Buying your first home can be incredibly exciting, but it can also be daunting, stressful and packed with a lot of things that you need to consider, plan, and think about during the process. If you are someone who is looking at buying their first property and want to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible, then you might want to take a look at all of the things that you are going to need to know about buying your first home.
Decide on your budget One of the very first things that you should do before you think about buying your first home is work out your budget. How much can you realistically afford to spend each month? How much of a deposit can you get together? Both of these things are going to have an impact on the type of property that you can buy.
You also need to take into account some of the costs that you might not instantly think of, as these can also have an impact on how much you can spend.
Think about your mortgage The next thing that you need to think about is your mortgage, after all, without this you are not going to be able to buy a home. There is a wealth of options to consider when choosing a mortgage, including different lenders and of course their different products too.
If you are finding it hard to figure everything out and you just want some guidance, then it might be worthwhile you visiting a mortgage broker for a professional helping-hand.
Consider an area The best place to start when it comes to house hunting is working out where you would like to live in the country. You might want to be based in your home town, or you might want to move further afield. The idea is that you take your time to think about where is the ideal place for you to live.
It is important that you not only consider your current situation, but that you also think about your future. You should consider aspects such as schools and also job opportunities, even if this is not something currently on your mind.
Narrow down your search Once you have a rough area where you want to live, you should narrow down that search by thinking about the type of property that you want to buy. It can be hard to pinpoint things and of course, you are likely to have grand ideas of what your home should look like. But you should always try to be within your budget.
Make a list of the things that you are looking for in a house. Separate them into must haves and would be nice to haves, that way you are going to create some key things to search for that will help you in your decision e.g. a parking space or a garage.
View properties and make your offer The last stage of finding a home, part of the process is to view the properties that tick your boxes. It is a good idea to view as many properties as you can, even if they are not a complete fit. You never know what you might fall in love with when you get there.
If there is a house that really appeals to you then you are going to want to put an offer on it, this is you notifying the agent (and the seller) that you wish to buy and the price that you want to pay. This can be accepted or declined depending on how much it is.
Once this happens then the hard work really begins and you are in the process of moving in to your new home. It might be stressful, but we can promise you that in the long run you will look back and know that it was all worth it. Read more
Once the last lick of paint has been applied and the carpets have been laid, it’s time to decide whether or not to furnish your rental property.
It’s a question that has many landlords scratching their heads. Does a furnished property command a higher rental yield? Or is it more hassle than it’s worth?
What type of rental property do you have? Certain rental properties need to be furnished. For example, if you own a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) it’s wise to provide furniture, even if it’s the basics of just a bed, wardrobe, and chest of drawers.
Freehold properties are best left unfurnished so that tenants can make the property more homely.
What type of tenant does your property attract? Furnished properties are very attractive to short- and mid-term renters such as students and professionals. So, if your property is located close to a university, a furnished property is a good idea.
Students will move in straight from their family homes so are unlikely to bring bulky furniture with them. Professional tenants prefer furnished homes as it saves them money and they can move in quickly.
An unfurnished property is more suitable for families or elderly tenants who rent for the long term and tend to bring their own furniture with them.
Do you have insurance? If you furnish your rental property, you may want to think about landlord’s insurance to cover any damage that can occur to items within the premises. While this is an additional outgoing, if a large item of furniture needs to be replaced due to breakage or tenant damage, you’ll usually be protected.
Other points to think about when considering furnishing your rental are:
- If tenants are moving large items of furniture in and out, there is a higher risk of damage to your walls/floors - As a landlord, you are not responsible for insuring tenants’ furnishings - Tenants in furnished properties can move out easily, so you can get your rental back on the market quickly - Depending on the location of your rental and the quality of your furnishings, you may be able to command a higher rent
If you want more help and advice as to the best furnishing option for your rental property, give us a call on 02891 479 393. Read more
External space can often be a weak spot when it comes to selling your property. Flaking paint, cracked paving stones, a garden that looks difficult to maintain, a shed that’s falling to pieces – none of these things are going to give your potential buyer the right impression.
There’s been a real highlight on open spaces recently and many buyers have it at the top of their ‘need’ lists. So, when you’re putting together your budget for moving, don’t forget to set aside some cash for external repairs and decoration. It doesn’t always have to be expensive – in fact, a lot can be achieved for relatively little – but it is definitely worth it!
Doors, Walls and Windows Firstly, take a look at these main elements - do the walls need to be repainted or just a little touch-up?
Are there any cracks in the plaster that can be easily repaired? Doors should be freshly painted (in a relatively sensible colour), as should window frames and windowsills.
Any broken window panes or loose putty should be addressed. Small things can improve a first impression - like making sure that all windows have been recently washed, and that door fixings are clean.
Roofs and Guttering An entirely new roof may be out of the question or indeed unnecessary; but if there are a few loose or missing slates, these should be replaced. Broken guttering gives the impression that there’s a good deal more work to be done, and grass growing from guttering might undermine buyers’ confidence in your attention to the property’s upkeep. All these things can be addressed very simply and without great cost to yourself.
Gardens, Balconies and Patios Outside space is always a real advantage when it comes to selling a house or flat, so do make sure that you make the most of what you’ve got! For example, even the smallest of balconies can add value to a tiny apartment – the addition of plant pots or a barbecue, for example, will let your buyer envision what that space would add to their living experience, whether that be lazy Sunday barbecues or the ability to grow fresh herbs for cooking.
Grass should be freshly mown, borders trimmed and any flower beds weed-free. If you have paving, make sure that it’s free from weeds and moss and do ensure fences are in good repair. If your garden shed is on its last legs, it might be a better idea to take it down yourself rather than let the buyer dwell on the hassle of removing it.
If you have a larger garden, especially one with tall trees, make sure that they’ve been recently trimmed, and that any old specimens have been checked for health – and make sure that your agent lets your buyer know that you’ve done this, so that any fears about falling trees in bad weather conditions can be allayed.
Remember that you’re presenting your property so that others can imagine how their life would be in it – you might have never used your outside space, but that doesn’t mean that others won’t, so give them the visual prompts they need to start thinking about your house as their future home.
Looking for a rental property for the first time? We know how exciting it feels when you are a young professional looking for your first home. It’s all about roaming around your new local area, buying new stuff for decor, purchasing new home items. The idea of having your own home is absolutely mesmerising, but wait, before you start dreaming of your ideal kitchen... Before your tenancy can start, it’s time to think of your deposit and how you’re going to raise it.
So, here we are going to discuss a few tips on how to save up your rental deposits-
Things to do before you plan to move in When you are planning to move into a property, firstly check all the points on the inventory and make sure if there are any damages. Sign the papers only when you are satisfied with everything on the inventory. If there are any damages and the landlord claims to fix it, follow up with the process to keep a check. It is advised to keep a record of the meter reading as well. You can also take photos of every room with details so that at the end of your tenancy you can show proof that everything is as it was before.
During your tenancy period If at any point of you staying in the property and there is some kind of damage or breakage, let the landlord know about it as soon as possible. Take photographs of the damage as well. Also, make sure you keep a consistent trail with follow up emails and calls.
When you move out of your rented property Before moving out of the property, first of all, take photographs again of all the rooms as you did the first time when you moved in. You should leave the place in the same condition as it was before, although normal wear and tear is completely fine as your contract says so.
Make a different savings account Even if you already have a savings account, you should still open a new one for rental deposit. You can even save cash in a jar or so, and the increase in the heap of the money will motivate you. Having a different savings account will not complicate things as it is the sole purpose of saving for your rental needs.
Limit spending money This is one of the most important points. If you limit spending money on things like excess shopping, movies, or any other leisure activities then you can save quite a few pounds. Saving up is always important as one should learn to look out for the bigger picture.
There are countless benefits to downsizing your home, and it’s a wonderful way to open the door to the next stage of your life. But making the decision to downsize can be hard, and leaving a home filled with cherished memories can bring heartache. So, when is the right time to downsize?
If owning your current home has brought more stress and worry than it has joy and comfort in recent years, the time may be now. Here are seven signs it’s time to put your house on the market and downsize.
1) You have little leftover once bills are paid The definition of retirement has changed drastically over the years. Now more than ever before, retirees are maintaining an active lifestyle that includes hobbies, exercise, and continued learning – and these all cost a bit of money. So how would you like to spend your time? Perhaps it’s joining a gym, taking painting classes, or taking a few education courses. If your monthly housing expenses are so high that you can’t enjoy your hobbies or activities, now may be the perfect time to downsize to free up some cash so you can spend it the way you want.
2) Maintaining your home is becoming difficult Our homes are filled with precious memories that we hold dear. The wall where you recorded your grandchildren’s heights, to the living room where your daughter first learned the piano. Our homes are reminders of the love and laughter we’ve shared with friends and family, and this leads many to remain in their homes longer than is wise for their health and financial stability.
Limited mobility can prevent you from being able to perform general maintenance around the house, like garden work and regular cleaning. No matter your age, there will always be household chores that need to be done. But cleaning the gutters, vacuuming a two-story home, or mowing the lawn and trimming the shrubs can become more difficult as you get older.
One of the many benefits of downsizing your home is you can choose a property where you longer need to worry about these chores. If you’ve reached the stage where these tasks seem impossible, it’s time to go smaller. And it’s better to make this decision sooner, rather than later. If household chores begin to pile up and if they impact the condition of your home, you may see a decrease in property value when it comes time to sell.
3) Your home has features that make aging in place difficult If you’ve gained mobility restrictions as you’ve grown older, you probably made home improvements and modifications for safe and comfortable living. You’ve installed handrails, upgraded the lighting, and replaced your hard flooring for carpet. But depending on your layout, there may be some home features you’re unable to modify that still pose a threat to your safety and make aging in place difficult.
Features like several flights of stairs, narrow doorways, or high-maintenance landscaping can all be safety hazards. If these home features have become obstacles for you, then now is the right time to downsize to a safer floor plan. A home designed for optimal accessibility, convenience, and safety is imperative to avoid falls and serious injuries.
4) Your location no longer fits your lifestyle If you’ve lived in your current home for countless years, you probably opted for an area that suited your lifestyle at that point in time. Maybe you chose a suburban neighbourhood to escape city life. Or maybe you moved into a townhouse in the bustling city for an easier commute to work. These locations may have been ideal for your previous situation, but now they may no longer fit your needs.
You may find downsizing to a different location is what you need to fit your current lifestyle. Downsizing your home to a smaller one can reduce the amount of upkeep and free up your time for leisure activities, getting more rest, and spending time with family and friends.
5) You want to release home equity An easy way to generate some cash – perhaps to travel, invest or help family members make their way onto the property ladder – is to sell and release some of the equity in your home. By downsizing, you end up with a bundle of cash to do whatever you like with!
6) You have the option to live anywhere The beauty of retirement is that you’re no longer tied to one location and can choose to live wherever your heart desires. This gives you the opportunity to look all across the country and find somewhere suited to you, perhaps with lower living costs or even by the sea! If you’re wanting to sell your home and escape to the country, or if you’re looking to be closer to family, the world is now your oyster.
7) Consider downsizing your home when several rooms go unused It may feel like just yesterday when three bathrooms didn’t feel like enough, or when your children’s toys somehow managed to take over the entire house. At those times, you probably longed for a larger house to control the chaos. But, if any of the rooms that were once used are now rarely opened, it doesn’t make sense to pay to heat, cool, and light them. Saving money on utilities is just another reason to think about downsizing your home.
Thinking of downsizing but not sure where to start or how much your home might now be worth? Get in touch, and our expert team will guide you in your next steps!
Buying and selling a house can be a very stressful time. This is particularly true when you are in a chain.
A chain is where there are a number of different buyers and sellers all buying one property and selling their own. At one end of the chain, there will normally be a first-time buyer, who isn’t selling a property. At the other end of the chain there will be someone who is selling a property that is already empty. Maybe this is a new build, or it could be a property investor. The chain can be any length, but you can do many things to help make sure that things keep progressing.
1. Talk frequently They say it is good to talk, and this is especially true when buying and selling property. If there is a hold up, speak to your estate agents and/or solicitor and see if there is any way you can speak directly to the party that is holding things up. This may allow you to alleviate any problems more directly and get things back on track. But remember you always need to be diplomatic and understanding. Making demands isn’t going to help getting things progressing. Get clear dates of expectations when things will happen and follow up on these.
2. Come to the table with clean hands What we mean by this is that you don’t want to be the one that is holding things up. Sometimes there will be things that are out of your control. But it can be easy to let things slip when you are leading a busy life. So, make sure you are on top of everything that you need to do. Check your messages, read your emails, read the documents, and make sure that you have done everything you need to do. Maybe set aside a short period each day to review things and know that you are on top of matters.
3. Be prepared Preparation is everything! Get your mortgage offer in place as soon as possible. This will help minimise delays. If you haven’t bought a property in a while, you may not be aware of how long this stage takes. Mortgage companies are meticulous in looking into their buyers now and will want to see everything. This may include getting statements from any outstanding finance you have in place, or even maybe clearing down those credit cards or other loans. So, get everything ready that you possibly can.
4. Communicate Although it has already been said, talking is the best thing that you can do. Your estate agent and solicitor should both be happy talking to you as often as you need to. Modern companies often will work late hours and weekends so that they can talk with clients who are working full time. But you likely will also be able to get in touch via email, or text message, to stay fully up to date. They may even have an online portal which will give you details about how your move is progressing. So, stay in touch.
We know the Olympics have just finished but indulge us if you will as we explain how a popular sports-related concept used by top athletes can help landlords.
You might already be familiar with the theory of ‘marginal gains’. It’s based on the notion that you’ll reap major rewards if you make small, incremental improvements across several areas.
If you’re a cyclist, you might focus on improving your nutrition, recovery, and mindset. While each small gain isn’t necessarily game-changing, put them together and you’ve got the winning edge.
What’s this got to do with landlords?
Landlords juggle an array of responsibilities. Success isn’t based on getting one thing right – it’s about consistently getting lots of things right.
A good place to start is by looking at the end-of-tenancy process and the areas where landlords most commonly withhold deposits.
1) Cleaning By far the most significant source of friction between tenant and landlord, cleaning causes 49% of deposit disputes*.
2) Damage Property damage, such as broken furniture, carpet stains, and marks on the walls, is the cause of 35% of disputes.
3) Redecoration About 26% of disputes are over redecoration costs – for example, when a landlord has to give mucky walls a lick of paint or replace stained carpets post-tenancy.
Here’s how landlords can make marginal gains
Check-in inventory They say the devil is in the detail, but a thorough check-in inventory can be a landlord’s saviour. It should combine clear, precise descriptions with good quality photographs.
Ensure you include the condition of outdoor areas and the garden and note the standard of cleanliness inside.
State if the property has been recently professionally cleaned or decorated (and keep the relevant invoices).
If you’re still unsure what a top-notch inventory looks like, get in touch with us at our Bangor & North Down Office on 028 9147 9393 and we can provide more detail.
Communication Make an effort to build a professional rapport with your tenant and always respond promptly when they raise issues.
Towards the end of a tenancy, outline your expectations, particularly on the issue of cleanliness.
Often, problems arise because a landlord expects a professional standard of cleaning covering all nooks and crannies, while a tenant thinks a quick once-over of major surfaces will suffice.
Regular inspections Regular visits send a clear message to your tenant that you are on the ball. They’re more likely to treat your property with respect if they know you’ll be turning up regularly to look over things.
If you do notice any damage, discuss it with your tenant, so they can make suitable repairs.
For more advice about successful property management, get in touch with us on 028 9147 9393.
*All figures from the 2020/21 Tenancy Deposit Scheme annual report. Read more
If you're thinking of selling your home, it helps to know exactly what most buyers are looking for when they walk through the door. So we've looked at the top must-haves listed by would-be buyers to help you work out how in-demand your home is likely to be.
While there's not a lot you can do about some of these asks (you can't make your neighbours disappear, for example), others are quite easily done and could be the difference between someone making an offer or continuing their search.
The results below come from GoCompare’s 'Home essential's survey’, which was carried out late in 2019. To try and give you some more insight into the features that are becoming more (and less) important to buyers, we'll compare the results of earlier surveys.
1. Heating tops the list If your house is cold and draughty, it might be worth doing something about it: house hunters have listed good central heating and double-glazing as their biggest asks for the last four years running.
This year, more than three quarters (78% for heating, 76% for double glazing) described it as 'essential'.
If you don't want to shell out for new windows or a better heating system, winter-proofing your home will make it cosier without breaking the bank.
2. Is your home burglar-proof? Security is unsurprisingly a big consideration for many house hunters.
Some 71% of those surveyed described secure windows and doors as essential and this aspect has regularly featured in the top four asks since 2016.
3. Broadband signal is vital The survey also shows the increasing importance of technology at home, with ‘reliable broadband signal’ and ‘strong mobile phone signal’ nabbing spots five and six on the list respectively.
Rewind to 2016 and the same two factors ranked ninth and 17th, so it's unsurprisingly becoming a vital factor as more items in our homes become reliant on the Internet.
Sadly, there isn't much you can do if you suffer from poor mobile signal or rubbish broadband speeds in your area, although you can at least take steps to ensure the Wi-Fi works as well as possible in your home, with Wi-Fi boosters and by opting for fibre optic if it’s available.
4. Death of the landline? The survey didn’t see an increased demand for all forms of technology however, as 'landline phone connection' dropped out of the top 20 essential features for the first time this year.
This is in line with recent research by Ofcom which shows that the amount of time we spend talking on the home phone has nearly halved in the last six years.
Replacing the landline in 20th place is satellite TV, which 36% of people saw as ‘essential’.
5. What about the neighbours? The importance of technology hasn't replaced the human touch just yet however, as 'friendly neighbours' came in 10th place this year.
Having a friendly face next door is a consistent in the survey since it began, give or take a position or two.
Other things that people wanted that just missed out on the top 10 were 'at least two toilets' and 'off-road parking', which were both considered essential by 51% of participants.
6. Living room size over schools nearby The biggest increase on previous years was the number of people wanting ‘a living room large enough to accommodate a large flat-screen TV.’
Only one in 10 people considered a living room of that size to be a priority in 2014, whereas that figure has quadrupled to over 40% in this year’s survey.
A property’s proximity to high-performing schools did not make the top 20, as only 17% of buyers said that it was something that they considered to be important.
Whether or not a property has period features came in even further down the list, with only 9% of people rating it as having a big influence on their choice of home.
Final thoughts Stepping back and looking from a buyer’s perspective usually helps to understand what might be important to highlight in your home. You should also take into account who will be buying it – for example, a young family will want a garden, but a single professional will want the best commute. This way, you can tailor the home to the perfect buyer. If you want some help knowing what buyers in your area specifically want in a home, or how you can raise your home’s value – get in touch. Read more
A tenancy agreement can be described as the binding contract signed between you and your landlord. It clearly sets out all the legal terms and conditions in regards to your tenancy, and what type it is. For this reason, it might be fixed (spanning through a set period, for instance, six months) or periodic (runs through on weekly basis, or even every month).
Paying close attention to every detail in your tenancy agreement should never be an option. Why? This document outlines the do’s and don’ts, your landlords’ expectations, duration of the contract, etc.
Generally, there are vital details each tenant should consider getting clear answers to, even before signing the tenancy agreement document. These may include;
Rent and Bills payments
Ensure you fully understand on how and when you are meant to pay your rent and bills. Also, ask for clarifications whether bills (such as water, electricity, Wi-Fi, etc.) are included in the rent or not. In some occasions, tenants are required to pay for council tax unless they reside in multiple occupations (HMO). In this case, it is the landlord’s liability to pay the council tax.
Issuing of notices
In your tenancy agreement, there must be a clause, stating how much time you need to issue a notice, prior to your tenancy termination. Note that this clause is essential as failure to abide by it, you may end up paying your rent for unplanned period.
While moving into a new house or apartment, you are required to pay a set amount of money, also known as your tenancy deposit. However, this amount is refundable upon termination of your tenancy contract, if you’ve obliged to the tenancy regulations. This includes leaving the house in order, clean, well maintained, and paying your rent on time. On the tenancy agreement, all the conditions should be stated, regarding on how and when you are to receive a refund of your tenancy deposit.
Decorating and repairs
In many occasions, as a tenant, you are not allowed to have any permanent decorations, modifications and repairs to your house, unless with special permission from your landlord. Also, in case there is a need for minor or major repairs, who’s responsible?
Well, this varies from one landlord to another. In some cases, never at any time should you let out your rental house without your landlords’ notice. In the tenancy agreement, you can find this information, with the possible consequences (fines or legal action) your landlord may take against you.
Within your stay, you may opt to have a review on the already signed tenancy agreement with your landlord. In this case, is it possible or once you have signed the document, it’s a closed deal?
This clause aims at looking at specific issues that your landlord may be against, such as, smoking, keeping pets, cleanliness, loud music, etc. Ensure you read through this segment to avoid any disputes later, either with your landlord or other tenants.
Moving into a “new” home can be exciting to some people, but all in all, do not make a rash decision while signing your tenancy agreement. You may request for more time from your landlord, to carefully scrutinise every detail included in the agreement. Remember, the tenancy agreement is the key part of your tenancy, stating your privileges and expectations as a tenant. Read more
How to downsize gets talked about a lot these days, but many don’t discuss how to trade up when buying a new home. There’s plenty of reasons you might be looking for a bigger home – a growing family, a pet, a lack of space, a want for a home office. Ensure you follow our checklist to miss nothing when moving on up.
This checklist should be seen as a general guide, and you should always consult a professional agent for specific advice for you when moving to a larger home. You’ll need to consider many things such as timing, equity, mortgages and needs to have everything run smoothly, but once you’re in, imagine the happiness in your new space!
So, here’s our checklist – feel free to print it off and tick off as you go along.
Research the current market
Research what your property might be worth – be realistic!
Get an Estate Agent to value your home, ask for an explanation of their price
Instruct your Estate Agent
Choose a Conveyancer
Find out how much equity you have in your home
Find out how much the property you’ll want will likely cost
What can you borrow? Talk to your mortgage broker
How easy will it be to buy and sell – should you rent?
Budget for the move
Brief your agent about the type of home you’d like to buy
Carry out viewings (your agent should undertake this)
Make sure you are getting viewings on your own property BEFORE you get excited about viewing other peoples
Accept an offer before you make an offer
Finalise your mortgage offer and insurance
Get regular updates from your agent/conveyancer about your purchase
File all important purchase documents for the future
Choose a removals company
Start organising your boxes and packaging
Organise a change of address
Complete on your sale and your purchase and move in
Keep all your paperwork safe
Check the SDLT forms have been filed
Remember, depending on your situation, or if the chain falls through somewhere, this process may change. The important thing is to keep up to date with your agent on what’s currently happening and fill in forms, signatures, and information as promptly as possible to keep things moving.
Moving doesn’t need to be a stress, and the satisfaction of a new home with more space is the reward at the end! Get in touch today to get started. Read more
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow all cookies". This is so that we can give you the very best experience while you're on our website. You can adjust your cookie settings at any time in your browser preferences.