Category Archives: Private Finance

Top tips for selecting an Estate Agent

Selling your home can be a daunting prospect, in many cases a property is your most valuable possession and we understand there are countless estate agents to choose from in your area. We’ve made it simple for you by creating our 9 top tips for selecting the perfect estate agent. We have covered everything from who to trust, what to ask and where your property should be advertised to reach a broad market of potential buyers. Our top tips will help, support and guide you through making your choice.


  1. Do they know your local area?

It is important that the estate agent you choose understands the area surrounding them. This will enable a greater understanding of the housing market in your area and can only benefit you when it comes to the marketing and advertising of your home.


  1. Have they previously sold houses like yours?

Do they have a back catalogue of successful projects that they are willing to show you? An agent with knowledge on your type of property is vital, without this knowledge the agent may not understand how to market and advertise your home, and risk not reaching potential buyers.

  1. Do you like them?

Your estate agent will play a vital role in selling your house so it’s important to create and maintain a good relationship.

Go to a variety of agents in your local area and see if it’s a welcoming, professional environment, are the staff helpful and polite? When they visit your home are they enthusiastic about it? It’s your decision on who to trust with your home, so don’t just settle for the first estate agent you find.

  1. Recommendation

Positive recommendations from friends and family can be a great way to begin your search for the perfect agent. You can also check them out reviews and rankings on

You can also seek reassurance by checking if the agent is a member of industry bodies such as The Property Ombudsman, RICS, National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents).

  1. Where do they advertise?

Are the agents widespread and visible online and offline? Many buyers might not have time to go into an agent’s office to search for their potential new home, so an online presence is a must have when it comes to attracting buyers.

  1. Can you find them on social media?

Is the estate agent visible on social media? If you can’t find the agent online how will potential buyers find your house? Social media is used by so many people, why miss out on a platform that can advertise your home and reach more people in the process.


  1. What area will your property be marketed to?

How widespread will the advertising of your house be? Will it stay in your local area, your region? Or national? Is the agent part of a relocation network, helping people moving to a new area?

  1. What marketing techniques do they use?

Don’t be afraid to ask your agent how they will market and advertise your property, what newspapers and magazines will it appear in? What property websites will it be listed on? Do they already have clients in mind for your property? If the agent is unsure of how and where to market your property then it may get overlooked by prospective buyers.

  1. Understand the agents fees

Fees do vary, many agents only charge a percentage of the selling price however, additional charges for valuations, photography and advertising can be costly surprises.

A good agent will discuss all the fees upfront, there should be no hidden charges so make sure to discuss this thoroughly with the agents before you make your final choice.

Home Buying Jargon Buster

Buying a property can be complicated and stressful at the best of times. To get the most from your estate agent, you both need to be on the same page, have clear and open communication and understand exactly what is going on through each stage of the sale. If you’re not well acquainted with buying or selling, you may be unfamiliar with the terms frequently used. We don’t want you to be left in the dark, so we’ve created a jargon busting blog to guide you through home buying.


Jargon buster Glossary of terms

Chain – The sequence of buyers and sellers

Chain free – Owner of the property doesn’t need to sell their house to buy a new one

Completion – This is when the sale has gone through, and everything has been completed, the house is legally yours

Exchange – The point at which the buyer and seller exchanges contracts

Fixed rate mortgage – The interest rate remains the same through the term of the loan

Flexible mortgage – A mortgage that is flexible in how you repay

IFA – An Independent financial advisor (May be recommended to use to help find a mortgage)

Loan to value – Ratio of a loan to the value of an asset purchased, usually mentioned when discussing mortgages

OMV – Open market value – The likely sale price of a property

Stamp duty – A tax paid to the government after buying a property

Survey – A report produced to determine the value of the property and if it is structurally sound

Under offer – When a seller accepts an offer, the legal process begins

Vendor – The name given to the person selling the property

Base Rate stays at record low for 75th consecutive month

The Bank of England base rate has been held at a record low of 0.5% for the 75th time in a row.

We are continuing to see  economic growth and with inflation remaining low, the Monetary Policy Committee would have seen no reason to increase the base rate

This is certainly good news for borrowers as interest rates are at a record low, with Residential 2 year fixed rates from 1.28% and Buy to Let 2 year fixed rates from 2.09%.

Gascoigne Halman Private Finance are directly authorised and as such have access to the whole of the market including exclusive rates not available on the high street.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

Interest Rates set to Rise in 2016

Interest rates are set to rise in the second quarter of 2016, according to the recent Bank of England’s Inflation Report

The Bank of England’s base rate is currently into its 6th year of remaining at 0.5%, which is not good news for savers but very good for new borrowers and those who are looking to remortgage.

Consumers have been enjoying historically low mortgage rates and the strong competition between lenders has continued to make attractive rates available.

The report brings good news for anyone seeking a mortgage in the second half of 2015, with lending approvals forecast to rise and borrowing costs remain low.

Some top tips for selling your home

Some top tips for selling your home

When it comes to property sales in Cheshire, South Manchester or the High Peak we have many years’ experience assisting homeowners to achieve a speedy property sale.

If you are selling your home you want to present it at its best and ensure that prospective buyers are charmed by your property.

We have developed some golden rules that are certainly worth remembering when it comes to selling and presenting your home for a speedy property sale.

Here’s our top 5:

1. Depersonalise: As much as you love your children’s drawings on the fridge and the pencil artwork on the wallpaper, chances are your prospective buyers may not. In order to allow buyers to picture themselves living in your house, try to create a blank canvas wherever possible.

2. Declutter: When it comes to selling your home, the more clear surfaces you have, the better. It will make your home look larger and cleaner.

3. Disassociate yourself: Prepare your home for a viewing, step outside and re-enter the house with the mind-set of a potential buyer. Look for any possible flaws or limitations and do your best to address them.

4. Define every space: You may use a bedroom as a gym or storage area but portraying a room like this will bamboozle your prospective buyers. Each room should have a clear and distinct purpose.

5. Lighting: Dark corridors and pokey bedrooms can be brought to life in a second with a flick of a switch. Never underestimate the power of lighting and ensure that all the required lights are turned on before anyone comes to view.

Watch out for a future article with more top home selling tips!

Estate Agent to share £25,000 with local community


Photo caption: John Halman, managing director (left of banner) and Peter Higham, operations director (right of banner) with staff members

Independent estate agent, Gascoigne Halman, has set up a £25,000 fund which is to be shared out amongst organisations, charities and groups doing good work in the local community.

The fund has been set up to celebratethe company’s 25th Anniversary this year.

The estate agent is calling the scheme the ‘£25k Community Challenge’. Launched this month, Gascoigne Halman is inviting local charities, organisations and community help groups to apply for a slice of the fund.

Speaking about the Challenge, managing director of Gascoigne Halman, John Halman said, “We were keen to mark our 25th anniversary in a meaningful way. Over the past eight years we have raised over sixty six thousand pounds for a number of charities and it has become part of what we do as a business. Each year we focused on a different charity.

“However, to celebrate working in the area with so many local people for 25 years we decided to take a different approach. We wanted to help and support a large number of organisations and in particular we wanted to help the smaller groups working at grass roots level. And so the idea of the Gascoigne Halman £25k Community Challenge was born.

“We envisage making probably around 10 donations but that is in no way fixed, it’s up to organisations, charities and local groups to tell us what they need in terms of funding, why they want it and who will benefit. It’s possible that we end up giving 25 smaller donations – it’s up to the public now.”

More information and an application form can be found at any Gascoigne Halman office or at their website. Applications can be made online from February 16th up to Friday 17th July 2015.

The company will announce a shortlist in September and those applicants invited to make a short presentation to the judging panel in November prior to the successful applicants being announced later that month.

In closing, John said, “We are really excited about hearing from many local groups.

“We are putting together a judging panel of prominent local people who will work with us to make decisions about who is shortlisted and where the money eventually goes. I would urge local groups, no matter how large or small, to get in touch.”

Market Review December 2014

Market receives boost from Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

As we move towards the end of the year we can reflect on a significantly improved property market in our local area with overall price rises of between 5% and 10%.  This compares favourably to the North West generally where, according to the Nationwide and Halifax statistics, properties have risen in value by less than 5%.

This divergence from the figures for the North West is brought about by our local market enjoying higher levels of employment and prosperity than many of the industrial areas which form part of the region.  In fact, when comparing the South Manchester/North Cheshire area generally, I often find that my company’s average price exceeds all parts of the country apart from those located in London and the immediately adjoining counties.

It is particularly pleasing that the market has continued to support a high level of sales right into November, a time when things traditionally become quieter.  Some correspondents are suggesting that the surge in economic activity is petering out but housing remains a highly sought after commodity and seems to be regarded as a safe haven for people’s savings and pensions.

This confidence has resulted in us seeing a growth in the number of private landlords entering into the Buy to Let market where returns can exceed those found in banks and building societies and where the investment is deemed as safe as houses!  Like all investments it is not without an element of risk but anybody who looks back in history will see the long term average is inevitably upward.  Rents too have continued to edge upwards as demand outstrips supply.

Of greater interest is what the market will do as we move into 2015.  The Chancellor’s surprise announcement in the Autumn Budget Statement of a massive overhaul of the Stamp Duty system is welcome, as many in the industry have been arguing for some years that the method of calculation as a slab tax is unfair.  Henceforth it will be calculated on a sliding scale with less Stamp Duty payable on all transactions where the house price is less than £937,500.   Early predictions suggest that this will have a beneficial effect on the number of transactions next year and some pundits are arguing that it may add between 1% and 2% to average prices.

In addition, the indications are that bank rate is likely to remain at its current level of 0.5% for the majority of 2015 with some forecasters now predicting no change before 2016.  As a result we have seen a progressive lowering of the rate of interest of fixed term mortgage deals with some five year fixed products as low as 2.6%.

Of course, next year is an election year which inevitably brings with it a degree of uncertainty and nervousness which can be reflected in the market.  The economic outlook has had a bumpy ride through the autumn with forecasts of slowing growth in China and a flat economy at best in Europe.  Although these places are a long way from Cheshire they will undoubtedly have an effect on our market and prices through the coming twelve months.

Overall, however, we remain encouraged that the Chancellor’s changes will provide a boost to activity and that prices will continue to edge upwards through next year, albeit at a slower rate than this year.

We therefore look forward with continued optimism to the coming twelve months but with a little more uncertainty for the period thereafter.

John Halman

John Halman is Managing Director of Gascoigne Halman, an estate agent with eighteen offices in South Manchester and is the North West Regional Residential Spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Gascoigne Halman shortlisted for 2 national estate agent awards

Gascoigne Halman is delighted to have been shortlisted for two national estate agent awards.

The leading independent estate agent has been shortlisted in the Relocation Agent Network (RAN) 2014 Best Agent in Cheshire & North Wales and Lee Tickle from the company’s Stockton Heath office has been shortlisted in Relocation Agent Network’s 2014 Employee of the Year Award.

RAN is an affiliation of the country’s leading independent estate agents who together make up the most influential estate agency force in Britain. RAN is backed by Cartus, the world’s largest relocation company.

By being part of the RAN alliance, Gascoigne Halman has the first opportunity to access the large number of purchasers moving into the area from other parts of the country through over 620 offices nationwide.

The Best Agent award is an annual prize for the agent that has consistently made the best overall contribution to the Network throughout the year. To reach this stage of the award agents must demonstrate excellent customer service, independent business initiatives, local market share and a commitment to the Relocation Agent Network principles.

Lee Tickle’s award acknowledges individuals who go above and beyond to provide the highest levels of customer service in their estate agency.

John Halman, Gascoigne Halman’s Managing Director said, “We are delighted to be shortlisted, especially as the awards recognise the hard work and combined effort, commitment and enthusiasm of our entire team.”

The winners will be announced on the 14th November at the RAN Awards Dinner in London.

Luxury apartments at Connaught Place, Hale Barns village, released for sale

Hale_View 04_Exterior_final_UPDATE_040914

Computer generated images of Connaught Place

24 stunning new apartments, which will form the centrepiece of Connaught Place, the new-look Hale Barns village centre, have been released for sale, with prices starting from £249,950.

The 24 two and three bedroom apartments at Connaught Place, the brand new development on the site of the former Square Shopping Centre, will sit alongside new shops, cafes and restaurants as well as a Booths supermarket offering a vibrant and attractive new destination for Hale Barns.

Ideally located at the heart of Hale Barns village, the apartments at Connaught Place are contemporary in style and offer a choice of internal layouts. All of the apartments have at least one terrace (some even have three) either off the open plan lounge or one or more of the bedrooms.

Hale_View 02_Bedroom_final_01-1

Designed for a luxury lifestyle, the apartments offer a high quality internal specification. The kitchens are fitted with Neff integrated appliances, bathrooms feature Villeroy & Bosch sanitary ware and showers by Hansgrohe with underfloor heating as standard.

The apartments also feature oak flooring throughout the kitchen, living room and entrance hall providing a natural yet luxury feel.

With energy costs in mind, the apartments are heated with a highly efficient heating system, and the kitchens and living rooms feature energy efficient LED downlighters as well as a sophisticated ventilation system.

The properties at Connaught Place all come with secure parking.

Commenting on the new development, Michael Thompson, head of Land and New Homes at Gascoigne Halman said, “The former 1970’s precinct at Hale Barns was in need of a face lift. This new development is just what Hale Barns has needed for a long time, providing the village with a centre that residents can be proud of.

“We have had a great deal of interest in the apartments and have already secured a number of reservations.”

Anyone interested in obtaining more information on Connaught Place should contact the Hale office of Gascoigne Halman on 0161 929 8118.

Second successful seminar proves Buy to Let is popular as ever

P1050867 (800x600)Gascoigne Halman’s second Landlord and Investor Seminar proved that the Buy to Let market is as popular as ever. The event which was held at the Cottons Hotel in Knutsford on 22nd May, saw 100 people in attendance.

The idea behind the event was to arm potential and existing landlords with sound advice about approaching the lettings market and getting the most out of being a landlord. Supported by a panel of local experts from Baker Tilly, Aldermore and Chafes Solicitors, the event attracted both new and existing landlords, as well as those interested in finding out more.

Director of the Gascoigne Halman Lettings division, Philip Chadwick, commented, “I’m delighted that so many people were able to make it to our second seminar. There were extremely positive comments across the board and many of the attendees relished the opportunity to gain some inside knowledge about the Buy to Let market from our panels of experts both during and after the event on a one-to-one basis.

“With many people still unable to get on to the property ladder, rental demand is still very much on the increase and as demand from tenants continues, this has opened up the Buy to Let market to a much more diverse range of investors.”

Gascoigne Halman we will be holding their next Landlord & Investor Seminar in the Autumn and will be releasing details nearer the time.

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