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12Dec

Are you planning your next move in 2019? In the run-up to Christmas, with everything going on, it’s easy to think that you should put off having a valuation and then placing your property on the market for sale or rent, until the New Year. 

However, did you know that Christmas is prime time for people to start their property hunt online? Yes, never mind the Boxing Day sales and pondering what Kevin Mcallister's Dad's Job was in Home Alone for them to be able to live in such a big house, (just us?), it seems that there is a huge appetite for shopping for property over the festive period as we all look forward to the year ahead. 

According to popular property portal Rightmove.co.uk, over 1.6 million people visited its website between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day last year, with those hoping to move in the New Year property hunting in-between opening presents, watching Christmas films and over indulging on the Turkey, Mince Pies and Chocolates. 

If you have been planning to place your property on the market for sale or rental in the New Year, then we would recommend perhaps getting ahead of the game, and getting everything in order during December. This ensures that those eager property hunters will be able to view your property online over the festive season and then book viewings for the New Year. 

So, in readiness to help prepare your property for sale or rent this month, or over the next few months, here are a few festive-related tips to help your property succeed once it goes to market. 

Deck the Halls… 

Or not as the case may be! You could have decorations up over the festive season, but prospective buyers or tenants really have to be able to envision the place as their own, and they can’t do this if your belongings are stuffed wall to ceiling in each room and hide the true space and ambience that the room offers. If you are decorating your home for Christmas, then this could provide a great opportunity to place some of your non-essential belongings into boxes which can stay in the loft or in storage until you make the move to your new residence. Once Christmas is over, take down the decorations and voila, a clutter free space to showcase once viewings start!

O Little Town…or City…or Village… or Hamlet

Before agreeing on a price to market your home for, it’s helpful to build up an idea of the local property market in your town or city, to help you understand how well properties are selling and the average price that your property may be worth. Nowadays it’s easy to search past house-prices on the internet, so having this information to hand before a valuation could be a helpful base to work with an estate agent from, or any estate agent worth their fee should be able to give you information on the local property market scene. 

Santa Clause is coming to town… and so are your prospective buyers/tenants

No sooner has the man in red headed back to the North Pole with his reindeer for a well-earned rest, and the peels of Big Ben and Auld Lang Syne rung out, then the New Year will be here and your property will become a sales showroom for all to traipse in and out of. 

It’s essential to ensure that your property creates a great first impression for prospective buyers or tenants. The outside needs to entice viewers inside and so the festive period may be the ideal time to spend a bit of time, money or effort making the exteriors and interiors of your property look attractive and welcoming. Despite the weather, tidying up gardens and lawns, sweeping up leaves and cobwebs, cleaning windows or even a quick lick of paint could make all the difference, as could some perhaps some artificial plants and trees to brighten your exteriors up if they look quite bare generally. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

Little Donkey… 

Whilst legend has it that Mary and Joseph were grateful to give birth in a stable full of animals, if your property plays host to your very own unique menagerie of animals then this can be very off putting for someone trying to view your property as their next home if they are not an “animal person”.

Ok so it’s hardly Oxon, Donkeys, Sheep and the odd stray Camel, but if possible, once the Christmas chaos is out the way, in your post-Christmas clean, ensure that any animal hair from cats, dogs or rabbits is hoovered up and clear animal bedding and pet food bowls away for viewings. Once viewings start, try to arrange if possible, for dogs or larger pets to be out. 

Hark the Herald Angels and Silent Night…

Once you’ve got all of this sorted, all that’s left to do is leave your property sale or rental to us! We will ensure that just like the Harking Herald Angels, we will bring Glad tidings of great property joy and market your property effectively to prospective audiences. 

You’ll then be able to relax, sleep soundly and enjoy a Silent Night with the knowledge that “all is calm” and “all is bright” for your move in 2019!

Why not get in touch, or visit us in the Office to get ahead for marketing your property in 2019. Give us a call on 01727 221290 or 01442 230400.

From all of us here at Aubrey and Finn, we want to thank all those who have supported our business during 2018, and we look forward to serving St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and the local community in 2019!


28Nov

Here at Aubrey and Finn, like other Estate Agents you may meet, we love to help our clients buy, sell and rent their homes. However, we also like to recognise that we are a little different to other estate agents you may visit in the St Albans and Hemel Hempstead areas. Our premises have a unique, relaxed, café-style feel, there’s often music playing in the background and our resident doggy mascot Cricket, can often be found greeting our customers as they enter. 

Whilst we love our business set-up, we also recognise that we not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay! Perhaps we look a little too fresh-faced, or we don’t give off a corporate enough feel for an our industry, but as a business, we’re “doing” Estate Agency the way that we think works for us, and this will attract the kind of clients and customers who think we would be a good fit for them. 

We know that selling or renting out your property can be a very emotional and sometimes stressful time, and our clients rely on us to make the process go as smoothly as possible for them. That’s why it’s really important to be able to feel confident and trust in the abilities of your estate agent to be able to secure a successful sale or rental and a hassle-free completion to your transaction. 

It’s always helpful to shop around and consider a few different agents before instructing someone, so with this in mind, here are a few things to consider and questions to ask, when looking for a new Estate Agent:

1. What’s the best price you think is obtainable for my property and is this in-line with the local market picture?

Let’s face it; everyone normally wants the best possible price for their property, so it can be very tempting when an agent gives you an attractive proposition of what price they could secure for your property. However, this needs to be in-line with the market average, and shouldn’t be the deciding factor of who to place your property on the market with. You can also do your own research on portal websites to see what properties have been recently sold and rented for in your area. 

2. What is your Fee/Commission Structure?

As with the previous question, it’s not always advisable to choose your Estate Agent purely on a cost basis, but understanding the fees or commission structure which your estate agent charges is essential, so that you can work out your finances and consider the right agent to sell or rent your home, which works for you and your budget. 

3. How big is your team and who will be showing my property to prospective buyers/renters? 

It’s important to understand who your prospective buyers or renters will be meeting when they come to your home or property. Will it be the business owner or manager? Will it be the sales or lettings specialist? Will it be someone who is part-time and works remotely, a Saturday person, or will you be expected to show the property yourself? Knowing who will be showing your property and more importantly, how well they will know your property, the area it is situated in and the circumstances behind the sale are so important. In bigger agencies, with lots of properties on their books, it may be that the person the Estate Agent sends never visits the same property twice, or is unfamiliar with the quirks or layout your property has. 

4. How long are properties on the market with you on average?

Some properties are so attractive perhaps due to location, price or school catchment area that they quite literally fly off the shelf, and we often help to create a demand around them to get the best possible price or rental situation for them. 

Others may be wonderful, but just not what the consumer is looking for at the moment and can take a little longer to sell or rent, but it’s what the estate agent is doing to help the process along which is important. Estate agents should be able to tell you the stats on their average sale or rental, and also the qualitative information around those stats too. 

5. What’s your knowledge of the local area like?

Your estate agent often needs to be able to answer the myriad of questions about the area your property is situated in including the local property market picture, transport links, school catchment areas, parking situation for the property, whether the property is leasehold/freehold, and many more, so it’s important that you feel confident in their abilities to be able to answer these questions.

6. What communication methods do you use? 

The way that your Estate Agent communicates should be in-line with how you communicate. Do you know that we still know some estate agents and solicitors who will ONLY communicate by letter? Finding out how you can communicate with your estate agent, whether you will have one central point of contact, when they are available and how you can get through to them (phone/email/text) is very important for a smooth communication process. 

Find out how you can interact with your estate during the transaction. Will you have one point of contact? Can you reach them via email or do you need to call them? What hours are they available? Do they offer a 24 hour service for any rental issues? This may determine who the best Estate Agents will be for you.

7. How long am I tied into my contract for, what’s the cooling off period, and what are the penalties for moving to another agency?

This question is a really important one to ask as it’s crucial to know, if things go downhill with your agent, how long it will be before you can get out of your agreement if things aren’t working. 

All too often, we have people come to us when things aren’t working with other agents, and we are unable to help them, because they are locked into such watertight contracts, which mean that they will incur huge penalties if they instruct us to market their property, so it’s essential to know how long it will be before you can get out of the contract you have committed to if you need to, and also what the cancellation period is, if you quickly realise that things aren’t working in the early days of instruction. 

8. How will my property be marketed? 

Take a look at the way that your prospective estate agent is currently marketing other properties. Most agents worth their salt will place your property onto portal sites like Rightmove, but what else are they doing? Are they taking photos which portray your home in the best light, are they sending out your property’s details to their database, are they including it in printed literature or marketing it on social media? What are the other methods they will use? Are these in-line with who you think would be a great buyer or rentor?

9. Who are you regulated by? How can you prove great customer service? 

This brings in the trust element of your transaction. Who can you contact if things go wrong? Does the estate agent subscribe to a regulator? Does the estate agency have credible customer testimonials you can view online, or have they won any awards which are testament to their credibility within the industry? Your estate agent should be able to give you examples of regulatory bodies, happy customers and great customer service to help you to make your decision. 

10. Are there any other options that you think would work for our situation?

When considering how to make an income out of your property, it can sometimes pay to think outside of the box! We are the only agent in St Albans and Hemel offering our Airbnb management service, which can often bring in 30% more per year than a rental income and retains the property for you to use when you want to. If you may still want to live in your property, or perhaps keep it for its location, then we can help you to consider whether other options may work – such as retaining your family home and getting a second mortgage to rent another property, or renting your property out through Airbnb so that you can still live in it. Always ask your agent whether they think that the option you are pursuing is the best one for your situation. 

Ultimately, asking the questions above (and these aren’t exhaustive) should enable you to gain enough information to build up a good picture of the Estate Agents who will best be a good fit for you, and your property, taking into account your preferred communication methods, values and beliefs and also importantly, your budget too. 

Of course we would love to be the Agents to help you or your friends and family to sell or rent property locally, so if you are thinking of selling or renting out your property either in the short or longer term and would be interested in a free, no obligation quote, then please do get in touch with us at the office. We can also offer local free advice on the property market, so even if it’s just a question you have, please do feel free to pick up the phone or pop in and see us! 

29Oct

This month marked a prestigious win for all of us here at Aubrey and Finn, as we’ve been toasting our success after winning an award at the Estate Agency (EA) Masters Awards in London!

We are humbled, and excited to announce that we were recognised as “Best Estate Agency Business” in the ‘Small Agent’ category for the London East region. Seeing off competition from a whole host of other estate agents, we were the only local agent to win an award in this category!

The EA Masters awards are run by the Property Academy, in association with popular property website Right move. They celebrate and recognise the performance and achievements of the top five percent of Estate Agents throughout the whole of the UK. Yes, we are officially in the top 5%! 

Winners and finalists were assessed, via Right move, over a six month period, on four key areas including Sales and Letting results, Customer experience, market share, and success in marketing properties. Mystery Shopping scores also contributed to the results. The awards are a highly sought after endorsement of achievement, hard work, determination and enterprise within the Estate Agency Industry. 

Ben Colling, our Sales Manager attended the ceremony. Ben says “We’re chuffed to bit with this award”. “It’s nice to know that you are recognised and appreciated within your industry as an independent estate agent offering a unique perspective, innovative approach and personalised service to your clients”.

Often in our industry, it’s easy to think that Estate Agency is just about buying, selling and renting, but for our clients, it’s can be a very emotional and emotive time, often triggered by a huge life change or shift. So it’s really fulfilling to know that we are supporting our customers through some of the biggest decision making purchases of their lives. To then be recognised for doing a good job of helping our clients with an award, given by our industry movers and shakers is so important.

The EA Masters also celebrate enterprise and innovation in Estate Agency, something which we here at Aubrey and Finn are no strangers to. We like to move with the times and respond to global changes on a local level, which is why a couple of years ago, we created our new “Air Hosting” managed Airbnb service, which for us is transforming the way our clients rent out their homes. 

Landlords often think that renting their home for long periods of time is the best way to earn a return on their investment, but our landlords can typically earn 50-100% more through our managed Airbnb “Air Hosting” Service than renting their property out monthly, plus they have the flexibility of being able to stay in the property when they need to, so it’s great if they work out of the area and want to come home at weekends, or have a second property which they may sometimes need to use. 

Lots of Business Awards are won through self-entrance, or through nomination and popular vote, but the EA Masters awards is a set of awards based on facts and figures, hard work and customer service, so we are absolutely thrilled to win! 

This award is an endorsement to the hard work of all of the team here at Aubrey and Finn. We are very proud that we have been recognised as an estate agency in the local area, which provides a high quality service, and which goes above and beyond for our clients. 

If you are considering selling, buying, or renting out property, you would like more information on our managed Airbnb service, or you just have questions about the state of the property market locally, then why not give us a call, or pop in for a no obligation conversation! 


21Sep

You wouldn’t naturally think that St Albans and Hemel Hempstead were famous for celeb-spotting, but it seems that a myriad of celebrities are proud to call St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and the surrounding areas their home, living in varying types of properties which they’ve either invested in, or are renting. 

It makes sense, given the location we are situated in, that those in the spotlight would be attracted to the local area for the same reason as us regular members of the public would be.  There is a wide and varied property portfolio on offer to make your home in, the local conveniences and attractions are vast, and then of course there is the proximity to London to consider, and a variety of good travel links, taking you to a whole host of destinations around the world. 

So who are these famous members of society who live among us? Well the local Facebook Groups are rife with stories of how celebs have been spotted shopping in town and at the local supermarkets (hey, they’ve got to eat…), hanging out at attractions like the Cinema and the XC in Jarman Park, and enjoying a morning stroll around Verulamium Park or a spot of lunch at Sopwell House and the local McDonalds!

Given our proximity to Elstree Studios, it’s not surprising that one of the most common bunch of celebrities who are rumoured to call the local area home are past and present members of the cast of EastEnders. Kelly Bright who plays Linda is said to live in St Albans, Jake Wood who plays Max apparently lives in Hemel, with Lacey Turner who plays Stacey and Pam St Clement who played Pat Butcher, said to be living in Radlett. Also living in Radlett is rumoured to be TV Chef Gino Di Campo. 

Speaking of TV Chefs, Gino’s fellow “This Morning” star Phil Vickery apparently lives near Bovingdon, with wife, presenter Fern Britton, and fellow TV Presenter Nick Knowles is also said to live close by in the Hemel area. 

Rupert Grint, who spent many hours filming as Ron Weasley in Harry Potter, locally at Leavesden Studios is also said to be a local resident, as is fellow actor Martin Freeman. Rosie Marcel, Holby City Actress also lives locally in St Albans whilst Sir Roger Moore, who sadly died last year was said to live for many years in Leverstock Green.

The local area also boast a whole host of ex and current sports people including footballers Les Ferdinand, John Barnes, Theo Walcott and Harry Winks, who are said to have considered Herts a great base for their footballing careers. England Rugby International Chris Ashton also lives in the local area, and as many locals will know, Max Whitlock, International Gymnast is one of Dacorum’s most famous exports. 

Then there’s music artists David Essex, Duncan James from Blue, Emma Bunton from the Spice Girls and now of Heart Radio Fame, Matt Willis from Busted and wife Emma Willis and Harry Judd from Mcfly. Ronnie Wood is also rumoured to live just outside Hemel Hempstead in Little Gaddesden.

So when it comes to celeb properties, is it all high-tech kitchens, tennis courts and inside and outside swimming pools, or are there more modest abodes? Well whilst some of Hertfordshire’s most famous residents are said to live in sprawling mansions and luxurious penthouses, many other celebrities prefer far more humble abodes and like many of us, just frequent an apartment, or a regular terrace, semi, or detached house, so you never know…they could be living next door to you!

So you see, living in the St Albans and Hemel Hempstead areas, we really are in great company! Here at Aubrey and Finn we love to help sell homes of all sorts (whether they are lived in by a celebrity or not) and we also love to give advice. Sadly we can’t tell you how to bag a celeb as your next door neighbour, but we can help you with all aspects of sales, rentals and Airbnb for your property, so feel free to get in touch!