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As many of us are spending more time than ever in our homes, restricting time outside and social contact, it's hard not to focus on anything that isn't your own worries and concerns.
Here are some mental health practices to help you maintain a healthy and happy mind.
Rediscovering an old passion or discovering a part of yourself you've yet to explore can feel rewarding. From photography, painting, learning an instrument or filming videos for loved ones, there are many options available.
Although times are challenging, reminding yourself of those things you're thankful for can give perspective and help appreciate the things or people that bring happiness to your life.
To get started, simpy write down five things that you are thankful for, whether it be the people you love, your home, your health or your hobbies. Say them aloud to yourself, or even better, tell the people you trust. Appreciating those who support and love you will boost their day and your confidence. You may even encourage them to do the same in return!
Spending time outside in the soul-soothing fresh air has a plethora of benefits, both for your mental and physical health. Research shows that spending time in green space reduces anxiety and depression.
It's much easier to enjoy fresh air and listen to natural sounds in the countryside, but if you're based in a city, head to your local park, remembering to stay six feet away from other people.
How you start your day can determine the tone for the rest of the day. Having a positive, motivated mindset as soon as you wake will help maintain an optimistic approach to the rest of the day.
Laughter really is the best medicine. It releases endorphins which in turn, improve your mood and help alleviate any tension or anxiety you may be feeling.
Get into a new comedy series, follow funny social media accounts, play virtual games with friends, host a pub quiz or listen to a comedy podcast.
If you're struggling to find light relief from the challenging circumstances we're all enduring, Hollywood actor, John Krasinski hosts a YouTube show called "Some Good News", sharing inspiring news from all around the world.
Laughing strengthens bonds with those around you, so make sure to get your family and friends involved!
While lockdown means we are cut off from family and friends, technology can help us stay in touch, this is particularly important if you live alone or are feeling isolated during lockdown.
Reaching out to friends and family can instantly boost your mood and help deal with stressful situations. It may be that a loved one is also feeling the same, so offering support will help you feel needed and offer you both a safe space to air any concerns or worries.
We all know how important routine is, especially for parents, but it's so easy to let a sense of structure go out the window during lockdown. Studies show that unstructured time can create boredom adding stress and decreasing our ability to fight off infections. Maintaining a consistent sleep pattern, and daily schedule can ensure weekdays are structured and will make all the difference.
Don't beat yourself up when things don't go perfectly in your household, negative thoughts can lead to destructive feelings or actions. It's much more valuable to everyone to cut yourself some slack, recognise when you are slipping into a harmful mindset and try to alter your circumstances.
Maintaining a positive mentality is important, whether it is through an activity, project, exercise or taking to a friend, find a solution that works for you.
Managing stress is a big concern, improving your mental wellbeing by focusing on your mind and directing your attention to the present. Removing yourself from the chaos of everyday and undertaking breathing exercises or just finding quiet time can manage stress which in turn will improve sleep and eating habits.
Allow yourself some time, whether it be 10 minutes or half an hour to practice non-judgmental awareness of your thoughts. This can be done through guided meditation, listening to soothing music or writing in a journal.
There are plenty of useful sources and support available online to help preserve a healthy mind.
The NHS are a fantastic primary resource for advice focused on both mental and physical wellbeing.
MARCH Network offer home-based, creative ways to support mental health during COVID-19.
MIND provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.
The lockdown rules have left us, quite literally, staring at walls as we adjust to spending more time than ever in our homes, leading to DIY explosion around the UK. Many are feeling compelled to deal with the tatty paintwork that can no longer be ignored.
If you are poised to start tackling some DIY within a rented property, you may feel you lack freedom when it comes to styling your home. We have put together 10 tips to add character without losing your deposit. So, here are our top 10 tips to update your home during lockdown without compromising your tenancy agreement:
Not able to wallpaper your home? Not only is wall art a cheap way of adding personality, colour and pattern to a room, but you can also change the colour scheme as often as you want. There are a range of designs, styles and prints available online. Alternatively, keep yourself and your flat mates occupied with a fun activity of painting some artwork yourselves!
If you don't consider yourself particularly skilled when it comes to painting or drawing, you could purchase a paint by numbers kit online, which will offer you a guide and all the supplies you'll need to create a beautiful piece of art.
Be brave and fill your walls with funky artwork, such as lettering prints and screen prints. Lay the paintings or prints on the floor to get an idea of the arrangement you want.
Always check with your landlord before nailing into a wall. If they are reluctant, opt for hanging strips instead as they will be much more effective than blue tack and won't leave any permanent marks.
Updating your dishes can transform mealtime and if you are unable to choose your kitchen decor, this is a great way to accessorize the room to suit your style.
There are some fashionable, yet affordable styles available to order online, but if you're looking for some activities to do at home to stay creative and entertained, you could purchase a paint kit to decorate plain crockery while in lockdown.
Why shove your stylish pots, pans and utensils in a cabinet when you can show them off? Use a hanging rack to display your prized cookware.
Home accessories such as vases and fruit bowls are a great way to style your home without a huge price tag. Alternatively, draw inspiration from the pages of catalogues, get your hands dirty and purchase a DIY pottery kit to make your own. This works well as a great group activitiy, or a therapeutic activity if you live alone.
A well-places mirror can be a powerful asset to any room. Mirrors are known for making space seem larger and more open, but can also be used to distribute light, emphasize colour or artwork on adjacent walls, and even liven up rooms that don't have windows.
Tip: If your landlord is not happy with nails being places into walls, freestanding mirrors work just as well.
Candles are a great way to revamp any room. They look elegant, cost-effective, complement homewares and smell fantastic. You may find that simple actions such as lighting a candle can instantly relax you, reduce stress and alter the ambiance of the room. If candles aren't for you, consider diffusers or essential oil room spray instead.
Experimenting with lighting can also alter the ambiance of your room. If you have any old fairy lights hanging about, display them across your headboard, style them in empty mason jars, or use them to decorate a shelving unit.
If you have outside space such as a patio or balcony, outdoor fairy lights can make having a glass of wine in the evenings seem more magical.
House plants can not only be used to decorate any room, but also come with health benefits by cleaning the air and can boost healing.
For a low maintenance option, choose succulents as they require less care and less frequent watering.
- Spider plants can help with poor air quality within a home, and don't require lots of sun.
- Lavender can reduce stress and can aid a better night's sleep.
- Snake plants remove toxins from the air.
- Rosemary can help improve concentration and memory.
Rugs have magical powers, aside from breathing in necessary warmth into any room, softening the most sterile of environment, they also have the power to together a room and colour scheme.
If your bathroom is looking a little worn, a new shower curtain, bathmat and new towels spruce up the space. Pick a colour theme or opt for cool textiles and shades to add more vibrancy to the room.
If your walls are looking grubby, particularly around light switches and plugs, ask your landlord if you can repaint the rooms. Most landlords won't mind, especially if the paint is a neutral shade like white or cream. This will instantly transform the room, making it appear cleaner and sharper, and will give you a project to spend your weekend on.
If your landlord is happy for you to paint your walls as you please, get creative and paint a feature wall to make the room really pop.
We have plenty of virtual solutions to view properties during lockdown, so if you are looking to move home, contact your local Guild Member to find your dream home.
With our new Virtual Viewing Tool, you'll be able to host viewings through video, but it's just as important to stage your home as you would for a physical viewing. Here are our top tips:
You'll want to begin your virtual viewing from outside the front of your home. This is the perfect opportunity to show the exterior of the property, the front garden, driveway or porch if you have one.
Consider power washing your front stoop or driveway to make sure the first thing prospective buyers see is spotless. Wash down your windows to remove any grime and dirt cause by pollution, too.
Open all doors before filming. This will make the viewer feel welcome, your home appear more spacious, and will prevent any fumbling around with door knobs so your filming will be seamless.
You want every inch of your home to appear squeaky clean, as you would for a physical viewing. Make sure all counter tops and shelves are clear of clutter and personal items, dust every nook and cranny and present your home in its best possible light.
No one wants to view a dark and dingy looking home, particularly on video. Your home should appear bright, airy and give the illusion of plenty of natural light. Make sure all curtains and blinds are fully drawn, turn on any lights and lamps, and intricate fairy lights or mood-boosting colour-changing LED lights to signal warmth and comfort.
For those of you with young children, your home can easily become cluttered with toys and games. Ahead of the viewing, make sure they are all tidied up and out of sight. Prospective buyers are viewing your property looking for a fresh start. If the buyer doesn't have children of their own, they may find this off-putting as well.
While you will want to clean your home and get rid of clutter, you'll also want your home to feel lived in, so that the buyer can also envision themselves living in the property, so sell the lifestyle. It may be a good idea to store away personal items. The items you will want to keep on display can include flowers in vases, house plants, a fruit bowl and candles.
Style your dining room table to appeal to the viewers. In between meals, you may be prone to leaving your dining room looking rather bare, but by styling the room, indlucing a centrepiece, or a few smaller decorations down the centre of the table, will set the scene of the roomand make it feel much more welcoming.
As summer is fast-approaching, you'll want your garden to appeal to the buyer, and showcase how it can be used during the warmer months. Start off with the basics by mowing the lawn, power washing the patio, clipping the hedges, removing any weeds or dead plants and brushing away fallen leaves. Make sure your dustbins aren't overflowing with rubbish and tidy away items such as your hose, lawnmower and bikes.
If you have outdoor furniture, make sure it's clean and well-staged and consider adding some outdoor lighting to set the ambience.
If you're looking to sell your home during this challenging time, contact your local Guild Member who will be on hand with virtual solutions to help you on your journey.
Over the past few months the property sector has adapted to a different way of working, with virtual viewings becoming an essential method of looking at a property. There are several advantages that arise from viewing a property virtually, such as being able to view multiple properties in one day, it provides more flexibility in the time you could view the property, and you are able to view homes in other parts of the country.
Although a large portion of the UK population are optimistic about virtual viewings, there are of course many who have their reservations and doubts. One of the top reasons why many people are sceptical was because they felt the person showing them around the home would purposefully miss out on the less attractive aspects of the home.
Start from the outside of the property first. Much like a physical viewing, the outside of the property and the entrance should be the first thing that a potential buyer sees to give them a feel for how the property is situated.
You may choose to speak throughout the video, highlighting key features and explaining why you love certain rooms or aspects of the home, answering questions along the way. Speak with your estate agent about this beforehand, as they will be able to advise you on the best way to go about this.
The rooms that often carry the biggest weight in the decision-making process when purchasing a new home are the kitchen and the bathrooms. Family buyers are particularly interested in the kitchen, as much of family activity is centred around this hub in the home. During a virtual viewing, it is a good idea to spend a bit more time in these areas of the home to give the potential buyer the chance to take it all in and see all the features the rooms have to offer.
Apart from the kitchen and bathrooms, the other areas of the home that buyers are most interested in seeing include the living room, bedrooms and the garden. The lockdown has highlighted the importance of gardens and outdoor spaces for many.
Focus on unique feature of each room, for example period or character features for example, exposed wooden beams, Inglenook fireplaces, high ceilings and sash windows.
Other aspects that most buyers would be interested to know during a virtual viewing include:
Is the home cold or draughty? Good central heating and double-glazing are top on many buyers’ lists.
Seven out of ten buyers say that secure windows and doors are essential.
This is another aspect that continues to grow in importance as working remotely has become the new norm. A reliable broadband signal and strong mobile signal are on the top of many potential buyers’ must-have lists.
While technology is engrained in our everyday lives, it has not replaced the desire for human interaction. Many buyers want to know what their potential new neighbours are like.
Although virtual viewings came about as a result of the lockdown, they may continue to be a vital home marketing tool even once restrictions are lifted. Understanding how to conduct a virtual viewing and the key features buyers are looking for, will increase the chance of securing a sale using this new method.
Our Guild Members are dedicated to the wellbeing of their staff and customers. So, whether you'd like a virtual valuation, some advice buying, selling, letting or renting a property, our agents are on hand to help. Contact your local Guild Member today.
Will COVID-19 and the continuing lockdown have an impact on property market trends moving forward or could we see the housing market pick up where it left off? With the lockdown restricting movement and most people spending most of their day in their homes, are we likely to see buyers and tenants’ priorities change when looking for a new property?
Here are comments from some Members of The Guild of Property Professionals:
Associate at Watsons Property in Norwich, Ian Harris, says: “Judging from the conversations we have been having with people, priorities are definitely changing. Many office workers are beginning to enjoy working at home and I can’t imagine anyone is really missing rush hour. Previously, some will have moved close to the office to cut down the daily commute but working from home could make that moving decision void. If working from home continues after the lockdown, people may have a different set of priorities, such as a greener environment, a garden, more floor-space, and different recreational opportunities to gyms and bars; but they will need fast broadband! Workspace and a decent internet connection seem to be the main impediments to working well at home.”
According to Birmingham based Philip Jackson, Director of Maguire Jackson, recent evidence based on the daily enquiries suggest vendors and tenants have used this period to look at their current homes and consider their options going forward. “While the attractions of village or more rural housing is obvious in the sunshine, the reality of being locked away from the convenience of easily walkable good shopping has also been exasperating for others, especially those with full houses of family during this time. We have not seen evidence of current city centre vendors looking to move out of the city, but we have seen buyers looking for other apartments, be it with bigger reception rooms, better balconies and terraces or better locations.”
Director of Sawdye & Harris, Katie Griffin, says that she believes there is likely to be a tempered exodus from cities and in particular London where the drawn for space and lifestyle will be at the forefront as we ease out of lockdown. “However, the best employment prospects are often to be found in the capital and the South East but there has always been a constant lifestyle migration into the South West,” she adds.
Kieran Ryan, Managing Director of Rickman Properties in London, says: “During lock down, we can’t help thinking about people living in the capital without any outside space. No one ever dreamed that this pandemic would ever happen. In London, there was always so much to do, even in bad weather. The kudos of saying you live in London, may now have waned as the statistics of catching the virus in London have been high. However, if someone is thinking of moving out of London, there are a lot of aspects to consider, such as the time spent commuting, the extra cost versus a cheaper property and the lifestyle change, to name a few. I certainly think the jury will be out after all this. A complete lifestyle change would suit some, but in our experience, some live to regret this and as the saying goes ‘once you move out of London, you can never get back’ as you get priced out of the market fairly quickly.”
Jackson weighs in again saying many of those looking at properties in city centres do so only as part of the overall package of city living. “This means safe easy access to good restaurants, bars, coffee houses, as well as gyms, yoga studios, delis and supermarkets. Social distancing is being acknowledged as an inconvenience, but it is not anticipated to run forever, and people are making decisions based on their position certainly six months or more ahead when they will certainly be able to take advantage of the facilities close to hand.”
“We don’t think downsizing will be a big issue because of the pandemic,” says Ryan. “We are all hoping that this is a ‘once in a lifetime’ issue. Downsizing has its own problems and people sometimes forget that it can be expensive as often their furniture rarely fits into a smaller home and they have to buy all new. Downsizing has its own reasons and I don’t think this will take off.”
Jackson adds: “We have seen continuing evidence of downsizing from those typical older owners in larger houses. The upkeep of both the gardens, especially with some garden help services being unavailable, and the realisation of the amount of work needed plus ongoing redecoration required has highlighted the time and costs of upkeep for some. As a result, many are looking at newer town houses and good city apartments, ideally those overlooking the canal or open space.”
Griffin believes that rather than downsizing, we could see many deciding they want larger homes. “Maybe this will further influence employers to be more flexible with their work arrangements and as direct consequence lead to an increase in demand for upsizing in the employed sector. After all there have been many people during this lockdown who have had to operate their workplace from the dining room, kitchen or spare room and realise that this hasn’t quite worked but they have enjoyed the flexibility of homeworking.”
Harris says that people are really missing social contact now that it has been taken away. “We could see families who are spread across the country wanting to move closer to each other, especially for the sake of elderly family members,” he notes.
According to Jackson, the lockdown may make some people living with others realise the need of their own property. “For younger couples, perhaps those living with parents, the lock-in has highlighted the demand for their own space, whether rented or bought. We are anticipating pressure from first time buyers and new tenants once this lock down is eased.”
Ryan adds that more so than ever before gardens and outside space will be a premium for a lot of potential property buyers in London.
“It is difficult to assess whether this will really change the way people live and the way people think but there are likely to be some interesting times ahead and we are likely to come back with a bounce as pent up demand has built considerably during the last few weeks,” Griffin concludes.
Our Guild Members are dedicated to the wellbeing of their staff and customers. So, whether you'd like a virtual valuation, some advice buying, selling, letting or renting a property, our agents are on hand to help. Contact your local Guild Member today.
DIY stores are reporting record sales as many take this time to work on home projects. These five tips will keep you preoccupied and active during self-isolation whilst adding value to your property.
First impressions count. If your front door has seen better days, consider coating it in a neutral glossy shade or pick a bright colour with personality.
If your carpet is looking shabby, tear it up, sand down the wood and replace with a colourful paint job. Remember not to forget the bannister, too. Perhaps consider adding a stylish runner to your newly painted stairs.
Wipe the frame clean with soap and water, dry it with a lint-free cloth, use sandpaper to smooth the wood if necessary and you're good to go. To ensure the paint looks neat and professional, use a brush thinner than the frame and cover the door hinges with masking tape.
Remove all handles and knobs beforehand and cover glass cupboard doors, metalwork and door hinges with masking tape. Don't forget to wash the units to remove any grease, sand down the cabinets if necessary, and use a primer.
Painting your fence will not only improve the aesthetic of your garden, it can help avoid rotting and protect it against seasonal weather conditions.
Perhaps your bathroom tiles are cracked, or the wall behind your kitchen sink is looking grubby. Regardless, spending a day tiling will be rewarding and can transform a room.
Lay out the tiles on the floor as they will look on the wall, line a piece of wood next to them and mark where the tiles join. You can then mark the wall appropriately and plan before you start tiling.
Clean the tiles beforehand, and use the solid tiles first, then cut the remaining tiles for corners, or oddly shaped parts of the wall. Mark the shape you'll need first and leave a little extra space as you can always cut more off if you need to.
Save money and give old furniture a second life. You could turn an old door into a headboard, transform an old bookcase into a bar, an old chest into a chic coffee table, build a shelving unit on an exposed radiator, or create hanging planters out of old bowls or wooden furniture you no longer want.
Use the warmer weather as an opportunity to give your garden a makeover. Get the kids involved and start a vegetable patch together, plant a flower bed, create a gravel path and hang some outdoor fairy lights.
If you don't have a garden, plant a couple of hanging baskets outside your front door, and never underestimate the power of potted plants in an urban home.
Use your time at home to get creative and make your own artwork, and you can get the whole family involved, too!
Alternatively, you could gather your family in the garden or living room and take some lovely family photos to hang in your home.
Hardware stores are still considered essential by the government, and lots of stores have products available to order online so you should find the tools you need.
An NHS warning has advised to stay safe and take the necessary precautions to reduce avoidable accidents.
If you are working remotely and relying solely on virtual meetings, you need to ensure that daily video calls and catch ups don't go a little stale. Here are our top tips to keep those meetings fun and something to look forward to.
When we are usually working in the office, we tend to use a cup of tea or coffee and a cheeky biscuit or two as an excuse to remain social and catch up each day. If work is getting a bit overwhelming or you haven't spoken to anyone in a while, send your colleagues a quick message to say, "Shall we put the kettle on and have a chat?".
If you're known to join your colleagues in the pub on a Friday after work, why not invite them for a drink over a video call? It's a nice way to unwind after a busy week and catch up about something other than work. You could even host a virtual pub quiz or bingo night!
Schedule this in on a weekly basis and it will help you feel like you still have social plans to look forward to.
Although working from home means you can tend to live by a slightly different schedule, consider inviting your team to a virtual lunch one day during the week. Make your lunch and eat together, whether it's at your desk, in the kitchen, the garden or your dining room, have a good catch up and a well-deserved break from your work.
A few days before a scheduled virtual meeting, ask your team to come up with some ideas surrounding a specific topic. This could be ideas to boost morale, improve customer service, or simply fun ideas and games for virtual calls after work!
If you and your team all enjoy reading in your spare time, you could take it in turns to each choose a book to read that week. Then, once a week you could host a virtual book club to discuss the themes of the book, the characters and storyline.
If reading's not your thing, try a movie club instead! Choose a film to watch each week and catch up afterwards through a video call.
This is a useful mindfulness activity and a great way to start and end of day catch up. The pit is the worst or most challenging part of your day, and the peak is the highlight of your day. Simple!
Begin the meeting by sharing your own peak and pit of the day and then encourage everyone else to do the same. This is a quick and easy way to maintain perspective and serve as a reminder for the things you are grateful for. You will find that although everyone will have a pit of the day, the end result will be more optimistic.
This is a great idea for those that live alone but is also fun to get flatmates or the kids involved, too. If you're fed up of cooking on your own, invite a couple of colleagues to a weekly cook-along. Each week, you can pick a recipe and cook it together. If you have a favourite go-to recipe, lead the cook-along and show them how to make it right! This is really rewarding, especially when you can all sit down afterwards with a glass of wine to enjoy your dinner together.
This fun game is usually played at baby showers, but it's a fun activity to get everyone involved and have a laugh with. Everyone must choose a baby photo of themselves and email it to the host of the game. The host will then gather all the photos and organise them in a numbered grid layout.
Everyone must write down a name by each number on a piece of paper of who they think each baby is. You could even assign a virtual prize to the winner!
Our Guild Members now host virtual property viewings and valuations. So, whether you're an estate agent looking to get the hang of video, are looking to sell your home and are interested in video tools, or simply fancy a bit of fun, this game is ideal.
Each of you can take it in turns to film your home, taking 'viewers', or your colleagues on a tour of your house or apartment. You could even make it into a game and have everyone film their home beforehand, and you can all guess which house belongs to who.
Taking part in video calls each day makes you feel more connected. Take this opportunity to get to know your colleagues and friends better. Ask people to share what's on their bucket list, the last song they listened to, or if they could eat one meal for the rest of their life, what it would be. This is a fun and easy way to get to know those you're talking to every day on a more personal level.
Remember, being isolated means things can get a little overwhelming at times, and people can sometimes feel alone. These activities will give you the chance to open up and find comfort in each other.
Our Guild Members are dedicated to the wellbeing of their staff and customers. So, whether you'd like a virtual valuation, some advice buying, selling, letting or renting a property, our agents are on hand to help. Contact your local Guild Member today.
With a network of over 800 independent agents, The Guild are dedicated to supporting Guild Members and staying connected, especially during self-isolation. Here are some of the tools we use to remain connected and maintain efficient communication every day:
Microsoft Teams is an employee hub where you can invite groups of colleagues to work, video call, instant message and collaborate all in one platform to support remote working. The platform aids collaboration and ensures everyone always has the latest version of a file with options to share documents to everyone in a group. You can also share your calendar, schedule meetings and search for important notes in your chat history to always stay organised.
The impact of COVID-19 has led offices, teams and schools around the country to join Teams and continue business as usual on an easy-to-use platform.
Zoom is video solution for remote working. Keep your team connected, wherever they are, through video calls, conference rooms and calls. Users can host a call for free with Zoom and they also provide solutions for specific industries, such as Finance, Education, Government and Healthcare, making it ideal for everyone.
As it’s such an easy platform to use, Zoom has recently seen a huge rise in users for non-work video calls amongst friends, too.
On either public or private groups, you are able stream Live videos to your group members or followers. Members have the option to tune into the video and interact in the comment section, enabling viewers to talk amongst themselves or ask questions to engage with the publisher. Facebook Live offers an ideal way to share updates, discussions and announcements in a social way. You can ask people to set their notifications to never miss a video and you can save the live video to share on other platforms.
Another collaboration hub for document sharing, instant messaging, group collaboration and voice or video calls, is Slack. The platform allows you to integrate other applications, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, to spend less time clicking through different tools and more time being productive. Channels can be created to divide teams, projects or clients into separate messaging and document sharing feeds to keep information more organised.
Our Guild Members are always here, whether you want to buy, sell or let your home. Find your Guild agent today.
While the housing market has remained fairly stable amid fears of risk posed by the coronavirus outbreak, Guild Members are reporting that many people are avoiding placing their properties on the market due to not wanting possibly contagious buyers visiting their homes.
At The Guild of Property Professionals, we are always looking to provide industry-leading service to look after our customers and cater to everyone’s needs. On 1st April, we launched our Virtual Viewing Tool that allows on-demand video tours of Guild properties from hundreds of Members around the UK.
Guild Members can create quick, professional videos to be accessible online to market and promote listings without the need for buyers or sellers having to leave their homes. Alternatively, homeowners can submit videos themselves to be edited, with no need for a physical visit from an agent or prospective buyer.
Videos can be shared on social media, online, by email and on all other digital platforms to generate easy, instant viewings from the comfort and safety of your own home, on-the-go or anywhere in the world. Developments in digital tools, such as this, increase the publicity of individual listings and allows quick and easy remote viewings , saving time and serving all the needs of all parties involved. We discuss the implications of integrating the latest technology in estate agency further in our blog post, How Virtual Reality is Changing the Property Sector. Click here to read more.
The Virtual Viewing Tool benefits all types of people, including:
• Anyone who is taking precaution to limit their contact with other people
• Sellers wanting the most publicity and the greatest advantage for their property
• Buyers restricted by time, who are too busy to visit properties they are unsure about
• Sellers who don’t want to be disturbed by too many viewings
• Buyers wanting a clearer view of all their options
Sharing digital tours of your property on social media will have advantageous effects for selling your home. Social media posts are effective for gaining publicity of your property, with videos being more captivating to audiences and shown more favourably by platforms. As social media continues to play a vital role in estate agency, The Guild of Property Professionals continues to set standards for the industry and provide exceptional service for our customers.
For more information on how to start using the Virtual Viewing Tool, for buying or selling, find a Guild Agent here.
As the country adapts to the temporary ‘new normal’ of lockdown, we are embracing digital tools like never before in all aspects of our lives. If you’re thinking of selling your home, we’ve offered some top tips to present your property virtually.
Social distancing to protect ourselves and our communities is vital, but it means people are spending more time in their houses now than ever before! So, listing your home and doing a virtual tour or viewing yourself can help you to gain exposure to potential buyers who are in the search phase of moving. Plus, for some, the more time we spend in our homes, the more we start to think about moving.
Before you start, arrange a call with your local Guild Member to understand exactly what they are looking for. Start with a video call, so that you can get used to the process and, if this is your first contact with an agent you have instructed remotely, you can show them around your home, too.
Here are some of the key questions to ask:
- What technology do you need to do this? Most smartphones will be perfect, but it is worth discussing with your agent. Find out how they want you to send the video to them – free sharing platforms are available such as Dropbox or WeTransfer.
- Do they want you to present and offer a tour of your home, talking as you move throughout the property?
- Would they like a silent tour without you in the shot so they can do a voiceover for you? You may actually prefer this, so it is worth discussing.
- Will they be able to edit the video, or does it need to be right when you send it to them – remember that some agents will be working from home and potentially away from some of the tools they typically use.
- Will they be adding photos into your video? It can be a great way to give your video more variation and showcase your property in different angles.
- Would you also be willing to do a live viewing in the future? After the initial video, it may be that your agent would like to set up a remote viewing of a property with you hosting. If this is the case, again think about what kind of technology is required, so that you can get set up – there are plenty of free options for this such as Skype.
Just like with any house viewing, being prepared will make all the difference! Here are our recommendations:
- There is no reason not to showcase your home virtually, but it is important to be mindful of anything sensitive or especially valuable that you don’t want to include – your viewing could be seen by so many more people right now!
- Think about which rooms you would like to showcase and plan a route around your home. You do not have to show every room but be sure to include the stand-out rooms.
- Remember, first and last impressions matter. Start the tour with a winning shot of your home, or a warm, friendly message. Think about which part of your house you would like to be remembered and end your tour there.
- Tidy up! Make your home look it’s best as clutter or mess will especially stand out in a video.
- Whether you are narrating, or your agent will add in a voiceover, think about the details you want to showcase in your home and why – for example, tell prospective buyers why the kitchen is your favourite space or what you most love about your patio garden.
- Do a practice run, so that you know what your plan is; it will help to reduce any nerves.
When it comes to the presentation of your property, there are a few tips and tricks which will help to show your home in the best possible light, from pre-filming setup to the tour itself:
- For starters, if you are presenting, remember you are showcasing the property and not yourself – buyers want to see your home in the best possible light.
- Turn on all of the lights, open all of the blinds or curtains and try to do your filming in the brightest part of the day; a light property is so important when you are filming.
- Open all of the doors, so that your flow through the house is seamless and you aren’t fiddling with door handles.
- Limit any potential noise – from the dishwasher to cars driving by; it is important to cut noise which will detract from your property tour.
- Film your property in landscape, not portrait. When it comes to property portals or social media, landscape will be the optimum format.
- Hold the camera steady. Wobbly camera shots will take attention away from your property.
- If you are presenting the video, think of the camera as another person you are showing around the house – there is no need to stare at them intently or ignore them completely!
- Film from around chest-height, so that you are giving a good perspective of each room – higher or lower angles may make the video seem distorted.
- Ensure you show the room from one of the corners to get the widest possible angle.
- Sweeping the camera from one corner of the room to another is a great way of show the room off but remember not to rush it.
- Including a window will help you to draw the eye out beyond the room, giving a more spacious feel.
- If you are narrating, enunciate and speak clearly, remembering if the microphone is facing the other way, it will be harder to hear you.
- Again, if speaking, why not take the time to say what’s great about the area you live in and what you will miss about living in the property.
- Making mistakes is inevitable but forgivable. If you trip on your words, don’t worry we’re all human. If you really struggle, consider it as another practice run and start again.
- If you are talking, remind potential buyers to get in touch with your estate agent at the end and thank them for taking the tour of your home.
Guild Members have some fantastic ways to continue marketing your property at the moment, so be sure to get in touch with your nearest Guild Member and get your property on the market and in front of the right audiences today.
As a result of the outbreak of coronavirus, most of the UK and overseas are having to self-isolate in their homes, many with families to look after and keep entertained. Having so much time at home can be considered an opportunity to spend quality time with the children and keep them occupied. We reveal some fun gardening activities that the whole family can get involved with, while still preparing your home to go on the market.
Perfect for the littles ones, and an affordable way to get some new plants started, is to get the children planting seeds in an empty egg carton. Use coffee grounds or an old banana mixed with potting soil and fill each part of the carton level, ready for sowing.
Ask the children to make one hole in each cup with their fingers and sow a couple of seeds in each one and cover with more soil. Don’t forget to note what seeds have been planted in the carton – you could use little pictures or get them to write it themselves. As the seedlings grow, soon they will be ready for potting.
While the little seedlings are growing, a great activity to do outside and have a chance to be creative is to paint plant pots. Get some plain terracotta pots, paint brushes and a few different colours of emulsion paint. You could print off a few pictures for some inspiration. You can get even more excited now about the little seedlings.
Fun games or competitions to complete little garden clearing activities are perfect for the little ones.
- To get up all the pesky weeds, show them how to dig up dandelions with a trowel and collect as many as possible in a bucket.
- Prune the damaged leaves and spent flower buds in another activity but explain that it will be minus points for healthy flowers!
- Protect your vegetable garden or roses from snails and aphids by creating tasks to trap snails or wash the aphids away.
The child who completes the task or wins the competition could be rewarded with choosing a film to watch later that day.
Repurpose an old play area and give it a new lease of life – literally. You may not have an old sandbox, but you can section off any space in the garden for the children to learn to garden. This can be a project for them to be proud of while they watch their plantlets grow into food you can enjoy as a family.
Divide the chosen area into square sections with string and add some compost packed with nutrients. You can create a DIY activity to decorate and label sticks to show where your plants have been sown. Keep a little journal to keep track of the vegetables’ progress.
Creating your own compost is great for reducing waste and teaching your children the importance of looking after the planet. It also means you’ll have a constant supply of compost for your new vegetable garden. Compost enriches the soil and helps plants grow. It also reduces your carbon footprint, so it’s a double-win.
Check out our top tips to power your home with green energy.
Typically, children find bugs fascinating. From caterpillars, butterflies, ladybugs, ants and more, there are all sorts of creatures in the garden waiting to be discovered. Create a little terrarium in a glass jar and poke little air holes in the top for little bugs to be collected in. You could set an activity to learn about each bug and draw them in a journal. At the end of the day, when you’ve learnt lots about them, they can be released back into the garden.
If you’re thinking of buying or selling your house, we have Guild Members all over the UK who are here to help in the current climate. Contact your local Guild agent today.
If you are self-isolating because of coronavirus, it is important to maintain relationships with your friends and family. As human beings, we need human interaction for our happiness and wellbeing. Living in the digital age means we don’t have to sacrifice that. We reveal how to use technology and social media to keep in touch with your loved ones.
You probably already have a few group chats with friends, which is perfect for informal and instant messaging. Set this up for the most important people in your life so you can send a quick question, keep each other updated and easily communicate and check in on each other. Having an ongoing dialogue makes keeping in touch natural.
Group chats can be made on all sorts of platforms, with Whatsapp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger being the most popular.
Having a set time on specific days and times can ensure you’re keeping in touch with those who matter most to you and give you a date to look forward to. As humans, we need face to face communication and video calls mean you can talk to someone as if they’re in the room with you.
If you are home alone for long periods or have a family member who is, set regular dates to video call and make each other’s day. You could arrange for the grandparents to keep the children occupied with a video call and help their relationship grow.
Online apps can allow groups to share online photo albums, without having to post them to social media. Create a group with your family and upload all the latest photos and videos for them to print themselves and enjoy at their leisure.
There are many ways to share photos and videos with a chosen group of people, without having to post it to everyone on social media. Private groups can bring you closer with your family and social media platforms can make it easy and fun.
Instagram allows you to create a ‘close friends’ list to share Stories with a chosen list of people. On Facebook, anyone can create a closed group for approved members only, where you can share statuses, images, videos, GIFs and more. Snapchat Groups is a tool for groups of up to 16 people to instant message with photos and videos using fun filters or video chat.
It makes sense to have a platform dedicated to communicating with the most important people in your life. Facebook isn’t suitable for children under the age of 18, but family apps have a similar layout and functionality to Facebook, whilst providing additional security and privacy to communicate in a chosen group.
Cocoon is a social network for families, created by former Facebook employees, allowing loved ones to share media, statuses and instant messages. You can find lots of family social media platforms online, find one that works best for you.
Get involved with face-to-face social networks to feel closer to your friends and family.
The app, House Party, allows up to eight users to join a video chat using a phone or desktop, for a virtual party. You can see which friends are online and can choose to video call with a split screen where you can invite multiple people to chat or play games.
Snapchat allows groups of up to 16 people to instant message, send photos and videos with fun filters or video chat with multiple people.
Find a video app that can give you precious face time with your friends in a fun way.
Blogging about your life can be a great way for long-distance family and friends to catch up with you. You can include topics, such as your latest trips, your favourite recipes and places to go, or your thoughts on various topics. It can be a great way for all your loved ones to feel connected to you in one post.
If you’re looking to buy or sell a property, Our Guild Members are available and on hand to help in the current climate. Find your local Guild Member here.
Recent updates with the COVID-19 virus has meant a lot of employees are having to self-isolate and adapt to new work routines from home. With flexible working becoming increasingly popular and advances in technology that keep you connected with the office, working from home has never been easier. We delve into our top tips to help you perfect your working from home routine.
It is important for your routine and productivity to have a dedicated space to work in. Working from your bed or the sofa might seem tempting, but you are likely to be less productive in the space you associate with relaxing. A home office is perfect, if you have one, but any consistent area with a table and chair will help you associate a home space with work. Have the right equipment and technology all set up and organised to help you remain focused. Try to find somewhere with lots of natural light, as this sends signals to your brain to help you feel positive and awake. Finally, if you can, close the door to eliminate distractions or have a rule with family to ensure you are left to concentrate when necessary.
To help you get in the right mindset, you’ll want to dress for the part. Wearing your pyjamas all day might seem appealing but taking the time to get dressed properly is not only better for your productivity, but your mental health too.
Implementing routine simplifies your day and makes it easier to keep yourself organised. You could start your day with checking your emails and creating a daily to do list while having your morning coffee. Consistency will make it easier to get into the flow of work.
There are lots of different mediums to communicate and send information to people, such as instant messaging, emails, phone calls, video calls and more.
Learn to use each medium practically for what you need to achieve. Video chats are useful for meetings, while instant messaging is more useful for a quick question or update. Figure out which mediums are most practical for what you need to achieve and for the people you are communicating with.
Remember, working from home can feel isolating at times, so a quick video chat or phone call can make all the difference.
Breaks are vital to create a distinction between work and personal time. Just like working in an office, allow yourself a proper lunchbreak so you can walk away from your work area and have some time for yourself. Having a break will clear your mind, allowing you to get back to work with a fresh perspective and more energy.
Working from home can mean your work can creep into your personal life, which can be detrimental to your productivity and psychological health. You are more likely to stay motivated when you set yourself work hours and stick to them. Create a mini routine for the end of the day, such as having a call with your manager or employees, to set a cut-off time.
Our Guild Members are available and on hand to help with buying or selling in the current climate. Find your local Guild Member here.
Spring is almost here!
Friday 20th March brings us the first day of spring 2020 and with the new season comes longer, brighter days after a cold and gloomy winter, prompting many people to start thinking about selling their home.
Statistics and many of our agents suggest the best time to sell your house is from mid-February until the end of June, with March being the best month of the year to make a quick sale. HMRC reported 5,120 more sales in January 2020, compared to last January. These statistics suggest a rise in property sales for this March, so prepare yourself with our home décor tips for this spring.
The upcoming season brings all sorts of home décor possibilities, from bright colour palettes, to florals, to simply the natural sunlight returning and brightening up your space. Here are some ideas for you to optimise the space in your home to add appeal to potential homebuyers:
A deep clean to help sell your property might be an obvious tip, but it’s an effective and affordable one that can be overlooked during the sales process. It is a classic tradition that involves cleaning your home from top to bottom, including in the little nooks and crannies that don’t get a frequent clean. Don’t forget the windows, mirrors and the hard-to-reach corners. A clean and clear home could make all the difference in a buyer’s mind.
As mentioned in our guide for viewing a house, it takes about eight seconds for a buyer to decide whether or not they want to purchase your home, so the first impression counts.
Now that the home is clean, you have the perfect opportunity to freshen up the space with a lick of paint. Whites and creams are great for a crisp and clean feel, while pops of colour can add personality with minimal effort required. You could also add a new lease of life to the garden fence, garden shed or front door.
Make sure the home doesn’t smell of fresh paint. The warmer (or at least milder) months are the perfect time to air out the house. Candles or air fresheners are great too! Remember, when hosting a property viewing, opt for milder, inoffensive scents to not overpower the space as not everyone has the same preferences.
Placing a vase of flowers in a room is an excellent way of bringing the outside in and adding fragrant floral scents and vibrant colour into the home. Seeing a bunch of beautiful flowers as you are viewing a home is sure to make you smile and associate the home positively with hand-picked spring flowers.
Speaking of spring flowers, don’t to forget about the garden!
After a long, cold winter, the garden probably needs some attention. The front of the house and garden are the first things a buyer will see, so you’ll want them to be greeted by a lawn and shrubs that are neatly trimmed and a well-maintained pathway taking you to the front door. Even if you just have a modest lawn, it will make all the difference to have it cared for and looking its best. A prospective buyer will want to be greeted by gleaming windows and doors with frames that have no cracked paint or dirt.
Adding flowers in hanging baskets, window boxes or in a flower bed outside the home can add value to your property with minimal effort or cost.
As the natural light returns with slightly longer days in spring, your home will look and stay brighter. Consider adding layers of lighting to change the atmosphere of a space. Bulbs with a more yellow light will give a cosy feeling to the space. Overhead lights should be whiter to add an illusion of more daylight but avoid harsh florescent overhead lighting. Consider simple light shades that can be easily matched to different home décor styles.
The natural colours of spring are a great inspiration and patterns such as florals, geometric shapes or stripes are a great addition against a simple base colour to add some personality. Natural hues of green or sky blue, accompanied by bright pops of colour,
such as pink, orange or yellow, can breathe life into the simplest of spaces. On a backdrop of crisp white, the natural colours of spring feel fresh, lively and exciting to the eye.
It’s all about balance. You want to avoid clutter in the house, whilst maintaining a lived-in aesthetic. You want the buyer to envision living in the space without being distracted by mismatched décor or clutter.
Accessorise with colourful or textured cushions, scented candles and simple artwork to tie your decor together, or a mirror to add an illusion of more space.
Check out our top tips for staging your home like a pro for more advice.
If you’re looking to sell your property or would like more help with preparing your home to go to market, contact your local Guild Member.
International Women’s Day is a global annual event, Sunday 8th March, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women in a bid to accelerate gender parity.
According to Forbes magazine, reflecting on the findings of UK government research, organisations with more female leaders on their boards “outperform their rivals with a 42% higher return on sales, 66% higher return on invested capital and 53% higher return on equity.” Other research has found that teams involving women have a higher collective intelligence than teams of only men, and investors are likely to see a business as more competently run than without a mix of genders.
We want to celebrate female Guild Members by asking them a few questions about International Women’s Day and being a woman in estate agency and society.
“I feel it is so important to celebrate International Women’s Day as growing up in this industry, dominated by the male workforce, I have seen female colleagues thrive, grow and climb the ladder now more than ever. Women supporting women is a huge passion of mine and it’s great to have a day to celebrate each other.” – Fiona Cupples, 15 years at Homes Independent Estate Agents
“This is a day to recognise and promote the efforts being taken worldwide to eliminate discrimination against women. It also helps us focus on helping women gain full and equal participation in the workplace. This is particularly important in Estate Agency where the workforce is male dominated and it’s an opportunity to encourage more female estate agents.” – Abigail Grey, Managing Director of Grey & Co, 18 years in estate agency
“It is important to celebrate International Women’s Day to recognise and celebrate that women’s rights are evolving and developing. Women now have a greater diversity of choice and support in the pursuance of their goals and dreams than they ever have before, but that there is still work to do in respect of those facing less favourable social economic factors in this respect.” – Maria Morgan, Owner of Platinum Properties, over 20 years in estate agency
“Melanie Reid, award winning journalist who became a tetraplegic following a riding accident and still writes a darkly humorous column on how she copes with life daily.” – Kate Taylor, Director at Taylor & Co, 20 years in estate agency
“I could say Michelle Obama, but many people will choose her, so I am going for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This woman is fighting the corner for the underrepresented minorities and women all over the world, she challenges the status quo and calls out corruption. What’s not to like?” – Abigail Grey, Managing Director of Grey & Co, 18 years in estate agency
“There are many women who inspire me in different ways, my friends, my sisters, The Queen, Madonna, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana. They are not afraid to stand out from the crowd and go about their business in what they believe in.” – Donna Vincent, Residential Sales Manager at Millbank Estate Agents, 23 years in estate agency
“I have seen first-hand how wonderful and empowering women supporting other women in business can be. It is vital that we do not fight against each other to be heard or valued but that we support each other to make sure all women are supported and seen as equals in all professions” – Rachel Duncalf, Business Development & Marketing Manager for Jackson Green & Preston, one year in estate agency
“Very important. Too often we are taught to think of other women as a threat, but we should be treating each other as allies and working together to help each other to succeed.” - Amy Roberts, Branch Manager at Bryan & Keegan, estate agent for 10 years
“I think it is particularly important in a male dominated profession for women to stick together. We all share similar knowledge in an industry, regardless of whether we are male or female, but the difficulty can be on social occasions or networking, which can be intimidating for women. By sticking together, we increase confidence and opportunities in these situations.” – Kirsty Keeton, Director at Richard Watkinson & Partners, 22 years in estate agency
“I love helping people and I feel being an estate agent is a rewarding job knowing you have helped someone move onto their next journey in their life and hopefully alleviated some of the stress they may have had knowing I have looked after them.” – Donna Vincent, Residential Sales Manager at Millbank Estate Agents, 23 years in estate agency
“I enjoy meeting different people from all walks of life and have always had a keen interest in different types of properties.” – Lisa Hunt, Residential Director at Maguire Jackson, 20 years in estate agency
“I love property and people, the two together make the perfect match.” – Tracey Leonard, Office Manager at Seymours Estate Agents, 21 years in estate agency
“Be bold, confident and adaptable. Be prepared to always learn more and work on your personal development.” - Amy Roberts, Branch Manager at Bryan & Keegan, estate agent for 10 years
“Networking is my biggest key to success. Be bold, get creative and build relationships in the industry. Find mentors to learn from. When I started, I had two top-sales agent mentors and their success inspired me to pursue my career and their advice was priceless and still serves me well even 30+ years later!” – Sandra Tooley, Owner/Director at Castor Bay Property, over 30 years in estate agency
“Be willing to work long hours and be aware of public perceptions of estate agents. Forewarned is forearmed. Be honest, genuine and keep to your businesses core ethics. That has been the key to our success.” - Diane Sanders, HR & Operations Director at Shepherds Estate Agents, 22 years in estate agency
“The biggest issue facing women today is the struggle to retain a good work/life balance whilst not appearing to be doing a lesser role than our male peers; quite often a woman feels that they have to do more to get the same recognition.” – Sarah Breeze, Chartered Surveyor and Lettings Manager at Morris, Marshall & Poole, 19 years in estate agency
“Ingrained practices that still believe women are less qualified and able to progress to senior positions. Also balancing careers and childcare which usually results with one having to be sacrificed for the other.” – Lisa Hunt, Residential Director at Maguire Jackson, 20 years in estate agency
“I think the biggest issue facing women today in the developed world and from my direct experience is the choice surrounding having children and the support/childcare available once you wish to return to the workplace.” – Maria Morgan, Owner of Platinum Properties, over 20 years in estate agency
“We humanise the process by helping people during their peak life moments and their darkest hours by displaying empathy and understanding.” – Kate Taylor, Director at Taylor & Co, 20 years in estate agency
“In my opinion, women bring a different skill set: emotion and intuition, they are excellent at the ‘soft sale’ approach. They can be relatable, sympathetic and in-tune with both buyers and sellers, which can give them an advantage in negotiation.” – Sandra Tooley, Owner/Director at Castor Bay Property, over 30 years in estate agency
“The same reason as they should be in any profession. Women are equally as capable as men of carrying out this work and it seems a shame that there are not as many women in what has always been male dominated profession.” – Kathryn A Evans BSc (Hons) MRICS IRRV & Registered Valuer, 15 years in estate agency
“I think, women have more attention to detail then men allowing us to focus on providing an excellent service that deals with problems before they arise.” - Caroline Wellard, Managing Director, Kent Estate Agenices, 33 years in estate agency
We’re proud of the powerful, influential female leaders at The Guild of Property Professionals. Thanks for making us feel empowered!
To find out more about becoming a Guild Member click here.
Reports from multitudes of estate agencies within England have suggested that buyer confidence is returning, and property market activity has improved since the decisive election result at the end of 2019. Can the same be said about the Northern Ireland property market?
According to Daniel Henry, Partner at Bensons in Northern Ireland, the market has experienced a turbulent last few years as a result of political instability both at a local and national level. “The uncertainty surrounding Brexit undoubtedly caused potential purchasers to delay their plans and many chose to extend or modify their existing properties. This had a major impact causing a drop in the number of transactions each year,” he says. “The suspension of the Northern Ireland Executive also impacted significantly on the availability of new housing developments with major delays currently in the planning process due to a lack of authority and accountability.”
Henry continues that developers have also suffered due to a lack of investment within the water/sewerage infrastructure as budgets were centralised and reduced due to the political deadlock. “As a consequence, a significant majority of the towns within Northern Ireland are currently at capacity and there is a current embargo on the supply of new housing approvals until the required additional investment is available. This problem has been specifically detailed and prioritised in the political agreement reached. The consequence of this has been a limited supply of new housing stock, resulting in a premium being achieved for the new housing stock currently available in the market,” he explains.
Moving forward into 2020, Henry says that with the resumption of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the decision relating to Brexit, the level of uncertainty has started to reduce. “We are confident this will translate into more volume within the local housing market. Currently, there is limited availability of stock, but this is not uncommon for the first quarter of the new year,” he says.
Julie McCrory, Company Director at Kingham Property Specialists says that January was a very positive month with homes selling for the full asking price before making it onto the open market. He also notes that there has been a high quantity of viewers, as well as a high volume of new stock coming on for sale. “The decision surrounding Brexit and Stormont back up and running are both possible reasons for the increases we saw at the beginning of the year,” she adds. “Our sales agreed were over 30% higher this January than they were last year.”
Speaking about her predictions for the rest of 2020, McCrory says: “We spent a lot of time late last year pricing up new build sites for multiple builders and I can foresee a lot of new construction happening halfway to late 2020. I really can start to see prices creeping up and our top end of the market in the region of £350,000 and higher is already attracting high interest. It's as if there is optimism in the air and people have been holding back for so long, they are now ready to move on.”
Economists predict that the economy across the whole of the UK will continue to expand at a modest rate during 2020, with house prices relatively flat for the next 12 months.
Managing Director of CPS Property, Art O’Hagan, agrees, saying that he believes that while there will be more stability during 2020, there will be no major increases. “Hopefully local government’s initiatives will bring more inward investment to Northern Ireland during 2020. Over the past 12 months, the market has been static with an increase of between three and six per cent. The commercial marketplace is struggling, and mortgage rates are more expensive than rent. It will also be good to get details about government funding for our health and education services, as the industry here is very dependent on the service sector. Foresight in business is not our local government’s focus unfortunately but maybe now they are back in debate this will be the new dawn,” says O’Hagan, who points out that Brexit clarity on a soft border will determine Northern Ireland’s future trading opportunities.
“While I don’t foresee any major long-term changes, Northern Ireland remains an amazing place to live. It is a safe environment and the ideal place to educate children,” O’Hagan concludes.
Landlords of a domestic private rented property have until 1st April 2020 to ensure that their property complies with the ‘Minimum Level of Energy Efficiency’ standard EPC band E. This will apply to any property that is let under an assured tenancy, a regulated tenancy or a domestic agricultural tenancy, as well as any other property that is required to have an EPC.
The Guild’s Compliance Manager, Paul Offley, says that if a property has been marketed for sale or let, or has been modified in the past 10 years, then the likelihood is that the property will require an EPC. If the property has an EPC rating of F or G, the landlord will have until the cut-off date on 1st April this year to ensure that the necessary steps have been taken to improve its rating to at least a minimum band E or register for an exception.
He adds that there are various exemptions that apply, such as the ‘all relevant improvements made’ exemption, which applies when a landlord has made improvements to the property up to a cost cap of £3,500 including VAT, and the property still does not meet the minimum standards. Several others apply, depending on the property and the landlord’s unique circumstances, such as having only recently become a landlord.
“The Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) is not something new and has been around and with us for a number of years, however, this year is the final cut-off date before the prohibition on letting F and G properties will be extended to all relevant properties, regardless of whether there has been a change in the tenancy. After the deadline, if the local authority believes that a landlord has failed to fulfil their obligations under the MEES Regulations, they will issue a compliance notice, and if a breach is confirmed, the landlord will face a possible financial penalty,” explains Offley.
“Landlords have had time to either improve the efficiency rating or apply for an exemption – but lettings agents need to be sure that they are able to demonstrate compliance with the legislation from 1st April 2020,” says Offley. “The Guild of Property Professionals has been advising its Members on this impending date for several months to ensure a smooth transition for landlords and tenants – our mission is to ensure our Members are fully prepared and ready for any new or changes to legislation and looking at what is on the horizon over the next few months, this is going to keep us fairly busy,” he concludes.
For more in-depth information see the full Government guide.
Can having a pet impact your chances of selling your property? In a word – yes. With the often cold and wet weather in the UK, most homeowners allow their pets to live inside their homes as a furry family member. While a pet can make a welcomed addition to a family and one’s emotional wellbeing, they can put some buyers off when your home is on the market.
That said, while selling a property with pets can be a little more challenging, it isn’t impossible and there are things that homeowners can do to get the best possible result from the sale by being prepared. Here are a few tips that could assist with selling a home with pets:
Although the objective is to sell the home, it is imperative to keep in mind that your pet has its own needs that should be taken into account. Having buyers in and out of the house during the sales process and moving to a new environment can all be extremely stressful for pets. As such, it is advisable to consult your vet regarding the plan you have in mind and how it could work with your specific animal. This is particularly important if the pet is older and may not adjust that well to any changes.
Having your pets stay with a friend your family member during the sales process will help eliminate some of the stress of having strangers in the home and will make it easier to keep the property clean. Another advantage is that not having the pets in the home will give you the chance to remove all signs of having a pet in the home, as in some cases these signs could bring down the perceived value of the property.
While a viable option, there are some aspects to consider, such as the fact that it needs to be someone your pets know and are comfortable with. There is also the matter of the pet needing to adjust to living with someone temporarily and then adjust again to the new home – this could be added unnecessary stress for the animal.
If relocation during the entire sales process is not something that appeals to you, perhaps consider just having the pets stay away during viewings. In an ideal situation, it is best for the seller not to be home during viewings and leave the viewings to the estate agent.
If your pets are home while you are not there, it could cause complications for the agent and could put the pets at risk of accidentally getting out of the property. Even if your pet is friendly, with people constantly in their territory they could react badly to someone and result in them biting or attacking them. Leaving a pet in that situation is asking for trouble – even if they are not normally aggressive, it is not worth taking the chance.
If taking them somewhere during viewings is not a viable option, then rather be home with them to ensure they are happy and taken care of. If need be, have a contained area of the home for your pet and let the estate agent know.
As lovable as animals can be, pet damage is never endearing when trying to sell your home. Often dogs and cats will damage or destroy elements in the home such as the carpeting, flooring, walls, doors, garden beds and fencing. It is best to get any damage caused by your pets repaired before the home is listed. This might mean an initial investment, but money spent will be recouped by the value added to the property.
An unpleasant smell can put a potential buyer off, so get rid of any bad odours and stains left behind by pets. A strong odour is among the top reasons a buyer will pass on a property. This is because smells can evoke an emotional response that will linger in the buyer’s mind. An unpleasant odour will elicit a negative perception of the home that will stay with the buyer. Having the carpets and flooring professionally cleaned will remove stains and have the home smelling amazing.
While selling a home with a pet can take a little more effort, the extra work will pay off in the end. Although it is not always easy to hide all evidence that a pet lives in the home, buyers will appreciate the fact that every effort has been made to ensure that the property looks and smells as good as it would pet-free.
Look for an estate agent to sell your property, find a Guild Member in your area.
Recent reports from London based estate agents have said that buyers are flocking back to the capital in record numbers since the decisive election result. Over the past three years, political uncertainty and the Brexit stand-off were keeping buyers at bay, however, it seems the market freeze has thawed, and confidence is coming back.
“As expected,” says Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, “buyers and sellers who had adopted a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to the market are now back and ready to move on with their lives. It is clear from recent figures that people were eager to get into the market, but the uncertainty was making them apprehensive. Now that there is more clarity and increased optimism, activity in the market is once again on an upward trajectory.”
The increased activity in the market has had the knock-on effect of an increase in the average housing price across the country. According to Rightmove, the average house price in the UK increased by 2.3% in January 2020, which is the largest monthly rise ever recorded at this time of the year.
Nick Goldsworthy, Co-Owner of Logic Estates in Liverpool, says that the ‘Boris Bounce’ has definitely improved the market conditions. “In our market, there is more confidence, more activity and increased sales. Already for the first two weeks in January, we have had 10 sales agreed per week which is approximately a 30% increase on the 2019 average. New valuation numbers are strong again, as pent up demand begins to be released, which in turn will increase new stock to the market,” he says.
According to Simon Miller from Holroyd Miller, Wakefield has seen a huge change in the housing market since the election in December. “To start with Wakefield has a Conservative MP for the first time in 88 years, a traditional Labour heartland due to its former Mining roots. The Boris Bounce hasn’t taken long to reach the north of England, there has been a massive increase in the level of viewings being arranged on the sales side of the business and new instructions are quickly coming to the market. The properties over £500,000 are also seeing interest they weren’t getting for the second half of 2019. There feels a lot more confidence in the air buoyed by the prospect of a cut in interest rates making borrowing even cheaper,” says Miller, “There is finally certainty that decisions are being made by a majority government who can now govern and implement their policies, let’s hope the positivity continues.”
Goldsworthy points out that as far as the investment market is concerned activity again is bouncing. However, now in real volume for the ‘real’ investment deals such as sustainable, quality houses and apartments that are built off-plan and will re-sell and rent out at sensible yields - not over-egged, false rental values or rental guarantees that fail to transpire.
He adds: “The exponential growth in our cities is now a key factor in deciding where to purchase a ‘quality apartment’. The conditions right now with low-interest rates and no immediate sign of any increase, coupled with lots of potential growth in values, specifically in some Northern cities and the sustained inadequate pension planning problem for many, is resulting in continuous desire to acquire a tangible asset that will provide income, capital growth and future flexibility.”
McKenzie says that irrespective of political persuasion, the election result has provided us with a clear path ahead, which in turn has improved market sentiment. “With signs of stability returning to the market, even if ever so slight, we are seeing the fires of the property market reignite. Long may it last,” he concludes.
No one wants an empty house. One of the main worries that many landlords experience is the possibility that a month or more will pass between lets without any rental income. It is crucial to minimise void periods where possible by acting fast and making sure you get the next tenant for your property. It is inevitable that circumstances will change and people will move on but there are quick and easy steps to reduce void periods.
This is one of the most effective ways to finding a new tenant. Most people looking to let will firstly browse homes in their desired location on their phone or computer. Using your local Guild Member is an easy way to get your rental property noticed without having to do all the work yourself.
Social media has become an increasingly popular platform for those looking for a property to rent. Your estate agent will share the property across their social media channels as a part of their marketing strategy, but it doesn't hurt to also share the property yourself.
An old-fashioned way to find a suitable tenant, word of mouth can still be surprisingly effective. Talking to people living close to the empty property or your friends could lead to finding someone who might be interested in renting your property. If you live in a city, the chances are a friend or colleague may know someone who is looking to rent.
It’s always good to do a little research into competitive rental rates as this is rent price and location are the two biggest factors when searching for a new home. Make sure the property is good value for money and all repairs are up-to-date as potential tenants will always do a thorough search before making their choice. You want to make sure that your property is at the top of their wish list.
Trying to fill the void period may be quite time consuming, but it is worth spending time trying to select tenants that will be delighted to call your property their new home. Make sure you have the correct references and requirements from the new tenant before having them sign the contract to rent your property.
Do you have a property to rent? Are you looking for your next tenant? Contact your local Guild Member today.
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