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Regional report

Each month we visit three agents across the country to discover what is happening in their businesses and local markets. This month we meet members of The Guild of Professional Estate Agents in Salisbury, Northwood, Middlesex and Leamington Spa.

The Negotiator

David Clayton, Bassets, imageDAVID CLAYTON,
Managing Director, Bassets

With a strong community spirit and many cultural attractions, including Stonehenge and our famous Cathedral, Salisbury attracts a wide range of residents. With a direct train line up to London Waterloo, which is expected to get faster within the next two years, we have a growing number of commuters moving to Salisbury. Bassets is a proud member of the Guild of Professional Estate Agents and thus has good links to the London market.

David Clayton, Bassets, image

STATS: Average sale viewings per month: 220 Average sales per month: 22 Average lets per month: 2

The Cathedral City of Salisbury provides everything that is needed; a comprehensive choice of educational institutions including a choice of grammar and private schools, a broad range of shopping, restaurants and pubs plus leisure facilities and a theatre. The city also has excellent transport links and is situated just eight miles from the A303 (London/Exeter).

The traditional local housing stock caters for a wide range of buyers – with a large number of smaller Victorian properties suitable for first time buyers or investor, larger period homes within the catchment area for the private schools, attractive village homes for those wanting a semi-rural lifestyle and a growing number of housing development properties ideal for those wanting a modern family home.

The increase in stamp duty from April has frightened off a significant number of buy-to-let investors and the huge number of new homes being built locally is making the second hand market a very tough one. There will be less rental property coming to the market as a result of the stamp duty changes. Due to the lack of supply, rental values (which are already high) are expected to remain high.

Bassets is an independent estate agent with four offices Wiltshire, established by David and his wife in 2002. They were not estate agents by trade, but knowing what a poor reputation the industry had and having had been disappointed by the service they had received when selling, buying and letting out their own properties, they were sure that they could do things a lot better. Because of these past experiences, customer service is at the heart of their business and is a part of Bassets’ culture. This attitude, this has allowed Bassets to become the market leader for lettings in their area (over 20 per cent).


James Hawkesford imageJAMES HAWKESFORD
Managing Director, Hawkesford

Hawkesford is a family-owned firm of estate and letting agents with offices in Leamington Spa, Warwick and Southam. Set up by James’ father, Malcolm Hawkesford, in the market town of Southam in 1991, it soon grew to be a five-office, multi-disciplinary practice covering the South Warwickshire area in its entirety.

Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, image

STATS: Average property price: 400,000 Average fee for sales: 1.25 per cent Average rentals: £1,200 pcm

In 2007, they sold their outlying offices to Connells and retained the core business through the Leamington Spa office. Later that year the recession hit so the timing of the sale was very fortunate – especially given James’ father’s sudden death in 2008.

A qualified chartered surveyor, James took over the running of the business and began to develop the company again – opening a branch in Warwick in 2010, and in Southam in 2012.

Specialising in the sale and letting of all types of property, the average sale price of the properties handled across the three branches was around £400,000 this year; with standard fees averaging 1.25 per cent. Average letting prices are in the region of £1,200 per month.

A Warwickshire company, they find that house prices in this area are directly affected by the close proximity of Jaguar Land Rover; an organisation which has expanded significantly over the past few years.

Other major employers in the area include National Grid, Rolls Royce and Aston Martin which have also contributed to the steady increase in both house prices and rental values which have continued to rise.

Another factor is the lack of new properties coming onto the market – something which has not been helped by the uncertainty caused by the EU Referendum.

At Hawkesford, 25 members of staff strive to provide a superior service for clients and are this year celebrate their 25th anniversary. As well as specialising in sales and lettings, the agency also has chartered surveyors, so they are able to provide professional advice through this sector, providing our clients with the complete property service. They have close relationships with a number of local solicitors and can arrange impartial financial advice.

Hawkesford is also known for the sale of more unusual properties – many of which are carried out through our auctioneering department, the side of the business, which, says James, he most enjoys. They have also recently become the first agency in the area to launch an online auction platform and have already obtained their first ‘online-only’ instruction – a three bedroom, semidetached property in central Leamington Spa.


Oliver Squires, Gibbs Gillespie, imageOLIVER SQUIRES
Branch Manager, Gibbs Gillespie

Northwood is a real magnet for families attracted by its good schools. There are five excellent private schools with a couple of square miles and this added to excellent Metropolitan Line links into London mean properties in the town are highly sought after.

Northwood, Middlesex, image

STATS: Avg property price: 750k Number of viewings per month: 200 Most popular type of property: 3-4 bedroom detached houses

This year has been a steady one but like the rest of the UK there has been an element of the market waiting to see what the EU Referendum result will bring.

One thing that is clear during this uncertain spell is that serious, ‘must move’ buyers are still out there but negotiating a little harder than usual.

Regardless of the repercussions of the Brexit, the standard of local education will stay high and the transport links will remain the same, which will maintain desire to move to Northwood.

The nearby Moor Park Estate is a big draw for many people whose budgets are over £1 million.

The main shopping area has several good restaurants and independent cafes, a Waitrose supermarket, while Watford’s larger retail centre is just 15 minutes drive away.

There are three good golf courses locally and the Riverside Club offers tennis, a gym and many more high quality sports facilities.

The majority of our buyers are families who are moving from nearby Pinner, Harrow and Ruislip. We have sister offices in these towns and that stands us in great stead as sellers appreciate our network taps into hundreds of potential buyers.

This is important for us as it is a very competitive High Street for estate agents and every little edge that you can add helps win instructions.

The area has a real mix of properties from mansions in Moor Park to ex Local Authority flats in nearby Northwood Hills.

Access to the M40 and M25 is good but as mentioned above the commuters within the town tend to work in central London often in the financial sector.

August 16, 2016

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