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Property is moving!

December 2019 Blog Estate Agency

PFK has seen a noticeable increase in the number of properties coming to the market in excess of £350,000 and that despite continued economic and political uncertainty these properties…

Property is moving!
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Property is moving!

December 2019 Estate Agency

PFK has seen a noticeable increase in the number of properties coming to the market in excess of £350,000 and that despite continued economic and political uncertainty these properties are achieving sales within a quick timescale. The North West in general continues to perform strongly and there are a good level of buyers out there waiting for their dream home to come to market. So, if you are thinking of selling your home and the idea of Brexit makes you feel somewhat reluctant, don’t be! Plenty is going on in the UK housing market and at PFK!

PFK have had a close relationship with The Mayfair office in London for over 20 years. Historically London has played a central role in the sale of many of the UK’s finest houses. Today PFK’s Mayfair Office carries on this tradition providing a source of UK-wide property marketing expertise whilst forming the hub of a national and international network of the leading firms in the industry.

Located just a few minutes’ walk from Oxford Street, and with a prominent window, our Mayfair office is in the heart of London’s West End and ideally situated for the capital’s buyers and investors.

Our London office team have strong contacts with all the national property journalists and achieve an enormous amount of editorial coverage in the major national titles. Properties on the market with PFK are regularly included in articles and features, providing valuable free national publicity for our sellers’ homes.

Our London office can be found at Cashel House, Thayer Street, London.

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

Here for every season, whatever the weather!

November 2019 Blog Estate Agency

The ancient studded door is shoved shut against the raw and wet wind. The log smouldering in the stone hearth radiates a glow warming both body and soul of those…

Here for every season, whatever the weather!
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Here for every season, whatever the weather!

November 2019 Estate Agency

The ancient studded door is shoved shut against the raw and wet wind. The log smouldering in the stone hearth radiates a glow warming both body and soul of those sufficiently astute or fortunate to find themselves in their local hostelry, sampling Landlord’s Delight or even the famous Goulash served in The Dog and Gun here in Keswick! The day is over, the night drawn in, and it’s a choice between conviviality at the inn or a lonely election broadcast.

Since the clocks went back to Greenwich Mean Time at the end of October, the days have seemed so much shorter you’d be forgiven for wondering if every establishment not engaged in supplying heating oil or selling gaudy plastic toys (which I will inevitably buy for my son this Christmas), have long since shut up shop for winter.

Well, you get the point, I’m sure. But my profession – helping people to buy and sell houses – is more or less impervious to such seasonal variation. Houses need to be sold for all sorts of reasons, such as downsizing, upsizing , an investment as a second home/holiday let or sadly a bereavement. The timings of most of these events are beyond the control of the vendor and unsurprisingly do not discernibly vary according to whether the clocks are at GMT or BST!

Of course, most of these motives have their equals and opposites as someone selling often looks to purchase a property too. What is perhaps not quite so obvious, is that there are also many prospective purchasers of property here in Keswick who are discerning purchasers; that is, they are not compelled by external factors to make a purchase at any specific date but can broadly choose when to purchase. However, the relative scarcity of properties in this area means that even they have to be ready to pounce – to contact the Agents, visit the properties coming from some distance, decide whether to make an offer – whenever a suitable property comes on the market. So even the flexible purchaser therefore has to be actively searching irrespective of the season, the weather, or the clock time.

PFK are open:

Monday 23rd December: 9am – 5pm

Tuesday 24th December: Closed at 1pm

Wednesday 25th December: Closed

Thursday 26th December: Closed

Friday 27th December :9am -5pm

Saturday 28th December : 9am – 4pm

Monday 30th December: 9am- 5pm

Tuesday 31st December: Closed at 1pm

Wednesday 1st January: Closed

Thursday 2nd January onwards: 9am-5pm

Hannah Sims – Manager of PFK Estate Agency, Keswick.

Septic tank legislation

November 2019 News Estate Agency

Any estate agent operating in rural areas will be aware of the joys of septic tanks, cess pits and sewage treatment tanks – because discovering that they are not correctly sited,…

Septic tank legislation
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Septic tank legislation

November 2019 Estate Agency

Any estate agent operating in rural areas will be aware of the joys of septic tanks, cess pits and sewage treatment tanks – because discovering that they are not correctly sited, not properly maintained or have leakage issues can be a deal killer.

Many systems are properly maintained, others are old, rural and rusting. Now, says the law, it’s time they are rather more fragrant and efficient.

The General Binding Rules for small sewage discharges (SSDs) have been put in place to protect England’s surface water resources (e.g. rivers, streams etc.) from pollution caused by septic tanks and other small-scale sewage treatment plants.

Under the new regulations, it is no longer permissible to discharge low quality effluent from septic tanks directly into ditches, streams or other watercourses.

Instead, homeowners have the option of replacing or upgrading systems to incorporate a drainage field. This is also known as an infiltration system and means the effluent can seep into the ground instead for further treatment by soil bacteria.

The changing legislation cannot be ignored – the responsibility lies with owners to understand their private drainage system and any changes they need to make to comply.

Under the new Environment Agency General Binding Rules if you have a septic tank that discharges directly to a surface water (ditch, river, stream etc), you must replace or upgrade your septic tank treatment system to a full sewage treatment plant by 1 January 2020, or when you sell your property, if it is before this date.

Anyone who owns a property which is not connected to a mains drainage system, please ask yourself:

• Do you know the difference between a septic tank, cess pit and sewage treatment plant?
• If you own a septic tank, do you know where it discharges?

Michael Hewitt – Manager of PFK Estate Agency, Cockermouth.

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Five common myths about estate agents

October 2019 Blog Estate Agency

Two children were overheard talking one day. “My name is Billy. What’s yours?” Asked the first boy. “Tommy”, replied the second. “My Daddy’s an accountant. What does your…

Five common myths about estate agents
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Five common myths about estate agents

October 2019 Estate Agency

Two children were overheard talking one day.

“My name is Billy. What’s yours?” Asked the first boy.

“Tommy”, replied the second.

“My Daddy’s an accountant. What does your daddy do?” asked Billy.

Tommy replied, “My Daddy’s an estate agent”.

“Honest?” asked Billy.

“No just the regular kind” replied Tommy.

 I was told this joke not long after becoming an estate agent 10 years ago and it has always stuck in my head as being one of the common misconceptions people have about estate agents. The fact of the matter is that when you pick the correct agent this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Here are five common myths about estate egents and why they are completely false.

Myth one – All estate agents are the same

There is a common misconception that as agents we all do the same job. The truth is that although estate agents all have the same rules to follow and can advertise in many of the same places, they all have their own styles of getting the job done. It is important to sit down with a couple of agents to see if you connect and can see yourself working well with them. Selling a property is one of the single biggest decisions you will make, and as it can feel like a long process you need to trust the people that you are going to be dealing with.

Myth two – Going with the lowest priced agent with leave me with more money in the end

In a world centered around the internet and social media, it is easy to see why people are tempted by low cost and internet companies to sell their home; after all as long as the property appears online it will sell for what it is worth, right? This is not always the case. Take time to consider how proactively an agent is going to work for you. Is going with a low cost fixed fee option, which the agent will more than likely ask for upfront, going to get you the best possible price for your home? Or should you consider going with an agent who is working on a commission rate, and on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis until exchange of contracts? Again, explore your options and be confident in the agent that you choose.

Myth three – Spring is the best time to sell

It is true that all gardens look better in the spring and summer months, and of course a property photograph with a nice blue sky can be eye catching, but why limit yourself you marketing for only 6-8 months of the year? If you are thinking of selling, speak to a few local agents to find out what the market is like; are there many buyers for your property type? You can often be surprised just how busy the market can be on the run up to winter and Christmas, and with many sellers preferring to wait until spring, there is often a lack of properties coming to market at a time when there is steady demand.

Myth four – I should go with the agent who values my property the highest

It is easy to think that a higher asking price is going to get you more for your home, and indeed years ago there was an expectation that sellers would negotiate down to often 10-15% below the asking price. Nowadays buyers seem happy to pay around or about the asking price if they feel that the property is worth it – even if work is required, providing if the property has been priced with that in mind. Arrange two or three valuations to get a feel for where your property sits in the market and don’t be swayed straight away by a high figure. Take time to consider the valuations and price accordingly; a property is likely to get the most interest in the first 4-6 weeks after hitting the market if priced correctly. Going too high may mean that your property is not seen by the right buyers in online searches, and by the time you bring the price down to a more realistic level the damage can often be done, as buyers may think there is a problem with the property or that you are now in a rush to sell.

Myth five – I need to do some work to my home before I sell it

You want your home to look at its best for photographs and viewings and of course it is important to showcase your property as well as you can, but do you really need to redecorate that room or replace that carpet? As a lot of buyers will redecorate to their own tastes when they first move in, all this may actually be doing is costing you unnecessary money which you will more than likely not get back, and will delay you from getting your property on the market – which could cost you a sale. Speak to your agent about what work you are planning to do and ask their opinion. Is it worth doing? Do they think that it will help your property to sell or achieve a higher price? If you are already on the market then ask them to come out to see you – it is often good to get another perspective from someone else in the office, such as a sales negotiator, who may not have had the opportunity to see your home before.

Lesley Waugh – Manager of PFK Estate Agency, Whitehaven.

Things that turn house buyers off

October 2019 Blog Estate Agency

Go Compare did a study recently which revealed the top 20 things that put buyers off buying a home. Here are our tips to overcome these problems. According to this…

Things that turn house buyers off
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Things that turn house buyers off

October 2019 Estate Agency

Go Compare did a study recently which revealed the top 20 things that put buyers off buying a home. Here are our tips to overcome these problems.

According to this survey the biggest put off for most home buyers (71%) is if the property is in a poor state of repair- rotten windows, signs of damp. Look round your property before you put it on the market and carry out any repairs that will improve the appearance of your home. For example, mend the broken latch on the gate or paint the front door to remove faded or peeling paint. If DIY is not your thing get quotes from professional specialists to patch up window frames that are in a poor state or to treat damp.

Lack of general cleanliness and tidiness are also a major put off. This is so easy to put right. A good thorough clean of your home before prospective visitors come around is essential. Get the windows open too, to get rid of unpleasant stale smells. Don’t forget to tidy up the front garden. Put away the children’s toys, weed the beds, and put some planters or hanging baskets out to add a bit of colour.

Kerb side appeal is especially important for a terraced house that has no front garden or no parking space. Sweep the pavement, wash down the external paintwork, clean the windows and have either a hanging basket or window boxes full of bright flowering plants to make your home welcoming.

Somethings about our homes we cannot change. In the recent survey nearly half of all prospective buyers were put off by small, dark rooms. We can’t change rooms that have little natural light or are small so we must make the best of our home. Remove unnecessary furniture, use light colours on the wall and for soft furnishing to create a feeling of space and use artificial lighting creatively to give your home a cosy warm feeling.

Outdated electrics and old inefficient heating systems are also major put offs- 50% and 45% respectively. If you have already updated, make sure that prospective buyers know this; it is a very positive selling point. If you know it needs doing but don’t want the expense yourself, get some quotes so that if you are asked you can give prospective buyers an idea of costs.

Harriet Simpson – Manager of PFK Estate Agency, Penrith.

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

 

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.

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