As the nights drawn in – seasonal tips on staying safe when selling your home

With the darker nights creeping in and the nip of autumn in the air – many of us are happy to close the curtains and lock the front door once we get home from work.

However for some sellers, the early evening may be the only chance they have to show potential buyers around their home.

Whatever the time of year, showing off your property’s best assets is a vital element of the selling process – but allowing strangers into your home without an appointment could place you in a vulnerable position.

A For Sale board is a great way of marketing a property, but occasionally it may mean someone knocks on the door and asks to view there and then.

In line with advice from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), we have some top tips for conducting a safe and confident viewing.

Our head of estate agency, Su Snaith said: “There is a very fine line between showing off your home in the best light possible without divulging all your personal information. We are able to advise our sellers of some basic do’s and don’ts if they want to conduct the viewing themselves.

Otherwise, we have our own staff in our branches who are happy to conduct the viewing on the seller’s behalf, particularly if they are nervous about strangers coming into their home.”

For a safe and confident viewing:

- Firstly, if someone turns up to view your home without an appointment, politely refer them to your agent to arrange a time that suits you.

- Be sure to obtain the viewers details from your agent when arranging times and dates.

- Check you have the right name and contact details of each viewer and ask them to confirm the details on their arrival.

- If you are going to be alone in the house during a viewing, don’t be afraid to ask a friend or neighbour to accompany you.

- Be friendly whilst conducting viewings, but don’t give away too much personal information and be cautious of conversations that may tell people your holiday, work or other plans of when the property is likely to be empty.

- If in doubt – always ask your agent to conduct the viewing on your behalf, ensuring they have the keys and that your home is prepared for a viewing at any time of the day.

- Don’t be afraid to ask your agent for advice about conducting viewing if you want to go it alone.

Harrison Murray’s heart equipment donation to St Albans school

Our kind-hearted estate agency manager Glynn Pope has donated potentially life-saving heart equipment to a local school – in memory of his brother who died from a rare condition.

Wayne Pope passed away from the rare heart condition sudden arrhythmic death syndrome nine years ago, just 10 days after his 30th birthday.

To help with the grieving process, brother Glynn – who works at our branch in St Albans – and the rest of the family began raising money in Wayne’s memory.

Nine years on, and a number of cycle rides and sponsored walks later, some 34 defibrillators worth £68,000 have been donated to schools and other groups in Watford and St Albans.

The cost of providing each piece of equipment and the training of someone to use it correctly is £2,000.

The latest donation of the defibrillator, a device used to send energy shocks to the heart following cardiac arrest, was made to St Peter’s School in St Albans.

The school contacted Glynn after reading about Wayne’s Fund, the charity he set up in his brother’s memory.

Glynn said: “Wayne was more than my brother, he was my best friend and his sudden death was a huge shock to us all.

With the help of my family, I set up Wayne’s Fund, and friends and supporters have helped to raise an incredible amount of money so far – and we have been delighted to donate 34 defibrillators to those who have requested them.

On behalf of the fund, and Harrison Murray estate agents supporting the local community, it has been a pleasure to present the latest defibrillator to St Peter’s School.

We hope they never have to use it, but we know that this equipment certainly does save lives.”

In 2011, one of the defibrillators was used to save the life of a teacher at a St Albans school who suffered a cardiac arrest. Ironically, the teacher – Anthony Taylor – had once taught Wayne during his school years.

For more details about Wayne’s Fund visit

Pic cap
Harrison Murray branch manager Glynn Pope presents the defibrillator to St Peter’s School in St Albans to pupils and school business manager Vitina Thwaites.

Harrison Murray appoints new manager in Wisbech

We have appointed a new manager at our Wisbech branch.

Former RAF serviceman Martin Hallett has taken up the reins as our office manager in Wisbech, with a wealth of estate agency experience to his credit.

Martin (50) has worked in all aspects of the industry, starting his career as a negotiator and senior negotiator before progressing to branch manager with agents in around Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.

He will be leading an established team at the Bridge Street office, and says he is relishing the challenge of taking the branch from strength to strength.

Martin said: “I really like the fact that Harrison Murray’s strong estate agency reputation is complemented by the long established Nottingham Building Society.

There is a great team already in place here at Wisbech which provide a first class service to customers in the town and surrounding areas.

My aim is to take this office up to number one in the town by further improving on that, and treating our customers very much as individuals. The personal touch is something I believe Harrison Murray offers over and above some of our competitors.”

Martin lives locally and knows the area and the housing market in and around Wisbech well. As a former servicemen, he was stationed at RAF Marham in Norfolk, and has also lived in and worked for estate agents in Peterborough.

No tricks – just plenty of treats for youngsters thanks to our branch in March

Youngsters in March have really been getting into the spirit of Halloween, thanks to some October fun organised by our branch there.

Pre-school children from the Thomas Eaton County Primary School in Wimblington have been getting creative in our March branch’s Halloween colouring competition, with some fang-tastic scary seasonal designs.

And their treat for taking part – a large pumpkin filled with lots of edible goodies to share.

Our sales manager Nicola Roberts said: “We had such a great time with this project, and the children came up with some amazing creations.

We are always delighted to get involved with community incentives, and often team up with local schools where the children and the teachers are so welcoming and engaging.”

Christmas is coming early at Harrison Murray Estate Agency

We are getting into the festive spirit early with each of our branches offering customers the chance to win a luxury Christmas hamper.

Anyone who visits the Bedford, Bushmead, Chatteris, Duston, East Hunsbury, Enderby, Grantham, Groby, Harpenden, Leicester, Lutterworth, March, Market Harborough, Melton Mowbray, Northampton, Rothley, St. Albans, Syston, Western Park, Wigston and Wisbech branches and signs up to sell their home will be entered into a free draw*.

One lucky customer from each branch will land a £100 M&S Indulgent hamper and have it delivered to their door in time for Christmas* – a double boost as our expert customer advisers will also have pulled out all the stops to help them achieve the dream of being settled in their new home in time to celebrate the festive period with their family and friends.

Our Head of Estate Agency Su Snaith says: “It’s a way of getting into the festive spirit and offering customers a chance of a fantastic treat in time for Christmas. The hampers look amazing.

“People visiting any of our branches can expect excellent customer service and benefit from great Estate Agency expertise and experience – winning a hamper would be the icing on the cake!”

*Terms and conditions apply

Picture Details in order:

March Branch – Isla Hamilton (Administrator) & Brenda Fitzjohn (Sales Negotiator)
Enderby Branch – Trilby Greissel-Brown (Sales Negotiator) & Teana Hampson (Estate Agency Manager)
Market Harborough Branch – Kameron Hutchinson (Estate Agency Manager)
Wigston Branch – Jennifer Andrews (Estate Agency Manager)

For details of all our 21 Harrison Murray branches please visit

For details of our 14 Nottingham Estate Agency branches please visit

Paula takes the plunge for SportsAid

Branch Manager Paula Scinaldi is doing a sky-dive to raise money for SportsAid. Duston branch have been supporting Judo superstar since March and so far have raised almost £300 to support Paula with her challenge.


Paula explains ‘We have been fundraising for a few weeks now and enlisted the help of the Harrison Murray bear this week to help us with our latest stunt of ‘cycling’ to Heathrow, or completing 70 miles, on a stationary bike outside the branch to help Jodie on her ‘Road to Rio’.

‘As well as generating lots of interest from customers, we also had a cake donated by Voke’s Hairdressers next door raising £61!.’

Unfortunately Jodie was unable to come to the event as she'd been selected for a training camp in Strausbourg however is in regular contact with her local branch as she climbs the ranks. Jodie recently returned from Spain where she medalled for Junior Team GB at the European championship. Like many of this year's athlete's, she has her sights set firmly on the Rio Olympics and all monies raised will help her travel to train and compete.

We provide the right recipe

Baker Catherine Searcy is used to cooking up a treat – however in adversity it was the team at our branch in Market Harborough who came up with the perfect recipe for selling her home.

Catherine and her husband Andy, who run a small business called The Part-Time Baker, decided to sell their home in Market Harborough in February 2014 and, after inviting different local estate agents to value their house, chose us to act on their behalf.

And Catherine is delighted that the team at our Market Harborough branch, led by estate agency manager Kameron Hutchinson, soon delivered on the service they had promised.

She says: “Within a week the house was photographed, a ‘For Sale’ board erected out front and it was listed on RightMove, Zoopla, in the local newspaper and in the branch window.

During that first week Kameron and team worked through their existing client database, identifying buyers who they felt would be interested in viewing our property. Ahead of the first weekend of the property being marketed, we had five viewings scheduled for the Saturday alone with more for the week ahead.

Within a day of going on the market it had sold for the full asking price.

We were keen to also purchase our next home through Harrison Murray and the Market Harborough team worked tirelessly to find something that suited our requirements. Unfortunately, we were unable to ultimately both buy and sell through them, as our chosen house was listed with a competitor agent, but the ‘leg-work’ that Kameron and his team put in to find our next ‘dream home’ was second to none.”

However, due to circumstances out of the control of the Searcy family and Harrison Murray, the purchase fell through in June due to the buyer’s personal reasons.

But that didn’t deter anyone at our branch in Market Harborough and in an incredible few days that followed, the sale was sealed and Catherine and her family began preparing for a move to their dream new home.

“The first buyer withdrew from the sale for personal reasons, which of course was a blow and very frustrating.

We were notified of this by our solicitor at 3pm on a Wednesday. By 5.30pm the same day, Claire at Harrison Murray had secured two new viewings for the very next day, and by 10.30am on the Thursday, we had sold again.

Unfortunately, the second buyer then withdrew from the sale only days later, again for personal reasons, and we were back to square one, with a house that we were in the process of buying but ours not sold.

Again, the Market Harborough team swept into action, using their client database and contacts to ensure viewings were lined up immediately and potential new buyers aware of the change of circumstance. By Wednesday of the same week, two viewings later and more booked, we had sold again.

Regarding moving, Harrison Murray were on hand to offer advice about the status of the legal process involved, moving dates, removal companies, local builders for works planned in our new home and general support through what was, at times, a very stressful period.

From my initial phone call to book an appointment for a valuation, the tone was set for a friendly, personal and professional service. This attitude was adopted by the entire team throughout the experience and our decision to work with Harrison Murray was cemented by the proactive approach taken to achieve a sale. They come strongly recommended!”

It’s three in a row for our Melton branch challenge cup champs!

They say things come in threes – and for our branch in Melton Mowbray it’s the honour of being the company’s best performing branch since July.

Our Melton branch, headed up by our branch partner Mike Ford, are celebrating getting their hands on the Challenge Cup for the third month in a row.

The silverware will remain on display in the branch, which has been its home since the end of the summer, for another few weeks at least.

Mike Ford and his team beat off competition from 20 other branches to clinch the award once again for overall performance and excellent customer care.

Delighted Mike said: “We’ve had another fantastic month during September and really upped our game to retain ownership of the Challenge Cup, which is now a firm talking point in the branch among our customers

We would like to thank the people of Melton and the surrounding villages who continue to support us and make us their agents of choice as we enter what we anticipate being another busy month in the run up to Christmas.”

HM Lettings leading the way on immigration checks

Our lettings side of the business will soon be leading the way in ensuring all potential tenants are eligible to live in the UK.

The move will give landlords peace of mind that anyone renting their properties has a genuine entitlement to dwell and work here.

We are currently waiting for further information from the Government – a trial is being held in the West Midlands in December – on exactly what checks will be required but we are totally committed to making sure we are ahead of the game for landlords rather than waiting until the last minute.

Our Group Lettings Controller Paul Offley says: “Anyone renting a home will have to provide the relevant documentation evidencing their eligibility to live in the UK. Failure to do so will mean no rental arrangement will be put in place.

We want to safeguard and support the rights of both landlord and tenant whilst ensuring we are operating in line with the latest legislation.”

Checks – which will always be completed before a person moves into a property – are likely (the Home Office are yet to issue specific instructions) to be conducted as follows:

• British passport holders only need to show their current passport (provided the photo is still identifiable)
• Those without passports have to produce alternative documents including birth (or adoption) certificate in combination with a National Insurance number, driving licence, naturalisation certificate or right of abode certificate
• Citizens of the 27 member countries of the European Union (plus Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) evidence a passport and national identity card or evidence of receipt of UK benefits
• People from other countries have a Biometric Residence Permit which clearly states the time limit on their stay
• Foreign visitors staying for less than six months cannot obtain a Biometric Residence Permit and need to show a passport containing a UK immigration stamp with a time limit that is still valid

The Immigration Bill received royal assent in May 2014, paving the way for a series of immigration system reforms. The new Immigration Act is set to come in force in October.

We offer lettings from the following branches: Nottingham city centre, Sherwood, Arnold, Leicester city centre, Melton Mowbray, Wigston, Syston, Western Park, Enderby, Lutterworth, Market Harborough, Wisbech, March, Chatteris, East Hunsbury, Duston and Northampton. Contact us today to find out more.

As autumn approaches, don’t hibernate – now is a great time to go house hunting

With the onset of autumn and the darker nights not too far away, don’t be tempted to go into hibernation when it comes to house hunting.

The same applies if you are thinking about selling your home.

With children now settled into a new school term – but Christmas still several weeks away – now is the perfect time to be looking for a new home, or think about selling your own.

“Autumn is a great time to get out there and see what is available before everyone gets bogged down with thinking about Christmas,” said Su Snaith, our head of estate agency.

Our message to buyers and sellers is ‘don’t hold back’ – if moving is on your mind then take steps to make it happen!”

We assist numerous customers through the selling and buying journey, with instant access to up-to-the-minute mortgage deals, lender information and finance packages to help make it as smooth as possible.

Su added: “There are so many reasons why autumn has traditionally been a popular time to move house. The summer holidays are over, the children are settled back at school and Christmas seems far enough away to be able to concentrate on something else.”

Here are a few pointers to consider if an autumn move is on your wish list:

Sellers:

- Sell your property through a reputable agent, preferably one who is, like us at Harrison Murray, a member of the Property Ombudsman scheme and the National Association of Estate Agents.

- There are lots of spiders around at this time of year, and the last thing a viewer wants is to come face to face with one in the doorway or porch. Add ‘clearing cobwebs’ to your to do list – along with cleaning windows and replacing outside light bulbs.

- Ensure your home is viewing ready at any time of the day, particularly if you are at work and your agent is conducting the viewing. And if you are planning a half term break, make sure your agent has a key to your property.

- If it is a particular cold day when viewers arrive, put on the heating to warm up the house a little. Offering your visitors a hot drink is also a nice touch – don’t forget to find a convenient place to put their coats or brollies!

Buyers:

- Decide on a definite location – how far are you willing to commute, what are the local schools like, is there a GP surgery on your doorstep, is there a bus service into town?

- Always take a list of questions with you to ask at a viewing, or ask your agent to find out the information on your behalf.

- Think about the changing seasons and the impact it may have on the property. Rooms that are light and appealing during the summer months may take on a new feel in the winter months.

- Do your homework – take a drive around the area as well as checking out the local amenities.

- If you know it is right, move fast and put in an offer.

- Above all, liaise closely with your estate agent.