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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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Economic News 01 March 2016
The first two monthly meetings this year of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee saw the interest rate held at 0.5 per cent and the stock of purchased assets financed by the issuance of central bank reserves maintained at £375 billion. A majority vote in January was followed by a unanimous decision in February.
The Bank of England’s decision on the level of interest is largely based on assessments and forecasts of economic growth, unemployment and inflation, particularly core inflation, which strips out the impact of changing food and petrol prices. In January, core inflation fell to 1.2 per cent from 1.4 per cent in December. The broader measure of Consumer Price Inflation rose to 0.3 per cent in January from 0.2 per cent in December due to fuel prices falling by less in January that they did at the same point in the previous year. Consumer Price Inflation is well below the Government’s target level of 2 per cent and analysts now believe it will stay below 1 per cent for the whole of 2016. Interest rates are now expected to stay at their historic lows well into 2017.
Consumer prices in the Eurozone fell sharply in February to minus 0.2 per cent, driven down by an 8 per cent fall in energy prices. In response, the European Central Bank has already announced a cut to its negative bank deposit rate and further stimulus measures are anticipated.
Newly released figures on household credit from the Bank of England reveal that in January, UK consumers borrowed a further £1.6 billion, the second highest level for more than a decade. Unsecured consumer credit rose by 9.1 per cent compared to the same month a year ago. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has warned that the rising level of household debt is an indirect threat to Britain’s economic recovery.
The Bank also reported that 74,581 mortgages were approved in January, the highest level since January 2014. The Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors had earlier reported a surge in buy-to-let landlords purchasing property ahead of the stamp duty changes in April, exerting upward pressure on house prices.
New figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government show that 37,080 new homes were started in the last quarter of 2015, up 23 per cent over the preceding year, while completions were up by 22 per cent at 37,230. In the year up to December, 143,560 new homes were started, an increase of 6 per cent over 2014 and 91 per cent up on the slump recorded in 2009.
The Office for National Statistics confirmed the twelfth consecutive quarter of growth for the UK economy with a figure of 0.5 per cent in the three months to the end of December. This was largely due to the buoyant services sector, which grew by 0.7 per cent. Despite the steady expansion to date, the Chancellor, George Osborne, warned about the future effects of turbulence in the global economy.
LAND REGISTRY DATA: JANUARY 2016 (released 26 February 2016)
The January 2016 Land Registry data showed a monthly increase in average house prices across England and Wales of 2.5 per cent and an annual increase of 7.1 per cent.
Regionally, the highest monthly increase was seen in Wales at 3.7 per cent, followed by London at 2.8 per cent; prices decreased in the North West and the North East by 0.4 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively.
The average house price in England & Wales now stands at £191,812 and in London at £530,409. London saw the highest annual increase in prices at 13.9 per cent, followed by the South East at 10.7 per cent and the East at 8.9 per cent. The lowest annual increase was seen in the North East at 0.2 per cent, but no region experienced a fall. In terms of property type, flats and maisonettes showed the highest annual increase at 8.2 per cent, while the lowest increase was seen in semi-detached properties at 6.5 per cent.
In greater detail, eleven counties and unitary authorities saw an annual fall in prices, the greatest again being Hartlepool at minus 3.8 per cent; Reading continued to experience the highest annual rise at 16.1 per cent. The strongest monthly growth was seen in the Isle of Anglesey with an increase of 4.1 per cent, while Blaenau Gwent had the most significant monthly drop at minus 3.5 per cent. Six counties and unitary authorities saw no monthly price change.
Of the metropolitan districts, Knowsley continued to show the largest annual price increase at 8.8 per cent; only two districts saw a fall, the greatest being Sunderland at minus 3.2 per cent. Newcastle upon Tyne experienced the highest monthly price increase at 2.1 per cent, while Liverpool and Knowsley both saw the greatest monthly fall, each with a movement of minus 1.5 per cent.
Of the London boroughs, Hillingdon had the highest annual price rise at 15.5 per cent and the highest monthly price rise at 2.4 per cent. Camden saw the smallest annual increase at 3.0 per cent, while both Camden and Islington experienced the only monthly fall, each with a movement of minus 0.4 per cent.
The volume of properties sold in November 2015 was 2 per cent lower than a year earlier in England and Wales and 7 per cent lower in London. Over the same period, properties sold for more than £1 million across England and Wales as a whole rose by 14 per cent and in London by 9 per cent.
Month on month, the total number of properties sold across England and Wales fell from 79960 in October to 72167 in November – a fall of 9.7 per cent. The number of property transactions from August 2015 to November 2015 averaged 78,652 per month, compared to 81,656 over the same period a year earlier.
LAND REGISTRY DATA: DECEMBER 2015 (released 29 January 2016)
The December 2015 Land Registry data showed a monthly increase in average house prices across England and Wales of 1.2 per cent, while the overall annual price change was 6.4 per cent.
Regionally, the highest monthly increase was seen in London at 2.1 per cent, followed by the East at 1.7 per cent; prices decreased in the East Midlands, the North East and Wales with falls of 0.3 per cent, 0.7 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively.
The average house price in England & Wales now stands at £188,270 and in London at £514,097. London saw the highest annual change in prices at 12.4 per cent, followed by the East at 10.6 per cent and the South East at 9.5 per cent. The lowest annual increase was seen in the North East at 0.8 per cent, but no region experienced a fall. In terms of property type, semi-detached properties showed the highest annual increase at 6.7 per cent, while the lowest increase was seen in detached properties at 5.8 per cent.
In greater detail, just seven counties and unitary authorities saw an annual fall in prices, the greatest again being Hartlepool at minus 3.3 per cent; Reading continued to experience the highest annual rise at 17.1 per cent. The strongest monthly growth was seen in Blaenau Gwent with an increase of 3.8 per cent, while Hartlepool had the most significant monthly drop at minus 4.2 per cent. Eight counties and unitary authorities saw no monthly price change.
Of the metropolitan districts, Knowsley continued to show the largest annual price increase at 10.5 per cent, while three districts saw a fall, the greatest being Sunderland at minus 3.5 per cent. Walsall experienced the highest monthly price increase at 1.7 per cent, while Rochdale saw the greatest monthly fall with a movement of minus 1.2 per cent.
Of the London boroughs, Barking & Dagenham had the highest annual price rise at 15.3 per cent, while Hammersmith & Fulham saw the smallest annual increase at 3.3 per cent. On a monthly basis, the City of Westminster showed the highest increase at 2.3 per cent. Four boroughs experienced a monthly fall, the greatest being Southwark at minus 0.7 per cent.
The volume of properties sold in October 2015 was 8 per cent lower than a year earlier in England and Wales and 13 per cent lower in London. Over the same period, properties sold for more than £1 million across England and Wales as a whole and in London fell by 2 per cent.
Month on month, the total number of properties sold across England and Wales increased from 72397 in September to 79960 in October – an increase of 10.4 per cent. The number of property transactions from July 2015 to October 2015 averaged 80,691 per month, compared to 84,517 over the same period a year earlier.
With one of the busiest time for property market just around the corner, some of us will be gearing up for a house move this spring. Moving can be a truly daunting experience, especially if you’re relocating for the first time. To ensure a smooth transition from old to new, we’re bringing you some useful tips to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible.
1. The secret is in the planning
Make sure you get organised early. If your house is on the market, the chances are you will have to move out within the next 30 days of the sale. Create a list of everything you have to do to complete your move successfully. You can start packing things you don’t use regularly, such as out-of-season clothes and decorative items, like photographs.
2. De-clutter before your move
Moving house is the perfect opportunity to de-clutter. There’s no point in lugging junk to your new house. Be ruthless and get rid of everything you haven’t used in the past year - you can sell your unwanted items online, organise a garage sale or donate them to your favourite charity.
3. Pack smartly
Always make sure you label your boxes correctly and fill them in a logical order. Although it might take a bit longer, you’ll be thankful for this when arriving at your new house. You don’t want to be searching for the kettle and mugs amongst a pile of boxes filled with anything from photo frames to bathroom mats and towels. It’s also a good idea to keep inventory of all your household items in case something goes missing.
4. Pack a first night survival kit
Prepare a bag filled with the main necessities, such as your basic hygiene supplies, change of clothes and snacks, to help get you through the first couple days. Looking for your toothbrush and a pair of pyjamas is the last thing you will want to be doing on the first night in your new home.
5. Choose the right type of transport
If you’re moving a long distance, it’s likely that you won’t have the luxury of making more than one trip. Therefore, it is important that you secure the right size of truck to safely carry all of your belongings in one go. Speak to your moving company - they should be able to advise what size you of truck you will need based on the size of your current house.
6. Speak to your utility and insurance suppliers
Check with your insurer to confirm you’re covered before your move and let them know you’re relocating. Don’t forget to redirect all your mail to your new address and get in touch with utility suppliers so you have running water, electricity and gas at your new place. Also, arrange to have your phone line, cable and internet working if necessary.
7. Pack your children’s items last
Moving can be difficult for the little ones so make sure they have their favourite toys or a comfort blanket on hand. They might not understand what is happening and be wary of their new environment, so it’s really important they are surrounded with familiar items, especially the ones they have created an emotional attachment to. Likewise, if you have any pets, try to make them comfortable throughout the move to help them feel settled.
8. Get help
If you can’t afford to hire a moving company to help you relocate and unpack, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends and family. Whether hired movers or friends and family, make sure you have food and drinks readily available for everyone. They will appreciate a cold drink and a bite to eat during their busy day of heavy lifting and unpacking boxes.
9. Meet your neighbours
It’s a good idea to make conversation and build good relationships with your future neighbours from the beginning – let them know you will be moving in and what time the movers will arrive. If you’re moving into a block of flats, don’t forget to ask about any moving policy so you can prepare your schedule for the day. Ensure that you will have sufficient space to park outside your new home and that you don’t block your neighbours’ driveway.
10. Plan for the unexpected and stay positive
No matter how much organising you have done prior to your move, you might still come across some unforeseen circumstances. Things you didn’t expect will always come up and it’s important to stay positive. Moving house is one of the most stressful things to do – remind yourself of all the reasons why you decided to move and celebrate with a nice family dinner. You will soon forget about the struggles when enjoying a cuppa in your beautiful new home.
With spring just around the corner, pretty daffodils, tulips and periwinkles will be flowering in gorgeous cottage gardens across the country. There couldn’t be a better time to appreciate the handsome cottages that we have here in the UK. Without further ado, here is a charming selection of some of the most beautiful cottages on the market today.
East Stoke, Wareham, Dorset - £500,000
Nestled within bluebell covered woodland, this whimsical two bedroom lodge cottage is like something out of a fairytale. It’s immensely cosy and the layout is all centred around a chimney stack, creating a cosy circular design both inside and out.
Coverack, Cornwall - £350,000
If you were asked to draw a coastal cottage, you’d probably draw something that looks exactly like this beauty with whitewashed walls, a thatched roof and pale blue window panes. Nestled in the heart of Coverack, the two bedroom cottage has gorgeous views across the sea, beach and village beyond.
Forncett, Norfolk - £400,000
Pretty in pink with a traditional thatched roof and set within an acre of gardens, this three bedroom cottage certainly is a picture postcard. It has literary connections too as it’s believed to have been owned by H. Rider Haggard, the author of Victorian adventure novel, King Solomon's Mines.
Raunds, Northamptonshire – £295,000
It’s not often that you find a country cottage with so much space on offer and four well-sized bedrooms. Although the property is believed to date back to the 17th century, it has a fresh and bright feel thanks to the modern lighting and contemporary clean lines.
Eggesford, Chulmleigh, Devon - £425,000
Tucked away in four and a half acres of gardens and woodland, this timber conversion has a seriously peaceful setting and is much-like a traditional Nordic cottage. Once part of a Victorian rail sliding, it’s now a charming three bedroom period home surrounded by a wildlife haven.
Abbotts Langley, Hertfordshire - £550,000
Cecil Lodge Cottage is a beautifully charming three bedroom cottage with an equally romantic story to tell. It is thought to have been part of a small estate and a summer residence, which was presented to Lord Cranborne as a wedding gift in 1773.
Poltimore, Exeter, Devon - £500,000
Just five miles from Exeter but surrounded by picturesque countryside, this four bedroom, pink, thatched cottage has an ideal location. It’s full of charming features, too, including oak beams, impressive fireplaces and the original bakers oven.
Selside, North Yorkshire - £220,000
Once home to railway workers who worked on the Carlisle-Settle railway, this cottage is now a lovely one bedroom home. As a traditional Railway Cottage with views across the Yorkshire Dales, the property definitely looks like something out of The Railway Children.
Chalgrove, South Oxfordshire - £370,000
Situated right on the village green and next to a pub, this two bedroom 17th century cottage has a seriously enviable location. With a thatched roof, wall and ceiling beams, an inglenook fireplace and country-style fittings, Rose Cottage is a true classic.
*All properties for sale at the time of publication
An increasing number of people are now renting rather than buying. In fact, PwC has recently predicted that by 2025, 7.2m households will be in rented accommodation, compared to 5.4m in 2015.
With rising house prices, first-time buyers are renting for longer in order to afford. But the rental market can also be a challenge. As with most things, it’s much easier once you’re prepared, so here’s an overview of what you can expect so you can sail through the rental market.
Many of us choose to go into flatshares when renting. They’re often cheaper and they’re a great way of making new friends. But they can be a challenge, especially if you’re not the biggest fan of the person in the next room. So how can you be sure that you’ve landed on a good selection of housemates before you start renting? First things first – always meet them before you sign the contract. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people move in without any idea of who they’ll be living with.
Although there’s no definite way of being sure what they’re actually like to live with, there are a few things you can look out for when you meet them. Firstly, don’t be afraid to ask questions; go beyond what they do for a living, and ask what they do for fun, how often they’re in the house, and if they socialise together. All of this will add to the general atmosphere in the property. Secondly, take note of how well the house is being looked after when you visit for a viewing. If the bin is overflowing and there are dirty pots on the stove, it might not be for you if you like things to be clean and tidy. Finally, discuss how bills are split and paid. This will give you a good indicator of how organised your potential housemates are, and you can iron out any problems before signing for the property.
Finding the property
One of the best things about renting is that it’s temporary. Although this can feel like a downside, it does mean that you don’t need to think too far into the future and can find a property that suits your current lifestyle. To find a good rental property for you, make a list of all the things you require for your lifestyle and search for a property that fits the bill. And remember to prioritise; it’s unlikely that you’ll find the ideal property, so think about what is a must and what you can compromise on.
Securing the property
The rental market moves extremely fast, so it’s important to be proactive in your search. Set aside time when you’re available for viewings and ask the lettings agent to take you to a few properties during each appointment so you can compare them easily. When you find a suitable property, be prepared to move quickly and put in an offer on the day or the next day.
It’s also a good idea to be prepared well in advance for the next few steps. Make sure you have funds for your deposit and references ready so the next part of the process runs smoothly. Informing the lettings agent that you have these available will put you in a strong position for securing the property.
It’s now a legal requirement that all lettings agents display their fees on the websites and in their offices. Sometimes, you also have to pay a holding fee to secure the property. Make sure you have a look at the fees before going on viewings so you know how much you will have to pay.
A rental deposit covers your landlord should you miss any rent or damage their property. They are typically between four weeks and eight weeks rent, but check this in advance so you can save the money.
It is a legal requirement that your deposit is put into a deposit protection scheme, so always check this before signing any contracts.
When it comes to getting your deposit back, it’s a case of looking after the property while you’re a tenant and reporting any problems. Check the inventory when you first move in and add any existing damage that you notice, making sure it is confirmed by the landlord. Take photos when you first move in and when you leave so you have proof of any previous damage to avoid being penalised. If the property is furnished, remember to take photos of what is present when you first move in and when you leave. All of this should be recorded on the inventory, so check everything is present and correct. For more advice on getting your deposit back, please click here.
Tenants can get home contents insurance to cover the cost of their belongings under unforeseen circumstances. Most tenants won’t need to worry about buildings insurance as this should be covered by the landlord, but check this before signing for the property. You can get home contents insurance if you’re renting a shared property, but find out from the insurer exactly what you need to do to ensure you are covered.
As of the 1st February 2016, no tenancy can legally commence until the right to rent has been established. But what exactly is right to rent? Here is a very brief overview.
Before a property is legally rented, all landlords have to confirm that the tenants have the right to rent residential property in the UK. And, under Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014, landlords should not authorise an adult to occupy a rented property unless the adult is a British Citizen, is a European Economic Area citizen, or Swiss National, or has a Right to Rent in the UK.
Who needs to be checked?
Landlords or the lettings agent must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent the residential property in England.
Before the start of a new tenancy, they must make checks for all tenants aged 18 and over, even if:
• they’re not named on the tenancy agreement
• there’s no tenancy agreement
• the tenancy agreement isn’t in writing
All new tenants must be checked.
If the tenant is only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, the check needs to be undertaken in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy.
Some types of accommodation are excluded from these checks. Click here to view these types. There is no need to check tenants in some types of accommodation (e.g. social housing and care homes).
How will tenants be checked?
All landlords and lettings agents have to check original documents to make sure a tenant has the right to rent in the UK.
What will happen if a tenant fails to pass the checks?
If a tenant fails to pass the checks, the landlord or letting agent cannot legally allow the tenant to rent the property.
Landlords and lettings agents must make further checks on their tenants to make sure they can still rent property in the UK, if their permission to stay is time limited.
If tenants fail to pass the further checks, they may be evicted from the properties.
What could happen to landlords if they fail to comply?
Landlords can be fined if they rent their property to someone who isn’t allowed to stay in the UK and you / they can’t show that they checked a tenant's right to rent.
Can landlords delegate the responsibility to a lettings agent?
Landlords can ask any agents that manage or let their property to carry out the check on their behalf. All landlords and lettings agents should have this agreement in writing.
If a tenant sub-lets the property without the landlord knowing, they’re responsible for carrying out checks on any sub-tenants.
For further information on right to rent, please visit gov.uk
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