• 5 Property defects to look out for at a house viewing
    Posted on 17 May 2023

    5 Property defects to look out for at a house viewing

    Buying a house is exciting and stressful, both at the same time. There are so many properties to see, but finding the perfect one amongst them all is the reason for stress.

    You might have found the perfect house in the perfect neighbourhood, but don’t let the excitement cloud your judgement. There may be a few defects in and around the house that could cause serious problems in the future and cost you a lot in the long run.

    A qualified home inspector is always your best bet for a thorough home evaluation and rules out any possible defects. However, it is a good idea to have a general understanding of what to look out for.

    Here are the few defects to look out for at a house viewing:


    The main sign of dampness in a house is the mouldy smell, flaky plaster and watermarked walls or ceilings. It sounds obvious, but ensure you look closely at the ceilings and around the skirting boards. Dampness causes extensive damage to the property, it weakens the timber and the structure, eats away the floorboards, window frames and roof beams. If dampness is ignored it can cost you a lot in repair.

    Exterior cracks and tilts

    The inside of the house can smell fresh from that floor varnish and paint, but the exteriors could cost you a fortune if you ignore it. The cracks in the walls are unsightly and also an indicator of serious structural problems. It is essential to know if a wall in the crack can be easily fixed with a bit of filler and re-paint or whether it needs structural repairs. Don’t underestimate the seriousness of the cracks and tilts in the house, especially if the property is a traditional home.

    Pest problems

    Depending on the area of the house, there are certain pests and insects that you need to look out for. The pests include mice, cockroaches, moths, ants, wood-destroying and spiders. If you see too many of them, then it is a severe pest problem. These pests cause a lot damage to a home that can cost you a lot to rectify.


    Every house should have proper ventilation to ensure that the moisture in the home evaporates effectively. If the moisture sits in an area for a prolonged amount of time, it can cause issues. The areas that you need to pay attention to is the space between the roof and the ceiling. Proper ventilation in these areas will ensure the longevity of the roof and keep the interiors of the home dry at all times.

    DIY repairs

    While there is nothing wrong with DIY repairs, it is important to check they are done correctly. It is normal for a homeowner to undertake ‘do-it-yourself’ repairs around the home, so check the plumbing and electrical areas properly, especially in the bathroom. If you spot something that seems like it’s falling apart, address the issue with the seller.

    These are the 5 most expensive defects to look out for at a house viewing. However, if you are unsure what to look for, hire a professional home inspector and receive a complete report.
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  • Checklist for letting out your property
    Posted on 17 May 2023

    Checklist for letting out your property

    When it comes to letting out a property it isn’t always as straightforward as just collecting the rent each month. You will have a legal responsibility to your tenants and so you will need to make sure that you are doing the right thing and that you meet all the necessary rules and regulations. Our checklist here will help you get things covered.

    Make sure the property is safe

    The first thing you want to do is visit the property and ensure that everything in the place is safe. All the electrics are up to standard, there are no loose floorboards, or other dangerous items that could cause your tenants an injury. Failure to do so could see you facing fines or even a jail sentence. Landlords are legally required to put smoke alarms on every floor that contains living space, and also install a carbon monoxide alarm if there is a solid fuel-burning appliance in the property.

    Arrange an EPC

    All landlords are now required to provide tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate or EPC on the day they move in. Additionally, all advertisements are required to give the energy rating for the property. Therefore, if you haven’t had it done yet you would be wise to get it completed sooner rather than later.

    Advertise in the right places

    Nowadays it is easy to publish listings on the internet yourself or put the property up for rent on places like Facebook but you want to make sure that you are attracting the right type of tenants, so you want to think if you want to list the property through an agency, or whether you go direct. Agencies will help filter the potential tenants and will take care of things like viewings etc, so this may be helpful for you.

    Carry out an immigration right to rent check

    Since early February 2016 Landlords are required to check that their tenants hold the relevant Right to Rent in the UK. This will normally require the landlord to perform an immigration check using an official document of the tenant such as a passport. Landlords are able to perform the checks themselves or let a letting agency do it, but failure to do so could see fines of up to £3000 against the landlord.

    Reference your tenants

    You want to make sure that your tenants are what they seem so that you minimise the risk of letting your property. This may include getting references from previous landlords or employers as well as checking bank statements and id on your tenants. You want to get piece of mind that you are renting to the right people.

    Arrange the tenancy agreement

    This is the legal contract upon which your letting is based, so it is important to make sure that you have this in place. If you make any alterations to the tenancy agreement you will have to get agreement from your tenants before you do. This is for your protection as well as for theirs.
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  • How a great solicitor can help you as a home buyer
    Posted on 17 May 2023

    How a great solicitor can help you as a home buyer

    We all have heard of disputes that arise in the course, or even years after purchasing a home, or other real estate assets. As a home buyer, you may tend to be conversant with all the requirements that you should meet to buy a particular house. However, just like anybody else, you are subject to overlook on certain little details, which might eventually cost you greatly. This calls in for a real estate solicitor, who will help you navigate through every step. This might cost you additional pounds from your wallet, but it might help you greatly, eliminating any risk that would cost you a lot of money, or even total loss of your property. Let us look at some tips of how hiring a great solicitor could help you in buying a home;

    Reviewing the agreement of purchase as well as all the other legal documents

    Most buyers might be having to negotiate with their property sellers; however, you should ensure all the dealings for the contract are legally binding. A real estate solicitor will not only help you in reviewing and negotiating on the purchase on your behalf, but also ensures that the contract adheres to all the set rules that might adversely affect your home in future.

    Ensures that there are no disputes listed against the property

    As explained above, overlooking of any detail, no matter how petty it may seem to be, it can stand as a great threat later. A real estate solicitor  will ensure that a thorough background check is done, before commencing on the home buying process.

    Arrange for Title Insurance

    Upon buying a home, land, or any real estate property, ensure you are issued with a genuine and valid property title. How can you get this done, without any chances of making not even a single mistake? Hiring a professional solicitor could be your ultimate solution to this. Once you have closed the home buying deal, your real estate lawyer will ensure that you get a valid title.

    Ensure property tax compliance documents are up to date

    Well, depending on which home or property you intend to buy, you may be required to comply with the payment of tax. Which properties/homes call in for this? Before buying, has the previous homeowner been complying with the taxes? How much should you pay if you are to pay? All these queries can be adequately cleared by your real estate legal representative.

    Other services that a real estate solicitor can offer include;

    Calculating the land/home transfer tax due while closing

    Coming up with the mortgage documents

    Closing the transaction, ensuring all financial and legal conditions are met.

    Wrapping up!

    Hiring a competent solicitor can be a way of ensuring your interests are protected, your purchase adheres applies to the set rules within your region. Why take all the risk while you can avoid all this by hiring a real estate solicitor while buying your home, or any other real estate property?
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  • Seven Ways to Find and Keep Great Tenants
    Posted on 17 May 2023

    Seven Ways to Find and Keep Great Tenants

    In this three-minute read, we look at how landlords can find and keep terrific tenants.

    ‘Finders keepers, losers weepers.’ It’s a timeless rhyme used every day in school playgrounds all over the UK.

    It often applies to someone finding something that’s unowned or abandoned. But it also resonates with local landlords when it comes to having the second most important piece of the rental puzzle – great tenants.

    Finding these excellent tenants is one thing. Keeping them is another. And some landlords lose these precious people because of basic, unnecessary errors. It’s enough to make a good landlord weep.

    But put the tissues away because here are seven ways you can win at Rental Finders Keepers.

    1. Use a good letting agent. Earlier in this article, we mentioned that tenants were the second most crucial piece of completing a rental puzzle. The first? Well, in our opinion, it’s an excellent letting agent. That’s not because we are one, by the way. It’s because, over the years, we’ve seen countless landlords go down the DIY route to managing their properties and getting themselves in a stressful and expensive muddle. Look for agents with experience, testimonials, industry qualifications, and a clear plan on how they’ll market, manage, and maintain your tenancies.
    2. Know your target tenants. An experienced letting agent will be able to advise you on who your property will most appeal to. Is it a growing family, young professionals, or a retired couple? Knowing this will help with the next ultra-important step.
    3. Marketing matters. Perhaps the biggest error DIY landlords make is not taking the marketing of the property seriously enough. You are ‘selling’ an expensive product after all. This is why photography, property descriptions, and online advertising should be handled by professionals who do it day in, day out. The better your property’s marketing, the better calibre of tenants it will attract – giving you more choice when it comes to the next step.
    4. Setting the rent. By knowing your target tenant, marketing correctly, and listening to expert advice, you’ll be able to set your rent at the right amount. A correctly priced rental (not too cheap or expensive) will attract more interest and ultimately, more offers from quality tenants.
    5. Be prepared for questions. Good tenants tend not to just turn up at a property and say: ‘It’s great, where do I sign?’. It’s a big decision for them, and they’ll have questions such as, ‘What are the parking arrangements?’ or ‘What is the broadband like in this area?’. Remember, when it comes to the best tenants, this is a two-way selection process as they are savvy enough to research the rental market, so you’ll also need to make a good impression on them.
    6. Check them out. A tenant worth having will have no issue going through a referencing process. Here’s another area where a good letting agency reduces your risk of problems further down the line. Please don’t be shy about asking your letting agent for proof of the referencing process they’ve carried out, which should involve financial, employment, and past landlord checks. Skip this part at your peril.
    7. Keeping them. So, once you’ve found a great tenant, how do you go about keeping them? Well, this is an entire article in itself, but it would be along these lines: Be a good landlord by maintaining the property properly, dealing with issues quickly, charging rent fairly, and acting professionally.

    At Pinkertons, our job is to help landlords find and keep great tenants. To ask us anything about the rental market, contact us today.
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  • Eight Reasons Why People Move Home
    Posted on 17 May 2023

    Eight Reasons Why People Move Home

    Most people looking to move home fall into one of eight categories. Learn what these categories are so that you can fine-tune your property selling strategy.

    1. Space Chasers – These movers want more space to accommodate a growing family, a home office, or a Labradoodle puppy. Homes with a generous garden, garage and loft conversion top their most wanted list.
    2. New Lease of Lifers – These city slickers yearn to feel the sand between their toes or fresh country air in their lungs. They crave a quieter life surrounded by nature – but still covet creature comforts like high-speed broadband.
    3. Lovers and Leavers – People in this category are buying with a new partner/spouse or looking to make a fresh start after a relationship breakdown.  
    4. Empty Nesters – With the kids all grown up, Empty Nesters are rattling around large homes (that are expensive to heat). They’re keen to downsize to an energy-efficient, low-maintenance home with top-notch security.
    5. Family Guys and Girls – This category includes parents with young children looking to be closer to a family support network and those who want to live near an ageing relative who needs TLC.
    6. Catchment Hunters – Members of this group can recite the Good Schools Guide verbatim. They’ll pay a premium for a property close to an ‘Outstanding’ school (especially a high-performing secondary).
    7. Mortgage Freestylers – This group is looking to restructure their finances. They aim to sell up, buy a cheaper property and live mortgage-free (hopefully with a few extra quid to spend in their retirement).
    8. Career Boosters – Thanks to a new job or promotion, members of this group need to move to be closer to their place of work.

    Top tip

    When marketing and presenting your property, think carefully about who is most likely to buy it and promote your home accordingly.

    Don’t overlook small details like broadband speeds, catchment areas and home security. These factors can be very influential to some buyers.

    And remember that movers often fall into more than one category (for example, an Empty Nester might also be a Mortgage Freestyler, and a Space Chaser also a Catchment Hunter).

    To learn more about successfully marketing your home, contact us here at Pinkertons.
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  • Why gas safety should be on your new home checklist
    Posted on 17 May 2023

    Why gas safety should be on your new home checklist

    Gas safety should be a top priority when moving home to ensure you don’t put your family, your new property, or even your new neighbours in danger. We all know moving house can be stressful with lots to consider, but the excitement of getting in and dreaming about your interior decorating plans can mean that less exciting aspects of a move, like health, wellbeing and safety, take a backseat.

    According to the latest inspection figures from the Gas Safe Register, 1 in 5 homes in the UK have unsafe gas appliances, which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, gas leaks, fires and explosions. It’s impossible to know if your new home’s gas work is safe and legal without doing a bit of homework.

    Before you move in…

    • Ask the current owners for the property’s gas safety record – sometimes known as a gas safety certificate – to find out the history of all the gas appliances. They should have a health check from a registered gas engineer every year.
    • If they can’t provide a record, or it’s been more than 12 months since the last check, get in touch with a local Gas Safe registered engineer who can carry out a safety check for you when you move in. To find your local Gas Safe registered engineer visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk.
    • Only Gas Safe registered engineers can legally undertake gas work at a property, whether it’s on appliances, flues or pipework. This means your homebuyer or structural surveys might not confirm if the gas appliances in your new property are working as they should be by default and you’ll need to check.

    Starting to settle in…

    Almost every move requires a bit of DIY, however, doing work with a gas appliance can lead to gas leaks, fires, explosions, or exposure to carbon monoxide.

    A recent survey by the Gas Safe Register revealed 15 per cent of those embarking on renovations plan to DIY on jobs that could have an impact on gas safety. There are also other projects that can indirectly put you at risk. For instance, building a conservatory or extension on a site that blocks or covers your flue is a common issue.

    To avoid any DIY disasters...

    • Don’t try to fit, fix or move gas appliances such as a boiler, oven or cooker yourself – it’s best to use a Gas Safe registered engineer who has the right skills. Visit https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice for more information.
    • Before drilling, hammering or putting screws into a wall or floor, check what’s behind it with a pipe, cable and stud detector.
    • Never block or cover air vents and flues. If your flue becomes blocked, these gases will leak back into your home, leaving you exposed to carbon monoxide.
    • Know the six main symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning – headaches, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness.
    • Recognise the signs of an unsafe gas appliance, which include a lazy yellow flame, black marks or stains, increased condensation and an intermittent pilot light.
    • In general, if you suspect unsafe gas it’s vital to get expert help. Contact the National Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999.

    Safety should always be the top priority of a home mover, and by completing just a few checks, you can ensure you, your family, and your neighbours are protected.
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  • 5 mistakes you may be making if your home isn’t selling
    Posted on 17 May 2023

    5 mistakes you may be making if your home isn’t selling

    In a perfect world, the home selling process would be straightforward and quick. You’d list your home for sale, schedule viewings, receive multiple offers, and sell your home fast and above list price. Unfortunately, selling your house isn’t always that simple and your home could end up sitting on the market longer than you anticipated.

    As a seller, there are few things more frustrating than your home not selling and having no idea why. Let’s dive in and discuss five likely reasons your home isn’t selling and address how to fix the problems.

    1.     Your home needs improvements

    Being a homeowner comes with many responsibilities, including keeping your home and property in good condition. Sure, you might vacuum, dust, and mop regularly – but that sometimes isn’t enough. You may need to put a little time and money into your home so you can receive more offers and sell your house quickly. Furthermore, if you’ve had buyers interested in your home, but maintenance problems are encountered during the home survey, you could end up losing the sale.

    What’s the solution?

    Before listing your home for sale, start researching what other similar homes are being sold for. Make sure to only compare homes in close proximity to yours. If other sellers in your price range have new carpeting, a recently remodelled kitchen or bath, or new flooring throughout, they’ll likely outshine your listing. Research your options on which home upgrades will give you the most bang for your buck in your market. Hire a professional to avoid any costly DIY mistakes. If you know there are issues that will be highlighted in a survey, make sure to address these before putting your home on the market.

    2.     Your home is priced too high

    Pricing a house too high happens more often than you might think. Resisting the urge to overprice your home is never easy. The longer your home stays on the market, the more likely it is that you’ll need to drop the asking price. Typically, if a home sits on the market longer than other homes nearby, buyers will assume it’s because something is wrong with it.

    What’s the solution?

    Pricing your home can be complex with several different data points to take into account. Take a look at what similar homes in your area are listed for, research what homes have recently sold close by, and you can use an online calculator for a home value estimate. Your agent will also be able to work with you to price your home competitively with an expertise that can’t be matched with online tools. Don’t be tempted to go with the highest offer, but rather the one that’s well researched out – you can ask your agent how they arrived at a certain price.

    3.     Your home is cluttered and dirty
    It happens to all of us. Your daily mess just becomes junk that you overlook day-by-day. But trust me – the piles of paper, boxes of toys, and mounds of clothes will definitely be noticed by potential buyers. Clutter will distract buyers from your home’s best features and will make the space appear smaller.

    What’s the solution?

    As you’re decluttering, be sure to pack away family photos, excess books, clothes, and knickknacks. Instead of stashing your stuff in closets, box up what you don’t need and consider renting a storage unit to clear out some of your belongings. You can also donate items or dump any damaged or broken belongings to avoid the same stuff piling up at your new home.

    After you’ve decluttered, the next step is cleaning your house from top to bottom. Wipe and dust every surface, decoration, and window inside and out. Mop and vacuum carpets and floors. Pay attention to the smell of your home and be sure to get a second opinion. Pets, kids, food, and other conditions can make your home smell and discourage potential homebuyers. If you don’t have the time to do it right, hire a professional cleaning service—it will be worth it. They’ll be able to reach every nook and cranny of your home to leave it shining so you can sell your house quickly and for more money.

    4.     You haven’t staged your home

    One great thing about owning a home is being able to show off your personal taste through furniture, paint colours, photographs, and decorations. But even if your taste isn’t overly bold, it still might not sit well with potential buyers. Buyers want to be able to visualise the home as a good fit for themselves. Bright paint colours and decoration may have been your style, but when trying to sell your house, the decor should always be neutral. Potential buyers should be able to focus on the features of your home and not your belongings.

    What’s the solution?

    Staging a home can be as simple as rearranging furniture or moving large items into storage. If you’re working with a tight budget, focus on the entryway, living room, kitchen, bathrooms, and master bedroom. It’s also important to create a blank canvas by stowing away family photos and any other personal items.

    5.     Your kerb appeal isn’t appealing

    Take a walk around your street and pay attention to the homes that appear inviting and note what about the property makes it that way. Is it the green lawn and the neatly cut hedges? The fresh coat of paint? The stone walkway? Now, walk past your home and try to picture yourself as a potential buyer. What needs work? The first impression your home gets from a buyer is important and it often starts with the exterior of your home. Strong kerb appeal has the ability to bring more buyers to your door.

    What’s the solution?

    Preparing the exterior of your home is just as important as staging the interior. After all, many buyers won’t feel compelled to tour your home if it doesn’t look nice from the outside. A well-maintained exterior, including everything from landscaping to exterior paint, will bring buyers through your door increasing the likeliness of your home selling quickly.

    Hire a professional to spruce up the exterior of your home. Your lawn, hedges, trees, and other plants should be neat and there shouldn’t be any visible weeds. Have your windows washed and consider hiring a power washing company to clean any walkways.

    The longer your home sits on the market, the less appealing it will become to buyers. Identify what is preventing potential buyers from making any offers and fix the issues as soon as possible. This way, you can sell your house quickly.
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  • Lets with pets - our top tips to renting with pets
    Posted on 17 May 2023

    Lets with pets - our top tips to renting with pets

    Here's a selection of the best advice we've learned over the years to ensure you can find a home for yourself AND your furry companion.

    Lets with pets aims to show the benefits of letting properties to pet owners, as well as offering free information and support to landlords and letting agencies to make the process simpler. It also provides advice to people with pets looking for suitable rented homes.

    With almost half of the UK’s population owning a pet, more ‘pets considered’ rented homes are desperately needed.

    With this in mind Lets with Pets has launched the 3A’s campaign:

    ‘Ask’ all their landlords if they would consider letting to pet owners

    ‘Advertise’ which of their properties may be available to people with pets

    ‘Add’ a pet clause to their tenancy agreements with details of the agreed pet

    Landlords often have concerns about renting their properties to pet owners so to help pet owners be as successful as possible in their search for a rented home we have come up with some top tips:

    1. Don’t leave it to the last minute

    Give yourself plenty of time to find a pet-friendly rented home and begin searching at least 8 weeks before you need to move out of your current home.

    2. Be as flexible as possible on location and property type

    Being flexible will increase your chances of finding a pet friendly rented home for you and your pet.

    3. Offer to pay a pet payment

    Some landlord’s worry that pets will lead to fleas, pet hair and dirty carpets at their property. Offering a non-refundable ‘pet payment’ to pay for a professional clean when you move out will help put any landlord’s mind at ease.

    4. Market your Pet to Landlords

    One way of increasing your chances of finding a suitable rented home with your pet is by showing landlords you are a responsible pet owner. Use the free resources on the Lets with Pets website to put together a pet information pack:

    A Pet CV – Include as much information about your pet as possible such as how often they are treated to prevent fleas, who will care for your pet in case of an emergency and the contact details for your vet. Plus a nice photo of your pet is always a good idea!

    A Pet Reference – If you can, give the landlord a reference for your pet from a previous landlord or your vet. This can show your pet is well behaved, well cared for and able to live in a rented home without causing problems or damage.

    Meet My Pet – Meeting your pet in advance should help put the landlord’s mind at ease. You could even consider inviting them to your current home so that they can see for themselves your pet has caused no problems there.

    5. Be honest, never hide your pet

    It’s never advisable to try to keep a pet ‘hidden’ from your landlord as in the worst case it could mean the end of your tenancy! Always be honest about your pet right from the start.

    6. Get written permission

    If the landlord has agreed to you keeping a pet ask for the ‘no pets’ clause to be removed from your tenancy agreement and a clause with the details of your pet to be added. This will prevent future misunderstandings.

    Looking for a pet friendly home or want to offer one out? Get in touch today!
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  • 16 staycation ideas to create the ultimate holiday at home
    Posted on 17 May 2023

    16 staycation ideas to create the ultimate holiday at home

    Spring/summertime brings warmer weather, longer days, and dreams of holidays to beaches or new cities. But what happens when your holiday gets cancelled, you’re budgeting to afford a new house, or travel just isn’t possible because we still need to stay at home? The answer is simple — enjoy a vacation at home.

    Whether it’s creating a spa in your bathroom or turning your dining space into a restaurant, here are some simple and fun staycation ideas you can use to transform your home into the ultimate summer vacation.

    Recreate a spa in your bathroom
    One of the most popular staycation ideas is transforming your bathroom into a spa. Luckily, you don’t have to sacrifice relaxation during your staycation. With a few simple changes, you can easily recreate a tranquil retreat in your bathroom or ensuite.

    Clear out any visible counter clutter
    Make sure to tidy up your bathroom and clear off any clutter on the countertops. Now’s a great time to throw out any old products you haven’t used in a while and make your space as clean as possible.

    2. Light candles and set up oil diffusers
    Whether you have extra candles lying around in a cabinet or prefer to use essential oils, now’s the time to bring them out. Scents of lavender and bergamot essential oils will help bring that spa feel to your home. If you want a beach-side atmosphere instead, consider lighting a coconut vanilla candle.

    3. Splurge on the amenities
    While spending a spa day in your bathroom may not seem like the most luxurious at-home vacation, it can be with some new towels, robes, and other spa favourites. Splurging on nice towels will bring a luxurious feel to your normal bathroom and maybe even pick up some spa essentials from your favourite local spa to really feel like you’re on vacation.

    Redecorate your living room into a lounge
    You’ve likely been spending a lot of time in your living room these days and are getting used to the same scenery. If you’re looking for a more unique staycation idea, then consider updating your living room. With a few redecorating tips you can transform your living room into a brand-new space reminiscent of a hotel lounge.

    4. Rearrange your furniture
    Give new life to your living space by rearranging your furniture in a way you hadn’t thought of before. Try moving your couch across the room or pulling some lounge chairs from another room in your house. By simply moving around furniture in your living room or consulting with an interior designer, you can easily create a new look.

    5. Change up pillows, throws, and decor
    Sprucing up your current decor is an easy way to upgrade your living room and bring that holiday feeling to life. Think about switching out pillow covers or blankets to something more colourful. Another easy swap is changing up your bookshelves by displaying trinkets from past holidays or adding some travel books to your coffee table.

    6. Create a minibar
    If you’ve always wanted to decorate your end tables with liquor bottles or set up a minibar in the corner of the room, test it out. All you’ll need is a table to house your favourite drinks, as well as some cocktail supplies like glasses, shakers, and stirrers for a simple yet functional minibar. This may be one of the holiday ideas you end up liking so much that it becomes a permanent home bar setup after your staycation has ended.

    Turn your dining space into a restaurant
    This is one of the simplest, yet most transformative staycation ideas. By easily changing the feel of your dining room, you can make it more reminiscent of a cosy restaurant for a date night or a cafe you’d find on holiday.

    7. Add flowers or plants to create a centrepiece
    Order a nice flower arrangement from your favourite florist or take some flowers from your garden to spruce up the interior of your kitchen. If you have access to a garden centre, pick up some plants that remind you of your favourite summer holiday spots to create a colourful centrepiece for your dining table.

    8. Make use of your formal dining room and nice dishware
    When was the last time you ate dinner in your formal dining room that wasn’t for a holiday or special occasion? Treat your staycation like a special occasion and have your meals in your dining room. Better yet, put your nicer dishware to use as if you were dining at a Michelin star restaurant for a date night.

    9. Turn your outdoor space into a cosy dining area
    There’s no need to worry about forgetting to book an outdoor table at your favourite restaurant when you holiday at home. Adding a seating or dining area will upgrade your staycation. If your outdoor tables have seen better days, spend an afternoon cleaning off that furniture or adding a fresh coat of paint or lacquer to those well-loved dining chairs.

    Spruce up your outside
    Whether you live in an apartment and just have a small balcony, or you live in a house with a large garden and patio, there’s a handful of simple updates you can do to give your outside area a resort-like feel.

    10. Freshen up with new plants
    Make your space feel more like a paradise by planting some new flowers or greenery. Whether that’s adding in-season plants or experimenting with a new flower, like gardenias, they’ll add a paradise-like feel and give new life to your space. If you don’t have a green thumb, contact your local landscaping company to turn your garden into a tropical paradise.

    11. Give your outdoor furniture an upgrade
    Whether that’s re-panelling your wooden chairs or purchasing some new outdoor cushions for your recliners, changing up your outdoor furniture can make all the difference. If you’ve been meaning to invest in a new patio table or a cosy hammock chair, what better time than before your staycation?

    12. Brighten up your outside space with lights
    By adding some new lights to your garden or balcony, it’ll upgrade your staycation evenings as the sun sets. The options are endless, from simple LED tiki torches to having a professional install a custom lighting landscape. Adding lights will bring that magical vacation feel to your space and keep your staycation going throughout the summer.

    13. Set up an outdoor audio system
    Whether you’re planning on dining or setting up a movie night, you’ll want to add speakers or a sound system to your outdoor space. Think about investing in an audio setup that works throughout your home as well as outdoors, making it useful throughout the year. This simple upgrade will help transform your garden into the ultimate staycation set-up.

    Transform your bedroom into a hotel suite
    For many people, escaping to a relaxing destination and staying at a nice hotel is one of the best parts of a holiday. You can easily transform your current bedroom into a luxury escape with a few tweaks to your current decor.

    14. Switch your bed linens
    Switching out your current bedding for freshly cleaned white linens will help evoke that tranquil calmness of a resort during your staycation.

    15. Spend the night in your guest bedroom
    Better yet, if you’ve got a spare bedroom, plan to spend your staycation nights here. Without guests, your spare bedroom may be going unused, so make use of it as your dedicated hotel room. You’ll get a break from your normal nightly routine and wake up to different scenery without having to change a thing.

    16. Update your framed photos with holiday photos
    Spice up your current decor with pictures of those far-away places you planned on traveling to this summer. Print out your favourite photos, or ones from past holidays, to remind you of the pristine beaches or evergreen forests while you enjoy your vacation at home.
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  • The fastest way to pay off your mortgage
    Posted on 12 May 2023

    The fastest way to pay off your mortgage

    It might seem impossible, but there are ways to help you pay your mortgage off earlier than planned.

    Being mortgage free faster is something many of us only dream of, but it may be easier to do than you think and can save you thousands of pounds. Take a look at our tips to see if you could pay off your mortgage faster…

    Overpay your mortgage each month

    Paying as little as an extra £50 a month on top of your normal mortgage repayment can make all the difference to how much interest you pay and how quickly you’re rid of your mortgage.

    For example, if you owe £130,000 and have 20 years left on a 2.5% repayment mortgage, by paying an extra £50 a month, you’ll pay off your mortgage 1 year and 8 months earlier, saving £3,235 in interest. If you overpay by £100 a month, it would be reduced by 3 years and 1 month and you’d save £5,920 in interest.

    Before changing anything, check that there aren’t any penalties for overpaying. Most mortgages now allow some level of overpayment – typically up to 10% of the total mortgage balance each year on fixed rate deals (variable rates, where your mortgage rate can go up or down, often don’t have penalties). Be careful not to go over any limits, as the penalties can run into hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

    If you can’t afford to pay any extra, check to see if you could switch to a better mortgage rate. Then, instead of paying the new lower mortgage repayment, simply continue to repay what you were paying before and you’ll pay off your mortgage faster.

    Make a one-off lump sum payment

    If you come into some money, you could use it to pay off a chunk of your mortgage.

    For example, if you owe £130,000 and have 20 years left on a 2.5% repayment mortgage, by making a one-off overpayment of £5,000, it would save you £3,132 in interest and mean you pay off your mortgage in full 11 months earlier. If the overpayment were £10,000, it would save you £6,068 in interest and mean you’d be mortgage free 1 year and 11 months earlier.

    Again, make sure you won’t incur a penalty before doing anything.

    Shorten the length of your mortgage

    You can simply ask your lender to reduce the term of your mortgage – say from 15 years to 10 years.  This will increase your monthly repayments, but you’ll pay less interest overall. Think carefully before doing this – it’s a much less flexible option than overpaying, which you can switch on and off as it suits you. But if you prefer the discipline of higher repayments this could work for you.

    There are various mortgage calculators online, such as the one on the Money Supermarket website, which can show you how much quicker you can pay off your mortgage if you make regular or one-off repayments, as well as how your repayments are affected if you increase or reduce the term of your mortgage.

    Think things through                          

    As with all financial decisions, it’s important not to make the decision to pay off your mortgage early in isolation – there are a number of things to think about first. For example, if you have debt elsewhere, or can get a higher return on a savings account, it may be best to invest your spare cash there.

    Need help?

    You may also want to consider taking impartial financial advice before making any decisions. A financial adviser will be able to give you personalised advice based on your individual circumstances. Get in touch if you’d like to have one recommended to you.
    Read more
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