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Avoid the liabilities of an empty property


Empty properties are a liability at any time, but during the winter months there are additional risks to manage. The easiest way to retain the physical well-being of a property is for it to be inhabited. I know you’re thinking, she would say that, because letting property is what I do for a living, writes Balfours head of lettings, Jackie Monro, FARLA FNAEA .

However, as landlord you can dictate the terms of your let and if you wish it to be short-term that can be catered for. Trust me I have seen the deterioration and even devastation that can be caused when a property is not lived in, particularly in the winter.

If you currently have an empty property, make sure that the house is either kept around 12 degrees centigrade, or that the water pipes are drained down, though in my experience the former is a much better option. There are two ways to ensure an ambient temperature: keep the heating on all day and night, with the thermostat set at 12 degrees; alternatively set the heating to come on twice a day, early in the morning and late in the evening, at around 14 degrees.

The heating will negate damp, condensation and risk of frozen pipes. It is also worth opening cupboards, especially under sinks and basins, to allow warmer air to circulate through the whole house. Don’t forget external taps and hoses which need disconnecting and or insulating. Make sure you and anyone else responsible knows where the stop tap is.

Of course, there is security to consider too. A neighbour might be your best eyes and ears, with the help of external security lights. Finally, do remember that insurance companies often have clauses for vacant properties during the winter. All in all it might just be easier to invite us to find you the right tenant, bringing with it the peace of mind that your property is in good hands.

Issued by and more information from Joy Fox Pr 07841 763 530


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House price stability for 2022 market


Wow, what a year for the property market, sending a number of records tumbling which, for vendors, has generally yielded swift sales, writes Alistair Hilton, Head of sales at Balfours.

It is a fact that during 2021 house prices rose at their fastest rate in 15 years, since 2006. November was the fifth consecutive month average house prices have risen, with typical values up by almost £13,000 since June. If you roll back to Spring 2020 when we all went into lockdown, average values have increased by £33,000, equating to £1690 per month.

Sat on the border with Wales, it is also noteworthy that Welsh average property prices broke beyond £200,000 for the first time on record. Buyers have been drifting from across the UK and particularly from the south to seek out Shropshire and the Welsh Marches.

Rural retreats are in right now. However, what we must never forget is that one family’s rural idyll, is another family’s isolation. Fortunately, our county’s wonderful villages, market towns and hidden treasures, enables us to successfully cater for the full spectrum.

So what are we forecasting for 2022? Together with my co-professionals, we believe the market will stabilise. We are not going to see it slip back. We are factoring in inflation with Bank of England base rates nudging up. Conversely the labour market is strong, with strengthening salaries.

The underlying driver for 2021, which I suspect will continue in the year ahead is limited housing stock. My professional and gut feeling is that the market is stabilising, its not going to “stop, or drop;” neither is life’s progress as each of us journeys on.

Being on the front foot, preparing and bringing a property to the market is the first step of a new exploration. May the adventures of 2022 be good to you – and should that involve putting a toe in the property market we are here to advise.

Alistair 2021

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Land in Severn valley, near Bridgnorth launched to market


Nearly 56 acres of prime farmland have been launched to the market by Balfours. The 22.6 hectares at Upper Farmcote, three miles from Bridgnorth lies on the eastern slopes of the Severn Valley.

Comprising of productive arable land, pasture and amenity woodland, the five fields offer sandy loam soils, predominantly grade three series with some grade two.

Scott Kemsley, Balfours Ludlow sales manager explains: “There is more than twelve hectares of comparatively flat arable land, suitable for growing a wide range of crops, from cereal to root and horticultural. The pasture is more undulating, in addition to the half hectare of woodland comprising of native trees, the hedge lines are peppered with specimen oak trees and is generally well fenced.”

There is good access to the land with mains water and electricity available at the roadside. “Opportunities such as this are genuinely sparse in the current climate. This is an excellent parcel of land, likely to appeal to local farming businesses, but also has potential for an entrepreneur or those seeking to take advantage of investing in a piece of beautiful Shropshire countryside,” adds Scott. Land at Upper Farmcote extending to 22.6 hectares is marketed with a guide price of £575,000, for more information call 01584 707100.

upper farmcote land main

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River Lugg frontage with amenity woodland


More than six hectares of amenity woodland with fishing rights bordering the length of the land has been launched to the market by Balfours.

Rylands Wood, Kinsham, sits in the heart of the Lugg Valley, with river frontage. The whole is accessed directly from the public highway, some three miles from Presteigne and five miles from Shobdon. Hereford and Ludlow are 14 and 21 miles respectively.

Scott Kemsley, Ludlow sales manager, reflects: “There is something very special about owning your own piece of woodland, particularly with river frontage. Whether a fisherman or not, it is a fabulous place to picnic and bar-b-que, and even enjoy camping. The added bonus is that woodland is a very tax effective investment.”

He adds: “Tree species are douglas fir, larch, beech, poplar and ash planted between 1937 and 1962. The parcel is in good heart and recently fenced along the farmland boundary. Balfours are marketing the 15.33 acres with a guide price of £90,000. For more information call Balfours on 01584 707100.

rylands wood main

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EPCs – a pale shade of green


Now COP26 has finished and the “phasing down” of coal has been agreed, we can start to see where the future lies in government policy and world-wide long-term thinking on energy and, in turn, Energy Performance Certificate’s (EPC’s).

The property sector has a role to play in the powering up of renewable energy and the lowering of emissions, but how will this come about and how can property aid this seismic shift?

In short EPC’s will most likely become more powerful and the way some commentators were talking last week could start to power the value of homes, with the potential (and I hasten to say “potential”) that leveraged finance could be balanced against the eco credentials of a home. However, with everything there should always be checks and balances.

In addition the matrix in how we measure a homes’ greenness is also coming under scrutiny as they were drawn up under the 2013 Building Regulations, which some commentators are now saying is out of date, this in turn could change the way in which we measure our EPC’s.

The rural market will feel this more than anyone as there are currently 1.5 million houses using oil boilers, whilst they are “efficient” they are by no means green. The polar opposite to a heat pump, which can be green, but not always efficient. This is mainly due to how new the technology is and therefore due diligence on the system you consider buying should be sought before it is installed.

It is also worth noting that power supplies in the countryside are prone to power cuts, rendering heat pumps impotent, but then to add a little PV and battery into the mix should satisfy such a glitch and not only tick another box on the COP26 list, but also increase your capital asset, your home. Charlie Giffard, BSc DipSurv, Country House Sales, Associate Partner

Charlie 2021

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Space and location - 2022 USPs


The way we live is changing, as we drift and surge through the 21st century, home lifestyle values have been turned on their heads, and continue to evolve. Space and location are the strongest priorities for many.

Space for that home office, space to enjoy a garden and space for that recently gained dog or bicycle. Location is manifesting for many returning to the region of their roots, memories, or family. At Balfours we can endorse a significant migration and demand to Shropshire and its borders.

As vendors it is important to recognise that the evaluation of space is different for every individual, what one considers epically generous others might perceive to be more minimal. Yes, there has been a surge in rural sales. But what is rural? For some a private remote location is idyllic, while for others it may be perceived as scarily isolated, and a village or market town setting will be their rural idyl.

Shropshire vendors are currently in the driving seat, partly because housing stocks are low. So if you are considering a move in 2022, we would urge that you prepare now, because the past two years have taught us that nobody can foresee the future.

Of course your location is what it is – and it will have merit to many. As for space, decluttering is often an important part of preparation, ironically no furniture is equally as difficult. Not everyone can see the wood for the trees. Do pick up the phone and chat through your property aspirations with us.

Alistair 2021

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