been working away all week for one of their busiest times of the year, why? You hadn’t forgotten surely!  It’s Mothering Sunday on 6th March.  So where did this tradition come from?  Buried somewhere beneath the cards and flowers lies a Christian tradition that goes back centuries.  In America Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May – and was official proclaimed “Mother’s Day” by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. This resulted from a campaign by Anna Jarvis whose own beloved mother Ann Reeves Jarvis died 9th May 1905. The first unofficial celebration was in 1908 when Anna held a memorial for her mother in West Virginia.  The tradition then came to Britain when Constance Smith who was a high Anglican, was inspired after reading an article about Anna’s campaign and decided that it should be celebrated in England in the 4th Sunday of Lent.  And so it became oh so commercialised!

Flowers are a delightful and fail-safe way to show your love, appreciation and gratification to the woman who bore you. There are so many places in London to grab a bunch of flowers including several florists near us Davis Brown estate agents, making Fitzrovia a brighter and more beautiful place to be! But if you want a real floral experience you could get up early on Sunday morning and head to Covent Garden Flower Market (confusingly situated in Vauxhall), or you could have a more leisurely mooch around Columbia Road flower market. Awash with colour and floral scents, it’s open each Sunday from 8am to around 3pm come rain, wind, snow or shine – a really fabulous day out in the east end of London.  Columbia Road has plenty of great places to go for lunch too, my favourite being the Royal Oak, but make sure you get there early!