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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! 

16Aug

Estate Agents…they are two a penny in St Albans and Hemel Hempstead. You can’t walk through the town without coming across a plethora of different estate agents, eager to help you sell, rent or buy your home - what can you expect from one of the most popular areas to live in Hertfordshire? 

However, we strongly believe that not all Estate Agents are created equally. We’re not just your local high street chain estate agent! You’ve only got to come and visit our offices to see the Aubrey and Finn difference. We know that you have a choice when deciding on an estate agent , so here are a few things that we think distinguish us from the rest!

We’re Independent!!

Working in property isn’t just a job, it’s our passion! We are one of St Alban’s and Hemel’s top independent Estate Agents. That means that we’re not tied to a chain, and when you deal with us, you don’t get through to a call centre, or transferred to different offices, or palmed off with the Saturday employee for a viewing who has no idea idea what they are doing. We’re here, in your town or city, ready to answer your call, help as best we can and put our customers first. We like to get to know our clients and we pride ourselves on being able to offer a personal service. We’re here when you need us and we have a 24/7 out of hour’s service if you need to contact us in an emergency. 

We love the local area, and we know a lot of house-hunters do too. Because we all live locally, or grew up here, we know the area - and the market - like the back of our hands. Our passion and commitment have made us St Albans’ go-to independent estate agent for both buyers and sellers and we love to help! We never forget that buying, selling or renting a home is a big deal. So we’ll be there for you every step of the way to guide you through the process and offer support to you.

We know our clients…

We like to think that we know who our clients are, and we know your clients too!

We know that many of you are busy working full time, probably commuting, and you want viewings at a time convenient to you, so we offer evening and weekend viewings to help you find your perfect home – whether it’s your forever home, or your home for right now, or a rental property you are looking to make an extra income from. 

We also know what your clients are looking for when it comes to choosing their new property, so we ensure that we market your property in the best way to maximise viewings. We’re sure you’ve seen those estate agents who when preparing property particulars, take a picture of the room as it is, low lighting, stuff everywhere, funny angles of lens… need we say more? We really take time over photographing our properties for sale, and will hunt around for the best light, the best way to photograph the property, and we will also make suggestions of things which should be moved as we know that your clients need to be able to imagine themselves living in the property, so we need the photos to help sell the dream to your clients. 

We like to think we’ve got our fingers on the pulse! 

You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media where the cool kids hang out! We like to share what’s happening during our day, and we also like to be responsive, so come and follow us on Social Media and let’s connect.

We also advertise widely to reach the maximum audiences for our customers. Unlike other agents locally, we don’t just rely on one property website. WE list on Zoopla and Rightmove - plus Prime Location, the favourite site of Londoners looking to move out to ensure that we get your property in front of the people who are looking to make their next move. 

We’re forward thinking!

Things are constantly changing in our industry and we are an estate agency which likes to move with the times and respond to global changes on a local level. 

An example of this is our commitment to our managed Airbnb service, a service which for us is transforming the way our clients rent out their homes and is a service which is completely unique in the local area. No other estate agent is offering this locally. 

 Did you know that you could earn a bigger rental income from a managed Airbnb property than renting it out month-to-month. We make it so easy for you to earn an extra income from property in this way. It’s ideal if you own your property but perhaps work away or not, or are moving elsewhere and want to retain a property in the local area.

We offer free advice and recommendations!

We’re not just here when you are looking to buy, sell or rent! We love to help people, so whether you just want some advice on the state of the current property market, you are not looking to move just yet but would like a free valuation to give you an idea of what your home is worth to enable you to make plans, or you are considering becoming a landlord and want some advice on navigating the tricky word of buy-to-let’s then we can help! 

We are also connected to a whole plethora of independent businesses working in the local area, so if you are looking for a tradesman to repaint your home, survey asbestos or fix your roof, you want new windows and doors, advice on mortgages, legal issues, or even business services, we can recommend a great local business to be able to help you! 

Really, we’re just a jolly nice bunch! 

It’s not unusual to wander past our office after hours and see us having a bit of a band jamming session, perhaps running a quiz night for a local charity, or just indulging in some wine and cheese with clients who have become friends, and other local business owners. We’re passionate about supporting the local area, whether it’s through helping our clients, supporting local charities or networking with other businesses with a shop-front or without, to help boost the local economy. 

Of course, we’re also awlways here for our clients in Hemel and St Albans and surrounding areas, whether you are looking for your first home, you want to upsize, downsize, or rent out your home, or you just fancy a coffee and a natter about the state of the current property market!!  For us, working in property isn’t a job, it’s a passion. Our job satisfaction comes from helping people find their perfect home or achieve a successful sale (or both!).

We'd love you to bear us in mind for your next move, so get in touch with us to discuss this or for a free valuation. 



11Jul

Did you know that 75% of Britons are considering a staycation this year, up from 56% last year? Add that to overseas visitors, and that’s a lot of people looking for a place to stay throughout the UK! 

Whilst staying in a Hotel, B&B, Caravan or even a tent are still very popular accommodation options, more and more people are now searching for a home away from home environment to stay in, meaning that there is a growing market for people to rent out their main or second properties for short-term holiday lets as a way of making an extra income. 

You probably consider St Albans, Hemel, or the local area to be home, but did you know that Hertfordshire is actually a much sought after tourist destination for visitors too, due to its historic landmarks and obvious close proximity and travel links to the capital and other UK cities. 

Alongside the tourists, there are also those who take up temporary residence during the week in Hertfordshire for work in London and the Home Counties either on a short-term or long-term basis, some of whom will also be seeking a place to stay.

You may not have thought much about it before, but there really is a lot of scope to provide local accommodation to those seeking to bypass the usual traditional offerings and choose residential properties to stay in. 

Websites like Air BNB have made it possible to let your home or a second property on a short-term basis, and indeed there is a thriving Air BNB market locally, with property owners managing their own marketing, bookings and lettings. However, if your property is being booked on a frequent basis then it can become almost a full-time job trying to keep on top of managing your property through a site like Airbnb and it can involve a huge amount of time, hassle and effort on your part, which eats into your financial return. 

At Aubrey and Finn, we want to take the hassle out of renting out your home on a short-term basis, so we offer an “Air Hosting” Management service for residents who want to offer short-term holiday lets through Air BNB, enabling property owners to earn an extra income by using a short-term let management agency. 

We are currently the only Estate Agent in the local area offering the unique Air Hosting service in St Albans and Hemel Hempstead. 

So why would our clients choose Air Hosting as an option when renting out their property for short-term let? 

Well, our Air Hosting service is a brilliant option for those who perhaps work away themselves during parts of the week and would like their main property to be earning money whilst they are away. 

If you own a rental property then it’s often common to think that renting it out to full-time tenants is the best option, but did you know that Air Hosting could earn you 60-100% more renting your property through Airbnb by the night than residentially! 

Perhaps you think that Air BNB wouldn’t work for your property as you are not in a position to be able to meet guests and hand over keys, or you simply don’t want the hassle of having to market your property, or clean the place after each booking, well this is where our short-term let management service can help as we will handle every aspect of the booking, from marketing, dealing with enquiries, screening clients, to providing the fresh towels/sheets, managing queries and cleaning, and preparing the property for the next visitor. 

Even with management fees, those using a management company to manage their short-term let typically experience a 30% uplift in income compared to managing the property themselves. Many clients simply pass our management fee onto their customer and so find that at no extra cost to them, using a management company saves a lot of time, hassle and effort on their part, meaning that the owner can sit back, relax and earn a passive income from their property, knowing that there is a trusted, local company which knows the area and can be around to help with any issues which arise during the client’s stay. 

In addition to making more money, short-term lets are also a fantastic way to save on tax as typically, they are exempt from the tax hikes on buy-to-let landlords which came into play in 2017. Holiday Let owners can deduct all mortgage interest payments from rent before calculating their tax liability in some circumstances. This is more favourable than only a portion of mortgage interest which buy-to-let investors are able to offset. Short-term let owners are also able to claim the full costs of furnishing the property, meaning that renting your property out as a short-term let could also be a more tax efficient way of managing your second property. 

If you have a rental property and want to work out how to get the best return-on-investment on it, or if you want to find out more about short-term lets for your main property then we’d love to chat with you. Give us a call or pop into our offices and we can talk you through the process in more detail! 


 


06Jun

Hertfordshire is prime commuter belt territory so it’s common for people to move to the area to escape living in London, or to be closer to London for work but that means that they may end up living further away from family, friends, their support networks and also their previous recreational activities. 

Once you’ve moved and settled into your new home in the local area, it can be hard to get out and meet new people because you are spending lots of time working and commuting, or perhaps you have young children, or maybe you just simply don’t know where to go to meet new people and don’t have those networks that you can easily tap into. 

At Aubrey and Finn we know that this is a common situation many of our clients face and so we’ve put together some ideas of different groups to join to help you meet new people living in the local area and to hopefully help you feel more part of the local community in St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and the surrounding areas! 

As a disclaimer, the following are some ideas and information on what’s available and do not constitute recommendations!


Join a Gym/Keep Fit Class

Joining a Gym or attending a fitness class is a great way to combine staying fit and active with meeting new people in the area. There are a variety of different Gyms, Wellness Centres and Classes happening in the local area including Absolute Wellness Centre St Albans, Nuffield Gym, Fitness First, Westminster Lodge, and YMCA.  Search online for your nearest class or for the activity you enjoy and off you go! 

You could also consider joining a Golf or Tennis Club. Local Golf Clubs include Verulam Golf Club, Redbourn Golf Club,  Centurion Leverstock  Green and , Shendish Manor Golf Club. There are also a multitude of Tennis Clubs including Leverstock Green Tennis Club, St Albans Tennis Club and Townsend Tennis Club.

If you are into running then there are a variety of running clubs in St Albans including St Albans Striders and Athena Running in St Albans and Gade Valley Harriers and Dacorum and Tring Athletics Club.

St Albans 5K Park Run happens every Saturday in Verulamium Park from 9am and is a free run. 

Hemel  5K Park Run happens every Saturday in Gadebridge Park from 9am and is a free run. 


Take up an activity or join a club

Learn a new language, learn how to knit, sew, paint, dance, play sport or become a wine connoisseur! Meet others who love to take photos, play Bowls, Garden, play Football or even share your appreciation for Real Ale!

Joining an extra-curricular class or club is a brilliant way to meet those with similar interests to you. There are also a whole multitude of Social Clubs and Friendship Clubs in the local area including the Women’s Institute or Ladies Circle for women, Round Table and Lions Clubs for men, plus Sports and Social Clubs and Friendship clubs for all. 


Meet other local parents. 

If you have recently become pregnant, had a baby or you have small children then this can be present a great opportunity to be able to meet new people and make friends in your local community. 

Antenatal Classes, Children’s Centres, Baby and Toddler Groups often held in church or village halls and Baby and Toddler Classes are prime territory to meet other parents who may be secretly wishing for some adult company just as much as you are.

For those with older children then it may be that the parents from school can adopt you into their tribe, or that you can make friends with other parents at your child’s activities. There are also lots of book clubs (always a great excuse for wine) or failing that, just seek out your local park and pluck up the courage to chat to another local parent! Then there is of course the online option of the notorious local Mums Facebook groups where you can find out more about the local area, get support and advice and of course hopefully make some new friends along the way!


Get a Dog!

Walking the dog gets you out of the house and enables you to meet more people, plus we’ve found that having your dog with you is always a great ice breaker and gives others an excuse to start a conversation with you.


Network for your Business 

Running your own business can be a lonely place especially if it’s a new business r=in a new area.so why not use your business as an excuse to get out and meet new people. There are a whole host of business networking groups in the local area, some are ad-hoc drop-in, and others may have a weekly or monthly commitment. If you want some recommendations then get in touch as we can recommend a few great business networking groups to get you started.


Volunteer for Charity

Volunteering in your local community or for a charity can be a fantastic way to give back to the local community but it’s also renowned as a fantastic way to meet new people and making new friends. 


Attend a place of Worship

If you are new to the area then attending a place of worship can be a fantastic way to meet people. There are lots of different options locally so why not explore some different places of worship as it’s a great way to feel part of a community and may even present opportunities to give back too!


Hopefully some of these ideas have given you some ideas on how to meet new people and make connections with others living in the local area.  If you have any queries about any aspect of moving home, or you would like to discuss how we can help with you with selling, buying, renting or Air a property then please do pick up the phone and give us a call!