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30Mar

The recent budget confirmed that an additional 3% of Stamp Duty will be introduced on second homes, in an attempt to curb the growth of the private rental market. But what are the potential implications, especially for the vast majority of homeowners for whom purchasing a second property is a faraway dream? Marcus Whewell, CEO of The Guild of Professional Estate Agents, explores the possible outcomes.

The immediate impact has been to accelerate investment in so-called ‘Buy To Let’ properties, with a rush to complete before the new tax comes into force. Surprisingly, this has affected homes and flats up to £1.5m in value, not just those at the lower end of the price spectrum.
The UK is already suffering a severe shortage of new instructions (with buyer to vendor ratios at record levels), so the immediate impact will be to push up asking prices and limit availability for the remainder of the residential market. But what is likely to happen in the medium term?

I believe that the market for ‘Buy To Let’ is unlikely to fundamentally change, for several reasons:

-    Despite the tax, yields on rentals remain on average higher than other investment options such as ISAs.
-    Rental investments are perceived by many as ‘less risky’ than shares, commodities or pensions.
-    House prices are likely to continue to rise faster than inflation, given the long-term imbalance of supply and demand, so equity growth is also highly likely.

If you are a Buy To Let Investor…
When the cost of buying a private rental property increases, rents would normally follow suit as landlords seek to maintain their margins / returns. For that reason, one likely effect is a rise in prices and rents. Also, many larger landlords (i.e. those with more properties) may now try to incorporate themselves to avoid the extra stamp duty.

Longer term, there are other measures being introduced to deter this sector of the market, such as no longer allowing the offsetting of mortgage costs against rental income for tax purposes. This might put off investors, or again just nudge up rents, but it’s difficult to say at this stage.

So the long-term trend looks unaltered, but you may need to keep hold of your investment for longer to recoup the additional taxes.

If you are a first timer buyer…

The extra ISA and saving allowances will help those saving for a deposit, but this could easily be cancelled out by higher rents or continuing house price rises. In fact, the latest statistics from ONS show that there has been an 8.6% rise in property prices in the last 12 months in England. Therefore, on first analysis, it seems there is little here to assist the aspiring homeowner.

Overall, what is really needed to make a fundamental difference for the first time buyer is an expansive, affordable housebuilding programme.
 
Or an existing homeowner looking to move…
You are probably the least affected of all the groups. Purchase prices may nudge up a little, but so in the majority of cases will the value of the home you are selling.

Fundamentally, barring some significant external shocks from the forthcoming Euro referendum (another story), residential property will remain in short supply against rising demand (growing population, smaller family units. people living longer, people less willing to downsize) – so buying a house, in many people’s eyes, remains ‘a one-way bet’.

The one caveat here is potential interest rates rises. Rates are unrealistically low and many mortgagees have no significant ‘rainy day’ savings, especially as they are already stretching their finances to secure the property of their choice. It has been estimated that current rates are between 1% and 2% below long-term sustainable levels, and the unwinding of quantitative easing may start this correction process.

So a summary could easily be that the Government has decided to collect some relatively ‘easy money’ to try to help balance the books - but it has missed the fundamental flaw in the property market. To adapt a famous phrase, ’it’s the supply, stupid!’.

30Mar

When valuing your house, an estate agent will look at both the positives and negatives to determine an accurate figure. It’s very easy to point out all the things you love about your house, but have you thought about what might put buyers off and have an adverse effect on the value? Here’s our list of the top 10 features that can devalue properties the most, and we’ve included a few handy tips to help you turn any negatives into positives.

Japanese knotweed
This invasive species spreads very quickly and can cause damage to roads and properties. If you have Japanese knotweed, it can devalue your property due to the risk it can pose to your house. You could also be at risk of prosecution if is spreads to any neighbouring properties. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you remove the weed from your property before you put it on the market in order to avoid devaluing your home. There are lots of trained professionals across the UK who can remove the tough weed effectively and put measures in place to help prevent it from returning.

Wind farms
More and more wind farms have been built over the past ten years as part of a quest to find more renewable energy sources. In fact, we now have approximately 5,226 turbines here on British soil. Although these have a positive impact on our environment overall, they can devalue properties if the farm is very close by, as they create noise and some people find them unsightly. It’s a good idea to find out if there are any proposed wind farms nearby before you buy your next property as it could devalue your house in the future. If you live near a wind farm, explain to your estate agent what impact (if any) it has had on you and focus on the positives. They can use this information when showing buyers round your house.



Noise
While we’re on the subject, it’s worth mentioning that outside noise can be one of the biggest factors for devaluing a property. A noisy pub down the road and lots of traffic often ring alarm bells for buyers and estate agents. If you frequently hear outside noise from within your house, consider getting sound-proofing installed, or getting a quote for how much this would cost. It’s also a good idea to close your windows when buyers are visiting and, if your viewings are taking place after dark, close the curtains to help muffle any sound. 

Poor-performing schools

If a school has a poor Ofsted report, the properties within the catchment area can decrease in value. Should you find yourself in this situation, find out which other schools are in your catchment area and make sure they are known to the person valuing your home.

Flood risk
Floods can cause lots of damage to properties, so those at risk of flooding tend to be lower in value. This is partly due to the increased cost of insurance and the amount it costs to repair any damage. If your house is prone to flooding, consider taking measures to minimise the risks and explain in detail what you have had done to your estate agent, so they can take these into account.



Illegal home improvements

A surprising number of homeowners have work done on their houses without any planning permission. This could simply be because they didn’t realise that they needed permission before the work started. It’s always a good idea to check all home improvements were done to the property legally before buying to prevent this affecting your sale in the future. If you find that your own home has had some illegal home improvements in the past, work with your local solicitor to find the best way forward.

High crime levels
Buyers often look at the local crime levels before buying to give them an idea of what it’s like to live in the area. High crime levels tend to make properties undesirable and this can devalue them. If you live in an area that has lots of reported crimes, consider taking extra measures to ensure you house is secure. Make sure your estate agent is aware of any security you have had fitted so they can use them to negotiate a fair price.
 
Pets
You may love your fluffy moggy and cute pooch, but your next buyers might not be so keen. Most pets won’t have a negative effect on a property’s value, but if they leave behind a strong scent or there are a lot of them, it can put people off. Always have a big clean before an estate agent or buyer arrives, and make sure your pet stays in one area of the house after you’ve cleaned around.



Sub-standard repairs/DIY
Any repairs or DIY that might need to be redone can devalue a home as a buyer can use the issue as a means of negotiation. Consider having any sub-standard home improvements completed before you put your house on the market. Your estate agent should be able to advise you on what you should consider having redone.
 
A poor kitchen
Kitchens are said to sell houses, but they can also have the opposite effect. Buyers look for good kitchens and often say they are the most important room in a house. This is partly because they are typically the most expensive to have redesigned. If your kitchen could do with modernising, but you don’t want to spend the cash, make sure you depersonalise the space as much as possible. This will help buyers to imagine themselves using your kitchen and estate agents will recognise that the room is perfectly functional. 

24Mar

After saving for a deposit, finding that first home to buy and taking the leap is an exciting step in anyone’s life. These top 20 homes for first time buyers are ideal for those looking to get on the property ladder, and they’re all on the market for under £150k.

Gulval, Penzance - £135,000
In Cornwall, you can purchase part of this converted Tudor manor house for just £135,000. The one-bedroom property has lots of gorgeous period features and you can use the on-site heated indoor swimming pool, bar, tennis courts and mini golf.



Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire - £110,000
In Aylesbury, this uniquely shaped studio apartment is a great investment for a first time buyer. It’s part of a grade II listed, 15th century, award-winning building right in the centre of Aylesbury’s bustling town centre.



Chatteris, Cambridgeshire - £99,995
It’s hard to believe that you can buy such an attractive, charming house in Cambridgeshire for under £100k. The one-bedroom property has cornicing, high ceilings and is flooded with light, thanks to the large windows.  



Liverpool, Merseyside - £135,000
Any first time buyer who wants a city centre location would be more than happy to snap up this modern two-bedroom apartment. As a converted industrial building, it has a very urban feel and is only a stone’s throw away from a number of wine bars, cafes and restaurants.



Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire - £145,000
Lots of first time buyers would be more than happy to call this mews-style, one-bedroom apartment home. It has a great location within the National Forest and close to the motorway. Plus, the conversion has won a design award.



High Peak, Derbyshire - £119,950
First time buyers who are looking for something special as a first home could opt for this two-bedroom converted Methodist church. It has been renovated to a very high standard and certainly has a unique feel.



East Harling, Norwich – £92,950
This two-bedroom house in East Harling definitely has the sort of kerb appeal most of us would be more than happy coming home to. Inside, it’s modern and has a neutral colour scheme, making it a perfect first time buy for anyone looking to move straight in and make a house their own.



South Shore, Blackpool - £139,950
When it comes to space, you can’t get much more for your money in South Shore, Blackpool. Here, you can buy a three-bedroom terrace house with three reception rooms, off-road parking and two gardens.



Tuffley, Gloucester - £149,995

Built just two years ago, this two-bedroom coach house is extremely well-proportioned. It’s also in a lovely location with lots of local amenities and a short bus ride away from Gloucester city centre.



Benthall, Shropshire - £148,000

Despite being built only three years ago; this two bedroom, end of terrace house has a period exterior that looks like an old cottage, to be in-keeping with the area. Inside, it’s modern yet cosy and outside it has a pretty courtyard.



High Peak, Derbyshire - £120,000
This two-bedroom apartment would make a lovely first home. It’s modern, bright and airy, and is situated on the edge of town, close to two railway stations for easy commuting.  



Norton, Stockton on Tees - £117,500
With its tall ceilings, feature fireplaces and large windows, this two-bedroom house in North Yorkshire would make a lovely home for a first time buyer.  It also comes with a low-maintenance outside decking area for summertime alfresco entertaining.  



Accrington, Lancashire – £134,950
In Lancashire, you can buy this huge four-bedroom terrace house with a very impressive kitchen and bathroom. It’s chain-free, too, so it could be a very quick purchase for a first time buyer.



Tutbury, Staffordshire - £149,950
It’s hard to believe that a portion of this handsome townhouse is on the market for under £150k. The first-floor, two-bedroom apartment has lots of space on offer and access to the beautifully manicured communal gardens.



Bootle, Liverpool – £135,000
A wonderful new development, these apartments in Bootle would make an ideal first-time purchase. They’ll be extremely modern and there’s even a library area and a rooftop pool.



Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent - £130,000
Overlooking the River Trent and backing on to open fields, these three-bedroom, three-storey townhouses are part of a lovely new development. They are ideal for a first time buyer who isn’t keen on doing any renovation work.



Wombwell, Barnsley - £100,000
This two-bedroom property has been recently renovated and now has a very modern and bright airy interior. There’s also a great courtyard and plenty of parking, making it an excellent, practical home for a first time buyer.



Ryton, Newcastle upon Tyne - £139,950
This two-bedroom cottage would make a great first buy. It has a modern kitchen, a large sitting room, a snug eating area and an impressive garden that’s been very well maintained.



Tiverton, Devon - £135,000
For those looking for charm, this two-bedroom stone-built cottage could be just about perfect. It’s situated immediately opposite Tiverton Castle and is only a 400 yard walk into town.



Newcastle upon Tyne - £124,950
With a modern kitchen, large sitting room and two double bedrooms, this terrace house would make a superb first home. It has been beautifully decorated, meaning a first time buyer could move straight in without having to do any additional work.



*All properties for sale at the time of publication

23Mar

One of the main concerns for anyone selling their property is the price. Achieving the best possible price is essential, as it puts you in a strong position when buying your next property and attaining a suitable mortgage.

When we say the ‘best price’, we mean the most achievable price, which comes down to how much a buyer is willing to pay. This figure can be different from buyer to buyer, so it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly how to achieve the best price for your property.

Sometimes, houses sell for less than their anticipated value, which can happen due to a number of factors, including the current local market, supply and demand, time of year and how effectively the property has been marketed. There are, however, a number of rules you can follow that will help your property attract the buyers who are willing to pay its estimated value.


Estate agents
Choosing the right estate agent is essential as they will be the ones finding your buyers, showing them round and advising you on price. Refrain from immediately choosing the agent with the highest valuation as it may be unachievable and it’s likely that you’ll have to considerably lower the price in order to sell. Do some research and find an agent that you feel confident in. You want an agent who’s positive and sincere, as they will be persuasive when it comes to selling. Ask neighbours, friends and family which agents they have worked with and ask how easy they found the buying process. Chances are, if they were happy in the agent’s hands when buying their house, your buyers will feel the same. It’s also a good idea to find out how they will market your home and how they will select buyers, as this is key to finding the right buyers who will pay a reasonable price for your property.

Price
When deciding what price to market your property at, do your own research as well as taking advice from your estate agent. Decide on a price that’s achievable and then work with your estate agent to determine a strategy that will enable you to fetch that price. It could be by marketing your property at a slightly higher price to leave room for negotiation, or at a slightly lower price and asking for offers over and above that figure. This usually depends on your marketplace and whether there is high demand for property in your area.

Check your DIY
You don’t necessarily need to do lots of DIY to achieve the best price, but make sure any improvements you have made are up to scratch. Any sub-standard work might reduce the value of your property and buyers could use this to negotiate a lower price.

Target your buyers
In order to achieve the best possible price, you need to make your buyers realise that it’s the one for them, which can require slight reconfiguration. Think carefully about who your target buyers are and tweak rooms to suit their lifestyles.

Highlight and downplay

Not everything in your house will be a pull-factor and equally, there will be many features that make it a dream home for lots of people. Make a list of pros and cons, and find ways of highlighting the positives and downplaying the negatives. This can be as simple as changing your light fittings to highlight a modern kitchen or neutrally decorating a small room so it seems like a handy extra space rather than a problem. 

Flag up the positives
Tell your estate agent what you love about your property and the area. Unless you tell them about your great neighbours, the lovely pub down the road and the convenient places to park the car, they won’t necessarily know. Also point out any recent changes you’ve made to the property so they can show off what’s new.

Planning permission
Although doing any renovation work prior to your sale might be unrealistic and potentially costly, getting planning permission for an extension or conversion can show off the potential of your property. Speak to your estate agent first and find out if this will be attractive to your target buyers.

Feedback
During the viewing process, always ask for feedback and take any advice on board. You might be able to find solutions to any problems and avoid putting off future buyers.

Like this post? Read more on this topic here.

22Mar

With Easter weekend just a few days away, now is the time to get crafty and adorn your house with homemade decorations. We may not make as much of a fuss of Easter as we do Christmas, but it’s a lovely opportunity to bring family and friends together for a weekend of fun.

If you’re the host this weekend and haven’t even thought about decorations, then look no further; these ideas are simple, stylish and shouldn’t do too much damage to your wallet.
 

Bunting
It’s so easy to make your own bunting. Cut shapes out of card and glue them onto a long piece of string, measuring the gaps in between each shape so they’re evenly spaced. You can go for a classic triangle shape, or make it Easter themed with different shapes such as eggs, bunnies and lambs. Try using cookie cutters as outlines for your shapes to get a neat shape. To make crafting your own bunting as easy as possible, use materials that are already patterned or colourful. Old books, colour charts and magazines work well, or you can glue pretty napkins onto plain card. Hang your bunting above the fireplace, across a window or on a plain wall to make a statement.

Easter pictures
Replace a few of your framed photographs with Easter pictures. Simply cut out an Easter shape out of patterned card using the outline of a cookie cutter as a guide, and glue onto paper. If you do this to a few photographs within a collection, it will make more of an impact.



Decorate a branch
At Christmas, it’s all about the tree, and at Easter, everyone loves a decorated willow branch. Transforming eggs into baubles for the willow branch can be time-consuming, so try using a hot glue gun to stick on flowers, chocolate eggs or butterfly shapes cut out of card. 

Table decorations
If you’re hosting an Easter lunch or dinner party, it’s worth paying attention to your table. Cut the top off eggs and drain the contents into a bowl. Give the shell a gentle wash and place them upside down in egg cups. You can then paint your guests’ initials on each of the eggs (one person per egg) and arrange them as place names for the table. If you have lots of jars or glass bottles, fill them with seasonal flowers, wrap ribbon or lace around the base and line them down the middle of the table.



Edit photographs
For a simple fun decoration, cut bunny ears out of card and strategically stick them using blue tack onto framed photographs of the family so they sit on top of all your heads. It will bring a humorous touch to your weekend and instantly make your guests smile.

Use what you already have
Make the most of what’s in your house and be inventive! You can cover your fridge in cardboard cut-outs or draw pictures on a blackboard. If you’ve got an egg basket, decorate a couple of the eggs with ribbon or lace. Re-fill a glass vase with chocolate eggs, or if you’re lucky enough to have blossom on a tree outside, cut off some branches to put in a vase.




22Mar


18Mar

The daffodils are coming up, the sun is coming out and the UK property market is poised for action. With Christmas out of the way, lots of people choose to put their homes on the market in spring, so they’re ready to move in summer. This busy property market can present a bit of a challenge for selling your home, as there’s plenty of competition. 

Here’s our simple guide on how to successfully sell your home over the next few months.

Timing
When we say spring, we mean March, April and May. So how do you decide when the best month, or even week, to put your house on the market is? This all depends on who is most likely to be interested in your house. If your most likely buyers are families, you might want to avoid the Easter holidays. However, if your property is suited to young professionals, it could be a good idea to market your property during the bank holidays when they are off work and keen to begin searching. Speak to your estate agent to find the optimum time to market your home in order to achieve the most amount of interest.

DIY

Make the most of the bank holiday weekends that spring up over the course of the next few months and do some DIY jobs. Fixing any problems and doing some light decoration can easily give your house a fresh look. Remember, lots of other houses on the market will have had a quick revamp, so make sure yours looks just as appealing.

Spring Clean
It goes without saying that a spring clean works wonders when selling homes. Go beyond a quick wipe round and use the opportunity to have a big declutter and deep clean. And make sure you pay attention to the windows – any streaks will instantly show up when the sun comes gleaming through.



Kerb Appeal
With winter just out of the way, it’s likely that the outside of your home has taken a bit of a battering from the wind and rain. Give your windowpanes, front door and garage door a fresh lick of paint so it looks neat and tidy. And consider choosing a lovely pastel shade to make it feel really on trend for springtime. Your hallway is just as important for making that great first impression, so hide the thick winter coats and replace them with pretty scarves and a wicker basket for your hats and gloves.

Temperature
Over the next three months, the weather can be anything from sunny and hot to dreary and a bit chilly, and this can really effect the temperature of your home. Make sure the thermostat is set at around 21°C so it feels comfortable during viewings. If your home feels cold, avoid lighting the fire before viewings and instead turn the heating up. It can also get pretty hot during the day when the sun shines through the windows. Try opening the windows in rooms that catch the sunlight in the afternoon to stop them getting too hot, but remember to close them just before any viewings to help minimise noise.

Photos
As lots of properties come to the market in spring, it’s important that yours stands out on your agent’s website and the property portals. If ever there was a time to get professional photographs of your property taken, it’s now. Work with your photographer to find a day that’s bright and sunny and try to get them round while any blossom or flowers are in bloom so it looks particularly eye-catching.



Garden
It’s likely that you haven’t paid a great deal of attention to your garden during the winter months, so make it a priority to do some gardening before any photos are taken and viewings take place. Painting the fence and mowing the lawn will instantly make it look neater. A quick trim here and there can also make all the difference. If you’re keen to add some interest or colour, opt for a few potted plants for a simple solution.

Scents
Appeal to the senses and make your home smell as fresh as possible. Although fresh coffee and baked bread is often advised, they can smell too homely and personal, which can make buyers feel like they’re intruding. Instead opt for a floral reed diffuser, and make sure you choose a nice, light scent as anything too potent could put people off.



Available to View
It’s absolutely vital that your property is available to view during the busy spring property market. With lots of properties on the market at the same time, it’s likely that buyers can easily opt to view another house if yours is unavailable. Handing this responsibility over to your estate agent will take the stress out of your hands, and you can rest assured that your house is being viewed while you’re busy at work.

Buyers
Lots of people start looking at properties during the spring, but not all of them are serious buyers. In fact, many are simply getting a feel for what’s available and what they can afford. If you’re very keen to move and sell your home successfully, consider accepting an offer from buyers with a smaller chain, even if their offer is lower, to increase your chances of the sale going through.

17Mar

The Guild's CEO, Marcus Whewell, offers insights on the Budget 2016 and what the announcements could mean for the UK property market.

George Osborne’s budget was forecast to be relatively predictable – and so it proved (apart from the so-called Sugar Tax).

Given his limited room for financial manoeuvre, very few commentators expected any significant giveaways. In reality, the summary was more so-called ‘sin taxes’ and proposed reductions in public sector spending (though a little short on specifics), balanced by help for small businesses and moderate gains for individual savers (via higher ISA allowances and a raising of personal tax thresholds).

With regard to the housing market, any (small) benefits will be felt indirectly. The small encouragement to savers (see above) will help buyers with regard to accumulating deposits. Also, the commitment to big transport projects such as HS3 and Crossrail may help to alleviate the severe housing congestion in certain locations by improving commuter times – all assuming the projects survive until completion.

The Chancellor confirmed his intention to raise Stamp Duty rates for the buy-to-let market, and also focused on UK taxation on domestic projects for overseas property developers – but this will have little, if any, impact on ‘middle England’. Indeed, these actions may actually drive up rents and reduce the supply of private sector rental properties, which is currently filling the gap left by the dramatic reduction in public sector housing over recent decades, and also the challenged position of housing associations.

But perhaps the most significant aspect of the budget for home movers is ‘general sentiment’ – which is an important factor in determining timing and volumes for the residential market. His ‘steady the ship in the face of growing headwinds’ approach reflects expectations of a reduction in UK growth rates, a marked slowdown in China, and uncertainty around the forthcoming European referendum. This should lead to a slight slowdown in house price rises (probably a good thing) - but will do little to encourage increased housebuilding, which is fast becoming a priority for the UK economy and its growing population.

It is, perhaps, surprising that such a key component of the economy is effectively left to the vagaries of ‘speculative market forces’. The property market represents an important source of tax revenue - it helps people move to secure new employment, it can determine allocation of school places, and also feeds other important secondary markets and businesses such as solicitors, estate agencies, and DIY / home improvement (buyers and sellers).

So, perhaps like the Sugar Tax, there were not too many sweeteners for current and aspirational homeowners!

10Mar


09Mar

Economic News 01 March 2016


The first two monthly meetings this year of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee saw the interest rate held at 0.5 per cent and the stock of purchased assets financed by the issuance of central bank reserves maintained at £375 billion. A majority vote in January was followed by a unanimous decision in February. 

The Bank of England’s decision on the level of interest is largely based on assessments and forecasts of economic growth, unemployment and inflation, particularly core inflation, which strips out the impact of changing food and petrol prices. In January, core inflation fell to 1.2 per cent from 1.4 per cent in December. The broader measure of Consumer Price Inflation rose to 0.3 per cent in January from 0.2 per cent in December due to fuel prices falling by less in January that they did at the same point in the previous year. Consumer Price Inflation is well below the Government’s target level of 2 per cent and analysts now believe it will stay below 1 per cent for the whole of 2016. Interest rates are now expected to stay at their historic lows well into 2017. 

Consumer prices in the Eurozone fell sharply in February to minus 0.2 per cent, driven down by an 8 per cent fall in energy prices. In response, the European Central Bank has already announced a cut to its negative bank deposit rate and further stimulus measures are anticipated.

Newly released figures on household credit from the Bank of England reveal that in January, UK consumers borrowed a further £1.6 billion, the second highest level for more than a decade. Unsecured consumer credit rose by 9.1 per cent compared to the same month a year ago. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has warned that the rising level of household debt is an indirect threat to Britain’s economic recovery. 

The Bank also reported that 74,581 mortgages were approved in January, the highest level since January 2014. The Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors had earlier reported a surge in buy-to-let landlords purchasing property ahead of the stamp duty changes in April, exerting upward pressure on house prices.

New figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government show that 37,080 new homes were started in the last quarter of 2015, up 23 per cent over the preceding year, while completions were up by 22 per cent at 37,230. In the year up to December, 143,560 new homes were started, an increase of 6 per cent over 2014 and 91 per cent up on the slump recorded in 2009. 

The Office for National Statistics confirmed the twelfth consecutive quarter of growth for the UK economy with a figure of 0.5 per cent in the three months to the end of December. This was largely due to the buoyant services sector, which grew by 0.7 per cent. Despite the steady expansion to date, the Chancellor, George Osborne, warned about the future effects of turbulence in the global economy.

09Mar

LAND REGISTRY DATA: JANUARY 2016 (released 26 February 2016)

The January 2016 Land Registry data showed a monthly increase in average house prices across England and Wales of 2.5 per cent and an annual increase of 7.1 per cent. 

Regionally, the highest monthly increase was seen in Wales at 3.7 per cent, followed by London at 2.8 per cent; prices decreased in the North West and the North East by 0.4 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively.

The average house price in England & Wales now stands at £191,812 and in London at £530,409. London saw the highest annual increase in prices at 13.9 per cent, followed by the South East at 10.7 per cent and the East at 8.9 per cent. The lowest annual increase was seen in the North East at 0.2 per cent, but no region experienced a fall. In terms of property type, flats and maisonettes showed the highest annual increase at 8.2 per cent, while the lowest increase was seen in semi-detached properties at 6.5 per cent.

In greater detail, eleven counties and unitary authorities saw an annual fall in prices, the greatest again being Hartlepool at minus 3.8 per cent; Reading continued to experience the highest annual rise at 16.1 per cent. The strongest monthly growth was seen in the Isle of Anglesey with an increase of 4.1 per cent, while Blaenau Gwent had the most significant monthly drop at minus 3.5 per cent. Six counties and unitary authorities saw no monthly price change.

Of the metropolitan districts, Knowsley continued to show the largest annual price increase at 8.8 per cent; only two districts saw a fall, the greatest being Sunderland at minus 3.2 per cent. Newcastle upon Tyne experienced the highest monthly price increase at 2.1 per cent, while Liverpool and Knowsley both saw the greatest monthly fall, each with a movement of minus 1.5 per cent.

Of the London boroughs, Hillingdon had the highest annual price rise at 15.5 per cent and the highest monthly price rise at 2.4 per cent. Camden saw the smallest annual increase at 3.0 per cent, while both Camden and Islington experienced the only monthly fall, each with a movement of minus 0.4 per cent. 

The volume of properties sold in November 2015 was 2 per cent lower than a year earlier in England and Wales and 7 per cent lower in London. Over the same period, properties sold for more than £1 million across England and Wales as a whole rose by 14 per cent and in London by 9 per cent. 

Month on month, the total number of properties sold across England and Wales fell from 79960 in October to 72167 in November – a fall of 9.7 per cent. The number of property transactions from August 2015 to November 2015 averaged 78,652 per month, compared to 81,656 over the same period a year earlier.

09Mar

LAND REGISTRY DATA: DECEMBER 2015 (released 29 January 2016)

The December 2015 Land Registry data showed a monthly increase in average house prices across England and Wales of 1.2 per cent, while the overall annual price change was 6.4 per cent. 

Regionally, the highest monthly increase was seen in London at 2.1 per cent, followed by the East at 1.7 per cent; prices decreased in the East Midlands, the North East and Wales with falls of 0.3 per cent, 0.7 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively.

The average house price in England & Wales now stands at £188,270 and in London at £514,097. London saw the highest annual change in prices at 12.4 per cent, followed by the East at 10.6 per cent and the South East at 9.5 per cent. The lowest annual increase was seen in the North East at 0.8 per cent, but no region experienced a fall. In terms of property type, semi-detached properties showed the highest annual increase at 6.7 per cent, while the lowest increase was seen in detached properties at 5.8 per cent.

In greater detail, just seven counties and unitary authorities saw an annual fall in prices, the greatest again being Hartlepool at minus 3.3 per cent; Reading continued to experience the highest annual rise at 17.1 per cent. The strongest monthly growth was seen in Blaenau Gwent with an increase of 3.8 per cent, while Hartlepool had the most significant monthly drop at minus 4.2 per cent. Eight counties and unitary authorities saw no monthly price change.

Of the metropolitan districts, Knowsley continued to show the largest annual price increase at 10.5 per cent, while three districts saw a fall, the greatest being Sunderland at minus 3.5 per cent. Walsall experienced the highest monthly price increase at 1.7 per cent, while Rochdale saw the greatest monthly fall with a movement of minus 1.2 per cent.

Of the London boroughs, Barking & Dagenham had the highest annual price rise at 15.3 per cent, while Hammersmith & Fulham saw the smallest annual increase at 3.3 per cent. On a monthly basis, the City of Westminster showed the highest increase at 2.3 per cent. Four boroughs experienced a monthly fall, the greatest being Southwark at minus 0.7 per cent.

The volume of properties sold in October 2015 was 8 per cent lower than a year earlier in England and Wales and 13 per cent lower in London. Over the same period, properties sold for more than £1 million across England and Wales as a whole and in London fell by 2 per cent. 


Month on month, the total number of properties sold across England and Wales increased from 72397 in September to 79960 in October – an increase of 10.4 per cent. The number of property transactions from July 2015 to October 2015 averaged 80,691 per month, compared to 84,517 over the same period a year earlier.

08Mar

With one of the busiest time for property market just around the corner, some of us will be gearing up for a house move this spring. Moving can be a truly daunting experience, especially if you’re relocating for the first time. To ensure a smooth transition from old to new, we’re bringing you some useful tips to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible. 


1. The secret is in the planning

Make sure you get organised early. If your house is on the market, the chances are you will have to move out within the next 30 days of the sale. Create a list of everything you have to do to complete your move successfully. You can start packing things you don’t use regularly, such as out-of-season clothes and decorative items, like photographs.  


2. De-clutter before your move

Moving house is the perfect opportunity to de-clutter. There’s no point in lugging junk to your new house. Be ruthless and get rid of everything you haven’t used in the past year - you can sell your unwanted items online, organise a garage sale or donate them to your favourite charity. 


3. Pack smartly 

Always make sure you label your boxes correctly and fill them in a logical order. Although it might take a bit longer, you’ll be thankful for this when arriving at your new house. You don’t want to be searching for the kettle and mugs amongst a pile of boxes filled with anything from photo frames to bathroom mats and towels. It’s also a good idea to keep inventory of all your household items in case something goes missing. 


4. Pack a first night survival kit

Prepare a bag filled with the main necessities, such as your basic hygiene supplies, change of clothes and snacks, to help get you through the first couple days. Looking for your toothbrush and a pair of pyjamas is the last thing you will want to be doing on the first night in your new home.


5. Choose the right type of transport

If you’re moving a long distance, it’s likely that you won’t have the luxury of making more than one trip. Therefore, it is important that you secure the right size of truck to safely carry all of your belongings in one go. Speak to your moving company - they should be able to advise what size you of truck you will need based on the size of your current house. 


6. Speak to your utility and insurance suppliers

Check with your insurer to confirm you’re covered before your move and let them know you’re relocating. Don’t forget to redirect all your mail to your new address and get in touch with utility suppliers so you have running water, electricity and gas at your new place. Also, arrange to have your phone line, cable and internet working if necessary. 


7. Pack your children’s items last

Moving can be difficult for the little ones so make sure they have their favourite toys or a comfort blanket on hand. They might not understand what is happening and be wary of their new environment, so it’s really important they are surrounded with familiar items, especially the ones they have created an emotional attachment to. Likewise, if you have any pets, try to make them comfortable throughout the move to help them feel settled. 


8. Get help

If you can’t afford to hire a moving company to help you relocate and unpack, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends and family. Whether hired movers or friends and family, make sure you have food and drinks readily available for everyone. They will appreciate a cold drink and a bite to eat during their busy day of heavy lifting and unpacking boxes.  


9. Meet your neighbours 

It’s a good idea to make conversation and build good relationships with your future neighbours from the beginning – let them know you will be moving in and what time the movers will arrive. If you’re moving into a block of flats, don’t forget to ask about any moving policy so you can prepare your schedule for the day. Ensure that you will have sufficient space to park outside your new home and that you don’t block your neighbours’ driveway. 


10. Plan for the unexpected and stay positive

No matter how much organising you have done prior to your move, you might still come across some unforeseen circumstances. Things you didn’t expect will always come up and it’s important to stay positive. Moving house is one of the most stressful things to do – remind yourself of all the reasons why you decided to move and celebrate with a nice family dinner. You will soon forget about the struggles when enjoying a cuppa in your beautiful new home. 



04Mar

With spring just around the corner, pretty daffodils, tulips and periwinkles will be flowering in gorgeous cottage gardens across the country. There couldn’t be a better time to appreciate the handsome cottages that we have here in the UK. Without further ado, here is a charming selection of some of the most beautiful cottages on the market today.

East Stoke, Wareham, Dorset - £500,000
Nestled within bluebell covered woodland, this whimsical two bedroom lodge cottage is like something out of a fairytale. It’s immensely cosy and the layout is all centred around a chimney stack, creating a cosy circular design both inside and out.



Coverack, Cornwall - £350,000
If you were asked to draw a coastal cottage, you’d probably draw something that looks exactly like this beauty with whitewashed walls, a thatched roof and pale blue window panes. Nestled in the heart of Coverack, the two bedroom cottage has gorgeous views across the sea, beach and village beyond.


Forncett, Norfolk - £400,000
Pretty in pink with a traditional thatched roof and set within an acre of gardens, this three bedroom cottage certainly is a picture postcard. It has literary connections too as it’s believed to have been owned by H. Rider Haggard, the author of Victorian adventure novel, King Solomon's Mines.



Raunds, Northamptonshire – £295,000

It’s not often that you find a country cottage with so much space on offer and four well-sized bedrooms. Although the property is believed to date back to the 17th century, it has a fresh and bright feel thanks to the modern lighting and contemporary clean lines.



Eggesford, Chulmleigh, Devon - £425,000
Tucked away in four and a half acres of gardens and woodland, this timber conversion has a seriously peaceful setting and is much-like a traditional Nordic cottage. Once part of a Victorian rail sliding, it’s now a charming three bedroom period home surrounded by a wildlife haven.



Abbotts Langley, Hertfordshire - £550,000
Cecil Lodge Cottage is a beautifully charming three bedroom cottage with an equally romantic story to tell. It is thought to have been part of a small estate and a summer residence, which was presented to Lord Cranborne as a wedding gift in 1773.


Poltimore, Exeter, Devon - £500,000
Just five miles from Exeter but surrounded by picturesque countryside, this four bedroom, pink, thatched cottage has an ideal location. It’s full of charming features, too, including oak beams, impressive fireplaces and the original bakers oven.



Selside, North Yorkshire - £220,000
Once home to railway workers who worked on the Carlisle-Settle railway, this cottage is now a lovely one bedroom home. As a traditional Railway Cottage with views across the Yorkshire Dales, the property definitely looks like something out of The Railway Children.



Chalgrove, South Oxfordshire - £370,000

Situated right on the village green and next to a pub, this two bedroom 17th century cottage has a seriously enviable location. With a thatched roof, wall and ceiling beams, an inglenook fireplace and country-style fittings, Rose Cottage is a true classic.




*All properties for sale at the time of publication 

04Mar

An increasing number of people are now renting rather than buying. In fact, PwC has recently predicted that by 2025, 7.2m households will be in rented accommodation, compared to 5.4m in 2015.

With rising house prices, first-time buyers are renting for longer in order to afford. But the rental market can also be a challenge. As with most things, it’s much easier once you’re prepared, so here’s an overview of what you can expect so you can sail through the rental market.
 
Flatmates
Many of us choose to go into flatshares when renting. They’re often cheaper and they’re a great way of making new friends. But they can be a challenge, especially if you’re not the biggest fan of the person in the next room. So how can you be sure that you’ve landed on a good selection of housemates before you start renting? First things first – always meet them before you sign the contract. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people move in without any idea of who they’ll be living with.

Although there’s no definite way of being sure what they’re actually like to live with, there are a few things you can look out for when you meet them. Firstly, don’t be afraid to ask questions; go beyond what they do for a living, and ask what they do for fun, how often they’re in the house, and if they socialise together. All of this will add to the general atmosphere in the property. Secondly, take note of how well the house is being looked after when you visit for a viewing. If the bin is overflowing and there are dirty pots on the stove, it might not be for you if you like things to be clean and tidy. Finally, discuss how bills are split and paid. This will give you a good indicator of how organised your potential housemates are, and you can iron out any problems before signing for the property.

Finding the property
One of the best things about renting is that it’s temporary. Although this can feel like a downside, it does mean that you don’t need to think too far into the future and can find a property that suits your current lifestyle. To find a good rental property for you, make a list of all the things you require for your lifestyle and search for a property that fits the bill. And remember to prioritise; it’s unlikely that you’ll find the ideal property, so think about what is a must and what you can compromise on.
 
Securing the property

The rental market moves extremely fast, so it’s important to be proactive in your search. Set aside time when you’re available for viewings and ask the lettings agent to take you to a few properties during each appointment so you can compare them easily. When you find a suitable property, be prepared to move quickly and put in an offer on the day or the next day.

It’s also a good idea to be prepared well in advance for the next few steps. Make sure you have funds for your deposit and references ready so the next part of the process runs smoothly. Informing the lettings agent that you have these available will put you in a strong position for securing the property.

Fees
It’s now a legal requirement that all lettings agents display their fees on the websites and in their offices. Sometimes, you also have to pay a holding fee to secure the property. Make sure you have a look at the fees before going on viewings so you know how much you will have to pay.

Deposits

A rental deposit covers your landlord should you miss any rent or damage their property. They are typically between four weeks and eight weeks rent, but check this in advance so you can save the money.

It is a legal requirement that your deposit is put into a deposit protection scheme, so always check this before signing any contracts.
When it comes to getting your deposit back, it’s a case of looking after the property while you’re a tenant and reporting any problems. Check the inventory when you first move in and add any existing damage that you notice, making sure it is confirmed by the landlord. Take photos when you first move in and when you leave so you have proof of any previous damage to avoid being penalised. If the property is furnished, remember to take photos of what is present when you first move in and when you leave. All of this should be recorded on the inventory, so check everything is present and correct. For more advice on getting your deposit back, please click here.

Insurance
Tenants can get home contents insurance to cover the cost of their belongings under unforeseen circumstances. Most tenants won’t need to worry about buildings insurance as this should be covered by the landlord, but check this before signing for the property. You can get home contents insurance if you’re renting a shared property, but find out from the insurer exactly what you need to do to ensure you are covered.

03Mar

As of the 1st February 2016, no tenancy can legally commence until the right to rent has been established. But what exactly is right to rent? Here is a very brief overview.

Before a property is legally rented, all landlords have to confirm that the tenants have the right to rent residential property in the UK. And, under Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014, landlords should not authorise an adult to occupy a rented property unless the adult is a British Citizen, is a European Economic Area citizen, or Swiss National, or has a Right to Rent in the UK.

Who needs to be checked?
Landlords or the lettings agent must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent the residential property in England.
Before the start of a new tenancy, they must make checks for all tenants aged 18 and over, even if:

•    they’re not named on the tenancy agreement
•    there’s no tenancy agreement
•    the tenancy agreement isn’t in writing

All new tenants must be checked.

If the tenant is only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, the check needs to be undertaken in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy.

Some types of accommodation are excluded from these checks. Click here to view these types. There is no need to check tenants in some types of accommodation (e.g. social housing and care homes).

How will tenants be checked?
All landlords and lettings agents have to check original documents to make sure a tenant has the right to rent in the UK.

What will happen if a tenant fails to pass the checks?

If a tenant fails to pass the checks, the landlord or letting agent cannot legally allow the tenant to rent the property.

Further checks
Landlords and lettings agents must make further checks on their tenants to make sure they can still rent property in the UK, if their permission to stay is time limited.

If tenants fail to pass the further checks, they may be evicted from the properties.

What could happen to landlords if they fail to comply?
Landlords can be fined if they rent their property to someone who isn’t allowed to stay in the UK and you / they can’t show that they checked a tenant's right to rent.

Can landlords delegate the responsibility to a lettings agent?
Landlords can ask any agents that manage or let their property to carry out the check on their behalf. All landlords and lettings agents should have this agreement in writing.

If a tenant sub-lets the property without the landlord knowing, they’re responsible for carrying out checks on any sub-tenants.

For further information on right to rent, please visit gov.uk
 


02Mar

Is Britain truly unaffordable? We searched the country to find the best buys on the property market for you – and the homes all come with more than a friendly price tag!

Take a look at our top 20 homes for sale that can be yours from just £50,000.

Calne, Wiltshire - £165,000

The delightful semi-detached house offers easy access to schools, sports facilities and walks in the nearby Bowood Estate.


Caerleon, Newport, Wales - £160,000

This charismatic semi-detached house is conveniently located in the close proximity of well-known local schools, making it an ideal family home.


Wilberfoss, York - £99,950

This beautiful, modern timber lodge with gorgeous decking area and immaculate interior, set in the popular development at Florida Keys Park, surprisingly doesn’t come with the usual eye-watering price tag.


Wallsend
, Newcastle - £100,000

If you’re after a fully renovated property in the North East with a generous piece of land, you don’t need to look any further. And what’s more, this house will be yours at a highly reasonable price.


Ipswich, Suffolk - £140,000

This 2014 two bedroom park home benefits from a convenient location only a short drive from the A14 and the town of Ipswich. Plus, it has a lovely, well-proportioned and modern interior.


Humberston Fitties, Lincolnshire - £59,950

If you’re looking for a home with the all year round holiday feel, then this two bedroom chalet located in the charming seaside resort is the perfect choice for you.


Haverhill, Cambridgeshire - £132,500

Located on the Cambridge side of Haverhill, this two-bedroom maisonette comes with off-road parking and spacious front and rear gardens, perfect for those summertime barbeques.

Tilbury, Essex - £180,000

Dreaming about a big house with a large piece of land and potential to extend? Then this three bedroom end of terrace house in Essex is exactly what you’re looking for.


Moorland Gardens Newport, Wales- £129,950

Get your hands on this townhouse at the bargain price of just under 130k. The location is ideal for families with young children since the local school is just a stone’s throw away from the front door.


Bridgwater, Somerset - £89,950

A great property for a first time buy or as an investment opportunity, this two-bedroom, second floor flat is set in a popular Somerset market town.

Houghton Le Spring, Tyne and Wear - £49,950
 

Considering its handy location with close proximity to local amenities and commuter routes, this two bedroom family house is on the market for a truly tempting price.


Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire - £69,950

This three bedroom semi-detached house located in the industrial Scunthorpe can be yours for a mere £69,950, a bargain price considering its convenient access to schools, town centre and hospital.


Bootle, Liverpool - £79,999

An ideal family home, the property boasts three bedrooms and an enclosed courtyard. What’s more, it is located in a prime residential area with access to schools, shops and restaurants.


Chatteris, Cambridgeshire - £115,000

Who said you can’t buy a beautiful property on a budget in Cambridgeshire? Here’s a modern, two bedroom terrace house overlooking a pleasant green to the front.


High Peak, Cheshire - £139,000

You can find this traditional two bedroom terraced house in a residential location close to the Sett Valley trail. The property is situated only a short distance from the town centre, offering a choice of restaurants, shops, school and readily available transport links to many major places of work.

Leedstown, Cornwall - £139,950

Priced to sell, this four bedroom semi-detached house is located in the popular village of Leedstown, which has a range of amenities and is within approximately a 20 minute drive of a number of towns.


Ipswich, Suffolk - £160,000

With off-road parking, a garage and a decent garden, this three bedroom property in the south of Ipswich is only a short distance from local shops and amenities.

Stanford-Le-Hope, Essex - £200,000

Located on the ever popular 'Homestead' is this spacious three bedroom semi-detached home that also comes with an off-road parking, a garage and a good sized rear garden.


Disley, Cheshire - £200,000

This impressive three bedroom house has a beautiful green expanse at the front and boasts a well maintained garden to the back. It is perfect for families with children. 


Windmill Hill, Runcorn, Cheshire - £79,500

This fully refurbished, four bedroom mid-town house with expansive landscaped gardens will set you back less than £80k – pleasantly affordable for the industrial town and port, Runcorn. 


*All properties for sale at the time of publication

25Feb

Although neutral interior design is the go-to look for selling a house, lots of buyers are looking for that special wow-factor in their next home.  Here are some simple ways of making your pad extra eye-catching, which will make buyers come knocking on your door for a second viewing.

Exposing raw materials is a hot interior design trend that’s here to stay. Leaving brickwork, wooden beams and wooden floorboards untouched gives the impression your property is full of original features and charm. If your property isn’t graced with these rustic features, then incorporating plush materials in your furnishings will attract the right kind of attention. A leather chair, an oak dresser or a wool rug each bring an expensive feel to a property.


Monochrome features heavily on catwalks across the world as it’s chic and eye-catching. This fashion statement is equally as stylish in properties and a very easy look to achieve. Simply pare down the decoration in a room to just black and white and then add a few soft furnishings of one bright colour at various points to open up the space.

Interesting lighting instantly brings a modern touch to any home. Fitting lights above cabinets will create an unexpected glow, while lights within skirting boards have a particularly luxurious feel. For a quick fix, try replacing your existing lampshades with a modern alternative.

Arranging your furniture symmetrically works very well for creating an elegant, classic look that’s pleasing on the eye. In the living room, you could position two sofas facing each other with a coffee table in between for a classic style. In bedrooms, place the bed in the centre of the wall with matching bedside tables either side. In kitchens, this is much more difficult to do, but you can work with how you dress the dining table with symmetrically arranged candles and vases.


Free-standing furniture is a key trend at the moment and incorporating a few pieces in your home will help to give it the wow-factor. While free-standing islands in the kitchen and wood-burning stoves in the living room are particularly striking, they can be expensive, especially when you’re looking to move home. To avoid spending too much, consider investing in a free-standing cabinet or mirror that you can take with you. These handy pieces of furniture will look good in any home and are useful for making rooms feel larger, too.

If your property benefits from a gorgeous view, make the most of it by drawing the eye towards windows. Dressing windowsills with candles, scent diffusers or a vase of flowers will catch the eye and encourage people to take a look at what’s beyond.

It’s also worth paying attention to the front of your house to give it kerb appeal. We like to feel proud of our homes and part of this is down to what is looks like from the outside. Give the exterior of your house the wow-factor by painting your door in a bold colour, placing two box plants either side of the door and buying a new door knocker and house numbers. It’s a good idea to choose items that catch your eye while your shopping as these are the ones that will also catch the attention of your buyers.


There are so many ways of making your house stand out from the crowd and a good rule of thumb is to highlight your favourite features, or the ones that caught your eye when you bought the property. If you’re planning on making changes or buying any additions, make sure you do so before the photographer arrives so your home stands out on your estate agent’s website and the property portals.

Like this post? Read more on this topic here.

25Feb

We all want to add value to our homes. After all, property is one of the best investments so why not make the most of it. The rule of thumb when it comes to adding value is to utilise what you already have. Any additions that are too costly might not bring you much of a return when you sell, so work with the space and think how it could be transformed to make it more useful.

Here’s a list of some of the most worthwhile alterations and additions that can add great value to properties. Remember, it’s important to think about who the most likely buyers are and to go for improvements that will be most beneficial to them.


Utilise the garden
Although large gardens are becoming less and less attractive, as a nation, we do value the addition of outdoor space. Making your garden feel like another reception room could add heaps of value to your property, especially if it's currently somewhat neglected. Simply adding decking or a patio can turn a garden into a great entertaining space. Summer houses are other welcome additions, especially when staged as an extra room to enjoy.



Convert the garage
Most people would prefer an extra reception room to a garage. If you have permission to do so, then you could convert the garage to add a square footage to your home. Depending on where your garage is located, they can make fantastic playrooms for children or home offices.

Loft conversions
The loft is another often unused area of potentially functional pace in a property. Most houses don’t require planning permission to convert the loft and they make really stunning rooms. Plus, they’re reported to add up to 20% onto a property’s value.



Add parking space
Having somewhere to park the car is a big plus for most buyers. In 2014, 29.6 million cars were registered for use in the UK, which is a 9% increase on the previous year. We clearly do like our vehicles and parking spots are becoming even more scarce, making them especially valuable. Even if your buyers don’t drive, they will value the space for when family and friends come to visit. If you don’t already have parking but do have a front garden, consider paving part of it to create off-road parking. You might have to apply to have the kerb dropped, but it’s still well worth investigating.

Conservatory

Conservatories are another great way of adding square footage to your property. Consider adding one next to your dining area or kitchen to increase the size of this hugely appreciated space. And make sure you keep it at a comfortable temperature as any rooms that are too hot or cold could put buyers off.

Kitchen renovations

Kitchens are the heart of the home and there’s nothing more appealing than a big welcoming room in which to cook up a feast and entertain. If you only want to improve one room, then definitely concentrate on the kitchen and  add a few wow-factor touches to really make it stand out.



Bathrooms
After the kitchen, your bathroom should be next on the list for an overhaul if it’s looking dated. Opt for a crisp white suite so it appeals to lots of people and add a few ultra-stylish features to make it a room to remember.

Central heating

It might seem obvious, but adding central heating to a property that doesn't already have it will really help to increase its value and appeal. It’s considered essential and buyers could try and offer less money if they need to get it installed.

Fix problems

At the very least, make sure you fix any structural problems before you put your house on the market if you want increase its value. Buyers could use any problems as leverage to get money off the asking price and majority will be pleased if they know it doesn’t require any urgent work.

Eco-Friendly
Making your home more environmentally friendly with the likes of solar panels, wind turbines and good insulation can increase its value. If your home is cheaper to run, it will stand out in the property market and you can usually add a premium to the price.

Like this post? Read more on this topic here.

25Feb

These days, kitchens are not only used for cooking, but are now the hub of a family social life. So how do you create the perfect kitchen - one that reflects the practical needs of a modern lifestyle yet remains pleasing on the eye, fitting for hosting dinner parties and entertaining?

Here are our top tips to create a functional and beautiful kitchen.

Invest in a quality kitchen table
Your kitchen should be easy and comfortable to live in and a good kitchen table will make all the difference. We are talking the kind of table where you can enjoy a big family dinner, playing cards and board games with your friends or read your morning paper while relishing a cuppa.

Go large
Bigger kitchens often have a positive impact on selling a house successfully. If you’re thinking of making some changes to your home, why not take out a wall to create an open-plan living space? 


Be inventive with furnishings
If you’ve got the space, definitely bring in some more relaxed seating such as a low sofa or a window seat. These can be adorned with pretty cushions or a wool throw, instantly adding that warm, welcoming touch.

Dress your table to impress
Candlelight can instantly transform an ordinary kitchen table into an elegant dining table. Opt for a simple cotton tablecloth and fresh flowers to finish off the sophisticated setting.

Showcase your pottery
Don’t be afraid to be creative with your cups, bowls and plates. Keep your pottery on display using open shelves, instead of hiding it in a cupboard, to add an extra chic touch to the room.   


Light, light, light
Good lighting is an essential part of a functional kitchen. While spotlights are ideal for cooking, make the most of natural daylight where you can. Try placing a large mirror on a wall that will reflect daylight around the room. Also use candles and table lamps to brighten up corner space that’s often overlooked.

Choose your colour carefully
Opt for soft colours for your walls to add a warm, welcoming feel. You can be more creative with the colour of your tiles and furnishings to add that personal touch.

Position the dining table centrally
Not only will positioning your dining table centrally create more room in your kitchen, it is also very convenient for hosting dinner parties, allowing the host to cook and entertain at the same time. 


Keep your pantry organised
Clear glass storage jars or plastic containers are a simple and cost-effective way to store ingredients. Make sure to keep your containers labelled and use drawer organisers for your herbs and spices.

Add a pop of colour with funky blinds
It’s worth opting for roman blinds to cover your kitchen windows. They are practical and come in all sorts of patterns and colours, adding a touch of personality to your décor. In the dining area, try hanging up curtains to bring a feeling of warmth to the room.