Three Good Reasons to Shop Local

In this two-minute read, we look at why it’s crucial that consumers shop local.

As we emerge out of lockdown, there’s one thing you can do to help Hertfordrecover from the pandemic – and that’s to shop local.

Independent traders are the lifeblood of communities, generating interest and footfall in our high streets and providing local jobs. But after an incredibly challenging year, small businesses need help to stay afloat.

The good news is that many of us discovered the benefits of shopping locally during the pandemic.

Figures show that 53% of us have shopped locally more in the last year, and 42% say that they will continue to do so in the future (source: Lumina Intelligence).

The momentum is there; we just need to keep it going as the economy opens up. If you’re still not convinced, here are three other reasons to support local enterprises.

It’s character building

If we give all our business to online multinationals, what will become of our high streets? Answer: they’ll become ghost towns. Small businesses, and the people who run them, bring character and personality to neighbourhoods. They make an area feel special and unique, rather than sterile and anonymous.

Social responsibility

Small businesses are rooted in the communities they serve and often support local charities, schools, and sporting clubs. Shopping locally is an easy way you can say thanks to them for lending a hand to the small organisations that make a big difference inHertford.

Good for the environment

Shopping locally can help to reduce the carbon footprint. For example, take the humble veg box. Many people gave them a try at the start of the pandemic – when a trip to the grocery store was like starring in an episode of Supermarket Sweep meets Gladiators – and have remained loyal customers.

Food grown in the UK and picked in season is not only tastier but it also generates far fewer carbon emissions than those transported thousands of miles around the world.

About 500 schemes in the UK provide seasonal, locally sourced fruit and veg (many also supply dairy products and eggs). Why not try one local to you?

From all of us here at Abel, take care, stay cheerful, and support your high street.

Abel 2021

Five Ways to Find a Trustworthy Estate Agent in Hertford

In this three-minute read, we list five things Hertford sellers should look for in an estate agent.

It pains us to say this, but a recent survey found people were more likely to trust a traffic warden or a lawyer than an estate agent.

When it comes to telling the truth, it seems that only politicians have a worse reputation than estate agents (source: YesHomebuyers.com).

As you can imagine, this frustrates us. Firstly, we’re a hardworking Hertford business with a strong track record – just ask our happy customers. We know there are some cowboys out there – and thankfully, the industry is working to weed them out – but we hate being lumped in the same category as them.

Secondly, selling a home is one of the most significant transactions a person makes in their lifetime. We hate to think that people are being led through that process by someone they think is a consummate liar. It must make the whole experience more stressful.

So, we’ve put together a five-point list of things to look out for when you’re hunting for an estate agent you can trust.

  1. Word of mouth 

Speak to friends and family about their experiences of selling in Hertford. Don’t just ask them to name a good agent but dig deeper to find out: how long it took them to sell their property, if the agent’s valuation was realistic, who conducted the viewings, and if the customer service was up to scratch.

  • Marketing research

Identify popular agents in Hertford and scrutinise how they market their properties. Look for good quality photography and well-written property descriptions as these are vital ingredients for achieving top price. Dodgy snaps of cluttered rooms, and minimal information, should set off alarm bells.

  • Are they registered?

All UK estate agents who deal with residential properties must register with either the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme. These organisations deal with customer complaints (hopefully, you won’t have any, but it’s good to have peace of mind). If they’re not registered, steer clear.

  • Are they a member of a professional body?

Many good agents will be part of a professional body, such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) Propertymark, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or The Guild of Professional Estate Agents. Membership shows they take their professional responsibilities seriously.

  • Realistic valuation

If an agent vows to sell your home for a price that far exceeds market trends or your expectations, be suspicious. They’re either over-promising to win your custom or clueless (or both!). Either way, buyers won’t buy it (literally), and you’ll wind up dropping the asking price later. Don’t fall for this time-wasting exercise.

To find out more about why people in Hertford have been trusting us with their home sales for years, give us a call. COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

Why short-term gain often leads to long term pain for Hertford landlords

A two-minute read. A landlords’ advice article published recently said property investors need to think more like the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The billionaire businessman is renowned for his long-term thinking. He thinks decades ahead, and let’s face it, he’s not doing too bad, is he?

The article said landlords should retain good tenants at a reasonable rate rather than aim to get the highest rents in the short term.

It’s wise advice and something we believe in.

When a landlord adopts a short-term view of their property investment, it can often lead to lasting headaches.

The advice you are given can often depend on your letting agent’s philosophy.

Some agents will say things like: ‘The rental market in Hertford is on fire now. We can get you even higher rents and squeeze out every penny from tenants.’

That’s not the way we approach things. Why? Because if you hike up a person’s rent whenever possible, it may mean more money in the short run but can be more costly in the long run.

Our advice to clients and indeed anyone thinking of investing in rental property is this:

Getting higher monthly rents isn’t as crucial in the mid to long term as finding and looking after good quality tenants paying a fair rate.

Here are some of the plus points a good longer term tenant brings:

Fewer void periods.

Fewer unnecessary repair or maintenance call outs mean a reduction in the property’s running expenses.

Good tenants appreciate they are being treated fairly and respectfully, and they look after their home.

Never to be underestimated is that having a good tenant in your property reduces your stress levels.

Going for the highest monthly rent charge as a property rental strategy can often be a mistake.

At Abel, we take the time to find, vet and keep good quality tenants for our landlords. This is the best way forward in the long term.

So, take a leaf out of the wealthiest person in the World’s book (Bezos was ranked #1 by Forbes magazine last month) and think further ahead when it comes to achieving rental property success.

Copyright 2021 Abel

Stress-Busting Tips for Property Management in Hertford

In this two-minute read, we show you how to keep calm and in control when letting your Hertford property.

The idea that investing in rental property is easy passive income is a myth. Letting and managing rental property can be stressful, especially for inexperienced or accidental landlords.

This month sees the championing of Stress Awareness Month; an annual event which recognises the dangers of modern-day stress and provides valuable coping strategies. If you are wading through tenancy treacle, read our top tips to temper your tension.

Do your homework

Whether it’s a simple credit check or a comprehensive background check, referencing your tenant is ESSENTIAL. If you have concerns, you could arrange to meet your prospective tenant in their current property to see how it’s been looked after or even go a step further and ask for a rental guarantor. If you have rental income insurance, check whether the terms of your policy stipulate the level of referencing required.

Build a circle of trust

People buy people. And much like you want the right tenant in your property, you want the right tradespeople working in it. We guarantee that you will, at some point, have some repairs that need attention – whether from an accident or general wear and tear. Building a trusted network of tradespeople that provide value for money will stand you in good stead.

Don’t leave yourself short

Now, more than ever, we understand the importance of an emergency fund. In tough financial climates, rent arrears can be more of a reality than a risk. In situations like this, contact your tenant – there may be a simple explanation which is easily remedied. If not, don’t delay in taking advice. If you rely on your rental investment for income, consider whether rental insurance is a sensible option.

Know when you need help

If it all gets too much, ask for help. A good letting agent can manage the entire tenant journey for you: from tenant sourcing right through to the end of tenancy clean. Inventories, referencing, deposits, rent collection, repairs, and legal and regulatory compliance; you name it, it’s covered.

We understand the pressures involved in letting your property and are here to alleviate your anxieties. If you’d like to hear how we can make your property let a stress-free experience, give us a call on 01992 532 222.

Copyright Abel 2021

Introducing a World First for the Estate Agency Industry

A leading international inventor has chosen Abel to be one of only ten estate agencies in the world to trial his Artificial Intelligence (AI) software.

The reclusive billionaire and his team of experts have created a ground-breaking app that translates a person’s thoughts into a text message by analysing their brainwaves.

It involves the wearing of a baseball-style cap that has sensors in it.

Dubbed the AI Honest Agent Hat the sensors transmit the wearer’s brain activity as a message onto any mobile phone that has been given a password and has downloaded the app.

We are among only nine other agents from across the planet who have been chosen to trial this software over six months.

It will mean our clients will be able to literally read our thoughts on their phones when it comes to selling or renting their homes in Hertford.

The idea is the brainchild of a billionaire French internet genius and leading social scientist, Esh Kalting-Parc.

Speaking from his chateau in Paradise Falls, Monsieur Kalting-Parc said: “I always look to solve problems. And a big problem for estate and letting agents is that people often view them with mistrust.

“Now, with the invention of my AI Honest Agent Hat, that will be a thing of the past. I wanted politicians to take part in this initial experiment, but they universally refused.”

The introduction of our caps will be headed up by our new manager Noel Kusm who will run our AI Honest Agent department.

Noel said: “We’re an open and honest agency, we always share what’s on our minds and now you can literally know what we’re thinking. We’ve been selected because of our honest approach to business, so seeing as the cap fits, we’ll wear it.

“We’d be fools not to go for it, and that’s why we have signed up to be part of this exciting programme.”

Copyright 2021 Abel