The kids are back to school, and the distractions of Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics have gone.
What have we got to look forward to? Easy, Christmas.
Yes, we know it seems a long way off, but if you’re thinking of celebrating it in a new home, it’s time to get things sorted.
Recent research from one of the most respected organisations in the estate agency industry, Propertymark, highlights the need to get your selling skates on if a new abode is at the top of your Christmas wish list.
The organisation’s findings show the average time taken from an offer to exchange is now at 13-16 weeks. This doesn’t consider the period from when your property goes on the market, and an acceptable offer is made.
A statement from Propertymark’s CEO said the average time used to be around 6-8 weeks, but the post-pandemic market across the UK is ‘a very different beast.’
This is due to several factors. Record levels of transactions, pressure on solicitors, mortgage companies and even overworked removal firms are slowing the process.
There are just over 15 weeks until turkey time (other culinary options are available), so speed is of the essence.
Here’s a simple ABC plan to put you on the path to opening presents in a new home on 25 December.
A) Action – Take the first steps of calling in three agents to give you a valuation of your home. Always ask this question of them: How will you go about getting me the price you say my home is currently worth?
B) Be Ready – Now is the time to get your house in order, literally and metaphorically speaking. Do those little maintenance jobs that have been left for ages. You’d be amazed how off-putting peeling fence paint or missing cabinet handles are for prospective buyers. And get all your paperwork organised. You’ll need warranties and receipts ready to help speed up the legal side of any sale.
C) Check – We’re expecting a surge of sellers and buyers looking to move in the run-up to the festive season, so it’s worth thinking ahead. Call removal and storage companies for quotes and get dates pencilled in with them. The good moving companies get booked in advance even when the market isn’t as busy as it is now.
If you’ve a dream about waking up on Christmas morning in a new home, get in touch with us on 028 9147 9393 and we’ll help make it a reality. Read more
Preventative maintenance is crucial for avoiding expensive repair bills, unnecessary wear and tear to your property, and if you’re a landlord - unhappy tenants.
Keep your property in check with our 10-point winter property checklist...
1. Pipes Frozen pipes are a worry at winter, as they can burst and result in flooding. Make sure you check that your water pipes are properly insulated to prevent this from happening.
If you have a rental property and your tenants are away for the festive season, ask them to keep the heating at a low level to help maintain a consistent temperature around the pipes.
Top tip: Placing pipes in warmer areas (away from the outside walls) will reduce the chance of them freezing. If this isn’t possible, ask a plumber to fit vulnerable pipes with insulation sleeves.
2. Drains Water damage can have devastating effects on a property, so it’s imperative you take some preventative measures. Make sure to keep your drains clear of leaves and twigs, as clogged drains can cause a build-up of water which could get into the property and lead to serious damp problems.
3. Roof It's very common for roof slates to become broken, cracked, or to slip out of place.
Unfortunately, even a really small gap in the slates can let in damaging quantities of water, so make sure you - or a handyman - regularly checks for issues. Replacing a tile will be a lot cheaper than repairing water damage!
4. Boiler If you do one thing this winter, get your boiler serviced by a Gas Safety registered engineer! Not only will this save you money in the long run, but also reduce the risk of gas leaks, fires and even carbon monoxide poisoning.
This is especially important if you’re a landlord, as you’re legally responsible for the safety of your tenants.
5. Damp There are a number of ways you can fight against condensation and mould: close the kitchen door when cooking to prevent steam going into colder rooms; cover your pans when cooking; dry washing outdoors if possible; wipe down the windows and windowsills every morning; cover fish tanks; and look to move your plants outdoors if the problem persists.
Top tip: Invest in a humidistat-controlled electric fan for the bathroom - they come on automatically when the air becomes humid and are great for preventing condensation.
6. Radiators Now it's getting chilly, it's important to check your radiators are working to their full potential. If you turn your heating on and notice cool spots toward the top of the radiator, it’s likely there’s air trapped, and you’ll need to bleed the radiator.
7. Drafts Keep an eye out for any cracks or holes in your outside walls, as the cold air can find its way into pipes and cause nasty drafts. If you find a crack, make sure you or a handyman seal them up before the cold weather arrives!
8. Chimney If your home has a cosy fireplace, make sure it has been swept for Santa’s imminent arrival!
It’s recommended that you get a professional in at least once a year to inspect and clean your chimney. An expert will be able to identify any faults that need fixing, preventing the risk of chimney fires and brickwork corrosion.
9. Windows & doors Wood’s worst enemy is water. So if you want to prolong the life of your wooden windows and doors, preparation is vital.
Make sure to give wooden windows and doors a good clean with warm, soapy water before winter sets in, let it dry and then apply a protective wood treatment.
Top tip: Regular painting is also a great protection for wooden windows and doors!
10. Plants Ivy growing up the side of a house can look really beautiful, but it can also cause dampness and damage in the colder months to dry-stacked walls or weakened bricks.
If you have plants or growth against your property, make sure to cut them back over winter or prune where necessary.
Protecting your property now with the winter checklist will sure you both time and money in the long-run.
1. Colour inspiration from the weather As the nights draw in, cosy becomes key. Take a good look at the nature around you, the rich berries, the darkening skies, the orange and reddening hues of leaves that are dropping from trees. All these autumnal colours are warm, rich and comforting; take inspiration from them for your colour palette. Using them in your accessories adds an instant injection of warmth.
2. Splurge on sofa style What should your statement piece of the season be? This season we would splash out on a little luxury in the sitting room by adding cushions and throws on the sofa. They do not only bring comfort and warmth, but as the nights draw in they add a splash of colour. Changing cushions every couple of years helps to keep your room up to date and looking fresh without spending too much money.
3. Unusual autumn colours There is more to autumn than the deep red colour of fallen leaves. Orange is particularly fab for autumn – taking inspiration from the changing colours outside, it adds a zap of colour that blends in with the majority of schemes really easily. This year will have a strong yellow tone added to it with ochre becoming a real on trend colour. The strong mustardy tone works really well to bring in an almost gold shade to schemes.
Pink is also having a moment and can be used in varying tones to create different ambiences and atmospheres. Dusky pinks are just beautifully warm and classic, mixed with ochre and grey they are a real winner for autumn.
4. Base colour to change with the season With grey being a base palette that most people now have in their homes, the introduction of a colour can lift the space and add visual interest. Green tones from emerald to chartreuse can be used to accessorise your home, from a cushion, candle, photo frame or, for the more daring, an upholstered product such as a chair or sofa.
5. Geometrics This year has seen a lot of geometric designs used for tiles, fabrics and wallpapers and they are set to continue into next year. Injecting something into your home for whatever the reason, maybe to add a splash of colour, can be done with little expense. A colourful piece of artwork, cushions in bold fabrics or a statement piece accessory can bring the room to life again.
6. Light and layers The Danish trend of ‘Hygge’ is perfect for the colder months – with a huge emphasis on good quality lighting to illuminate the darker days and lots of candles and layers to add warmth and cosiness to rooms.
Sheepskins, throws and shaggy rugs are all perfect for adding an extra layer to a room, creating a super cosy space that will make you eager to get in from the cold. Just adding a few of these to the room will instantly transform the space into one ready for a hot chocolate and a book.
Have you thought about staging your home to sell better in the colder months coming? Get in touch for more tips on staging your home specifically for local buyers, or for that first step of a home valuation. Read more
Unfortunately for us Brits, the little bit of Summer we do actually get is now slowly coming to an end. As the nights start to get darker and mornings colder, that trip from the shower to the bedroom is ever becoming more and more daunting.
This being said, Winter should be a time to enjoy, and you should be looking to embrace all of the best aspects of it in your home. It may sound strange, but if you do the right preparation for your home, Winter can actually be more enjoyable and comforting than the heat of Summer.
Just in case you don’t know how best to get your house ready for the Winter, below we have listed 5 easy things you can do:
1: Clear out the gutters and drains Clearing out gutters and drains may not seem like the most appealing or enjoyable task to do in the house, but it is one of the most essential. Leaving natural debris such as leaves and mud inside piping and drains can lead to water build up, especially in England’s winter, which is pretty much constant rain. Make sure all pipelines, gutters and drains are fully cleared out to prevent any kind of water damage this Winter.
2: Get insulation Throughout the hotter months, insulation may have never crossed your mind due to the sun beaming through the big windows and making it feel like a sauna. However, now that the days are getting colder, you’ll suddenly start to feel a much colder temperature flow throughout your home. This is where proper insulation can help. Insulation basically keeps in the heat, not letting much escape through the ceilings. Not only does this warm the house up, but also saves you around £120 per year on your energy bill.
3: Take a look at your energy provider Throughout the Summer, it is likely you haven’t turned on the heating, apart from maybe the odd few times you needed to quickly dry a piece of washing. With this in mind, the type of energy plan your household is on may not be fit for the Winter. Rates from the summer may well be higher than Winter as energy providers know you won’t be using it as much, and this it is very important to check this before using more energy.
4: Double check your windows and doors Nobody likes a cold breeze, and even more so in the Winter. People often come to the conclusion that a window must be open when feeling a through draft in the house, however, these drafts could well be coming from small cracks left in window skirting boards, or even the gaps between the door and its frame. Before Winter is here, just test all of your windows and doors to double check no cold air can get in.
5: Heat up the atmosphere As much as we have discussed the practical elements to preparing your home for Winter, it is also just as essential to create a warmer atmosphere, in order to make the Winter as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. In order to do this, look to switch up the furnishings in your home.
Summer months tend to see brighter decor, using colours such as white, lime greens and yellows. You may want to switch the brighter colours for darker, more warm colours, such as burgundy, dark purple etc. Also, invest in warm throws, rugs and any other material decor that will bring heat and comfort to the room’s overall ambience.
The majority of us will reach a point with our homes where we simply don’t have enough room to put everything and it feels like our house is becoming cluttered up with “stuff” – books, shoes, bags and more.
Finding that extra space to keep all of your belongings may feel like an impossible task, but there are actually lots of different ways to keep the clutter at bay.
Behind the door The space behind doors is very rarely utilised, but it offers up a world of possibilities. A set of shallow shelves can be mounted behind a door to create extra space in your kitchen – all you need is a rubber bumper to stop the door from hitting them.
In the bathroom, your door can be used to attach hanging storage to. These can be filled with toiletries, towels, slippers and more; they are cheap to buy and can make a huge difference to the space available.
Shelving units Although one bookshelf or storage unit can look a bit out of place if you just bring it into a room on its own, by placing multiple shelving units flush against the walls you can create the look of built-in storage.
Most shelving units are pretty easy to put together, and you can even make your own if you’re feeling crafty. If you keep the shelves quite shallow, then they shouldn’t take away too much space in the room but will help you keep it tidy.
Stud space cabinet If you live in a very small house, then you may not have the space to add any extra storage units. One of the best ways to create extra room is by recessing shelves into the walls of your house.
Find a space with no obstructions and locate the studs in the wall. When you have found a good space, you can install the shelves or ask a handyman to help you do it – it can be fiddly, so it’s always good to get an expert on board.
Closet space Of course, you will have lots of storage space in your closet, and this can be enhanced with multiple in-cupboard storage solutions, but often people forget about the extra space a cupboard may have around it.
Often cupboards and cabinets are situated in a room so that there is still a space between the side of the cupboard and the wall. This means you can utilise that gap with some extra shelves. You can also usually use the space above a cupboard for extra storage.
Under the stairs Lots of homes already make the most of the space under the stairs with a small cloakroom or downstairs loo, but many properties still have quite a large space available to be used.
If you have a space, then think about how you can turn it into shelving or create a nice cupboard to store extra bits and bobs. If your staircase is near your front door, then you could use the space to hang coats and shoes in.
Have you got any innovative storage or declutter ideas for the home? Let us know!Read more
You must check your notice period Before you get too excited about the prospect of switching agents, check your notice period. You should have a contract with an agent, and the terms of business dictate if you need to give notice to end the agreement. If you do have a notice period, you will need to terminate this agreement correctly.
If you feel you can discuss the matter with your agent, do so. They may be willing to negotiate an early release of the agreement, or they may offer a solution which creates a better working relationship.
Hand in your notice Once you have decided you are going to sever the relationship, do so in writing and request confirmation of this notice. A useful tip is to schedule this notice alongside tenancy periods. Doing so helps you switch agents at the same time as rent is due.
Confirm your tenants’ details While you should have correct contact details for your tenant on record, this is an excellent time to confirm these details are correct. This allows you to engage your tenant, and you feel confident supplying relevant contact details to your agent.
You should always look to minimise problems and confirming tenants’ contact details is a sensible strategy for all landlords regularly.
How to find a new agent? If you are looking to switch agents, there is a good chance you plan to switch to a new agent, and you may even know which agent you intend to use. However, you may not have someone in mind. If this is the case, you will need to begin searching for a new agent.
Look online for reviews, and if you associate with other landlords, ask for recommendations. Also, before you commit to a new agent, arrange a meeting. You don’t need to become best friends with your new agent, but you should have respect for each other. A meeting allows you to ask questions, and you can find out a lot more about them as a person, and what they will do for you and your rental property.
Instructing a new agent When you have decided on a new agent, you should review the business agreement carefully. If there are issues, you don’t agree with or don’t understand, raise the matter before signing the contract.
Instructing a new agent can take time, so try to do this as early as possible. Some of the steps an agent must do include:
· Contact tenants and arrange to meet with them · Make arrangements for any payment changeover · Draft a new tenancy agreement · Ensure the deposit is transferred and protected
The more time you give an agent to do this work, the easier it will be for them.
If you’re a landlord looking for a new agent, or you wish to discuss your options, get in touch. We are here to help! Read more
It's such a huge life decision to uproot the family, pack up all of your belongings and move to a different property. There needs to be a compelling reason to go through all of that upheaval, right?
It's certainly not a decision to be taken lightly.
In fact, many studies have shown that the average household spends up to 2 years toying with the idea of moving house before they actually make any firm plans.
This usually means that for 2 years, the property no longer fits the purpose of the household.
They will spend that 2 years getting gradually more irritated by whatever is not quite right.
It's either too big, small, or in the wrong location.
And it's only when those reasons become more than a niggle and start to negatively impact the family's life that the reason becomes compelling enough to finally take the plunge.
Selling and indeed buying a home is an emotional decision. It's not something that people arrive at because of logic.
The financial reasons for selling a property are logical. Still, unless you're really starting to struggle to pay for the property, you won't want to sell it because the reason is 'logical', and you will have an emotional attachment to your home.
So, the main reasons that push someone into taking the leap and going ahead and putting their home up for sale are:
• Upsizing. Your current property is simply not big enough! You're all living on top of each other. You've had more children since buying the property. Perhaps your children share a room, but they really need their own space as they get older. • Downsizing. You're rattling around in a huge property that you barely even use. You're wasting money heating and maintaining a big family home when your children have grown up and moved out. The property is simply too big and costly to run. • Equity release. Somewhat going hand in hand with the downsizers, releasing equity from your property can be a compelling reason to sell. If the value of your home has gone up and you have been paying off, or perhaps paid off your mortgage, you could sell the property and release all of that lovely equity that you've built up. But, you will need to live somewhere, so this will only work if you buy something cheaper than what you've sold. This may mean looking for a smaller home or buying in a more affordable location. Equity release is not so much an emotional decision as a logical one. It takes a lot of logical thinking to sell your home purely for financial gain when the repercussions are that you will have to buy a less valuable property than you've sold. But this often works very well for those who love to renovate properties as a hobby. Buying beaten up, old, run-down homes and restoring them to their former glory. Then selling up and buying the next project, releasing the equity they've built up and pocketing any profits before starting the next restoration. • Relocation. Whether for a job or to be closer to family members, your property's location is no longer right for you and your family. A slight location change can often allow access to better schools or an easier commute to work. It doesn't always have to be the length and breadth of the country; it could just as simply be a move to the next town. • Lifestyle change. The most common 'lifestyle change' is exchanging a busy city life for a move to the countryside. Often coming towards the end of a career, after years of dealing with traffic, pollution and crowds, this seller yearns for a quieter, slower pace of life and looks to move away from the city and to a quiet village in the countryside. • Purchasing investment property. There can be many benefits to owning investment properties, but most of your personal wealth is often tied up in your home. Either remortgaging your home to release some of the money or selling your home and moving into a cheaper/smaller property can release the funds needed to buy an investment property. This longer-term plan can cause much upheaval for the family and a fundamental lifestyle change. So the homeowner will usually use leverage and other schemes to release this money whilst still being able to live in their home.
As you can see, it's usually a significant life change that prompts a homeowner to decide to sell their home.
And that big issue has probably been brewing for a few years before they've bitten the bullet and put it on the market.
It takes a few more months to decide on the agent to sell it, and then a few further months of marketing and viewings before an offer is accepted. Then with up to 4 more months for the legal process, a property move can take up to 4 years. No wonder it's considered one of the most significant occasions in a person's life.
If you're contemplating moving and want to discuss the options available to you, even if you are in the very early stages of thinking about moving, get in touch with our team of experts today.
They are happy to help, and perhaps they can suggest a way to make your life easier without selling just yet if you're not quite ready!?
You've done the viewing and fallen in love with the property.
You've weighed up all of the pros and cons, and after sleeping on it, finally decided to put in an offer.
So, you mentally run through the phone call to the agents and how you think it'll go.
You make a plan for your first offer and how you'll increase after that.
You decide on the top price you're willing to go up to.
And then, nervously, you make the call.
But, it doesn't go quite as you'd planned.
The agent asks you loads of questions.
Questions you don't really have the answers to.
When you say the amount you'd like to offer, there's radio silence on the end of the line.
This wasn't quite the experience that you were expecting.
You were expecting some kind of celebration. Maybe a fanfare, even.
But instead, tumbleweeds.
It's all a bit of an anti-climax, to say the least.
If the estate agent wants to sell the property, why are they not more excited that you've made an offer?
Firstly, it's not that they're not excited about selling the property.
But, they have to present your offer to the sellers.
And, to present the offer correctly, they need to have all of the information.
Put yourself in the sellers' shoes for a moment.
Imagine you receive an offer from your estate agent. Before you feel excited, you need to know as much about it as possible, don't you?
You'd want to know who the offeror is. How will they be paying for the property? And most importantly, when would they be looking to move in, because that is when you would be expected to move out!
So, how can you make the most of the offering experience to ensure that your offers are taken seriously and, more importantly, get accepted!
And if you've made a low offer, even if you are happy to increase it, you could come off as a time-waster if you haven't thought about a few key things.
• Be prepared. Having all of your ducks in a row before making offers will show the agents that you're serious about buying a property. You'll need to provide evidence of your financial position, usually with bank statements and a mortgage agreement in principle. Have your ID ready to show and a solicitor in place. This will show that you are serious and not playing around. You might not feel comfortable showing your bank statements, but this is the simplest way to prove that you have the money available to purchase. If you'd prefer not to show your bank statements, you can request formal written confirmation from your bank manager, financial advisor, solicitor, or accountant, to prove that you have the funds available. • Be committed. Don't dilly dally around. If you're serious about your offer, show that you're serious. Respond to the calls and emails promptly. Of course, we all know that this is a game of poker, and you don't want to give away your interest too soon, but that doesn't mean that you need to be flakey or evasive. If you're difficult to get hold of and are indecisive, the offer will begin to look less attractive. • Be fair. Calculate your offer based on market conditions, your own circumstances and your perception of the property's value. Of course, everyone wants a bargain, but if you make an offer so low that you cause offence to the seller, there's less chance you'll get a deal tied up in the end. Remember, your opinion of the property's interior does not reflect the current value. • Be sure. If the seller is going to enter into a negotiation with you, you need to be 100% sure that it's the right property for you. If you call the agents and offer on two or three properties at once, they'll not be able to accurately put your offer forward to the sellers. Imagine the sellers ask the agent if they think your offer is serious or a 'good' offer. How can they say yes when you're also offering on other properties simultaneously? • Be realistic. No offer will be accepted if it is £50k below the asking price when there are 5 other offers on the table. Be realistic about the interest in the property and where you should position your offer. If you know that there's lots of interest, you'll only be wasting everyone's time by offering this low. Of course, there's a place for negotiation, and you can always offer slightly lower than your perceived 'top price' to try and knock a little off. But if you were selling your property and had loads of interest, you'd probably not accept a low offer from someone either, would you?
Buying a home is a huge milestone in anyone's life. But often, the road to purchasing a home can be a rollercoaster of emotions and sometimes fraught with stress.
If you decide that a home is perfect for you, follow these tips to ensure that your offer is accepted and you're over the first potentially stressful hurdle.
If you're searching for your next home and have questions about the best way to get started, contact our expert team today!
Or sign up to our Heads Up alerts to ensure you're the first to hear of the newest properties on the market. Just get in touch with our friendly team today.
Value Your Property The first step is important. You need to know what your current place is worth. You will want to do some research before you even approach an estate agent, and look at what other properties in the area have recently sold for. You also want to take a look at what houses are currently on offer in the area and get a feel for the market. It could be that properties are desperately sought in your area and so the price can go up, or it could be there is a glut on the market already so you want to fairly price your home to sell.
Review Your Cash Flow Knowing how much you will likely get for your property is only part of it. You also need to know where you stand financially as there will be fees, and costs that will be incurred as part of buying and selling. Some of these will need to be paid up front before you get the money for your property, so it is important to have your finances clear from the outset.
Select Your Estate Agent There are a large number of agencies around these days, including some with no physical presence. All of them will have different offers and fees associated with buying and selling houses so it is worth you doing your research before you sign up with someone. You want to make sure that your property will be marketed in the right way, and it will not cost you the earth to do so. Ultimately you want the property to sell, so you want an agent with a good track record, not just the cheapest.
Make Your Home Look Presentable It is important that when you are trying to sell your house you show it off in its best light. This may mean that you have to make compromises to how you live in the meantime. Things such as redecorating rooms to more neutral colours will give your home the ‘blank canvas’ look that buyers want to see. They need to be able to see their personality on the place, not yours. So make sure everything is clean, tidy and friendly.
Hire a Solicitor Your solicitor is an important person and you want to make sure that you get the right one. You don’t have to just take whomever the estate agents are recommending. Your solicitor works for you and protects your interests, so it is important to get the right one. Do your research.
Evaluate Offers Carefully It can be tempting just to jump at the first offer that you get that is reasonable. But you need to read the offers carefully. If something doesn’t sit right with you, negotiate. If you don’t want to include certain bits e.g. Carpets and Curtains, then make sure the offer is how you want it.
With a few tricks, great relationships, and some handy tips, you can make sure that your property is always making you a great profit yield. Here’s how:
Use long term contracts Try and avoid six-month contracts where you can. Having people come and go more regularly can be quite disruptive and one-year contracts work much better for both landlords and tenants.
Once the contract is up, think about asking your tenants whether they would be interested in signing another contract – you don’t want to get into a rolling contract if possible, as it gives you less peace of mind, knowing they could up and leave at any time.
Move Fast Once you know your current tenants are planning on moving out, try and visit your property as soon as possible to find out if anything needs fixing or replacing. Get quotes for any new furniture or appliances and book in contractors to carry out any work needed as soon as possible.
The best time to do up your property and give it a quick lick of paint is during the first week after tenants have moved out. This means the house will be available for viewings quickly, hopefully resulting in brand new tenants.
Look After Tenants The easiest way to avoid an empty house is to look after your tenants as well as you can. This may sound obvious, but it is easy to just ask tenants to sign a few contracts, hand over the keys and walk away.
Build up a relationship with tenants and try and solve any problems they may have as quickly as possible. If your tenants do move out, having a good relationship with them means you can ask them what the reasons behind their move are. If it’s something that can be changed you can do so before any new tenants move in.
Advertise If you do find yourself with an empty house, then good marketing and adverts can make a world of difference when it comes to finding new tenants. Choose a letting agent that can give you a great plan for your property, and already has a list of tenants on a database ready to match.
If you need help finding a new tenant for your property or are considering what you can do to avoid empty periods in the future, get in touch today for expert advice.
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