There is a lot of hype at the moment about the ‘online estate agents’ and the good value they seem to provide. Everyone loves a good deal, especially when we could save thousands of pounds! But, will you really save money using an online estate agent?

An independent expert advice service for those looking to sell their home has completed a detailed study into the prices achieved for properties and compared these prices between those achieved by low-value, online-only estate agents and the more traditional high-street estate agents.

The results are pretty astounding!

The established that good high street agents in 73% of house sales are achieving a better selling price than low-value, internet-only agents. On average, agents such as Mount & Minster are achieving 5% higher selling prices for their clients. In the East Midlands, this equates to around a whopping £15,000. Those looking to sell their home, therefore, should consider the false economy of saving, say, £2,000 in estate agency fees by using companies such as Purplebricks as you may find you’re not saving money at all, quite the opposite in fact!

The results can be found here.

Some of the largest low-value agents are now beginning to go out of business, wound-up or are up for sale. Hatched has closed, Emoov (which also owns Tepilo) has gone into administration, and Purplebricks made a staggering £26 million loss last year. Those who are thinking of paying these unsuccessful companies upfront are putting themselves at risk. If any more of these companies continue to go bust, you will not get your money back!

Mount & Minster provide free and no-obligation market appraisals for those looking to sell. Contact us today on 01522 716204 or 01476 515329.

The town of Grantham, together with its convenient surrounding villages, has always been popular with commuters to London. This year, the proportion of buyers seeking to acquire a home in our local area has risen considerably and is set to increase further.

New research highlights that homeowners living 60 minutes outside of Central London will pay up to 60% less for a property, making Grantham and Newark the new hot spots with regular and reliable trains to the Capital.

The research has shown that workers in Central London who acquire a property in the East Midlands pay on average £325,091, allowing them to save an average of £483,342 by commuting approximately an hour each day when considering the average of cost of a home is £808,434 for a property within travelcard zones 1 and 2. Commute times from zones 3 and 4 into Central London can often take an hour, meaning those working in the Capital are beginning to question why they would pay such high prices for a home in an area that will not get them to work any faster.

The average house price in Grantham itself is £218,265 meaning that commuters willing to travel 60 minutes into Central London could save a whopping £589,809!

Buying a home in Central London is out of reach for many where house prices are around 16 times the average UK wage. In almost all towns in the survey, housing affordability is significantly greater with a London salary compared to what can be earned locally and for commuters with around an hour’s journey, the reward is an annual salary that is, on average, £8,600 (18% ) higher than what they could earn in their local neighbourhood.

However, Grantham may offer affordable properties, but with longer and more expensive journeys, the decision to commute is not simply a trade-off between financial costs and journey times. Quality of life is an important consideration. Family circumstances, schools, physical environment and value for money all come into the balance. So why is Grantham so popular?

What everyone knows about Grantham is that Lady Margaret Thatcher and Sir Isaac Newton were born here. Lady Thatcher attended Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, which is still doing for girls what Kings does for boys. The town also has an associated college of Nottingham Trent University offering courses in building, business studies and engineering. Sporting and outdoor pursuits are high on the agenda in and around Grantham. Meres Leisure Centre and athletics and football stadium, Belton Park, world class golf and spa facilities at Belton Woods and Stoke Rochford Hall, fishing on the River Witham, walking and equestrian sport to name but a few.

Grantham has a collection of ancient homes in Castlegate and Church Street, as well as the celebrated Angel and Royal Hotel, but there are also many new developments. At the lower end of the market, two-bedroom period town houses start at around £85,000. Four-bedroom detached houses cost between £170,000 and £300,000. The most sought after homes on the outskirts of Grantham can be bought for around £300,000, and the satellite villages are even more popular still, commanding premium prices.

Mount & Minster are award winning property professionals with offices in Grantham as well as London and Lincoln. We offer guidance to buyers and sellers throughout the sale process as well as free professional home valuations and advice.

We’re hiring!

Due to continued success, Mount & Minster are now looking to recruit a Junior Surveyor to work as part of an established team in the busy Grantham branch.

This fast paced, exciting and ever evolving role involves:

  • Working in Residential Sales and Lettings in this busy Agency
  • Contributing towards Rural Estate Management
  • Registering applicants details and matching them to available properties
  • Booking property and attending valuations
  • Attending property inspections
  • Carrying out accompanied viewings with applicants
  • Negotiating offers and liaising between applicants and clients
  • Working closely with the team, sharing information to secure additional business
  • Keeping a close eye on the local market, noticing any changes and identifying opportunities
  • Being part of an enthusiastic and driven team, working towards common goals

The Person

Ideally you will already have some experience of working in property, however this is not essential and we are keen to hear from applicants with a strong customer service or sales background who are motivated to develop a long-term career as an Estate Agent.

Possessing a clear passion for property and a good knowledge of the local area, you must have:

  • Strong negotiation skills
  • A high level of commercial awareness
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Good IT skills, including knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel
  • A keen eye for detail
  • Confident and able to work alone, as well as be part of a team
  • Able to work to targets
  • A willingness to go the extra mile
  • A full UK driving license

The Reward

Salary dependent on experience + discretionary bonus
Training and support towards becoming a Chartered professional
Excellent long-term career prospects

This is a fantastic opportunity for the right individual to join an established Estate Agency with an enviable reputation. Call 01476 515329 or email your CV to

Mount & Minster’s recent research has revealed average deposits for a home in the East Midlands currently equates to around £35k. Now, it is more important than ever to plan ahead to help your children get their foot on the first rung of the property ladder.

The research carried out over a 6 month period by the award-winning estate agents also revealed that a third of first-time buyers now rely on the bank of mum and dad to help them with their deposit and buy their own home. Now, off the back of the research, those working in the residential department for Mount & Minster have compiled their top tips as to how parents can prepare:

1. Invest in an ISA

The first thing you can do is invest in a cash ISA and start as early as possible. If you’re able to budget and allow for a small percentage of your monthly income to go into a cash ISA, this will make a huge difference as to whether your children can afford that all important deposit, and not. Fortunately for parents, there are hundreds of ISAs available, making it easy to opt for one with the greatest return.

For example, Mount & Minster found a competitive fixed annual interest rate of up to 7.5% with tax-free payments. Investing one’s annual allowance of £20,000 in a five year bond can accumulate a total of £8,712 in interest alone, bringing your total investment of £20,000 up to an impressive £28,712.

There are also ISA products out there are specifically designed and structured to accommodate first time buyers.

2. Choose the first property wisely

As a leading firm of property consultants, we often advise first time buyers not to get excited about the first property they see but to spend some time shopping around for the best property and value. Mount & Minster have a list of both FTB’s (first time buyers) and properties suitable for such a niche buyer. A lot of these properties never make it onto the open-market and are instead simply sold privately. We would encourage any such buyer to register their interest with us so that we can notify you when a new property which meets your specifications becomes available. It’s a seller’s market and properties are being snapped up faster than ever.

Similarly, it’s also important to make sure you’re getting the best mortgage possible. Mount & Minster know some of the best brokers in the business and a brief consultation is free!

3. Opt for a guarantor mortgage

All Mount & Minster’s clients and customers are different, however if you’re fortunate enough to be in a position of financial security, a guarantor mortgage is an excellent way of helping your children. Very simply, if your child begins to fall behind on their mortgage repayments you, the guarantor, will be liable to pick up the slack until they are able to resume payments. Easy!

The main incentive and benefit of such a scheme is that the first-time buyer is able to borrow more or put down a smaller deposit. You, the parent, will not have any stake or equity in the property, nor will your name appear on any of the title deeds.

4. Remortgage your home

A further option worth considering is to remortgage your own home to release a lump sum in cash that can be put towards a deposit on your child’s first home.

Remember that should you choose to remortgage your home, you will have more of your own payments to cover, you will incur arrangement fees and you will be then be paying interest on a higher mortgage rate. This could affect your retirement plans and the amount of cash freed up in the move.

5. Bring them home

Bare with us! Simply put, you could help your children hold onto their hard-earned cash by having them home for a little while. Inviting your children back into your home will help cut down on their outgoings including rent, council tax and energy bills.

The research carried out by Mount & Minster suggests the average millennial spends £750 per month on living expenses in the East Midlands, so living with parents and putting this money away will really help them get that little bit further to owning their very own home.

Mount & Minster are a firm of multi-disciplined property professionals with a connected network of over 200 offices throughout the UK, including offices in Lincoln, Grantham and London. Should you require any advice, please feel free to contact us.

So… either you’ve dipped your toe in the buy-to-let water already and are looking to expand your portfolio, or you’ve had a change of circumstances, or you’re possibly tired of the same-old boring nine-to-five job, to dedicate your working life to being a landlord. Great! It’s a big decision – and not one that should be taken lightly.

Mount & Minster, winner of last years East Midlands Lettings Agent award in the UK Real Estate & Property Awards, offers a guide to the basics, designed simply as a starting point:

Do the math.

Look at the difference between your total rental income and outgoings (mortgage repayments, insurance, agents’ fees, etc.). This is, in essence, your gross profit – and you’ll have to live on this (after putting some aside for tax) if you give up your day job.

Is this enough? Don’t forget vacancy periods where you wont have any income at all. Then there’s the occasional capital expense for repairs; boilers don’t last forever!

In order to live comfortably you’ll need around five properties or more, depending on The lifestyle you want to maintain.

Make a business plan

Get your bank manager on board. Use this opportunity to identify potential problems and outline your goals and how you’re going to achieve them. Take constructive criticism and use it to improve you plan.

Include your endgame. If the plan is to retire at 55 and sell your portfolio to fund a comfortable retirement, include this.

Manage or managed?

Tenants and tenancies can be tricky. Legislation is always changing. The day-to-day issues that will inevitably rear its ugly head need to addressed quickly and competently. If you’re knowledgable of the law and your statutory responsibilities then great. If you’re not sure or just simply don’t want to speak to plumbers, electiricans, students, council admin, debtors, utility companies etc, then make use of a professional and competent letting agent such as Mount & Minster.

Remember, if you get it wrong then you could go to prison or, at best, receive a hefty fine which will eat into your income.

Taking a wage

For tax purposes, you may well want to register as a limited company. In doing so, any profits the business makes belong to the business, and you’ll need to pay corporation tax on them. You’ll then need to pay yourself a wage as a director of the business. Or, you can alternatively take a small wage, then pay yourself a dividend once a year and pay tax on it through self-assessment.

If you elect not to register as a limited company, you’ll need to complete a self-assessment tax return and declare all of the profits you make, then pay income tax on them.

Managing your portfolio

As a full-time landlord, you’ll want to keep one eye on the wider housing market when deciding what to do with your properties.

You may want to accumulate as many properties as possible, or you may want to consolidate by having a smaller number of high-value properties that command a larger rent. This decision will depend on your local rental demographics, and a knowledgeable local lettings agent can steer you on where demand lies.

For instance, some landlords own several identical properties in the space of a few streets (although be aware this can leave you exposed in the event that demand for your one type of property suddenly dries up).  Equally, a local agent may suggest a diversified portfolio, aimed at a mix of renter types.

Next step…

Book an appointment with a professional agent and talk through your strategy. We can then point you in the right direction of suitable high yielding properties, help you acquire them, refer financial advisors and generally hold your hand from start… to retirement!

01476 515329 (Grantham office) or 01522 716204 (Lincoln office)




1. Choose the Right Estate Agent

Choosing an agent is an essential part of any property sale. However, when time is sensitive, choosing a competent agent who will ensure a professional and slick service is key. Selecting an agent who offers a multitude of bespoke marketing platforms is a vital element to the exposure your property will receive, increasing the opportunity for a swift sale at the best price.

Mount & Minster offer a multitude of different marketing packages and tools, including but not limited to, uniquely designed particulars, local and national print advertising, drone footage, access to the nationwide network of over 200 offices, numerous social media platforms and a busy website.

Mount & Minster pride themselves in their highly professional, pro-active and personable manner, alongside their RICS accreditations and three national awards.

2. Price Realistically

Ensure your pricing is realistic, it is not advisable to be over ambitious, it could put potential buyers off. If you place the property at a competitive price, you may get buyers competing which often results in offers above the guide price. Rightmove has noted that buyers now have more choice this month compared to last, with total available stock being up 2.1%. More properties on the market mean more competition and options other than yours for prospective purchasers.

Ensure that you get the right advice from a competent estate agent. A poor estate agent will over value your home just to get your instruction, only to lower the price later-on which may result in you getting a lower figure than if you’d got it right, right from the start. If an agent is the best at what they do, they’ll be RICS qualified.

3. Get Organised

Make sure you have all relevant paperwork on hand to avoid any delays. Provision for the legal aspects of a sale will help ensure that the process runs smoothly – this is just as important as the aesthetics of your property. Collating all relevant documents for your property prior to marketing will assure the buyer’s satisfaction down the line when queries arise.

Begin drafting an inventory of items which you anticipate leaving behind – the agents and solicitors will need to know which fixtures will remain, such as light fittings or the wood burning stove.

Compile all documents relating to any changes that you have made to the property. Alterations to the structure of the property will be required to comply to Building Regulations and Planning Permission at the time of the works, usually covered by a completion certificate. Windows installed after 1 April 2002 will require a FENSA certificate, and other remedial work will be assured by various guarantees.

You will also require an Energy Performance Certificate to market your property. This document shows potential buyers how the property could be more energy efficient and reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. Mount & Minster will arrange this survey on your behalf.

4. Get Ready…

Appoint a swift solicitor is essential to a quick move. A slow solicitor will frustrate both buyer and seller and could even scupper a sale, so act quickly. If you are unsure of which solicitor is right for you, Mount & Minster can offer guidance and recommendations in your area.

Competition is high on the property market, being an accommodating vendor could tip the scales in your direction for a successful sale. Allowing lengthy or viewings at irregular hours may assist in sealing the deal.

5. Book your removals

Nearly there! Your agent will liaise with you as to potential dates that will suit everyone in the chain. Once you’re ready to exchange, get booking! On the day of completion just collect the keys, decorate the tree and make sure the turkey fits in your new oven! Welcome home.


Whether you are buying or selling your home, first impressions are critical. The house viewing needs to go as smoothly as possible.

So what are the biggest faux pas buyers and sellers need to avoid?

If you’re a seller:

Leave the viewing to the professionals – Many sellers naturally assume that they will provide helpful assistance during a viewing. However it has been proven that a home owner hanging around during a viewing actually puts off the buyers. Buyers can feel that they can’t look at the property throughly if they are being watched. Buyers also might want to ask questions regarding the property that need a unbiased professional answer. A professional estate agent can also pick-up as to whether the viewer merely likes or loves your home, essentially helping them during the negotiation stages and ultimately achieving a higher price for you. Avoid any estate agent who encourages you to do the viewings; they’re lazy, unprofessional and obviously don’t care about you getting the best price for your home.

Not everyone likes surprises – Although this should be a given, the number of sellers who leave the property in a mess is surprising. No one wants to buy a property which is a tip; ensure the property is left clean and tidy before any viewings.

Time wasters – If you are looking for a particular type of buyer, for example if you have to move quickly and are looking for a cash buyer or a buyer without a chain, tell your estate agent in advance so that they can give the viewers realistic expectations.

Hide pet paraphernalia – Buyers will decide for themselves if the house is pet-friendly. For those who have no interest or perhaps even a dislike for certain pets, don’t put them off with beds, litter trays and toys. Over time, we can get used to the smells associated with our pets. Ask your agent honestly whether there are pet odours. It’s all very well having the house clean and tidy, but if it smells then you’re sure to leave a very poor impression.

Bake – As previously mentioned, smell is a powerful sense and, as research shows, one of the most memorable. Before a viewing, dust off that old bread-maker and give it a whirl! The smell is welcoming, pleasant and makes your buyers feel at home right from the start. Sold!

If you’re a buyer:

Respect the property – It’s important to show the sellers home the same level of respect you would expect someone to give your home. It is a common misconception that the buyer holds the power when it comes to house sales however it is key to remember the seller ultimately makes the decision as to who they want to sell their home to. Leave a good impression with the agent and they’re more likely to do their best for you.

Be honest – The best thing about the agent doing the viewings is that you’re not going to offend anyone. The owners will be away and believe it or not, they welcome negative feedback! Let the agent know what you do and don’t like and they’ll communicate this with the owner appropriately. More importantly, the agent can get a better idea of what you’re looking for and recommend something more suitable.

Do not negotiate during the viewing – A house viewing is not the place to start negotiating the asking price. Instead, wait until you’ve left the property and have a good think. Sleep on it! If offers are urgent then the agent will let you know. Otherwise take your time and give it due deliberation. Don’t rush and ensure your offers are realistic and at a level you’re comfortable with.

Property professionals will offer the best guidance to both buyers and sellers throughout the sale process. Mount & Minster offers free professional valuations and advice, for more information click here.

So you’ve heard mixed things… They seem to have a few boards up but apparently they’re making huge losses and they have a few unhappy customers. What should you do?

Reviews from specialist estate agent sites such as AllAgents gives people thinking of using a low value or ‘online’ agent a useful and realistic insight into what they’re really likely to experience. You can read some of these reviews here.

The recent BBC Watchdog report on TV hasn’t helped the likes of PurpleBricks either. Dishonesty was a prominent theme. Again, this can be viewed here.

Real, local and established companies such as Mount & Minster are also online estate agents; they market properties on websites such as Rightmove. Almost all estate agents do. Therefore, these ‘online’ agents cannot claim that their unique characteristic is that they’re online. In truth, the only thing that makes them unique is that they’re cheap and low value. Perhaps these low fees are the result of firms such as PurpleBricks making huge losses of £26m, putting homeowners who pay for their services up-front at risk of losing their money.

Exceptional agents SELL houses by using traditional and proven personal skills to get thousands more for your property. This huge increase in the price achieved for your home far exceeds the difference in fees between a low value agent and a pro-active, traditional agent. What’s more, if you choose an award-winning agent such as Mount & Minster, the whole experience is more likely to be streamlined and stress-free. Service has a value.

What’s more, a real estate agent will successfully sell nearly all the properties they bring to market. Recent research and statistics show that the low value agents actually only sell around half their properties which is extremely worrying for those who use these low value companies, particularly when you consider that homeowners are expected to pay the majority of low value agent’s fees up-front, regardless as to whether your home actually sells or not. A report from a leading financial consultancy calculated that PurpleBricks, for example, only sell 51.6% of all the properties they market. In contrast, Mount & Minster sell around 98%.

In short, a real and traditional estate agent is incentivised to sell, sell, sell. Paying a flat fee is not a good incentive to achieve the best price. Giving a low value agent your money up-front is not an incentive at all!

Good traditional agents don’t rely solely on popping photos of properties on the internet and crossing their fingers. The low value agent’s only way of getting interest in a property is by hoping someone sees it online and gets in contact to view. A traditional agent, on the other hand, will engage with buyers and encourage them to consider a wider radius of locations and explain the benefits of different areas and the alternative property values. A computer screen or website cannot do this. If a buyer only clicks detached properties 5 miles of Sleaford, they will never see your impressive and potentially suitable detached home 6 miles away. A traditional estate agent, however, will proactively discuss your property with active buyers in your area, regardless as to where or what it is.

People buy from people. Communication and negotiation are key. Part of the reason low value agents achieve lower prices is because they don’t want (or need) to get involved with negotiations. Why would they, they’ve already got your money! They encourage the lowest level of communication possible. Next time you see a PurpleBricks sale board, see if you can spot a telephone number…

An exceptional estate agent will go out their way to do everything themselves and help you avoid the stress that could be associated with moving home. A firm such as Mount & Minster will do all the viewings themselves as part of their standard service and fee. It also allows us to achieve higher values as we can pick-up on their comments and body language through extensive experience which allows us to assess how far we can push the negotiation process later-on. Low value agents will charge you extra for viewings and would rather you did all the work as it means little to them to achieve that higher price. By the time you take into account all the ‘add-ons’ that low value against charge, you’re looking at the same price of a real estate agent anyway. In which case, why would you bother with the added risk and stress?

Speaking of risk, house sellers using low value agents such as PurpleBricks are starting to realise that, due to the lack of proactive service and sales-progression (and the worst conveyancers in the industry!), a large proportion of sales fall through unnecessarily. This means that, if you’ve made an offer on another property, you are deemed to be high risk because there’s a very good chance that your choice in agent will increase the chances of the chain collapsing. Therefore, the vendor of the property you want to buy from can either dismiss you as too high risk, or alternatively offset this risk by accepting a higher offer from you. This means paying £10k to £20k more for the house you’re buying. Assuming you’re ‘saving’ say £1,000 in estate agency fees, that means you’re suffering an £9k to £19k net LOSS after completing on the sale of your house and the purchase of your new one. Cheap, it would appear, is not the same as best value.

Mount & Minster’s clients are savvy, successful and intelligent people who recognise that their home is probably their most valuable asset, that selling a property is a financial transaction and who, at the end of the transaction, want to be in as best a financial position as possible. What’s more, they actually want to complete on the sale and their ongoing purchase. If they can do all this and receive an award-winning service and go from start to finish stress-free, all the better. Mount & Minster are good value. Cheap is better suited elsewhere. For the more savvy homeowner, you know where we are!

For a FREE consultation or valuation, click here.


This disclaimer informs readers that the content, views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and are not necessarily shared by those firms mentioned within it. By referencing reports by companies such as Jefferies and providing links to third party websites such as AllAgents and YouTube, the author is not endorsing the public information that these companies provide the general public, but merely draw their attention to it.

Buy-to-let has long been considered a strategic and profitable move onto the property ladder, but with changes to UK legislation, are we going to see the phenomenon die out or is it still possible to reduce the tax paid on rental income and turn a healthy profit from your buy-to-let property?

Tax relief has been phased in since 2017 and will be at a flat rate of 20% and fully in place by 2020. Landlords who only pay a basic tax rate will see no change, however high income landlords will be in a more vulnerable position to loose out more.

The Nationwide Building Society published estimated figures of how a typical landlord’s profits might be hit. Someone with a £150,000 buy-to-let mortgage on a property worth £200,000, with a monthly rent of £800, would currently have a net profit of around £2,160 a year. When the new legislation is in full effect, the net profit would plunge to £960.

So, what can a landlord do to ensure profits remain stable?

INCREASE RENT – It is possible to increase rent on your property to off set the tax relief loss. However by doing this you do run the risk of loosing tenants and thus having a vacant property.

SWITCH MORTGAGES – It could be possible to switch your mortgage, for example move from a 2.99% mortgage to a 2% mortgage. By switching to a cheaper mortgage you could boost the profit and off set any tax relief losses.

UTILISE YOUR SAVINGS – Some building societies offer a mortgage which utilises your savings to cut your bills. Essentially you will not be earning on your savings but utilise the money to shrink the amount of interest you pay on your mortgage. However when utilising these deals be savvy as many examples show that some mortgage rates commence at 2.99% for the first two years but then jumps up to 5.29%.

BECOME A LIMITED COMPANY – If you purchase a property through a limited company instead of your own name you will not be effected by the new legislation. Companies are charged 20% (falling to 17 percent in 2020) corporation tax instead of the 40% higher rate tax rate taxpayers are currently liable for. Administration fees do apply when setting up a company, however these are swiftly outweighed by the longer term profit opportunity.


Before considering cashing in and selling up your buy-to-let properties consider the long term ambition of your property. For example, if you strongly rely on a reliable rental income then it could be more beneficial to take one of the above measures and make the best of the new rules. However, if you bought your property cheaply and have the opportunity to make a healthy profit on its sale, now would be the time.

Most importantly is to seek advice from the professionals. Mount & Minster specialise in property portfolio management and are ready to advice you, contact us today on either Grantham: 01476 515329 or Lincoln: 01522 716204.

The Summer Polo 2018


Following the success of this highly coveted event over the last two years, Mount & Minster will once again be hosting invited guests and clients to this years Summer Tournament.

Last year saw a huge crowd gather over this popular two day event, with some also making the most of the occasion by also attending The Ball in the evening. The same format will be adopted this year and those similarly wishing to attend this fantastic evening in The Grand Marquee should contact Leadenham Polo Club on 01400 318006.

Up to 12 teams from polo clubs across the UK will be competing in the tournament, split over 3 divisions with the finals being played on the Sunday. Mount & Minster, who won last year, will also be sponsoring their own team made up of members from Leadenham Polo Club.

Stallholders will be selling polo goodies, art and jewellery so don’t forget to pick up a memento on the day!

Regardless as to whether you benefit from a VIP invitation to the hospitality enclosure, the general public are all welcome to come and join in with the atmosphere throughout the rest of the Club and enjoy an action-packed weekend of polo with refreshments available throughout the day.