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As the nights draw in and the temperatures start to fall, there’s plenty to get excited about; the build-up to Christmas, New Year celebrations and Spring just around the corner. There is, however, a less exciting aspect of winter that could end up costing you if you don’t take precautions: damp.

What is damp?

Damp is the presence of unwanted moisture in the structure of a building. Often manifesting itself in ugly dark patches of mould and grime on walls, floors and ceilings, damp can wreak havoc on the structure of your home, and repairing the damage can cost a great deal of money. In short, it’s no laughing matter.

What causes damp?

As it gets colder outside, temperatures inside houses start to rise as homeowners and tenants put the heating on and then try to keep warm for as long as possible by keeping all doors and windows tightly closed. This is great for keeping us toastie and snug, but it can cause problems.

Warm air trapped inside a house without a means of escape will start to form condensation on surfaces colder than the dew point of the air outside, leading to the moisture you often see building up on windows and walls. This can lead to what’s known as ‘condensation damp’, the most common type in the UK. It’s estimated that around 1 in 5 homes in the UK are affected by this type of damp.

    Condensation forming on a window may be an early indicator of damp.


Condensation forming on a window may be an early indicator of damp.

How can you protect your home?

 One of the most crucial factors in preventing damp is allowing good circulation of air. In winter, we tend to try to conserve as much heat as possible, keeping heating on, and windows and doors closed. The indoor humidity created when the radiators are on has nowhere to go and starts contributing to damp. In order to allow good circulation…

…try to keep windows open for short, intermittent periods each day.

 If your radiators are on, they’ll still be adding to the interior humidity, even if a window is open. To minimise the humidity they create…

…have your radiators on at lower heat for longer periods.

Another common problem that contributes to damp during winter is drying laundry. When the weather is too bad to allow you to dry your clothes outdoors, shirts and socks end up on the radiators, releasing moisture into the house. Try to take of advantage of any clear, windy days to…

…dry your laundry outside as often as possible. Alternatively, dry them in the bathroom with the window open and the door shut.

As you might expect, water vapour is one of the worst contributors to dampness in the home and can be generated by a number of sources. To mitigate this, when taking a bath or shower, you should always do so with the window open, or with the extractor fan on if one is installed. Likewise, in the kitchen, try not to boil the kettle longer than is necessary, and keep lids on boiling pans where possible. In short…

…keep the amount of steam and water vapour in your home to a minimum.


What else can you do?

If you believe damp or mould is present in your home, speak to your landlord immediately. The sooner the problem is identified, the sooner it can be addressed, and if you don’t make your landlord aware in a reasonable timeframe, it could be you who has to foot the bill for redecoration!

What can landlords do?

Be sure to make regular checks of the property, and look for signs of mould during every inspection. This is often where issues such as damp are noted, allowing you to deal with them before they become a problem.

If your tenant alerts you to the fact that there may be damp in your property, have it thoroughly checked by a qualified professional. Dealing with damp can be expensive, so preventative measures should be a lot cheaper than dealing with the problem once it manifests itself.

Before your tenants move in, have the property fitted with vents and extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom. Try not to use non-porous paints or wall coverings, as these stop the walls from ‘breathing’. If you have laminate flooring anywhere in the property, have the floorboards underneath checked by a qualified professional. Damp can form if laminate is laid too tightly on floorboards.

With damp it pays to be vigilant. If you suspect it may be present, have it checked out immediately.

If you have any questions regarding your rental property please contact Sawdye & Harris on 01364 652652



The real truth is that nobody really knows, everyone is speculating or exaggerating ! The property market does quieten down when there is a general election or has a small blip when interest rates rise but given the continuing problem with supply there really is an expectation that prices will only go one way over the long term even if the market quietens down over a little of Brexit scaremongering.

Some buyers are naturally less confident and will want to sit it out until the market adjust post-brexit but the simple reality is that there are not enough new homes being built or existing homes to go around, so once the uncertainty is over the market is likely to resume afresh after possibly a light breather.

For others Brexit will simply not be an issue as people get on with their day to day lives and move because they need to.  I have seen people who have sold in the past thinking they could buy back in a “couple” of years later after prices fall, who now over 10 years later cannot get back on to the ladder. Property is not a short term investment especially given the cost of trading in an out of ownership.

There is no doubt that Brexit has already had an impact on the property market with many adopting a wait-and-see approach until the final deal has been made. As March 2019 and a final decision edges closer, many people are wondering whether they should take advantage of the current situation and buy or trade up, while house prices have subsided. On the other hand, some people are conscious that a hard Brexit could see the housing market slow down and are trying to decide whether now is a good time to sell. 

What is important to keep in mind is that value or price only becomes important when you sell or re-mortgage. There are less properties being sold, transactions are down but this is having the effect of keeping prices at a good level as there is often a real lack of choice for home movers.   Even if there is a slow down or a breather around the time we exit then this is likely to be short lived.

If you are looking for a property or thinking of selling contact Katie Griffin on 01364 652652 for professional advice.





Briefly discussing the housing market in his third Budget as chancellor, Phillip Hammond announced that he will extend the cancellation of stamp duty for first-time homebuyers on properties up to £300,000 to first-time buyers of shared ownership properties valued up to £500,000.  He also stated that the measure would be retrospective, so that any first-buyer who has bought a home since the last Budget will benefit.

According to Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, removing Stamp Duty on all shared equity purchases up to £500,000 is great news for prospective homebuyers getting into the market for the first time, but will do little for those who currently own property and wish to trade up. “Since the abolishment of the stamp duty for first-time buyers, many more people have been able to get their foot on the first rung of the property ladder. In fact, as Hammond announced, the number of first-time buyers purchasing property is at an 11-year high. However, it seems that the last two first-time buyer incentives have been designed to drive the focus away from the traditional second-hand market. Initially Help to Buy and now the incentive to buy shared equity property,” he says.

More money for Housing Infrastructure Fund

Hammond also announced that he will give a further £500m to the Housing Infrastructure Fund, which is designed to enable a further 650,000 homes to be built. “The demand for housing in the UK has long outweighed the number of available properties. This further allocation of funds will assist the government in addressing the housing shortage and will create more opportunities for people to become homeowners,” said McKenzie. 

Housing on the high street

McKenzie adds that another interesting point that the Chancellor made was turning unused commercial spaces on the high streets into residential housing, again in a bid to ease the burden of the housing shortage, as well as rejuvenating the high-street and creating more foot traffic past high-street businesses. An amount of £675 million will be put into a future high street fund to redevelop un used areas and help the high streets adapt and increase interest for local businesses.  

Lettings relief limited

In the Budget, Hammond said that from April 2020 lettings relief would be limited to properties where the owner is in shared occupancy with the tenant. “The lettings relief is often used by people who have difficulty selling their home, whereby a maximum of £40,000 of gain per owner is exempt if the property is rented out. It seems that small landlords are being targeted again with the reformation of the lettings relief, as it is only available where the owner and tenant are in shared occupation,” adds McKenzie.

International investment

Permanent tax relief has increased from £200,000 to £1 million for 2 years to encourage more investment. “With many international property investors adopting a wait-and-see attitude towards the UK before the Brexit decision, a tax relief could be a great incentive to allure them back in and encourage further investment in the country. However, the extent of this will remain to be seen,” said McKenzie. 

“Overall an encouraging Budget for housing in the short term, but the real question remains. What is the government’s long-term strategy? More still needs to be done to encourage transactional volumes and price growth in all sectors,” he concludes.


When it comes to selling your property, making a good first impression is imperative. Our Guild agents share their expertise and identify the top 10 biggest turn-offs for prospective buyers and how to avoid them.

1. Clutter

Clutter is not only distracting, but it could indicate that the property does not have adequate storage. 

Nick Manson from Mansons Newcastle upon Tyne said: “De-cluttering is a great way to increase your chances of completing a sale, but that doesn’t mean that you have to part with your prized possessions. You can box them up and store them in the loft or garage. If this is not an option, ask family or friends to store them. Failing that, there is always the option of self-storage.”

Creating a clutter-free, minimalistic environment will help buyers visualize themselves living in your home. Additionally, too much furniture can make a property seem a lot smaller than it is. 

2. Smells

No matter how pleasant your home appears, persistent odours such as the smell of pets, cigarettes, or pungent food can be detrimental when it comes to selling your property.

Simon Bradbury from Thomas Morris Cambridgeshire explains: “An unpleasant odour is sure to put off a prospective purchaser or tenant. Whether it’s the whiff of stale food, pets or even something more… ‘human’… make sure that your property is free of unwanted smells. Ask a trusted friend to give your home a ‘sniff test’!”

It’s better to be safe than sorry, so we suggest opening your windows to air out your property before a viewing and use air freshener or light a candle to ensure your home doesn’t smell unpleasant.

3. An untidy exterior

Overgrown, unkempt gardens are a big no-no. Abby Wheeler from Keats Estate Agents Haslemere said: “The first thing viewers see is the exterior. Ensure your bins are not overflowing and your pathway is weed free. Do whatever you can to make your home feel inviting from the outset. Don’t forget, our viewers have probably already done a drive-by before making an appointment.”

4. Noise

Most people expect their home to be a place of peace and tranquility. It may not always be preventable, but there are steps you can take to reduce unwanted noise from your property.

Mandy Thomas from Keats Estate Agents Haslemere said: “Upgrade your glazing or install sound proof fencing. Alternatively, try to avoid organising viewings at busy times of the day such as rush hour, when traffic will be particularly bad.”

5. No natural light

Light and warmth are two of the most important factors to attract a buyer for your home, especially in the colder months of the year. Angie Kraft from Simmons & Sons Henley-on-Thames explains: “A cold or poorly lit home can be an instant turn-off  to potential buyers by making the property appear dingy and dark in places. If this is the case, it gives the impression of a house that is unloved and uncared for.”

Resolving this issue can be simple. Philip Trollen from Keats Estate Agents Haslemere said: “Natural light is very important as dark rooms are always off-putting. Ensuring the room is well lit, whether that be naturally or with staged lighting is quite simple to do. Make sure the curtains are open and remove those net curtains!”

6. Bad décor

Avoid controversial or quirky décor in your home as it is not to everyone’s taste. What you think is retro, others may consider dated. Bold colours and patterns can turn-off a prospective buyer, as it is important for them to see themselves living there and décor plays a huge part in this.

Simon Miller from Holroyd Miller Wakefield said: “Replace heavily patterned retro carpets, when purchasers are greeted with such a carpet all they see is decades of dirt and grim – I can guarantee the viewer will want to leave as soon as they’ve stepped through the door.”

7. Nightmare neighbours

Nobody enjoys noisy or messy neighbours, especially not a potential buyer. This is something you cannot change, but it is something you can manage. Whether their garden hasn’t been cleaned in years, or their pet dogs incessantly bark, get to know your neighbour and perhaps they may be able to help. If all else fails, organising viewings for when they are not home might be beneficial, too.

8. Poor presentation

Poor attention to detail such as: flaking paint on soffits, grubby kitchen units, tatty net curtains, unemptied ashtrays and nicotine stained walls are taken into consideration when viewing a property.

Lizanne Simmons from Penny & Sinclair Oxford said: “First impressions are massive and we often find ourselves apologising for the sights of the less cared for properties. We always arrive early to a viewing to open the windows, curtains, close the lids to the toilets and pull a duvet into position here and there.”

Simon Bradbury from Thomas Morris Cambridgeshire said: “Dirty kitchens or bathrooms are not a nice thought and certainly not something that a viewer will want to see. My best advice: have the property professionally cleaned before going to market.”

Small and affordable fixes such as: freshening up the paint work, or having your home professionally cleaned will make a world of difference and worth it in the long run.

9. An unexpected problem

Martin Moore from Morris Marshall & Poole Mid Wales said: “There is nothing worse for a viewer than turning up to find there is a significant issue with a property which they were not aware of such as a structural defect, a problem with something in the neighbourhood or compromised accommodation. It is a wise precaution to maintain compliance with Consumer Protection Regulations, but it also makes good business sense – the viewers are more trusting of us and willing to discuss the issues and the available solutions.

10. An over zealous vendor

It is common for a vendor to want to take part in the viewing or show off their DIY aspects of the property. However, vendors being present at viewings may not always be a good thing. 

Stephen Ingram from Penny & Sinclair Oxford said: “A seller that follows the viewer around is never well-received. With the best intentions, those scenarios always highlight why it’s best to leave it to your agent.”

Take a step back and let your agent do the work, it is their job after all and you will thank them later.



Are you dreaming of building your own home? It can be a complicated process, so here are some top tips.

- Carefully consider the land’s location, size, and surroundings. Would the property fit in with the neighbours? This will be crucial to get planning approval.

- Always do a land registry search. It’s affordable and can tell you a lot about the land you’re considering. The search will tell you if the property is registered. Unregistered land can take time to get papers in order.

- There are many checks to do before you build. Depending on the scale of your project, you’ll need a bat survey, an asbestos test, and a geotechnical survey. Check there is no Japanese knotweed on the property, and ask the Council if there are any tree protection orders. Without these, unexpected building costs can arise, which can add thousands of pounds to your build cost.

- Put an inquiry into the planning department for £140 to see if they will grant full approval to build. It’s good to do this before you buy to guarantee approval.

- Employ an architect or an architectural designer. Visit the RIBA website to find a list of local firms.

Are you looking for land? Contact Sawdye & Harris to find out what is on the market in your area. 

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