Saturday, 18 September 2021

‘Through the keyhole’ with your local estate agents...

WHERE would you live if you were an estate agent?

WHERE would you live if you were an estate agent?

When it comes to finding the right property, the biggest advantage agents have is their detailed market knowledge and a thorough understanding of all things local.

Being closely tuned in to which properties are selling, how quickly and for how much really puts them ahead of the game when it comes to buying a property themselves.

With that in mind, we asked some of Henley’s local agents about their own purchase choices and how they made it happen.

Jon and Karen Drakeford-Lewis of Peers and Hilton: ‘A lifetime’s experience of Henley helped us choose the right house’

JON and Karen have bought and sold several homes in Henley over the years — Karen, right, has been an agent in Henley for 25 years — but moved and purchased on the edge of Sonning Common nearly 18 years ago.

“Peers and Hilton is run like a family firm and we like it that way,” says Karen.

“Having lived in properties in Henley all our lives, this gave us the edge when trying to negotiate over our own house purchase.

“We knew the best choice at the time and the right price to pay for it. In fact, every single one of us at Peers and Hilton either live in Henley or live locally in some of the beautiful surrounding villages.

“We are more than happy to boast about this fact as not only do we sell houses, we can talk from experience of town living and its schooling, recreational, transport and shopping facilities. Jeepers, now I sound like an estate agent!”

Peers and Hilton can be found at 19 Duke Street, Henley. For more information, call (01491) 411066.

Matthew Mannall of Knight Frank: ‘It was important to me that we agreed a fair price’

MATTHEW, right, a partner at the Henley office of Knight Frank, bought his three-bedroom semi-detached house in Bix in 2014.

“Coming from London, I moved to a rented house in West Street in 2006 as it was perfectly positioned for my new job — to help open the Henley branch of Knight Frank,” he says.

“After meeting my wife, we moved away for a short while but then moved back as we missed the area — my wife is from Stoke Row.

“By then, with three children under five, we were looking to buy somewhere local that was a practical choice. Bix village ticked all our boxes — it makes it easy for me to get to work, there’s a great community spirit there, it’s in a very beautiful spot, and most importantly for us at the time, it’s in the catchment area for a number of schools and nurseries.

“When we chose the house we were balancing the amount of accommodation it offered with location. Our three-bed semi was the right house at the right time — it’s not our ‘forever’ house.

“We were moving from rented so we were chain-free at the time. However, being an estate agent may have done nothing to help negotiations — in fact, I think it put people off me!

“But ultimately, I think it’s important that, as an agent, you live what you breathe. Buying a house should not be an anonymous transaction — your behaviour during any purchase is important.

“I paid a fair price for the house that we have been very happily living in for the past two years, and was very happy to do so. I would always advise a client to do the same.”

Knight Frank can be found at 20 Thames Side, Henley. For more information, call (01491) 844900.

Mullie and Olivia Davies of Mullie: ‘Renting helped us buy as it meant we were chain-free’

MULLIE, the managing director of Mullie in Twyford, and office manager Olivia, bought their three-bedroom period cottage in Goring in 2015.

“If Mullie and I had a £10million mansion on the outskirts of Henley, we may well have sent you lots of photos and info,” says Olivia, “or maybe not!

“But in reality we have a modest end-of-terrace cottage in Goring which we have renovated and extended to make a small but perfectly formed, practical, three-four bedroom family home.

“Prior to this, we rented for a good number of years.

“We have three children under 12 and a miniature sausage dog, so we bought this property for the following reasons: school catchment, school bus route, train links, delightful small town with amenities, and close to open countryside.

“We chose it as a sound long-term investment and most of all because it was what we could afford at the time.

“Standard readers may be surprised to learn that some small family-run estate agencies with agents like ourselves are just normal people, working hard to make an honest living.

“Before buying this property we were living in a beautiful rental property in Ipsden. It was hard to leave Ipsden, where we were very happy, but we decided it was time to take the plunge and make a long-term investment in our own property.

“Renting also left us chain-free, which was handy for negotiating.”

Mullie can be found at 26 High Street, Twyford. For more information, call 0118 934 2470.


SIGN up with all local agents selling the sort of property you are looking for, and get to know them.

Develop a relationship and call them regularly. If you have built up a good rapport, they will be a reliable and valuable source of information.

For a list of all local agents visit the Henley Standard website at: agents.php

When you find a property, ask how many other serious buyers are interested so you know who you are competing with and what the agent expects it to go for.

If you are a cash buyer this puts you in a strong position. However, although in the “olden days” a cash buyer could expect to get a discount accordingly, that is no longer the case today.

In a competitive market like today’s, it pays to make yourself chain-free. If you’re a first-time buyer this works to your advantage. Otherwise, consider selling first and moving into rented accommodation. But you’ll still have to move fast if the market is roaring ahead — you cannot afford to be out of the market for too long.

Before you make any offer, be in a position to proceed, so have the mortgage agreed, proof of funds, and a solicitor and surveyor lined up.

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