As we entered 2021 we decided, as a business, that we would like to do something to help in the fight against climate change. It is something that affects us all, and as every member of staff at Wallers happens to be a parent too, we are all acutely aware of the world our children and grandchildren are going to inherit if we’re not careful.

One thing that we settled upon quite quickly was the idea of tree planting as a means to offset our carbon footprint – or better still, go beyond that into becoming climate positive as a business.

Our journey in doing this has been fairly well documented and is well enough known, but people are often surprised how easy it is to achieve, and so I thought we should lay it all out in the hope that others might follow… we really hope everyone does!

It’s not a secret at all, and in fact we do it with an organisation called Ecologi.

Ecologi is a subscription-based service, and when we signed up we established that 59 trees per month planted was what we needed in order to offset our workforce’s carbon footprint. This was great, but we wanted to be able to go further, and so we settled on the idea of planting 25 trees for every new customer (i.e. new listings). We were soon hitting hundreds and then thousands of trees in the ground, and our goal was to get to 5000 by Christmas. We ended up on 4,778 on Christmas Eve 2021 – so naturally we topped it up by another 250, to finish this year on 5,028 trees in the ground.

It isn’t everything, but it’s something, and not only that it is really inexpensive so is something that everyone can think about doing. Not only do the new trees photosynthesise, creating oxygen for our atmosphere whilst at the same time sucking carbon out of it, but also these projects create jobs for communities around the globe; most of our trees have gone into places like Madagascar, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Honduras. So it feels like we are really giving back – but it is all so inexpensive. We probably spend more each month on our coffee machine.

So please, if you are feeling some corporate responsibility and want to join us in doing your thing for climate change, then please visit to find out more.

The news is out today that the proposed tenancy fees ban is going to be delayed until at least the Spring of 2019, with some in the industry suggesting that this marks the beginning of the end of the ‘mad notion’ of banning tenancy fees. Already today, some fellow agents have been asking us if we regret our decision to not charge tenants fees.

The answer is: no, of course we don’t. This news was hardly surprising for anyone who reads the industry press further than the headline, and our decision about whether we charge tenants fees or not wasn’t a question of economics, it was a question of ethics.

So just to be clear: We – Do – Not – Agree – With – Charging – Tenants – Fees… Yes, we know we could make more money by charging extra fees to tenants… we just don’t want to! It is in our ethos as a firm.

When a property is let, the agent charges the landlord a fee for doing the job that the landlord has asked the agent to do for them.

When a property is sold, the agent charges the seller a fee for doing the job that the seller has asked the agent to do for them.

You don’t see agents charging buyers a fee on top of what they are charging the seller… so why is it that they should charge tenants one? Especially when it is essentially a fee for helping them to do their job! That is some ‘thank you’…

Fellow agents, let’s just agree to disagree, and recognise it is a matter of what you choose to do and what we choose to do, as businesses.

Landlords, however, remember that you have a choice, too. You can choose to let your property out through an agent that will charge your tenant a fee (£175 – £250 or so would not be unusual), or you can choose to let your property through an agent, like ourselves, that will not. So, it might be worth asking the question: if you were a tenant, which agent would you rather rent through? And if, on considering your own answer to that question, you would like to have a conversation, then let’s talk! Please give us a call on 01865 435175.

Philip Hammond isn’t a bad chap. He may even be one of the good guys. He does have a tough job and he has struggled – as ever – to have much room to manoeuvre when it comes to delivering the sort of killer Budget that we could all do with, in the face of what is a faltering economy (and that is not really his fault (well, it’s not!)). Actually, the risk of this new (regurgitated) stamp duty ‘give away’ is that, despite the initial face-value bonus provided to first time buyers, all it might actually achieve is an increased demand by those first time buyers for property at a moment in time where we already know there is not enough supply, and therefore this is feasibly going to be a measure that only drives prices up and even further out of reach.

And before anyone starts (and someone will…), the prices we see in Oxford really aren’t caused by a secret cabal of Estate Agents deliberately collaborating to overvalue properties in order to push fees up, just so we can all go and guffaw together about our cunning schemes during Champagne-fuelled Friday night binges. This is Conspiracy Theory stuff. Estate Agents exist in cities, towns and villages across the country, and not everywhere has the price issues we do. We have a price issue because we have a limited-housing-stock issue. There are more people wanting to own a property here than there are properties available, and we do not have enough new property being built locally, quickly enough, to supply the market with the deluge, not the dribble, of new properties that the market needs to satisfy demand, provide affordable and social housing stock, and slow down house price growth. Either that or we all need to earn more, but given that the real news that came out of the Budget today was that productivity and economic growth is down (*cough*-Brexit-*cough*), that isn’t happening. To further labour my point then, the only proactive way to solve the price issue we have, in a city where the average property is worth 16 times the average salary, is to build, build and build.

I am much more encouraged therefore by the talk in this budget of the compulsory purchase of ‘land-banked’ land that is otherwise being held on to by developers, land with planning permission in place but work not being started; and I am encouraged by talk of large scale new-building: an extra 300,000 new homes per year by the middle of the next decade; an extra 100,000 homes for Oxfordshire by 2031; and a renewed pledge to push on with the Oxford to Cambridge ‘Expressway’ in line with that program. This talk is good talk – talk that is digging into the problem and actually proposing real solutions. But, talk is so cheap, and there was really nothing concrete enough said about forcing developers to develop, other than offering a ‘review’ of the situation in time for the Spring Statement which may then lead to compulsory purchase powers being implemented if deemed necessary. Well, call me a sceptic, but…. . And, 300,000 new homes per year by the middle of the next decade… not to mention 100,000 new homes for Oxfordshire by 2031? Sounds distant enough yet in both cases to take the pressure off getting started in earnest particularly quickly, with time for plenty more Autumn Fudge-Its and Spring Scapegoats in the meantime. Anything can happen.