Property Search

Paul Carr looks at how important making the right choice of agent is when planning your next move.

Markets are forever in flux. That is their nature. So our handling of them must be flexible too.

In the stock market we can buy, hold or sell depending on conditions. In a fruit and vegetable market we can buy the freshest produce early in the morning at the full price, or at the end of the day we can purchase what no one else has bought at a cheaper rate.

The property market is always in flux too. There are occasions when there is a lot of stock and buyers have so much choice they can take their time and sometimes make cheeky offers.

But we are not in that market now. In many places around the UK it is quite the opposite. Figures show that there are up to half as many properties on the market as there were this time last year – and 2017 wasn’t particularly good for stock.  So, at present, there is much less choice. Also, with more people chasing fewer properties, there is not so much time to make important buying decisions.

So forget a leisurely, late evening, glass-in-hand, browse through your preferred property portal. It is not going to help very much. Because by the time a good property gets onto a portal nowadays the early bird will have already caught its worm.

Serious buyers behave differently in this market. They know that they need to find a property before it ever reaches a portal - and that the best way to do this is to get to know their local independent estate agent so they can be first in the queue for the pick of the properties.

You see, the local experienced agents know the local market best. They know local people. They know when someone is about to make a move. Then they match who they know wants to sell with who they know wants to buy. Property portals don’t do that. Nor do most of the so-called, on-line ‘local property experts’, who, sadly, often don’t even live and/or work in the same town, never mind the same locality.

So if you are serious about buying get to know your local, well-established, estate agent. You will find his or her knowledge and experience provide the very best value in professional advice - because it won’t cost you a thing.  And if you are selling it’s pretty good value too because your local high street estate agents won’t charge you a brass farthing until they have achieved a great sales result for you.

Happy New Year and welcome to our new website and blog.

Before we get going with new content here's a taster of our previous blog:




Chalky Carr and 7 year old Isla bound together by Cancer

On the face of it, former All Blacks Logistics Manager Chalky Carr and 7 year old Isla Lunn don’t have a lot in common.

But they’re bound together by Cancer.

Chalky is fighting Pancreatic Cancer; and little Isla’s solo parent, her Mum, Kellie has just died of Breast Cancer.

Chalky thought he’d kicked his “rust” into touch last year after surgery and chemotherapy but a recent scan has shown the cancer has returned and he has been given a terminal diagnosis. The former Royal Marine Commando and Royal New Zealand Navy Officer, loving husband and father, has been forced to retire from work with the All Blacks and is in the midst of further, gruelling chemotherapy.

He’s mentally strong and brave; he was awarded the New Zealand Bravery Medal by the Governor-General for his actions saving lives at the CTV Building in the Christchurch Earthquake in February 2011.

Chalky wants no sympathy, but he does want to do something productive and meaningful while he can – and for Chalky that’s helping someone else impacted by Cancer.

Just a few weeks ago, Kellie Lunn died of Breast Cancer. She was a solo mum to 7 year old Isla and wanted to give her little girl the best life she could. When Isla was 3, Kellie trained and became a Vet Nurse. But Kellie’s Breast Cancer diagnosis at the end of 2016 changed everything.

Sadly, Kellie became so sick, so fast that she and Isla never got the chance to fill her photo albums and memory boxes with exciting adventures and special times together. Instead, Kellie spent a great deal of time in hospital, in incredible pain. Isla fought through her own fear of hospitals to visit her mum every day and Kellie fought hard to stay with Isla, but in August, Kellie peacefully passed away.

Isla is being raised by Kellie’s parents, Jennie and Alan. Both work hard to support Isla while coping with their own grief and Isla misses her Mum terribly. Just like Kellie, she adores animals! Horse riding is her big love and she’s desperate to pat a lemur one day. She’s just returned to dancing and is back into school life at Harewood School, though when the class sing “You Are My Sunshine”, “I’ll Stand By You” and “The Daffodil Song” her usual smiles give way to quiet tears. She has spent her free-time of late “bedazzling” the box for Kellie’s ashes in pink and purple jewels, heart breaking moments, but ones Kellie would have found hilarious.

Chalky has been so touched by Isla and Kellie’s story. He’s all too aware of the drive parents have to make sure their children are provided for, right through to adulthood. Kellie never got the chance to create that nest egg for Isla, so Chalky wants to instead.

On Wednesday 20 September, Chalky and his sons, Jamie and Josh, will have their heads shaved by Crusaders Captain and All Black, Sam Whitelock. He hopes to raise $100,000 for Isla and her family.

Create that nest egg for Isla which will help her to live the very best life she can – just as Kellie wanted.

We aim to raise $100,000 for Isla’s future. Any other funds will be part of The Chalky Carr Foundation, giving a hand where it is needed.




Propertymark, the go-to consumer organisation which helps people buy, sell, rent and let their homes, has launched its first national television advertisement to highlight the importance of using an agent who is ‘Propertymark Protected’.

The advert will appear across popular channels such as More 4, Home, Good Food, Eden, Discovery, Sky Sports News and Sky Living reaching approximately 30million adult viewers.

Paul Carr Estate Agents is a member of Propertymark, which unites the know-how and experience of the five leading membership organisations1 for services in lettings, sales and auctions. The organisation creates a single voice which promotes professionalism and integrity among those working in the property industry. By holding its members accountable and by empowering consumers with knowledge and advice, Propertymark protects consumers and their money during their property transactions.

Mark Bentley from Paul Carr Estate Agents comments: “By displaying the Propertymark logo in our agency window we’re letting consumers know they’re in safe hands and their money is protected. The launch of the television advert will help to raise further awareness of the work Propertymark is doing to support consumers and we hope as a result, people will proactively look for the ‘Propertymark Protected’ logo when choosing an agent in the future.”

David Cox, ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive, and Mark Hayward, NAEA Propertymark Chief Executive, said: “At present, consumers don’t know where to go for property advice or can’t be sure if they are dealing with a professional. Propertymark is changing this by acting as a stamp of approval for consumers when they seek property expertise. With the help of our members, some of whom participated in the filming of the advert, we’re encouraging consumers to look for the ‘Propertymark Protected’ logo. This means they’re dealing with a professional who has opted for regulation in an unregulated sector and will ensure their money is protected.”

1 Propertymark’s membership organisations – the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), the National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers (NAVA), NAEA Commercial, and ARLA Inventories

For further information contact:
Propertymark Press Office
Tel: 020 7566 9777
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About ARLA Propertymark
ARLA Propertymark is the UK’s foremost professional and regulatory body for letting agents; representing over 9,000 members. Our members operate to professional standards far higher than the law demands and we campaign for greater regulation in this growing and increasingly important sector of the property market. By using a ARLA Propertymark protected agent, consumers have the peace of mind their agent will provide a professional service and their money is safeguarded by Propertymark’s Client Money Protection scheme.

About NAEA Propertymark
NAEA Propertymark is the UK’s leading professional body for estate agency personnel; representing members who practice from over 11,500 offices in all aspects of property services. We are dedicated to the goal of professionalism within all aspects of property, estate agency and land. Our aim is to reassure the general public that by appointing a NAEA Propertymark Protected agent to represent them, they will be safeguarded and receive the highest level of integrity and service for all property matters.



What are your top keywords when searching for property?

When you are searching for property, what are your top keywords and is everyone looking for the same things?

A recent survey by Zoopla has revealed that having a garden has fallen down the top ten list for potential buyers when searching for homes.

In our now car obsessed world, it is no surprise then that having a garage is now the top keyword.

The top ten list for the first half of 2017 is:





















Compare it with the list from 2016:





















As you can see, freehold has made it into the list for 2017 so far, and it didn’t even appear in the list in 2016. This could be due to the increased coverage on leasehold terms.

And the poor conservatory has disappeared from the list completely.

Whatever your top keywords are, our full portfolio is available 24/7 on our website. Head over and have a search now.


Top tips for selling your home this summer

NAEA Propertymark has put together some advice for sellers putting their properties on the market this summer.

Summer can be a tricky time to sell a property, especially if it is a family one, due to the summer holidays.

While getting ready to put your home on the market, there are a few simple things you can do to maximise the saleability of your property.

Tidy up the exterior
First impressions are key and they can really impact on a buyer’s decision. It is therefore important to make sure that your property looks well maintained and cared for from the outside. Make sure to wash the windows and walls to remove any dirt.
A front door can say a lot about the rest of your home for buyers viewing it for the first time. A lick of paint or at least a quick wash down can do wonders to improve the overall look and feel of your property.

Neutral decor
House buyers have varied tastes in decor and when they are viewing properties they need to be able to imagine themselves living there. Anything that is too over personalised can be a turn off, so keeping colours neutral will make the property more appealing.

Tend your garden
A well tended garden can give your home the wow-factor, especially during the summer months when many lovely flowers and plants are in season. It is important to make sure your garden is tidy and clear of litter, the lawn is mowed, weeds are removed and trees are cut back. If you have the time, you could try potting some brightly coloured plants to make the space look even more attractive.

Kitchen makeover
Giving your kitchen a quick freshen up can go a long way. By giving the cabinets a quick lick of paint, or replacing the doors and handles, the room will instantly become more attractive to potential buyers.

Let air and light in
Rooms that smell musty are a huge turn off for buyers. It is important to open your windows well in advance of any viewings, particularly those in rooms that are rarely used. It is crucial to maintain a good level of lighting in your home to make the space feel inviting. The summer is the best time for natural light, so make sure all blinds and curtains are wide open.

Katie Griffin, President, NAEA Propertymark says:

If you put your home on the market during the summer, it’s important to understand your target market and who will be the most interested in buying your home. Your local NAEA Propertymark estate agent will be able to guide you in the right direction if you’re unsure and help you put your home on the market at the right time to increase your chances of a speedy sale.

Paul Carr Estate Agents are proud members of NAEA Propertymark and our Exclusive & Rural Homes Director Mark Bentley is the President Elect of NAEA Propertymark.


Tricks to make over each room in your home

You may not know where to start when you think about sprucing up your home, but there are a number of simple tricks and tweaks you can make to transform each room and add value to your home.

Dining Room
Using overhead pendants is the easiest way to add some drama to your dining room. Think about your favourite restaurant and they will mostly have a lower hanging pendant in the middle of the table.
There are many glamorous and affordable pendant lighting options and an oversized, metallic one would just scream, Drama Queen! Or how about a cluster of pendants arranged at various heights?
To add value, consider connecting your living and dining room spaces. Open plan living is in vogue and joining the spaces can add a feeling of lightness, and free-flowing.

Current trends are all about block colours, pastel tones and cushions – lots of cushions!
Block colours can be used to draw your eye, Scandi tones are still hot – soft pinks, charcoals and light blues. Layering of colours helps achieve a big impact. Just make sure to reflect it through all the soft furnishings, artwork, etc.
Changing the soft furnishings seasonally will make it look like the whole room has been redecorated, with the minimum of effort and fuss!

To keep longevity in your kitchen, and keep your potential resale appeal, neutral cupboards and worktops are the best bet. Add the colour to the space with the accessories, lighting and appliances.

Cushions play a big part in making our bedrooms feel stylish, snug and visually appealing. Match tonal cushions to your throw or pick out colours from the wallpaper or artwork in the room.
The space above the bed is important and can be highlighted with artwork, wallpaper or a mirror.
And another easy addition to any bedroom is a headboard – how about making your own from some MDF and covering it in fabric?

Modern, clean, luxe bathrooms are all the rage. Think of recreating the feel of a luxury boutique hotel. Metallic accessories, scented candles, bowls for soap, funky lighting instead of the usual boring bathroom lighting.
It may be a step to far for some, but how about changing all your taps? Gold, black and rose gold are the latest on trend colours – sorry chrome!
Don’t forget that towels and flowers can update a plain bathroom quickly and easily and can be changed to match your mood.

Gardens are often overlooked but should be considered as an extension of your living space and clever planning can ensure they can be used whatever the weather.
Add some seating that fits your needs, it is not all about single chairs, there are great choices for outdoor sofas that are comfortable and practical. Add some colour with – you guessed it – cushions!
Plant pots don’t have to just be terracotta anymore. There are a great variety of glazed ones that you can match to your soft furnishings – or vice versa.
The front of your home is the first thing visitors will see. Make sure it makes a good first impression – even more so when you are selling your home.
Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door, clean the windows, polish the door furniture and make sure you have fixed any damage, such as broken fencing, guttering or outdoor lights. Try to create a path to your front door.

A few quick fixes could make a big difference!

If you are looking to sell your home, contact us and find out how we are committed to getting you the best price for your property in the quickest possible time.


Changes to the Inheritance Tax system

On The Market have produced the following guide about changes to the Inheritance Tax system.

Changes to the Inheritance Tax system could have far-reaching implications for homeowners.

Recent post-Budget analysis may have concentrated on the U-turn over National Insurance for the self-employed, but another tax change introduced on 6 April 2017 could have far-reaching implications for homeowners.

This tax change means parents and grandparents are able to leave homes worth up to £850,000 to their children and grandchildren without them paying inheritance tax. This tax-free allowance is set to rise to £1 million by 2020. This was originally announced by George Osborne, not Philip Hammond, as part of his long-term plan to reduce the impact of Inheritance Tax (IHT) on ordinary families.

But what are the thresholds, rates and allowances? Here is our guide to Inheritance Tax.

How does Inheritance Tax work?
Under the old system, inheritance tax is charged at 40 per cent on the portion of the deceased’s estate worth £325,000 or more. This means no inheritance tax is charged on the first £325,000 (per person) of someone’s estate. This is called the nil-rate band.

Spouses and civil partners could pass all their wealth to each other without tax. However, tax may be payable when wealth is transferred down generations. Nil-rate bands can also be passed between spouses. In other words, the surviving spouse can inherit the entire estate without having to pay Inheritance Tax. Couples could leave a home worth £650,000 without it attracting inheritance tax (singles £325,000). This remains unchanged. Above the threshold, the charge is 40% of the value of the property.

What has changed?
A new IHT Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) was introduced on 6 April 2017. This is better known as the family home allowance. It is a new allowance of an extra £100,000 per person to use against the value of their home and a further £25,000 will be phased in every year over four years, rising to £175,000 by 2020. This will be added to the existing £325,000 nil-rate tax band. In other words from April 2017, an individual will be able to pass on £425,000 without paying Inheritance Tax as long as it includes the family home and passes directly to children or grandchildren and not via a discretionary trust. And by April 2020, this sum will rise to £500,000.

The changes mean the maximum that can be passed on tax-free is £850,000 for married couples or those in a civil partnership, £425,000 for others.

For singles, this is made up of the existing £325,000, plus the extra £100,000. For couples, when the first one dies their allowance is passed to the survivor, so that £425,000 is doubled to £850,000.

The new RNRB only applies if an individual dies on or after 6 April 2017, if their estate includes a property that they own or part own, and if their direct descendants such as children or grandchildren inherit the property or part of it.

Who will benefit?
– Those who are passing the family home to children, grandchildren or surviving spouses.
– Those who have an estate below £2million.
– The RNRB could still be reclaimable in situations where a property has been sold, perhaps because the owner has downsized or moved to a residential care home – provided it was sold after July 2015. This is another area where it is important for homeowners to clarify their situation.

The government’s website also includes information on this area:

The RNRB will be transferable between spouses and civil partners on death, just like the existing nil-rate ban. Thus the unused RNRB from the estate of the first to die can be claimed on the second death, raising the total RNRB to £1million. For a couple, this means a £1million family home can be left tax free to their children.

One likely consequence of the change may be to encourage retired homeowners to hold on to large properties rather than sell up and rent.

Who might miss out?
– Those with estates worth in excess of £2million will see little or no benefit from the new RNRB, which will be reduced by £1 for every £2 that the deceased’s net estate exceeds £2 million.
– The RNRB could potentially be lost if a property has been placed in a discretionary trust for children or grandchildren. But not all trusts fall foul of the new rules, so it is important to seek legal advice on this point.
– Only one residential property can qualify for the purposes of the new RNRB. – Properties which were never residences, such as buy-to-lets, will not qualify.
– The new rules may make it harder for homeowners not domiciled in the UK to avoid paying IHT on UK residential property.

The changes in IHT are so complex and far-reaching that those in any doubt about their position should review their wills as a matter of priority and consider taking appropriate advice, to ensure that they maximise the benefits to their estate.

Content provided by is for information purposes only. Independent and professional advice should be taken before buying, selling, letting or renting property, or buying financial products.


Are you on Instagram? Check this out.

If you love property as much as we love property, you are going to want to check this out.

Our Exclusive & Rural Homes team have their own Instagram feed.

They are sharing beautiful, inspirational images of interiors, exteriors and much, much more.

Instagram is the home of visual storytelling so what better way for our Exclusive & Rural team to show off some of their favourite images, their personal design inspirations and more.

Exclusive & Rural Homes is a premier branded service tailor made for homes valued in the region of £600,000 or more and those properties set in village and rural locations in all price ranges such as cottages, converted barns, equestrian properties, halls, farms, etc.

Exclusive & Rural Homes is headed by Director Mark Bentley FNAEA who has over 40 years’ experience in the property market. He is President Elect of the NAEA and will take over the Presidency in 2018.

The Exclusive & Rural Homes approach means going above and beyond, in both service and marketing, giving you the best opportunity to sell your home for its maximum value.

You can contact the ERH team on 0121 308 5511.

And, if you are not on Instagram, we suggest you join right now!

Pop over and give them some double-taps. We can’t be held responsible for the amount of time you may then lose looking and interacting with our feed!


Eye-tracking technology tested during viewings

Do you want to know what prospective buyers pay most attention to during viewings?

A recent study using eye-tracking technology has revealed the critical differences between what male and female viewers pay most attention to during viewings.

During the study, for Anglian Home Improvements, viewers agreed to wear eye-tracking spectacles and what they looked at, what disrupted their naturally movements and what they lingered on were recorded.

The results showed that 27% of the viewers’ focus was spent on furnishings, 24% was spent on looking at personal effects and clutter and just 4% was given over to the layout of the property!

Female viewers found personal effects and clutter the most distracting and they spent 28% of their viewing time focusing on them, compared to only 20% of the male viewers.

The results show that, even when potential buyers do not mention clutter or mess to the agents in the viewing feedback, their eyes were repeatedly drawn to it during a viewing.

Men spent more time looking at the structure and features of the grounds and building, 32% compared to 22% of women, while women focused more on the personal elements, decoration and furnishings.

A statement from the company said:

Photos were a big element of this. The data showed that house hunters often made eye contact with specific photographs, which distracted the viewers from other elements of the room.

Only 4% of viewers time was spent looking at repairs or structural features, for example, checking door frames, sliding doors or light switches.

Exterior features and the garden accounted for 22% of their focus with 17% of the viewing time spent looking through the windows!

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.


Mark Bentley becomes President Elect of NAEA Propertymark

On 16th June 2017 at the NAEA Propertymark AGM, Mark Bentley became the President Elect of NAEA Propertymark.

Mark has spent the last year as Vice President and he will become President in June 2018.

During the next year, Mark will be supporting the new President, Katie Griffin, and will be heading across the country and to the upcoming Masterclasses.

Katie is director of Sawdye & Harris, an award-winning agency based in Devon. She is a qualified chartered surveyor and has also worked for a global property consultancy in London. Griffin also sits on the National Advisory Group for The Guild of Property Professionals.

Mark is Director of our Exclusive & Rural Homes division and has over 40 years’ experience in the property market.

Exclusive & Rural Homes is a premier branded service tailor-made for homes valued in the region of £600,000 or more and properties set in village and rural locations in all price ranges.

A major strength of Exclusive & Rural Homes is their experience over many years selling luxury and rural property. Marketing exposure is vital, ensuring prospective purchasers from all over the world are able to fully appreciate their portfolio of properties for sale.

The Exclusive & Rural Homes approach means going above and beyond, in both service and marketing, giving vendors the best opportunity to sell their home for its maximum value

Pictured above are Mark and his wife Jo arriving at The Savoy in London for the Presidents’ Dinner.


Top high street agents significantly outperform online sellers

If you are looking to sell your home, then new research from a consumer group will make interesting reading.

The HomeOwner’s Alliance (HOA) findings show that top high street agents significantly outperform online sellers.

Whilst they admit that online brands have shaken up the industry in recent years, the top 1,000 high street agents achieved an average selling price of 100.35% of their value, in analysis undertaken by the HOA.

Sellers can therefore maximise their home’s potential by selecting the correct local agent.

Local agents also have a far higher success rate, selling 82.42% of homes listed with them, compared to 51.98% among the online sellers, according to the HOA analysis.

The HOA based its findings on the average final sale price of £234,000 set out in the government’s ONS house price index dating from February 2017, and uses Which? data to set a typical high street estate agent’s commission at 1.3%. For their analysis, they also took a typical online agency fee of £849.

Paula Higgins, of the HOA, said:

Sellers who look carefully at their local market before listing their home for sale will probably still be better off instructing the best high street agent in their area.

Paul Carr Estate Agents are the largest independent estate agent in the West Midlands. With 19 networked sales and lettings branches, Paul Carr Estate Agents has established a reputation for quality customer service. Our ethos of being with you every step of the way remains across all disciplines within the Company and is the driving force behind every decision.

If you are looking to sell your property, please contact your local branch and find out how we are committed to getting you the best price for your property in the quickest time.


Why most vendors choose traditional estate agents

A recent study, which has been described as the biggest of its type, has set out to explain why vendors choose – or avoid – online estate agents.

The Home Moving Trends survey, undertaken by Property Academy, surveyed 14,530 vendors.

Sellers who chose to use a traditional bricks and mortar estate agent were asked whether they considered an online alternative. Exactly 30% said they considered an online agent by eventually decided against it. The other 70% said they didn’t even consider using an online agent.

When they were then asked what was the primary reason they chose to use a traditional agent, 38% said it was because their local knowledge was important; 35% said it was because they could have face-to-face meetings; 17% said is was because of the importance of a local present, in the face of their branch; and 10% said it was because it was simply more convenient.

For those that ultimately went on to use an online agent, 74% said they were persuaded primarily by cheaper fees; 11% had a personal recommendation; 9% thought the online agents were more innovative and 6% chose the online option as they thought they would be easier to deal with.

Other questions in the survey were about Brexit and whether it had impacted their decision to move. Only 2% decided not to move because of Brexit; 7% felt property prices had fallen as a result of the vote; and 85% felt that Brexit had not impacted their decision to move.

It was good news for new technologies, such as virtual tours, as 60% said they would consider viewing online prior to a physical viewing in the future.

Paul Carr Estate Agents are the largest independent estate agent in the West Midlands. With 19 networked sales and lettings branches, Paul Carr Estate Agents has established a reputation for quality customer service. Our ethos of being with you every step of the way remains across all disciplines within the Company and is the driving force behind every decision.

Contact your local branch and start your property journey with Paul Carr Estate Agents today.


ARLA and NAEA comment on the appointment of Alok Sharma as Housing and Planning Minister

David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark (Association of Residential Letting Agents) and Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark (National Association of Estate Agents) comment on the appointment of the new Housing and Planning Minister.

Pictured, David Cox and Mark Hayward.

We would like to congratulate Alok Sharma on his appointment to Minister of State for Housing and Planning. We worked closely with the former administration to secure a number of key improvements to the industry including support for greater property transparency and more appropriate regulation through the introduction of Client Money Protection for letting agents.

However, more can be done and the Minister will have a lot in his in-tray as he arrives on his first day as long standing issues continue to impact the sector. We call on the Minister to build upon the underwhelming recommendations contained within the Housing White Paper and take forward a series of fundamental reforms to change the industry for the better. Demand continues to greatly outstrip supply and more appropriate regulation of the sector is vital if we are to improve the experience of people looking to rent and purchase a home.

The Government has a good opportunity at the Queens Speech to introduce a new and radical Housing Bill to address these significant concerns. The challenges are not insurmountable and we greatly look forward to working with the DCLG team to find solutions to these challenges in the months ahead.

Paul Carr Sales and Lettings are members of both the NAEA Propertymark and ARLA Propertymark.


The Sorting Hat

Principal Paul Carr gives us some timely property buying advice now that the general election is over.

Many of us know about the Sorting Hat at J K Rowling’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When a new student puts on the hat it tells him or her to which of the four houses – Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin – they are most suited.

Well a property is just like the Sorting Hat. It’s as if it instinctively knows whether it’s right for you – and you for it. All you have to do is listen carefully to the conversation the property is having with your inner self.

This is important, as you don’t want to be put in the wrong house. You want to be somewhere which fits your personality, as well as your pocket and your spatial needs.

Of course every now and then even Sorting Hats can become a bit confused by the choice. Just look at what the British electorate Sorting Hat has done with the 2017 general election! It may have to have another go sooner rather than later. Yes there are many things to be confused about, especially in property. And it’s not just about finding the right home for you. What about the market? Then there’s Brexit, the economy, schools, transport, mortgages and even the neighbours. And what about property prices are they going up or down? When is the right time to buy?

But the right home can magically make many of these concerns disappear. That is because, apart from our families and ourselves, our homes are one of the most important things in our lives. Our homes protect and nurture us. They keep us warm. They keep us secure. They inspire us. Why do we become homesick when we are away for too long? When we are away we like to create a home-from-home and find somewhere that is homely. We have home thoughts and like home cooking. We certainly like home comforts. When we look for somewhere to live we home in on a place that we can call home-sweet-home, for our home is our castle.

Yes the property market is important. But more so is belonging to the right house. So this weekend why not forget the general election and Brexit negotiations for a while. Go and try on a house and let it tell you if you should move or not.


We are the number one agent in Sutton Coldfield – again!

Paul Carr Estate Agents are the number one selling agent in Sutton Coldfield – AGAIN.

Based on an independent survey, Paul Carr Estate Agents was the agent with the highest number of sold signs displayed during the survey period.

We are the largest independent estate agent in the West Midlands. With 19 networked sales and lettings branches, Paul Carr Estate Agents has established a reputation for quality customer service. Our ethos of being with you every step of the way remains across all disciplines within the Company and is the driving force behind every decision.

Visit our website to see how Paul Carr Estate Agents can turn your FOR SALE into a SOLD!


What your dining room says about you

An elegant dinner party is one of the most sophisticated ways to spend an evening.

Much of its success can depend on the quality of the meal and the company, but your wine glasses and tablecloth can say much more about your social standing and aspirations.

Etiquette expert William Hanson, explains below just what your dining room says about you.

If you think a canteen is simply somewhere to eat, for example, and a butler stick does not ring any bells, than you are unlikely to find yourself breaking bread with the upper class any time soon.

Similarly, a mere glimpse of a glass table or, heaven forbid, a hostess trolley should be enough to drive away any self-respecting member of the aristocracy.

So please, be my guest, and learn what exactly your dining room says about you …

Location of the table
Ultimately, you want your dining table to be in a room of its own. Separate dining rooms may be a dying breed but are essential for distinguished living.

I, indeed, refuse to move anywhere near central London until I find somewhere with a sizeable dining room and a large L shaped room for entertaining.

Lower class houses tend to have the dining table in the middle of the kitchen – middle class houses have a kitchen table (often round) and then a separate dining room.

The ideal response, however, when your loved one asks the question, ‘shall we eat in the dining room, tonight?’ is ‘which one’?

Type of table
Much can be gleaned from the quality and build of the table itself.

Something French polished – rectangular or perhaps slightly oval – is a must. Middle and upper middle hosts will often set for dinner opting for placemats instead of covering the table with a cloth.

Uppers will usually always throw a tablecloth over – of course they have a French polished (inherited) table. They don’t feel the need to display it to prove it.

Extending tables are not just the reserve of Ikea shoppers – they are no new thing.

Your table may extend, but only by adding extra leaves. If it doesn’t take two people to take a solid leaf out and it just folds away, into or under itself, in just a few simple moves then that is decidedly lower class: unless you are a young, spraunchy thing waiting to inherit a proper table and just ‘making do’.

Glass tables are fine for the conservatory but nowhere else.

When properly done, a formal table will have napkins made from linen, damask or cotton

In this day and age, I’m thankful for being given anything to dab my mouth. So many hosts set the table and seem to inexplicably not set a napkin.

Properly done they should be linen, damask or – for slightly more casual yet correct dining – cotton.

Starched napkins are the zenith, but don’t overdo it. If you add so much starch that the linen is so stiff it may as well be card, then diners will cut their lips.

Linen feel napkins from supermarkets do not magically transform your middle class ‘home’ into some minor historic house. A regular paper napkin is smarter than something pretending to be something it’s not.

(Pictured: Etiquette expert William Hanson)

And let’s not pretend that kitchen roll is a suitable substitute for a proper napkin, please.

Whatever material they are made from, they are called napkins and never serviette. You can give up now on your quest for any vague sort of respectability if you’re getting that one wrong.

A word of caution – a napkin ring is not anything you’ll see on the best tables. They were a Victorian middle class invention for people who used the same napkin for two (or more) separate meals. Horrid.

The one accessory seen in the grandest of dining rooms is a retinue of staff.

The days of Downton and that ilk may be over but even just one member of staff on hand to assist with serving the wine or helping ladle a sauce adds invaluable cachet.

Butler stick
Somewhere close at hand to the table(s) should be what looks like – to the middle class and uninitiated – a metre ruler. Look carefully at the markings and realise the numbering is different from what you may have seen at school.

This, dear heart, is a butler stick. If you know what it’s used for then top marks. But you shouldn’t be too familiar with how to use it – that would make you too downstairs.

Wine glasses
Very much like the national deficit, wine glasses have ballooned over the years – not helped by people’s drinking habits.

For formal dining, wine glasses (cut glass, obviously) need to be on the small side. You’ll be serving more than one type of wine – one for each course, and so smaller quantities are needed.

The general rule for the size of your vessels – too big: too middle.

Silver birds
When not in use, smart dining tables can be spotted from afar by the gleam of a pair of silver partridges or pheasants, adorning the centre and keeping watch over the empty room.

Should you not yet have a pair of country birds for the table, ensure it never sees a runner placed across it (when in or out of use). It will just make the table look like some bubblegum-pink taffeta runway for the aeroplane of good taste fleeing the country.

Also in the dining room should be numerous decanters, cut-glass or plain – no one minds, but a proclivity of these is a must.

Decanter tags around the neck are sometimes seen as a bit suspect, so make sure you don’t have one for every decanter to avoid total social seclusion.

Do you use a claret jug to serve certain types of red wine? You do? Super – these are very recherché.

Upon hearing the word canteen you will think of one of two things, and if we could see inside your brain it would be a good acid test to check in which social band you belong.

If you thought of turkey twizzlers and sponge pudding then I am afraid it’s not good news.

If you immediately thought of your family cutlery then congratulations – you’re all set, socially.

A canteen of cutlery is a fairly weathered dark wood box, which houses the entire set of cutlery – including items that you aren’t really sure what they’re for, but Granny used to use them.

Avoid suspect items
Finally, avoid the temptation to buy silver grape scissors from an antiques shop to add élan – they do quite the opposite. We don’t want nasty Victorian inventions hanging about.

And if you own a hostess trolley then please – under the cover of darkness tonight – race to the nearest lake and chuck it in, quicker than you can say Abigail’s party.

Source: Daily Mail

We would love to hear your comments about this subject. Please let us know whether you agree or not!


Birmingham in Top 10 property hotspots in Britain

A new study by a property portal has revealed the Top 10 property hotspots in Britain.

Whilst Edinburgh was the most sought-after place to live in the UK, Birmingham came in at a healthy number 6.

The data was based on an analysis of email enquiries sent by house hunters to estate agents listing homes on the property portal during the last year.

Birmingham, where the average property value was £185,825 in April 2017, had 56% more enquires than the British average.

The study also looked at the most popular search terms, with buyers in Edinburgh and Croydon (respectively first and second on the list) keen on homes with a garage.

Unsurprisingly, the term freehold was the most important search term in London.

A spokesman for the survey company said:

This new set of figures gives us valuable insight into which areas of the British property market are most in demand.”

Luckily, nowhere near us featured in the Bottom 10!

If you are looking for a property to buy or rent in North Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield and South Staffordshire, please contact your local branch and let us tell you all about our with you every step of the way service.


Why living near a Waitrose is good for your home

Recent research shows that the Waitrose effect can help to typically add over £36,000 to a property price, whilst living near any national supermarket may boost a home’s value by around £22,000.

The research, carried out by Lloyds Bank, found that homes within an easy reach of a local supermarket command an average premium of £21,512 compared with property prices in nearby areas.

Homes near a Waitrose were found to command the biggest cash premium, typically costing £36,480 more than average house prices in the wider town.

It is not just Waitrose though that is good for the value of your home. Properties close to a Marks & Spencer have the second highest premium, with homes worth £29,992 more on average than homes further away.

The research compared average house prices in postal districts across England and Wales with a supermarket from a national chain with typical property values in the wider towns to calculate the price premium paid for homes located near supermarkets.

Whilst living near a premium supermarket brand can help boost a property’s value significantly, the research also showed that discount chains can also command a premium, with homes located near a Lidl valued at £6,416 more on average than those in the surrounding area.

Home buyers who want the convenience of living near a supermarket but do not want to pay a big house price premium may want to consider focusing their search near an Aldi.

Properties near an Aldi can be, on average, £2,902 less expensive than those in the surrounding areas.

Andy Mason, Lloyds Bank Mortgages Director, said:

With homes in areas close to major supermarkets commanding a premium of £22,000, the convenience of doing your weekly shopping within easy reach may well be a pull for many home buyers looking for good access to local amenities.

He continued:

The Waitrose effect is clear – having a premium brand on your doorstep means buyers typically need to pay top prices. But the research also shows that areas with budget stores have, on average, seen the most rapid house price growth in recent years.

There has been some suggestion that the likes of Lidl and Aldi are increasingly locating in more affluent areas where prices are already relatively high. Indeed, in 2014 house prices in areas with a Lidl were, on average, £4,700 lower than in neighbouring areas. Today they are £6,400 higher.

Here are the average house price premium for living near a supermarket, according to the research from Lloyds Bank:



Marks and Spencer



















Another new Scandi happiness craze?

Just when we had got our heads around Hygge, here comes another Scandi happiness craze that is about to take over our interiors.

Out goes the coziness of hygge and in comes lagom, which means just the right amount.

Lagom, pronounced laaaw-gum, is a lifestyle philosophy that promises to transform the way that we live.

The philosophy is not about making big changes, rather making improvements to small things in all areas of your life. Lagom can be said to describe the basis of the Swedish national psyche, one of consensus and equality.

So, how does this translate into interiors?

Your belongings should be either functional or have sentimental value. Things that fall outside of this may be considered unnecessary and excessive. If you let go of things that don’t fit those categories, you should feel more emotionally content and your mind should feel less cluttered too.

If you now feel ready to dip into the lagom philosophy, where can you start?

IKEA, the Swedish home store, has launched a series of in store workshops that will help create a better way to live and created a great brochure to help you on your lagom journey.

Some of the tips they have are:

Use less power – Did you know that 87% of large families in the UK are worried about their rising energy bills? And 15% of UK householders think their energy use if out of control.

Use less water – On average, every person in the UK uses 150 litres of water every day. And 30% of that is flushed down the toilet.

Create less waste – Up to 60% of what we throw away could be recycled. And we bin seven million tonnes of food and drink every year – costing us £12.5 billion.

Live well – If people in urban England and Wales cycled and walked as much as people in Copenhagen, the NHS could save £17 billion within twenty years.

There are also a wealth of books springing up on the subject and, as the trend expands, expect to see more examples and products across the whole high street.


Have you ever thought about your room ratios?

You may have a checklist when thinking about home improvements or moving home, but have you ever thought about room ratios?

Recent research by an insurance company has revealed that the ideal home should have a bedroom to bathroom ratio of 3:2.

So, a property should have two bathrooms for every three bedrooms in order to maximise its desirability and value.

Estate agents were polled to find out the impact of extra bathrooms on price and over 70% agreed that, a three bedroom property should ideally have at least two bathrooms.

The study also said that a five bedroom property should have at least three bathrooms but that a shower room can add as much value as a proper bathroom.

The estate agents polled estimated that an extra bathroom could add 6.8% to the value of a standard three bedroom property, nearly £12,000.

For a four bedroom property, an extra bathroom would be expected to increase the value by 6.2%, nearly £17,000 of added value.

Do you agree with this research? What would be your perfect room ratio and would it be a deal breaker when looking at a new home? Let us know in the comments below.


Top 20 Must-Have features revealed

New research has highlighted the Top 20 Must-Have features that would encourage people to purchase a seller’s property.

Can you guess what they are? Here is the full list:

  1. Central heating
  2. Double glazing
  3. A garden
  4. Secure doors and windows
  5. Driveway or dedicated parking space
  6. Plenty of electrical sockets
  7. Local shops and amenities
  8. A good, reliable broadband connection strong enough to stream TV and films.
  9. Friendly neighbours
  10. At least 2 toilets
  11. A bath
  12. A good energy efficiency rating
  13. A new boiler/central heating system
  14. A reliable, clear mobile phone signal.
  15. A shower cubicle
  16. A garage
  17. Cavity wall insulation
  18. A land line telephone
  19. A living room big enough for a large, flat screen television.
  20. A dining room

The research shows that several must-haves of the past, including period features and conservatories, didn’t make the list. What’s more, only 13% of participants indicated that they felt highly rated schools to be a must-have property feature.

The survey spokesman stated:

We found that many potential buyers are prioritising efficiency, security and connectivity over aesthetic features

“This suggests that modern buyers are buying with their heads rather than their hearts and that investing in things like a new boiler, additional electrical sockets or modernising home insulation could be a smarter investment than traditional selling points.”

He continued:

It is surprising to see previous must-haves such as good schools and conservatories fail to make the top 20.”

“However, our research shows that buyers are becoming more financially savvy and are willing to make compromises on the finer details of a property to keep costs down and avoid expensive work in the future.”

Do you agree with the list? What would be your number one Must-Have? Let us know in the comments.



22ND MAY 2017

Air quality reports – would they make a difference?

The Chief Executive of NAEA Propertymark, Mark Hayward, has said that estate agent listings may soon include compulsory information on a location’s air quality.

During an interview on BBC Radio London, Mark said:

“I think anything that would affect someone’s decision to buy should be there to be seen by the public.”

Research by the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health suggests that air pollution has been linked to 40,000 early deaths in the UK.

The air quality information could be included in listings as a traffic light-style pollution warning.

Mark added:

“What we are saying is it will now factor into somebody’s wish list in terms of what and where they want to buy.”

The situation of declining air quality in London has already been described as an emergency by London Mayor Sadiq Khan. A report, authored by Kings College London, suggests that long-term air pollution was responsible for over 9,000 deaths in a single year in the capital.

Chief executive of the Homeowners’ Alliance, Paula Higgins, told The Telegraph:

“Giving buyers information about pollution would help them think with their head and not with their heart. People need to look at pollution levels in a prospective area just as they would when they look at crime rates.”

What are your thoughts? Would you like to see this introduced and would it affect your decision on whether to buy a property? Let us know in the comments.


Politicians must vote for housing

Our Principal, Paul Carr, looks ahead to the 2017 General Election and an often ignored – but vitally important – area of policy.

No doubt Brexit, the economy and the NHS will dominate the 2017 General Election. Energy, education and defence should also get a strong look-in while the devolved governments will be trying to get as much air time as possible.

But do spare a thought for housing, as, on the evidence of the recent past, it doesn’t look as if any political party will.

Over the past nineteen hearts, and during the tenure of four Prime Ministers – Blair, Brown, Cameron and May – there have been no fewer than fourteen housing ministers.

This post seems to have become a stepping-stone for ministers who are either on an upwardly mobile career path or heading in the opposite direction into the political wilderness. That such an important part of our daily lives can be dealt with in such a perfunctory way seems short sighted and negative to most outside Westminster.

Property is a national obsession yet the politicians seem to treat it as a short stop to somewhere else. Property also provides important jobs and revenue through allied industries such as furniture, flooring, lighting and decorating, and in the service sector – finance, legal, surveying, etc.

We need more housing in the UK and we need better housing. Yet successive governments have failed to plan, have failed to act and have failed to build the 250,000 new homes that we are estimated to need each year. They have failed to establish any sort of meaningful housing policy – indeed how could there be a meaningful one with so many different housing ministers? By contrast, in the same nineteen-year period, there have been only seven Home Secretary’s.

Too few new homes being built creates greater demand for the properties that are already part of the ageing national estate. Strong demand and insufficient supply inevitably means rising property prices. The lack of any cohesive housing policies over two decades has not just added to the housing problem but has helped create it.

No market likes uncertainty and for the fourth year in succession, we have an important election which will bring fresh uncertainty. Brexit will rumble on for several years yet, adding to this uneasiness. But we hope that whichever party prevails on June 8th, the new Prime Minister will take his or her housing ministry more seriously.

We need a committed housing minister prepared to stay in the job for more than sixteen months. We also hope that the new housing minister will not use housing as another easy way to create revenue without first thinking through the implications a higher rate of tax will have on the property market as a whole, and our lives as citizens – after all, we all have to live somewhere.







Yes the property market is important. But more so is belonging to the right house. So this weekend why not forget the general election and Brexit negotiations for a while. Go and try on a house and let it tell you if you should move or not.





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