Estate agent shows great heart (x46!)

Harrison Murray’s St Albans office estate agency manager Glynn Pope (centre) recently visited St Helen’s Church of England Primary School in Wheathampstead to present the defibrillator from charity Wayne’s Fund to headteacher Jamie Brown and colleague Morwenna Ellis.

A Hertfordshire primary school now has the reassurance of a heart defibrillator on its premises – and it’s not the first time an organisation in the county has been donated life-saving equipment by Wayne’s Fund, a charity set up by a local estate agent.

St Helen’s Church of England Primary School in Wheathampstead recently became the 46th recipient of a defibrillator donated by the charity, set up by Harrison Murray Estate Agency’s St Albans office manager Glynn Pope in 2005 – the year his brother Wayne tragically died, aged just 30, from cardiac condition Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome.

Other public access buildings that have benefited from state-of-the-art defibs – and training as to how to use them – at £2,000 a time over the last decade include many more schools, a police station and an ice rink.

Glynn said: “I was delighted to visit St Helen’s Primary School to present the defibrillator, which takes the number we have donated across Hertfordshire to 46 now.

“Over the last decade they have been used to help save many lives. We hope St Helen’s never have to use theirs but the teachers, parents and pupils have the reassurance that it is there should they ever need it.”

For more information about Wayne’s Fund click here.

 

How burglar-proof is your property?

Burglar Breaking In To Home At Night Through Back DoorThe start of a new year often means the home is filled with Christmas presents and bargains from the January sales – and a return to work which could leave your property vulnerable.

According to the 2015 Crime Survey for England and Wales, carried out by the Office for National Statistics, there were around 750,000 incidents of domestic burglary last year.

However, Harrison Murray and the Nottingham Estate Agency (both part of the Nottingham Building Society) have some tips and advice on keeping your home safe after the holiday season, and give your property a new year security check-up:

  • If you have any Christmas gifts still to put away, don’t leave them on full view should someone take a peek through the windows.
  • Make sure you have robust locks on the front and back doors – and lock your doors even if you are in the house. Opportunist thieves can strike at any time of day.
  • Fit lockable devices/handles to your windows, particularly those on the ground floor and others that can be easily reached by climbing.
  • You may want to consider replacing your front door if it looks tatty, it’s the kind of thing that will attract a burglar’s eye.
  • Consider a light sensor, which can be highly effecting in deterring potential intruders.
  • A house alarm system acts in two ways – to deter intruders, and detect the opening of a window or a door. Some systems can also be linked up to a mobile phone number letting the owner know the alarm has been triggered.
  • Lock rear entry gates to ensure your back garden is as private and secure as possible. Many burglaries start at the back, where no one can see them taking place.
  • Don’t advertise when you are away. Arrange for a neighbour to keep a general eye on your home and ask Royal Mail to hold your post if you are away for a length of time. Above all, don’t reveal your plans on social media – it’s not just your friends who use Facebook and other sites!
  • Finally, ensure that you are fully covered insurance-wise should anything happen.

These tips follow some interesting findings from a recent survey* which spoke to 25 former burglars about home security, and discovered:

  • 26 per cent of them said that movement activated security lights were the best deterrent, followed by CCTV (22 per cent) and a dog bark (15 per cent).
  • Actions to least deter burglars were leaving a light on, a gravel driveway and a beware of the dog sign.
  • Those questions said common mistakes by householders included post sticking out of the letterbox, milk bottles on the doorstep and drawing the curtains before going away.

Su Says: our Head of Estate Agency’s January 2016 market musings…

Su SnaithHappy New Year to you and all of your nearest and dearest – how Christmas seems to have come and gone in a flash!

Here at Harrison Murray Estate Agency and the Nottingham Estate Agency (both part of the Nottingham Building Society) we are raring to go for what is sure to be a busy year.

Apart from the key calendar dates we kept our doors open over the last couple of weeks to assist those of you looking to get onto, or move up, the property ladder as early as possible in 2016.

Christmas and New Year is a busy time for those looking to buy or sell and we wanted to be around to add extra support in person and be there to respond to any queries arising from the high level of online interest over the festive period.

Many traditionally want to move in Spring, when the days are light and crisp rather than dark and cold. Often a new home is a New Year resolution and one we pride ourselves on helping to fulfil – our team love playing their part in getting people into their new homes.

That’s because we put people first – something that was highlighted perfectly over Christmas by our St. Alban’s office estate agency manager Glynn Pope.

Glynn took time out to pop along to St. Helen’s Church of England Primary School in Wheathampstead to hand over a potentially life-saving defibrillator on behalf of a charity, Wayne’s Fund, he set up in 2005 after his brother tragically passed away due to cardiac condition Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome.

It is the 46th defib Glynn has presented to public spaces such as schools, an ice rink and a police station over the last decade at a cost of £2,000 a time – some of which have been used to resuscitate people suffering from heart problems.

When it comes to buying and selling property it is of course business, and there is a process to complete. But I give the example above so that you can get a feel for the kind of people we have available in our teams to guide you through that process.

As well as being ‘people people’ our estate agency teams have years of expertise and their fingers on the pulse of the property world.

That is just as well as we head into 2016 and a period in which it looks like property prices (in most areas) will continue to rise and there are proposed stamp duty increases for buy-to-let investors and those looking for a second home to factor in too.

But what does all this mean for you? This is not necessarily bad news (it depends on a lot of factors such as your location, circumstances, aims – i.e. upsizing or downsizing – and so on) and has the potential for some who are shrewd, and act quickly, to save money on their investment.

If you are thinking of your next move I would suggest you come to see us to talk it through. We are more than happy to pop the kettle on and spend time with you discussing your requirements and next steps.

On another note, if you have recently had dealings with any of our offices please feel free to let the branch estate agency manager have any thoughts you may have or, alternatively, you can email estateagencysupport@thenottingham.com. Your feedback really helps and is appreciated.

Happy Christmas one and all!

Enderby challenge cupEveryone here at Harrison Murray (and our colleagues at Nottingham Estate Agency and the Nottingham Building Society) would like to wish you all a happy Christmas and all the best for 2016.

It’s been a very exciting twelve months across the business, one that culminated in our Enderby team (pictured) winning the company’s estate agency department monthly trophy, having risen perfectly to the challenges of moving to a new-look, bigger office in the Leicestershire town.

They achieved the honour for their sales results and high levels of customer satisfaction – two things all of our branches pride themselves on.

We are of course looking forward to tucking into our turkey over the festive period but also want to remind you that (apart from the key holiday dates) it is business as usual over the next week or so and our doors will be open to help you buy or sell at a time of year when it can be very shrewd to be involved in the property market (contrary to popular belief).

This is particularly relevant if you are looking to avoid increased stamp duty charges in April 2016 and/or if you are looking for a move in early Spring.

To find your ideal home, or to locate one of our branches, visit www.thenottingham.com/property

Once again, we hope you have a fantastic Christmas and a great New Year.

 

Act quick to be quids in

Su SnaithPeople looking to sell their homes have several reasons to set aside the mince pies and focus on getting their property on the market, says our Head of Estate Agency Su Snaith (pictured).

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and Association of Residential Letting Agents recently forecasted that the average house price of a UK home will rise by a whopping 50% in the next decade.

And stamp duty for those looking to purchase a buy-to-let property or a second home is set to increase significantly in April 2016 – the change in rates means that, for example, someone buying a £275,000 property would currently pay £3,750 but from April that will rise to £12,000 – so vendors and buyers could benefit massively from acting swiftly.

An added festive advantage is the accessibility of our Harrison Murray Estate Agents and Nottingham Estate Agency offices, services and staff over the festive period – a time of year when many agents choose to close their doors for a week or more.

Su says: “For weeks we’ve been talking up the fact that Christmas is, contrary to popular belief, is actually a very good time of year to get properties on the market and for those looking to purchase to visit one of our branches or our website, particularly those looking to move early in 2016.

“The latest forecasts and the stamp duty changes that are just around the corner mean it could be even more crucial to get involved in the property market as soon as possible.

“Some might think that holding on to their home as house prices rise is a good idea but it may be that the increases minimise, or even prevent, bids on the property and alienate some potential buyers and it of course also makes the next move harder as the home they are looking to move on to will be more expensive too.

“Our offices have been extremely busy in November and December with savvy families and investors looking to snap up properties before the stamp duty increases kick in. In theory that means homes are easier to sell, and for closer to the asking price, but it’s imperative to act now in order for the sales process to be complete before April.

“We want to be able to help people over the festive period and that’s why we are only closed on the key holiday days. The rest of the time our enthusiastic and experienced team will be on hand to help facilitate that dream move in early 2016 and hopefully help save people cash in the process.”

Those looking to find their nearest Harrison Murray or Nottingham Estate Agency office, or looking to carry out an online property search, should visit www.thenottingham.com/property

Market Harborough estate agents get into festive mood

Counting down to Christmas in Market Harborough: (left to right) Joshua Farey, Sarah Ward, Steven Smith, Caitlin Roper and Julie Gale

Our Market Harborough office have rounded off a year of fundraising in festive style, as part of the town’s Christmas celebrations.

They opened doors to shoppers and customers during the recent Market Harborough Christmas Fayre, offering refreshments and the chance to raise a glass to its charity efforts throughout 2015.

Estate agency manager Kameron Hutchinson said: “As a business at the heart of the local community we are extremely fond of the annual Christmas Fayre and are always happy to be supporting the town.

“We were also delighted that our SportsAid star, South Leicestershire triathlete Caitlin Roper, was able to join us on the evening. It has been our pleasure to support Caitlin – we are all very proud of her.”

Harrison Murray and the Nottingham Building Society (NBS) are also part of the Welland Valley Rotary Club hidden objects initiative, where businesses around the town hide an object in their window as part of a fundraising competition.

Other HM/NBS community successes in Market Harborough during 2015 have included:

  • Ongoing community involvement with the Little Angels Day Nursery.
  • The current Christmas Shoe Box Appeal to support the Children’s Society.
  • Active involvement with the Market Harborough Carnival during the summer.
  • Sponsorship of a fundraising fashion show in the town.
  • Raffling a giant Easter egg in aid of the Welland Valley Rotary Club.

Christmas decluttering – t’is the season to be ruthless

Group Of Christmas Presents Under Tree

With Christmas knocking on the door, many of us are facing seasonal chaos when it comes to food shopping, present buying and organising visits to family and friends.

However, if you are planning to sell your home in the New Year then the run-up to Christmas is the perfect time to get your house in order – and to be ruthless with your de-cluttering!

During your hunt in the attic or loft for those decorations, take a little extra time to look around and see if you are hoarding anything that can be thrown away, donated to charity and which won’t have a place in your new home.

Maybe you still have unwanted presents from last year! Now is the perfect time to recycle or even re-wrap them.

We have some seasonal tips for a Christmas de-clutter.

  • Take a couple of boxes into each room with you – one for recycling and the other for charity. As you inject a touch of Christmas around your home, use this as a chance to clear out some of the clutter.
  • Having a more orderly house just before Christmas will help clear your space and mind for the busy time ahead.
  • As mail order presents arrive, don’t forget to dispose of the cardboard boxes or packaging as you get them.
  • Pre-Christmas is a great time to tackle the children’s rooms – preferably when they are not around. Clear out and tidy drawers, bookshelves and toy boxes (donating unwanted items to charity) to make space for more toys they are bound to receive at Christmas. Use the ‘Santa is watching’ reminder to encourage younger children to keep their rooms tidy.
  • Kitchen clutter. Go through the cupboards and throw away any out of date tins or packets. If you are hosting friends and family over the festive period, get ahead of yourself if possible by cooking and freezing what you can – this is also a good opportunity to tidy the freezer!
  • If relatives/friends ask you what you would like for Christmas, don’t be afraid to say what you really want. The last thing you need after a huge spruce up is more clutter.
  • It is a good idea to have bags and containers handy to separating recycling waste; wrapping paper, cardboard, plastic, food waste etc and put a note of the Christmas refuse collections dates on the calendar.

Su Snaith, Head of Estate Agency for Harrison Murray (part of The Nottingham Building Society), said: “Many of us are so busy at this time of year that de-cluttering may be the last thing we want to do.

“But by trying to fit it in alongside preparations for Christmas may mean than when the festivities are over, you are one step ahead of the game when it comes to getting your house on the market in the New Year – when everyone else is busy cleaning up after Christmas AND dealing with pre-festive clutter!”

Christmas comes early for Enderby office!

Christmas has come early for the team at Harrison Murray in Enderby – winners of the company’s Challenge Cup.

Our Enderby office are adding some additional sparkle to their festive decorations – in the form of the company’s coveted Challenge Cup.

The accolade of top performing office means the branch is now the proud owner of the trophy – a hotly contested prize among the Harrison Murray and the Nottingham Estate Agency offices.

The silverware stays in Leicestershire, with the Enderby clinching the award for the month of November, following on from October’s winners Lutterworth.

It is presented each month to the office with best overall performance and customer care.

The Enderby branch, headed up by estate agency senior residential manager Teana Hampson, has gone from strength to strength since its move to a new-look office in the summer.

The doors opened in August, giving local people the chance to benefit from Harrison Murray’s increased offering in the village.

And despite the upheaval of moving to new premises, the team has continued to build on the first class service it offers in all areas of estate agency – further boosting its success locally.

Teana said: “We are delighted to be presented with the trophy and recognition of the team’s dedication and commitment to providing a first class estate agency service to the local area.

“This is a fantastic achievement for the whole team and for the many customers who choose Harrison Murray to buy or sell their property. It is also testament to the team which is reaping the much deserved success of a move to new offices this summer.”

Su Says: our Head of Estate Agency’s monthly market musings…

Head of Estate Agency at Harrison Murray and the Nottingham Estate Agency, Su Snaith

Each month I will be writing a blog which will cover all different aspects of the property sector.

As well as information about our estate agency offering via Harrison Murray and Nottingham Estate Agency (both under the Nottingham Building Society umbrella) I will also look at industry trends and bring you news and views that will hopefully go a long way towards shattering the myth that estate agents are only interested in profit and not people.

On that note I’d like to focus, in this my first blog, on customer satisfaction and what that means to us.

It is really important that we listen to our clients’ requirements and aims and ambitions. Helping you achieve your property dreams keeps us doing what we do.

Because we are, as previously mentioned, an arm of The Nottingham – the country’s ninth largest building society with assets of over £3.2bn and 55 branches across nine counties – we are closely audited, both internally and externally, to ensure our products and services remain up to scratch and that includes the area of customer satisfaction.

Recent figures published by YouGov highlighted that 35% of people polled in the Midlands were very satisfied with the overall services provided by their estate agent (all companies).

To put that into perspective, we have our own performance independently monitored (via Customer Service Network) and over the last 12 months 58.8% of those who used our estate agency services said they were highly satisfied when asked “how would you rate this transaction/purchase/application?”

Statistics can sometimes, of course, be interpreted how you wish and are not always the be-all and end-all but I wanted to highlight the YouGov figures compared to our own. And also to show, as I regularly tell our extremely competent and committed team, that there is always room for improvement too.

Even more importantly than the figures are the kind words we get to see in the many positive testimonials we receive after we have helped people buy, sell or let a property.

We never lose sight of the fact that for the vast majority of people their home is their most treasured, and often expensive, asset and that putting it on the market can be a very emotive experience.

So that’s why I was especially pleased to read a testimonial recently from a couple in Cambridgeshire who sold their home with the help and expertise of our Harrison Murray team in March.

As well as saying thank you they wrote that the experience had “changed their opinion of estate agents for the better”.

That demonstrates not just gratitude but that they felt the team had the ability, and willingness, to go the extra mile and it is the level of service we strive for in all of our offices.

If you have recently had dealings with any of our offices please feel free to let the branch estate agency manager have any thoughts you may have or, alternatively, you can email estateagencysupport@thenottingham.com. Your feedback helps us to keep moving forward on a positive footing.

And, just a footnote, remember that – contrary to popular belief – the winter months are actually a good time to get your property on the market if you are looking to sell and want to be in a new place as early as possible in 2016, so pop in and see us or give one of our offices a call and we’ll be happy to help make that happen.

Su Snaith, Head of Estate Agency

“Taking the stress out of things for our family”

Diesbergens

Chris and Martin Diesbergen

You may or may not be aware that here at Harrison Murray we are part of the Nottingham Building Society (known as The Nottingham) – the country’s ninth largest building society with assets of over £3.2bn.

But why is that relevant to this blog you may ask?

Well, additional to being here for all your property needs being part of The Nottingham means we are also able to put you in touch with colleagues who can help with a plethora of things such as savings accounts, a Whole of Market mortgage search (where we search over 40 lenders, fee-free, to source a deal that is right for you) and home insurance.

What’s more, The Nottingham can (with the help of external partners) also assist you in planning for the future in the form of will writing, funeral planning and other financial planning, e.g. trust funds.

So, basically, you can take care of all of your financial requirements ‘under one roof’, whether you visit one of our offices that include a building society counter or not (even if your nearest branch is just an estate agency feel free to ask any questions you may have and we will put you in touch with the right people).

That brings us full circle to the title of this blog – “Taking the stress out of things for our family” – and the story of the lovely Diesbergen couple, who live just outside Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

On returning from a recent holiday married Chris and Martin, who are both 69, visited our Ashbourne branch and soon after sorted out their will, funeral plans and a trust fund, with the aim of making sure everything is in place for their family for when they are no longer with us.

It may surprise many to hear it given the subject matter (which many may feel is ‘depressing’), but Chris described the whole process as being extremely “enjoyable”.

We wanted to share their story with you. Click here to read it.