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Want to open your Christmas stocking in a new home this year?

October 2019 Blog Estate Agency

Clare looks at what tops many people’s lists for Santa at this time of year, and gives you some hints on how to get moving. All over the UK…

Want to open your Christmas stocking in a new home this year?
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Want to open your Christmas stocking in a new home this year?

October 2019 Estate Agency

Clare looks at what tops many people’s lists for Santa at this time of year, and gives you some hints on how to get moving.

All over the UK home buyers and sellers have an important date in mind. No, it is not 31st October when the UK is set to come out of the European Union. This particular date will not be delayed, deferred, or cancelled. There will be no heated debates in parliament and Mr Barnier will not discount it out of hand. It is a date that everyone is agreed upon. It is 25th December, Christmas Day.

This date is etched on our minds. Already shops are stocking for Christmas and very soon Marks & Spencer and John Lewis will be revealing this year’s Christmas special television commercials.

Anticipation will also be rising for those hoping to move into a new home by Christmas. Historically this is a key date in the home moving calendar. It is an emotional date, a day that suggests a new start and time spent with loved ones in new surroundings – full of familiar things that make a home.

But the date can also put a great deal more stress onto an already stressful time. Why not complete a purchase two weeks later or at the end of January when things could be easier? Because it is not Christmas.

So for those aiming to have moved by Christmas here are a few hints on how to make that happen.

Set your price to sell. You haven’t time to test the market with an optimistic over-the-odds asking price. You need a deal fast and a buyer who is hot to trot. You don’t have to capitulate but you may have to compromise a little. Keep your eyes on the prize of putting up your Christmas tree in your new home. The clock is ticking.

Don’t compromise on solicitors or conveyancers. Choose a lawyer who is geared to getting a deal through quickly.

If you need a mortgage, make sure this is in place well ahead of time.

Finally, do not compromise on your estate agent. Find a great one. The key to being able to open your Christmas stocking in your new home is an agent who will get the deal though. Think of your estate agent’s office like Santa’s factory in Lapland – it’s where the magic happens.

Clare Birkbeck – Manager of PFK Estate Agency, Kirkby Stephen.

Are buyers still flooding in?

October 2019 News Estate Agency

Italy is amazing. My partner and I have enjoyed many holidays there, particularly along the beautiful Amalfi coast, with walks among lemon groves and picturesque villages on cliff top edges.…

Are buyers still flooding in?
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Are buyers still flooding in?

October 2019 Estate Agency

Italy is amazing. My partner and I have enjoyed many holidays there, particularly along the beautiful Amalfi coast, with walks among lemon groves and picturesque villages on cliff top edges. With a climate we Brits can only dream of, weather conditions ought not to be a contentious issue, but over breakfast the conversation usually turns to the temperature expected that day. Twenty-nine degrees Celsius, or thirty-two? Or possibly more? Who cares once it’s above twenty anyway?

Here in the Lake District, discussions about weather involve temperatures ten or fifteen degrees lower, with a much wider degree of deviation, and of course they include precipitation – mostly rain.

The Lake District has earned its name with good reason. We do have a lot of rain, more than 2600mm (102inches) in the 12 months to the end of August (Seathwaite, only nine miles from Keswick, actually has 50% more!) Of course, those millimetres are not spread evenly throughout out the year but descend in great bucketfuls, swamping our waterways, highways and byways.

With the wonderful scenery tempting buyers to live or invest here, we do also run the risk of occasional floods. And yet, properties continue to be bought and sold in the most beautiful locations, even if flood-prone. Why, a visitor might ask, would I risk buying a property that may flood?

As a local estate agent, who has sold more flooded properties since 2015 than any other agents in the locality, we have a wide knowledge of this problem and how people have coped. The Environment Agency is undertaking vast programs to improve flood resilience by planting schemes, clearing waterways, and increasing and improving flood barriers in specific locations. Attention is being paid to the height above ground at which new houses are being built, and existing properties are benefitting from specialised door and window seals, non-return valves to protect drains, advice about garden walls and similar simple prevention steps. Thanks to the Government’s ‘Flood Re’ scheme, flood insurance is widely available and affordable as part of a home insurance policy for those who want to make the Lake District their permanent home.

The Lake District may be the wettest place in the United Kingdom, but it is also the most beautiful (in my humble opinion). Why would you want to live anywhere else, even if the temperature rarely reaches thirty degrees Celsius? Talk to us, the estate agent rooted in the community, who understands life in the locality.

Hannah Sims – Manager of PFK Estate Agency, Keswick.

High Street versus Online

September 2019 Blog Estate Agency

In recent years there has been an expansion of options available when you sell your home and choose an estate agent. The choice broadly falls into two categories; the online…

High Street versus Online
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High Street versus Online

September 2019 Estate Agency

In recent years there has been an expansion of options available when you sell your home and choose an estate agent. The choice broadly falls into two categories; the online model or the high street agent. The choice you make will have an impact on the eventual outcome, as well as on the journey you experience when selling your home. So, what is the difference between the two?

A high street agent, like ourselves, tends to offer several additional services that the online agents don’t. For example:

  • A high street agent offers the consumer the best of both worlds – not only will your property be advertised in the online world, using the national property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla, but it will also be advertised in branch on the high street, and in some cases in the local newspapers. A high street agent ensures they reach the widest possible audience and find the best buyers for your property.
  • A local agent will have staff who live within the area, who are highly experienced and have a wealth of knowledge regarding property prices, market conditions, buyer demand and marketing strategies. All of these are crucial in helping you achieve a premium price for your home. On top of this, they will be able to recommend the best tradespeople, solicitors and financial advisors who can help ensure a smooth transaction.
  • A local agent should take a more proactive approach to selling your property, rather than adopting a ‘put it online and hope’ way of selling. A good agent will have a pool of buyers they have taken time to build a relationship with, and will be able to match buyers to property within the first 30 days of marketing, ensuring you sell for the best possible price in the shortest time.
  • Most online agents will ask you for the selling fee upfront; they are paid for putting the property on the market, irrespective of results. High street agents are mostly paid on results; if a sale isn’t achieved, a fee generally won’t be paid. This encourages a high street agent to sell your house and achieve the highest value as quickly as possible.

One last point to make – your property is not only your single largest asset (usually), it is also your home. Selling your home can be difficult, and at times, a stressful experience. Who would you rather help guide you through this; somebody who you can visit and talk face to face? Someone you can build a relationship with? Someone who will explore all avenues to sell your home including the local press? Or would you rather deal with a call centre, where it is doubtful you will speak to the same person twice, and an agent you have already paid, who will only use the virtual world to sell your real home?

Paul Doyle – Manager of PFK Estate Agency, Carlisle

 

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Choosing an agent

September 2019 Blog Estate Agency

Take a look around any town and you are bound to see a host of estate agents, each vying for your business. But which one should you choose and how…

Choosing an agent
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Choosing an agent

September 2019 Estate Agency

Take a look around any town and you are bound to see a host of estate agents, each vying for your business. But which one should you choose and how do you know you can trust them?

1. Choose a tried and trusted, long established agency selling property in your locality, preferably one that has been recommended by someone you know.

2. If the agent has been established for many years, it is a sure sign that they have been doing something consistently right over that time. That said, there is nothing wrong in selecting a newly-formed company as it may be staffed with a breadth of experience, but do your research first. It is no good selecting an agent with little experience just because they charge a much lower fee. Quality often comes at a price.

3. Test the agent before engaging their services by acting as a prospective purchaser; how well are you welcomed, how promptly, enthusiastically and professionally are you treated and how thorough is the questioning of your requirements. If you leave feeling positive, you can be sure if you instruct that agent to sell your home, your buyers will be similarly treated, qualified and handled when introduced to your property.

4. Look for an office buzz. A busy agent’s office will be a hub of activity so watch each office from the street and assess the mood before you walk in. Does the office look well organised and professional? Is each negotiator looking busy on the telephone or attending to clients – or are they just leaning back in their chairs looking at their watches, bored?

5. Opening hours are crucial. As a seller, you will want to utilise all marketing opportunities possible to sell your home. Agents offering the longest opening hours should be high on your list of requirements.

6. Website presence. Aside from the agent’s own website, agents who are listed on Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation enjoy millions of visitors a month, giving sellers the broadest possible buyer base.

Harriet Simpson – Manager of PFK Estate Agency, Penrith

 

Knowing me, knowing you...

August 2019 Blog Estate Agency

I really wanted to use a title along the lines of “Back to Basics”, but the last person I remember using this phrase suffered public derision (Prime Minister John Major,…

Knowing me, knowing you...
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Knowing me, knowing you...

August 2019 Estate Agency

I really wanted to use a title along the lines of “Back to Basics”, but the last person I remember using this phrase suffered public derision (Prime Minister John Major, twenty-five years ago). So, I thought the Abba song title might strike a more positive note!

Knowing both sides of the buying and selling equation has never been more important than in today’s property market here in Keswick. My colleague in the Cockermouth office of PFK wrote in his blog about the robustness of the property market in Cumbria when compared to many other parts of the country. Keswick, though, has a number of special factors.

The most significant aspect of the property market here in Keswick is the very restricted number of properties coming to the market compared to the number of potential buyers. This is not a temporary feature, but a structural part of the housing scene.

To start with, there are only four and a half thousand chimney pots in the town and the CA12 postal area, in a condensed radius of less than ten miles. And of course, it goes without saying that the popularity of the wider area as a National Park and World Heritage Site remains undimmed.

To complicate matters further, a good number of properties being sold in Keswick never appear publicly on the open market. This can be for any number of reasons; the vendor may not want the hassle of dealing with several offers, or may need a quick process through to completion. Alternatively, the ‘Guide Price’ could be offered promptly or, on the other hand, vendors can be content to wait and see what offers transpire, without the burden of full marketing.

Consequently, in Keswick, the estate agency needs to know its sellers and its buyers, and match one to the other. It must be able to assess guide prices accurately, and know local contractors and professionals to enable the selling process to proceed smoothly.

Funnily enough, I’ve ended up wanting to use my original title for this blog after all! Isn’t it simply “Back to Basics” estate agency? Isn’t that what we all want when we decide to sell or buy? Today’s communications technology can only get us so far, and in Keswick personal local knowledge is key.

Eat your heart out, Abba. I’m going with John Major.

Hannah Sims – Manager of PFK Estate Agency, Keswick.

So… How’s the market?

August 2019 News Estate Agency

It’s the question we get asked more than any other (apart from ‘what’s my house worth?’), especially in the current climate and with the dreaded B word! I…

So… How’s the market?
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So… How’s the market?

August 2019 Estate Agency

It’s the question we get asked more than any other (apart from ‘what’s my house worth?’), especially in the current climate and with the dreaded B word! I know we’re all fed up of talking about it, so I promise not to harp on.

If you read the national press, you’ll find that the market is 20% down on new properties coming to market, 20% down on sales, and house prices are down. Now, that may be the case for London and the South East, but is it really true for Cumbria?

Actually, no. The market across the county has remained surprisingly robust so far this year. It is true that there aren’t as many new houses coming up for sale (a comment we’ve all heard from prospective purchasers), however demand has remained high, with large numbers of properties selling across the CA postcodes this year. We’ve seen the usual seasonal blips, but on the whole the market remains very buoyant.

Many things work in favour of someone trying to sell right now; mortgages are still affordable due to the low interest rates and there are some great deals out there. Also the lower levels of new houses coming to market means it’s slightly less competitive for sellers than it was twelve months ago.

It is, however, quite a price sensitive market; buyers are thoroughly researching before they even view properties, and the current feeling is that if a buyer perceives the asking price to be 10% or more away from where they see the value, they’re staying away.

The old rules still apply in this new market; well-priced and well-presented properties which are expertly marketed by a skilled agent, are selling in short order and achieving great prices. There is very little to fear about selling your home in Cumbria right now.

Michael Hewitt – Manager of PFK Estate Agency, Cockermouth.

New Prime Minister

August 2019 News Estate Agency

Whether you are over the moon or underwhelmed, Boris Johnson is now Prime Minister of the UK, and Esther McVey has been appointed as our new Housing Minister. We are…

New Prime Minister
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New Prime Minister

August 2019 Estate Agency

Whether you are over the moon or underwhelmed, Boris Johnson is now Prime Minister of the UK, and Esther McVey has been appointed as our new Housing Minister.

We are in favour of anyone who is going to improve sentiment or confidence in the housing market. Current economic data is fairly strong and we are selling more properties than we did this time last year, but the uncertainty of Brexit has caused some stagnation in the market. Going forward with Boris as Prime Minister, I would welcome any positive move on stamp duty or the additional taxes on landlords. Prohibitive stamp duty charges have long been a challenge for those on all rungs of the property ladder, and so both buyers and sellers will now be eagerly awaiting confirmation from Boris and his party on how he decides to address this. Transactions could slow in the aftermath of his victory as buyers halt activity until the policy introduction, so he needs to move quickly.

We wholeheartedly support the government’s most recent proposals for regulating the industry, giving consumers greater confidence that whether buying (re-sale or a new home), selling, letting or renting a property, they are dealing with a professional agent and there is a clear route to redress in the event of a dispute.

The countdown to our Brexit due date is back on and we will see a confidence return to the market. We would urge Boris to do all he can to encourage buyers and sellers to the market during this time, and to make sure that the UK can maintain its status as a homeownership democracy.

Are you a first time buyer looking to buy a property? Then please read on…..

July 2019 Blog Estate Agency

Buying a property for the first time, can be a daunting prospect, even second or third time buyers can find the process stressful. Being prepared is essential, as you will…

Are you a first time buyer looking to buy a property? Then please read on…..
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Are you a first time buyer looking to buy a property? Then please read on…..

July 2019 Estate Agency

Buying a property for the first time, can be a daunting prospect, even second or third time buyers can find the process stressful. Being prepared is essential, as you will need the help and advice from a number of professionals. Preparation and obtaining as much information upfront will make you feel more confident as well.

We have set out a few key considerations below. Every purchase is slightly different and our list won’t cover every eventuality, however, the list will assist with a framework of items to think about.

How much deposit will I need to pay, and when?

Usually a 10% deposit is required. Some sellers will accept a 5% deposit, however, if less than 10% this will need to be negotiated directly with the seller or agent before agreeing to buy the property.

You will pay your deposit directly to your lawyer, who will pay this sum to the seller’s lawyer upon exchange of contracts. Do not pay any monies directly to the seller and ensure you speak to your lawyer about this, if any direct payments are being requested.

Who are you buying the property with?

Prior to purchasing the property, consider as to how the property will be held on the legal title. You will need to speak to your lawyer in detail about this as your relationship with any co-owners will usually dictate whether the property will be held as joint tenants or tenants in common. You will receive an explanation of the difference from your lawyer at the beginning of the transaction.

Are any family members or friends contributing towards the purchase price?

There may be relatives or friends who will provide financial contributions to the purchase price to help you on to the first rung of the ladder. These individuals will not necessarily be on the legal title, and simply may wish to assist. You will need to be clear with your lawyer and your mortgage lender as to the exact amounts being provided and also whether they are being treated as outright gifts or whether they are actually loans. Being clear about this at the outset is important and will prevent any confusion or further questions at the point of exchange of contracts.

Is the property freehold or leasehold?

It is easy to assume that all houses will be freehold; however this is not the case. Houses can be held on long leasehold interests. If this is the case, then you will need to consider whether there is to be any ground rent payable or even service charges for any commonly used areas. Also, there may be restrictions in the leasehold as to relating to any alterations to the property and further regulations relating to the property’s use.

It is advisable to check with your lawyer at the outset of the purchase as to whether the property is freehold or leasehold.

 Remember to budget for other costs

Prior to making an offer on a property, it is advisable to make a list of the further costs which may need to be paid, and which can easily be forgotten:

  • Survey costs
  • Lawyer’s fees
  • Removal costs
  • Valuation fees
  • Buildings insurance
  • Furnishings and decoration costs

Affordable home-buyer schemes

There are a number of government-backed schemes to help people on to the property ladder, such as help to buy and shared ownership schemes. Check as to whether you qualify for the schemes prior to looking for a home to buy.

Stamp duty relief

Stamp duty relief is available for first time buyers purchasing properties within England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

First time buyers paying £300,000 or less for a residential property will pay no stamp duty land tax. First time buyers paying between £300,000 and £500,000 will pay stamp duty land tax at 5% on the purchase price above £300,000.

However, if you are a first time buyer purchasing for more than £500,000 you will not be entitled to any relief and will need to pay stamp duty at the normal rates.

Handle the heatwave with PFK Property Management

July 2019 News Estate Agency

Here’s a brief glimpse into some of the changes that have taken place since May 31 2019 With immediate effect, all letting agents and landlords must ensure they are…

Handle the heatwave with PFK Property Management
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Handle the heatwave with PFK Property Management

July 2019 Estate Agency

Here’s a brief glimpse into some of the changes that have taken place since May 31 2019

With immediate effect, all letting agents and landlords must ensure they are issuing the updated version of the ‘How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England’ when tenancies start or are renewed.

Landlords cannot use the Section 21 (no fault) eviction procedure unless an up to date version of this guide has been provided to the tenant.

Since October 2018, all landlords and letting agents that wish to serve their tenants with a Section 21, or ‘no fault’ eviction, must:

Ensure that they have issued a ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ guide, either digitally or as a hard copy

Provide tenants with an up to date Gas Safety Certificate

Issue the property’s Energy Performance Certificate. Give tenants the Prescribed Information relating to the protection of their deposit (which must be protected)

Where the property is licensed, provide a copy of the license to all of the property’s tenants.

All of these documents need to be the most up-to-date versions for the eviction notice to stand. A new version of Form 6a has been published in order to stipulate that a landlord cannot serve a Section 21 notice if they have taken a Prohibited Payment from a tenant and that payment has not been refunded in full.

The legislation is becoming more onerous by the day and some landlords may wish to look at a fully managed service, whereby an agent may take care of all the updates on your behalf.

If you wish to find out more, please call your local PFK office.

A new home for Gus

Our sponsored dog, Gus, has now found his forever home in West Cumbria and we couldn’t be more pleased. He is a very special boy and we’re thrilled to have helped him on his way to happiness.

PFK are now looking to sponsor another cute canine at Eden Animal Rescue whilst they look for a new home – we’ll keep you updated!

Summer Inspiration

Summer is a great time to be looking at the outside of your properties and giving the garden a makeover, checking gutters and flashing on the house etc. Whether you prefer pots or bedding plants, a splash of colour is always cheery and adds kerb appeal.

Alternatively, look at some of the high-quality artificial lawn if you prefer low maintenance. If anyone needs advice, PFK have a list of gardeners, all fully insured, on their books.

Don’t listen to the constant scaremongering; most landlords are good and most tenants are good. Like anything, planning and preparation prevents poor performance. If A landlord keeps their property in good order then generally they attract a good tenant. The landlords need to be proactive – do not let your property unless you can, for instance, afford a new boiler. This is a practicality; landlords should try and keep back at least three months’ rent in order to pay for the things that might go wrong.

Tenants “buy” the right to the property and should be able to live it in as their home, so courtesy is required on both sides.

Tenant Fee Ban

July 2019 News Estate Agency

As you will have heard on the news, there are quite a lot of legislation changes being brought into the rental sector in the near future, and we are here…

Tenant Fee Ban
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Tenant Fee Ban

July 2019 Estate Agency

As you will have heard on the news, there are quite a lot of legislation changes being brought into the rental sector in the near future, and we are here to ensure that any tenancies are kept up to date.

The Bill will ban tenants from being charged for an accompanied viewing, receiving an inventory, signing a contract, or renewing a tenancy.   It will allow letting agents and landlords to only charge fees relating to rent, security deposits, holding deposits, or when a tenant breaches a contract.

As a landlord, now could be the time to start looking for other properties to build up a portfolio and PFK are happy to help. There could be some properties coming to the market as private landlords struggle with the new regulations. However, dealing with the complicated business of renting is exactly what we do.

Here are a few pointers to help your tenancies in the coming months:

1. Existing tenancies are not affected by the ban until 1 June 2020. After this date any fee taken will be a Prohibited Payment.

2. Deposits are to be capped at the maximum of 5 weeks rent (unless the annual rent is over £50,000, in which case it is capped at 6 weeks).

3. You may not charge a tenant for a missed contractor’s visit, even if it is the tenant’s error. You would have to pay the costs and then, where there have been appropriate clauses in the agreement, claim from the deposit at a later date.

4. Should you try to charge the tenant a Prohibited Payment, the first breach is a £5,000 fine, and a further breach within 5 years can be up to £30,000.

This is a very brief overview of the Tenant Fee Ban; more information can be found on the Government website.

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