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PROPERTY

An expert guide to the North Cotswold marketplace 2016

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Cotswold Homes P U B L I C AT I O N


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Contents 6–8

Welcome Welcome to Property 2016, a special edition of Cotswold Homes, providing valuable insights into every aspect of the North Cotswolds marketplace from the expert team at Harrison James & Hardie, Fine & Country North Cotswolds, market leaders and specialists in the sale and letting of local properties from first time buyer apartments to substantial country homes. With information ranging from what to do before placing your property for sale to finding your perfect home, you will find wise advice and insider tips on a multitude of aspects from our resident experts.

Bourton on the Water Office High Street, Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire GL54 2AN 01451 822977 bourton@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk

Moreton in Marsh Office High Street, Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 0AF 01608 651000 moreton@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk

Stow on the Wold Office Church Street, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1BB 01451 833170 stow@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk All information correct at time of going to press, 11th August 2016

Predicting the Market

12 – 15

10 – 11 The Value of Fine & Country

An international marketing platform

12 – 15 Amberley

A gardener’s paradise

16 – 17 It’s All In The Timing

Why a timed launch is the best method of sale

Brewhouse Cottage

42 – 43

18 – 19 Reaching The Right Buyer

The benefits of strategically targeted marketing

20 – 21 Getting Chatty With It

Traditional marketing makes way for social media

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Robert Hamilton from Central Surveying

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Get Yourself Sale-Ready!

Preparing your home to go on the market

26 – 27 Amanda Hanley by Design

The impact of wallpaper

28 – 29 Wise Before The Event

Prepare for a trouble-free sale

30 – 31 Stacey Ballinger from TLG

Fox Lodge

48 –50

The value of a survey

How to ensure a swift exchange of contracts

32 – 34 Getting Ahead Of The Game

47 Holiday Letting with Character Cottages Investing in a large holiday let 48 – 50 Fox Lodge

A house in the country

52 – 53 Norton Cottage

Retreat from city life

62 – 64 Getting Let-Ready!

The do’s & dont’s of successful letting

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First In Line

Top tips for first time buyers

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Sue Ellis from JEM Financial Planning

66 – 67 Ten Great Reasons…

Buying your first home

36 – 40 Town Mouse, Country House

Finding your dream home in the Cotswolds

42 – 43 Brewhouse Cottage

The perfect Cotswold home

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Retiring to the Cotswolds

Making the most of your golden years

Harrison-James-Hardie-Residential-Sales-and-Lettings

harrisonjameshardie.co.uk

Amberley

The impact of the referendum and changes in stamp duty

@harrisonhardie

Wise advice for would-be tenants To live In Upper Rissington

68 – 69 9, Smith Barry Crescent

An officer’s life

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Apprenticeship With Harrison James & Hardie

An insider’s view

74 – 75 Where To Find Us & What They

Say About Us

@harrisonjameshardie

www.cotswold-homes.com

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Karen Harrison BA Hons Founder and Principal Director / Owner Moreton in Marsh

Meet the team Harrison James & Hardie,

Fine & Country North Cotswolds

Karen established Harrison James & Hardie in June 2000 and has over 25 years’ experience in corporate and independent residential agency. She has worked in the North Cotswold marketplace since 1994 and Cotswold Homes is her brainchild. Karen raised her first two children, Matt and Lucy, in Bourton on the Water before moving to Upper Rissington in 2004. She has three more daughters with husband James von Speyr – Elena, Lottie and Daisy. The most recent member of the family is Reggie, a Norfolk terrier puppy.

Katy Freeman FNAEA

Steven Buchanan MNAEA

Lucy Gainford MNAEA

SENIOR BRANCH MANAGER Bourton on the Water

Sales Progression Manager Bourton on the Water

PR & Marketing Manager Moreton in Marsh

Katy originally joined a local corporate agency but was thinking about leaving the industry when persuaded to join Harrison James & Hardie. She fully embraced the team ethos, became branch manager in 2008, gaining NVQs and a diploma in Residential Sales. A fellow of the National Association of Estate Agents, her husband Mike recently took over her father’s job on Cooke’s farm in the Slaughters, where they live with baby Elsie. A thoroughly country girl, her particular passion is horses.

Steven joined the company in 2005 and has over twelve years’ experience in the Oxon / North Cotswolds marketplace. Steve worked as a Sales Manager in both offices for several years, before taking control of the Sales Progression department. He works closely alongside James, jointly managing the company pipeline on the behalf of the sales team. Steve lives in Witney with his wife Tamsin and two young daughters, Phoebe and Imogen, and regularly plays for his local darts team.

Lucy joined Harrison James & Hardie as an apprentice, having left The Cotswold School in 2008 with a brace of ‘A’ levels. She completed her Diploma in Residential Sales in record time. Having worked in administration and acting as PA to Karen Harrison and Tom Burdett for several years, she has recently been promoted to manage the company’s PR, social media and marketing. Recently married, she now lives in Upper Rissington with her husband David and beloved terrier Stanley.

Ewan Peaston MARLA, MNAEA

Jake Lomberg-Williams BSc Hons, MNAEA

Kelly Jenkins-Shaw LLB Hons

Senior Sales Negotiator Bourton on the Water

Sales Negotiator Moreton in Marsh

Sales Negotiator Moreton in Marsh

After joining the company in 2011 following the completion of his ‘A’ Levels at The Cotswold School, Ewan became an apprentice in Lettings, gaining qualifications and membership of ARLA. In 2014 he moved into Sales and has had a recent promotion to Senior Negotiator. Ewan is the best exponent of the company’s multi-skilled team ethos having worked in all three offices but has now settled at the Bourton on the Water branch. He lives in Stow on the Wold - an avid sports fan, particularly golf.

Jake graduated from Cirencester Agricultural College with a degree in Property Agency and Marketing. He spent a year working back on his family farm before finally deciding to pursue a career in estate agency, joining Harrison James & Hardie in October 2014. He quickly discovered his affinity for sales and enjoyed the accolade of Top Negotiator in 2015. He now lives in Bourton on the Water, having recently bought his first home there. He is a keen equestrian and polo player.

Kelly joined Harrison James & Hardie in May 2015, following a shor t spell at a local corporate agency. With an honours degree in Law under her belt, Kelly is currently working towards a Diploma in Residential Sales, quickly proving her aptitude with an impressive first year’s result. Kelly lives in Stow on the Wold with her husband Ed and young daughter Thea. With impressive ar tistic ability, her accomplished sketches of animals occupy much of her spare time.

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Bourton on the Water | Moreton in Marsh | Mayfair | Lettings


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James von Speyr

Caroline Gee MARLA

Tom Burdett MNAEA

Founder and Principal Director / Owner Bourton on the Water

Director of Lettings, company co-founder Stow on the Wold

Sales Director Moreton in Marsh

James is founding director of Harrison James & Hardie, married to co-owner Karen Harrison. James began life in corporate agency in Cheltenham at the tender age of seventeen. Now with over twenty-five years’ experience in the industry, James heads up Fine & Country North Cotswolds. He takes a keen interest in horse racing and was instrumental in securing the sponsorship of Sam Twiston Davies - he also loves to ride but is most often to be seen out walking with his beloved Patterdale terrier, Dylan.

Caroline assisted Karen with the company set-up in June 2000, having worked with her since 1994. Originally working in Country Home Sales with James von Speyr, Caroline moved specialisms in 2009 to take charge of the company’s highly successful Residential Lettings depar tment. Caroline has lived in Blockley for 23 years where she is still enjoying village life alongside her son Daniel, born just a year after the company was founded.

After leaving The Cotswold School post ‘A’ levels in 2004, Tom joined the company as an apprentice, progressing through various roles of increasing seniority in the company whilst gaining a diploma in Residential Sales and membership thereafter to the NAEA. He was recently promoted to Sales Director and now oversees Residential Sales for the company. Tom currently lives in Moreton in Marsh, and can often be found on the golf course in his spare time.

Jo Hetherington MNAEA

Lucy Driver MARLA

Amy Coldicott MARLA

PA & Administration Manager Bourton on the Water

Senior Sales Manager Moreton in Marsh

Lettings Manager Stow on the Wold

Jo joined the company as an apprentice in 2006 after leaving The Cotswold School with 3 ‘A’ levels. Jo has a wealth of local knowledge and could easily become a fantastic sales negotiator but much prefers to work behind the scenes. She acts as PA to James von Speyr whilst also managing the administration for the company, liaising with Lucy Gainford and training new apprentice Kirby Clayton. Jo recently married and lives in Churchill with her husband Ashley and three-legged dog Monkey.

Lucy began her working life with Karen at the age of seventeen as a weekend girl. She was the first employee when the company was founded and has been with Harrison James & Hardie ever since. During the last sixteen years Lucy has developed a broad base knowledge in both sales & lettings, successfully gaining qualifications and membership to ARLA. Raised in Wyck Rissington, she currently lives in Ganborough with her husband Andrew and two young boys, James and Daniel, who often benefit from her admirable skills in baking.

Amy joined Harrison James & Hardie in 2013 with five years’ previous experience in local agency. Since being with the company Amy has achieved her Diploma in Residential Lettings, and now specialises in the upper quartile lettings market, running the Fine & Country Lettings department with Caroline. Amy is also a keen horse rider. She lives in Upper Rissington and has recently returned to work following the birth of her first baby, Max.

Katy Hackling MARLA

Deirdre Hughes

Kirby Clayton

Lettings Negotiator Stow on the Wold

Lettings Administrator Stow on the Wold

Apprentice Moreton in Marsh / Bourton on the Water

Born and brought up in the Cotswolds and attending Chipping Campden Secondary School with Amy, Katy joined the company in 2014. Having pursued an equestrian career for several years, she successfully achieved a Diploma in Residential Lettings and demonstrated a real flair for listing when covering Amy’s absence on maternity leave. Katy lives in Mickleton with her husband, and can often be found at the yard with her much beloved horse.

Deirdre made a return to agency after taking a career break to raise her two children, having originally worked alongside Karen Harrison in the mid 1990s. Once a Branch Manager in Sales, she is now responsible for Lettings Administration and is currently studying towards membership of ARLA. Deirdre recently moved to Bourton on the Water after many years in Great Rissington, and is now enjoying life with the newest addition to her family, their beautiful Labrador puppy.

A triplet like Lucy Driver, brought up in Bour ton on the Water and attending the Cotswold School, Kirby completed an honours degree in Photography before pursuing a career in agency. Joining the company in May after a shor t period at another local firm, she is learning the ropes in both sales offices as an administrator, whilst studying towards NVQs and a Diploma in Residential Sales. She now lives in Burford and has a keen interest in keeping fit.

view all our properties at harrisonjameshardie.co.uk www.cotswold-homes.com

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ASK THE EXPERTS

Predicting the market

Karen Harrison BA Hons, Co-Founder & Principal Director

Predicting the market The impact of the referendum and changes in stamp duty No estate agent, no matter how experienced, can tell you exactly what your home is worth but the more working knowledge in that marketplace, the more accurately it is possible to predict what is actually achievable. With the very best agencies it’s a complex mix of skills - part research, part instinct, part memory - plus an informed and detailed understanding of wider trends and influences upon the local marketplace.

To enable an intelligent and structured approach towards gaining the best possible price, at Harrison James & Hardie we start our detailed assessment before we go out to a property by compiling a file of similar homes from our own extensive ‘sold stock’ records and additional information provided by Rightmove / Zoopla. These latter reports are available to any agent of course, anywhere, irrespective of proven sales ability in the local marketplace. However there are trends and fine-tuned variations on price, even from street to street, that someone simply printing out a report based on land registry statistics won’t begin to know. Achieving the right price is not a simple art. It relies on the benefit of something best described as ‘informed gut instinct’, built upon a seasoned understanding and longevity within the local marketplace. As with all things in life, the longer you have been doing something, the better you get at it subconscious competence, if you like. Achieving the right price can be positively affected by a sensitivity to a mood or a fleeting memory when inspecting the property, something that prompts us to take a calculated risk on a really ambitious figure or reminds us of the perfect buyer we went out to see last month, someone who hasn’t yet got their home on the market but would jump for the right thing, for example. An out-of-town agency would

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struggle particularly with a list of sold prices when it comes to unique period properties, where an experienced local agency has a huge inbuilt advantage.The North Cotswolds is a massively varied marketplace that requires a consistent team - each person in Harrison James & Hardie has worked for years acquiring detailed knowledge and a broad memory bank. A three-storey property on Blockley’s High Street may have little in common with its next-door neighbour but reminds us strongly of a beautiful cottage we sold in Bourton on the Water, perhaps, and if we are lucky some of the disappointed purchasers may still be looking. Of course, to value correctly it is important not only to know your property but also to know your purchasers. We take into consideration the requirements of our list of currently registered applicants, including spending power and confidence levels, because without knowing detailed specifics of potential buyers you cannot hope to pitch the marketing price at exactly the right level. At Harrison James & Hardie we invariably list in pairs, as some of the team will have an overview of the whole marketplace whilst others on the team will know which registered buyers are likely to suit a particular property right now – if it’s a large cottage within grounds of a couple of acres, James and Tom might go out together but for a family home in Moreton in Marsh, then Kelly and Jake will know several

registered buyers who might be prepared to offer immediately, for example. With ten of us listing dayto-day it’s always ‘best person for the job’. Our stamping ground at Upper Rissington is a perfect case in point. With a detailed background history over a period spanning three decades, the team at the Bourton office have a clear edge when assessing the critical tipping point on values between ambitious and plainly unachievable. Having been involved from the sell-off of the original base and as advisers to the new homes developers, we perfectly understand the differing benefits between the old RAF homes and the new. We also know that Smith Barry Crescent and Circus can command up to 10% more than similarly sized properties elsewhere on the development, because we always have several potential buyers for this address at any given time. As a result, we have recently achieved full asking price sales and/or competing bids on several properties in the village, old and new, even after they have been unsuccessfully marketed by other agencies beforehand, proving there is no substitute for experience and that such valuable knowledge translates into success for our vendors. More generally, seasonal peaks and flows amongst different categories of buyer also create shifts in demand, which pattern only becomes obvious from sales information built up year after year.


ASK THE EXPERTS

The impact of the referendum and changes in stamp duty

The High Street, Broadway

A property suited to the Cotswold retirement market will find more potential purchasers by launching in early spring than in late autumn, for instance, whilst families prefer to complete on transactions when there are no exams, from late July until Christmas. To know these variations gives us a well-developed sense of potential and opportunity. Then there are the wider influences – what is going on in London, what is happening in the mortgage markets, whether there is a general election or indeed a referendum – all of which impact on the local market, of course. Information is power. Reading the prevailing mood – asking our purchasers how they feel about the market when out viewing, talking to our partners in Fine & Country in Mayfair or discussing the general pace of the market with local solicitors – our conclusion about the likely value of a property is dictated by the anticipated level of confidence and competition between buyers for a particular type of property at the precise moment it is launched.Timing can make very a real difference to the result.

To know these marketplace variations gives us a well-developed sense of potential and opportunity

Bourton on the Hill

The best example is the evidence of the first six months of 2016. Just before stamp duty increased by an additional 3% for investment buyers, we knew there would be a surge in demand for prime period properties and for small modern homes that were particularly suited to the residential lettings marketplace. We advised vendors in those sectors to be really bullish on price but to work to exchange as quickly

if possible. Record times for exchanges were achieved in the first quarter with many agreed sales completing in days - we even negotiated for one vendor to stay in the property as a tenant for the following six months so that the deal could complete in time. Normally choice-led, cash rich buyers are never under pressure, rarely in a chain, independent of financing, inclined to stick than

twist if there’s a confidence dip. Each transaction has to be a serendipitous mix of perfect opportunity and desire - if it’s not right, it won’t happen. Mature, sophisticated and mortgage free, these purchasers will usually just choose to sit tight than make an impetuous decision (even if they initially offer) because doing things right now is rarely important.

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Predicting the market – The impact of the referendum and changes in stamp duty The first quarter of 2016 simply created an unsustainable spike in the upper quartile marketplace, a lovely opportunity for those who timed it well but with the additional meltdown following the EU vote, this sector was bound to be hard hit as investors temporarily scurried for cover. Once the new stamp duty threshold came into effect on 1st April this year, coupled with the waiting game on the EU referendum, the number of investment buyers was always likely to subside. So should we be worried about the lack of activity in London, now, post referendum? It was always likely given the timing of the referendum that the prime market would be quiet, anyway, as most investment purchasers are not looking for property over the peak summer months but enjoying their planned vacation. Given a home priced at £1.2 million that would have commanded less than £65,000 in stamp duty taxation until April now requires a cash lump sum from a second home purchaser of just under £100,000, and beyond that price it is even more punitive, if George Osborne intended stamp duty hikes to create a sharp braking effect on escalating sale prices in central London and to prevent investors from dominating desirable areas such as the North Cotswolds then he has achieved the trick. Never fear, these purchasers will soon be back - the prime market is always the most resilient. In the dark days of 2008 when the market was dominated by the ‘D’s - divorce, debt, disposal and despair - prices plummeted by 30% in less than eighteen months but by the end of 2008, unimpressed by the stock market and sensing a killing, London buyers started to circle the North Cotswold marketplace. And so by the end of the following year, the prime second home market here had clambered back up to precrash prices.

surge has been driven by entirely different motives and constraints, no matter what the outcome of the referendum – a house bursting at the seams, an aspiration to fulfil, a seductive mortgage opportunity to secure and an impatient buyer pressing for exchange, the summer a perfect time to complete, and so on.

Prices may have to undergo a reality check in the upper quartile sector but for now it’s more of a waiting game than panic stations. If a prime property is placed in the market today at the correct price, there will still be plenty of interest in homes typically associated with the investment market – in mid-August we agreed a sale above asking price on Brewhouse Cottage in Upper Oddington, for example. However, unlike high-end agencies that have been solely dependent on the investment market place and are now freaking out, we are equally strong in the residential marketplace and we have found good reason to be cheerful. As one sector weakens, the other generally picks up pace. In direct contrast to the investment market, families are far more likely to be interested in looking once the exam season is over, and as the first quarter concluded we realised that the affluent family market was quickly building in confidence and competition. For spacious modern homes across the whole spectrum including luxurious properties up to £850,000 and above, an energy

Post recession, there has been a significant difference in recovery between the prime market and the residential marketplace.The cost of a modern family home is still similar to the price achieved in 2007 - the availability of new-build stock and lack of available finance suppressing competition - whereas a typical second home now commands 20% more than its pre-crash value. However, as the far greater impact in the residential marketplace upon activity and confidence is not the woes or successes of the stock market but availability and attractiveness of finance, the impact of the EU referendum may have left many reeling but the advantage has been the continuation of exceptionally low lending rates. Selling and buying in the same marketplace, there is always a balance between the price you sell for and the price you pay. As local buyers can feel relatively safe from the challenge of a speculative investor right now, given the number of attractive mortgage products that have been launched and the severe disincentives set in place to deal with investor over-enthusiasm,

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Upper Swell

The far greater impact in the residential market upon activity and confidence is not the woes or the successes of the stock market but the availability and attractiveness of finance at least until the end of 2016 the battle for local homes of all types will be between young couples and families. For the first time in ten years the mood in the domestic marketplace feels really confident. We celebrated an extraordinarily good first quarter this year (our best in a decade) based on the surge of investment purchases, but from May to July we conducted just as many viewings and agreed 18% more sales. If there has been an impact from the referendum on the local marketplace, it is the very top end that is feeling the pain, and the outlook for the main market in 2017 right now looks decidedly healthy. Whatever happens as the impact of the EU referendum takes effect we will be anticipating change, reading the signs and advising our vendors accordingly. If you want to achieve the best possible price, the cheery chap extending a licked finger in the air whilst consulting his list of online statistics and offering you a cheap fee is not your answer nor the poor soul who only deals with ‘the London market’ reporting as if the world has come to an abrupt end. There is every reason for confidence as long as your agency really understands the local market and is able to stay ahead of the curve. To speak to Karen, telephone 01608 651000 or e-mail karen@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk.


ASK THE EXPERTS

The value of Fine & Country

JAMES VON SPEYR, CO-FOUNDER & PRINCIPAL DIRECTOR

The value of Fine & Country An international marketing platform

Q

I bought and sold through Harrison James & Hardie in 2007 when you had your own ‘Cotswold Country Homes’ department. I was really impressed by the company’s service and sales skills and wonder what Fine & Country offers, over and above what you were doing at that time?

The Mayfair Office, Fine & Country

Bringing together an impressive combination of resources and entrepreneurial personalities was an inspired answer to the complacent reactive style of the old boy network

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ASK THE EXPERTS

An international marketing platform

Fine & Country was quickly hailed as a new standard for the luxury international marketplace

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Fine & Country is a highly proficient and professional international marketing agency that has won countless awards for innovation and performance in the competitive international upper quartile marketplace since it was launched at the dawn of the twenty first century.

Bringing together an impressive combination of resources and entrepreneurial personalities was an inspired answer to the complacent reactive style of the old boy network; by uniting these extremely capable but disparate agencies Fine & Country massively amplified their ability to compete.

The original concept behind the brand was simple – experienced independent agencies around the UK unified to mount a challenge to the traditional ‘old boy network’ agencies that had always dominated the marketplace including Knight Frank, Savills and so on.

With combined buying power unlocking the wherewithal to devise and develop expensive marketing strategies, not only using traditional national media but also embracing the very best in cutting-edge technology and modern sales techniques to attract their buyers, a creditable alternative soon challenged the seemingly unassailable supremacy of the old guard.

The desire was to create something new, completely different and refreshingly forward-looking, based on the broad range of skills, knowledge, experience and proactive energy of outstanding local independent representatives whilst utilising international brand marketing that, up to now, had been associated only with high end agency. Each representative within Fine & Country today has already spent years at the top of local agency, gaining strength from experience in their particular field and enjoying a formidable reputation for excellence within local circles.

Fine & Country was quickly hailed as a new standard for the luxury international marketplace and many prestigious industry awards followed in the wake of its success. The directors of Harrison James & Hardie were headhunted by Fine & Country in 2009, shortly after joining the Guild of Professional Estate Agents where we held property exhibitions in Mayfair that year specifically to attract the London market.

We acquired the exclusive licence for the North Cotswolds because we had long recognised that the only barrier preventing us from gaining more instructions at the top end of the local market was a nationally recognisable image and buying power, particularly when it came to national newspaper and magazine marketing, for example. Whilst we were highly experienced and successful in the local marketplace as you say, we were keen to tap deeper into the London investment market on the behalf of our clients, and to secure access to additional specialist knowledge and skill in bespoke categories such as land and equestrian property. Now, marketing via Fine & Country North Cotswolds, the company takes full advantage of a host of platforms to communicate the benefits of our finest properties, of whatever type, to the widest possible range of potential buyers regionally, nationally and beyond. To speak to James, telephone 01451 822977 or e-mail james@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk.

www.cotswold-homes.com

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Amberley, Longborough – A gardener’s paradise

Amberley, Longborough A gardener’s paradise

Longborough is a small and peaceful, archetypally pretty hill village sitting between Stow on the Wold and Moreton in Marsh, surrounded by open countryside yet barely a stone’s throw from the A424 and A429. Enjoying the best of rural life but within easy reach of major road / rail links, for anyone hoping to escape the hustle and bustle of city life yet with access to day-to-day amenities it’s a tick-list golden postcode. At its centre there is a highly regarded primary school, a thriving coffee shop and stores and a traditional public house overlooking a picturesque village green. It’s no surprise, then, that this is a gem in the North Cotswold crown, renowned for its settled and friendly community and sought-after by a wide range of buyers. With everything at hand on a daily basis, Longborough is just as attractive as a dream retirement destination as it is for local families, professional commuters and holiday homers. 12

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Little comes up for sale and when it does there’s often a bun fight. Amberley, nestling within grounds of an acre and a half right at the heart of the village, is likely to create an even greater buzz than usual. This substantial detached house provides great living space with four double bedrooms and three bathrooms in the main property plus a delightful single storey annexe and double garage converted from an original barn. Built as a home for a local farmer, it occupies without doubt one of the finest locations in the village. Set back from the street, approached via a short gravelled driveway, gated and protected from view behind high Cotswold stone-walling, it sits at the highest point of its plot, elevated to take best advantage of the grounds and views. Constructed of reconstituted Cotswold stone and of a typical mid-twentieth century design, the living spaces have been significantly updated since the

current owners took on the property eight years ago and the interior is now much more suited to the needs and tastes of modern life. The bathrooms have all been fully upgraded and the ground floor opened out, allowing the creation of a free-flowing living / dining kitchen that runs the full depth of the property, fitted with an extensive range of solid wood plain English wall and base units, with bi-fold doors at each side opening out onto a magnificent aspect over the garden and grounds. A charming and spacious master bedroom suite, converted from one half of the adjacent single storey barn and connected to the main house by a glazed walkway, also enjoying the same fabulous aspect, provides flexible accommodation that would be perfect for a housekeeper, an elderly relative or children’s nanny, for example. In its own right, this is therefore a fantastic family home or even a profitable holiday let but there is considerably more one could do. All the possibilities offered by extension have not been pursued, for example. Lovely as it is now, it is fair to say the house has not been the main focus of the present owners. Rather, their passion and vision has been concentrated on the extraordinary opportunity offered by ‘location, location,


Amberley, Longborough – A gardener’s paradise

location’ – and what they have done with the surroundings is nothing short of magnificent. The grounds are now absolutely beautiful, with gardens that have been gently landscaped into a series of informal terraces, making a slow descent towards an immaculately tended paddock with a pond and stream, the whole providing an intensely pleasurable panoramic vista. This extraordinary setting is the knockout qualifier, without hyperbole, turning a (comparatively) modest house into an outstanding proposition. Subject to the usual planning constraints one can easily imagine a far grander property, perhaps faced in natural stone, and certainly much extended beyond its existing footprint. Everything about the location allows for the possibility. The spreading upper terraces are laid out to broad elliptical lawns and wellordered, raised vegetable beds, with a profusion of mature fruit trees and cleverly planted borders blessed with colour, variety and interest all year round. Beyond, in a series of natural rooms there is form and structure, colour and interest interspersed with open spaces and beautiful vistas. It is quite simply a gardener’s (and children’s) paradise.

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Amberley, Longborough – A gardener’s paradise

“Trees are a very important feature not only for the fruitful bounty they provide but also as natural architecture, expertly planted to provide colour, shade, form and privacy in every season.”

Catherine, the chief architect of this inspired project, explains her emphasis on colour and fragrance throughout. “In front of the house, a gravel garden has been enclosed on three sides to keep in the scent of the various fragrant plants there – ceanothus, sea kale with its delicious honey smell, perovskia, euphorbia mellifera, lemon verbena and curry plant, all of which are at their most heady when the sun shines. As you walk down through the garden, different scents linger around you - three or four philadelphus are amongst my favourites, and lots of lots of roses, of course! Generous gardener, gentle Hermione, ballerina, some really old varieties that smell divine including a beautiful moss rose… “The main flower beds are set out as a mixed shrubbery with well-established evergreen and deciduous plants where we have mock orange, arbutus with its pretty flowers and nasty bitter lychee-looking fruits, a gorgeous-smelling pineapple 14

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plant, Melianthus Major with its strong aroma of peanut butter, all complemented with herbaceous perennials such as day lilies, clematis, tree peonies, fennel, bulbs and self-seeding annuals. The top lawn has hot planting of red and orange and purple. The bottom lawn has softer colours of pink, white and blue. Sedums get everywhere because they look so good through the winter, as do the remnants of the huge artichokes that also make an appearance here and in the gravel garden. The shady bed under the greenhouse has more old-fashioned fragrant roses and annuals, at their prettiest in spring when it is full of crocuses, daffodils, snowflakes and aconites. I have just planted some yellow iris in the pond and along the side of the stream are some ornamental rheum, spotty dotty, more plain and variegated irises plus many dogwoods. “We have created several raised vegetable beds where I grow beans and carrots and coriander and all that sort of stuff, and there are masses of perennial edibles around the garden

– blackcurrants, sweet and sour gooseberries, rhubarb, raspberry canes along with some more unusual things – a mulberry is just getting established and the medlar is very beautiful in the spring with its big white flowers. The earth in the garden is very good – I have done a fair amount of mulching and (apart from things that like acid soil) everything grows brilliantly well. “Trees are a very important feature not only for the fruitful bounty they provide but also as natural architecture, expertly planted to provide colour, shade, form and privacy in every season. “At the top we have lovely Cercis Canadensis forest pansy - possibly the prettiest tree in the garden - and by the patio is a flaky-barked Acer, really attractive when the sun shines through it. A Prunus Serrula should offer winter interest this year and just behind the house a big and beautiful walnut tree that produces a great crop – unlike the cob and hazel nut trees further down the


Amberley, Longborough – A gardener’s paradise

garden, the squirrels don’t manage to steal all of them! An old spreading apple tree with a climbing rose winding through it produces spectacular blossom in the spring. It makes really tasty apple pies and crumbles in the autumn, with two more eating apple trees in the main mixed borders – the one at the top is a russet with the most delicious fruit. “A Victoria plum tree also fruits copiously but is mainly there as a pollinator for the Reine Claude, far more delicious, and the best fruit tree is the apricot – I filled the freezer with stewed apricots last year! Down at the bottom of the garden a Rosa Rugosa hedge looks and smells good in flower but the hips are even better; nearby I have planted a little spinney of trees. There’s a well-established multi-stemmed silver birch and two Sorbus that have the most beautiful velvety silver leaves in the spring and behind are some hollies to give more privacy and berries, again for winter interest.”

Tom Burdett, Sales Director of Fine & Country North Cotswolds at Moreton in Marsh, is confident that Amberley will command a considerable amount of competitive interest amongst a wide range of interested buyers. “We sold the property to the current owners and although it was a lovely home before, commanding competitive bids at the time, I have been astounded by the changes they have made to the grounds in a comparatively short time. Now one cannot help but be taken by the stupendous beauty of this setting which, combined with the considerable untapped potential for significant extension offered by the existing property itself and despite the upgrading that has been carried out already, present an extremely exciting proposition with all the makings of a truly grand design. It would certainly be worth every penny one might spend on doing so, given the unique opportunity to create a substantial bespoke family home of the finest quality in one of the most sought-after villages in the North Cotswolds.”

Andy Soye of Character Cottages says: “Amberley is a stunning, country home – perfect for holiday letting to larger families and groups of friends.The Cotswolds is dominated with smaller cottages, but the market for larger houses that sleep 10 or more is very much in demand and outstrips supply.This beautiful house, with its 5 double bedrooms and plenty of downstairs space, would be an ideal country retreat for the discerning holiday maker. Character Cottages would aim to generate around £70,000 of gross rental income from Amberley, and have little doubt that it would be a real winner with guests.” Amberley is marketed at £1.2m by Fine & Country North Cotswolds, the international country homes department of Harrison James & Hardie. Please contact the Moreton in Marsh office on 01608 653893 for more information and to book your appointment to view.

www.cotswold-homes.com

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ASK THE EXPERTS

It’s all in the timing

It’s all in the timing

Why a timed launch is the best method of sale Prior Bank, Blockley: After a timed launch, sold in excess of £100,000 over the asking price

Q

My cottage has been marketed for less than a week. I received an offer just below the asking price from the first applicant who came to view and the agency is pressing me to accept. Without first testing the levels of interest, how can we be sure that the optimum price has been achieved?

Tom Burdett MNAEA Sales Director

A

Our main aim, whether acting as Harrison James & Hardie in the local residential marketplace or as Fine & Country North Cotswolds in the ‘London’ marketplace, is to sell every client’s home swiftly, at the best possible price and to a buyer happy to fit in with their timescales. A clear, informed and concise strategy is fundamental to achieving this; after all, your home is your most valuable asset, so why leave the result to chance? As the leading specialists in local agency we invariably have a list of potential buyers registered for every home we list; more often than not, the first person we introduce is likely to be amongst the best buyers for that property. However, unless

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you trust that your agency is similarly positioned in your local marketplace you can be left with a niggling feeling that you might have got more money. We know that choice-led investment buyers will frequently circle a property for a few weeks in the hope the sale price will come down, so you might be right about other opportunities that haven’t been exhausted by your agency’s approach. For desirable properties like your cottage, a timed launch would have left you feeling far more confident in the outcome. As such, a timed launch to the national marketplace is the ideal way to ensure that you have achieved not just a quick sale but attracted

the widest possible number of potential buyers, including the most motivated buyer in the strongest position. A timed launch clearly does not apply to every property, only when it is certain to appeal to a wide range of different buyers. To achieve the best possible price in such instances we use a complex, tried-and-tested marketing strategy: The Fine & Country North Cotswolds’ Property Launch. In accordance with our client’s preferred timescales and our experience, we decide upon the best date to launch the property to the marketplace. At least a month in advance, we carefully prepare our range of marketing material - professional


ASK THE EXPERTS

Why a timed launch is the best method of sale

Michaelmas House, St Mary’s House & Steppes Cottage: After a timed launch, all were sold well in excess of the asking price

We know that choice-led investment buyers will frequently circle a property for a few weeks in the hope the sale price will come down, so you might be right about other opportunities that haven’t been exhausted by your agency’s approach photography, a drone video and internal property video, stunning printed glossy brochures and a beautifully written accompanying lifestyle article that will appear in an array of traditional media and property portals, both via Fine & Country’s PR department and Cotswold Homes magazine. Two weeks before the launch we ‘go live’, linking our presence on a wide range of property portals with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, alerting our Cotswold Homes database of 7,000 local residents and frequent visitors to the North Cotswolds with a bespoke e-mailer announcing the launch, too. This impressive array of marketing material is precisely designed to provoke maximum interest amongst our registered applicants and those elusive cash-rich choice-led buyers searching via the web and national media. Everything works towards that single launch day. Viewings are booked strictly by prior appointment and no one is allowed to attend beforehand, thereby amplifying anticipation and competition between buyers. With a senior member of the sales team to conduct viewings we can assess motivation, identify opportunities and secure formal interest as early as possible. What we hope for is multiple offers – to secure some bids on the day, followed

As we have already qualified the buyers we can quickly advise our vendors, accordingly. An ideal outcome is the luxury to choose a buyer not just on the level of offer but also on timescales and buying position. It’s lovely to have a couple of disappointed buyers prepared to jump in if that sale should fall through for any reason.

time, whilst offering a completion date to suit. This strategy was perfectly illustrated by Fine & Country North Cotswolds when selling Prior Bank, a beautiful village home in Blockley. With fifteen buyers viewing the property at the launch, we received five asking-price offers and the sale was eventually agreed at an excess of £100,000 over the asking price to a buyer who exchanged contracts within four weeks.

Ultimately, the aim of a ‘delayed gratification’ strategy is to focus interested applicants on the importance of making a swift decision when the opportunity arises. Choice-led purchasers are often aware of the control they exert, not being subject to the pressures of a chain or of borrowing criteria, and can make them prone to unexpected whims and anxieties. Given that the national statistic for fall-through is around 30% of gross house sales, it is a proven fact that significantly reducing the length of time between an offer and exchange of contracts will positively affect the likelihood of a successful outcome.

In the main residential marketplace we have also employed a timed-launch strategy on occasion. Even though modern properties cannot always produce such a high number of competing buyers, this can still result in a Best & Final offer from two or more interested buyers, when the price can be driven up to, and occasionally well beyond, the asking price. To illustrate, Harrison James & Hardie recently marketed a development opportunity in Swan Close in Moreton in Marsh that resulted in six bids from competing buyers, generating four Best & Final offers, and went on to achieve a sale at the full asking price.

Over and above price alone, we will always recommend the buyer who is able to proceed to exchange of contracts in the shortest possible

To speak to Tom, telephone 01608 651000 or e-mail tom@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk.

by more over the next couple of days or so.

www.cotswold-homes.com

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ASK THE EXPERTS

Reaching the right buyer

Jake Lomberg-Williams BSc Hons, MNAEA, Sales Negotiator

Reaching the right buyer

The benefits of strategically targeted marketing

Q A

I have a rather uninspiring recon stone, 1970s house but with bespoke stabling for eight horses, ménage and several acres of quality paddock. I suspect it is highly likely to achieve its best price by marketing specifically to an equestrian marketplace. How does Fine & Country target these particular buyers?

There are several specialist divisions within Fine & Country, where properties that are likely to attract greater interest from certain types of buyer are able to take advantage of directly targeted marketing platforms. For example, Golf Property and Waterside Property: the former working in close partnership with European Tour Properties, (an international network of world class golf venues in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia) and the latter with its own subsidiary website offering specialist expertise and focusing on the lifestyle benefits of living near water - be that riverside, lakeside or seaside. Similarly, Equestrian Homes has its own dedicated website accessed through a refined search. The equestrian property division of Fine & Country is particularly important to the North Cotswold marketplace, given we are fortunate to live and work in an area that is synonymous with equine activity and associated facilities, from eventing to jump racing. Many of our local Fine & Country North Cotswolds team have been raised with horses or spent years participating in equine pursuits - as such we already have a complete understanding of the needs of those applicants who are specifically searching for equine property. We understand the variety of facilities they may demand and have a clear grasp of the different disciplines, too, recognising, for example, that the wish list of a dressage rider is vastly different to

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that of a polo team, and thereby enabling us to provide best advice when accompanying viewers, of course. To boot, with offices in over 300 locations worldwide, the company can also access the detailed knowledge of carefully selected independent property professionals in Equestrian Homes via our central offices in Mayfair London, people whose expertise extends beyond the ordinary in such specialist fields. We like to take full advantage of the help and advice of our Mayfair office, particularly when it comes to media opportunities. The PR team offers a number of creative

opportunities to access the equestrian buyer looking at national level, with brilliant access to many appropriate media platforms. These include Town and Country, Country Life, Farmers Weekly and Estates Gazette. Editorial copy is often secured at no extra cost via Horse and Hound, The Sunday Times and The Telegraph, for a property that comes with a ‘story’, for example. The highlight of the jump-racing calendar is undoubtedly the Gold Cup, the grand finale of the famous four-day festival hosted at Cheltenham Racecourse in March each year. As such, with a feature editorial spread in Cotswold Homes, your property will also be guaranteed promotion to thousands of passionate race goers,


ASK THE EXPERTS

The benefits of strategically targeted marketing

The PR team offers a number of creative opportunities to access the equestrian buyer looking at national level, with brilliant access to many appropriate media platforms with magazine stands situated in all the Members’ Enclosures throughout the season. However amongst all the specific marketing opportunities offered, perhaps the most impressive is The Fine & Country Gold Cup Polo Tournament, a free annual event held at the Dallas Burston Polo Club each summer. This provides a great day out for thousands of potential clients and customers, a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends whilst relaxing on the lawns watching exhilarating polo and also, of course, the perfect way to promote your equine property. By clever use of such targeted opportunities in the run up to a Fine & Country Timed Launch, combined with the expansive list of benefits that come with all Fine & Country branded marketing as standard, plus positioning on a expansive range of property portals and a ‘taster’ bespoke Cotswold Homes e-mailer announcing the launch linked to a variety of social media, we can be assured of achieving the best possible price for your equestrian property. To speak to Jake, telephone 01608 651000 or e-mail jake@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk.

This country farmhouse with equestrian facilities is on the market with Fine & Country Leamington Spa

This equestrian property with 34 acres is currently offered for sale with Fine & Country Banbury

www.cotswold-homes.com

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ASK THE EXPERTS

Getting chatty with it

Getting chatty with it Traditional marketing makes way for social media

Q

Why don’t you advertise in the local paper? Surely it’s a way of getting to those who aren’t actively looking but could be tempted if ‘the right thing’ came up?

Lucy Gainford MNAEA PR & Marketing Manager

Harrison-James-Hardie-Residential-Sales-and-Lettings

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@harrisonhardie

A

We finally took the decision to stop appearing in the local paper around a year ago, having monitored a substantial decrease over several years in enquiries from this particular method of marketing. Before the recession we spent well over £100,000 a year on local paper advertising and although we had reduced that commitment to concentrate on far more effective, targeted marketing with Cotswold Homes and Fine & Country, it was still a large drain on our resources.

@harrisonjameshardie


ASK THE EXPERTS

Traditional marketing makes way for social media

Links from e-mailers to our property editorials and expert advice columns on Cotswold Homes website are by far the most popular content

As a unique marketing tool, 10,000 hard copies are freely delivered each quarter to homes and independent businesses in over ninety villages and towns throughout the North Cotswolds Backed up by independent statistics confirming that readership of local papers has been falling by a national average of 10% year-on-year, property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla have undoubtedly had a drastic impact on searching habits for a very long time. However, most estate agencies maintained that local papers were still a method of gaining new instructions but we found that the vast majority of our clients relied far more on Sold boards, recommendations and property portals to choose our agency. None of our competitors had the courage to pull out of local advertising, fearing that it would be a massive loss of profile if other rivals chose to remain, so we decided to be first to rip the plaster off. And we haven’t looked back! That’s not to say that we have withdrawn from conventional newspaper advertising, full stop. Quite the

contrary, national newspaper advertising remains incredibly valuable as a way of accessing the London marketplace. As Fine & Country North Cotswolds we have access to a host of national broadsheets including The Sunday Times and The Evening Standard, with a team of journalists within the Fine & Country PR department working to secure additional editorial publicity throughout the national press. Statistics provided by the PR department at Fine & Country reveal that positive editorial coverage has ten times the value of equivalent advertising space, backing up our decision to promote our properties via Cotswold Homes magazine instead of the local paper. As a unique marketing tool, 10,000 hard copies are freely delivered each quarter to homes and independent businesses in over ninety villages and towns throughout the North Cotswolds, including high-traffic meeting places such as Cheltenham Racecourse and train platforms to Paddington at Kemble, Moreton and Kingham. The magazine has a massive local readership of at least 50,000, including online pageturner versions, and provides us with exclusive access to an ever-expanding database already comprising more than 7,000 e-mail addresses of residents and frequent visitors to the local area. We also link information on our properties to our social media accounts with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, well aware that prospective purchasers are starting to branch out beyond traditional /cotswoldhomespage

@cotswoldhomes

online portals to find their dream home. It is estimated that by 2017 the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion as sites continue to grow exponentially in popularity. Today, users not only keep in touch with family and friends via social media but also seek out information and share it with others. Mobile devices have become ubiquitous and therefore social media provides a natural online solution for finding a home. We are tapping more and more into this amazing resource in order to promote our properties on a daily and even hourly basis, communicating with potential buyers in a creative, instantaneous way that simply cannot be achieved by orthodox paper advertising. Links from e-mailers to our property editorials and expert advice columns on Cotswold Homes website are by far the most popular content, so we have recently been funding the development of a fabulous property website that will be hosted within Cotswold Homes, providing a searchable, content-rich source of valuable information about all aspects of the local property market to an inexhaustible host of potential customers. As such we have been specifically able to target both a local and ‘London market’ audience in a far more effective way than the paper could ever have enabled, including those who may not even realise they are looking, as you quite rightly say! To speak to Lucy, telephone 01608 651000 or e-mail lucyd@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk.

@cotswoldhomes

www.cotswold-homes.com

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ASK THE EXPERTS

The value of a good survey

Robert Hamilton FRICS, Chartered Surveyor, Central Surveying

Q A

The value of a survey

We are purchasing with cash, the property seems in very good order and we are loathe to part with several hundred pounds more for a full structural survey. What do you advise?

As with many ‘second hand’ products (excluding new homes), all properties have history that is useful to know.A survey will highlight construction and legal issues, it will also advise on things to watch out on in the future, such as maintenance issues, thereby avoiding unpleasant and expensive surprises after moving in. Surveys are documents that add value to the property (if purchased) and should be seen as an investment rather than just another cost. A house with the benefit of a survey can fetch a higher price in the market. As does a Mercedes, for example, with a full service history! For a Mortgage Loan, a Valuation Surveyor visits on behalf of the Bank or Building Society - not for you - and won’t highlight personal concerns or give details of condition, only whether the property offers suitable security for the loan. Some properties cause the valuation surveyor’s software problems by being ‘nonstandard’ construction; for example solid stone walls may be considered ‘single skin’ and therefore unmortgageable. Despite the said wall being nearly a metre thick! The RICS offers two types of survey for buyers, either a Building Survey (formerly a Full Structural Survey) or a Home Buyer Report. A Building Survey is suitable for all residential properties and gives full details of the construction and condition, especially recommended for unusually built, run down, listed and older properties, or for properties that have been significantly altered or where you are planning a major conversion or renovation, especially in the Cotswolds. The Home Buyer Report includes an inspection, a report and a valuation. It is designed for modern/new built houses, bungalows and flats and contains ‘Condition Ratings’ (Scaled 1-3) to elements of the building, highlighting the most important issues or defects that may require immediate attention or could affect the value. It also includes the surveyor’s opinion of the current market value and reinstatement cost for rebuilding required for insurance purposes. Read the survey carefully to check your understanding; don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Buyers often panic but most problems are solvable. Expect some issues to be highlighted within a report, especially if the house is over twenty years old, and speak to both the agent and your surveyor about the findings, liaising to work through the problems and to find a resolution.

If work is required, speak to your surveyor before calling in the builders so that you have a good idea of what specifically needs to be done and how much this should cost. Most surveying practices will recommend preferred specialist contractors or will have consultants to advise in specialist areas such as under-floor heating or heat pump technology. You can ask your surveyor to oversee the works, to ensure that it’s being done properly and checked regularly. If the property is in a Conservation Area or is a Listed Building, and you are worried how might this restrict any future alterations, firstly obtain details of the Listing (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list) It can be quite difficult to find your property as postcodes don’t work and many historic properties have changed their names over the years! But persevere…… If you are looking to renovate or develop in any way, you must follow the strict guidelines and will require Listed Building Consent in addition to planning permission. Your surveyor should have good knowledge of what changes are acceptable and will be able to liaise with the Heritage Officer in charge of the area, in order to work through constraints so that permission is granted. Finally, being prepared to instruct early on a survey is important to show the vendors that you are acting in good faith and have full intention to proceed to exchange of contracts as soon as possible. I find that estate agencies are more suspicious than otherwise when a potential purchaser proclaims they are not going to have a survey, especially when there is competition for a property. It’s a strategy that could potentially be used against their client, by proceeding to exchange without the pressure of anyone snapping at your heels and then calling for a survey on the day of exchange (or otherwise pressing to re-negotiate). Just not cricket! Central Surveying has offices in the Cotswolds and Knightsbridge, specialising in independent professional surveying and property consultancy services for commercial and residential clients in the Cotswolds, South West and London. Robert Hamilton works from Naunton in the heart of the North Cotswolds. To contact Robert, telephone 01285 640 840 or visit www.centralsurveying.co.uk.

www.cotswold-homes.com

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Preparing your home to go on the market

Get yourself sale-ready! Preparing your home to go on the market

When you are preparing to put your property on the market it is really important to take some time to get your paperwork in order, to sort out the garden as well as the house itself, and to finish all those little jobs on your ‘To Do’ list, especially if you want to find a buyer for the best possible price in the shortest possible time. Jo Hetherington MNAEA PA & Administration Manager

As agents, we used to be able to discuss and sell the benefits of our new instructions to an exhaustive list of prospective buyers before photos and details had even been prepared, because everyone would register with all the local agencies the moment they decided to look for a new home. Now we often hear from new applicants after they have done their research on the web, when they ring up to view a specific property. With your ‘first viewing’ online, a poor impression can instantly rule your property out even if it actually ticks all the right boxes compared with other properties in the same price range. We pay for professional photography to ensure the best possible impression online but we also need you to do your bit by de-cluttering and (to a reasonable extent) de-personalising your home. That half-finished decorating project, the falling-down fence and spare room full of junk are obvious musts for a successful early sale but beyond this it is important to present a neutral personality with a proper sense of functional space throughout.

If you do not have a spare set of keys it’s worth getting another set cut in advance. Keys are always tagged up and locked away securely in our offices so will be perfectly safe – likewise, we can manage alarms and keep pets safely shut in, of course. However, if your viewer is not an animal lover (or worse, allergic!) then the presence of Tiddles or Rover can put off a potential buyer so it’s worth asking a neighbour if they can look after your pet during a viewing and a good opportunity to take the dog out for a walk, anyway! To prove that we have taken all necessary steps to ascertain the correct information relating to your property there are various legal requirements to fulfil, too, prior to marketing. As dictated by HMRC, the most important is to provide original photo evidence of your ID, usually a passport or driving licence. We also require supporting evidence that you own the property - something showing the address in your name, dated within two months of signing the terms of business, such as a council tax demand, bank statement or recent utility bill. Similarly, we must have ordered your

Ensure each room is presented to its best advantage - get a few rolls of wallpaper and borrow a cot or a desk to re-model that junk room into a practical living space Ensure each room is presented to its best advantage - get a few rolls of wallpaper and borrow a cot or a desk to re-model that junk room into a practical living space, for example. Put all those family photographs, plastic toys and teddy bears into storage, minimise the clutter on kitchen surfaces and clear the dining table loaded with paperwork. Accumulation of ‘stuff ’ is part of every day life and an expression of personality but it’s important not to hamper your viewers’ ability to imagine your house as their home. No one is expecting perfection – you still have to live, of course - but a lack of basic tidiness and cleanliness is off-putting to prospective buyers so make time to do the washing up, hoover up the pet hairs, empty litter trays and pooperscoop the garden, clean the loos and bleach the sinks, especially before you leave the house for the day. Much as we always try to give our vendors at least twenty-four hours’ notice, you never know when your buyer may walk through our door and we don’t want to delay a viewing just because you haven’t made the beds that morning!

Energy Performance Certificate and you will also need to fill in a ‘Fact Find’ questionnaire giving basic information about the property, supported by relevant certificates regarding heating, plumbing and windows for example, proof of building regulation inspections and planning permissions, which solicitors will require anyway when a sale is agreed. Finally, we need to have written confirmation from you (either a signed and dated set of details or an e-mail) approving the content of our particulars before we can release the brochure, so it is really important to keep an eye out for this and to deal with it promptly. Knowing what to expect and getting everything ready in advance will enable us to find your perfect buyer as soon as possible and save you considerable stress down the line! To speak to Jo, telephone 01451 822977 or e-mail jo@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk

www.cotswold-homes.com

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The impact of wallpaper AMANDA HANLEY

A beautiful home is always sale-ready Renowned interior designer, Amanda Hanley, advises on how to use wallpaper as an affordable way of adding colour, texture and style to your home. I am considering injecting some colour into my home but I have a very limited budget – should I experiment with wallpaper or stick to paint? Using wallpaper is a brilliant way to transform the presentation of your home and to provide personality. A bold, large scale print in your hallway will add a touch of excitement as guests are invited in – equally, a deep, vivid, unexpected colour on one wall of your living room against a uniform palette of grey or stone will change the mood entirely. Bespoke papers are fabulous but you do need to think carefully about your curtains, sofas and floor colours before you choose anything. Bespoke papers are often very expensive, so for an upgrade without breaking the bank, restrict to one feature wall. Whether used as a complement to existing fabrics with a subtle muted pattern or changing the energy completely with strong, contrasting designs, the background colour should always guide your choice for the other walls – the stronger the background colour, the more important to keep the effect going around the room. A plain wallpaper of a similar texture on the remaining walls has a wonderful cocooning effect that also cuts down on noise, providing a rich, luxurious quality particularly suited to bedrooms.

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Images kindly supplied by Cole & Son


AMANDA HANLEY

Of course, painting the remaining walls can seem an easier option but there are a few pitfalls to negotiate. Firstly, you have to pay attention to the surface that is being painted. Sanding down, filling and smoothing uneven plaster can take more time than putting up lining paper. Paint colour can also be tricky to get right as it behaves in different ways in changing lights, appearing rather unlike the swatch on the test card you thought was perfect! Pairing paint with other tones (whether paper, furniture or woodwork) is also a skill – even finding a beautiful cream can be a minefield. You have to remember it’s not like a cushion – paint colour reflects on itself and magnifies, so to know how it’s really going to behave, paint the inside of a box first. The argument for paint versus wallpaper is similar to whether one should read novels on a tablet or a book – there is no right answer. Paint is cheaper and more practical but one-dimensional – wallpaper uses all the senses, not just sight, as it’s far more tactile and affects the feeling of warmth and scent in the room, therefore being more capable of entirely changing the dynamic and creating a lasting memory.

Unless you are an expert in hanging wallpaper don’t ruin the impact of a great bespoke product with a bit of DIY.

My rules for buying wallpaper: Always get a sample of the real thing rather than simply ordering online. The colour, size of pattern, luminosity and texture are impossible to gauge without seeing your choice against your sofas, curtains and carpets – I am always happy to loan out my books to clients to ensure that they can trial different papers in their own homes before they buy. When working out how much paper you will need, measure all walls and multiply the width by the height of each wall in feet, adding all the measurements together to calculate the total square footage before deducting windows, doors and other large openings. The difference in pattern repeat will affect the total volume so check the roll label and ensure the roll coverage you order is more than the total wall square footage of each roll, to be on the safe side. The general rule of thumb is to order one roll extra than you need. You can always return complete rolls that are still in their wrapping but if you discover the last roll in your batch number has been sold when you need an extra piece then you are in trouble!

It is best to get all the paper at the same time, to ensure the rolls are from the same product run and there is no variation in colour, and double-check all your rolls come from the same batch number before you buy. Unless you are an expert in hanging wallpaper don’t ruin the impact of a great bespoke product with a bit of DIY. Not only will you end up with an amateurish finish but the mistakes of an enthusiastic novice will be more costly than using an experienced professional in the first place. Don’t forget that re-decorating extends beyond the paper – woodwork and ceilings should be sanded down, cleaned and refreshed with a new coat of paint beforehand, too. Finally, it’s important that you don’t rush the process – taking your time will minimise the likelihood of expensive mistakes, so let things unfold as you envisage the whole impact and go with what you love rather than being influenced by fashionable schemes. Of-the-moment designs are highly likely to date and after all that effort and expense, you will not want to strip everything back again for a few years!

Amanda Hanley by Design, The Gallery, 69 High Street, Burford, OX18 4QA www.amandahanley.co.uk | T 01993 822 385 | M 07976 353 996

www.cotswold-homes.com

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ASK THE EXPERTS

Wise before the event

Steven Buchanan MNAEA, Sales Progression Manager

Wise before the event Prepare for a trouble-free sale

One of the most overlooked but vital elements of successful agency only begins after introducing a buyer, when the sale is being progressed through to exchange. Effective sales progression is rarely considered an important feature when choosing an agency but it should be, because the time between agreeing a sale and an exchange of contracts is the most stressful part of moving - and the longer it takes, the more likely it is that the transaction will fail.

James von Speyr, Principal Director of Harrison James & Hardie, says “In England and Wales around a third of all sales will cancel before getting to exchange of contracts but nonetheless, sales progression is not something that many estate agencies are overly focused upon. Given the investment of time and effort involved, many are far more predisposed to concentrate upon agreeing new sales, working to replenish their pipeline rather than spend weeks, sometimes months, resolving difficult issues with existing transactions. “Sales progression is not an easy job. It requires years of experience to become really proficient at resolving complex issues, especially at points of inevitable high tension. The reluctance of most sales heads to ‘get stuck in’ is exacerbated because associated property services (planning departments, lenders, surveyors, solicitors, etc.) have had to cut back on support staff during years of recession; as a result, many firms are under-equipped and frustratingly elusive when requested to do something quickly. This generally problematic situation has become even more of a worry recently with the

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emergence of cheap online agencies. This new model is clever but cynical – online agencies don’t sell houses, they sell marketing packages. Their profits are based on volume sales with tight margins - a few hundred pounds up front for relatively little cost without any responsibility for a successful end result is a win-win. Having been paid in full there is no benefit whatsoever in working hard to exchange out a pipeline of agreed sales, of course, and in any case the necessary expenditure required would be impossible with such a low fee platform. Therefore, failure on a high percentage of agreed sales has to be seen as ‘acceptable collateral damage’. “This is mighty fine as a business plan but for clients who miss out on a dream home or a school place because no one is keeping even half an eye on their sale, the realities are brutal. Every fall-through is devastating on a personal level and even if the transaction does go through, the process can be so fraught that moving house is rated one of the most stressful experiences in life (with only the death of a spouse / divorce considered more traumatic).

Now cheap online agency has the potential to open up a whole new world of pain. Only when your sale starts to fall apart will clients belatedly realise up-front fees are not a justifiable economy as far as sanity and personal happiness is concerned. And achieving an equivalent sale price for your property when you put it back into the market second time around is less likely with every passing week, particularly if you have found your perfect onward property – there will be inevitable questions about why the sale fell through and even if there was nothing wrong with your home you are vulnerable to a reduced offer. “When problems start to mount, a great high street agency will quickly demonstrate the cast-iron value of an ‘expensive’ fee – not only does this business model depend on achieving a successful outcome for clients but superlative service standards are a must - generating repeat business and recommendations within the local marketplace, of course. You are not a faceless client, what happens to you matters. It is not bottom line but achieving the best result for each client that is most important.”


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Prepare for a trouble-free sale

...Avoidable delays will always threaten to de-rail a transaction… Senior Sales Manager, Steve Buchanan, has spent eleven years at Harrison James & Hardie refining his knowledge, skill and expertise in all aspects of sales. His full time role is now dedicated entirely to sales progression, managing the company pipeline through to exchange as quickly as possible by closely overseeing every single transaction, working collaboratively with the whole sales team alongside James von Speyr. So, why do sales fall through so often and what can you do to avoid it happening? “Despite the significant knowledge and exper tise needed to achieve a speedy transaction on every sale in a company’s pipeline, few agencies have a dedicated sales progression team. Twenty per cent of all proper ties on our books have been previously unsuccessfully marketed with another agency and many of those clients have suffered a sales transaction that ended in failure because too little effor t was spent on keeping it together. We have a well-deserved reputation for being extremely proactive - we invest a great deal of time and energy ensuring that the process of conveyance on every agreed sale is as swift and trouble-free as possible. I work closely with principal director James von Speyr (who sits in the desk behind me!). With over twenty-five years’ experience, James is not only a mine of useful information but a great lateral thinker. He will come up with sensible solutions to almost any dilemma and knows instinctively how to resolve issues that arise, whether it’s satisfying a purchaser about an anxiety on title or resisting a buyer’s attempt to gazunder on the day of exchange. “However, the most impor tant thing is not to wait but to anticipate. The most frustrating issue is that so few agencies and solicitors actually talk to each other and many problems are consequently flagged up far too late in the day. Avoidable delays will always threaten to derail a transaction. The shock of a tardy revelation gives way to anger very quickly – when tempers flare, heels dig in deep on both sides. What could easily have been overcome with a good-natured chat then becomes the catalyst for a suicidal collapse in good will and confidence. Many solicitors don’t help

by using letters as their preferred form of communication but they can’t communicate with anyone but the solicitor directly above and below, anyway. We don’t have that constraint – we can work hard to protect our client’s sale from failure by keeping a free flow of cour teous but insistent communication between all par ties involved in the chain. “A chain is not a cause for concern if there is informed, intelligent and collaborative communication. We are always on the phone - the squeaky wheel that gets the oil - always asking questions, because we know that par ticular stress points in every sale in the chain are too often only uncovered in the last few days before exchange. We spend most of our time simply checking facts... Has the first agency ascer tained the financial status of their buyer? Where is their proof? Did the second agency find out whether the buyer’s proposed timescales were a match with their clients’ preferred dates? Is the issue on title at the top of the chain going to hold up exchange? Has the agent asked whether their clients will move into rented to accommodate? And so it goes on… “Checking and re-checking every fact at every stage requires great tenacity but it is impor tant to be able to resolve issues wherever they occur. Whether a structural concern has been uncovered by an adverse survey in the chain below or there’s a worry about consolidating funds in the chain above, all links equally impact on the likelihood of a successful exchange of contracts for our client, so the best way to ensure a good outcome is to take proper control and give a helping hand. Ultimately, it works. Our average fall-through rate runs under 20% year on year. When you calculate the number of transactions we oversee, this means we are saving at least thir ty to for ty sales each year that would have otherwise ended in failure (not to mention all the associated transactions) and in so doing regularly demonstrate that a dedicated and experienced progression team is the best route to success.” To speak to Steve, telephone 01451 822977 or e-mail steve@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk.

Steve’s top tips to achieve a speedy exchange of contracts If you have altered the property, make sure you have the relevant paperwork to hand, including planning permission, listed building consent, building regulations certificate, Fensa certificates, NHBC guarantee, etc. Provide evidence of up-to-date service records for electricity, gas and other energy sources and guarantees on work such as timber treatment and cavity wall insulation Review your old survey - any concerns that were raised either for repair/replacement need to be addressed before marketing As soon as you put your house on the market, instruct a solicitor If you have no mortgage, get the solicitor to check the whereabouts of the deeds and ensure the property is registered If you have a mortgage, provide your solicitor with the name of your lender, loan / role number and ensure there are no charges on your property In an executor sale you can instruct but until probate has been granted there can be no exchange, so get probate sorted out as quickly as possible If you live on a housing estate (such as Moreton Park) ask your solicitor to order a management pack, as it will take at least two weeks to arrive If the property is affected by easements, restrictive covenants, way leaves or rights of way let your agent know before marketing starts Let your agent know if any indemnity or statutory declarations were required when you bought the property If you have a leasehold property ask your solicitor to provide your agent with the terms of the lease, including service and management charges Fill in fixtures and fittings / property information forms in advance - these can be found on your solicitor’s website – and don’t make small things a reason why a sale collapses Keep a cool head, stay reasonable and don’t ask your solicitor to negotiate over any difficulties that arise – that’s our job and we’re much better at it!

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ASK THE EXPERTS

How to ensure a swift exchange of contracts

Stacey Ballinger, Associate, Thomas Legal Group

How to ensure a swift exchange of contracts

Q A

We have agreed a purchase through Harrison James & Hardie after competing bids, subject to exchange within four weeks of receipt of draft contracts - as there is a back-up buyer poised if we don’t comply, we would like to do it sooner rather than later!

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Firstly, the benefits of having found a property through such an experienced local estate agency cannot be underestimated. To ensure there is every chance of keeping to deadline, Harrison James & Hardie will be communicating regularly with their clients and with you. Steve Buchanan heads their dedicated sales progression team and he will help you with your purchase along every step of the way. Steve is very capable, and can anticipate and solve problems before they become issues, so do keep in regular contact and answer questions honestly. Your transparency will reassure their clients that you are working as hard as you can to comply.

proceeding to the next step – it helps if you are available by phone and / or email at all times.

As equally experienced and professional lawyers, Thomas Legal Group works closely with the agents, too. Whether buying or selling, this has been proven to facilitate a speedy exchange of contracts. This is one situation where cheap and distant (online) will not be the best option for you - when speed is of the essence you certainly get what you pay for and after all, this is likely to be your biggest financial investment yet. Whilst the industry average says that up to a third of transactions fall through between offer and exchange, bearing in mind you have the best people working for you on all sides, there is every chance you will soon be the proud owners of your new home!

If there is a mortgage, then don’t DIY but work closely with an experienced financial consultant too, who will have a good relationship with lenders and be able to push for a quick valuation, and a fast turnaround of paperwork. Watch out for the small print and check all the information you provide, as something as simple as the misspelling of a middle name on a mortgage offer can delay things if amendments are needed. Sometimes a lender will impose a condition, such as a requirement to carry out damp and timber treatment, before they will allow funds to be drawn down – this is when delays can occur and you will be glad you have chosen to use a solicitor who specialises in conveyancing!

To get things moving as fast as possible you will need to produce evidence of your identity to us, either in person or by way of a Facetime / Skype appointment on the day you instruct us. We will work efficiently thereafter on your behalf but you do need to respond to every request from us in a timely fashion too. For example, if we discover issues arising on a particular element of your purchase, we might need your instructions before

Do instruct on your own survey immediately if you want one separately from the lenders’ valuation and for the same reason, that you need time on your side. If any serious issues arise please provide the full written report to the agent and re-negotiate early on in proceedings. To ensure that your competing buyer doesn’t get a chance to step in and so that you do not irritate your vendors keep a cool head and maintain a polite, receptive tone

Cotswold Homes Magazine

Most crucial of all is that you have the required finance in place and can show us clear evidence of your funding. Harrison James & Hardie will already have checked your position in their presales questionnaire but we also need chapter and verse. For example, if you are using savings or investments then you must establish the drawdown time, to ensure that the funds are easily accessible for the deposit when required (normally 10% of the purchase price).


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How to ensure a swift exchange of contracts

The team at TLG (l-r): Matt Marshall, James Hawes, Charlie Davidson, Connie Craddock, Stacey Ballinger

- this is not just a requirement for the initial negotiation but will do much to keep everyone on your side if problems surface. Just remember the agents are extremely skilled negotiators so don’t bury your head, raise concerns promptly and let them help - they will have worked through the solution to any given scenario many times before this and are equally very motivated to get the deal through, as they operate on a No Sale No Fee basis. However, it’s also very important that you don’t change the goalposts without good cause - any element of re-negotiation, especially attempted a day or two before deadline, will seem suspiciously strategic – particularly as there is an alternative buyer waiting in the wings ready to pounce at the first sign of trouble. The Memorandum of Sale (issued to both solicitors, the vendor and you) will state not just the agreed sale price and timescales for exchange but also any fixtures and fittings and white goods included within the deal, so don’t try to be clever by adding other things at the last minute - transactions have fallen through before over an argument about a bathroom mirror ; it simply isn’t wor th it! Meanwhile, we will review the contract pack from your seller’s solicitors, look at the property title deeds and explain their meaning to you in plain English, check the property information form and other paperwork (such as planning documentation) and make sure that everything is correct from a legal point of view. If there are any questions arising, we will get back to the seller’s solicitors immediately. We try to operate a paperless office at Thomas Legal Group, so all communications wherever possible are sent via email - hopefully, the vendor’s solicitors will also reply electronically to minimise delay.

If a mor tgage is involved, we will under take various searches on your behalf on the proper ty and its surrounds - our comprehensive pack includes a local authority search, a drainage and water search, an environmental repor t, a planning review and finally an energy and infrastructure repor t. Most results will come back within 48 hours but we will generally ask a personal search company to carry out the local authority search on our behalf as some local authorities are taking over for ty days, would you believe! So that you fully understand everything about this important investment, we will report to you on a stage-by-stage basis on each aspect - e.g. what the deeds say, what the searches have revealed, etc., giving you plenty of opportunity to ask any questions and to get the replies within any deadline. Most problems with deeds can be easily overcome with some sort of legal insurance, so don’t worry needlessly - for example, where extensions have been built without planning permission or building regulation approval, lack of rights to get to the property or even when there is a flying freehold (when part of your property overhangs property owned by a third party), such insurance policies are available instantly to us online and are usually only a few hundred pounds as a one-off premium. I hope we have made this sound as simple as it sometimes is – and good luck in your new home! Stacey has worked in law since 1997, firstly in commercial property then transferring over to residential in 2000/2001. She is an Associate within the firm having qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2009. You can contact her at the Gloucester office on 01452 657973 or visit www.thomaslegalgroup.co.uk.

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Getting ahead of the game

Getting ahead of the game Top tips for first time buyers

As an estate agent there is no better feeling for me than handing the keys over to a happy, smiling new homeowner, so my tips are designed to help you achieve this with the least amount of stress and to make sure you start off on the right foot. Whilst there will be plenty of well-intentioned people prepared to help, what you really need is expert advice from a few trustworthy professionals who have demonstrable experience in the local marketplace. Providing you choose those experts wisely, no one is going to ‘do Ewan Peaston MARLA, MNAEA, Senior Sales Negotiator

one over on you’ as so many parents fear!

The first step is to organise your finances before you start looking. Knowing your spending limit will help you narrow down what size, style and location you can achieve. It’s great to be aspirational but be informed. There’s no point in champagne tastes and beer pockets, looking at potential properties that turn out to be beyond your price range. Conversely, you might be surprised how better options present, if you make proper use of all the help available.

An independent financial adviser is a must. A financial adviser will calculate your finances and ensure that you have an agreement in principle (AIP for short, of which more later) but will also assist you in working through all the serious amounts of paperwork you will encounter right to the end of the transaction. Many lenders offer direct deals but having your hand held by someone who can sift through the market for you and give you guidance on the right thing to say and do is particularly helpful at stressful points in the buying process - attempting to do so alone might result in losing your mortgage offer or worse, your property.

Buying a home can be a costly affair but there is proper help for first time buyers in particular. Government schemes are extremely beneficial. There are two different ‘Help To Buy’ options: the

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5 Beceshore Close: This two bedroom property in Moreton would be an ideal first property

first is effectively an interest-free loan of 20% on a new build property and the second is a mortgage guarantee scheme that only requires a 5% deposit. These should be discussed further with your financial adviser who will be best placed to help you decide, based on your particular needs and situation.

There are also various property schemes that offer a fantastic way to step onto the first rung of the property ladder. The most common is the Shared Ownership Scheme, an option that allows you to purchase a property at specific percentage of the full price.

For example, with a shared ownership you might buy at 50% of the property’s worth, with the other 50% funded by a local authority for which you pay a monthly rent. This is such a brilliant way to get started - you can borrow less but still get the perfect first property and, as most schemes are now stair-cased to 100%, secure a greater share of the property as your finances improve. It’s also often significantly cheaper than letting the same property type on the open market - but without the fear that the landlord may want it back at some point. As long as you keep up your regular monthly payments (an absolute must with any mortgage) and look after the house as required by the detail of the shared ownership agreement, then you have complete security of tenure.


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Top tips for first time buyers

Ewan Peaston advising first time buyers in the Bourton on the Water office

There are two different ‘Help To Buy’ options: the first is effectively an interest-free loan of 20% on a new build property and the second is a mortgage guarantee scheme that only requires a 5% deposit

Rather than endlessly trawling property websites, register with your local estate agency. The best properties will be under offer by the time they show up online but you can rely and trust a good independent agent will look after you, will genuinely care about your needs and even protect you from your own inexperience, knowing just how it feels to be a first time buyer. Contrary to what your parents suspect we are here to help, not itching to push you into something unsuitable!

Try not to fall back on your parents to make your choice for you.

11 Summerfield Close: A shared ownership property in Blockley

Your loved ones will feel duty bound to point out all the disadvantages of your potential purchase because they care about you and have often contributed significantly to your purchase, however I have seen too many first time buyers lose out on the perfect property simply because they were made to feel insecure about their ability to make a sensible choice. Owning a house is about being a proper grown-up and taking full responsibility for your decisions, so start now and stand on your own two feet.

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Top tips for first time buyers

Keep in touch regularly, demonstrate you are serious by coming out to view at a moment’s notice, be prepared to listen to the agent’s advice and don’t be overly suspicious. If you are reliable, open, polite and communicative then a proactive, friendly local agent (like me!) will not only have an ear to ground but will let you know as quickly as possible about any new opportunities, putting you in the best possible position to secure the house of your dreams.

Don’t view too many properties and identify your needs. At any one time, the current stock of properties in your price range will be reasonably representative of what you will find no matter how long you look - if you have viewed four or five properties, you have seen quite enough to make a comparison. You will only confuse your sense of what is truly achievable by making a wish list of the best parts of a dozen houses rather than sticking to what you cannot do without …“If it had the same garden / sitting room as the first one and / or the same location as the last one we looked at it would be perfect”… It might be perfect but it would also be in a different price bracket!

1 Mascot Flats: We agreed a sale on this two bedroom apartment in Stow on the Wold before it even went online so make sure you are registered with us so you don’t miss out on a similar opportunity

If you like something, be swift and rational. The first time buyer market in the North Cotswolds is extremely competitive - there are many cash-rich professional landlord investors looking for the same thing as you - but it is still rare to find a typical first home priced significantly above its natural market so don’t come in with a silly offer. Whether you can avoid paying the full asking price depends on how quickly you act – yes, it is your knockout blow if there are several viewers lined up behind you but negotiate with your other strengths in mind first.You are not in a chain, you can be flexible on timescales and you have your finances in place, backed up with an AIP. This last point is vital - It places you in a strong position as a serious buyer and gives your offer a lot more weight than simply blurting out the asking price at the first hurdle.

With service industries cheap does not mean good value for money, it means trouble. Agreeing your purchase is only the start of it. Up to 30% of transactions fall through before

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Sopwith Road: Upper Rissington is a great location for a first home, such as this one that was recently offered for sale with us

exchange of contracts, often through lack of effective communication. Don’t go for a bargain basement online conveyance service when you really need a proactive, kind, reputable, established local solicitor to fight your corner, not only to guide you through the process and remain regularly in contact but because they will have a good working relationship with your estate agency, too, therefore best placed to ensure the exchange happens as soon as possible.

And lastly… the good bit. It can be a daunting prospect taking those first steps to owning your first home. It's a large financial investment and a weighty responsibility but ultimately it will pay off. Just imagine the feeling of freedom and achievement when we finally hand over those keys to you! To speak to Ewan, telephone 01451 822977 or e-mail ewan@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk.


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Buying your first home

Sue Ellis CeMAP, Mortgage Adviser, JEM Financial Planning

Buying your first home Q A

A colleague has just purchased their house with the aid of a Help to Buy Scheme, are you able to enlighten me on how these work?

I wrote about this exciting development offered by the Government a while ago, immediately following the budget, and how it was designed to help the housing market, particularly for those buyers who are not able to provide a large deposit, with both schemes stipulating that only a 5% deposit be provided.

This is not quite so attractive as the Equity Loan scheme, as in effect borrowers are having a 95% mortgage and interest rates charged are therefore higher, however it is available on both new and ‘second hand’ properties.

The initial Help to Buy scheme, comprising an Equity Loan of up to 20% of the purchase price, was launched in April 2013 and is due to end in 2020. This offers a loan from the Government, is available on newly built properties only, and is interest free for the first five years. Thereafter the loan attracts interest at charged at 1.75% per year rising in line with the Retail Prices Index (plus an additional 1% per year until it is repaid). Potential borrowers only need to provide a minimum of 5% of the price as a deposit and a mortgage for the remaining 75% is obtained from a participating lender. This scheme is particularly attractive as it means that borrowers will be able to benefit from the lower rates offered to those with a 25% deposit. However, it is worth noting that when assessing the borrowing, lenders will factor in repayments on the Equity Loan element in the same way that they would on any other credit liabilities. Borrowers can choose to repay the equity loan at any time, without penalty. You can pay back either 10% or 20% of the total amount, so long as the loan is worth at least 10% of the value of your home. If you don’t repay the equity loan while you are still living in the property, when you come to sell it, the government will reclaim its 20% stake in your home at its current value. Bear in mind that if house prices have risen then this could represent a considerable amount. The alternative Help to Buy scheme, called the Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme was launched in October 2013, and is scheduled

to cease at the end of 2016. This works by offering a guarantee to the lender by the Government with a 95% mortgage being obtained with the remaining 5% being provided by the borrower, again through a participating lender.

Both schemes stipulate that the property must only be used as the main residence of the borrower(s), have a maximum purchase price of £600,000 and no other properties must be owned by any parties. Since my original article there is also the Help to Buy ISA scheme, available exclusively to first time buyers and designed to boost your savings by 25%. Each first time buyer is allowed to save up to £200 per month (so if you’re buying jointly that’s £400 per month) into a Help To Buy ISA. These are offered by a number of banks and building societies and therefore for every £200 saved, the Government gives a bonus of £50 with a maximum bonus that can be received of £3,000. Here at JEM Financial Planning we have dealt with several Help To Buy applications which is very encouraging, mainly on the Equity Loan scheme, but nationally these schemes have proved to help many people get on to the housing ladder that otherwise would have struggled. Sue Ellis works alongside Johnny Magee as a Mortgage Broker at JEM Financial Planning. The team has over 50 years’ experience in investment, retirement and inheritance planning, mortgages, protection and general insurance. To speak to Sue or Johnny, telephone 01386 840777 or visit www.jemfinancial.com

Authorised & Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority

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Finding your dream home in the Cotswolds

The village green at Longborough

Katy Freeman FNAEA SENIOR BRANCH MANAGER

Lucy Driver MARLA Senior Sales Manager

Town mouse, country house‌

Dreaming of a home in the country? Katy Freeman and Lucy Driver’s insider guide to finding your perfect Cotswold home! When searching for an antidote to the pressures of city life, there is so much benefit to be gained by consulting a great local agency to discover what hidden opportunities await you in this beautiful part of the world. The wealth of knowledge provided by the consistent, experienced sales team at Harrison James & Hardie is no better exemplified than by Katy Freeman and Lucy Driver - lifelong friends, both born and brought up in the North Cotswolds and contemporaries at The Cotswold School, they have worked together at Harrison James & Hardie for the best part of sixteen years, and their encyclopaedic knowledge of the local marketplace is a precious resource for anyone hoping to find their perfect home. Here, Katy Freeman considers which places are most suited to investment buyers whilst Lucy Driver suggests villages certain to provide an idyllic backdrop to family life.

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Finding your dream home in the Cotswolds

If coffee shops, boutiques and a buzzing atmosphere is what you are after try the larger market towns of Bourton on the Water, Stow on the Wold and Moreton in Marsh What about the implications of new stamp duty taxation on second-home purchases?

Bourton on the Water, the best of both worlds

Katy offers some sage advice on how to begin the search for the perfect Cotswold home. “The best part of finding your ideal property is cherry-picking your location. If coffee shops, boutiques and a buzzing atmosphere is what you are after try the larger market towns of Bourton on the Water, Stow on the Wold and Moreton in Marsh. All three are prime towns in the North Cotswolds offering many lovely tourist attractions and general amenities whilst Moreton in Marsh has the additional benefit of the train station, with London Paddington accessible in under two hours, making this an ideal commute for a Londoner. A lot of second-home purchasers are looking for the traditional chocolate box cottage, tucked away in a pretty village with a good pub.There are so many excellent villages to choose from - Great Rissington, Guiting Power, Cold Aston, Chipping Campden, Broadwell, Naunton, Bledington and Kingham (also with a local station), Churchill, Oddington, Longborough … the list goes on. These all offer the traditional picture-postcard image and rank highly on every second-home purchaser’s list. “One definite thing to consider when it comes to location is how often you are going to use your second home. Even though it’s absolutely lovely to be in splendid isolation there are benefits to being situated in the middle of a more active community of course, so think about whether you want a complete retreat from your city life or whether you intend to use this as a sociable base, ambling on down the road after Sunday lunch for a drink or two with friends. Because the answer is usually the latter, second homes tend to be in the larger villages such as the ones I just mentioned – they make great lock-up-andleave propositions with neighbours at hand to keep an eye on your home, and can also provide a very lucrative occasional income from holiday letting. “A prime Cotswold stone, period cottage has

always been the end goal for most Londoners when it comes to a second-home purchase. Properties with views, pretty but manageable gardens, off-street parking and high-end countryclassic interiors including open fires, a stylishly ‘unfitted’ kitchen with room for a scrubbed pine table and a range cooker, Farrow & Ball / Annie Sloan décor and, of course, luxurious bathrooms will top the list. Anything of this spec will be highly sought-after by the London investor. Entry-level price is around £350,000 and to secure something with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, decent living space and parking will easily take it up above £500,000. Ask for detached and you can add another £100,000 plus to that immediately, and you will pay up to a million quite easily for a four or five bedroomed family home within a decent plot in one of the most favoured villages like Kingham, for example. “There is no doubt that the prime market in the North Cotswolds is incredibly resilient, as there is a natural shortage of stock (by definition, period homes cannot be replicated) and given the exponential increase in new builds, traditional properties are becoming an even more desirable, comparatively rare proposition. It’s important to use your natural strengths when negotiating. Being prepared to proceed quickly on exchange of contracts and to offer flexible completion dates thereafter is crucial to avoid missing out to another buyer. Don’t rely on websites to research the market either – register with us to be sure of seeing the best ones before they go under offer. Often we will have at least half a dozen suitable potential purchasers already lined up to view a new instruction before we have even finished preparing details, and by the time we post online the deal will have been done.”

“Do bear in mind that Stamp Duty Land Tax, banded according to purchase price, has seen a significant shift for homeowners buying additional property or land either to develop, to let or use as a second home. Since April 2016, investors now have to pay an additional 3% on each stamp duty band so purchasing your home at £500,000 will incur a SDLT charge of £15,000 with an additional 3% investor’s levy taking this up to £30,000. It’s a killer but it hasn’t really had as much of an effect as predicted. Before the new regulation came into force this year, it prompted an extraordinarily busy first quarter and although we thought at first that this level of competition might cast a shadow over the rest of 2016, however the second quarter was our best sales result for a number of years so it is clear that the affluent family market has simply picked up on the advantage of a temporary drop in competition from investors. Any hope of passing on these new stamp duty costs to the vendors is therefore not a viable strategy! “You should relax anyway. With a really buoyant level of demand no matter what the prevailing mood of the economy, underlying growth for these upper quartile homes is extremely healthy and (providing you see this as a medium to long term investment) it’s very likely your property value will have increased enough to take into account your additional stamp duty payment soon after you have purchased and will be worth considerably more again by the time you sell it, when compared with the rise in value of properties in the main modern residential marketplace over the same timespan.” And what about the best villages with children in mind, somewhere that offers a proper antidote to the frantic pace of city life for families? “With so many amazing North Cotswold villages offering the benefits of great primary schools, and with the Cotswold School currently ranked by The Times as the leading state secondary school in the country, you are truly spoilt for choice in terms of what might suit as a family village but this is the most competitive part of the market at the moment, with many Londoners having sold up and hoping to relocate entirely vying with affluent local families for suitable properties. My colleague Lucy has more experience of family life here and her detailed knowledge of the local area is outstanding so she is the very best person to ask,’ advises Katy.

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Finding your dream home in the Cotswolds’ Lucy Driver continues: “The most famous of family destinations is Bourton on the Water, offering a range of delightful tourist attractions such as Birdland, the Maze and the Motor Museum, not to mention the cost-free, time-devouring distraction of the shallow River Windrush as handy paddling pool for all small children! There’s a great argument for remaining within an easy drive of this particular centre, from where it’s also an easy drive to Guiting Power, a picture-perfect traditional village complete with two pubs and Adam Henson’s famous Farm Park close by, renowned for its fabulously hands-on approach, rare breeds programme and, should you wish to go the whole hog, adjoining camping facilities! Equally within striking distance is Burford, with its amazing Wildlife Park (the giraffes being my absolute favourite) and for a spot of retail therapy, the Burford Garden Company has stacks of charming traditional toys and books in their children’s section, next to a friendly, informal food hall where you can lounge together to devour a few healthy snacks and the Sunday papers.”

The Old Mill, Lower Slaughter

Can Lucy list her top five favourite family villages? ‘It’s truly hard to know where to start. When I think of particularly child-friendly villages I hark back to my own childhood and all the wonderful things we did as a family which, now I have two young boys of my own we still enjoy, pursuing all the same traditional past times thirty something years later! The best thing about village life is that family days out don’t need to cost much – being in the middle of open countryside offers the perfect reason for everyone to turn off those computer games, venture outside instead and experience the extraordinary natural beauty around us. Mindfulness is a big topic in schools as a valuable way to combat the anxiety and stress we all suffer, so what better way to practise being in the moment than to go out for a long walk over the nearby fields and simply inhale the clean air, feel the grass under our feet, pay attention to the sounds of birds, the drone of harvest vehicles and the breeze playing through the trees, eating blackberries straight from the hedgerow? It’s easy to wax lyrical, I know, but the true luxury of proper time together like this is an enormous benefit to everyone in the family, not just the kids. “High up on my list would be Upper Slaughter, harder to find than its sister and therefore missed by the hoards of passing tourists. A peaceful collection of elegant Cotswold houses and quaint honey-coloured stone cottages surround wide river banks laid to grass, perfect as a tranquil spot to sit and picnic. The River Eye

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The Old Royal Oak, High Street, Blockley

is criss-crossed by footbridges clearly meant for pooh sticks and, on your way home, you can stop off at the Old Mill in Lower Slaughter for your pudding, a scoop of organic homemade ice-cream. “Wyck Rissington is a very special village to me; I grew up there with my older sister Emily and fellow triplets, Kate and Tom. We enjoyed a wonderful free-range childhood. We had freedom for adventures and would regularly leave home early in the morning to return back just before dusk, hungry and covered in mud! We built dens, went fishing and rode our bikes

over wide village greens dotted with horse chestnut trees - in autumn we would collect conkers by the bucket load! “This is the smallest and least well known of the Rissingtons, however in the early 1890s, aged 17, the famous composer Gustav Holst was the resident church organist - the organ he played is still in use today! A liturgical maze also existed in the garden of the rectory, built by Canon Harry Cheales, rector of the parish from 1947-1980. Different points of the maze were represented different Pilgrim Stations - at each was a wood carving, twelve of which now decorate the


ASK THE EXPERTS

Finding your dream home in the Cotswolds’

Court Hayes, Wyck Rissington: Sold by Harrison James & Hardie, now a holiday let with Character Cottages

chancel of the church, with a mosaic plan of the maze also embedded in the wall.

A cottage on the riverbank, Lower Slaughter

“Caroline, our Director of Lettings, lives in Blockley, one of the largest villages in the North Cotswolds. It’s widely agreed once you live there, you never want to move away. Strung out for about a mile along the north-west side of the of the Blockley Brook, sheltering in a deep valley with the most outstanding views, I take my children here because it is a friendly, inviting place that always seems to buzz with life whether it’s walkers on a hike, a match going on at the bowling club or children playing in the park. In the centre, there’s a thriving community shop and café that opened in November 2014. It’s an asset that most villages have lost over the years and, for me, why Blockley is such a great place to go. Should the weather not be on your side then you have a perfect place to warm up with a hot chocolate or recharge your batteries over a leisurely lunch, and the park is so close that older children can play whilst you relax!

www.cotswold-homes.com

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ASK THE EXPERTS

Finding your dream home in the Cotswolds

The High Street, Chipping Campden

The High Street, Broadway

“Further north again, Chipping Campden is a gorgeous country town, a real slice of old England, with charming ancient shop fronts and a famous hotel, The Lygon Arms, at its centre. Just a fiveminute walk from the High Street is a wonderful playground, with immaculately kept lawns the size of two football fields that are divided into an area for ball games and a beautifully designed playground. This won Gloucestershire Playground of the Year when it was completed in 2011 – it’s a fantastic place for families and friends to enjoy time together. Plus of course, if you wanted to settle here there’s a highly renowned, outstanding secondary school on the doorstep. “Broadway also offers an irresistible combination: tranquil yet vibrant, a village steeped in history. Thousands of people are drawn each year to the various eclectic independent shops dotted along the high street – again, towards the top is the

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Broadway Tower

most fabulous Activity Park! It offers something for children of all ages. Located in the centre of the village, there’s a stunning backdrop of hills and countryside, with plenty of safe and well-planned equipment including a see-saw, a zip line, climbing poles and towers, twin fly spinners and a skate ride simulation, in addition to a hard top court for ball games, with several picnic tables and covered seating areas. “From there, if you want to wear out the children completely, you can take a walk along the Cotswold Way to Broadway Tower. This iconic landmark, situated at the top of the escarpment, is the second highest point in the Cotswolds after Cleeve Hill. There are extraordinary views across sixteen counties, with plaques set in around the tower showing what’s in each direction – apparently, on a clear day you can see as far as Birmingham and various parts of Wales! If your

children are in need of re-fuelling after the long climb, then your next pit-stop has to be the Morris & Brown café next to it. “I could argue myself out of all of these choices and come up with another five quite happily without a struggle. I agree with Katy that we are spoilt for choice and that the best bit of searching for a property is discovering so many gorgeous local villages like these - even after spending my whole life here, whether its walking through the bluebell woods at Foxholes or suddenly catching sight of the 300-foot-high fountain in picturesque Stanway, I have honestly never lost the sense of how lucky we all are to live in this wonderful part of the world.” To speak to Lucy, telephone 01608 651000 or e-mail lucyr@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk and to speak to Katy, telephone 01451 822977 or email katy@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk.


The Willow House, Great Wolford

ÂŁ725,000

A charming, cleverly extended, substantial village home partly dating back to the seventeenth century, presented in beautiful order throughout and occupying a prime central position in the rural village of Great Wolford. Reception Hall | Sitting Room | Kitchen/Breakfast Room | Family Room | Study/Bedroom 4 | Utility Room | Downstairs Shower Room | Master Bedroom with En-Suite | Three Further Bedrooms | Family Bathroom | Gardens to Front and Back | Garage | EPC Rating: D Fine and Country, Harrison James & Hardie, Moreton in Marsh 01608 651 000

The Old Royal Oak, Blockley

ÂŁ720,000

The Old Royal Oak was once a popular public house but is now an eminently comfortable three-storey, five-bedroomed home. Steeped in period detail, this Grade ll listed property has been the subject of quite considerable investment by the present owners, who have overseen a comprehensive yet sympathetic renovation.The property is situated on an elevated terrace that rises above the properties on the opposite side of the street, taking full advantage of stunning countryside views from the first and second floor and from the beautifully landscaped garden to the rear. Entrance Lobby | Reception Hall | Sitting Room | Dining Room | Kitchen/Breakfast Room | Ground Floor Shower Room | Master Bedroom with En-suite Two Further Bedrooms | Bathroom | Two Second Floor Bedrooms | Bathroom | Landscaped Italianate style Terrace Garden | EPC Exempt Fine and Country, Harrison James & Hardie, Moreton in Marsh 01608 651 000

Country Homes from harrison james & hardie


Brewhouse Cottage

Brewhouse Cottage The perfect Cotswold home

Brewhouse Cottage was once part of a much older row of dwellings; imprints of blocked-in windows and lintels can still just about be made out in the high Cotswold stone wall that remains, a border that now runs the entire length of the garden and rear courtyard. These faint scars on the garden wall, and the tenement arrangement that included the original ‘brewhouse’ still situated within the garden today, provide clear evidence of earlier dwellings. Probably hovels at best, these fell down or were demolished many years ago, perhaps to provide some stone for a pair of cottages erected in the eighteenth century, or at a later stage towards the end of the nineteenth century when these cottages were knocked through and a further extension

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added to create the singularly charming property that stands here today. From the front, the archetypally traditional appearance of this period property is so seamless it seems likely, at least, that some of the building material was sourced from the ruins of the earlier dwellings. At the back however, the late Victorian addition was completed with engineering bricks and then duly rendered. It is blissfully pretty, peering onto a tiny village lane that leads away from the centre of Lower Oddington towards the ancient parish church and on to open countryside. An archetypally quaint Cotswold vernacular is merely enhanced by the profusion of old English flowers around a portico front door, and when stepping in

from the street directly into an eighteenth century sitting room, there is an immediate sense of its accumulated layers of history. This cottage has an authentic aesthetic, where each historic change has been permitted to leave its mark.The flagstones and fireplace in this front room are Georgian but the rear wall of the cottages appears to have been a barn at some point; small, deep triangular crevices have been excavated and now provide tiny peepholes into a sunlit private courtyard, throwing shafts of daylight back inside. The original front door has been replaced for something more substantial but it has not been discarded of course, instead used between this sitting room and its pair, where a Villager stove is


Brewhouse Cottage

has been sensibly over-engineered to ensure that knocking through beneath (from the kitchen to the breakfast room) will require nothing more than a wooden beam and therefore is a matter of relative ease. Outside, the courtyard creates a perfect southfacing suntrap; entirely private, it feels distinctly more Mediterranean than English. Complete with a gated gravelled driveway providing off-road parking and a summerhouse / workshop, the walled garden mostly comprises a wide stretch of lawns (that can be watered by a sprinkler system) bordered by hardy perennials, with plenty of room for a vegetable plot. Last but not least, the ‘brewhouse’ itself has also been renovated with the same care and love, ensuring that integral features have been highlighted wherever possible. As a singlestorey cottage providing open-plan self-sufficient accommodation for a couple, it has been regularly let out for £500 per calendar month. now tucked into an inglenook fireplace and a more traditional staircase has replaced the vertiginous ladder that originally climbed up to the first floor. The master bedroom suite is supremely comfortable and utterly charming, tucked up under low eaves, separated from the other side of the house by a solid chimney-breast.The bathroom is surprisingly large, a treat of sudden colour beautifully fitted with a free-standing bath and a chequered floor. In the bedroom, a beamed alcove makes a handy wardrobe; deep dormer windows that open out east and west deliberately to benefit from maximum sunlight have been fitted with simple wooden shutters, ensuring peaceful darkness as and when required.

Downstairs again into the turn-of-the century extension, where the kitchen is traditionally and attractively presented in a relaxed country style with stone-tiled floor, painted solid wood cupboards and a Belfast sink. Beyond is a delightful breakfast room, heavily glazed to all sides, with French doors opening out on the garden and courtyard. The second bedroom suite lies directly above, accessed by a separate staircase. Here again, the straight lines and smooth plastered surfaces reveal a comparative modernity but the bedroom is just as enchanting, with double doors fitted into the far wall - seemingly a wardrobe, instead a ‘secret’ shower room. This yet more recent extension

A fantastic, classic Cotswold cottage in the heart of a village that is sought after by holiday makers. The cottage has loads of kerb appeal, which will photograph really well, and has a good-sized ground floor space for a group of six to enjoy. Having 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, Brewhouse Cottage would be quite unique and will stand out from the crowd. Marketed by Character Cottages, this beautiful cottage should achieve in excess of £40,000 per annum of gross rental income.

www.cotswold-homes.com

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ASK THE EXPERTS

Retiring to the Cotswolds Making the most of your golden years

Q

Having just enjoyed a wonderful holiday in the North Cotswolds, we are thinking about retiring here. What are the best places to consider?

Kelly Jenkins-Shaw LLB Hons, Sales Negotiator

A

Retirement is an adventure and most people have a slightly different idea of what the perfect retirement looks like to them but stopping full-time work doesn’t mean shutting down completely. Many early retirees continue to work part-time and, as such, transport links and broadband services remain important. With that in mind, it’s not hard to see why the Cotswolds is so popular with its fantastic connections to the Midlands, Oxford and London making almost everywhere easily accessible in under a few hours. Conversely, taking a step away from the busy, endless schedules of your former working life may be your top priority, and forging a rich social life now finds itself at the forefront of your mind. Unlike coastal areas where some shops shut for two months and community groups can go into hibernation, in the Cotswolds there are many outlets where you can still make a productive contribution to society and enjoy hobbies that have perhaps been neglected, all year round.

Ladies’, Men’s and Mixed matches against other clubs in the area, with some members also entering Inter-club, County and National competitions. For some, retiring comes later in life, at a time when mobility and access to amenities are key.The Cotswolds has a variety of retirement developments offering varying levels of care and assistance. Chardwar Gardens, Bourton on the Water is a collection of pretty stone cottages situated in the grounds of an old manor, close to the heart of the village with well-tended gardens, parking and garages. It’s an easy walk to the GP surgery, newsagent’s and the supermarket, or simply enjoy watching the world go by from the comfort of a bench next to the River Windrush. University Farm and Bowling Green Court in Moreton in Marsh are also located close to the High Street.The former offers a private swimming pool –

As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty we are surrounded by glorious countryside As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty we are surrounded by glorious countryside.The North Cotswold Ramblers ramblers.org.uk is a friendly group that has been in existence for nearly 30 years, offering a varied and interesting programme of picturesque walks in the Cotswolds throughout the year, also carrying out practical footpath protection work including clearing undergrowth, repairing stiles and bridges, and monitoring planning applications that include public rights of way. With over 5,000 members in Gloucestershire alone, the Women’s Institute thewi.org.uk meets in a number of our towns and villages - crafts, holidays and the WI’s national current affairs campaigns are all high on their agenda. Stow Art Group cotswoldartclass.com offers weekly, half-day art classes and workshops for all levels at Oddington Village Hall, meanwhile Moreton in Marsh Bowling Club moretoninmarshbowlsclub.co.uk is an outdoor lawn bowls club based in the North Cotswold market town. They play friendly 44

Cotswold Homes Magazine

its lovely views over the duck pond provide a peaceful, secluded feel - Bowling Green Court offers its residents a leisurely flat walk to the town centre with an estate manager to provide essential support around the maintenance of your property and links to a 24-hour emergency alarm call service. Meanwhile, Newlands Court in Stow on the Wold is a collection of spacious apartments and cottages gathered around a grand manor house - a central social hub providing luxury dining and a hairdressing salon, for example, plus a tiered range of nursing and domestic support services providing round the clock care. Ultimately, you’ll want to find the best place to call home by determining what truly matters to you at this point in your life. As experts in the North Cotswold marketplace, we know with confidence that we will listen and can find you exactly that. To speak to Kelly, telephone 01608 651000 or e-mail kelly@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk


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8 Chardwar Gardens, Bourton on the Water

£250,000 SALE AGREED

A two bedroom retirement cottage situated in a quiet, desirable position within walking distance of the centre of the village. No Onward Chain. Entrance Hall | Sitting Room/Dining Room | Kitchen | Conservatory | Two Double Bedrooms | Bathroom | Shower Room | Garden | Garage Parking EPC Rating: D Harrison James & Hardie, Bourton on the Water 01451 822 977

40 University Farm, Moreton in Marsh

£299,950 SALE AGREED

An immaculately presented retirement cottage located within the heart of Bourton on the Water.This beautifully finished property has been recently modernised by its current owners and has a pretty outlook over the communal gardens. Entrance Hall | Sitting Room | Dining Area | Kitchen | Utility Room | WC | Two Double Bedrooms | Bathroom | Patio Garden | Garage | EPC Rating: C Harrison James & Hardie, Bourton on the Water 01451 822 977

£300,000

A well-proportioned Cotswold Stone retirement property occupying a picturesque position overlooking the duck pond. This two double bedroom end of terrace home benefits from off road parking and a garage. Entrance Hall | Sitting Room | Dining Room | Kitchen | Conservatory | WC Two Double Bedrooms | Bathroom | Garage | Garden | Parking | Use of Communal Grounds and Swimming Pool | EPC Rating: E Harrison James & Hardie, Moreton in Marsh 01608 651 000

15 Chardwar Gardens, Bourton on the Water

21 Bowling Green Court, Moreton in Marsh

£149,950

A first floor one bedroom apartment enjoying views across neighbouring countryside and conveniently located close to the towns amenities within a development for the over 55’s. Entrance Hall | Sitting Room | Kitchen | Bedroom | Bathroom | Use of Communal Gardens | Allocated Off Road Parking | EPC Rating: C Harrison James & Hardie, Moreton in Marsh 01608 651 000

| Lettings45 Bourton on the Water | Moreton in Marsh | Stow on the Wold | Mayfair www.cotswold-homes.com


section ASK THE header EXPERTS

Investing in a large holiday let

Andy Soye & Mat Faraday, Co-Founders & Directors, Character Cottages

Investing in a large holiday let

Q

We read your article in Cotswold Homes about the potential returns on larger properties as holiday lets. We have £750,000 to invest and can see there are some useful savings on running costs, maintenance and council taxes, plus a greater uplift longer term in equity, by investing in one big property rather than two smaller cottages, but is there sufficient and consistent demand to justify doing so?

A

Andy Soye: Many people are surprised to learn that the underlying demand for large holiday lets in the Cotswolds is very high. Large holiday cottages are the perfect solution for big groups. Equipped with spacious ground floor living spaces that allowing everyone to relax and dine together, with enough bedrooms to accommodate everyone and often offering separate spaces for children or other guests to relax away from the main party, holiday-makers just cannot get this sort of environment from a standard hotel. Despite what might sometimes seem a high headline price, renting a large property is often surprisingly cost effective on a per person basis. Mat Faraday: A less well-known fact about big holiday cottages is that their demand tends to be “event driven”, like a family reunion, a hen do or a bir thday, and as such, they are less impacted by traditional seasonality. For example, if Grandma’s seventieth bir thday happens to be in February then that’s when the group will want to book their cottage, regardless of the fact that this is traditionally a quieter month for holiday letting. Large proper ties can command strong prices throughout the year. AS: Of course, most period Cotswold cottages were built for farm labourers, or wool and silk factory workers. As such they are very often quite small, typically with one or two bedrooms. Larger proper ties are less common and, consequently, this creates a restricted supply.

When you combine strong demand with limited supply, this drives competition. Occupancy levels are comparatively excellent on larger holiday cottages and perform exceptionally well in the Cotswolds - outperforming smaller cottages in terms of revenue and profit per guest. For example, we have a beautiful, detached, six-bedroom property situated in the North Cotswolds that successfully generated over £100,000 per annum of gross income from over 55 bookings last year. MF: You do need to know what you are doing to ensure the best earning potential, of course. At Character Cottages we are very experienced at marketing and maximising the returns on large properties. We offer owners a wide and detailed range of support and advice on many key holiday letting factors including furnishing, pricing, occupancy, security deposits and overall property management. We are happy to appraise a chosen property before exchange of contracts to assess suitability and to give specific ideas about presentation, based on maximising what the property could generate in gross annual revenue. Andrew Soye and Mat Faraday are both qualified Chartered Accountants and are the founders of Character Cottages, one of the leading luxury holiday letting businesses in the Cotswolds. Telephone: 020 8935 5375 Website: www.character-cottages.co.uk Email: letmycottage@character-cottages.co.uk

www.cotswold-homes.com

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Fox Lodge, Aston Magna

Fox Lodge A house in the country

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The majority of properties in Aston Magna are simple rows of terraced stone cottages that would have originally been tied to the Batsford estate to provide a workforce for the arboretum, sawmill and surrounding farms. Fox Lodge was also once an estate property but stands in comparatively glorious isolation, elevated and detached within its own generous plot in the centre of the village, occupying a tranquil setting surrounded by estate land and a copse of mature trees. Much more humble in its original condition, it had fallen into considerable disrepair by the end of the twentieth century but was fully restored and so skilfully extended by the owner’s predecessor that it is barely possible to detect new from old today. Approached by a gravelled driveway and turning circle, providing parking for at least a dozen cars, Fox Lodge is now an impressively luxurious four bedroomed Cotswold stone property. It possesses a particularly pleasing architectural symmetry to the front, with a central chimneystack and single low-hipped roofline. The plot extends to a half-acre of landscaped, spreading lawns with a timber cottage and office also situated within the grounds (of which, more later). Separated by a post and rail fence and running the entire length of one border is an adjoining acre of paddock complete with an ancient stone barn, belonging to the Batsford estate but rented for several years by Fox Lodge at a peppercorn annual sum. Whilst this agreement does expire with the current ownership, it would be eminently sensible to

renew, considering the sense of substance and additional privacy it accords to the property. The interior of Fox Lodge has had an equally careful and sympathetic restoration to its exterior. Original features and appropriate period details are evident throughout, all giving a sense of substance, quality and solidity as well as integral character to the whole property, including exposed roof beams, timber lintels and stone walls, stripped pine doors and wooden sills. Each room has been meticulously finished to the highest standard, with close attention paid to general comfort and ease of living. The ground floor is sociable and friendly: an enclosed,

cosy porch opens onto a wide, welcoming central hallway complete with a Victorian fireplace, stairs rising, with a study to one side and well-equipped laundry room to the other. Two main reception rooms flow from one to another, connected by a grand conservatory opening out onto a broad terrace, served by a traditionally companionable kitchen-breakfast room. Above, four generous double bedrooms and a family bathroom are set into the eaves, all individual in character and beautifully finished; of these, the two principal bedrooms overlooking the front of the property are both fitted with copious built-in wardrobes and luxurious ensuite shower rooms.

www.cotswold-homes.com

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Fox Lodge, Aston Magna

Sitting in a sweeping circle of landscaped gardens and terraces, elevated from the street and benefitting from considerable natural privacy, the sense of seclusion is aided by dry stone walling and strategic planting around the borders including an array of mature deciduous and coniferous trees, the whole providing an idyllic sense of barely contained, encroaching nature; the adjacent barn tucked into the most private edge of the garden is covered with a profusion of dog roses and clematis, the beds are full of cottage garden flowers and verdant shrubs, all held at bay by a neat expanse of carefully maintained lawns. At the far edge of the property and comfortably at a distance from the main house are two single storey buildings of solid timber construction – the first a wellequipped office with plumbing and electricity, the second a Dutch barn style two-bedroom cottage fitted to the highest standard for use as a successful holiday let. Andy Soye of Character Cottages says: “This unique property presents a fabulous letting opportunity for one lucky buyer! Finished in a beautiful classic contemporary style, exactly what the modern holidaymaker is looking for, it is bound to command great interest as a large holiday let. The main house is well laid out with ample sociable space and, with the separate cottage, gives occupancy for twelve people. As such, we estimate Fox Lodge would command approximately £75,000 per annum of gross rental income.”

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The cottage in the grounds

Fox Lodge has its official launch date in early September. For more information and to arrange an appointment to view, contact Sales Director Tom Burdett on 01608 653893.


Norton Cottage

orton Cottage N A retreat from city life

Norton Cottage sits at the heart of Aston Magna, a delightfully secluded hamlet on the north western edge of the North Cotswolds, situated just two miles from Moreton in Marsh and four miles from Chipping Campden. The cottage serendipitously provides the best of both worlds, therefore: a lovely rural position, bags of period charm and the lure of a quintessentially country lifestyle yet still within easy access to major road / rail networks and the wealth of amenities provided by two neighbouring ancient market towns. As such, this period home is eminently suitable for family life or as an investment – its high standard of presentation, kerb appeal and wealth of internal character will undoubtedly appeal to those seeking

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Norton Cottage

a second home or holiday let; equally, its spacious accommodation and generous garden make it extremely attractive as a main family home, especially as Aston Magna sits within the catchment for the renowned Chipping Campden secondary school. Norton Cottage forms one half of a pair that would probably have been built to house workers from the nearby Batsford estate during the eighteenth century, constructed of mellow Cotswold stone under a stonetiled roof, each principal room is still full of period detail - exposed stone walls, open fireplaces fitted with wood-burning stoves, painted beams and decorative wood panelling, flagstone floors, latch-and-brace doors, the

whole cottage flooded with light from deepset picture windows. On the ground floor, the entrance porch leads onto a large dining hall and separate sitting room. The kitchen is fitted with a generous range of solid oak cabinets with granite work surfaces and integrated appliances, leading to a picturesque open-plan breakfast room with French doors opening out onto a patio. Above, four bedrooms and a family bathroom sit snugly under steeply sloping eaves, either looking out over the pretty village street scene or the traditionally stocked, hundred-footlong, private rear garden. The present owners have enjoyed many years at Norton Cottage in this undisturbed corner of the North Cotswolds. What has been the

best part of living here? “Aston Magna is a little undiscovered jewel – the cottage has provided us with everything we could need for a contented and peaceful family life within a connected, small, friendly community. We wish the new owners all the happiness that we have enjoyed here ourselves.” Norton Cottage is marketed at £489,000 by Fine & Country North Cotswolds, the international country homes department of Harrison James & Hardie. Please contact the Moreton in Marsh office on 01608 653893 for more information and to book your appointment to view.

www.cotswold-homes.com

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Yoicks, Guiting Power

£595,000

2 Fairey Close, Upper Rissington

£499,950

SOLD IN EXCESS OF ASKING PRICE AFTER UNSUCCESSFUL MARKETING BY ANOTHER LOCAL AGENCY Situated on the edge of this highly desirable village, bordered by rolling countryside and offering spectacular views,Yoicks is a handsome Cotswold stone property offering stylish accommodation over three floors.Yoicks and the adjoining property have been recently completed and have been architecturally designed to optimise the benefits of its fantastic setting.

Sale completed within 6 weeks

Entrance Hall | Bedroom | En-Suite Shower Room | Bedroom | Bedroom Bathroom | First Floor Sitting Room | Kitchen/Breakfast Room | Balcony Second Floor Bedroom | WC | Garden | Driveway Providing Parking EPC Rating: C Harrison James & Hardie, Bourton on the Water 01451 822 977

Entrance Hall | Sitting Room | Kitchen/Breakfast Room | Utility Room Study | WC | Master Bedroom | En-Suite Shower Room | Second Double Bedroom | En-Suite Shower Room | Three Further Bedrooms | Family Bathroom | Rear Garden | Double Garage | Parking | EPC Rating: B Harrison James & Hardie, Bourton on the Water 01451 822 977

1 Whittlestone Hollow, Lower Swell

6 Roman Way, Bourton on the Water

£465,000

An exceptionally well-presented detached property situated on the edge of the extremely successful Victory Fields development and within walking distance of The Rissington Primary School.This substantial family home boasts generous living accommodation, a well-proportioned southerly facing rear garden and a double garage to the front with off road parking for two cars. No Onward Chain.

£399,950

Sold at full asking price following competing offers

Sale agreed at full asking price within 2 weeks of marketing

This recently refurbished and stylishly presented home occupies a pleasant rural position on the edge of this popular North Cotswold village.The property enjoys beautiful views across the open countryside to the rear and benefits from planning permission to extend the property (Planning Ref: 14/00544/OTH).

A surprisingly spacious detached bungalow occupying a central position within its well-proportioned plot with beautifully manicured gardens to the front side and rear.The property is situated in a quiet residential area on the North-Eastern edge of the village and offers scope to improve and substantially extend (subject the necessary planning consents).

Sitting Room | Dining Room | Kitchen | Ground Floor Double Bedroom En-Suite | Two First Floor Double Bedrooms | Bathroom | Garage Off Road Parking | Log Store | Workshop | Low Maintenance Front and Rear Gardens | EPC Rating: E

Reception Hall | Sitting Room | Dining Room | Kitchen | Master Bedroom With En-Suite | Double Guest Room | Bathroom | Garage | Driveway Gardens To Front and Rear | EPC Rating: E

Harrison James & Hardie, Bourton on the Water 01451 822 977

Harrison James & Hardie, Bourton on the Water 01451 822 977

harrisonjameshardie.co.uk

Bourton on the Water | Moreton in Marsh | Mayfair | Lettings


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Michaelmas House, Lower Swell

£360,000

4 College Row, Northleach

£295,000

Sold over asking price following competing offers

SOLD AT FULL ASKING PRICE AFTER UNSUCCESSFUL MARKETING BY ANOTHER LOCAL AGENCY

This three bedroom period Grade II Listed Cotswold stone cottage offers well-proportioned and characterful accommodation and is situated on a quiet lane within this popular North Cotswold village.

A pretty, Cotswold stone, end of terrace cottage benefiting from a private courtyard garden with stone outbuilding, located in the desirable market town of Northleach.

Entrance | Sitting Room | Kitchen/Breakfast Room | Three Bedrooms Bathroom | Garden | Outbuilding | EPC Rating: F

Sitting Room/Dining Room | Kitchen | Four Bedrooms | Family Bathroom Private Courtyard Garden | Stone Outbuilding | EPC Rating: F

Harrison James & Hardie, Bourton on the Water 01451 822 977

Harrison James & Hardie, Bourton on the Water 01451 822 977

6 Sopwith Road, Upper Rissington

£285,000

16 Beddome Way, Bourton on the Water

£239,950

SALE AGREED AT FULL ASKING PRICE ON THE FIRST VIEWING

Sale agreed at full asking price on the first viewing

Situated on the edge of the desirable village of Upper Rissington, this three bedroom semi-detached property has been modernised throughout and benefits views over the adjoining countryside.

A well-presented three bedroom family home located within walking distance to the centre of Bourton on the Water and the Outstanding Cotswold Academy. Planning permission was granted on the 6th April 2016 for a two story side extension - further information can be found through Cotswold District Council website (www.cotswold.gov.uk) Application Ref: 16/00495/FUL.

Entrance Hall | Kitchen/Breakfast Room | Sitting Room | Dining Room Utility Room | WC | Master Bedroom | En-Suite Shower Room Two Further Double Bedrooms | Family Bathroom | Generous Rear Garden | EPC Rating: F

Harrison James & Hardie, Bourton on the Water 01451 822 977

Entrance Hall | Kitchen | Sitting Room | Dining Room | WC Three Bedrooms | Family Bathroom | Rear Garden | Garage Off Road Parking | EPC Rating: C Harrison James & Hardie, Bourton on the Water 01451 822 977

view all our properties at harrisonjameshardie.co.uk


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Pye Mill, Paxford

£825,000

1 Hercules Close, Moreton in Marsh

£565,000

SALE AGREED SUBSTANTIALLY OVER THE ASKING PRICE FOLLOWING SEVERAL OFFERS

Sold at full asking price

This stunning 16th Century Mill conversion has undergone extensive refurbishment in recent years and benefits from a substantial and tastefully constructed extension.Accessed via a gravelled and gated driveway this period family home occupies a secluded position overlooking wellmanicured and private gardens towards the open countryside beyond.

A substantial detached family home occupying a pleasant position within a private gated corner of the popular Moreton Park development.This spacious property boasts a well-proportioned rear garden backing onto a coppice, and a detached double garage to the front with off road parking for two cars.

Entrance | Sitting Room | Dining Hall | Kitchen/Breakfast/Family Room Utility Room | WC | Master Bedroom With En-Suite and Dressing Room Three Further Double Bedrooms and Family Bathroom | Double Garage with Room Above | Gravelled Driveway With Parking For Several Cars Gardens And A Stunning Open Countryside Aspect. Harrison James & Hardie, Moreton in Marsh 01608 651 000

Entrance Hall | Living Room | Dining Room | Kitchen/Breakfast Room Study | Utility | WC | Master Bedroom with En-Suite Shower Room | Four Further Bedrooms | Family Bathroom | Generous Garden to the Rear Detached Double Garage | Off Road Parking | EPC Rating: B

The Orchard, Little Compton

Lilac Cottage, Ilmington

£535,000

Harrison James & Hardie, Moreton in Marsh 01608 651 000

£525,000

SALE AGREED FOLLOWING SEVERAL COMPETING OFFERS

SALE AGREED WITHIN A WEEK AFTER 15 VIEWINGS

A rare opportunity to acquire a detached chalet bungalow with a double garage situated in a stunning rural position within a popular North Cotswold village. Approached via a gated driveway this wellproportioned home is surrounded by a beautiful and well sized plot and offers scope to improve and substantially extend (subject to the necessary planning consents).

A beautifully presented detached stone cottage situated on one of the most picturesque lanes within this highly sought after village.The property boasts a well manicured garden to the rear and a pretty village outlook to the front.

Entrance Hall | Sitting Room | Dining Room | Kitchen/Breakfast Room Conservatory | Utility Room | Two Ground Floor Double Bedrooms Bathroom | WC | Two First Floor Bedrooms | Dressing Room | Loft Storage Area | Double Garage | Mature Gardens | Gated Driveway Parking | EPC Rating: F Harrison James & Hardie, Moreton in Marsh 01608 651 000

harrisonjameshardie.co.uk

Entrance | Sitting Room | Dining Room | Kitchen | Utility Room | Shower and WC | Three Bedrooms | Bathroom | Stone Build Store | Garden Parking For Several Vehicles | EPC Rating: E

Harrison James & Hardie, Moreton in Marsh 01608 651 000

Bourton on the Water | Moreton in Marsh | Mayfair | Lettings


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Cadley View, Paxford

£375,000

16 Swan Close, Moreton in Marsh

£320,000

SALE AGREED AT FULL ASKING PRICE

SALE AGREED AT FULL ASKING PRICE FOLLOWING SEVERAL COMPETING OFFERS

A charming and beautifully presented period village home with a well proportioned garden and graveled driveway providing off road parking..

An extremely rare opportunity to purchase a detached home in need of complete renovation.The property benefits from planning permission (16/00134/FUL) to extend and create a stunning family home with four bedrooms, a large open plan kitchen/family room and integral garage boasting a generously proportioned garden and off road parking. .

Sitting Room | Kitchen | Dining Room | Utility | WC | Two Bedrooms Bathroom | Garden | Parking | EPC Rating: F

Entrance Hall | Sitting Room | Kitchen/Breakfast Room | Lean-To Conservatory | Three Bedrooms | Bathroom | Garden | Garage | Parking EPC Rating: F Harrison James & Hardie, Moreton in Marsh 01608 651 000

13 Butlers Road, Long Compton

Harrison James & Hardie, Moreton in Marsh 01608 651 000

£295,000

5 Beceshore Close, Moreton in Marsh

£235,000

SOLD OVER ASKING PRICE FOLLOWING MULTIPLE COMPETING OFFERS

Sale agreed at full asking price

This three bedroom home occupies a rural edge of village location overlooking open countryside, internally the property has been maintained to a high standard and offers further scope to extend (subject to the necessary planning consents).

A well-presented two bedroom home situated on the popular Blenheim Park development.The property benefits from a garage and off road parking and is ideally suited to first time buyers, investment buyers and the retirement market.

Entrance | Sitting Room | Dining Room | Kitchen | Utility | WC | Three Bedrooms | Bathroom | Garage | Garden | Off Road Parking EPC Rating: F

Entrance Hall | Sitting Room | Kitchen/Breakfast Room | WC Master Bedroom with En-Suite | Second Bedroom | Bathroom | Garden Garage | Parking | EPC Rating: C

Harrison James & Hardie, Moreton in Marsh 01608 651 000

Harrison James & Hardie, Moreton in Marsh 01608 651 000

view all our properties at harrisonjameshardie.co.uk


Lettings

2 Notgrove Road, Cold Aston

£1,250 PCM

Plums Cottage, Little Rissington

£925 PCM

Let Agreed After Multiple Applications

Let Agreed After First Viewing

A four bedroom semi-detached family home offering generous accommodation and garden with beautiful countryside views. Entrance Hall | Sitting Room | Dining Room | Family Room / Study Kitchen/Breakfast Room | Utility | WC | Master Bedroom with En-Suite Three Further Double Bedrooms | Family Bathroom | Off Road Parking Garden | EPC Rating: D

A charming three bedroomed cottage set within the heart of Little Rissington. Entrance Hall | Kitchen/Breakfast Room | Sitting Room | Conservatory Study | Ground Floor Bathroom | Three Bedrooms | Pretty Enclosed Rear Garden | EPC Rating: D

Harrison James & Hardie, Stow-on-the-Wold 01451 833 170

Harrison James & Hardie, Stow-on-the-Wold 01451 833 170

Gloucester Cottage, Moreton In Marsh

£895 PCM

140 Roman Way, Bourton On The Water

£875 PCM

Let Agreed On First Viewing

Let Agreed – Similar Properties Urgently Required

A beautifully presented and secluded Grade II listed cottage situated in Old Town, Moreton in Marsh. Entrance Lobby | Sitting Room | Kitchen | Garden Room Master Bedroom with En-Suite | Further Double Bedroom | Bathroom Garden | Parking | EPC: E

A well-presented, three bedroom property ideally located within easy reach of Bourton on the Water’s village centre. Entrance Hall | Sitting Room | Kitchen/Breakfast Room | Three Bedrooms Bathroom | Front and Rear Gardens | Off Road Parking | EPC Rating: D

Harrison James & Hardie, Stow-on-the-Wold 01451 833 170

Harrison James & Hardie, Stow-on-the-Wold 01451 833 170

harrisonjameshardie.co.uk

Moreton in Marsh | Bourton on the Water | Mayfair | Lettings


Lettings

Hill Farm, Nether Westcote

£1,995 pcm

The Coach House, Upper Swell

£2,600 pcm

LET AGREED WITHIN FIRST WEEK OF MARKETING

LET AGREED ON THE FIRST VIEWING

Hill Farm with its beautiful mellow Cotswold stone is a charming home situated in the prime village location of Nether Westcote.The property offers a wealth of beautiful period features including exposed Cotswold stone walls, original beams and inglenook fireplaces. Kitchen | Utility | Cloakroom | Sitting Room | Dining Room | Snug Two First Floor Double Bedrooms | Bathroom | Second Floor Double Bedroom | Further Second Floor Bedroom/Study | Store Room | Front and Rear Gardens | Off Road Parking | EPC Rating: E

A charming detached Cotswold stone former Coach House, positioned in a lovely village location with light, spacious and flexible accommodation set in landscaped gardens. Entrance Hall | Cloak Room | Drawing Room with Open Fireplace Kitchen/ Breakfast Room with Aga and Pantry | Rear Boot Room |Utility | Dining Hall | Garden Room | Second Kitchen | Sitting Room/Library | Rear Entrance Hall | Ground Floor Double Bedroom with En suite Bath and Shower Room | First Floor Master Bedroom with En Suite | Third Double Bedroom | Bathroom | Dressing Room/Study | Walk-In Closet | Front and Rear Gardens Ample Off Road Parking including Under Cover Parking | EPC Rating: E

Fine and Country, Harrison James & Hardie, Stow-on-the-Wold 01451 833 170

Fine and Country, Harrison James & Hardie, Stow-on-the-Wold 01451 833 170

Leigh House, Moreton in Marsh

£1,695 pcm

LET AGREED FOLLOWING MULTIPLE APPLICATIONS

Vine House, Blockley

£1,095 pcm

A beautifully presented and lovingly refurbished four bedroom Grade II Listed property located on the sought after High Street of Moreton in Marsh. Entrance Hall | Utility Room | Cloakroom | Snug | Sitting Room with Wood Burning Stove | Kitchen/Breakfast Room | Dining Room | Master Bedroom with En Suite | Three Further Double Bedrooms | Two Further Bathrooms | Private Courtyard Garden

A Grade ll listed Georgian double fronted property having been extensively and sympathetically renovated and designed to offer a luxurious and stylistic village home located on the picturesque High Street of Blockley. Sitting Room with Open Fire Place | Dining Room | Kitchen | Master Bedroom with En Suite | Second Double Bedroom | Bathroom | Further Bedroom/Study | Private Terrace Garden

Fine and Country, Harrison James & Hardie, Stow-on-the-Wold 01451 833 170

Fine and Country, Harrison James & Hardie, Stow-on-the-Wold 01451 833 170

Country Homes from harrison james & hardie


ASK THE EXPERTS

Getting let-ready!

Getting let-ready! The do’s and don’ts of successful letting

Q

I’ve just been relocated abroad. Whilst my Grade II Listed cottage is basically sound, it would need a serious upgrade to attract the holiday-let market. I reckon letting it as a short-hold assured tenancy will be easier, in terms of getting it up to an acceptable standard. Do you have any tips about managing things from a distance?

Caroline Gee MARLA, Director of Lettings

A

As you say, it must be fairly easy to rent your property out in this marketplace. Even if you do let us introduce someone and just get a few checks done at the beginning, no doubt those lovely tenants you bumped into at a friend’s house are bound to look after a property and pay the rent on time. Anyway, your dad’s pretty good with a spanner so you can get him to do your maintenance and check in on them occasionally, even if you’re off abroad for six months. As an experienced letting agent with rather too much knowledge about the endless things that can and do go wrong, always at the weekend or over the Christmas break, late at night or when you’ve just got the last boarding call for your flight to Tenerife, let me just ask you a few questions before you decide to go it alone. How regularly do you intend to update yourself with legislative changes? How do you check your tenants’ finances? Are you happy with all the safety checks you must have and what the potential consequences could be if not? Do you know what to do if your tenant continually pays the rent late? When there’s water coming out of the kitchen ceiling through the light fitting and it’s already flooded the ground floor, what then? How many PAT-tested spare heaters do you have to hand when the boiler packs up on Christmas Eve? Do you know what to do when the tenants have left the place in a dreadful state?

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And…I could go on. Letting out your house, from receiving an irate call that the handle has just fallen off the front door to finding out the tenants somehow installed an extra person whilst your back was turned, the reality is never as easy as you hope when you cut costs to manage your own property. Take it from me - I didn’t have any grey hairs until I went into Lettings! Our fully managed service is designed precisely so you do not have to worry what is going on. Whether it’s finding the perfect tenant to fit in with your lovely neighbours or simply replacing that dripping tap, with our ARLA qualified, trained and dedicated lettings team there’s always someone who knows the right person to call, on hand to take all the stress and strain. It’s not just you we look after, either – it’s equally important for us to create a good rapport with your tenants, too. From the moment we first do the check-in, we want them to enjoy living at the property, so we go through every detail on the inventory, show them how everything works and let them know who to contact if there are any issues. We register them with the main utility companies to ensure there is no confusion and we register their deposit so you don’t have to get bogged down with paperwork, leaving them in their new home with only one worry: where to put their belongings. Our maintenance e-mail address is monitored

daily and we deal with problems straight away, getting quotes and sending out our trusted qualified tradesmen once you have given us permission. If you have a small army of maintenance guys at your beck and call, it’s certainly not as stressful as searching for a plumber to fix a blocked drain on a Sunday afternoon! Every four months we arrange for an inspection, just checking that your tenants are looking after the property, then prepare a report with colour photographic evidence for your information. At the end of the tenancy we prepare the check-out report and deal promptly with any issues that arise, from a dirty oven to a broken cistern or worse. And that’s not all. We regularly attend ARLA courses (Associated Residential Lettings Agents) getting annual updates on legislation so that any changes can be put into action as soon as possible and to make our landlords aware so that they can be prepared, too. Did you know that from 2018, for example, it will not be possible to rent out your property with an EPC rating of F or less? Why put yourself through all this when you can have someone else do it for you? We’re always available by e-mail or phone, and if you feel the need you can always pop into the office to speak to us face to face -because yes, we do manage to smile our way through everything, come what may!


ASK THE EXPERTS

The do’s and don’ts of successful letting

Gloucester Cottage, Moreton in Marsh: Let agreed on the first viewing for £895pcm

you could get half as much again on your expected monthly income.

Amy Coldicott MARLA, LETTINGS MANAGER, FINE & COUNTRY NORTH COTSWOLDS

In the prime upper quartile lettings marketplace, important considerations for potential tenants are much more about wish lists than affordability. High up instead is their hearts’ desire - a beautiful old cottage in a great village location, something with bags of integral character and plenty of kerb appeal, a stone-built slice of the Cotswolds with roses round the door, wonderful views and a garden pretty as a chocolate box, stacked to the rafters with country charm. Think Cameron Diaz in The Holiday. These tenants aren’t here to stay but whilst they are here they want to enjoy themselves. They might not be British, they’re probably not local – Londoners, jetsetters coming to work or to play for a bit, furnished with a fabulous relocation package or city bonus (or a very well-to-do Daddy). So, what do I recommend before putting your home on the market? If you are able to find some money to finish off that cottage properly,

Generally, the highest rental values are reliably achieved with period, Listed properties rather than modern or new-build properties and top dollar will be those filled with simple, comfortable luxuries - heavy curtains, thick carpets, a deep bath or a fabulous shower, a log burner or two - and, the ultimate in comfort, an AGA. Having bought your property do spend some time and money making it look as fantastic as possible, and feeling as warm as toast, to give it that extra wow factor. Dress to impress, darling! You must make your ideal tenant die to live here, not just want to live here – so let’s start at the bottom and work up. Always opt for neutral carpets with a good underlay - not too light to show all the dirt but plain enough to match most furniture, colour-coordinated with the decor. If there are flagstones, wooden floors or ceramic tiles get them treated before your tenants move in, as this will also help to maintain the quality and presentation. Resist the temptation to use vibrant wall colours and heavily patterned papers – for the purpose of this experiment think Kelly Hoppen not Lawrence LlewellynBowen. Off-whites, palest blues and creams are all fine; purples and pillar box reds, not. Tenants usually prefer to be provided with curtains and blinds, especially in larger properties. These

should be thick, warm, blanket-lined, with blackouts in the bedrooms. Again, it’s always best to stick to neutral colours that won’t jar with their own furnishings. Showing an entirely empty property is always difficult to carry off but with minimal furniture and a scattering of accessories – cushions, lamps, a bookcase perhaps – viewers will easily imagine what their home could look like. Expectations are always highest when it comes to the heart of the country home, so the kitchen must be fitted in style and kitted out with integrated appliances. The same goes for the bathrooms these must be super-clean, offering a high degree of comfort with quality ceramics and a lovely rose-head shower or a roll-top bath! Outside, parking and a gin-and-tonic terrace is great but a well-stocked cottage garden is all the better if it comes with a gardener for a few hours a week. And remember to paint the front door - first impressions count, of course. If you can achieve this look, or even get close to it, then these changes will go a long way to making your cottage into a great moneyspinner rather than just finding a way to pay the mortgage whilst you’re abroad. Your property should be able to compete in this lucrative marketplace - if you can just find the funds to fulfil that wish list, it’s got to be worth it!

www.cotswold-homes.com

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ASK THE EXPERTS

Getting let-ready – The do’s and don’ts of successful letting

Chilli Cottage, Bourton on the Water: Let agreed on the first viewing for £925pcm

service, of course, whether it’s a gas or an oilfired heating system.

Deirdre Hughes Lettings Administrator

We have such a demand for rental properties in the local area there is no doubt we can find you a tenant extremely quickly, but there are some things you must do first - and to attempt to manage your property without the help of an experienced agent is a bit of a risk to say the least, especially when living abroad. At the very least before you go to market with the cottage, you must have met your legal responsibilities, as you do have certain obligations under the Landlord and Tenant Act to ensure the property complies with all the relevant legislations “basically sound’ is not quite enough! Your property needs to be really safe, so you must provide smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in all the correct places and a suitably qualified electrician will be required to ascertain everything is properly installed and in good working order, to check and sign off all your wiring, fuses, plug sockets and so on, including any portable electric appliances such as heaters, fans, etc. Similarly, if there is gas supplied (as LPG or mains) you need to get a Landlord Gas Safety Certificate and you must have a proper boiler

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On the plus side, most properties need a valid Energy Performance Certificate, but this isn’t a problem as your home is Listed – unless you bought with cash, contact your mortgage provider because they have to give you formal approval to rent it out before you go ahead. Even though you say it’s not in great decorative order you must take a deposit, which should be registered with a Deposit Protection Scheme. This is does exactly as it suggests – it ensures you can’t run off with your tenant’s money where it will be held during arbitration in the case of a dispute (at the end of the term for example) until matters are satisfactorily resolved. Is that frayed stair carpet ‘wear and tear’ or wilful damage, for example? Decide whether you wish to accept pets and / or children - both create mess and leave muddy paw prints but to accommodate them does open out your marketplace! Either way, you should think about getting a professional company to prepare an inventory – you need the tenants to agree the basic condition at the start of the tenancy so you can have regular inspections compared against the original inventory, including the check-out at the end of the term. Once you have the above in place, we would normally advise you in detail on how to attract the right tenant and to achieve the best return on your property. At the very basic level, you should paint throughout in a neutral colour and ensure

everything is fresh and clean, especially those fitted appliances like cookers, hobs and hoods. All the carpets should be professionally cleaned; where there is a loo and / or a sink, the flooring must be practical (something like lino, for example). It goes without saying the bathroom should be spotless and do put in a shower if you can, along with light bulbs for all the fittings and ideally curtains (or at least poles and fittings) plus a telephone point and TV aerial (the last is a landlord’s responsibility, in any case). Finally, do tidy the garden and make sure it’s relatively low maintenance, so that it doesn’t cause the neighbours irritation when looking at it over the garden fence. Tenants are generally disinclined to do any jobs beyond keeping the lawn mown and the borders weed-free, so don’t expect them to be budding Monty Dons! If you have begun to feel that renting out your property seems rather overwhelming and / or you’re unsure of your grasp on the process, please don’t hesitate to call us. We can help you to arrange everything from marketing and finding you tenants to drawing up contacts, ensuring all paperwork and finance checks are carried out appropriately and that your property is compliant with current regulations. It might seem a great idea to manage it yourself but it could prove a huge false economy when you are so far away – we are the experts and can provide you with not only a reliable rental income for as long as you wish but total peace of mind.


ASK THE EXPERTS

Wise advice for would-be tenants

Katy Hackling MARLA, Lettings Negotiator

First in line

Wise advice for would-be tenants Renting a property can sometimes be a daunting process at the moment, as demand for rental homes continues to outweigh the number of properties available. Good properties are being snapped up super-quick, so Katy Hackling offers some great advice to prospective tenants about how to get ahead of the competition.

The first thing you must do is register with local agencies. Harrison James & Hardie Lettings’ database is full of registered applicants, all of whom are called as soon as a suitable property is taken on. Don’t expect us agents to do all the legwork for you, though – the squeaky wheel gets the oil, so phone in once a week or so; you never know, something might just come up in the diary. As we often have multiple applicants booked in for each new instruction, we also recommend signing up for Rightmove and Zoopla alerts; make sure that you are checking these sites regularly to ensure that you don’t miss an opportunity when a new property comes to the market. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because things move quickly that the home you want will be immediately empty. Few properties coming to to the market are vacant: most new instructions will appear when the current tenant gives us notice, so won’t be ready to move into for a month or two. Therefore, start looking at least two months before you plan to move. If your perfect property is ready to move into earlier than you want you may be able to negotiate or, conversely, if you really are desperate be prepared to overlap the new tenancy with your current rental, simply to avoid losing it to a competing applicant who can move in before you. When you are viewing properties, it is important to remember not to be too picky. If you just fancy a change then fine, but if you do need to move then inevitably there will have to be some compromises. Decide what factors are ‘musts’ and what are ‘would likes’ and go from there. To get an idea what might come up within your price bracket ask us for examples that have recently let so you can manage your expectations, and be aware that the average rent is likely to rise, particularly at entry level, if you spend six months looking! Nothing can be left to the last minute or to chance if you want to succeed in getting something at the right price in the right location for you.The key thing to remember is to be flexible.The quicker you can move the better – speak to your employer about working through lunch hours to be able to snag the early appointments, be ready

to pay a holding deposit to secure a property right away, make sure that both you and your partner (if you have one) are both available to view the property at the same time so that you can make a decision quickly, and have references and contact details for referees ready to hand. Once you have found you have to move fast so get your ducks in a row! First duck - check your credit score. Is it high and if not, why not? If you don’t have the best credit score then don’t panic, but do be honest about it. We understand that life doesn’t always go to plan, particularly financially, but there is nothing worse than doing a credit check for you to then fail. If you do have bad credit history, particularly bankruptcy, with an IVA or a CCJ against you, be prepared to provide a guarantor or to pay six months’ rent in advance. Next duck – funds. Most agencies will require a month’s rent in advance, plus a deposit (usually one and a half times the monthly rent) and an administration fee to cover the cost of referencing, the tenancy agreement, inventory, check-in, etc., which can be up to £400 plus VAT. The final duck – line up your referees. Landlords are likely to get itchy feet if the referencing process takes too long. Ask your employer to confirm on company letterhead how long you have worked there, your salary and any bonuses, and whether you are on a permanent contract. A character reference will also be required, so have a think about who would be best to ask and get them to write a letter for you. You will also need copies of bank statements and wage slips so dig them out and put them in a safe place for when you need them! So remember, in order to get ahead as a tenant you need to be flexible, willing to negotiate and have everything ready to go – my advice, even if you have months to go to your moving date, is to pretend you only have hours! To speak to Caroline, Amy, Katy or Deirdre in the Lettings Team, telephone 01451 833170.

www.cotswold-homes.com

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Upper Rissington

10

good reasons why Upper Rissington is such a great place to live

1

Location…

Upper Rissington sits within a “golden triangle” between Burford, Stow on the Wold and Bourton on the Water - ten minutes to Kingham Station, Oxford in thirty minutes, London in an hour and a half, only five minutes to the Fosseway, five minutes to the A40 – peaceful isolation with great accessibility and amenities within a stone’s throw.

2

Location…

Perched high on a plain with stunning views and surrounded by beautiful countryside, it is a very rural place to inhabit – red kites and crows wheeling high in the sky during the day are replaced by barn owls and bats at twilight and meanwhile a host of indigenous wildlife invades the back gardens… hedgehogs, deer, foxes, rabbits, songbirds, woodpeckers, squirrels, butterflies… If you wish to engender a sense of connection to a natural environment in your children, this is the place to live.

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Upper Rissington

Photos reproduced by kind permission of David Harrison

3

Location

The Rissington Primary school.The split site school caters for children aged 4 - 11 at both Great Rissington and the new four-classrom building in Upper Rissington, where there is also a thriving pre-school provision. A minibus is on hand to ferry home-cooked school meals and children between the two sites - combining for church services, get-togethers, after-school care and sports, the school ensures many opportunities (both for parents and children) to socialise.

4

Proper family homes. The old…

The original houses are mostly on large plots - substantial, spacious, solid and traditionally built with fireplaces, big kitchens, roomy living spaces and great gardens. Many houses have already been refurbished and extended but there are still occasional ones with potential to do so and for a growing family they are a great choice, whether you have £250,000 or £1 million to spend.

5

And the new

Taking the original local vernacular as a blueprint but prettified, surrounded by open spaces and mature trees, offering spacious interiors and decent plots, this new development is a great success story. A host of amenities are provided within a minute or two, including the much-feted primary school - coming soon, the new market square and supermarket.

6

A simple childhood

Upper Rissington is a place seemingly of a different, more innocent time where children can safely walk or cycle from one end of the village to another, go to the shop for a packet of sweets or an errand for mum, take a sledge out with friends in the snow, build dens, climb trees and play in fields all within sight and touching distance of home, with friendly neighbours who keep a benign eye on proceedings.

7

A great community

In 1999, there were no preconceived notions about what to expect, just a commitment to forge a new place where everyone might live well.This settled community has remained forward-looking, fuelled by positive energy, still happy to make new friendships and welcoming to incomers. Modern life is often peripatetic and unconnected but residents here get together for walks and sport, village fetes and barbecues, the odd summer street party and fireworks – and when it snows, everyone comes out to play!

8

Anxiety-free living

The North Cotswolds is generally a low crime area and Upper Rissington is no exception – another big upside of a connected, rural neighbourhood of settled, hard-working families, the village is imbued with a sense of optimism and wellbeing, safe by night and day.You will get a smile from an unfamiliar passer-by, you can throw open your

windows and doors in the summer, take the dog for a walk on a dark night and send your children out to play without worrying.

9

A sense of seasons passing

A host of mature traditional British trees populate every avenue, providing shelter from the winter winds and a profusion of colour to herald in warmer weather. Bleak and glorious by turns, Upper Rissington has its own micro-climate, the coldest days and the hottest ones, too - snow by the bucket load in winter, late cherry blossom springs, balmy summer days on top of the hill and harvest fields in the distance, deep autumnal reds on grey wet afternoons shrouded in fog, hoar frosts that coat every twig, leaf and blade of grass ice-white against a clear blue sky – weather that simply takes your breath away.

10

Stars, planets and sunsets

High on a trig point and open to the elements it may be, but with that comes the greatest beauty of this place - the vastness of the sky. In winter, a frosty night will reveal thousands upon thousands of stars or gardens fully illuminated by the gleam of a huge low moon. In summer, ethereal mists rise from the fields at dawn and on hot nights, pink fish-scale clouds turn violet as the sun sets on the Windrush valley.To appreciate the calm and mindful stillness of country life, here one has to look no further than up. www.cotswold-homes.com

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Smith Barry Crescent

Officer’s Life An

Smith Barry Crescent, Upper Rissington

Of all the properties in Upper Rissington, none are more sought after than the handful of prestigious officers' houses designed by renowned architect Sir Edward Lutyens. Situated in a cul-de-sac in the quietest part of the village, bordering fields and woodland with views towards Oxfordshire, No 9 Smith Barry Crescent is one of only six original homes built for the highest-ranking officers on the former air base. Extended by the present owners, the property is blessed by a generous plot overlooking landscaped gardens bounded 68

Cotswold Homes Magazine

by dry-stone walling and offers substantial accommodation including two reception rooms, a large central kitchen/breakfast room with separate utility and shower room on the ground floor, with five bedrooms served by a family bathroom above. The original homes at RAF Little Rissington were mainly built in the late 30s / early 40s. The base played a crucial role as a training ground for pilots during World War II - indeed, Smith Barry (where officers were housed) was named

after the officer credited with modern teaching strategies adopted by the air force at the time. The base had its share of wartime tragedy, most famously when one fatally damaged plane failed to make the landing on a return flight, crashing half a mile short of safety into the pub garden of the Lamb Inn at nearby Great Rissington. Once peace was finally restored RAF Little Rissington became an enjoyable rural outpost - it continued as a Flying School, hosting the famous Red Arrow team in the 1970s and generally acting as a magnet for local high


Smith Barry Crescent

society. The Officers' Mess in Smith Barry Road, currently being converted into glamorous town houses, was very much the place to be seen. Huge dinner parties frequently went on until dawn and the hunt also regularly met at the Commander's home, where even the Queen Mother once stayed. In the 1990s the site was sold off by the MOD for private development. The newly named Upper Rissington soon earned renown as 'the North Cotswolds' best kept secret'. Families settling here loved the friendliness of the local community, the freedom and safety for their children, the sense of peace, vast skies, tree-lined avenues, wide-open spaces and copious wild life. Those who purchased properties in the early years were amply rewarded by sharply escalating prices, and planning permission secured a few years later for a new homes development ensured Upper Rissington's long-term viability. There has been considerable investment into services and amenities, including a primary school, market square and supermarket. Combined with a naturally beautiful rural setting, a serendipitous location on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment between Bourton on the Water, Stow on the Wold and Burford, today Upper Rissington has emerged as one of the most desirable villages in the North Cotswolds for family life.’

The Officers' Mess in Smith Barry Road, currently being converted into glamorous town houses, was very much the place to be seen. Huge dinner parties frequently went on until dawn and the hunt also regularly met at the Commander's home, where even the Queen Mother once stayed. Karen Harrison says: “Smith Barry Road, Circus and Crescent are the most prestigious addresses at Upper Rissington and it is no surprise that 9 Smith Barry Crescent sold so quickly after it launched mid-April. We conducted sixteen viewings within the first fortnight, agreed a full price sale and exchanged contracts in July. For anyone interested in finding out more about the new Bovis Homes that are currently being built behind the Officers’ Mess (available shortly) or indeed the conversions of the Officers’ Mess into glamorous townhouses that will be marketed early in 2017, please get in contact with the Bourton on the Water offices of Harrison James & Hardie on 01451 822977.” www.cotswold-homes.com

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ASK THE EXPERTS

An insider’s view

Kirby Clayton, Apprentice

Apprenticeship with Harrison James & Hardie An insider’s view Two of my friends have already had apprenticeships here. I was impressed by how happy they were and how well they had both done, so when I finally got the opportunity (having written to Karen Harrison several times!) I felt incredibly fortunate and excited to have been offered a graduate apprenticeship. It’s such a successful and positive local company, the leading estate agency in the North Cotswolds for over sixteen years, so I knew it was a fantastic opportunity but I didn’t quite appreciate the full scope of what was being offered. I had worked briefly for another local estate agency and had a basic understanding of what was involved but I hadn’t a clue just how interesting and complex it really is.

My nerves were put to rest very quickly - I was made to feel really welcome, regularly receiving encouragement and praise from everyone. My role provides a safe place where I can watch and learn without too much pressure but I am constantly being pushed to extend my experience in many different aspects of the day-to-day. As Apprentice Administrator I spend time in both sales offices, gaining knowledge and experience of the whole marketplace. I interact all the time with clients and customers, using viewings as a way to build relationships, familiarising myself with the properties, locations and so on, but it’s still only scratching the surface and a huge learning curve. I am amazed by how much knowledge and experience I have gained already and am now able to see how effectively a properly structured apprenticeship will introduce me, and in what great depth, to the industry of property sales and letting. With such a hard working and committed team the first thing to become

obvious is just how proactive the company really is, especially reflected in their customer service skills. Friendliness, a great team spirit and the continuing pursuit of excellence are the basis of the company’s ethos and clearly extend to everything they do, as I experienced myself from Day One. Suffice it to say I am absolutely thriving on the challenges. It’s exactly what I was hoping for - consistently fast-paced with never a dull moment - and I thoroughly love it! Not only do I look forward to developing my own skills but I also feel committed to seeing everyone around me thrive, too. We work as one team and are all paid from one pot, so we are all naturally connected and pleased by everyone’s progress because we also share in each person’s successes. Karen’s advice to all new employees is to ‘pick your hero’: to choose someone in a more experienced position as an example of what you might also achieve. Former apprentices include Tom Burdett (Sales Director), my trainer Jo Hetherington (Senior Admin Manager), Lucy

Driver (Senior Sales Manager) Lucy Gainford (Marketing Manager) and Ewan Peaston (Senior Negotiator). Ewan was at the Cotswold School with me but joined the company post ‘A’ level rather than going to university as I did. Over the last few years he has gained a raft of NVQs, diplomas in both residential sales and lettings, is a fully qualified member of NAEA and ARLA and is on target this summer for a major promotion to Sales Manager, already earning well over £30,000 per annum (and with no student debt!). To receive such high quality training with the provision of formal studies, via Gold Standard, that further my academic understanding and provide me with highly regarded industry qualifications whilst gaining practical hands-on experience as I work my way up through various positions of increasing seniority and salary is amazing – I am confident having seen how it has worked out for Ewan that, if I work as hard as others have done before, then many opportunities will similarly open out for me.

www.cotswold-homes.com

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How to find us

Moreton in Marsh Office High Street, Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 0AF 01608 651000 moreton@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk

Stow on the Wold Office Church Street, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1BB 01451 833170 stow@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk

Bourton on the Water Office High Street, Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire GL54 2AN 01451 822977 bourton@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk

Harrison-James-Hardie-Residential-Sales-and-Lettings

@harrisonhardie

@harrisonjameshardie


What they say about us “All round, a thoroughly “...we were kept efficient and professional informed of progress service. A wonderful effort on the part of the HJ&H in a friendly but team. Well done to all.” professional way.” Mr C, Shipton under Wychwood

Mr & Mrs P, Stow on the Wold

“Level of personal service was second to none.” Mr & Mrs W, Bourton on the Water

“I have been constantly impressed by your enthusiasm, optimism and general management of the whole process of marketing and selling the property.” Mr R, Stratford upon Avon

“Thank you for your help. I was very pleased at the speed with which it was sold.” Mrs H, Bourton on the Water

“Thank you to all the staff in the Bourton on the Water office for their dedication in the sale of our property.” Mrs S, Bourton on the Water

“Super efficient and friendly. Purchase was assisted above and beyond expectations. Sales progression was invaluable and reduced our stress levels due to contacts in the market and professional knowledge and action. Highly recommended...Thank you all.” Mr & Mrs B, Upper Rissington

“I found the staff very pleasant, professional and helpful at all times.” Mr & Mrs G, Church Westcote

“...a true professional. Thorough, competent, efficient and thoughtful with an expert knowledge of the properties on your books.” Mrs M, Kent “I was selling the house at a distance on behalf of a relative and I felt that Harrison James & Hardie added a significant amount of value. You sold the property promptly within my target price so overall I have been delighted with the service and would not hesitate to recommend you.”Mrs R, Moreton in Marsh

“It was always a pleasure dealing with all members of the team. All queries were answered promptly and efficiently. What was particularly impressive is the fact that if the person we usually dealt with was not available, another colleague followed on seamlessly to answer any questions we had.” Mr M, Lower Slaughter Harrison-James-Hardie-Residential-Sales-and-Lettings

“Jo and Lucy were particularly helpful in our search for a new home.” Mr & Mrs M, Stow on the Wold @harrisonhardie

@harrisonjameshardie


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