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, 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.

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]

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.

Rightmove Partner Logo
Zoopla Partner Logo
Prime Location Partner Logo

Small Changes, Big Savings: How to Save £££s On Your Household Bills

With Christmas fast approaching, the season of spending is upon us. With this in mind, we thought now might be a good time to look at ways to give your household budget a money makeover. We’ve covered several areas where you could be making small changes that could deliver some big savings.

Credit Cards

Useful to have for spreading the cost of big purchases and an almost essential way to build a good credit score, our plastic friends can offer the first way to save money.

If you have a balance that you are servicing each month on your cards then look for ways to transfer this sum to a zero-interest rate account. If you have a balance of £1,000 and are paying the minimum repayments then you could be saving yourself £15-£20 each month in interest charges.

And many credit cards that offer this zero-interest rate balance transfer also offer the incentive to switch by giving you a period of 0% when you spend.

Always check if there is a balance transfer fee before switching

Save money on credit cards

Image via PicPedia.

Entertainment Services

We’ve never had more access to great entertainment streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, BT, Sky and other platforms all offering us an almost unlimited amount of television.

However, we’re so keen to have it all that we often don’t look at what we’ve already got before we commit to spending more.

Did you know that if you are an Amazon Prime customer that you can get free access to 1000s of free TV shows and movies through Prime Video? Combined with Freeview On Demand which gives you 20,000+ hours of TV do you really need Sky or Virgin Media? What about Netflix? For just £5.99 a month, you could be looking at 1000s of great box sets, movies and original series.

Take a closer look at the cost of your current entertainment package and then think about what you actually use it for. If the answer is just one channel, like Sky Sports then you could save money by getting a Sky Sports Pass for Now TV. At just £5.99 a month vs £25 a month (minimum) for a Sky TV package, you could be saving over £200 a year!

Broadband and Telephone

Of course if you want to stream TV then you’ll need a decent broadband connection and the Wokingham area has plenty of choice when it comes to providers. Most of us will stick with the company that we chose when we moved into our homes but there are big savings that you can make by switching. And, there is usually no physical changes required to your existing telephone lines to do so as its all done remotely.

You can save as much as £300 a year by switching your telephone and broadband provider. Use a service like uSwitch to see what you can save.

Weekly shopping

We all know that we can save money by going to budget supermarkets yet most of us are stuck in a rut when it comes to the places we shop for our weekly groceries. This might be because one store is closer than another or we prefer certain brands. Whatever the reasons, we have some good advice that could see you save hundreds of pounds on your annual food shopping.

Firstly, consider getting a delivery instead of actually going to a supermarket. The reason that this is a good idea is that:

  1. You can opt for a cheaper supermarket to deliver your basics. Beans are beans and money is money. Supermarkets like Asda are often far cheaper than more ‘premium’ supermarkets like Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and even Tesco.
  2. If you pre-plan your weekly shopping then you are less likely to be swayed by an impulse purchase and there should also be less food-waste if you only buy what you know you are going to use each week.

A delivery charge is usually only a few pounds but you will not only save yourself the time in doing it this way but you should also see some big savings in your pocket.

Save money on weekly shopping

Image via Pixabay.

Lastly, if you’d still prefer to hit the shops yourself then do take a look at those supermarkets that are typically considered budget stores. Aldi and Lidl have both opened stores in Wokingham over the last few years and, if you’ve not been, then you may be surprised by their food range. You’ll certainly be pleased with their prices.

Petrol

The average family car takes around 50 litres to re-fuel and this can often be on a weekly basis. The difference of just 10p per litre can soon add up.

In fact, finding a cheaper fuel station could save you over £200 per year.

Fortunately, you don’t need to drive around town looking for the lowest costs as there is a convenient app which has done the hard work for you. Petrol Prices can give you an at-a-glance look at where the best fuel costs are in your area.

Of course, there is another way to save some money on your fuel bills and that’s to walk more often. At this time of year, it might not be an inviting prospect to ditch the car in favour of a stroll to the shops but it does kill two birds with one stone when you are looking at ways to boost your step count post-Christmas bingeing!

Insurance

Insurance cover is a fact of life when it comes to owning a car or property and you can’t go far these days without being told how much you could save by comparing prices on sites like MoneySupermarket, Compare The Market or Go Compare. After all, we have meerkats, opera singers and Dave the epic strutting businessman to remind us!

Annoying as these adverts might be, they are right.

Whether it’s your pet insurance, car insurance, buildings or content cover, you could save more by comparing the market than by simply accepting the renewal with your incumbent provider.

Oh, and according to the latest industry news, you should switch your insurance around three weeks before your renewal date to maximise the savings you can get.

Annual savings vary depending on the level of cover you need, the number (and type) of policies you have plus your existing personal profile. However, it is not uncommon to see customers reporting annual savings of at least £400 by switching their insurance provider.

Switch Energy Supplier

Talking of switching, gas and electricity costs are also a great area for cost savings. It is estimated that if you have never switched before then you could be lowering your energy costs by around £500 per year and even those customers who like to play the field could still lower their annual bills by up to £100.

At very least, you should make this an annual exercise to go to the market and see what savings you could secure by switching.

Property Assistant

Here at Property Assistant, we know the value of money which is why we work hard to make sure our fees are competitive and that all of our clients get exactly what they pay for. Whether you engage us as a lettings agent or to help you sell your home, we work hard to give you our best performance.

To find out more about why our clients say we go the extra mile, call us today on 0118 912 2370.

extend your home loft and garage conversions PAUK

Extend Your Home: Loft and Garage Conversions

The reasons for moving house are many and varied but the most common reason we find when we value clients homes is because families have, quite simply, run out of space. That three bedroom dream semi-detached home may have been perfect for a young couple but, before you know it, you have two children and not enough room. The answer may be simpler than putting your house on the market and many families are looking at the alternatives; converting the space you already have.

In this feature, we take a look at the prospect of extending your home by converting your loft or garage. We cover issues like planning permission and building regulations approval as well as considering the costs and benefits of extending your home.

Why Extend Your Home?

There is a saying that we, as estate agents, hear a lot; ‘Don’t move,  improve’. It’s a phrase that was coined by architects and home planners in response to the growing problem that homeowners face when reaching a space limit in their existing homes yet unable to afford that next step up on the property ladder. It’s become such a popular mantra that the BBC even produced a daytime television series to champion the idea of renovation over moving.

The simple facts are that space in a home is at a premium and realising the useful potential of any underused area in a property can not only add value but also increase the usability of your home. In the right circumstances (and done well), it’s a win-win situation that can offer property owners a few more years in their current home before they move on and release some additional equity in their property.

loft conversions

Image via Flickr.

How Much Value Does a Loft or Garage Conversion Add To Your Home?

Whilst converting the space offered by a loft or garage does diminish the storage capacity of your home and/or remove a useful parking facility, this kind of project can increase the amount of useful utility and/or living space. As a result, there is a potential benefit to you as a homeowner in terms of increasing the value of your property.

A special report by the Nationwide in 2014 concluded that by adding a double bedroom and a bathroom via a loft conversion could add more than 20% to the value of your home. In fact, just by adding an extra bedroom could increase the value by as much as 10%.

In terms of a garage conversion, adding usable space to your property by 10% could increase the value of your home by up to 5%.

With an average house price in Wokingham currently being £505,740, this means that:

  • A bedroom/bathroom loft conversion could add up to £101,148 to the value of your house.
  • A bedroom loft conversion could add up to £50,574 to the value of your house.
  • A garage conversion could add up to £25,287 to the value of your house.

These figures are based on the initial report issued by Nationwide and may vary depending on the size of your existing home, the additional space converted and the quality of the finish. There is also some fluctuation by postcode.

What Planning Do You Need To Extend Your Home?

If you are considering a home extension by converting either your garage or loft then you will need to ensure that you have the appropriate planning permission and building regulations approval. Failure to comply with both of these constraints can invalidate your home insurance and you could face prosecution. In addition, trying to sell a house that has undergone building works without these documents in place is almost impossible.

So, what planning constraints are there for these two home improvements?

garage and loft conversions

A loft or garage conversion may not need planning but will need building regulations approval. Image via Flickr.

Loft Conversion

A loft conversion is generally considered to be a permitted development and may not require planning permission so long as the plans for the new space do not breach any of the following conditions and limitations.

Loft conversions should only require planning if they:

  • Consist of materials that are significantly different to the existing appearance of the house.
  • Extend further than the existing plane of the largest elevation of the slope of your roof which fronts the road.
  • Extend above the highest part of your house.
  • Overhand the outer face of the wall of the original house.
  • Have balconies, verandas or other elevated platforms.
  • Increase the roof space by an additional 40 m3 (terraced houses) or 50 m3 (semi-detached/detached houses). This includes any prior extensions undertaken by any previous owners.

All windows that face to the side of the property and/or offer a view over a neighbour’s land must be obscure-glazed with an opening set 1.7m above floor level.

extend your home loft conversion

A loft conversion could be used to create an extra bedroom or a bathroom. Image via Wikipedia.

Garage Conversion

Most garage conversions do not require planning permission as long as you are not extending the space in your home or materially changing the façade of your property. However, some plans may require the permission of the  local development office and may also require you to ensure that your property retains adequate parking provision. It is worth checking with your local planning office to ensure that your plans are not likely to require permission.

As long as the design for either of your conversions falls into the above approved development constraints then the only thing you need to obtain is building regulation approval. However, it is always worth double checking with the development control team at the local council to ensure that your plans are okay to proceed with before starting any work. This is important in case there have been any changes in legislation or with local planning bylaws of which you may not be aware.

You should also bear in mind that some residential areas have additional constraints in place when it comes to home improvements as do buildings that hold a listed status with National Heritage. Check if this applies to you before starting any conversion work on your home.

garage conversions

Image via Flickr.

Building Regulations for Home Extensions

Whether you require planning permission or not, you will need to obtain building regulation approval. This means that you will have to pay a fee to the local council planning development team to submit your plans for approval.

Your plans will need to detail all of the alterations being made along with the method(s) being used for the construction.

You will need to prepare these documents with a professional to ensure that your plans make it through the planning stages. Along with details of how the new space is to be heated, damp-proofed and ventilated you will also need to ensure that any and all electrical works are to be carried out by a Competent Person.

After your plans are approved a Building Notice Application will be issued and then you will need to accommodate site inspections made by the council during the construction phase. These site visits will ensure that your builder is following  the plans as submitted.

Once the work has been completed, a final site inspection is carried out by the council’s building control office and only when they are satisfied that everything is in order will a Completion Certificate be issued.

How Much Does a Loft or Garage Conversion Costs?

The cost of a loft or garage conversion very much depends on what kind of room(s) you will be creating in the space and the size of the area you are working with. Other factors which may influence the cost of your project will be the level of ‘finish’ you are hoping to achieve as well as any existing constraints that you may be working within. For instance, a loft conversion where a hot water storage system needs to be moved/replaced/altered will bring additional costs.

However, a rough guide to the costs involved are:

  • A 20 m2 standard loft conversion – £10,000 to £13,000
  • A 20 m2 deluxe loft conversion – £20,000 to £25,000
  • A 30 m2 standard loft conversion – £12,000 to £15,000
  • A 30 m2 deluxe loft conversion – £22,000 to £27,000
  • A single garage conversion – £4,000 to £8,000
  • A double garage conversion – £5,000 to £10,000

Property Assistant: Should You Move or Improve?

The choice of whether to extend your home by converting an unused space comes down to many factors; whether you can afford the initial capital costs involved, whether you believe the extra space will be sufficient, whether you think that you can cope with the building works and whether or not you can get the necessary planning.

Property Assistant is able to offer you a free and no-obligation valuation of your existing home as well as our professional opinion about what additional value your investment is likely to add. Armed with this information you can make an informed decision about whether to move or improve.

Call us today to book your free property valuation on 0118 912 2370.

marketing price vs sale price selling home

Marketing Prices vs Sale Price: Key Facts to Understand

As property professionals, we are called upon a lot to make valuations for people who are looking to sell their home. And, as part of this free, no-obligation service, we are often asked why some houses are being valued at a different price to that of the valuation we have provided.

In this guide, we hope to answer this common question and clear up a few facts about the difference between a marketing price for a home and a sale price.

What is a Marketing Price for a Property?

Also known as the ‘asking price’, the marketing price is the value a property owner decides to place upon their home for the purposes of advertising. It is usually based upon a valuation figure that an estate agent or other property professional has given a home.

You can find out more about how an accurate valuation is calculated in our feature guide, ‘How to Get an Accurate Property Valuation’.

sale price vs asking price

Image via Pixabay.

In short, an estate agent should come up with a value for your home based on actual and recent sales figures for your area which is adjusted for market trends and the accommodation offered by your home in comparison to those that have sold.

Once a valuation has been prepared, it is ultimately down to the homeowner to decide what figure to use for marketing. Often, if an estate agent has provided a guide figure of (for example) £450,000 to £460,000, then it is likely that the homeowner will opt to use the higher figure for marketing purposes.

What is the Sale Price for a Property?

The sale price, often referred to as the ‘achieved price’ is the actual figure that your home is sold for. It reflects the value of the transaction as recorded by the Land Registry and is the figure which is used by sites such as Zoopla and Right Move when you look up the historical property price details.

Why is There a Difference Between a Marketing Price and Sale Price?

There are plenty of reasons why there may be a difference between the price for which a home is marketed at and the eventual price for which it is sold.

At one end of the scale, it is not uncommon for some estate agents to overvalue a property with a view to securing the business because a homeowner wants to secure the highest value for their house. In these circumstances, it is typical that a house will languish on the market for some time before the price is inevitably reduced and sold for far lower than the initial ‘valuation’.

This kind of practice is not recommended and ultimately leads to delays in the sale of your home and even the estate agent may lose out themselves in the long run.

difference between asking price and sale price selling house

Image via Flickr/TaxRebate.

Sometimes, a property owner who has been on the market for some time may ultimately accept a lower offer on their home in order to proceed with a sale. This can happen if they have found another property and don’t wish to lose it. In these circumstances, a cash (or chain-free) offer that is lower than the asking price may be more tempting than waiting around to realise a greater profit on their home.

At the opposite end, there are some circumstances when the marketing price may be exceeded by the sale price. This is more likely to happen when homes are valued accurately and a property is viewed, and liked, by several potential buyers. In a situation where there are multiple parties interested in a home can result in a bidding war.

selling your home bidding war asking price vs sale price

The right property, priced well, could start a bidding war. Image via Wikimedia.

What Price Should You Market Your Home For?

Whilst every property owner wants to achieve the best sale price for their home, this does not always mean that the price your home has been valued at is what it is actually worth.

It all boils down to the trust you are placing in that magical figure that has been offered to you by a property professional.

It is always recommended that you seek a second (and even third) opinion on the value of your home before you decide to settle on a marketing price.

What Price Should You Sell Your Home For?

When it comes to accepting an offer, the homeowner is once again in the driving seat and there are many factors that can influence what price you accept for your home.

If you have placed an offer on another property then a quick sale of your own may be the motivating factor over what price you take.

Likewise, it is worth having access to an estate agent who can guide you on the current (and predicted) market conditions for your area so you can judge for yourself how fair an offer is. Property prices fluctuate all the time and if your home has been on the market for several weeks (or months) then the offer you get may well be fairer than you initially think.

At the time of writing this feature, Land Registry records and Zoopla listings data reveal that homeowners could expect to receive an asking price of 96.3% of the marketing price over the last 12 months. However, this figure was higher in 2018 and varies by region.

If your property is listed in London, for example, then the prices accepted versus the original asking price could represent a disparity of more than 5.5%. Whilst in Edinburgh and Glasgow, the reverse is true and homeowners can expect to achieve a sale price of over 6% and 5% respectively.

sell your house marketing price vs sale price

Image via PxHere.

Selling Your Home With Property Assistant

Whilst Property Assistant prides itself on providing accurate valuations for clients, we welcome the opportunity to compare this with other professionals in the area. We know that our fees and services come highly recommended so that you can put faith in our ability to secure you the best sale price in the shortest period of time.

Ask us for a free and no-obligation valuation of your property today and let us provide you with an accurate (and achievable) price for your home. Our clients know that we put their interests first so let us help you get moving today. Call us on 0118 912 2370 for further information.