What Ho!

Seems like quite a while since I’ve put pen to paper (or what ever ghastly turn-of-phrase one uses nowadays) for this blog, so I thought I might remedy that on this cold and bright May Morning!

It appears that we might be coming to the end of the whole dreadful business of lockdowns and restrictions…so much so, in fact, that my second home at Marigolds has been opening up again on match days….

best estate agents in Essex
Photo courtesy of Drama Garden 

Above is a sign from the 40s that was found during works in the Northeast corner of the ground. It’s fabulous to be able to get outdoors once again, and to see old friends even in a ‘socially distanced’ kind of way.

One thing that has struck me over the past year or so has been the strength of the community during the entire pandemic period. The help for the vulnerable, the support for the elderly, the strict observance to mask wearing and the adherence to distancing has been quite amazing. At H&B we have always prided ourselves on being centre of the community but the shear resilience and fortitude of the community around Harlow and the Old Town has been quite touching.

Anyway – onwards and upwards and here’s to a wine and soda on the Pavilion steps, and a loooooong Summer!

buying a house in Harlow, Essex

The Howick & Brooker Partnership - is the leading and longest-established estate agency in Harlow. Howick and Brooker are members of the Guild of Professional Estate Agents.

If you are interested in moving into the Harlow area pleas get in touch.
T: 01279 418888
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OK – so after much searching, wailing and gnashing of teeth you’ve finally found the property you want to move into. You’ve seen 20 odd homes and this one ticks all the right boxes: garden, garage, utility room, space for little Johnny’s Pokémon collection and even an annex for Aunty Edna. You have your mortgage in place, the stars are aligned and you can even see a moving-in date looming into view. What could possibly go wrong?

The offer is crucial.

Firstly, what’s a fair and reasonable price?  Well, one of the things to find out is the price of similar properties in the area. This may be particularly useful if you are looking to make an offer below the current asking price. There are other considerations too of course…how long has the property been on the market? If it’s been a while, it may indicate the property is overpriced, potentially giving you some leverage. Think about the market for this particular property. If it’s the only one in the area, the seller is in a strong position with little competition, meaning they may be less likely to accept a lower offer. Also your viewing checklist may have identified issues which you think should be reflected in the price – if you notice that there is work to be done for example, you may want to make a lower offer. Most prices are subject to your homebuyer’s survey, so if there is something you have missed or aren’t qualified to spot, this should be flagged up when your survey is completed.

Your financial position can also put you at an advantage. If you are a first-time buyer, if you aren’t in a chain or if you have a pre-arranged mortgage, you are in a better position and should be sure to make this clear to the estate agent when making an offer, as this is attractive to potential buyers. If you enter into negotiations, be absolutely clear about what your budget is. There are other costs involved in buying a home, such as Stamp Duty, mortgage fees and the removal fees, which should be factored into your overall budget. Ask your estate agent if there is a price the seller has in mind when viewing the property. They may remain vague and say: "close to the asking price", or they may give you an insight into what the seller is hoping for. It’s always worth asking. 

making an offer on a property

To make an offer all you need to do is you need to tell the estate agent, who is legally obliged to pass it on to the seller – even if it’s unrealistic. A telephone call followed-up by an email means you will have confirmed your offer in writing, which may be useful to you in the event of any confusion.

If your offer is rejected then it will be time to begin negotiations. Now, obviously you are looking for the best possible price, but remember so is the seller! They may well have a figure in mind but there are factors which may give you a better chance of getting a lower price, for example: 

  • Has the house been on the market for a while? The seller may accept a lesser price in order to sell.
  • If the seller is in a hurry, perhaps due to personal circumstances or looking to buy a house they are interested in, they may accept a lower offer.
  • If there are fewer buyers interested in the property, you could be in a good position to negotiate.
  • If the seller is expecting an offer between 5% and 10% a lower bid is worth a try. 

 In open negotiations your estate agent will advise you of higher bids, giving you the chance to raise yours to secure the property. Try to remain as practical as you can. Be realistic about your offer and what you can expect – accepting an offer which is below the asking price is at the seller's discretion. If a seller has the time and they think they may get a better offer by holding on, they will. 

negotiating an offer on a property

Once your offer has been accepted estate agents use a variety of terms to confirm that an offer has been accepted but the paperwork is yet to be completed: examples include 'Under Offer', 'Sale Agreed', or 'Sold Subject to Contract' which can also be written as 'SSTC' or simply 'STC'.

The seller may request a holding deposit as a sign that you are serious about buying the property and is meant to deter those who aren’t serious. Be sure to ask about this further: will it be refunded if you withdraw your offer? Will it be refunded if the seller pulls out of the deal? Who is this payable to? Be aware that if you pay this directly to the seller, there will be no security for your money. Also it is important to remember that either party can pull out of the contract up until the exchange of contracts, which is when the sale becomes legally binding.

what happens when my offer on a property has been accepted?

Once your offer has been accepted, ask the seller to take their property off the market. They don’t have to, but you should consider why they might continue to market their property – are they holding out for a better offer? Should another, higher offer be made and accepted for the property, you are described as being ‘gazumped’. This is more common when a lower offer has been accepted. Once your offer has been accepted, start working on the next stages as soon as you can.

 For any further help or advice please get in touch – we’re always happy to help!


The Howick & Brooker Partnership is the leading and longest-established estate agency in Harlow. Howick and Brooker are members of the Guild of Professional Estate Agents.








You may nor have heard of ‘home staging’, but trust us, there is a whole industry dedicated to it! In short, home staging is the concept of making your home as attractive as possible to potential buyers to facilitate a quick sale. It’s about making house hunters consider your space as their own and highlighting how wonderful the property can be for them and their lifestyle.

Clever home staging will not only sell your house quickly, but in some cases can add value too. Here we have compiled a quick list of six tips to help you on your way.


1-  Decorate!
This sounds dramatic and a whole heap of work, but we’re not talking about flock wallpaper and throw cushions here. A quick lick of paint over marked walls will help – as will painting in neutral and light colours. That mural of Buzz Lightyear in the kid’s bedroom has got to go. Let’s be honest, the new buyers will probably decorate throughout to their own tastes. Clean, neutral shades will help them to envision that. It will also make the house feel more spacious by reflecting sunlight and giving an ‘airy’ feel.

staging your home for sale
(image courtesy of 'Drama Garden')

2-  Furniture!
Not everyone is going to like your prized, black gaming chair with the built-in beer holders that you have in front of the tele or the chaise longue you’ve had since Granny passed away with the gold trim. Clutter is always a bad thing when it comes to staging. Why not consider putting some of your furniture into storage or in the garage? Similarly, placing the furniture against the walls in a ‘traditional’ style is also advantageous – it creates more space and (again) let’s the potential buyers imagine how they would lay out the room(s).

3-  Clutter!
Buyers hate clutter. Their own house is full of it, and we can guarantee one of the first thoughts and intentions they have about their new place is that it’ll remain clutter-free. Get rid of yours. We’ve already mentioned extraneous furniture, well the same goes for crockery, ornaments, the old collection of DVDs you’re never going to watch again, the wilting cheese-plant and the yellowing photos of the strange relatives you have in Norfolk. It’s all about space (you may notice a theme going on here?)

4- Fittings!
Clean your light switches and plugs and remove any sticky finger marks left by the offspring (your own that is, not the American punk band). Little marks on the wainscoting may have become ‘wallpaper’ to you (how many times have you walked passed old blutack marks and not noticed them) – but your buyers may well pick up on them. Move out any tired and battered furniture and de-clutter every room!

home staging Harlow Essex

5- Lights and Props!
It’s always good to the let the light in if you can, especially during the spring and summer months. If you’re selling in darker months make sure you have the most complimentary lighting on between viewings. Also think about props. It might seem cheesy but some fresh flowers always make an impression. Some people swear on making a fresh pot of ground coffee before the buyers arrive. And remember paintings and artwork! Something bright and tactful – you might love your prized Iron Maiden posters but a lot of buyers won't.

sell my house in Essex

6-  Pets and Kids!
Get rid of them, period. In seriousness the whole process is about de-cluttering and having pets and kids about will obviously make your home feel smaller. Many people aren’t enamoured by pets, so it’s always good to brush up their fur, remove the bedding and hide their food bowls.

For any further help or advice please get in touch – we’re always happy to help!


The Howick & Brooker Partnership is the leading and longest-established estate agency in Harlow. Howick and Brooker are members of the Guild of Professional Estate Agents.  

For a free no-obligation valuation, click here to get in touch with your local Guild agent


If you are interested in moving into the Harlow area pleas get in touch.

T: 01279 418888

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 







If you’ve never sold a property before the whole process can seem extremely daunting. It was complicated enough when you bought the place, but now you’re moving on there’s a whole new list of problems to consider. It’s easy to assume that because you’ve been through the buying process then selling should be easy, right? Naturally the whole procedure is considerably different.

First things first, get in touch with an estate agent you know, like and trust. Being able to have a friendly chat with an agent who is patient and actually listens is a huge advantage. If you don’t know where to start visit the Guild of Property Professionals here  and they’ll be able to point you in the direction of a reputable and considerate agency near you.

selling my first house

Here are a few tips and pieces of advice that will help you on your way!

  • Once you have chosen your agent it's a good idea to discuss precisely what you want from your sale. Are you looking simply for the best possible price or a quick sale? Regardless, your agent will be able to advise the best strategy for success, from the initial valuation to the correct marketing of the property and onto negotiating and securing the sale.
  • Being a first-time seller you are likely to be in a strong position. As you bought your property as a first-time buyer your home is likely to be sought after by the large ‘pool’ of buyers trying to get their first step on the property ladder. First time buyers are looking out for properties that they can move straight into, which will work with their busy schedules. It’s important to present your home it at its best. If you’ve not decorated in a few years, then give it a fresh lick of paint. De-cluttering is very important, and you should consider moving your furniture into symmetrical positions. A simple and classic look is attractive to a wide range of buyers. 


  • A good idea is to try to remember what attracted you to your home in the first place. What made up your mind that the property was ideal as your first home? Once you’ve identified these strengths make the most out of them with decoration or ‘staging’ – plants, ornaments etc. If you do this before any professional photographs are taken it will ensure your property looks at its best on your estate agent’s website and search portals.

  • When it comes to viewings, using an estate agent is obviously of real benefit. Viewings can be carried out when you are at work or busy with other commitments – and you can guarantee that potential buyers will want to view at the most inopportune times. Handing this task over to the estate agent also encourages buyers to give an honest opinion of how they perceive your home. Your agent can then discuss this feedback with you, which is obviously beneficial.
  • Before you instruct an agent, do your homework and find out about all the costs involved.Conveyancing fees should also be factored into your calculations. Once you have a buyer in place, shop around for the right conveyancer and/or solicitor to handle your sale. Their knowledge is the key to finalising a sale and they will manage the final proceedings, taking the stress out of your hands.

  • Sellers (and landlords) are required by law to provide an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). Properties are rated from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). They are valid for 10 years. An EPC must be in place before an estate agent markets your property for you. For more information, take a look at the gov.uk site. This will help the agent to tailor their service to your specific needs and achieve the desired results for your home. 

EPC for my property to sell


The Howick & Brooker Partnership is the leading and longest-established estate agency in Harlow. Howick and Brooker are members of the Guild of Professional Estate Agents.


 If you are interested in moving into the Harlow area pleas get in touch.

T: 01279 418888

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Despite the enormous damage caused to the UK economy by Coronavirus in 2020, the property market remains remarkably string and buoyant.

It’s customary at this time of the year to look forward to the prospects of the next and according to Seven Capital the UK remains an exceptionally good place to invest in property. So much so they’ve identified nineteen (19) factors. We’re going to take a close look at 4 of these.

renting in Harlow and Essex


1 – Low Interest rates and stamp duty

There were two cuts in interest rates in March 2020 and the Bank of England Base Rate remains at 0.1%, the lowest it’s ever been. Therefore, a lot of lenders are offering extremely competitive and very accessible Buy-to-Let mortgages. This is great news for beginners looking to invest in the property market and also means that portfolio investors will find it easier to re-mortgage and release equity. Add to this the freeze in Stamp Duty until March 31st 2021 and purchasing property has become very attractive


2 – House prices are still on the rise

This has resulted in a nationwide rise in property prices. The graph below (courtesy of Savills) shows the predicted house price growth for 2021 - 2025. The graph shows different regions but does not take into account the fact that individual towns and cities are likely to over perform, and prices in those regions may be well in excess of predictions.

property growth in the southeast and other regions 

3 – Supply Driving Demand

It’s well known that in the UK there is an undersupply of residential property. This is a major driver in the rental market and a prime opportunity for property buyers – especially in urban centres. With Buy-to-Let mortgages worth over £1 trillion in the UK, research estimates that UK renters will outnumber homeowners by 2039. The private rented sector is also estimated to grow by 24% by the end of 2021


4 – Rents set to Rise

This also means that rents are set to rise as the market becomes more competitive and developments concentrate of quality over quantity. This is directly reflected in some key areas across the UK. The South East was forecast to see rental price growth of 11.5% over the next four years. In Birmingham rental growth is expected to hit 12.5% between now and 2023.

This concept of ‘Generation Rent’ is happening across the UK, directly appealing to investors that want to build a long-term portfolio. According to the Resolution Foundation, nearly 4 out of 10 ‘millennials’ are still privately renting at age 30, with 30% expected to be renting well into retirement.

renting a property in Harlow and Essex

We are definitely seeing a shift in culture to a more European way of thinking (only 43% of Germans own their own home, for example). The UK’s population is forecast to reach 74 million people in the next 20 years, a clear sign of the vast housing demand building within the market. A quarter of the UK is expected to be 65 or older by 2050 according to the Office for National Statistics. This shift in demographics opens up huge opportunities for property investment – a record 1.13 million over-50’s are renting, nearly double that of a decade ago. While young professionals make up the majority of the rental market, there’s no doubt we’re seeing a renaissance in older people choosing to downsize, particularly in major cities.


The Howick & Brooker Partnership is the leading and longest-established estate agency in Harlow. Howick and Brooker are members of the Guild of Professional Estate Agents.


If you are interested in moving into the Harlow area pleas get in touch.

T: 01279 418888

E:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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