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

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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 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

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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

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With Britain facing it’s biggest health emergency in over 100 years we’ve all had to adapt to some unprecedented measures in 2020. Indeed it seems that we’re likely to see further restrictions well into 2021, even with the very positive news of vaccines. But, of course (at the time of writing) we have no concept of their effectiveness, who will be entitled to them or indeed, when they might even become available.

property in Harlow and Essex

Such uncertainty has, naturally, played havoc with the business world too. For us at Howick and Brooker <link>it’s been one of the strangest years we can remember. From the doom and gloom of the first and second quarter of the year sales have been extraordinarily good for us, particularly around Bury Road and the Old Town.

Nationally too, the housing market appears to be booming. According to The Guardian More than 100,000 additional house sales are expected during the first three months of 2021, as the rebound in the property market continues and buyers rush to complete their purchases before the end of thestamp duty ‘holiday’ in March 2021. Indeed, many mortgages advisors are suggesting that home buyers should put in their offers very soon as conveyancing and searches are taking much longer than usual – and completion is taking up to three months or more, meaning that many home buyers might miss the deadline.

buying a new home in 2020 or 2021 

The property website Zoopla reports that there have been 38% more new sales than this time last year and suggests that the housing market will be busier before Christmas than it has been in a decade.

So, despite the very slow start to the year the market has  rebounded because of ‘pent-up’ demand following the first lockdown. The introduction of the stamp duty holiday by Rishi Sunak, in July (on properties up to £500,000 until March 2021) has had a massive impact. Property sales have increased most in London and southern England, where 7% more sales have been recorded than in the previous year. This has also pushed up house prices too – by almost 3.5%, a figure that is set to grow by the end of the year.

when does the stamp duty holiday end?>

The housing market has had a “remarkable turnaround” since the spring, said Richard Donnell, director of research and insight at Zoopla. “It has been a rollercoaster year for the housing market which is ending on a strong note with demand and sales agreed still more than 30% higher than this time last year,”

More than 105,000 residential transactions took place last month (October), an increase of nearly 10% compared with September, and 8.1% higher than October 2019, according to figures fromHMRC <link>.

Times may be uncertain but the property market remains strong and it’s a good time to be an estate agent!


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 please get in touch.

T: 01279 418888

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Let’s face it – if you’re a young, first time buyer nowadays the cards have not necessarily been stacked that favourably. Trust me, your parents had it a lot easier! Forget the majority of the hoops you have to jump through, the price of properties and (subsequently) the huge deposit you need to raise just to get a TOE on the property ladder, is enough to bring tears to your eyes!

That said, help is out there. With regards to raising the deposit money please take a look at this extremely helpful article from the Guild of Property Professionals. It this article though we’ll leave finance alone and look at 7 other tips that can help you buy that first property.

things to think about for first time buyers


Decide what you want but be flexible too…

It’s important to view different properties ,and while doing so, create a list of what you want your new home to include. Once you’ve done so divide your wish list into must-haves and things you can compromise on. This will help you to avoid making hasty decisions and get you thinking in detail about your ideal home. You need to be realistic here. Make sure you’re being serious in regards to your budget – we’d all like an en-suite and a utility room but can you afford it?

It’s important to remain flexible. There’s no point in missing out on an ideal property because it’s a mile away from your ideal location or it's missing a downstairs loo. Being open-minded is important - think outside the box – with a little creativity you can do some wonderful things with the décor of a house or the look of a garden.

Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases of your life, so take your time when making important decisions. Try to ignore the pressure to buy straight away – you’ll likely to be living in this first property for many years so make sure you’ll be happy and comfortable there.


Find the best local agent and a top solicitor

An experienced, respected local agent will be well-informed and able to answer any questions, not only about the property, but also the area you are moving into. It’s best to have a look at all the agents in your area – check out if they are registered with the Guild of Property Professionals, as that is always a good guide to respectability.

Make sure you meet your chosen agents face-to-face and explain in detail what your requirements are - this will make them remember you and think of you when a suitable property comes on the market. Look out for new properties on their website and different online portals as great homes tend to get snapped up quickly.

As for solicitors, you need someone trustworthy and someone who will work hard for you. Your estate agency may recommend one for you. Usually, you get what you pay for and this is definitely not the time to penny pinch. Being a first-time buyer, you will most likely need someone more experienced to deal with Land Registry, draw up and explaining contracts etc.

help with buying my first home


Learn more about your prospective home and prepare to negotiate

So let’s say that you’ve found your property and you’re eager to make an offer. Before you progress to the next step, make sure you learn as much as you can about your prospective new home. How long has it been on the market? Can you afford the council tax and other utilities? What about the neighbours? Are there shops or a pub nearby? Local schools? These are important things to consider even before you’ve hired a surveyor to inspect the condition of the property.

And remember the price of the property is rarely set in stone and many sellers are often willing to negotiate. If the property needs some work or your surveyor revealed any defects, use this as an argument to agree a more affordable price. You can ask the estate agent to do this for you, however, as a buyer, you will be the one making the final decision and should be in control at all times.

Enjoy the process

Buying a property will often take a LOT longer than you anticipate, so do try to enjoy the process. It is time-consuming and one of the biggest events in your life so try not to over-stretch yourself by combining it with weddings or having a baby! Buying your first home is a big step in every person’s life and should be remembered fondly. The whole process might take longer than you originally anticipated.

If you have any questions on buying your first home please don’t hesitate to get in touch!


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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