About Property Assistant

“When YouGov conducted a survey in 2016, we were disheartened but not surprised to read that only 15% of people trusted their estate agents. With politicians closely following up at 13%, it reminded us that this was exactly the reason why we established our own company. Between us, we have spent decades in the property business, buying, selling and letting homes, but had become disillusioned with the way the industry operated and how little was being done to bridge this gap and build confidence with clients.

We established Property Assistant in 2014 with our sole aim being to provide a different kind of service when it comes to buying, selling and letting your home.  As well as allowing us the freedom to deliver the kind of individual solutions we think everyone deserves, we wanted to challenge the perception of who estate agents are.

We believe that an estate agent is more than just a middle-man and our company ethos is built around providing professional advice with a comprehensive and competent service that delivers what you need and not what we want to sell you.

An independent business working within a multi-national network of similarly self-motivated and professional estate agents with Keller Williams, we like to think we do things differently and here’s why:

  • Impartial advice. The founding principle of Property Assistant was to deliver what clients wanted as well as what they needed. We knew that to build trust, we had to be trustworthy and we could only do that by being wholly impartial. Being independent and offering advice based on your needs (even if it doesn’t suit ours) is the cornerstone of our business.
  • Experienced professionals. Having worked in the local property markets for the last twenty years there are very few scenarios and situations that we haven’t dealt with, and dealt with well. We are practical and focused people and see solutions when other people see problems.
  • One of the reasons estate agents aren’t trusted is they claim to know more than they do. If we can’t answer a question, we won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes but we will find you an answer.
  • Strong work ethic. We work hard to deliver the results our clients want to achieve and go above and beyond to make sure it happens fast and efficiently.
  • Reasonable and competitive rates. The work we put in to every service we provide is reflected in the prices we charge and we know that we provide exceptional value for money.
  • Real people offering real solutions. We take the time to get to know every client so we understand exactly what they want and what is right for them…and what isn’t. We know that time is precious so we don’t waste anyone’s time offering unsuitable services.

Above all, we want to provide a personal and professional service that will make people think twice the next time YouGov asks them whether they trust their Estate Agent. We certainly hope that our attention to detail and high quality service puts us firmly in the 15% of people that do.”

Property Assistant

A true family estate agent, Property Assistant comprises husband and wife team,Daniel and Julie Lawry, along with their son, Daryl Bishop. Both Daryl and Daniel are professional estate agents with Julie bringing extensive logistical experience to the business. Established in 2014, Property Assistant offers a wide range of property related services including Sales, Lettings, Property Sourcing, Relocation and Downsizing. The family has lived and worked in the area all of their lives and, together, wanted to reclaim a good reputation for estate agents as providers of professional property solutions.

Utilising over 40 years of property sales, lettings and project management experience, the business has grown to offer a wide range of property related services tailored to assist everyone, whatever their budget.

Providing clients with honest impartial advice on all aspects of property transactions the company is also part of the Keller Williams network, the fastest growing estate agency with more than 120,000 agents across 30 countries worldwide.

Offering comprehensive advice and bespoke property related services with a professional but personal touch, Property Assistant are estate agents that see things differently and hope you will too.

Dan Profile Image

Daniel Lawry
Phone: 07930 301 015
Email: [email protected]

keller williams agent

Julie Lawry
Phone: 07758 223 554
Email: [email protected]

Daryl Bishop
Phone: 07528 960 225
Email: [email protected]

Our Partners: Keller Williams

We are delighted to be a part of the global family of Keller Williams; an international organisation of independent agents just like us who, together, provide a network of professionals designed to deliver exceptional back up.

When we first established Property Assistant we knew we wanted to work with a company that could help us to access the services of a larger network without losing our independence. In Keller Williams we have found a partner that gives us:

  • flexibility to offer our clients a comprehensive range of services.
  • access to a global network of partners providing an expert pool of knowledge.
  • strategic support in delivering a cutting edge service.

Founded in 1983, Keller Williams is a network of over 156,000 property agents in over 700 locations worldwide. Together we are proud to bring integrity, honesty and creativity to the property services industry.

Meet the Team

Who We Are: The People Behind Property Assistant.... Simon Longhurst

If you’ve been following our series about the power behind…

Who We Are: The People Behind Property Assistant.... Julie Lawry

There’s a beautiful quote by a famous Japanese writer that…

Property Search

Whether you are a first time buyer or not, the team are here to ensure property acquisition is not only cost effective but is a much simpler task for all parties concerned.

Investment

If you are looking for an investment property, whether that is a straight forward Buy-to-let or adding to a portfolio, the team are experienced at finding profitable property deals, including HMO’s (Houses of Multiple Occupancy). They can manage the transaction for you and if required organise the resale or letting of the investment.

Relocation

Whether you are a corporate client, a private individual or a family relocating to the Thames Valley, they offer a bespoke home finding service which is designed to enable the relocating employee to maintain work focus and productive, whilst reducing levels of anxiety and stress associated with such a move.

Downsizing

Established to help the retired generation and their families, the team are on hand to offer practical and professional support to enable retired people to move to the right place at the right time. They are here to take away the stress of finding new accommodation as well as project managing the whole moving process.

Executor Assistant

When a loved one dies there can be a great deal of time consuming work to be done, especially where there is a property involved. Offering professional assistance to executors and trustees the team is here to ensure an estate is settled promptly and efficiently. Their aim is to save clients time whilst raising as much revenue for the estate as possible.

Sales

If you are thinking of selling your property then Property Assistant should be your first port of call. They listen to your requirements and with many years of Estate Agency experience are able to advise you on how best they can secure you a sale. Please contact them if you would like any advice on selling or for a free valuation of your property.

Lettings

Property Assistant offer a range of lettings and property management services, for a portfolio of private and professional landlords who require a quality driven service from an agent that treats each property as if it were one of their own.

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Selling an Inherited Property: A Guide for Executors

When you inherit a property you have lots of options available to you about what to do with this asset. Whilst some people may choose to live in their inherited home, others choose to sell either to liquidate the asset in order to realise the cash value and meet various bequests of the deceased or simply because they already own a property. Others may choose to keep the home as a rental investment.

Depending on your situation, there are some considerations about selling an inherited property which may be useful to both executors and beneficiaries of the will. Whilst inheriting a home in this way may be free of any tax implications, disposing of it may not be so clear cut.

In this guide, we talk you through some of the financial liabilities that need to be met when selling an inherited property as well as some other factors which need to be carefully considered.

Do You Have To Pay Tax When You Inherit a Property?

When you inherit a property, you will not (initially) need to pay any of the following taxes on a property:

However, if the deceased’s estate is valued at over £325,000 which includes the probate valuation of any and all property then the estate is liable for inheritance tax.

Whilst this is not paid by the beneficiaries directly, it may mean that the sale of your inherited property is required in order to meet these costs payable to HMRC.

Once this duty has been paid then the residual sum from the sale of the property is used by the executors to meet the bequests made in the deceased’s will. This will be net of all sales and marketing costs plus any other tax liabilities owed as a result of the sale.

Remember that if the estate is valued under the current £325,000 threshold then you do not need to pay inheritance tax but the executors must still report the valuation to HMRC.

You should also be aware that Inheritance Tax is not due on any part of an estate even if it is over the threshold if the property has been bequeathed to:

  • A spouse or civil partner;
  • A charity;
  • A community amateur sports club.
Selling an Inherited Property tax liabilities

Image via Flickr.

What If The Home You Inherit Has a Mortgage?

If the property you are bequeathed still has a mortgage and money is owed to a lender then you may be required to sell it in order to settle this debt.

The mortgage company has the legal right to insist that the property is sold to repay the mortgage but they may prefer to come to an arrangement with the beneficiary of the property to simply transfer the existing mortgage. If you would prefer to do this then you may need to undertake an affordability assessment as well as a credit check.

Sometimes a life insurance policy may settle the debt with the mortgage company; the executor should be able to ascertain if this is the case.

Do You Have To Pay Tax When You Sell an Inherited Property?

When you sell any property, the transaction is subject to the prevailing rates of Stamp Duty and Land Tax however you will not need to pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT) if the residence if your main home.

You will only need to pay Capital Gains Tax if this is a secondary property and you make money when selling it. Any profit you make on the home will be subject to the prevailing rates of CGT and is calculated as being the difference between the value of the home when you inherited and the price you accepted on the value of the home when you sold it.

For instance, if you inherited a property five years ago that was valued at £220,000 at the time of the deceased’s estate being valued and accept an offer on it now for £295,000 then you will have to pay CGT on the £75,000 profit you have made during this period.

However, you can make some reasonable deductions against this liability, including:

  • Cost of any legal fees in acquiring the property
  • Cost of any renovations and improvements made to the property
  • Cost of selling the property

Conversely, if when you sell the property, it has decreased in value since you inherited it then will not have any Capital Gains Tax to pay. Instead, you may be able to offset this loss against any other CGT liabilities you have from the sale of your assets within the same financial year.

Additionally, if you have leased the property and earned any income whilst you owned it then you will need to declare this to the Inland Revenue for the purposes of calculating your income tax.

Selling an Inherited Property

Image via Pexels.

Claiming Private Residence Relief

If you have lived in the inherited property at all during the time you have owned it including if you or a dependent relative used the property as a main residence then you may be able to claim a ‘Private Residence Relief’.

During the period or your (or your dependent relative’s) stay in the property you can qualify for a pro-rated reduction in your Capital Gains Tax liability.

Can The Executors Force The Sale of an Inherited Property?

If Inheritance Tax is due to be paid then it is the role of the estate’s executor(s) to arrange payment.

Normally the only viable option for doing this is via the sale of a property however, if you inherit a home and do not wish it to be sold then you can talk to the executors to discuss alternative arrangements for meeting the death duties on the deceased’s estate.

Whilst the executors do not need anyone’s permission to sell a property in order to pay inheritance tax, they also have a duty to act in the best interest of all beneficiaries.

If you believe that an executor is not performing their duties in this way then you can apply to have the executor removed.

A common reason for doing this is when an executor accepts a lower price than the market value on a property to enable a quick sale. This is usually done to meet the strict timescales for settling inheritance tax liabilities but can be seen as a major point of contention with the beneficiaries.

When the estate is initially assessed for probate a property needs to be valued by an estate agent or surveyor and it is this value which sets the standard for what a home is worth. If you feel that the executor is selling a home considerably lower than its true value then these are sufficient grounds for them to be removed from their duties.

Selling an Inherited Property valuation

Always get a professional valuation for any property, before you market it. Image via NeedPix.

Property Assistant and Selling an Inherited Property

Property Assistant has experience in marketing and selling probate properties and we understand the need to secure the best price whilst ensuring that the process is sympathetic to the relatives of the deceased.

A family business that carers about its clients, we take enormous care with the homes that we market and help make the business of selling a home as straightforward and simple as possible.

If you’d like to know more about our services than you can contact us on 0118 912 2370.

new home warranties

New Home Warranties: What They Do and Don’t Cover

One of the prime reasons for buying a new home is the fact that these properties come with far fewer (if any) maintenance issues to deal with in the short term. Whilst older properties may suffer from the wear and tear of age and sometimes come with inherent ‘foibles’ and characterful repairs, a new home is usually guaranteed to cover any defects; typically for a period of ten years.

But do you know what these warranties cover and, more importantly, what they don’t? Do you understand the policies offered and whether your mortgage is conditional on one being in place? Do you know what happens to the warranty when the house is sold during the initial term? We’ll cover all of these matters for you in our quick guide to new home warranties.

What is a New Home Building Warranty?

A warranty issued on a newly built home essentially acts as an insurance policy and is taken out by the developer and/or builder. They are offered as protection to the buyer of the structural integrity of a home.

new home warranties - new build

Image via PxHere.

Is a New Home Building Warranty the Same as Home Insurance?

No. A new home building warranty is limited to the kinds of scenarios, defects and issues that it will provide cover under. For instance, a fire in the home would not be covered by your warranty so it is essential  that you arrange adequate cover for the usual buildings and contents insurance. Remember, it is more than likely that your mortgage lender will insist that this is in place prior to releasing funding for your purchase.

Who Issues New Home Warranties?

There are three main organisations that issues New Home Warranties, each operating under the Consumer Code for Home Builders.

The most common is the National House-Building Council (NHBC) which provides cover for around four in five new build homes on the market. However, both the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) and Premier Guarantee also provide warranties.

These organisations work with the builders directly and ensure that the developer steps in to remedy any defects identified within an initial term (usually the first two years after a property has been completed). They usually only step in when (and if)there is a dispute.

Along with the main providers of cover, there are some other companies who offer new build warranties too.

The BLP for instance offers cover for properties that are already a year old and will undertake to correct any defects themselves rather than involving the original builder.

Other providers include the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and Checkmate Warranties.

How Long Does a New Home Building Warranty Provide Cover For?

Most new building warranties last for ten years and some can be extended after this period. However, the level of cover provided may not be as extensive as in the initial term so always read the small print of your warranty renewal before extending it.

What Does a New Home Building Warranty Cover?

From the moment you buy a property (even off plan before it is even built) and pay your deposit to the developer, a warrant protects you against the company going insolvent before your new home is finished. This means that if the house isn’t completed (or even started) then the provider of your warranty will reimburse you the cost of your deposit.

Once you take ownership of your new home, the warranty is divided into two separate policies:

  • The first covers an initial defects insurance period which will remain in place for 24 months.
  • The second covers structural insurance and covers you for the remaining period; usually ten years from the date of completion.

Defects Insurance Period

The first two years in your new home are covered by defects insurance and your warranty should ensure that the developers fix any issues that come to light relating to work that they have completed. This could relate to heating, drafts, blown windows, faulty pipework and/or electrics as well as general snagging issues.

new home warranties - snagging defects

Image via Pixabay.

It is therefore recommended that, when you take ownership of your new home, you conduct a snagging survey (either yourself or employing a property professional to do this for you). Covering everything from cracks and holes to doors catching on carpets, this should provide you with a list of defects that the builder is responsible for fixing and is not down to wear and tear.

It’s essential that you understand exactly when your warranty starts so that you can make a note of when this period will expire.

Structural Insurance Period

After two years, the builder’s liabilities for non-structural defects relating to fixtures and fittings, leaking gutters etc are now discharged and they are only responsible for major issues relating to the structure of the property. This could relate to concerns over the foundations, roofs, load bearing floors, ceilings and chimneys as well as walls and external render.

What Doesn’t a New Home Building Warranty Cover?

The wording of each policy document does vary depending on the provider and which code of conduct the warranty has been issued in accordance with. However, as a general rule, all defects that have occurred as a result of the builder failing to comply with the standards set out by the warranty provider should be covered by your policy.

What is not covered are any issues, damage or problems that are caused by wear and tear or are weather related.

There are, understandably, some grey areas to this and determining the extent of reasonable wear and tear vs a builder’s failure to meet minimum build standards can be the subject of a dispute.

How To Make a Claim on Your New Home Building Warranty?

If you have any cause for concern over the build standard of your home and you spot a defect then you should contact the original builder/developer as soon as you can. It is recommended that you record all of your contact with them including the details of any telephone (or face-to-face) conversations, emails and letters.

Most developers will be keen to rectify any defects as soon as they can in order to maintain good standing with their warranty providers and to ensure they preserve their reputation.

If you have any problems with your developer then you can contact your warranty provider who will step in to deal with your dispute. The Consumer Code for Homebuilders has a specific dispute resolution scheme.

Bear in mind that some providers (Premier Guarantee and LABC) charge an excess which means you will have to meet the first (typically) £1,000 for each claim made.

What Happens to a New Home Warranty If The House Is Sold?

If you move during the period of your new home warranty then you will need to transfer entitlement of the policy to the new owners. It is worth remembering that not all warranties are transferable so do check this before you market your home in order that your estate agent details this out to prospective buyers.

Any work you have done on the property beyond the original building work will not be covered on the warranty. This includes additions such as a conservatory or loft extensions.

Do I Need a New Build Warranty?

Whist most developers offer this kind of policy as a matter of course, it is worth noting that some mortgage applications are conditional on one being in place.

Property Assistant and Buying a New Home

Property Assistant helps property owners buy and sell a range of homes from new builds to traditional properties. To find out more about our marketing and property search services get in contact with us today.

thames valley area guide windsor

Thames Valley Area Guide: Windsor

Windsor is one of the jewels in the crown of Royal Berkshire and offers a thriving modern town that is also rich with historical architecture. A popular tourist destination that attracts visitors from across Asia, Europe and America, Windsor is a small town with a big reputation.

In this guide, we take a look at the Royal town of Windsor including its demographics, facilities and location. We also focus on the history of the town and its Royal associations plus take a peek at its housing market as well as give you our recommendations of some of Windsor’s best attractions.

Windsor: A Snapshot

The historic market town of Windsor is known worldwide as being the location of one of the UK’s most famous royal residences outside of London. It is Windsor Castle which dominates the town and the Great Park which provides it with a scenic backdrop and rural setting.

Twinned with the famous college town of Eton and bordered to the south by the River Thames, Windsor has an estimated population of around 32,000 people but plays host to over two million tourists each year. 2018 may have seen this peak with the much-anticipated Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle but the town offers some wonderful attractions to keep visitors and residents entertained.

thames valley area guide windsor

Image via Geograph.

Windsor: The Detail

Twinned with Goslar in Lower Saxony and Neuilly-sur-Seine in France, the town of Windsor can be split into two distinct areas; New Windsor and Old Windsor. The former is where the town proper, including the castle, is situated whilst Old Windsor refers to a settlement known in Anglo Saxon times as Windlesora; a place where the Great Council met during the 11th century. By 1110, these assemblies were taking place at the castle and the former meeting place began to be referred to as Old Windsor.

Since the Norman period and throughout the times of the Plantagenets, Stuarts, Tudors, Georgians and Victorians…right the way through to modern day, Windsor has been the site of an important royal residence; Windsor Castle. With parts of the building and site dating back 1,000 years, it is Europe’s oldest, largest and longest occupied royal castle.

The town has mainly developed in service to this Royal settlement and the many historic buildings have a past  that is linked to the castle in some way; from the Crooked House that has a secret tunnel running into the grounds of the castle that is believed to have helped King Charles II secretly escape the confines of his Royal residence to meet with his lovers, to the many houses and shops that helped supply the castle with produce and servants.

For a town of its size, and largely due to the number of visitors that Windsor attracts, it is well served by plenty of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops as well as facilities like a theatre, leisure centre, banks, building societies and hotels. The surrounding area also offers plenty of distraction from golf clubs to riding schools, rowing clubs to the Royal Windsor racecourse.

The town’s location on the River Thames makes it an idyllic one for plenty of riverside walks and activities.

A short walk across the Windsor-Eton bridge to the north bank of the river and you can reach the beautiful town of Eton with its historic, prestigious and imposing public school, Eton College. The town has some wonderful independent shops offering everything from second-hand books and antiques to clothing, local produce and art galleries.

thames valley area guide windsor and eton

Eton High Street, Image via Geograph.

Location

Situated three miles south of Slough and directly between Maidenhead and Hayes, Windsor can be reached from junction 6 of the M4 and is just 15-minutes from junction 15 of the M25.

Though just a few junctions away from West London and nestled directly under the incoming flight path for many Heathrow flights, Windsor is extremely well situated for commuters both locally and internationally.

The town is served by two railway stations; Windsor & Eton Central which has a direct line to Slough and Windsor & Eton Riverside with trains running to London Waterloo.

Demographics and Stats of Windsor

Census data for Windsor is shared with Maidenhead or only directly available for Old Windsor.

Whilst this data is a little diluted by virtue of this, we have provided the following snapshot for comparison:

  Old Windsor Windsor & Maidenhead
Population 4,977 144,560
Gender Split (M:F) 49:51 49:51
Average Age 44 44
Married 53.9% 51.6%
Occupations:

–          Professional

–          Managers/Directors

–          Associate Professional

–          Secretarial/Admin

–          Skilled Trade

 

19.8%

15.3%

15.2%

12.0%

10.3%

 

22.2%

16.4%

17.6%

10.7%

8.6%

 

Education

State-funded schools in Windsor form part of the three-tier schooling system. There are eleven First Schools which cater for children up to the age of nine, three Middle Schools which offer education for children up to the age of thirteen and then there are two Secondary Schools which offer single-sex education.

Schools are either controlled by an academy trust of the local authority.

There are also some independent schools which provide private education including the St George’s School which operates from the castle itself and was originally founded to provide choirboys with their schooling. It is now a coeducational preparatory school.

Our best picks for…

…some upmarket shopping.

The Windsor Royal Station is unlike any other shopping mall/precinct you will visit and is elegantly built around the original railway station built in the town during the 1850s. Now converted to include modern (and many independent) shops, the area is partially under cover and provides a great central meeting spot for some upmarket window shopping. There are also some nice eateries in the precinct which makes for a great spot for some people watching.

thames valley area guide windsor things to do windsor royal shopping precinct

…seeing the sights.

Windsor is home to a branch of the ever-popular amphibious sightseeing bus, the Duck Tours. Boarding a purpose built yellow all terrain vehicle, the live guide will take you over land and water to show you the best bits of the town including the castle, the river and the Crown Estate. It’s an exciting ride for kids who always love the sensation as the bus drives down the slipway and into the water.

…some craft beer tasting.

The Windsor & Eton Brewery has been operating since 2010 creating some outstanding new beers. They offer a fun and personalised tour of their premises which is ideal for anyone with an interest in beers and brewing which culminates in a chance to sample the produce. Run every Saturday afternoon for a price of £12.50 per person, this 45-minute tour is a great way to be involved with independent craft breweries.

…a Royal experience.

There is no way we could offer suggestions of what to do in Windsor without recommending the castle itself. Built in the 11th century and an official residence of Her Majesty The Queen and family, Windsor Castle is the longest occupied palace in Europe.

Over 100 rooms were devastated by fire in 1992 yet efforts by firefighters and staff to rescue precious artworks plus extensive renovations mean that the castle is resplendent with opulence and beauty. It is an extraordinary place to visit that is rich with national heritage and architecture as well as being historically significant.

There are guided tours available which take in the Changing of the Guards, the Treasures of  the Castle and some of the State Rooms. Location of many royal weddings including that of Prince Harry and Meghan Markel, the St George’s Chapel is also open to the public.

thames valley area guide windsor things to do windsor castle

Image via Wikipedia.

…a scenic walk.

The above images is one of the most iconic ones you will find of Windsor Castle and is taken on the impressive three mile, tree-lined stretch of the Windsor Great Park. This particular part of the estate is known as the Long Walk and is a part of Deer Park. It contains a population of around 500 hinds and stags who roam freely and is a beautiful spot for a walk. The Red Deer are well used to visitors, often standing very still and posing for some great photo opportunities.

…some family fun.

Not only is Windsor the location of one of the UK’s top historical tourist attractions within the town itself but it is also home to the infinitely popular Legoland. Formerly the site of Windsor Safari Park, Legoland opened in 1996 and attracts around 2.2 million visitors each year making it the UK’s second most visited theme park.

The rides and spectacles are mainly geared to a younger audience of around 3-12 years old and is a good resort to spend a day out with the family….particularly if your kids are keen on Lego.

thames valley area guide windsor things to do legoland

Image via Legoland Windsor.

Housing in Windsor

The average house valuation in Windsor currently stands at £584,539 with the average price paid over the last twelve months being just slightly less at £580,519 (over 273 sales figures up to September 2019, Source: Zoopla). This is 3.21% lower than a year ago with property prices falling by an average of £19,352.

These prices are higher than the average for Berkshire and are more in keeping with those house valuations seen in London boroughs than in the home counties. This is reflected in Zoopla’s report on the highest value towns where Ascot, Windsor & Maidenhead rank as the 13th most expensive areas outside of Greater London for house prices.

Average house prices can be further broken down by property type as follows:

Property Type Current Average Value Average Price Paid (Last 12 Months)
Detached £930,606 £806,926
Semi-Detached £544,908 £573,545
Terraced £539,558 £530,874
Flats £397,319 £421,729

Windsor has a mixed building stock with a range of new homes as well as character properties dating from Victoria and Edwardian times as well as more traditional houses from the 19th and 18th century.

There is a good mix of styles and sizes with some modern estate locations and more rural detached properties.

thames valley area guide housing in windsor

Image via Geograph.     

Property Assistant in Windsor

Property Assistant offers great coverage of the housing market in Windsor having successfully sold property in the area and found homes for many clients within the town. We offer a comprehensive marketing and sales service for homeowners as well as bespoke property search support for anyone looking for their dream home.

If you’d like to know more about why our clients recommend our services and why we see things differently to other agents, gives us a call on 0118 912 2370.