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Toby's Take on... The Autumn Statement 25/11/2016

And so the much anticipated budget has now come and gone and our hopes of the government doing something sensible to kick start the housing market are dashed once again. There were many whispers that the ridiculous 3% stamp duty increase, which came into play in April for 2nd home owners, would be cut…however, after waiting baited breath for Philip’s punch line to come…it didn’t; not a sausage regarding stamp duty.

Why Philip why! Your predecessor introduced this super stamp with the hope all buyers wouldn’t bat an eye lid and the money would roll in from all those 2nd home purchases just like they used to…WRONG. The last stat I read says property transactions are down nearly 50% from this time last year and this is largely due to this stamp duty and not anything to do with Brexit blues in my humble opinion.

We estimate 90% of our buyers are 2nd home owners in Kensington and Chelsea, even if their purchase in this area is their first. How excruciatingly unfair and consequently ineffective the super stamp has therefore been. It doesn’t take a Cambridge Mathematician to work it out Phil: cut the stamp; increase the transactions by 50% and you’ll get more taxes.

The housing market is such an emblem of how the economy is doing. If no one is buying, prices are decreasing, the confidence of the market plummets and a man’s ambition is dulled in to indecision. Get the housing market back on track and the economy will follow suit.

Let’s hope he realizes this in the next ‘annual’ budget, whenever that is – March or November Phil? I couldn’t quite tell amidst the laughter.

In the meantime, he has decided to go for a crass crowd-pleaser: cutting letting admin fees. Well done, Phil, that’s right, no one likes estate agents…why should they have to pay their fees. That will give the population a few more pence in their pockets….WRONG.

I give you the Association of Letting Agents feelings on this: 

‘ARLA do not believe that these measures will tackle rogue landlords or agents who will continue to operate outside the law.

ARLA is extremely disappointed that this announcement has been made without a strong basis of evidence.  We are asking the Chancellor and the Housing Minister for a meeting at their earliest opportunity in order to ensure that they fully understand the damage that this will cause to housing standards and the impact on the cost of renting.

We need the Government to explain why measures have been brought forward without prior consultation, undermining the work that we and other partners are doing as part of the DCLG Affordability and Security Working Group.’

CORRECT. It’s frankly disgraceful and disrespectful that the government is herding all agents into one category like this: ‘The Rogue’.

Why should we have to pay these rogue, unqualified sharks, who can open up an office any day of the week, call themselves a letting agent and charge exorbitant admin fees? Answer: you shouldn’t! They don’t deserve a penny and add no value for their ‘admin’ to warrant an extra fee.

However, what about the other sort of agent? The Qualified?  The Hard Working?  The Experienced? The Moral Agents, who have ARLA / NAEA / RICS initials after their names? We pay a fortune in admin fees to these national housing bodies to stand above the crowd and make sure a let is performed correctly, legally, efficiently and acting in the interests of their customers, BOTH Tenant and Landlord. You wouldn’t query a qualified solicitor for their fees; why query and CUT a qualified Estate Agent’s fees? My solicitor charges me £300/hour I discovered on a recent purchase I made. Going back and forth amending a contract with tenant and landlord often takes days, rather than hours, but we don’t charge anything like my solicitor’s hourly rate for this tenancy agreement!

In February this year, the government also made us Agents become immigration officers, enforcing Right -to-Rent checks. This alone takes a great deal of time every tenancy. But the government’s response to giving us more work to do is to pay us nothing…how does that make sense in any other industry?

So how about this as an idea Phil? Why not put legislation in place to enforce all agents to pass either ARLA or NAEA exams before they can open up an estate agency and then charge admin fees or fees at all frankly? Why not ban all other agents from dealing with a buyer, seller, tenant, landlord’s biggest financial decision of their lives? That’s the way to rid society of ‘The Rogue’ and not penalise the rest of us, who work to protect our Landlords and Tenants with stringent administration before a tenancy begins.

This blanket fee cut will, I’m afraid, also reintroduce the ‘Rogue Tenant’ to our market: who will not go through proper referencing because of the extra cost and eviction procedures will become more and more common again…just like the old days before admin fees were even introduced.

My Uncle, who worked in estate agency for over 50 years, was one of the first (he says THE first) agencies to start the admin fee in London shortly after the arrival of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (Housing Act 1988 etc). He did this, not because he was a Machiavellian Shark, wanting to make a buck out of every inch of the deal, but because even in those days, making sure the right tenant moved in was a lot more work than meets the eye, and justified a fee.

Will tenants now have to go back to the 80s and

a) Provide their own credit and criminal reference?

b) Submit a draft tenancy agreement as part of their application to rent?

How can this be the right way forward to legally protect tenant and landlord?

Of course, life will go on and agencies will survive…I wonder if the Landlord will though? He must pay 3% more than anyone else to buy a property. He will no longer benefit from a fair 10% tax wear and tear. Soon, full mortgage interest relief will be no more (do you know of a business that cannot offset the interest it pays on borrowed finance?!). Mortgage conditions on rental yield requirements are getting higher and higher and even if you get to the moment when your tenant moves in, they will have a much bigger risk of a rogue tenant, not referenced properly, outstaying their welcome and not paying the bill at the end of month 2. The mortgage doesn’t get paid in month 3, 4 and 5 and the property is repossessed soon after. Why buy to begin with?

Don’t let me put you off though, with the RIGHT agent and ensuring you make the RIGHT purchase at the RIGHT price, Property is still as safe as houses and certainly better than the diminishing pension honeypot the Government is rubbing its greedy hands over!

The property sector will survive and will once again boom, and in spite of the above or maybe more appropriately, in light of the above, maybe now is actually the time to buy…



A second word on Brexit - 23/08/2016 

A number of you may have seen Toby’s word on Brexit last month, covering the reasons why we should all look on the bright side. After previously running tlc for 40-odd-years, I would like to take this a step further.

In 1972, I purchased a house in Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill for a sum of £22,500. 43 years later, just before Christmas last year, it sold for a modest £13.5 million! Sadly I had ‘turned’ it in in 1973 for £31,000. Oh well, easy come, easy go.

In 1965 I bought 2 Courtfield Mews for £6,750; a tiny 2 bedroom mews in SW5. I have wondered what it is worth today. I can’t quite remember how much I sold it for in 1968, but the number £18,000 springs to mind.

So, Toby, you are correct; the probability is that the price of a pile of bricks and mortar will rise over a period. The UK’s base rate has been reduced to 0.25% and mortgages will therefore become cheaper.

Great Britain, despite the gloomy prognostications, is the place to be in Europe over the next decade.

People talk about a housing shortage. The powers that be can help solve this. Have a 5 year holiday on CGT for the creators of new homes and you will see blocks and terraces popping up all over the place. Of course the local authorities will have to play their part, allowing more creative development.

It’s time to embrace a new era. Happy days are not far away.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

All the best,

Simon Lofts


A word on Brexit - Things Can Only Get Better - 18/07/2016

Come on Folks let’s all cheer up and look on the bright side of life.

I agree, it’s been a weird old 6 months in the property market in Earls Court and I am sure beyond our little patch of paradise too! Pre-Brexit…’Uncertainty’ was the headline… post Brexit…’Uncertainty’ remains the headline….but honestly, how uncertain can one really be about the Kensington and Chelsea property market?

Over the last 10 years in SW5 alone, the stats say prices have risen 186% on average. That stat is takes into account elections, interest rates, changes of the guard at Number 10, new stamp duty charges  

You might say…'Yes, Toby but it won’t rise 186% ever again’ but that’s what people always say. I have been in the business for 10 years now exactly. Back in 2007, I distinctly remember people saying ‘Prices are too high’… ‘things will never get better than this’….but they did.

I sold a first floor flat in 2007 for £1300/sq ft. The record £/sq ft in the area at the time….dare I say it, I felt rather guilty about the property selling for that price tag and for the poor man from Singapore who bought it. But low and behold that property sold again at the start of 2015 for £1750/sq ft. The property hadn’t been altered in any way since 2007 but the market had moved on…it got better!

Yes, we have a lot of doom and gloom in the press now but don’t be persuaded by those tabloids that this will go on forever. As one of my clients said yesterday ‘they will be yesterday’s fish and chip wrapping paper soon’.

Rather than be ‘uncertain’ at the moment, I would urge buyers to ‘Seize the Day’. Buy a bargain you won’t be able to afford in 6 months’ time. And when I say ‘bargain’ I only mean this relatively…don’t expect to suddenly get 20% off asking prices, but do expect to try and negotiate 7-10% off with some vendors who need to move due to chain purchases, family moves, another baby on the way etc.

If you are bringing money in from abroad, again ‘Carpe Diem’ (you’ll notice I translated Seize the Day for you!). Make the most of the pound right now before it’s too late….because it will be soon.

Despite me being a massive fan and admirer of David Cameron, we have a new PM already moving and shaking a cabinet into stability. ‘Uncertainty’ will soon be a word of the past as she makes suitable deals with Europe over the next few months. The world will not end just because we are ‘out’. The property market in this area has proved to be the safest place you can store your money over the last 30 years and will continue to outperform anything stocks and shares can do.

I recently took all of my money out of stocks and shares and again invested in property. Over the 5 years I had it with my investment company and the best my money did was gaining around 2%. Some lost far more than this. I ended up breaking even after 5 years.

5 years ago I invested in a studio for £300,000. This is now worth £500,000.

Of course, investing money in property is a big decision, one of the biggest in your life, and in tough economic times one must think a bit more about such a decision. However, I would argue that it is NOW you should do so more than ever. Pounce on the moment when you can get discounts on asking prices. 18 months ago we were not even contemplating offers at asking prices: they needed to be at least 5-10% over asking to stand a chance of being accepted.

We have some great investments for sale right now and as the most professionally qualified agents in the area, we will guarantee giving you fair and impartial advice on all of these before you ‘take the plunge’. Call me anytime on 07736 345776 for any property related advice.

In general though, believe in your property market. Stop worrying! Things will get better and sooner than you think in prime central London.

Bye for now,


Be prepared for the upcoming Stamp Duty changes - 25/01/2016

Attention all buy-to-let investors! It was recently announced in the Autumn Statement that significant changes are being made to Stamp Duty that will affect second home owners from April 2016. If you are planning on buying a second property, there is not long to go until the Stamp Duty increases by 3 percent for all property bands.  

For example, if your second property is bought for £650,000, according to the new rules Stamp Duty will rise from £22,500 to £42,000. And for a second property that is bought for £1,200,000, the Stamp Duty Tax will be £63,750 before April 2016 and will rise to £99,750.

These upcoming changes will affect you whatever your reason for buying a second home, whether it is for investment, a holiday home or to help your children. If you plan on helping your children get on the property ladder, it is essential to know that if parents buy a house for their children to live in or buy the property with joint names, they could be stung by the higher rate as it is likely that this would be the second property for the parents. The only way to avoid the higher rate in this situation is to have the child’s name only associated with that property.

For people that are in the process of buying a new home but haven’t yet sold their other property, there is an exception.  The higher Stamp Duty amount will initially be charged, as at the time of the purchase of the new property, you will technically own two properties.  A refund is available for the difference as long as this residence is sold within 18 months.

Please note that we do not expect a final confirmation from HMRC until March but this is how the changes stand for now.


Standard Rate

Buy-to-let/second home rate (from April 2016)

Up to £125,000












Over £1.5m



Source: HMRC

6 of the best rental investments - 15/12/2015

As many of you will be aware, the buy to let market is about to take a hit; Mr Osborne has decided to increase stamp duty for Buy to Let investors by 3% on every rung of the ladder from April next year. That means you have 4 months to avoid this!

We have outlined six of the best rental investments that we have on our books right now that are ready to purchase!

Along with each property, you will find their estimated rental prices and what we predict they will increase in value by over the next decade, based on the statistics that have been gathered by us on the last years’ growth in this area.

December is statistically the best time to bargain for a better sales price too. Carpe Diem!

1. West Cromwell Road

Sale Price: £499,950
Estimated Rental Price: £425/week
Capital Growth:
3 years: 15%: £575,000
5 years: 40%: £700,000
10 years: 150%: £1,250,000

A wonderfully bright one bedroom apartment set on the third floor of a period conversion in the heart of Earls Court. This property benefits from a sunny reception room, separate fully fitted kitchen, double bedroom, modern bathroom and fantastic storage space.

Ideally located close to Earls Court tube station and local shops, bars and restaurants, this property is great first time buy and a perfect Buy to Let investment! 

2. Childs Place

Sale Price: £650,000
Estimated Rental Price: £500/week
Capital Growth:
3 years: 15%: £750,000
5 years: 40%: £900,000
10 years: 150%: £1,625,000

Beautifully bright south-facing apartment situated on this quiet one way white stucco street.

Located less than 100 metres away from Earls Court Underground, the flat is conveniently located close to all the shops and services of the Old Brompton Road, M&S and the Tesco Megastore. Another fantastic first time buy, pied a terre or rental investment.

3. Collingham Gardens

Sale Price: £750,000
Estimated Rental Price:
Capital Growth:
3 years: 15%: £862,500
5 years: 40%: £1,050,000
10 years: 150%: £1,875,000


Extravagant and unique designer apartment set within one of Kensington’s most prestigiously grand edifices.

This property is perfectly located across the road from The Boltons and close to Gloucester Road and South Kensington Underground stations. It is also a quick skip away from everything and everyone you’d like to see!

4. The Kenway Cottage

Sale Price: £999,950
Estimated Rental Price:
Capital Growth:
3 years: 15%: £1,150,000
5 years: 40%: £1,400,000
10 years: 150%: £2,500,000


A fabulous freehold house set over three levels, tucked away privately from the street in this charming village setting. The house is perfectly proportioned and benefits from a large rustic eat-in kitchen, two bathrooms, two double bedrooms, front and rear outside space and oodles of character.

It is located within the exclusive Kenway Village, just moments from Earls Court and Gloucester Road Underground stations and a few minutes’ walk from High Street Kensington and Holland Park.

5. Courtfield Gardens

Sale Price: £999,950
Estimated Rental Price:
Capital Growth:
3 years: 15%: £1,150,000
5 years: 40%: £1,400,000
10 years: 150%: £2,500,000


A beautifully presented and perfectly proportioned 2 double bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment, overlooking the delightful Courtfield Gardens. The property has great ceiling height, brilliantly bright sash windows and a cool rear terrace, perfect for a sunny afternoon!

It’s just a few steps away from Gloucester Road and South Kensington, perfect for any commuter. Ready to rent!

6. Cromwell Crescent

Sale Price: £999,950
Estimated Rental Price:
Capital Growth:
3 years: 15%: £1,150,000
5 years: 40%: £1,400,000
10 years: 150%: £2,500,000


This is a stunning, super spec second floor apartment set within a magnificently refurbished white stucco period conversion. The living area is bright and benefits from solid oak wooden floors, a cool designer open plan kitchen and a slick modern fireplace.

The apartment is close to Earls Court Underground and only a short walk away from Holland Park. Perfect to rent!

If you are interested in any of the above properties, give us a call any time on 020 7370 4000!


Significant changes to the law for let properties - 18/11/2015

We wanted to make you aware of the some of the changes that have been taking place in the law that involve the letting of properties in the UK.

These are changes are particularly important if you are a landlord that is letting a property without the use of an estate agent.

New Section 21 rules

As a landlord, you will understand the importance of the Section 21 notice as it is used to bring a tenancy to a natural end. It is also good news for tenants as it is a method of policing landlords. If the Section 21 rules about the protection of deposits are not followed by the landlords, they could be punished.

The rules that have been introduced apply to new tenancies that are created after 1st October 2015.

We have highlighted the main requirements that have been introduced below:

1.       The tenant must receive an up to date copy of their rights and responsibilities, detailed in the Government Booklet.

2.       The tenant must be provided with a current Gas Safe Certificate before they enter the property.

3.       The tenant must be given a current copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

For more information about these changes, click here. 

The outlawing of retaliatory eviction

From the 1st October 2015, the new rules concerning Retaliatory Eviction come into play, giving protection to tenants from landlords who are looking to evict a tenant who has made legitimate complaint about the condition of the property that is being rented. To mitigate this, it is strongly advised that landlords keep any record of any complaints from tenants and ensure they are dealt with within 14 days of being made. If a Retaliatory Eviction case is brought to light, this record will be able to provide the landlord with a solid defence against the case.  

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

New rules state that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms (if applicable) must be installed in every let property from 1st October 2015. The alarms must also be checked before the start of each tenancy. You are responsible for carrying out these tests with your tenant at the start of the tenancy if you let your own properties. Equally, if you have an inventory clerk they will have to carry out the tests on your behalf.

Inventory checks are a great way of making sure that this task is completed and will give your tenants peace of mind that their smoke alarms are in full working order.


Stamp duty calculator - 24/07/2015

Unsure on stamp duty and the amount you will have to pay? Take a look at this stamp duty calculator by clicking the icon below:


The Magnificent Seven Buys in SW5 - 07/07/2015

Come and join us this weekend to see #tlcMagnificentSeven properties for sale. All of these beautiful properties are priced between £1,000,000 and £1,500,000.

But that's not all! Buy one of these beauties and get a £1,000 Harrods voucher to spend on your lovely new home.

1. Collingham Gardens: £995,000
Extravagant and unique designer apartment set within one of Kensington's most prestigiously grand edifices. Backing onto the delightful Collingham Communal Gardens with direct access, this is a super spec pad fit for a super star personality. Privately located at the rear of the building, the apartment benefits from big bright windows everywhere, a modern kitchen and bathroom and solid oak wooden floors with under floor heating throughout. Perfectly located across the road from The Boltons and close to Gloucester Road and South Kensington Underground stations; it is also a quick skip away from everything and everyone you'd like to see.



2. Cromwell Crescent: £1,050,000
Stunning, super spec second floor apartment set within a magnificently refurbished white stucco period conversion. Views from the reception quietly overlook the imperiously handsome Warwick Mansions; views at the rear peacefully look over the King of Queen, Freddie Mercury's, former residence. The living room has a bright south-west facing aspect and benefits from solid oak wooden floors, a cool designer open plan kitchen and a slick modern fireplace. Both bedrooms are doubles with masses of sleek built-in storage. The master bed is en-suite with a sweet Juliet balcony and an opportunity for an added terrace too. There are two beautiful state of the art bathrooms. Close to Earls Court Underground and High Street Kensington, the flat is only a few metres away from the Tesco's megastore and a short walk away from Holland Park. Share or freehold.



3. Redcliffe Close: £1,095,000
Perfectly proportioned with every inch of space utilised to the full, this delightful 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom flat has been refurbished entirely to a super spec standard, whilst also maintaining a pure elegance in keeping with the characteristics and charm of the building too. Quietly situated on the fourth floor (with lift) of this famous Art Deco edifice, this apartment benefits from amazing, far stretching, south-facing views down Coleherne Road and the roof tops of Chelsea all the way to the River Thames. Beautiful, marble tiled bathrooms, a bespoke designer kitchen, wide boarded solid oak wooden floors, bright south facing terrace, all within a smart and well maintained portered building just minutes from everything. Service charge includes heating and hot water and wonderful communal gardens. What more could you want? Share or freehold.



4. Earls Court Square: £1,150,000
Delicious and Decadent Designer Apartment set on the first floor of this glorious period conversion. This grand ballroom is a complete WOW factor to behold, boasting every feature one could wish for: Enormous 4.3m ceiling height, triple, south facing French doors leading onto its own private terrace, two luxurious bathrooms, a super spec hide-away kitchen and an outrageously dazzling glass mezzanine bedroom which will take your breath away. A perfect playboy pad to suit anyone mad, bad or dangerous! Share or freehold.



5. Penywern Road: £1,250,000
Dazzling, Deluxe and Gorgeous garden apartment set within a newly refurbished period conversion. This stunning flat benefits from grand lateral space equipped with 3 bedrooms, 2 super spec bathrooms, a built in state of the art Bang Olufsen home entertainment system and a slick separate kitchen leading onto a pretty private patio garden. Located just round the corner from Earls Court Underground and close to all the fun of the Old Brompton Road this is an ideal home to live in yourself or indeed makes a great rental investment too. Share of Freehold.



6. Earls Court Square: £1,300,000
Elegant and Grand Raised Ground Floor apartment directly overlooking the idyllic palm trees of Earls Court Square's communal garden which the property has access too. The glorious 18 ft reception has a real wow factor with extraordinary ceiling height, fireplace and a beautifully bright west facing bay window. Both bedrooms are good sized doubles with a bathroom for each. Perfectly located close to Earls Court Underground and all the fun of Old Brompton Road. Share of Freehold.



7. Langham Mansions: £1,450,000
Lavishly designed dream apartment overlooking the eternally delightful Earls Court Square. This apartment is no ordinary refurbishment. Every possible attention to detail has been taken; every inch of space utilised. This is a truly special apartment which wouldn't look out of place within One Hyde Park or a boutique Mayfair hotel let alone Earls Court Square. Stunning herringbone wooden floors throughout, super spec bathroom and separate kitchen, bespoke light and door fittings and fixtures everywhere. Come and see the difference between good and the best.


Stamp duty reforms - 18/12/2014


Stamp duty reforms are likely to give the property market a long awaited boost next year, according to leading property experts.

Just over two weeks ago we saw the government completely shake up stamp duty, switching the old slab system to a new graduated one. The Chancellor, George Osborne stated that these changes will make 98% of buyers better off.

A property economist at the Capital Economics consultancy, Matthew Pointon, said that “stamp duty changes will add around 1% to house prices.” Although a poll of RICS members showed that surveyors and agents in the UK believed there could be an increase in property prices of up to 5% over the next 12 months.

It is predicted that house prices will increase, especially around the previous thresholds, so someone selling a property may have stayed below £500,000 to avoid the huge jump in SDLT on anything above it may now increase the asking price to £550,000.

The way that the new tax is structured means that “You now only pay the proportion of the purchase price that’s actually above the thresholds at the higher rate and not the highest rate on the total amount.” In other words, you only pay the rate for the portion of the property that is at that rate.

Here are the new stamp duty rates compared with the old ones:


As outlined in the table above, this means that properties worth in excess of £937,500 will see a rise in stamp duty fees – thus being worse off than before. Despite this, we have found a small exception to the rule. Any property between £1,000,000.01 and £1,125,000 will either have the same stamp duty as with the slab system, or be better off than before.

Despite the fact that the reform is welcomed, some might argue that this change is the Conservative government’s answer to Mansion Tax. It could be that we see a slowdown in transactions over the coming months as both buyers and vendors gauge what their expectations are.

Whilst previously stamp duty was paid in cash, for the higher property prices it can now be added to the buyer’s mortgage. Consequently, these buyers would pay more interest. It is estimated that 38% of all SDLT collected in the UK will come from property worth over £1,000,000 in London.

Another change made in the Autumn Statement, but one which has not been as widely reported, is the increase in Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings. This is the tax on residential properties that are held in a company name; please see the table below that outlines these rates.

Whilst the changes to both stamp duty and ATED could be challenging, we will not know the full effects until later down the line in 2015. We hope that these changes will put Mansion Tax out of the minds of buyers and they will be able to proceed with certainty in transaction costs. Only time will tell.

If you want to work out the total stamp duty you’ll have to pay on a property, HMRC have released a really useful calculator that does the arithmetic for your. Click here to find out more. If you do have any further questions about the changes to SDLT and ATED don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to talk you through exactly what these changes mean for you. 


Recently, we have been working on some statistics on the SW5 property market, and what a great area it is to investment in property.

Below, our graphs outline average sales prices for flats, studio flats, one, two and three + bedroom flats. Please click on the image to enlarge.





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