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21Apr

We’re so used to talking about house prices rising year on year that we often forget about all the places in the UK where properties are considered affordable. We have scoured the country to find the best value places to buy homes in the UK, and some of them are very surprising!

Best for London

The capital may be home to some of the most expensive properties in the UK, but there are still areas where it’s possible to buy a home for a fraction of the cost. Colliers Wood is a perfect example, and flats sold for an average of £314,731 in the past year – that’s approximately 42% less than the average for London. This area in South London is considered very up and coming, thanks to a number of regeneration projects that are taking place, and it has its own tube station, connecting residents with Central London and the rest of the capital.


Best seaside town

You typically pay a premium to live by the Great British seaside, but in Whitby, North Yorkshire, the average price of property was £173,710 in the past year. That’s approximately 9% cheaper than the national average of properties in February of this year. With Blue Flag beaches nearby, the chance to see whales off the coast and an English Heritage ruin called Whitby Abbey, which inspired the famous novel Dracula, this pretty coastal town certainly is a very special place to call home.



Best national park

Living in one of the UK’s beautiful national parks might seem like a distant dream, but Snowdonia in Wales offers surprisingly good value for money. Here, the average price of properties sold last year was £161,918. That’s a whopping £259,081 less than the average house price in the South Downs over the last year. Home to the highest mountain in the UK, a number of glaciers and a rugged coastline, Snowdonia is a spectacular place to live and has so much to offer to those who love the great outdoors. 


Best city

Compared to the other large cities in the UK, Liverpool comes out on top for value for money with the average price of property at approximately £146,579 over the past year, that’s around 23% cheaper than the national average of this year. Birmingham comes in a close second, with the average house prices at £167,456 over the past year. However, thanks to the planned High Speed 2 rail which will provide a faster link between Birmingham, London and other major cities in the UK, it’s likely that prices will start to rise as the city becomes more attractive to commuters.


Best for overall happiness

If it’s happiness you’re after, then you might want to consider moving to Mid Sussex which, according to an ONS well-being report, is the happiest place to live in Britain! So where offers the best value for money in this joyous area? Well, Burgess Hill might be the answer. Over the past year, properties were approximately 17% cheaper on average than those in Haywards Heath, a town only five miles away. In fact, the properties were over £100,000 cheaper on average in the past year than those in Lindfield, a very popular village only 17 miles away.

This family home in Burgess Hill is on the market for £399,950.


21Apr

With the government pledging to build one million new homes by 2020, more buyers are being encouraged to buy newly built properties. So what are the perks of buying a new home compared to an older property? Firstly, they are built to the latest building standards and usually come with a 10-year warranty, meaning you’re covered if you have any structural issues. They’re typically more energy efficient, too, meaning they’re cheaper to run and, depending on how close they are to completion, you may be able to add a few of your own specifications.

Here’s a selection of our favourite new builds currently for sale across the UK today. They come in all different shapes and sizes, and are on the market for a range of prices. It seems that there’s a new build to suit everyone!

Attleborough, Norfolk - £1,000,000

Having won awards and been praised for its fabulous architecture, this highly eco-friendly property has a unique structure with curved roofs, wooden cladded walls and full-height windows.



West Chiltington, West Sussex - £745,000

Built in the grounds of a former inn, this barn style new-build has period influences as well as a contemporary feel.


Shrewsbury, Shropshire - £549,950

This luxury, six-bedroom home is located in an exclusive gated development, just a few minutes’ walk from Shrewsbury town centre.



Malvern, Worcestershire - £410,000

Nestled on the edge of the beautiful Malvern Hills, this four-bedroom house is one of three properties in a small development that has far-reaching views across the Severn Valley.



Allestree, Derbyshire - £574,950

This four-bedroom home has been built to an exceptionally high specification with a number of luxurious fittings including a handmade kitchen, a feature fireplace and the option of a multi-room sound system.



Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire - £2,000,000

Named Footprints, this bespoke, four-bedroom property is situated in an exclusive private estate. It has a truly contemporary design with Art Deco influences.



Oakham, Rutland - £299,995

With part exchange and help-to-buy on offer, this eco-friendly, five-bedroom house is an ideal buy for second-steppers who are looking for a larger family home.



Ashford, Kent - £1,340,000

This property may look like a barn conversion, but it’s actually a complete new-build. Between the main house and the detached holiday cottage, the property has nine bedrooms with en-suite shower rooms.



Condover, Shrewsbury - £1,350,000

Set in its own gardens and grounds, this six-bedroom property has a minimalist design that makes the most of its stunning surroundings thanks to its large bi-folding doors that bring the outside in.



Herne Bay, Kent - £495,000

This stunning new development has two apartments, the Penthouse and the Garden Apartment, which both have huge windows to take in the views across Herne Bay’s charming beach front.



Burnham Market, Norfolk - £1,450,000

Situated in the heart of historic Burnham Market near the North Norfolk Coast, this four-bedroom family home has been built using local materials to match the rest of the properties in the village.



Stamford, Lincolnshire - £520,000

Tucked away just outside the old town walls, this four-bedroom townhouse has a central Stamford location and, for a limited time only, purchasers won’t have to pay stamp duty.



Horsford, Norwich - £550,000

Any buyers who are quick off the mark can snap up this five-bedroom property in Norwich and have their own bespoke interior finish.



Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey - £1,650,000

This five-bedroom family home in Surrey has an elegant interior with a country-style design and bespoke fittings throughout.



Tollerton, Nottinghamshire - £595,000

Inside this four-bedroom house, you’ll find a magnificent open plan living space with a galleried landing, and a huge sitting room with full-height doors that open onto the rear garden.



Oakham, Rutland - £254,995

Fitted with solar panels and built using sustainable materials, this four-bedroom house is exceptionally eco-friendly.



Folkestone, Kent - £339,995

Boarded in grey wood, this brand new cottage is as attractive on the outside as it is on the inside.  



21Apr

This month has seen the release of a number of statistics suggesting a weakening of the UK economy. The Office for National Statistics (the ONS) reported that, in February, the UK’s industrial output saw its biggest decline since August 2013, falling by 0.5 per cent from a year earlier. Over the same period, manufacturing output was down 1.8 per cent. These figures were weaker than expected, raising fears over the growth prospects of the UK economy for the first quarter of 2016. Separate ONS figures revealed that the UK’s trade deficit in February was also worse than expected.


New data on productivity from the ONS showed that worker output per hour in the UK fell 1.2 per cent during the last three months of 2015 compared with the previous quarter. Over the same period, manufacturing output fell by 2 per cent and the service sector dropped by 0.7 per cent. Nevertheless, over 2015 as a whole, output per hour rose by 1 per cent, which the ONS said was the strongest increase since 2011. As productivity is critical to economic growth potential, economists are concerned as to whether the fourth quarter figures mark a temporary relapse or hint at problems to come.


A slowdown in the UK’s economic growth appears to be supported by a survey just published by the British Chambers of Commerce (the BCC), which looked at key indicators such as sales and orders, confidence and investment intentions in more than 8,500 firms. It showed historically low confidence in turnover and profitability and further suggested that domestic sales and orders in service firms fell in the first quarter of the year to their lowest level in three years; manufacturers also reported a fall in domestic sales.


The Halifax has recently said that the housing market could slow down because of ‘worsening sentiment’ regarding the UK economy and amid the uncertainty over the pending EU referendum on 23 June. However, it also said that house price growth is likely to remain generally robust in the months ahead because the number of homes on the market is still outstripped by demand, and because interest rates and unemployment remain low.


Regarding interest rates, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously at its monthly meeting on 16 March to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.5 per cent and to maintain the stock of purchased assets financed by the issuance of central bank reserves at £375 billion.  


21Apr

LAND REGISTRY DATA: FEBRUARY 2016 (released 30 March 2016)

The February 2016 Land Registry data showed a monthly drop in average house prices across England and Wales of minus 0.2 per cent, while the annual increase was 6.1 per cent. The average house price in England & Wales now stands at £190,275 and in London at £530,368. 

Regionally, the highest monthly increase was seen in the North West at 1.8 per cent, followed by the East Midlands at 1.5 per cent; prices decreased in Wales, the West Midlands and the North East by minus 0.1 per cent, minus 0.3 per cent and minus 1.2 per cent respectively. London saw the highest annual increase in prices at 13.5 per cent, followed by the South East at 10.9 per cent, while the North East saw a fall of minus 3.2 per cent. 

In terms of property type, semi-detached properties showed the highest annual increase at 6.4 per cent, while the lowest increase was seen in detached properties at 5.7 per cent.

By county and unitary authority, the strongest monthly growth was seen in Blaenau Gwent with an increase of 9.4 per cent, while Flintshire had the most significant monthly drop with a movement of minus 1.4 per cent. Four counties and unitary authorities saw no monthly price change. On an annual basis, eleven counties and unitary authorities experienced a fall in prices, the greatest being Rhondda Cynon Taff at minus 2.4 per cent; Slough showed the highest annual rise at 19 per cent. 

Of the metropolitan districts, Barnsley saw the highest monthly price increase at 3.2 per cent; ten districts experienced a monthly fall, the greatest being Doncaster at minus 1.2 per cent. Knowsley continued to show the largest annual price increase at 8.1 per cent; four districts saw a fall over the 12-month period, the greatest being Rochdale at minus 1.8 per cent. 

Of the London boroughs, Hammersmith & Fulham experienced the highest monthly price increase at 2.2 per cent, while Merton saw the greatest monthly fall at minus 0.8 per cent. Hillingdon had the highest annual price rise at 17.1 per cent, while Camden again saw the smallest annual increase at 3.6 per cent.

The volume of properties sold in December 2015 was 6 per cent lower than a year earlier in England and Wales and 12 per cent lower in London. Over the same period, the number of properties sold for more than £1 million across England and Wales as a whole and in London rose by 2 per cent. 


Month on month, the total number of properties sold across England and Wales increased from 72,167 in November to 73,326 in December 2015 – an increase of 1.6 per cent. The number of property transactions from September 2015 to December 2015 averaged 78,778 per month, compared to 79,237 over the same period a year earlier.

18Apr

London is about to vote and select a new mayor – probably one of the 10 most powerful and influential political positions in the country. Marcus Whewell, CEO of The Guild of Professional Estate Agents, examines what impact the London election could have on the capital’s property market.

Boris Johnson has of course decided not to run again, but is this election likely to make any difference to the property market in of the world’s largest and most successful cities?

For many, in truth probably not. London house prices have defied gravity as a heady mixture of overseas investment, rising population and speculation (including buy to let) has driven the average price to almost £450,000, still tracking at a 10% annual increase according to Land Registry. Mean prices are forecast to reach £550,000 by 2020, which would require a £28,000 deposit and a salary of £118,000 to secure a typical mortgage. Ownership is, therefore, becoming an exclusive club for the already wealthy.

This naturally ‘knocks on’ to the rentals market, putting increased pressure on the finances of aspiring homeowners, for whom the dream moves further away as prices outstrip wages. Of course, there are many so-called ‘lifestyle tenants’, but I believe only a few would freely waive the significant profits to be made from being on the housing ladder.

The occasional poor, and frankly unacceptable standards of some rental accommodation has led to several charities to campaign for Government intervention, but has this ship already sailed?

Boris Johnson launched his ‘rental standard programme’ in May 2014, hoping to use voluntary accreditation to attract landlords to agree to minimum compliance. This has largely failed (in terms of signups to the scheme), showing the difficulties in engaging with such a diverse and elusive market. I can’t see any new incumbent taking on such a task again without formal legislation, which is highly unlikely given the Government’s other pressing priorities.

Alternatively, could a new mayor fix housing supply in the capital? Lead-times for significant new build developments tend to be years rather than months, so his/her influence will be diluted with an unwelcome lag (a little like the Government using interest rates to influence employment).

Of course, some form of rent controls could also affect the disposable income of a high percentage of London residents (30% of the overall population), but no-one is actively planning such a measure, and may just restrict future supply.

So what could move the London property market? I would suggest one a few major catalysts:

Firstly, Brexit could cause a significant adjustment in several ways:

o    Reducing the desirability of the location for international employees
o    A flight of capital could influence interest rates and lending policies
o    By reducing general confidence in a city continuing to project itself on a world stage against growing competition

A second factor would be the pending Basel III controls, that will look to build up banks’ capital bases (meaning that they can lend less against any given reserves) – due to come into play later this year.

Thirdly, the increasing attractiveness of ‘neighbourhood’ commute areas such as Luton and Dartford may persuade people to make a different decision on where to live – but this is more likely to affect first time buyers and upscalers than the property elite.

On the other hand, London has always been seen as a ‘safe haven’ in times of uncertainty, and so any escalation in the Middle East conflicts or a serious challenge to the European model (see Holland) would probably attract further funds and overseas relocations. It is difficult to speculate what would result from a Trump victory in the US, apart from a strong ‘political gulfstream’ from the West.

So in truth, the London market is driven by fundamentals and sentiment: sadly, as with most economics, any individual’s ability to influence this is on the wane.

15Apr

The largest village in the district, Chew Magna is a beautiful historic village set within the picturesque Chew Valley, in the North of Somerset.

Conveniently located just 10 miles from Bristol and 15 miles from Bath, it is a great location for those who work in either of the cities but are looking to enjoy a laid-back lifestyle in the Great British countryside. With the lovely River Chew running through the village, gorgeous surrounding scenery and a number of listed properties, it is a very charming place to live. It also has three great pubs; what more could you wish for?


Pubs and places to eat
The Bear and Swan is an absolute delight of a pub. With the promise of ‘Great food, great rooms, great atmosphere’, it’s a sure winner for anyone who loves nothing more than sipping a scrumptious West Country cider in good company.

Just down the road from The Bear and Swan is The Pelican Inn, or The Pelly, as it’s known by the locals. It has a rather stylish set-up, with a fancy bar serving a range of wines, real ales, lagers, ciders, spirits and, if you ask nicely, they can even make you a tasty cocktail.

For a real treat, you can make a trip over to the Michelin starred, Pony & Trap, a real family-run local with a mouth-wateringly delicious and unique menu to die for. Only a mile and a half from the centre of Chew Magna, it’s well worth the short journey.

Green places & leisure

If it’s greenery you’re after, the Chew Valley is an ideal setting. Somerset’s famously rolling countryside surrounds the village and it’s also to the edge of the Mendip Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Transport links

Local buses will take you to surrounding villages and into Bristol, Bath, Keynsham and Wells. It’s much easier to get around the area by car and you can be on the M4 and M5 within half an hour to travel further afield. Bristol airport, however, is only five miles away, and from here you can travel to a number of European cities.

Schools
Chew Magna Primary School serves the local village and surrounding area and Chew Valley School is the main secondary in the area.

Types of property
You can expect to find charming period houses and unique builds in the village. They typically come with lovely gardens and lots of them enjoy far-reaching views across the open scenery.

Property market
Debbie Fortune, from Debbie Fortune Estate Agents, has noticed a large number of buyers who are moving away from Bristol and London to snap up the good family homes in the area.

14Apr

Britain is a pretty amazing place to live, but what made it great in the first place? Well, we reckon it might have something to do with its beautiful countryside, charming villages, gorgeous market towns and picturesque cities. This selection of the prettiest places to live in the UK will have you dreaming of packing up and moving away. Or, if you are already lucky enough to live in one of these places, you’ll be feeling very smug indeed, and so you should!

1. Ambleside, Cumbria

The Lake District is undeniably beautiful and Ambleside is one of the prettiest towns in the national park. Overlooking famous Lake Windermere, the town is full of Lakeland stone houses and charming cafes, shops and restaurants.


2. Port Isaac, Cornwall

Picture postcard Port Isaac is probably best known as the filming location for Doc Martin. It’s easy to see why the producers chose this backdrop; the traditional fishing village has classic Cornish white-washed houses, rolling green hills and turquoise waters.



3. Caernarfon, North Wales

Home to a 13th century castle UNESCO World Heritage Site and overlooking Anglesey, this Welsh seaside town has been attracting swathes of visitors for hundreds of years.  It has medieval stone walls, a roman church and lovely pubs and cafes. Plus, it’s close to the beautiful Snowdonia National Park.


4. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Famous for its ancient university, Cambridge is formed of historic buildings, all arranged around a peaceful river. It also has lots of attractive bridges which are often the most photographed spots in the city. 



5. Aysgarth, North Yorkshire

Located in famous Wensleydale, Aysgarth is home to a number of stunning waterfalls. It was used as the filming location for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner, and the village is also known for its gorgeous old mill.



6. Burnham Market, Norfolk

Just a stone’s throw away from the North Norfolk coastline, Burnham Market is full of independent shops, restaurants, bakeries and cafes. It has lots of period properties and a long village green with a trickling stream.

This Georgian cottage overlooks the village green and is on the market for £895,000.



7. Stamford, Lincolnshire

This old market town is regarded as one of the finest stone towns in England. It’s full of old stone buildings and small winding streets. It’s also home to Elizabethan Burghley House which, has featured in several films.



8. Morpeth, Northumberland

Historic Morpeth is a bustling market town that has a number of walks, parks and open countryside right on the doorstep. It holds several events throughout the year and has a true community spirit.



9. Lavenham, Suffolk

Lavenham in Suffolk is a medieval town that’s full of period houses and buildings. It’s not often that you find so many well-preserved medieval buildings in one place, and they’ve all been painted in pretty pastel shades.



10. Cheddar, Somerset

Made famous by its delicious cheese, Cheddar in Somerset is nestled on the edge of the Mendip Hills and has one of the most stunning rugged gorges you’ll see in Britain today. The village itself has lots of historic buildings and a number of walking tracks.

11. Alderley Edge, Cheshire

Full of luxurious properties, Alderley Edge is a very prestigious place to live. It has a wooded sandstone ridge called The Edge, and from its highest point, you can see across Cheshire and the Peak District.


12. Lindfield, West Sussex

The town of Lindfield, especially handy for London commuters, has been established for thousands of years and this rich history is prevalent in the architecture, with over forty medieval houses standing today. It’s home to a large, natural spring-fed pond and the surrounding countryside has been named an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

This three-bedroom house on the High Street is on the market for £495,000.



13. Bath, Somerset

Famous for its honey-stone Georgian crescents and roman baths, this small city has been the hub of social gatherings for years. It’s surrounded by rolling picturesque countryside, too.



14. Castle Combe, Wiltshire

This Cotswolds village has often been called the prettiest village in the UK. It’s made up of gorgeous Cotswold stone cottages and it has a beautiful river running through it.



15. Salcombe, Devon

Surrounded by sandy beaches and gracing some of the bluest seas in the British Isles, Salcombe is Devon’s sailing capital. It’s a vibrant town with stunning natural surroundings and in the summer the water is warm enough to enjoy a swim.

16. Holland Park, London

One of the most prestigious postcodes in London, Holland Park in Kensington is full of stucco fronted houses. It also has a park of the same name, which has been beautifully manicured. You can expect to find high-end boutiques and chic restaurants in the area.



17. Ludlow, Shropshire

The market town of Ludlow is full of historic buildings from the Medieval period all the way through to the Georgian era. Altogether, there are around 500 listed buildings, including a stunning castle.



18. Nuneham Courtenay, South Oxfordshire

Conveniently located just five miles from Oxford, this quintessentially English village is mainly formed of pretty cottages lining either side of the main road. It’s also home to two beautifully preserved churches, one of which has typical Greek Revival architecture, and a large country house.  

This traditional three-bedroom cottage is on the market for £475,000.



19. York, North Yorkshire

The walled city of York is a real beauty. York Minster, a 13th Century Gothic cathedral, is just one its impressive historic buildings. Many of its original medieval buildings still stand today, including the 3.4 kilometre walls.



20. Selborne, Hampshire

On the edge of the stunning South Downs National Park lies Selbourne, a quintessentially English village. Here you’ll find Selbourne Common, a large area of beech woods and flower-filled meadows.


12Apr

So you’ve taken the leap and made the decision to buy your very first home. While joining the property market is exciting, it can also be expensive, and it definitely pays off to do your research. These top ten tips will explain some of the key elements of becoming a homeowner that it’s important to be aware of.

Get your finances in order
It’s important that you get your finances in order as your credit score will have an impact on your mortgage options. Make sure you pay all your bills on time and avoid making any bigger purchases around that time. Speak to a professional to get advice about how much you can afford. Don’t forget that there are lots of other costs attached to buying a property, such as solicitor’s fees, stamp duty and home insurance. When these all add up, you might reconsider the price range of properties you’re viewing.

Take the time to decide what you want

Take time to view different properties and create a list of what you want your new home to include in the process. Divide your wish list into must-haves and things you can compromise on. This will help you to avoid making hasty decisions and get you thinking in detail about your ideal home. Be realistic though, and ensure your list is appropriate to your budget.

Be flexible

Whilst it’s good to have a list of do’s and don’ts, it’s important to remain flexible. You could miss out on a perfectly suitable home because it’s located three miles out of your desired area or the bedroom doesn’t have a walk-in closet. Be open-minded when viewing different properties and think outside the box – with a little creativity you can do some wonderful things with the décor of a house or the look of a garden!

Get to know your local agents

A good agent should be well-informed and able to answer questions not only about the property but also the area you are moving into. Cast your net wide and visit a number of agents in the town. Make sure you meet them face-to-face and explain in detail what your requirements are - this will make them remember you and think of you when a suitable property comes on the market. Also be proactive and keep an eye on newly listed properties on their website and different online portals as great homes tend to get snapped up quickly.

Are you willing to invest in renovations?
Unless you’re specifically looking for a project, buying a property that needs renovation might not be the right step for you. Purchasing a fixer-upper can be a risky investment and you could end up with a money pit. If you do decide to buy a home in need of work, it’s advised that you get a thorough inspection to get a realistic overview of the property’s conditions. If possible, opt for an examination after a rainy day that will assess the state of the foundations and basement.

Learn more about your prospective home
So you’ve found your dream home and you’re eager to make an offer. Before you progress to the next step, make sure you learn as much as you can about your prospective new home. Find out how long it has been on the market, ask to see the utility bills and hire a surveyor to inspect the condition of the property. It’s a good idea to get to know the neighborhood as well to get a feel for the area. Is there a convenience store nearby? What schools are in the catchment area? What is your local pub or café like? These are all important aspects of day to day life that might influence your decision to make an offer.

Negotiate
The price of the property is rarely set in stone and the vendors are often willing to negotiate. If the property needs some work or your surveyor revealed any defects, use this as an argument to agree a more affordable price. You can use your estate agent to do this for you, however, as a buyer you will be the one making the final decision and should be in control at all times.

Get a good solicitor on board
Search for the right solicitor, someone trustworthy and someone you can rely on to work hard for you. Usually, you get what you pay for and this is definitely not the time penny pinch. As a first time buyer, you will most likely need someone more experienced to manage Stamp Duty charges, dealing with Land Registry and drawing up and explaining contracts. Avoid using the same solicitor as the sellers to minimise the possibility of a conflict.

Don’t feel pressured
Buying a house is possibly one of the biggest purchases of your life so it’s important you take time when making important decisions. It can sometimes feel like you’re under a lot of pressure to buy straight away but if you don’t need to move immediately then shop around. It’s likely you will be living in the house for years to come and it’s essential that you feel comfortable and happy in your surroundings.

Try to stay sane in the process
The whole process might take longer than you originally anticipate. It’s a good idea to focus solely on house hunting so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Juggling other big decisions, such as organising a wedding or planning to have a baby, whilst buying your first home can put a huge strain on your life and take all the fun out of the process. Buying your very first home is a big step in every person’s life and should you be remembered fondly.

08Apr

With its many attractions, including its famous circular tube station, Southgate has a cosmopolitan feel yet a strong residential community. Thanks to the Piccadilly Line’s arrival back in 1933, it only takes a swift 30 minutes before you’re in the delights of glittering Central London.

Yet the suburb feels like its own little town with some lovely green spaces, a bunch of handy shops and a plethora of restaurants to satisfy your every taste.  It’s especially in demand at the moment and families are rushing to get their hands on a place to call home in the area.


Pubs and places to eat
Ye Olde Cherry Tree stands out for many as the pub of choice. It has the perfect mix of old and new, and it serves up some mouth-watering food alongside a selection of delicious beers and wines. For a more country pub vibe, head over to The Woodman, and expect to be greeted by a friendly face.

La Paella is an absolute treat and they have a wonderful tapas selection as well as fun flamenco evenings. Green’s Steakhouse & Grill is another favourite amongst the locals and we’re told their gourmet burgers are to die for.

Green spaces and leisure
One of the many reasons that makes Southgate a winner amongst families is the number of green spaces which provide that laid-back lifestyle most families living in London crave.

Grovelands Park is home to a mansion, a golf course, a café, a putting green, a basketball court and lots of space for walking, running and cycling. Broomfield Park is another popular choice, attracting swathes of families all year round to enjoy the water garden, orchard and 21 hectares of green open space. You’ve also got Cockfosters’ Trent Country Park a short journey away, which plays host to all sorts of festivities throughout the summer.

Transport links
The Piccadilly Line will take you from Southgate into Central London within 30 minutes and there are a number of local buses to help you get around. It’s also close to the M25 for visiting family and friends across the country, and Heathrow and Luton airports are both only about 45 minutes away for jetting off to lands faraway.
 
Schools
There are a number of schools in Southgate, making it an excellent choice for those with little ones. For primary and juniors, there’s Salcombe Preparatory School, Walker Primary School and Osidge Primary. For children aged 11 and upwards, Ashmole Academy and The Compton School are popular choices.
 
Types of property
You’ll find Georgian houses, Victorian cottages and Edwardian homes across the area, alongside lots of 1930s interwar properties. The ‘Meadway’ and ‘Lakes’ estates are generally the most sought-after postcodes.

Property market
Bennett Walden in Southgate has reported a lack of supply in the area with lots of people looking to buy good houses. Prices have, unsurprisingly, risen, and it’s thought that this is down to the lack of property to meet the market’s high demand.

For more information on Southgate and the surrounding area, please contact Bennett Walden on 0208 886 1777.

06Apr

This month, many new regulations are coming into force that will affect the property market. Marcus Whewell, The Guild's CEO, highlights key laws and discusses what impact these could have on the UK's housing.

My last blog highlighted some of the likely impacts of the imminent Stamp Duty changes on the Buy to Let market in England; but what other legislative changes are in the offing?

There are other items of note: one relates to the Buy To Let sector of the market, the second affects how companies can help address money laundering.

As well as the extra 3% tax on the purchase of so-called second homes (and so-called ‘Granny annexes’), The Government (or rather HMRC) is tightening up the rules surrounding the treatment of expenses for landlords. The alteration will remove the ability of landlords to deduct ‘wear and tear’ from rental receipts before income tax is applicable. Many landlords have complained that this could dramatically reduce the yields from such properties, and maybe even tip the scales in favour of exiting the sector. However, I believe the likely effect will be less dramatic, for several reasons.

Firstly, in a free market, if this change does represent a new, significant cost of supply, then rents should simply adjust to cover this extra risk for the landlord. This is not necessarily desirable, as it would increase the cost of housing at a time when household budgets are already under strain - but in the absence of rent controls, this is the logical outcome. Incidentally, this change also provides an easy argument for the landlord and agents to review rents (upwards) without seeming to be excessively greedy!

Secondly, the forecast rise in house prices (roughly averaging 5% p.a. for the next three years) means that the capital gains in many regions should be more than enough to outweigh the reduction in allowances.

Thirdly, larger landlords are already starting to incorporate their companies to try to retain the allowances, and so the effect may fall disproportionately on the smaller providers.

The Government seems keen to dissuade sole individuals from investing in properties for rent, but currently private lettings play an important role in facilitating residential housing supply. With the disappointing performance of ‘Right to Buy’ in terms of its overall impact on the general housing market, the protracted difficulties in persuading the construction sector to invest in significant new schemes, and the increasingly ‘complex’ positon of housing associations, this may prove to be a significant political gamble.

The second piece of legislation (which comes into effect on 6 April 2016) relates to companies needing to declare and register ‘Persons of Significant Control’ (or PSCs). The Government has declared the reduction and prevention of Money Laundering to be a high priority, and registering and declaring PSCs is an important step towards this goal.

In short, this new rule ensures that individuals can and will be made more clearly accountable for the behaviour of their organisations, and that companies cannot hide behind lists of shareholders, subsidiary boards and various holding companies.

The costs of registration for businesses are quite low, and so objections are focussing on potential concerns over the security and portability - sharing of the data rather than a significant additional financial burden. However, in the light of the furore over Mossack Fonseca’s recent revelations, surely this is the right thing to do.

There are some other imminent changes that could indirectly affect the property market. Council Tax bills will rise by an average of £58 for Band D (average) properties, as more than a hundred councils around the country are increasing rates by up to 4% - the largest council tax increase for eight years.

On the other hand, if you rent your home from a housing association or the council, starting from this month, your rent will decrease by 1% each year for the next four years. The government hopes that this will help reduce the amount of housing benefit it pays and is planning to reduce the household benefit cap this Autumn from £26,000 to £20,000 - or £23,000 in London. From 1 May 2016, the family premium of £17.45 for housing benefit claimants with one or more dependent children will also be abolished.

We also see the launch of a new tenancy protection scheme called TDS Custodial, soon to be followed by Mydeposits. Until now, the only such scheme was operated by The Deposit Protection Service.

These amendments are not expected to greatly influence the market, which is probably welcome, given the growing uncertainty likely to result from the Euro Referendum and the general economic slowdown. When you are walking on a tightrope, small and controlled movements are generally the order of the day!

06Apr

If it’s a project you’re after, then look no further. There is a whole host of properties on the market with bags of potential for refurbishment or the chance to completely start from scratch. All of these properties are just waiting for someone to snap them up and transform them into dream homes. Take your pick!

Gillingham, Norfolk - £550,000
On the Norfolk coast, there are five barns ready and waiting for people to show them some love and attention. Planning permission is already in place and you can choose from five different sized units on offer.
















*All properties for sale at the time of publication

01Apr

One of the joys of owning your own home is having the ability to inject a bit of your own personality into each of the rooms, and what a better way to start than with colour. It can be easy to stay safe and always go for the same shade of beige, but making your house a home is all about filling the rooms with colours and items you love. Our handy guide to choosing the right colours for your rooms will help inspire your creative side so you can find that perfect shade.  

Take inspiration from nature

If you’re stuck in a rut of always choosing the same colours, try looking to nature for inspiration. This doesn’t mean that you should choose a vibrant shade of green - nature is full of all sorts of wonderful colours. Why not take a trip to a local art gallery and look at the different landscape paintings? Artists naturally have a keen eye for picking out colours, and you, too, will most likely find a shade particularly striking. It might be the use of pink in a beautiful sunset or a rich shade of yellow on an autumnal tree. This will help you start to imagine how you might feature the colour in a room. You won’t necessarily use the colour on your walls, but you miht use it as an accent in your soft furnishings and find a complementing hue of paint or wallpaper. 

Your favourite objects

If you already have colourful objects that you love, try grouping them together in sets that have the same shade and consider putting them in the same room. This will give you a theme to start from and you can find soft furnishings and accessories to match, which will help create consistency in the room. Plus it will help draw attention to your favourite objects, transforming them into features. 

How will the space be used?

One of the main deciding factors when it comes to choosing colours is how the room will be used. For example, we typically use our bedrooms when we want to wind down, so soft, calm colours like blues, greys and greens, work well here. In the kitchen, however, it’s likely that you’ll want a fresh and bright colour to give it a luminous glow while you’re busy cooking, so consider opting for a pastel shade. Rich, warm colours like terracotta, teal and crimson help to make rooms feel cosy, and are ideal in sitting rooms and dining rooms. You can use these colours on just one or two walls to create a feature rather than on all walls, as this can make rooms feel smaller.


Tonal

Using bright or dark colours in smaller properties can make them feel even more cramped, but you can still create interest using a neutral palette. Find a shade that you like and then pick another darker or lighter shade in the same tone. You can then use one colour on two of the walls and the other colour on the other two walls. This will help make the space feel larger without it looking blank or one-dimensional. Another trick is to use the same colours in a couple of rooms and the hallway to help the space flow.

Opposites attract

Choosing three colours is a very on-trend way of decorating a room. You can follow this simple rule of thumb to help you design a new look. Pick on colour that you love to begin with and then use a colour wheel to find its opposite shade. You can then find a neutral shade like grey, beige or cream as a final colour that complements both of the other colours. Then use the neutral colour on the walls, the first colour in most of your soft furnishings and the second, opposite colour in a few accessories. 


Times of day

Various types of natural light can make a big difference to how a colour feels in a room. Before painting your room in one shade, paint the colour on a few pieces of card and place them in various parts of the room. You can then monitor how it looks at different times of the day. It’s also worth leaving them in place for a week as it will look different in sunshine compared to a cloudy day. If you find the colour looks gloomy on a wall that doesn’t catch much natural light, consider buying a lighter shade to apply to that wall or choosing a contrasting colour to create a feature. 





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!