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We’ve moved!


We are delighted to announce that due to continued expansion in the business the Balfours Estate Agents team have now relocated  to The Square in Shrewsbury!  The new address is Balfours LLP, The Square, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1 1LG. We are now operating from the new premises.


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Woodcock under the moon – out of bounds


It is good to hear of the GWCT involvement at top level, last month, when Mike Short of the GWCT was among the All Party Parliamentary Group impressing on a Westminster audience the importance of continued availability of effective, lawful tools to manage predation pressure during the breeding season which will be critical to securing the recovery of some dwindling native species.

Better still, Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, paid tribute to the scientific research of the GWCT and its contribution to developing practical solutions to reversing the decline of our native wildlife.

Mike Short who heads up the Predation Research team said: “The GWCT has invested a huge amount of time and effort in improving the selectivity and welfare impacts of predator control practices. For example, when fox snares designed to allow non-target species to self-release are used in accordance with ‘best practice’ guidelines, they have been shown to pass internationally recognised trap welfare standards, although it’s critical that operators are properly trained in their use.”

GWCT research has clearly shown that the provision of good habitat, in conjunction with legal predator control, can substantially boost species recovery. This is demonstrated by the Duke of Norfolk’s inspiring Peppering Partridge Project on the South Downs. Here, there has been a dramatic recovery of a whole suite of nationally declining farmland bird species, such as our native wild grey partridge, lapwing and skylark. Addressing the meeting the Duke emphasised that without effective predator control the project could not have worked.

Agricology, launched recently, is a new online resource that translates scientific research into practical advice to help farmers become more profitable, resiliant and more sustainable, while protecting the environment.
Founded by three independent charitable organisations – the Daylesford Foundation, the Organic Research Centre and the GWCT Allerton Project – Agricology aims to provide farmers with the best practical information on ecological techniques, regardless of labels via a website, on social media, and through on-farm events.

Under the Moon
Flighting woodcock set the adrenalin rushing and are fantastic sport, but did you know that woodcock “under the moon” as the Game Acts prohibit woodcock shooting between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise. On a dull evening the flight is usually over before this, but on a bright, full moon one the birds can flight late.


The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s research has shown very strong winter site fidelity by woodcock, so those who might be tempted to shoot too many can expect less to come to their particular place next season.

Tim Main is  Chairman of the Shropshire Branch of the GWCT. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Five bed - Shrewsbury in top ten


Shrewsbury is one of the UKs top ten choice county towns for family homes – with price rises averaging 27% for five plus bedroom homes in the past year.

Warwick takes the medal for the highest price growth for five bedroom homes, increasing from £519,000 to £799,000.

The figures revealed by premier global property service, Property Wire, have been welcomed by Alistair Hilton, residential sales town manager, with Balfours Property Professionals. This is good news and reflects the continuing growth we have seen in Shrewsbury.”

Significantly the top ten county towns are across the geographic spread of the UK, from York, to Exeter, Bristol and Northampton. Of 41 towns analysed, just 11 reported price deflation in the past 12 months, four of which were less than one percent.

Says Alistair: “County towns are a popular choice amongst residential buyers, especially those with children who are looking for larger family homes which represent seriously good value for money.”

He says this was illustrated earlier this autumn when a London buyer, pushed up by several under bidders, finally exchanged nearly £100,000 above guide price on a five bedroom house in Shrewsbury’s SY3 district.

“Like so many coming into Shropshire, this buyer appreciated that where Shrewsbury really scores is with its great infrastructure; private and state schools, services and amenities, with a fabulous choice of independent retailers, cafes and restaurants. People often tell me what a fantastic mix Shrewsbury provides and the bonus is a huge variety of rural landscapes close by too.

“I think parents also appreciate that Shrewsbury is a good environment as youngsters seek independence and want to socialise with their friends. County towns like Shrewsbury can provide a more self-sufficient environment for off-spring.”

He says that transport links, rail and buses are also easily accessed. For him personally being able to walk and cycle around the town is a major advantage. “We have so many picture perfect places within the centre which makes the whole experience of living and working in Shrewsbury very satisfying.

“Since 2008 the value of larger family homes has been squeezed – these figures illustrate very clearly that Shropshire’s county town market is coming back and strengthening very nicely,” Alistair concludes. 

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Changes in letting legislation outlined to professionals


Shropshire professionals attending a Balfours Xtra seminar at The Mytton and Mermaid Hotel heard about changes to Letting laws and rules with the latest regulations introduced from October.

Speaking to some 70 professionals including lawyers and accountants at the annual Shrewsbury event on Tuesday this week, (November 24,) Senior Lettings Negotiator, Charlotte George, highlighted five significant changes to letting legislation including, tenancy deposits, smoke and Carbon Monoxide regulations, The Immigration Act, Retaliatory Evictions and Section 21 notices which have been implemented.

She said: “From the 1st October this year, the good news is that landlords are no longer required to serve notice on their tenants on a particular day of the month.  However landlords do need to be diligent when instigating a tenancy, issuing to the tenant a suite of documents including an Energy Performance Certificate, Gas Safety Certificate, deposit requirement and local government’s “How To Rent” brochure without these the landlords ability to serve notice will be affected,” Charlotte warned.

Genuine tenant complaints could also give tenants the right to stay in a property until the complaint is resolved. If it is a legitimate complaint which is issued in writing to the landlord, then the landlord must reply detailing the action to be taken and the timeframe this will happen in. If this doesn’t happen then the tenant can take the matter to the Local Authority. At this point the Authority can serve an Improvement Notice or an Emergency Remedial Notice – and once this notice is served it could prevent the landlord from being able to evict the tenant.

“We are advising any landlords to address potential issues; not only will this avoid complaints, but in our experience the landlord will attract better, happiertenants who are likely to stay longer,” Charlotte adds.

From February 2016 the Immigration Act will be placing a new onus on landlords, with heavy fines for those letting property to tenants who aren’t in possession of the relevant visas. Charlotte says all potential tenants must be validated for the right to rent in the UK: “Landlords or their agents are legally bound to check potential tenants have the unlimited right to rent in the UK, or that a valid visa is in place and in date.”

“The message is that compliance with letting law is getting tougher, so if in doubt ask a reputable agent,” Charlotte concludes.

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Stamp duty – likely to dampen Shropshire’s buy to let market


Three per cent stamp duty on second homes, announced in the Autumn budget, will hold back the buy to let market and may impact on buy to let property value, reducing the prices.

Shropshire estate agent, Tim Main of Balfours, says that the move is the second significant blow for buy to let investors this year.

He says: “The reality is that stamp duty on a £150,000 property will be hiked up significantly after April 2016, from £500 to £3,800. This is the second financial hit for buy-to-let investors this year. The summer budget in July reduced landlords’ ability to offset mortgage interest costs against rental income. That change will be phased in between 2017 and 2020 and make many existing buy-to-lets unprofitable.”

He continues: “We don’t know full details, for instance what constitutes a second home? However it could well spike the buy to let market in the next few months, before the April 2016 deadline. That will initially step up the competition for first time buyers, but ultimately first time buyers are unlikely to face as much competition as they have experienced in recent years.”

Mr Main is less concerned for the second home, holiday market: “It might dampen enthusiasm and marginally reduced spend, but generally if people want, and can afford, a holiday home they will buy anyway.  On a £350,000 second home there will be an £9,300 extra stamp duty to pay taking the bill to £16,800; for a £450,000 property the stamp duty bill will be just short of £25,000 – which is nearly double the current cost.

“We have experienced a good year with SY1, 2 and 3 property values averaging 5% up, overall Shropshire property prices are very settled which is good for confidence, however house supply has been less predictable – perhaps yesterday’s announcement will encourage home owners considering a sale to progress pre April 2016.”


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AMC Down to Earth Winter 2015 issue


The AMC have circulated their most recent Newsletter - you can read it here

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