I’m sure you’re aware of the Prime Minister’s announcement about the latest national lockdown in England this evening. The government has issued updated guidance around the restrictions in England coming into effect tomorrow, Tuesday 5/1/2021. Here’s the key information:
MOVING HOME – You can still move home. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary. Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work.
VIEWINGS & APPRAISALS – If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings and an estate agent can visit to appraise your property for sale or let. Following the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing, letting fresh air in, and wearing a face covering etc.
As ever, if you have any comments, questions or concerns then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We will remain open 7 days a week and you can call us on 01843 269188 at any reasonable hour for a chat.
We are currently living through some pretty extraordinary times and all of our lives have changed.
Except for our fantastic keyworkers in the Thanet area, to whom we are eternally grateful during these difficult times, thousands of people, including the team at Alexander Russell Estate Agents are now having to adapt to working from home. This, alongside the closure of some schools means that parents and carers are now having to juggle the demands of their job with the education of their children. A task that just a few weeks ago we would never have dreamed would be asked of us!
Right now, there is no way of knowing how long our situation will last and so for families, homeschooling is the current way forward and every parent has been required to step up to the plate.
Of course, every parent’s wish is to ensure their child’s education doesn’t suffer through this time.
Homeschooling is a skill that a lot of us will need to adapt to, so here at Alexander Russell Estate Agents we have asked some school teachers who are also parents themselves (important point) for their top tips and hope that the following will provide you with a few nuggets to help you and your children navigate this new norm whilst also staying sane, staying friends and having fun too!
So, here are our five top tips for homeschooling during COVID-19…
Create a timetable for the kids Your children are used to following a routine at school and although it may feel strange to them for a few days, there is no reason why they shouldn’t follow a routine at home too, albeit more flexible! Your child’s school should have provided you with guidance and information regarding specific parts of the curriculum, so using this, create a daily schedule to follow.
With younger children, ideally, keep ‘lessons’ short so that you hold their attention, so around 30 minutes each in which you’ll cover all the basics separately. So, 30 minutes for Maths, 30 minutes for English, Reading, Handwriting and so on.
You should allow a break in between each for ten minutes or so and then longer breaks for drinks, snacks and lunch and of course playtime too! Explain to your child at the start of the day, what they will be doing and why and encourage them to stick with the routine.
Create a timetable for you! As a working parent it is likely to be impossible for you to spend all day everyday homeschooling your child. In this case you must share the educational tasks as much as you can. If you and your partner are both working from home, agree to take it in turns to deal with schooling. If you are a single parent and have an older child that can help a younger child with reading or writing then this may ease the workload a little.
If you don’t have anyone to help you, don’t stress. There is only so much you can do and even an hour of homeschooling a day is better than none at all.
Use real life experiences Remember that sometimes the best learning happens without textbooks! In fact, children are learning all the time through all the actions they do in a day.
For example, if you are cooking, your child can count and weigh ingredients – that’s a maths lesson. If you’re watching a favourite TV programme try turning the sound off and turning the subtitles on and asking your child to read them out loud. If it’s a word they can’t pronounce or understand, explain it to them and ask them to write it down – that’s reading, writing and spelling sorted!
At the end of each day, ask your child to write down the best thing about their day and the thing they liked the least. This will help you discover what they really enjoy education-wise and is also another chance for them to practice their writing and spelling skills.
This is also an amazing chance for you to teach your children important life skills. Introduce them to sewing, washing, ironing (depending on their age), cleaning, DIY, etc. These are all skills that are likely to be new to your child and children love learning new things!
Be flexible… but have rules When you’ve got things to do yourself, it’s easy to push your child to finish a set task or feel like you’ve failed if you don’t keep rigidly to the timetable. But in reality this will be counter-productive, and you’ll end up falling out with your child.
Young children have short attention spans and become tired easily so be aware when they are losing attention or concentration and don’t force them to finish a task. Instead give them a short break and then look at it afresh. Flexibility is vital during tense times.
Try and be flexible with your own work too. Perhaps start work later and make up the hours in the evening or finish earlier so that you have a few hours each day to spend homeschooling your child. Your employer should be sympathetic to your commitments, after all, many thousands of employees are in the same position.
There must also be rules around your work. If you need peace and quiet, close the door to the room you are working in if possible and make sure your child is aware that when the door is closed you are working and shouldn’t be disturbed unless it’s an emergency. During this time, you could give your child some tasks to complete on their own. It’s all about balance.
Make it fun but don’t let standards slip In situations like this, there has to be an element of fun alongside patience and humour. We would all go mad otherwise! It’s hard to be patient when you are juggling childcare, schooling, work, housework and trying to find some time for yourself to relax and so understandably, patience may be thin on the ground, that’s why adequate breaks are required.
Your child needs to understand that they are not on holiday and they are expected to keep standards high and study but that it is less formal than being at school. This does not mean they can misbehave though! Make sure they understand that they should behave as they would in school. Setting aside an area where they will work will allow them to differentiate between school time and home time.
There’s no right or wrong way You cannot be expected to know everything about everything! For most of us, it’s a long time since we were at school and during that time education and learning methods will have changed so, if you don’t understand what your child is working on, don’t stress. Contact their teacher, use the resources you have, connect with other parents through messaging or video and make sure you all help each other.
The most important point coming through with everyone we’ve talked to about homeschooling your child is to maintain some semblance of a routine and be flexible, but alongside that, enjoy spending this unexpected time with your children, make memories and keep them safe.
We will get through this together and Alexander Russell Estate Agents are here to help you in any way we can.
If you are home on your own with your children and just feel like a chat with another grown up, call us on 01843 269188.
Most importantly stay safe, be kind and talk to someone if you feel isolated…talk to your friends, your family or talk to us…we love to talk!
It’s been another full-on month in the world of property for us at Alexander Russell Estate Agents!
It would seem that people in our area are still very keen on finding a new place to call home. Many people are of course currently still working from home, so their living and workplace arrangements are uppermost in their thoughts at the moment.
Properties are selling very quickly, partly because of this and also because of the Stamp Duty Holiday which we have talked about in our previous property market round-ups.
With no surprise whatsoever, COVID-19 and the Stamp Duty Holiday remain key to the property markets ups and downs at the moment.
While for some daily life is still uncertain, and of course with the introduction of a new Tier 4 in some parts of the UK, the situation is rapidly changing, you can rest assured that we at Alexander Russell Estate Agents remain absolutely committed to helping you to buy or sell a property.
If you need property advice, then please do get in touch with us and we’ll do our very best to help.
So, here is a round-up of what’s going on in the property sector nationally, but of course, if you want to know about the more local ins and outs, then get in touch. Call us on 01843 269188 or email email@example.com.
Is the housing market open in Tier 4?
At the time of writing, the housing market remains open across the UK, including in the new Tier 4 areas of England. An announcement from Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick on social media said: “Housing market update: the sales and rental markets remain open in all tiers. All associated activities can continue as before.”
But he also said: “Please follow the Covid-secure guidance. And use your judgment as to whether it’s necessary right now.”
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has also given guidance for the Tier 4 locations in England:
“Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.”
Government says no to Stamp Duty holiday extension
The Stamp Duty holiday initiated by the Government as a response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, will sadly not be extended beyond March next year.
More than 23,700 people signed an online petition calling for the holiday to be extended, triggering a response from the Government.
It said: “The SDLT holiday was designed to be a temporary relief to stimulate market activity and support jobs that rely on the property market. The Government does not plan to extend this temporary relief.”
The Stamp Duty holiday has been for many the catalyst for confidence in the property market and it remains to be seen what will happen after it ends.
Rightmove forecasts price growth
Property website Rightmove has predicted a four per cent price growth for 2021, saying that “housing priorities outweigh uncertainties”.
Referring of course to the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, Rightmove’s research suggest that the momentum of 2020 will carry on over the next 12 months, albeit slightly slower.
Additionally, they note that the property market was already on a good trajectory prior to the Stamp Duty holiday so the end of the holiday may not be as significant as some may believe.
Mortgage lending rules to be reviewed?
Zoopla reports that The Bank of England is “reviewing mortgage lending rules which could make it easier for first-time buyers to get on to the property ladder”.
With everything that is going on in the world, the bank’s Financial Policy Committee is due to look at whether the “affordability criteria that borrowers must pass in order to qualify for a mortgage is still appropriate”.
There are stringent rules in place, and some would say this is needed because affordability is a key issue. But it is thought that the rules disproportionately affect first-time buyers, and this has consequences for the property sector as a whole. Our view on this is watch this space!
Rental prices see slight increase
There has been a slight increase in average rent paid by tenants in private accommodation. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show rents increased by 1.4 per cent in the year to November 2020.
The ONS reports that “growth in private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK has generally slowed since the beginning of 2016, driven mainly by a slowdown in London”.
However, the ONS goes on to say that rental growth began to “pick up” well during 2019, driven by the London growth, although it is generally flat with no particular highs and lows.
Growth good news, but a word of warning
House price growth “rose to 6.5 per cent” in November, according to analysts at the Nationwide building society. But while they say this was the highest rate since January 2015, Nationwide’s Chief Economist, Robert Gardner, strikes a word of warning:
“The outlook remains highly uncertain and will depend heavily on how the pandemic and the measures to contain it evolve as well as the efficacy of policy measures implemented to limit the damage to the wider economy.”
We at Alexander Russell Estate Agents love to scour the news headlines about property and are delighted to bring you these monthly property market articles to keep you up to date. If you are thinking of moving home please get in touch with us on01843 269188 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation.
Following the governments announcement that there will be a second England-wide lockdown beginning on the 5th of November 2020 the following sets out our Covid-19 Safe operational procedures…
Having only been in business now for 3 months, the prospect of entering a National lockdown is worrying for business. That said, we must also appreciate that the government have a difficult job to do, tough decisions to make and that something now needs to be done fairly urgently to stop the spread of this virus.
Sadly another lockdown means that many businesses will have to close their doors at a time when they are just getting back on their feet following the first lockdown. In a tweet from the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick he stated that the property market is to remain open and that we can continue to operate under the strict guidelines that we and our industry have been working with for many months now.
The safety of our clients, our associates and of course ourselves and our family are of the upmost importance to us so we are following strict protocols before, during and after any physical appointments. Wherever possible we recommend a virtual appointment in the first instance to ensure that we are a good fit for you if you are a potential seller or that the property is a good fit for you if you are a potential buyer. We can conduct virtual appointments via apps such as Zoom, Facetime or Skype etc which really works well and is becoming the new norm for us.
The property market has been busy since the first lockdown came to an end and there is a backlog of transactions pending the conveyancing process. Fortunately these transactions will be able to continue as planned as solicitors, search providers and many businesses and professionals associated with the conveyancing process will be able to continue to function without interruption. So, if your transaction is progressing well then your move should still be able to go ahead when you get to that point in the process.
However, due to the volume of transactions in the system there are delays in the conveyancing process so we strongly recommend that buyers and sellers alike are prepared early by instructing a solicitor early and having all your paperwork ready for vendors and making sure your finances and paperwork are in place for buyers before listing a property for sale or commencing with viewings.
If you want to sell your property then we can still do what we need to do to give you an accurate appraisal/ valuation, take photographs, measurements, floorplans etc in a safe way following the guidelines. We can do virtual and/or physical appointments to suit your situation and your property and can get the ball rolling for you by arranging a brief walk around/ measure up at the property followed by a video or telephone appointment to keep the risks to a minimum.
If you want to buy and you’re at the start of your home moving journey then a virtual tour and guided virtual viewing is a good place to start. Nothing beats being shown around by someone who knows the property and having the ability to ask questions as they come to you. So call us at any reasonable hour, 7 days a week to arrange a virtual tour. If you like the property from a virtual viewing, your finances are in place and you are in a proceedable position then following the Covid Safe guidelines we may still be able to arrange a physical viewing so you can make a final decision.
You can read the full government guidelines here which we have summarised below for physical appointments with comments on how we intend to operate within these guidelines…
PHYSICAL PROPERTY VISITS –
We may ask potential buyers/ vendors to attend a virtual viewing/ appraisal via video link in the first instance
For physical appointments an appropriate face covering must be worn by visitors to a property and attendees must be willing to wash their hands on arrival at the property or to use hand sanitiser
Physical viewing appointments are restricted to a maximum of two attendees with an accompanying agent and the viewers must be from the same household
We will seek to maintain a minimum of 2 meters distance at all times
We may ask vendors to vacate the property during the viewing appointment
We will aim to keep time inside the property to a maximum of 15 minutes per viewing, 30 minutes per appraisal/ measure up visit and to limit the number of visits to a property in a single day
The evening before or morning of any physical appointment we will call both the buyer and/or vendor to confirm that no-one in the household are showing any symptoms or having to isolate
We will ask vendors to open any internal doors etc during or before the appointment to reduce/ eliminate the need to touch door handles/ surfaces etc inside the property
I hope that covers most eventualities. As ever, if you have any comments, questions or concerns then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We will remain open 7 days a week and you can call us on 01843 269188 at any reasonable hour for a chat.
Above all, stay safe, be kind, look after yourselves, your loved ones and look out for your neighbours/ those in your community who may need help in these challenging times. Some of us (and I point the finger at myself when I say this) can find it difficult asking for help. If you happen to be reading this and you need help in any way not related to moving home then please don’t be afraid to reach out or just give us a call for a friendly chat.
So, following the announcement from no.10 this evening lockdown part 2 is upon us from Thursday. We are awaiting further guidance from the housing minister about what this means specifically for our industry.
As much as I understand the need to protect lives and the NHS I’m feeling a little bit gutted to have to hit the pause button only 3 months into having setup our business as we are just getting going and really hitting our stride now. Gutted for all the other businesses that are also affected and I appreciate many are affected worse than us! Still, if we all pull together and support each other we will endure this!
Looking ahead at the coming week…
Planned appointments tomorrow, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will be going ahead as planned with the normal precautions still in place of ‘hands, face, space’.
Beyond next week…
We have the technology to conduct virtual viewings and appraisals/ valuations so although there may be restrictions on face to face meetings and appointments for a few weeks, we can still be effective in helping anyone with their future move.
If you have any questions, concerns or would like to discuss how we can still be effective in helping you with your move in view of all that’s going on then don’t hesitate to get in touch on 01843 269188!
Please all stay safe out there! Big love from Zoie and myself, the kids and Marley xx
As the Coronavirus Pandemic continues, we understand that it may be confusing for home movers and landlords, whether buying, selling or renting.
New measures are being introduced regularly, including the new three-tier system currently being rolled out in an attempt to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
These measures are based on a system aimed at simplifying restrictions and to enable local lockdowns to be put in place depending on Coronavirus infections per region.
New advice released by the Government allows Alexander Russell Estate Agents to remain open and property viewings to take place. However, we encourage virtual viewings, and we have strict bookings, viewings and social distancing guidelines in place for physical viewings, along with the stringent requirement for PPE to be worn to minimise health risks and to ensure the safety of our clients and staff at all times.
At the time of writing, our area of Thanet is currently in Tier 1.
How do the three tiers apply to you if you are moving home?
Tier 1: Medium Alert
Property viewings can continue as long as Covid-19 safety measures are in place, and there are no more than six people in a property at any one time.
Safety measures include wearing face coverings, hand washing, opening doors and windows for adequate ventilation during viewings.
Only two prospective buyers from the same household may enter the property at a time.
Open house viewings are not allowed.
If any member of either the household being viewed or the household viewing, displays symptoms of Coronavirus or is self-isolating, then an in-person viewing should not go ahead.
Tier 2: High Alert
Tier Two rules are the same as Tier One, with the following additional rule:
Those living in Tier two areas must not meet with anybody outside of their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, including their home or in a public location.
It’s important to note that in-person property viewings can still go ahead, with the appropriate precautions in place.
Tier 3: Very High Alert
Tier Three is for areas where the transmission rates of Covid-19 are very concerning.
People living in these areas are not allowed to meet anybody outside their household or support bubble in an indoor or outdoor setting, apart from open public spaces, where the rule of six will still apply.
Travel in and out of these areas is not advised, other than for work, education, youth services or caring responsibilities.
Government guidelines have not banned property viewings in Tier Three regions. However, we completely understand and fully support any home buyers who may choose not to view properties and vendors who may choose not to allow physical viewings while restrictions are in place.
Here at Alexander Russell Estate Agents we have virtual viewing tours available for all of our properties. We will be strictly adhering to all Government guidelines relevant to Thanet and the safety of our clients and staff is paramount. This means that you can still place your property on the market or for sale with us and look for properties you want to move to.
Viewings, Valuations, Inspections, Surveys and Removals
If you are comfortable, we can visit your home to take photos, videos and prospective buyers can view your property.
We will always adhere to social distancing measures, and we ask that you notify us and postpone any physical viewing appointments if anyone in your household are self-isolating or showing symptoms of Coronavirus.
Tradespeople and surveyors can carry out inspections and surveys by appointment, and only one person will be in the property at a time where possible.
No tradespeople will enter a property where a member of the household is showing signs of coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating.
Removal firms can operate to Government guidelines.
As the Covid-19 situation continues to evolve, our foremost concern is to keep clients and staff safe.
Please talk to us on 01843 269188 or email email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns about our operating practices.
We are here to help and support all our clients, and we hope you, your friends and family remain safe and healthy for the duration of COVID-19.
Thank you for your patience, support and understanding during this challenging time.
If you want to check the rules that apply in your area, you can use the Government’s postcode checker or check through the NHS Covid-19 app.
You can access the postcode checker here – it confirms the local authority of your address and clarifies that your “Local Covid Alert Level: Medium/High/Very High” as applicable.
If you are looking for an immaculate and tastefully decorated modern family home, that’s ready to move into then look no further.
Five Bedrooms | Terraced Family Home | Immaculate Presentation and Decoration | Smart Modern Kitchen/ Dining Room | Family Bathroom and Separate Shower Room | Sunny West/ South-Westerly Facing Garden | Centrally Located for Thanet Towns | Stone’s Throw from Westwood Cross Shopping
If you’re looking to move up to a bigger property for more space this one has it all –
Four Bedrooms | Detached Family Home | En-Suite Master Bedroom | Smart Modern Kitchen | Sunny South/ South-Westerly Facing Garden | Well regarded Schools Nearby | 20 Min Walk to Sea Front | Gated Driveway Parking | Spacious Conservatory
Firstly I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has liked, commented and shared our page and last video online! We’ve been blown away with the support and messages we’ve had from everyone which has been very humbling and really encouraging.
So thank you!
In the last video I shared a bit about mine and Zoie’s reasons why we’re setting up in business for ourselves. I now want to just say a bit about how.
And, since we are a new business we don’t have loads of awards or sales under our belts just yet. What I can tell you is that, over the last nearly 20 years I have worked for some of the best estate agencies and best bosses in the business so I have a lot of knowledge and a huge amount of enthusiasm and if you’ve seen the Taken films with Liam Neeson he says ‘What I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills that I have acquired over a very long career…’ you know the script. I’m kind of like the Liam Neeson of estate agency. What you get with us is me and my particular set of skills.
Also, most agents still tie in their clients on a long exclusive contract term. I believe that if we are doing a good job then people are reasonable and will stick with you so there’s no need to tie anyone in. The only person I want to be contractually tied to is my wife, Zoie 😉
So – no contracts and a relationship built on trust and great service is what we want in our business.
We do all the usual stuff – Rightmove, Zoopla, Primelocation, professional standard photography. I even have a Matterport Pro-2 camera so all of our listings come with a 4k high resolution 360 degree virtual tour. We even have relocating and London buyers on our books – there’s no one agent that has a monopoly on that.
Because it’s our business, its built around you and us so we don’t really have opening and closing times. There’s no time of day or day of the week that you can’t contact us, unless we’re on appointments or the school run etc.
So, I won’t go on, I could all day probably but I just wanted to say on video that if you’re thinking about moving home or if you’re frustrated with your current agent – pick up the phone, email me or message me and let’s chat.
I like a good analogy and maybe it’s not the best analogy but before lockdown we got all of our weekly shopping from the supermarket like most families. Then during lockdown we realised that we could get everything we needed at the local shops here in Westgate, Birchington or Margate.
We didn’t need the big shops and we felt good about shopping local, supporting our local community. I’m a bit like the local shops, when you think you need to go with a bigger agent, maybe you don’t and maybe what you need is me.
If you’re reading this or watching the video then it might be in response to our letter we’ve been delivering locally, so thank you for taking the time to check me out.
Like I said in the letter, I’m Russell and we’ve lived in Westgate for six years now. First and foremost I’m husband to Zoie and daddy to three little ones. We love Westgate and Thanet in general…it’s such a great place to live, spend time and bring up our family.
So the reason for this post and the letter –
I’m an Estate Agent and have been in the industry for 20 years nearly. I have worked for some of the best estate agency businesses over the years and genuinely I love it! I love being involved on the journey with clients from valuation day to moving day. It’s a real privilege to be involved in peoples journeys at such an important stage in their lives and to be trusted to help and advise along the way.
Recently we have all had the challenge of a global pandemic to deal with and the lockdown that came with it. I guess like a lot of us, being at home for 9 weeks gave Zoie and I space to work out and re-evaluate what’s important to us. I feel like I’ve already missed out on a lot of our kids early years with long work days and commuting to work either side of the day and although I was excited to get everything back to normal there was also this sadness and a desire to have a radical change of what normally is for us and for our family.
So here we are taking the decision to set up our own agency, just wife and I. We want to start small and keep it that way, to stay local and cover only a very local area that we love. To use our experience and skillsets to give clients who want to work with us a very personal estate agency experience.
Now you might be looking at this because you’re considering selling your house and are looking for a valuation which is often the first step. You might already have your property on the market without a buyer yet or you might be thinking ahead and just looking for some general advice at this stage. Also, with the recent changes to Stamp Duty, mortgage rates being at an all time low, the fact that the market is so buoyant and we are just coming out a global pandemic there’s a lot to consider right now. Maybe you’re just on here to see who put a letter through your door – whatever the reason is I just want to say a sincere thank you for looking us up and please, just call me if you have any questions whatsoever.
You can call us anytime on 01843 269188, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can also call my personal mobile number 07912 365437.