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11Dec

We love property of all types, which is probably why we’re in the business of selling and lettings!

We love homes surrounded by daffodils in the spring, bathed in sunlight in the summer, and dwarfed by falling leaves in the autumn.

However… add a sprinkle of snow or some twinkly lights and under the cover of winter’s cold darkness, we think homes during the Christmas season may just be our favourite!

With a seasonal makeover, even the drabbest houses can be transformed into a festive wonderland when adorned with a gorgeous wreath on the door, beautifully lit tree in the window or of course some sparkling Christmas lights covering the home and maybe even the odd Santa, reindeer or snowman peeping out of the garden.

This year there are many properties across St Albans and Hemel Hempstead lighting up the dark nights with the odd set of rope lights to be found in bushes or across the roof. However, there are also those going above and beyond for the Christmas light cause either because they love Christmas or in the name of Charity, who decorate their house with the intention of sharing their offerings with the rest of their community.

So here at Aubrey and Finn we’ve done the hard work for you and here’s where you can find some of the best dazzling Christmas light displays to be found in and around the St Albans and Hemel Hempstead areas.

All you have to do now for the perfect Christmas Light Adventure is wrap the family up warm, pack them into the car with a blanket, flask of hot chocolate and some delicious snacks and take a drive around and enjoy these amazing festive offerings, and perhaps also donate to those raising money for some fantastic local charities!

Homes with Christmas Light Displays in the St Albans Area:

Beech Road, St Albans 
Arguably the most popular Christmas display in St Albans has to be half way down Beech Road, near the Ancient Briton, a display which has been running for the past twenty two years. As in recent years, the family are
collecting for Mount Vernon Marie Curie Research Wing 

Prospect Road, St Albans

Residents in Prospect Road, situated close to the Abbey Flyer ad Westminster Lodge are creating a Living Advent Calendar this year, raising money for local charity Centre 33. Take a look at their Facebook page for more information.

Best On-Foot Christmas Light Walk

Local to our offices, just off Victoria Street, and one definitely easiest on-foot is a square-walk around Alexandra Road, Inkerman Road, Alma road, Bedford Road. We’re reliably informed there are lots of fantastic displays to be found in these four roads!

Other notable displays worthy of a visit include:

  • Ladysmith Road, Folly Avenue, Kimberley Road and Cannon Street, Townsend area. Carols and mince pies, mulled wine and walk around on the 19th December in aid of Keech and GOSH.
  • St Albans Town Centre – Display by St Albans Council
  • Holyrood Crescent, Cotton Mill Estate, St Albans
  • Heath Mini Roundabout
  • Sandpit Lane, near the Crossroads
  • St Leonards Close, Sandridge
  • Old London Road, off London Road St Albans
  • Cumberland House, Redbourn
  • Trowley Bottom, Flamstead

Hemel Hempstead

Wheelers Lane, near the Snow Centre

Collecting for Mount Vernon Hospital, the residents of this home have gone all out with a path you can walk down to collect a free sweet treat and leave your donation for charity!

Blair Close, Woodhall Farm 

Collecting for Rennie Grove Hospice Care, the Pulis family have made a huge effort again this year with their Christmas extravaganza on from 5pm until 9pm each day. You can find a homemade nativity scene, play Mobil and a large Lego display and even a Christmas quiz for the children! A donations box will also be available for Rennie Grove.  

Tile Kiln Lane, Leverstock Green

Flashing lights, Santa’s and Christmas Trees adorn this home which is collecting in aid of Team Macy

Other notable festive Christmas lights also definitely worth a visit include:

  •  Homefield Road, Adeyfield  - collecting for Great Ormond Street
  •  Great Elms Road, Bennetts End – collecting for Macmillan
  • The Fairway, Abbots Langley – collecting for Watford Mencap and Alzheimer's UK.
  • Hemel Town Centre and Old Town  - displays by Dacorum Borough Council
  • Fletcher Way, Highfield
  • Six Acres Bennetts End
  • Bluebell Drive, Bedmond

So there you have it! Some fantastic local residents decorating their homes for others to enjoy! If we’ve missed any notable displays off the list then please do let us know and we’ll add them in!

We’d love to see pictures of your homes all lit up for Christmas too, especially if we’ve helped you buy, sell or rent your home this year.

We hope that you have a very wonderful Christmas and New Year. Please do feel free to get in touch with us in the New Year for a no obligation valuation if you are considering selling or letting your home or an additional property in 2018!

Call our St Albans office on 01727 221290 or our Hemel office on 01442 23040. 

Photo Credit: Beech Road, St Albans - Stephanie Mansell 

14Nov

Preparing your property for sale or rental can be an overwhelming process, especially if it is a property you are particularly attached to. There’s so much more to selling or letting your home than simply placing it on the market with an agent. It pays to do some preparation work beforehand to increase the chances of success, particularly if you are selling or renting in a competitive area like St Albans and Hemel Hempstead. Selling or letting within a satisfactory time period and attaining the price you want is much more likely to happen if you have spent some time doing the groundwork before your property goes to market.

So here are some top tips that we at Aubrey and Finn estate agents would suggest for those looking to place their property on the market.


1.    Do your research

Talk to an estate agent or research local property prices online to get a realistic idea of what properties are selling or renting for in the local area. This will give you a good indication of what your property is likely to achieve. This research may also help decide whether it could be worth spending extra time and money undertaking building work or renovations in order to gain a higher sum for your property. We are always happy to advise you on the local property market and whether we think renovations could add value to your home.


2.    Create a great first impression

You’ve heard of that buzz phrase “curb appeal” right? Spending a bit of time, money and effort making the exterior of your property look attractive and welcoming before placing it to market could be the difference between making a sale or gaining a new tenant and having a tumbleweed blowing through your property listing.

A great first impression is really important and as the exterior of the home is the first thing a prospective buyer or tenant will see in photos and upon arrival, it’s important that it is appealing and entices the viewer to want to look inside.

Pay someone, or spend some time yourself making gardens and lawns look tidy, sweeping up leaves, cleaning the cobwebs, washing windows and clearing up the exterior of the property. Perhaps even stretch to giving the exterior a new lick of paint! Greenery can also help make a home look inviting so investing in a few planters or a hanging basket outside the front door to cheer the place up can really help.


3.    Smarten up the Interiors

Before putting your property to market, decide whether a quick lick of neutral-coloured paint could help in any of the rooms. Perhaps ask a friend or relative to cast a critical eye over your current décor. If that bright red lounge accent wall or purple coloured bedroom is a cause for concern to them, then a bit of money or time spent repainting to a more neutral tone can help to add value and sell the property more quickly


4.    Clear the Decks

It pays to remember that you are selling your property, and the lifestyle that comes with it, not your furniture and contents, so try to put yourself in the prospective purchaser or tenant’s shoes.

A couple of things which can help are firstly to depersonalise by removing any photos, kids paintings, your football memorabilia collection or anything which marks the house as “your” territory. Secondly to declutter… putting books, toys, clothes or anything which drowns the character of the home into storage helps you to get a head start on the packing and can alos make the rooms seem bigger and more appealing which helps the prospective buyer or tenant to imagine the space as their own.   


5.    Spick and Span…

Once the décor is up to scratch and the clutter has been cleared, now the cleaning begins! A clean home is much more likely to attract a quick sale or let than a home full of dust, grease and dirt.  If the prospect of cleaning your home to extremes is too much to bear then perhaps invest in a cleaning company to come and do a preliminary “deep clean” for you which you then just have to maintain whilst the property is being marketed. Alternatively, stock up on the bleach, polish and black bin liners and clean the house yourself.  Tip – prospective buyers and tenants will be looking in cupboards, ovens and behind the shower curtain so make sure that you clean all areas of the home which they can access!


6.    Pets… What Pets?

Fido the dog, Fifi the cat or Frank the friendly house rabbit may mean the absolute world to you but (shock horror) not everyone may feel the same way you do about your special pet. Knowing that pets live in a property can be very off-putting to a prospective buyer or tenant. If possible, try to remove any excess pet-hair from carpet and furniture before viewings start and when you have viewings, place animal bedding and toys in cupboards and clear pet food bowls away so that the smell of the food is not lingering. If you can, arrange for your pets (especially dogs) to not be present during viewings so that the visitor does not have to contend with an over excited dog bounding at them when they walk through the door.


7.    When is a room not a room?

Prepare rooms for the purpose they are it most likely to be used for and don’t let your estate agent be grandiose when describing the purpose of a space as the viewer will see right through it. We’ve seen corridors marketed as “study” rooms, shower rooms called “utility rooms” and that all elusive “4th bedroom” which actually doubles as the dining room. Make it easy for the viewer to see what the purpose of each room it and don’t call rooms by names such as “the playroom/office/visitors bedroom”. Make sure they can envision what they would use the room for.


8.    Swot up on local info

A prospective purchaser or renter may have 101 questions they want to ask so being ready with the answers can help to warm them up to the property. Giving info on local schools, rubbish disposal, parking arrangements, council tax prices, average energy spend, local crime rates, nearest place for a loaf of bread or takeaway etc. may mean that you are giving them all the info they need to make a decision to purchase.


9.    Those finishing touches

Once the bigger jobs have been handled in preparation for your property to be marketed, don’t forget the finishing touches. Cut flowers on the table, the smell of fresh bread or coffee in the kitchen, a planter pot by the door, a lit fire, a scented candle or reed diffuser – all clichés, but all great ways to make your home appear warm and inviting.


10.  Choose your team wisely

We think that one of the most important tips we can give you is to ensure that you have the right people in your corner once your property is ready to go to market. Always ask for a recommendation of which estate agents others have had a great experience with when selling or letting their property and do your homework. Research which agents have the best reviews - it’s not always the leading market names which give the best customer experience!

Choose three estate agents and set up a valuation with them. Be aware of how easy it is to make an appointment for a valuation from the get go and how the initial conversations are handled as this may indicate the type of service you are likely to receive throughout the sales or lettings process. Also notice who they send around to carry out the valuation and during the valuation ask what commission structures they offer and who will be carrying out viewings (especially during evenings and weekends).

The best advice we can give is to trust your instincts and appoint the agent who you feel will be the most suited to your needs. This may not always be the one who is promising you the most money!

We hope you found these tips helpful. If you are considering selling or renting, or even air bnb-ing your property in the St Albans or Hemel Hempstead area then we would love to chat to you about how we can help!

Get in touch with us today on 01727 221290 or 01442 230400

07Aug

The St Albans office of Aubrey & Finn – estate agents in dealing in both sales and lettings – has yet again been host to an excellent evening of entertainment, this time our 2017 Summer Quiz, with a team calling themselves the Door-knobs (yes, sir) narrowly being usurped by the modestly self-entitled Masters. A full house of clients, staff and associated businesses including teams from Bretherton Law,  Elm-com Electrical and Herald Insurance debated,  exhorted, cried out in the sheer agony of being wrong and donated a small sum to help local Children's Charity 'Happy Days' who came along on the evening and gave a small speech giving further info on the great work they do.

Sadly we didn't sell any houses during the event (just kidding, we didn't mention the day job once - I promise!) but we did have a great time with our neighbours and growing network. Based on this, we may institute an Autumn Quiz. I’m thinking October – call me now if you’re keen, we have room for 25. Seated - stretching to a bit more last week…

27Jun


Top 5 reasons to live in St Albans:

 

1.       Closer to London than London

17 minutes from London St Pancras, 14 from West Hampstead, both offering speedy onward links.

Nice fast Thameslink train that also gets you to both Luton and Gatwick Airports for those weekend breaks you’re always going on, and to Brighton.

In addition you are neatly perched on both the M1 and M25, making road trips a cinch.

This exceptionally convenient location for commuter, national and international travel is probably the main reason people move here.

 

2.       Schools

State schools rate more highly than the vast majority of the country’s private schools, and people cross the world to take advantage of that. St Albans, is a UK top ten town for education, as well as good health and entrepreneuriality amongst other things (LSH survey2016, The Week 2015). A whole segment of people move to St Albans because it is an eminently conducive environment for family life.

 

3.       People, culture, food

The only reason this isn’t number one is that I think it follows from the first two, or at the very least all three have a kind of chicken-and-egg relationship.

St Albans’ rich cultural fabric is certainly the reason people stay, and it encompasses vibrant entertainment, and a cosmopolitan social mix. For the evenings - there’s live music on every corner, a great art deco cinema offering a palate of repertory and main-stream bills; two theatres drawing national and international acts.  The burgeoning Parkrun 5k every Saturday morning in Verulamium Park attacts a couple of hundred people and is a great way to see your neighbours looking a bit sheepish, and to meet the town. There are other sports clubs and centres including a scuba diving club, skate park, climbing wall too. For people into more slow-moving entertainment, there’s a lot of history with some impressive historic characters such as Boudica and St Alban, as well as Francis Bacon. The lead singer of the Zombies, Stanley Kubric and Prof Stephen Hawking all have their own local stories here.

Not forgetting – great food and drink options. St Albans is national centre of the CAMRA, the Craft Ale movement, and there’s a great spectrum of café and restaurant food, from Mediterranean and North African to Oriental. Not forgetting good old fashioned British food, like our bake-off hero Johnny at the Pudding Stop, and the widely eulogised pub food at the Boot and the Fighting Cock.

 

4.       Countryside

Hertfordshire is almost the defining county when one images the rolling English countryside of popular imagination and from the St Albans city centre it’s only a short walk to rolling scenery at the Gorhambury Estate. For the more ambitious, road and off-road cycling options abound, and there are legions of classic English villages offering mineral replacement in the form of high-quality beer. The wider context is the Chilterns, beautiful green belt territory to the north and west, breath-taking to survey from places nearby such as Whipsnade and Ashridge.

 

5.       Range of property/investment

All these points make St Albans highly investable. For pure income investors, this isn’t it, but nearby Hemel Hempstead or Luton do have some offerings. For capital growth, St Albans will always benefit from the effect of London, which supports property values across the country like a pole supporting a marquee, but the added vim of those transport links effectively drags it closer. This means that capital put into St Albans property is a lot safer than in other towns satellite to London, and before you worry about recent falls in central London prime, St Albans is not only one of the wealthiest cities in the country, but a UK top ten town in growing affluence. The net result is a very strong local housing economy, where people are investing to look after their families.

 

The array of property is also worth a mention – in the town centre and conservation areas there are romantic streets with Georgian and Victorian stock, as well as some remaining medieval structures. People often start with these, and then move to the more spacious and practical streets of 20thcentury stock as their families increase, further out of town in places like Marshalswick, Cottonmill and Prae Wood. 

More recently with London commuters wanting a foot-hold here, we’re seeing significant developments around the station and town centre of apartments, mainly 1-3 beds. All of these benefit in terms of capital safety and of capital growth due to the preceding factors, but again all of these exist in a mutually supportive relationship, offering an unique opportunity.