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27Feb

Typically, when people move from London to St Albans as the vast majority of the St Albans population has over the years, the prime desire we often hear, is to be quite central, in close proximity to the station and to other local amenities within the city centre.

However, after a few years, we often find that people are back in our offices wishing to move again. This time their priorities have changed as they have perhaps now started a family, acquired a couple of pets, or simply just need more space. They will then normally migrate outwards to other parts of St Albans with the priority of buying a nice “family” property or “forever home”, often closer to local schools, transport links or more green spaces.

As all of us who have ever moved home will know, a property which works for right now, may not always work for the future and as life changes, what we need from a property changes too. 

It’s easy to become quite St Albans centric in terms of thinking about where to live around the city centre and in the wider reaches of the areas it offers, but if you fancy a taste of the countryside, there are some wonderful rural parts of St Albans just on the outskirts with bustling village communities that are definitely worth a look as these offer the best of both worlds. 

The “Village” communities outside the city typically offer the benefits of more property for your money, more green spaces, access to fantastic schools (as do most places locally), easier access to the motorways and a local community feel. 

(Caveat - If you will be moving in order to secure a school place any time soon then it’s important to do your research and check catchment areas as there are some black holes in St Albans, as recent years allocations have proved).

Given the “new normal” that we are all living in, maybe now the fact that many of us can work from home remotely means that actually being in close proximity to the station for a quick journey to work isn’t such a prime consideration. It may also be that the last year has prompted your desire to live somewhere where you are a little more spread out from others. 

So if you fancy a taste of Village life, why not consider one of the local villages attached to St Albans either by location or postcode.

 

Bricket Wood

4 miles equidistance to both St Albans and Watford, this popular AL2 village boasts easy access to both the M1 and M25 motorways. With its own station, grade 2 listed buildings, pubs, shops, school and community facilities, this village is a real commuter hot spot. Secondary schools are available in St Albans and Watford. Nearby woods and countryside offer ample opportunities for walking. 

Chiswell Green

A much-extended village/suburb of St Albans, Chiswell Green in the AL2 postcode is also ideal for commuters as it too offers quick access to the M25 and M1 motorways. Plus, with Starbucks and Waitrose both just on the doorstep, the popular Greenwood park with its own Café, plus a slew of other Pubs, shops, schools and community facilities, Chiswell Green is another sought-after place. Chiswell Green also offers a quick walk into the city centre and Verulamium Park so it’s perfect for those who want to be a “stones throw” away from the city centre without actually being “in” the centre. Chiswell Green has its own secondary school, and also offers access to other schools in St Albans and Watford. 

Colney Heath

Situated between St Albans and Hatfield, the AL4 village of Colney Heath can be found just up the A414 not far from the A1M. With a popular common and river running through it, Colney Heath has more of a feel of being in the countryside with a range of rural walks on the doorstep, whilst still being very close to local amenities including popular pubs, church, school and shops.  Getting into a preferred secondary school from Colney Heath has proved a little trickier in recent years, although this is always subject to change each year. 

Flamstead 

One of the AL3 villages further away from St Albans, this really is a taste of rural life but with the M1 motorway and other great transport links literally on the doorstep and easy access into St Albans in around 10-15 minutes. Flamstead has its own pubs, a village shop, church, a nursery and a primary school, plus a strong village community which makes it a fab place to live. Children have the choice of outstanding secondary schools in Harpenden. Literally in the middle of the countryside, this village enables you to either stay happily “cut off” from civilisation, or the ability to return to more populated areas in just 10-15 minutes.

London Colney

Featuring a fantastic combination of pubs, primary schools and shops, plus of course with Colney Fields Shopping Centre on the door step, this large village is actually one of Britain’s biggest villages, boasting a population of around 10,000 people! Situated in the AL1 & AL2 postcodes, the River Colne runs through the centre of the village, giving it a village feel at the centre, but the M25 and A414 are both only a couple of minutes from the village. Like neighbouring Colney Heath, London Colney has suffered from a drought of secondary school places in recent years, with children split between a combination of different secondaries throughout St Albans and further afield, however as we said before, the landscape changes year-on-year so do your research. 

Markyate

Next door to Flamstead on the A5 towards Dunstable and the furthest “AL” village as it’s right on the border of Bedfordshire, Markyate creeps into an AL3 postcode but is only a 15 min drive back to St Albans city centre and a 10-minute drive to Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Zoo. Again, Markyate has excellent transport links to the M1 and easy access to Luton Parkway station for commuters (meaning in “normal times” you get a seat before the St Albans City Station madness!). The village has a variety of shops, pubs, a primary school and churches, plus other community amenities and is surrounded by local countryside. Like neighbouring Flamstead, most children in the village currently attend secondary school in Harpenden.

Park Street

Park Street, within the AL2 postcode and neighbouring both Bricket Wood and Chiswell Green has the benefit of having its own train station on the Euston line. Again, this busy village office great local transport links with close proximity to the M25 and M1, plus the A414 too. Park Street has community a plenty with primary schools, shops, pubs and other local amenities situated within the village, plus the choice of St Albans and Watford secondary schools. With fields and woods on the door step, Park Street offers something for everyone. 

Redbourn

A popular AL3 village with its own village common, numerous pubs and amenities plus a High Street, Redbourn is often a popular choice for moving out to “the countryside” because the village is surrounded by countryside but is also literally is just 10 minutes down the A5183 and offers easy access to the M1 motorway. Redbourn offers primary school options plus various community buildings and is a strong village community. Children from Redbourn attend Secondary school in St Albans, Harpenden and Hemel. The “nearest school” catchment is split in the village so worth checking previous year’s statistics for your property if this is a consideration. 

Sandridge

Some would argue that Sandridge almost merges into Marshalswick nowadays, but the small village with its own high street, pubs and amenities really is a standalone community.  A church and village hall plus recreation facilities are on offer in the village. Plus “Heartwood forest” is also nearby. Sandridge also offers access to outstanding secondary schools in St Albans. 

All in all, moving to any one of the local village communities surrounding St Albans offers the best of both worlds - access to the city centre within a 10-to-15-minute drive, and the opportunity of enjoying the slower pace of village life within a smaller community and with so many fantastic options for village living right on the doorstep, the question is, which one of them really is right for your next move?

We are always happy to help and offer advice on local areas surrounding St Albans, so if you would like more information please do feel free to give us a call on 01727 221290.

Why not let us know what you think and give us your opinion about living in different villages surrounding the St Albans area!

 

30Jan

The start of the year is one of the busiest times for us as estate agents, as people start to make plans for their next move.

 

We may currently be in lockdown, but selling property and moving home is still able to take place and so there is still lots happening on the housing market, especially around the St Albans and Hertfordshire area. 

 

Even though house moves can still go ahead, people are a little bit more reticent about having large amounts of prospective buyers/tenants traipsing through their homes, and if you are looking for a home, you may want to cut down the number of properties that you visit in your search also.

 

So, if you are looking for a new home, why not get laser focused about what you are looking for in your next move, and spend time doing your research online before you get started.

 

Here are a few tips for house hunting which will help you to hone down your searches down before you even step through the door of any properties.

 

1. Location, location, location.

Location is key for many, especially in this area. It might be that you need to be within walking distance or easy travel distance of a station, or motorway. Perhaps your key consideration is to be within the catchment for certain schools, or you want to be able to get to friends, family or a central place of work easily.

 

If you know that having open fields nearby warms your soul, and you love the feel of village life, then somewhere in the countryside may be more suited to your way of living, such as the myriad of small villages on the outskirts of the major Hertfordshire towns.

 

Using tools such as Google Earth can also give you a good idea of the area, as can taking a drive around if able, or visiting the area during the day and in the evening, although we appreciate that things may look a little different at the moment!

 

 

2. Consider the layout of your perfect property

When you start your search, it is important to be clear about what kind of feel and layout you are looking for in a home. It also helps to know whether you would be happy to create the layout you want, or whether you want to move straight into something which already works for your needs. 

 

Think about your lifestyle, and what suits it. So, for example, do you prefer Open Plan living where all of the rooms merge seamlessly around the house, or do you have small children or pets which would make Open Plan living a nightmare, and so separate rooms with doorways for containment would be more important?

 

Would you prefer a cottage with lots of stairs, a newer build home, one on three floors, or all on one level? Do you want an apartment? A property with a lot of garden space, a front garden, or a property which opens straight onto the road? Are you looking for a family friendly estate, something city centric or something mor eon the outskirts?

 

Also think about how you like to live. Do you live a more outdoorsy lifestyle? If so, then something like a utility room or somewhere where you can access the property through the back or through the garage rather than having to traipse muddy feet all through the front, might be a must.

 

If owning a car or more than one is a necessity for you, then it might be that you need a garage, or somewhere on your property to park it, so homes in roads where only on-street parking is available may not work for you.

 

Most Estate agents, including ourselves, are offering virtual walk-throughs nowadays, which makes it a lot easier to get a good idea of the space before actually setting foot in the property.

 

3. Budget

Once you’ve worked out the rough location and type of property you are interested in looking for, of course a consideration will be your budget and whether you budget matches the kind of property you are looking for. If not, then you may decide to look at different kinds of properties if location is key, or at more budget-friendly areas if the property is going to be make-or-break for you.

 

 

4. Vision Board your next move!

Okay bear with us here but mind mapping or vision boarding your next move can be a great way to work out what you really want.

 

Sit down and focus on what’s really important to you in a home, what are your non negotiables during your search, vs compromises that you are prepared to make and add them to your vision board.

 

If you have other family members, especially kids, then this can really be a really fun way to spend time getting them involved. You might be surprised what is important to them versus what isn’t, and also with you. Vision boarding can really help you to get clarity on what is most important to you for your next move.

 

Once you’ve whittled your searches down to only the properties which really match your criteria, and you’ve done your research online, looked at floor plans, done the video walk throughs, looked at the picture, made sure it fits with location, property type and budget, then we would suggest a walk through to see whether this property could be your new home.

 

Hopefully having done all of your homework online, this makes things easier and less time consuming than visiting multiple properties during your search and it will also make it safer for you, not having to view as many homes, or make any more essential journeys than you need to.

 

Of course, if you are planning your next move then don’t forget that we can always assist and we are very happy to help, so why not give us a call on (01727) 221290 for an initial chat.

 

 

30Nov

Are you considering moving into a rental property?

 

Wondering what you need to take into account before doing so?

 

Well, whilst you might be able to afford the monthly payments, there can be a whole multitude of hidden costs associated with renting, plus a whole host of other things to consider, so here are a few handy tips to get you started:

 

Initial Costs

 

Typically, there are costs associated with moving into a property including fees for Credit and Reference checks and Agency admin fees if you are renting through an agency.

 

All of these costs will be added onto the cost of the initial rent. You may also have to give a deposit too. 

 

So, you could find yourself with quite a hefty balance to pay out just to move into the property, which is worth bearing in mind. Before committing to anything or signing anything check, check and check again to make sure that you are understand what you are agreeing to.  

 

Who pays the Bills?

 

Something else to be clear on before committing to a rental property is what bills you will be expected to pay as the tenant, vs what the landlord will take care of.

 

Bear in mind that on top of your rent, you could also be responsible for:

 

·       Council tax

·       Water

·       Gas/Electricity

·       Broadband

·       Landline telephone

·       Service Charge

·       TV (License and subscriptions)

·       Contents Insurance

 

Some landlords will include the cost of some bills in with the rent charges, so it’s always best to check with the agent or landlord and to be clear on what it included and what is not.

 

Do your homework at the viewing

 

The viewing is your opportunity to really delve into the suitability and condition of the property. There’s nothing worse than finding the pitfalls out after you’ve already signed the paperwork.

 

Things like:

 

1) How good the Shower is and what the water pressure is lik

2) Look for signs of mold or insect infestations around the walls, carpets and windows (not in our properties of course!

3) Are there any issues with the locks or with doors/windows?

4) Are there creaky floorboards or any other issues you need to be aware of?

5) Do you feel safe in the property, especially at night?

 

Who provides the Furnishings?

 

Decide in advance whether you are looking to rent somewhere furnished or unfurnished. There are pros and cons to both. Furnished is a great option if you don’t have furniture of your own, or you are just renting whilst your house is renovated for example. However, this does mean that you that the furnishings will most likely have been used by others before you, so it depends how bothered you are by that thought! Plus, you will normally be responsible for the costs if something gets broken.

 

Unfurnished gives you the opportunity to move in with your own furniture and make the space your own. However, this may mean extra outlay to purchase new furniture which you may or may not want to take with you into your next property.

 

Alongside furniture and the like, it’s also helpful to find out what electrical items are included in the rent, and also consider what condition they are in and when they were last tested.

 

If not supplied, then white goods like Fridge, Freezer, Washing Machine, Dishwasher, Microwave, Toaster and Kettle will all need to be purchased. If they in the property, then make sure that you are happy with the condition of everything supplied and if not, speak to the landlord before you move in.

 

Remember to read the meters

 

There can be so much happening on moving day, but one thing not to forget, is to read the meters and to make a note of your meter readings. Make sure you contact energy suppliers to let them know of the change in tenant as you don’t want to find yourself liable for someone else’s bills!

 

Insurance

 

To avoid nasty unexpected costs, check what insurances you will need to purchase for yourself for your rental property. For example, contents insurance can come in handy in case of any damage or theft in your rental home. Make sure that you insure high value items.

 

Emergency Procedures

 

Just as with any home you live in, it’s always helpful to be prepared for the unexpected, so make sure that you know how to turn off the water, have a clear route out in case of an emergency and know who to contact and how if something happens to the property.

 

Be a good tenant and maintain good relations

 

Good Communication is key as a tenant and maintaining good communication between you and your agency or landlord can do so much for good will and also financially too!

 

So, there you have it, a few tips to get you going on your rental journey! We’re always happy to answer any questions that you may have about renting a property. If you are looking for a property to rent either short term or long term in St Albans or the surrounding areas then why not give us a call on 01727 221290.

 

28Oct

Autumn is always a busy time for selling your home as people start to focus on making plans for the following year after the summer has ended and before the winter sets in.

A lot of psychology goes into home buying it’s all about how the buyer “feels” when they are in your home and can they see themselves living there.  

If you’re thinking of selling your home this autumn here are some suggestions to help bring the season inside and create a warm and cosy atmosphere that prospective buyers will love.

Think about your home from the outside in

It’s important to consider the first impression that buyers will get of your home. Unpredictable weather in Autumn can expose your home to the elements and mean that it may not look its best.

Clear falling leaves from paths and keep entrances clear from piles of leaves which can become slippery and create a hazard. Cleaning windows and doors and adding perhaps an autumnal decoration can make your property frontage seem more appealing.

Making an Entrance 

As outside is wetter and muddier in Autumn investing in a door mat or shoe covers could help to save your carpets from multiple people traipsing in and out of the house with their shoes on. 

Create a place for people to take off their shoes as they enter to avoid muddy footprints on the carpets. 

Have the Heating on

No one wants to walk into a cold, draughty house, so even if your home is empty, make sure that you heat your home and warm it up before viewings. Having the heating on can make your property feel cosier and more appealing to potential buyers. 

Keep the Lights on! 

Autumn days can turn dark quite quickly so keeping the lights on, even in the day time can show your home in a cosier light, especially now that the clocks have changed.

Create Extra Light

Autumn conjures up thoughts of roaring fires and twinkling lights, so having the fire going during viewings on cold days, or some twinkly lights hung around the home or strategically placed can really help to brighten up your home, as can the odd uplighter or spotlight in the right place. 

Accessorise for the Season

A few well-placed Autumn accessories can really help to bring your home. to life. Accessorise lounge areas with Autumn throws and cushions. Tactile buyers will love a chunky throw over a cushion or arm chair or some plush welcoming cushions on the sofa. 

Have an “autumnal display” in the hallway, kitchen or on the dining table can also help to create a homely, welcoming feel. Create centre pieces or displays with candles, pine cones, acorns or leaves.

Autumn Scents

Welcoming scents like cinnamon, pumpkin spice, baked apple can invoke happy memories and warm people up to your home. Less is definitely more though. The last thing you want is someone needing to walk out of the home because the smell is too over powering, so try to keep scents minimal. 

Keep your Home Well Ventilated 

On the topic of scents, unwelcome scents from rooms not being well ventilated during the Autumn can have a negative effect on buyers. For example, smells from cooking, animals, or poor ventilation can put buyers off, so be sure to try and ventilate your home in Autumn, but especially before viewings. 

Help your buyers imagine the space

Sometimes it can be helpful to give examples of the way that you use your home during the Autumn season so that potential buyers can imagine themselves in the space. Give examples of Autumn events that you take part in with the neighbourhood, or reasons that you like your home in the Autumn.  

So there you go, a few tips for you to help sell your home during the Autumn period. 

We are always happy to help and advise on property related enquiries, so if you are considering selling your property or looking to buy or rent then please do feel free to give us a call on (01727) 221290 as we’d love to help.