13 ways Lockdown has changed people’s lives in Hertford

Recently The Sunday Times published a fascinating collection of statistics around how the lives of people in the UK transformed during lockdown.

We’ve broken it down into four sections – Health, wealth, happiness and of course, homes.

These national trends have been reflected across Hertford

*Figures are comparing April with March 2020 and sourced from John Lewis and the Office for National Statistics unless stated.

Health

With gyms closed and time on their hands people turned to exercising at home.

300% – The fitness app Strava saw a massive leap in usage.

72% – Rise in sales of sports shoes.

496% – The purchase of gym equipment surged.

Wealth

60% – Drop in withdrawals from ATMs.

£16.2 billion – Rise in household savings in April.

200% – The share price of video conferencing app Zoom rocketed this year. (Up to May 31).

Happiness

To keep our minds off you know what, we turned to:

240% – Board games and jigsaws proved hugely popular with soaring sales.

18% – An increase in online chats recorded by dating app OkCupid.

50% – Increase in sales of rose wine. *Source Majestic Wine.

76% – Rise in sales of sherry. *Source Majestic Wine.

Home

With more time spent at home, people have been turning to DIY and splashing out.

480% – Argos reported selling out of hot tubs, and eBay reported a massive spike in demand.

18% – On May 27 property portal Rightmove recorded its busiest ever day, up 18 per cent on the previous year.

74 % – Of households carried out some form of DIY during April and May according to Comparethemarket.com

At Abel we’ve seen a surge in interest as the lockdown relaxes and people want to get moving again.

Of course, the most important and heart-breaking statistics during and after lockdown are the number of people who sadly lost their lives to this terrible illness.

Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones.

Thanks for reading, and if we can help you in any way, please get in touch.

What do Tennis Players and exceptional agents in Hertford have in common?

Next Monday the All England Lawn Tennis Championship was set to start.

Wimbledon’s hallowed courts were to welcome the very best players on planet Earth.

But like many of the sporting, social and cultural events across the UK, it’s been cancelled.

While we can’t sit back and watch the likes of Federer, the Williams sisters, Nadal, and the Murray brothers, we can explore why great estate agency shares many things with tennis.

Service – The power and accuracy of a player’s serve can elevate them to the highest heights. And when people instruct us, they can expect a level of service that’s friendly, expertly delivered, and fast. But not as fast as big-serving American Taylor Dent who fired across a record-breaking 148 MPH serve at Wimbledon in 2010.

Rallies – According to the Wimbledon Tennis Lawn Museum, the longest rally in the tournament’s history saw the ball fly over the net 643 times. A tennis rally is not dissimilar to the back, and forth that happens during a property negotiation. We know what it takes to hit a winning shot that seals deals.

Tantrums – John McEnroe had legendary on-court tantrums, and it’s not uncommon for players to vent their frustrations at the umpire/line judge/ball boys and girls / their racquet. At Abel, we’ve been helping people sell and buy property in Hertford and we’ve often been a calming presence and sometimes a shoulder to cry on.

Aces – The most aces in a match at Wimbledon was 113 by John Isner during his 11-hour marathon against Nicolas Mahut. At Abel we have a team of our own champions who love what they do and the positive difference they can make to our clients’ lives.

Love – We promise you’ll love the experience of us working for you. We can’t say the same for poor John Hartley who was defeated by three sets to zero in just 36 minutes in the 1881 Wimbledon final by William Renshaw.

Game Set & Match – From the warm-up right through to winning the game we’re by your side every step of the way when it comes to your property journey.

Our job is always to ensure our clients get a result they are delighted with.

If you want to know the value of your home in this current market, please feel free to give us a call.

Ten Tales that made us smile during lockdown in Hertford

Clapping for the NHS

We Brits are usually quite reserved, so it was quite something to see so many people out on the streets clapping, cheering, and banging saucepans for the NHS. The first Clap for Carers took place on Thursday, March 26. It went on to become a regular fixture at 8 pm every Thursday for ten weeks.

Pandas finally mate

In early April zookeepers at Ocean Park Zoo, Hong Kong, excitedly revealed that after ten years of “trial and learning”, resident pandas Ying Ying and Le Le had finally mated. The notoriously shy creatures did the deed while the zoo was closed to the public. Staff now hope to hear the pitter-patter of little panda paws later this year.

Captain captivates the nation

Captain Tom Moore won the nation’s heart by walking 100 laps of his garden in mid-April to raise £37 million for the NHS. The Army veteran was later made an honorary Colonel and knighted for his efforts. In a sign of just how much he captured the public’s imagination, the all-around true gent received 150,000 birthday cards when he turned 100 on April 30.

Making something of a situation

We marvelled at the crafty types who rallied during the height of the PPE shortage and made all manner of useful items. A network of sewers called Scrub Hubs created hospital scrubs for NHS staff. Meanwhile, a group of 3D printer owners formed the 3D Crowd and made thousands of face masks for GPs, pharmacists, and paramedics. Blue Peter eat your heart out.

Down to earth volunteers

While we might have been in lockdown, nature wasn’t – leaving a Scottish environmental charity in a quandary. Trees for Life had 100,000 trees, all grown from seed in its Dundreggan nursery, ready for spring planting. But with the workforce out of action, this had to be put on hold, leaving the native plants at risk of drying out and dying. That was until six people volunteered to isolate together on the remote Glenmoriston Estate to look after the trees.

Pressing engagements

We felt for supermarket worker Mandy Hamling, who had to postpone her wedding due to Covid-19. Thankfully when she turned up to work at Asda in Leckwith, Cardiff, on what should have been her wedding day, her colleagues made one almighty fuss of her. They presented her with a veil and sash and cheered her on as she walked down the (supermarket) aisle to Chapel of Love. Nice work guys.

Random act of kindness

Thumbs up to the mystery man who washed the windows of 700 properties in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, for free. Apparently “Scott” wanted to do his bit for the local area by sprucing it up a little bit.

Lockdown trends

To keep busy while staying at home many of us turned to listening to the radio, getting out on our bikes, and doing the odd jigsaw. During the lockdown, listening figures for the BBC rose by 18%, cycling rose by 200% (on weekends), and demand for jigsaw puzzles rose by 43%. Let’s hope the enthusiasm for these activities doesn’t wane too much now that the shops are open, and the Premier League is back in action.

Community spirit

It’s been heartening to see, so many people across the country pull together to help those who are less fortunate. In one small part of north-west London, for example, charity Mutual Aid Willesden provided aid for 1,687 households over 12 weeks. This was delivered by way of parcels of food and other essentials, and books and toys. Fantastic work, but what’s even more amazing is there are thousands of similar groups out there making a difference. That’s true community spirit.

The power of kindness

New research from Harvard University has found that the benefits of volunteering are far-reaching. As well as strengthening communities it helps protect against loneliness, depression, and ill health. A study of 13,000 people over 50 found that those who volunteered for two hours a week had a reduced risk of death, less chance of developing a physical impairment and a greater overall sense of well-being.

The past few months have been unprecedented, and surreal at times, but we’re still standing and positive about the future.

Remember at Abel we’re here to help and proud to serve the people of Hertford.

Eviction Ban Means Hertford Landlords Need More Support Than Ever!

Whether you’re a veteran landlord with years of experience, or a rookie still finding their feet, now is not the time to be going it alone.

After all, Starsky had Hutch, Cagney had Lacey and Mulder had Scully (yep, we’ve watched lots of old crime shows during lockdown).

Hertford landlords currently find themselves in a unique situation, one that won’t be back to “normal” soon. This was made clear by the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick last week when he made two announcements.

Minister’s announcements

You’ve probably heard the first one already: the ban on evictions has been extended in England and Wales by another two months. It will now end on August 23, effectively creating a five-month moratorium on evictions. This will create an almighty backlog for the court system and prove particularly nightmarish for landlords with anti-social tenants, or tenants who are perpetrators of domestic violence (a little bit more on that in a minute).

More guidance is on its way

The second part of Mr Jenrick’s announcement got a lot less attention in the mainstream media but is still enormously relevant to landlords. The government is preparing “guidance” for the courts concerning evictions. This is to ensure that when things get back up and running “rules are in place to assist the court in giving appropriate protections for those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus – including those tenants who have been shielding”.

While we don’t yet know the finer details of this, the government has said it expects landlords to exhaust all other options, including flexible payment plans, before instigating eviction proceedings.

What are the implications of all this? And how a letting agent can help

Now more than ever, you want to avoid the eviction process.

Before Covid-19, the eviction process was stressful and took at least six months. Add in a five-month backlog and an increase in cases due to Covid-19, and it is clear things will become even more drawn out. If you’re having difficulty with a tenant, you want to pursue all other avenues first.

A letting agent can help you with this. They can take the burden off your shoulders and contribute different ideas and strategies to deal with tricky situations. In these unusual times, flexible and agile thinking is the order of the day.

This is no time to wing it

If you’re relatively new to the lettings market, firstly hello and welcome! Secondly, a word of advice now is not the time to wing it.

Even in “normal times” (don’t they seem like a long time ago?) there were plenty of potential pitfalls for landlords around maintenance, regulations, and tenant checks. But right now, things are more complicated than ever. You must ensure you meet all your legal obligations (the fines are enormous if you don’t) and stay on top of any new announcements. Having an expert to help you do this will save you time and money in the long run.

Old pros are in new territory

If there’s a word that sums up 2020, it’s “unprecedented”. A few others that we won’t forget in a hurry include “lockdown”, “furlough” and “shielding”. Even the most experienced landlords are dealing with a host of issues for the first time. Good letting agents are keeping abreast of the changing situation and talking to industry bodies and colleagues in other parts of the country and sharing best practice. Make your life a little easier and utilise this expertise.

A quick note: As we mentioned above, there is concern about the eviction ban, particularly concerning dealing with anti-social or violent tenants. The National Residential Landlords Association is pushing for these cases to be fast-tracked through the courts. In domestic violence cases, for example, landlords often end a tenancy agreement and start a new one with the victim but without the abuser. Many worry the lengthy delay in dealing with these cases is trapping victims of domestic violence in unsuitable tenancies. We’ll keep you updated on the progress of this campaign.

Here at Abel, we are committed to supporting our community through these difficult times.

Our experienced team is on hand to help the landlords and tenants of Hertford.

How Covid changed the property market in Hertford

Space may well have been the final frontier for the crew of the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek, but it’s also made the news recently much closer to home.

According to a BBC report based on data from property portal Rightmove the Covid-19 induced lockdown has changed people’s priorities when it comes to buying or renting a new home.

Indoor and outdoor space has always been a big draw for home searchers. But it’s now top of most people’s lists as the article suggests.

These new desires may end up being temporary, but they do make for interesting reading.

The findings also highlight that due to the rise in home working, having a spare room which can be used as an office or workout area, is increasingly popular with property seekers.

As is good wi-fi, a pet-friendly home and having parks or a natural environment nearby.

Number two on the buyers wish list is having a garden. With many of the 4000 potential movers surveyed saying it was what they desired most from a home.

Flats have dropped out of the top five wanted list for buyers according to Rightmove’s research based on the number of enquiries per property of each type.

Record-Breaking Weather

May was the sunniest UK calendar month on record according to the Met Office.

And it’s possible that all that good weather played a part in another trend the article covered – a rise in demand for properties in coastal areas.

Here’s a list of the most significant changes in home searchers desires:

Access to a garden

A bigger home

Access to a garage

A better home workspace

Live closer to parks

A pet-friendly home

At Abel we have years of experience working within the Hertford property market.

We’ve seen its ups and downs and observed the changing trends and priorities of sellers and buyers over the years.

So, if it’s a new home and space you’re looking for we’ll help you boldly go where you haven’t gone before.

Your weekly dose of positive news from Abel!

Pedal Power

The number of Brits cycling has skyrocketed. New official figures reveal a 100% increase in people cycling on weekdays and a whopping 200% rise on weekends during lockdown. The trend has been welcomed by environmentalists, fitness campaigners and bike shops – where sales have gone through the roof. Such is the demand that bike stocks are running low, prompting some to say, “bikes are the new toilet paper”. Not one of our favourite expressions, but we know what they mean.

Toy story

You could be forgiven for thinking the nation’s little people have spent the whole of lockdown glued to screens. But new market analysis from a data collection company called NPD shows strong demand in recent months for old fashioned toys. Demand for puzzles and jigsaws rose by 43%. Meanwhile, outdoor toys, like sandpits and waterslides, were a hit in May when the glorious sunny weather arrived, creating a 31% spike in sales. Building sets like Lego increased by 17%. (Figures cover January 1 to May 23 this year, compared to the same period in 2019).

Ingenious invention

Two resourceful brothers have invented a mobile handwashing unit to help stop the spread of Covid-19 in Ghana. Richard Kwarteng Aning and his brother Jude Osei built the Solar Wash from an old barrel and items bought at their local market. The nifty solar-powered basin has a sensor-triggered soap dispenser (so no need to touch anything) and an alarm to ensure you wash your hands for 25 seconds before rinsing. Solar Wash units will be rolled out to communities in Ghanaian cities so people with limited access to freshwater can keep their hands clean.

Canine companions

A yellow Labrador called K9 Raider is in the running to be named America’s top dog. K9 Raider is a Courtroom Therapy Dog who sits with young victims of serious crime when they give evidence. He provides a calming presence during what can be a traumatic experience. Another frontrunner in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards 2020 is Dolly Pawton, a Labrador who can detect when her owner’s blood pressure or heart rate drop and raise the alarm. Then there’s MacKenzie, a Chihuahua born with a cleft palate who now spends her time cuddling up to young, abandoned animals at a New York shelter.

We want our community in Hertford to know we are here to help you as life slowly gets back to normal.

We wish you all a safe, happy, and enjoyable weekend.

It’s Feelgood Friday again in Hertford!

Mystery man cleans up

A mystery man in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, has washed the windows of some 700 properties – for free! The Eastern Daily Press reports that the window cleaner, known only as “Scott”, wants to do his bit to aid the recovery of the local economy. He hopes that by keeping the area spic and span small business can “bounce back quickly when this is all over”.

Let’s cheer our volunteers!

This week is Volunteers’ Week, a chance to celebrate the 20 million people in the UK who give up their time to help others. This year has been particularly challenging for volunteers due to lockdown and social distancing rules, but that hasn’t stopped them doing good work. Volunteers at London’s Slipstreamers Cycling Club, for example, have devised a range of virtual spinning workouts to keep their young charges active until they can get back out on the track again. Then, of course, there are the tens of thousands of NHS volunteers who have helped alleviate pressure on our health service. You’re all heroes.

Everyone needs good neighbours
It’s official: Pemberton Road in Winstanley, Wigan, has the UK’s nicest neighbours. This week it was named Britain’s Friendliest Street in an online poll. Despite being a long and busy thoroughfare, Pemberton Road has bucket-loads of community spirit. During the lockdown, residents pulled together to ensure anyone who was self-isolating was kept stocked up on essentials. The road also has its own quiz master, who organises regular brain teasers to keep people occupied, and a videographer, who compiled a video of neighbours dancing to the Madness song Our House to keep spirits up.

Crafty Kids

Two young brothers in Derby have made more than 100 cushions for key workers. Ronnie and Reggie Cockroft, aged ten and seven, wanted to do something special for NHS staff and supermarket workers who have been putting in long hours during the pandemic. Their mission is made even more special because Reggie was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy. The boys’ family credit the NHS with saving Reggie’s life.

 

Radio Ga Ga

While some sectors have struggled in the pandemic, radio has enjoyed a resurgence. The BBC has recorded an 18% increase in listeners during the pandemic. Meanwhile, many of the nation’s 300 community stations have also thrived, with people seeking out local news and the chance to interact with their community while in lockdown.

 

We want our community in Hertford to know we are here to help you as we were in the past, as we are in the present and as we will be in the future.

The best investments homeowners in Hertford can make

In 1903 John Gray invested $10,500 (approx. $264,000 in today’s money) into a small car company.

Fast forward 16 years and Gray’s family sold their share back to the Ford Motor Company for more than $26.25m (around $1.8 billion today).

The film star Ashton Kutcher invested a cool £364,000 in a start-up taxi service called Uber several years ago. You’ve probably heard of it. His stake is now worth more than ten million pounds.

But you don’t have to be a canny entrepreneur or heart-throb film star to spend your dosh wisely.

Below are five ways homeowners and landlords can add value to their properties.*

  • A new bathroom can add up to 3% to a home’s value.
  • Converting a garage to a home office or extra room can potentially create a 10-12% uplift.
  • A loft conversion can help your property’s price rise by around 10-15%.
  • A new kitchen can add 5% to a property’s value.
  • A side or rear extension will add more space, and that will create a higher value for your property, potentially up to 15% depending on the size and quality.

*These estimates come from a Zoopla report from 2018 but are still relevant today.

We’ve experience in helping people work out what home improvements will also boost a property’s value.

So, whether you’re thinking of improving then selling, refurbishing then renting out or simply curious about what your home’s value on the Hertford property market is right now, give us a call.

We’re here to help.

What’s the best investment you’ve made when it comes to your property?

We’d love to hear from you.