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Is a ‘forever home’ a myth? Your personality, or perhaps your finances, may well dictate whether you find a forever home or a ‘for now’ home. There are people who know exactly what they want and stick to it, but it will take a lot to settle on one property and stay with it.
To find a property to last a lifetime, consider these 5 main points:
Being realistic is what makes a home last forever – the demands you make on your space will change. The current trend for open plan living spaces could work in your favour as you will be able to zone the space differently according to your needs; dining space can soon become a play area, for example.
Think about the style of the property, not so much the décor but the structural elements; sleek, modern lines maybe give you thrills now, but could mean sharp edges for small children. You want a property that suits you, but one that you could also suit you in 20 years. You don’t need to be psychic to know that when something is appealing to you because it's the trendiest place you’ve seen and your friends will love it, it may not be the best choice for a forever home.
Thinking too far into the future can be scary, but what if your grandfather needed to come and live with you in the next couple of years? Think about how your older relatives navigate the space and use that as a guide for the practicality of a home.
Something else to consider is whether you might need to rent some, or all, of the space out. What if you want to travel or your children emigrate? Thinking about the space in these terms will help to see how applicable it will be to your changing life.
This is always a huge factor in finding the right home. But when it comes to your forever home, taking a closer look at all your needs will allow you to future-proof, as far as possible at least. Education from pre-school through to sixth form should be factored in.
Lasting homes should be well facilitated too - from bus routes to shops, the more local amenities available, the more robust your home will be for whatever circumstances appear on the horizon.
An efficient home will make a great deal of difference. A sprawling mansion with tennis courts and a pool may seem like it will cater for every eventuality, perfect for children’s parties and social gatherings, but space often equals costly maintenance.
What’s more, buying a drafty old property that you never properly repair, one that’s always in need of a little mending here and there, will fritter your money away. Choose a home you can afford to fully repair if necessary, or stir towards a cost-effective home you know you can heat through the winters.
In short, for longevity find an efficient house!
4. Can you sell it?
This is important: things change, you may want to move! Forever rarely means forever these days and we find more and more that change isn’t so hard – getting bored with you property can easily be fixed. So, don’t think only about your life in a property, ask yourself who would want it if you put it up for sale? Don’t pick, or develop, a property which is too niche.
It’s finally moving day! It’s an exciting time, but it can also be crowded and frantic for your beloved companions. Like us, your pets will get used to the move in time, but there are ways you can help them to get used to your new home without overwhelming them:
1. Make a plan
Planning your move is a good thing. There will be a lot to think about when moving and your pets, however much we love them, may not be the top of your list of priorities – a plan will keep you on track.
If you have fish, have you thought about how you will move them and then the tank? If you have a rabbit where will the hutch go in the new house? Do you buy special food from a local supplier and should you stock up before you move? The more organised you are, the easier the move will be (in all respects!).
2. Seek expert opinion
If your pet is particularly nervous or you are worried about how they might settle in, consult your vet. Moving can be highly stressful for us and we understand what’s happening, so give your furry friend every chance of a peaceful move.
3. Give your pet a good clean ahead of the move
Of course this doesn’t apply to all animals, but giving your dog a bath before moving day might be worthwhile. Not only will it mean they are clean for the car journey, but they won’t be too stinky when you move into your new home, which is a good start.
4. Consider leaving your pet with others
Moving day will mean lots of people coming in and out of the house, often many strangers. Of course, you may need to weigh up the pros and cons of leaving your pet with friends or at a kennel – if the stress of that is likely to be similar to the move itself, it may be better to keep them with you. However, if you don’t have the room to move your animal in comfort, or you would have to leave them in the new house alone, saving them from the move could be beneficial.
5. Think about who is left in charge of your animals
It may seem like a great job for the little ones, perfect for keeping them occupied and giving them a purpose rather than getting under your feet, but they may not be as sensitive as you when it comes to looking after your pets. If you do give them the responsibility, make sure you keep an eye on them and ask for updates throughout the day.
6. Remember to pack all of their toys
Just like us, your animals become familiar with their surroundings, so forgetting their favourite scratch post or squeaky toy will be unsettling. Pack all of their things in a box together, so that you can get them settled in as soon as possible without hunting through tons of boxes. It is also a good idea to keep an item with them during the journey, for a calming effect.
7. Give your pet the chance to get used to their surroundings
Go into the property yourself first and assess the situation – look out for broken glass or overwhelming paint smells for example.
When you’re happy they can come in, put your new pet in a room in the house with the door closed for a little while. With plenty of ventilation and some water, this will give them the chance to acclimatise without the confusion of moving boxes and unfamiliar faces.
If you have an independent cat, gradually introduce them to the home. Keeping them in one room for a couple of days, then the house, then the garden with supervision will help them get used to their environment and enable them to find their way home again.
This gradual process is good advice for any animal– give them the chance to get used to their new home without overwhelming them. You know your companion best, so keep a close eye on them and look out for any signs of unhappiness.
8. Give your pet some serious attention
Once you have moved in, dedicate some time to your animal, for reassurance and some quality play time.
9. Try and keep a similar routine
Moving day will naturally be out of the norm, but if you walk your dog at the same time every day or feed your snake on a particular day, try and get back into that as soon as possible. The familiarity will be calming to them and smooth out the transition.
10. Update ID tags
Animals which are free to roam (or escape) may need a little help to find their way home, so make sure you don’t forget to change any registered addresses amongst your other moving chores.
A recent report by a leading Insurance Company claims that one in seven tenants break the rules of their leasing agreements.
The most common offences include a failure to pay rent on time, smoking and keeping a pet; but perhaps of even more concern is that it is claimed that one in eleven (or almost 10%) of renters are living contract-free.
25% Failing to pay rent on time (or at all)
21% Smoking in the property
18% Keeping a pet in the property
17% Damaging or making alterations to the premises
16% Changing the locks
14% Caused disturbances or a nuisance to neighbouring properties
14% Sublet a room without notifying the landlord
13% Failed to clean accessible windows
12% Redecorated without permission
10% Failed to check smoke or carbon monoxide alarm
The most common sanctions for breaking tenancy rules include losing some or all of the deposit (52%), followed by having to pay for any damages (22%) and in some extreme cases, tenant evictions (4%). However, more than one in five (21%) tenants say that the landlord never found out about their misdemeanours.
This lack of transparency can hurt both the landlord and the tenant. The renter risks exploitation and even summary eviction if they do not have a binding agreement to protect them, whilst the landlord is exposed to potential misuse of the property and possibly even a sitting tenant who can’t easily be removed.
In a professional world, the tenant’s behaviour is defined and bound by their contract, and a good landlord will actively manage and nurture the relationship to protect their investment.
Any failures for both sides to act responsibly can be very expensive; for example, a separate report published last week highlighted the risks taken by landlords who don’t properly deal with repairs requests by inhibiting the ability to serve a section 21 notice.
So what should landlords (or their letting agents) do as a minimum? A few simple rules may help:
Ensure that this is appropriate, signed and dated. Writing your own contract will save some money, but may miss out important aspects – it is best to get proper advice, or employ a solicitor or letting agent to assist.
If you inspect as opposed to expect, it is much more likely that the tenant will follow the rules. Always ensure that you give the tenant fair warning of your intentions to visit the premises so as not to breach their right to privacy.
There are increasing legal requirements on both landlords and tenants, and ignorance will not be a suitable defence if something goes wrong!
Respond in a Timely Manner:
Living with broken or poorly working appliances can be very frustrating, particularly when the tenant is paying significant rent. How long would you put up with a hotel room where the lights or plumbing does not work? Therefore, you should deal as quickly as you can with requests from tenants for repairs and improvements, even if the answer is ‘no’.
Legal disputes can quickly get expensive, so the ability to discuss any issues openly and rationally may reduce the stress and potential cost. Remember that very few tenants set out to get themselves evicted.
See Both Sides:
You need to think of the property as a business investment and not as your home. Your tenants may have a different lifestyle and tastes to you, and are paying in hard cash for the right (with few guarantees and little or no financial return) of borrowing your property; also, don’t forget finding new tenants can be expensive so you may want to bend occasionally over the small stuff.
With average yields now at about 5% across the UK, taking the time to find a good tenant and looking after them properly (avoiding constant personnel changes and voids) may be the best investment you can make in your rental property.
Also, the legal requirements in relation to letting are now so onerous that having a professional manage your rental affairs might be the best solution in the medium term.
The July 2016 house price index data for the UK showed a monthly rise of 0.4 per cent, while in England the increase was slightly higher at 0.5 per cent. In London the monthly change was 1.0 per cent but of the English regions it was the North East region that experienced the highest monthly growth with a rise of 2.3 per cent. Falls were seen in Yorkshire and The Humber, the South West and the West Midlands, the latter seeing the greatest fall at minus 0.8 per cent.
On an annual basis the price change across the UK was 8.3 per cent, bringing the average house price to £216,750. In England the annual price increase was a little higher at 9.1 per cent and the average house price £232,885. London experienced a rise of 12.3 per cent making the price of an average London home £484,716. However, the East of England again saw the greatest increase over the year with a rise of 13.2 per cent, while Yorkshire and The Humber saw the lowest annual price growth at 4.7 per cent. Annual price increases by property type across the UK showed little difference, ranging from 8.1 per cent for both terraced houses and flats and maisonettes to 8.5 per cent for both detached and semi-detached houses.
Detailed statistics for local authority areas continue to show a wide variation but only five areas saw a fall in prices over the year, including the London boroughs of Camden at minus 0.6 per cent, Hammersmith and Fulham at minus 1.6 per cent, and Kensington and Chelsea at minus 3.0 per cent. The highest annual rise was seen in South Bucks at 22.7 percent, while Stevenage, Haringey, Hertsmere and Newham also saw increases above 20 per cent.
Completed sales for England in May 2016 totalled 49,795, a fall of minus 33.5 per cent compared to a year ago when 74,897 completed house sales were made.
Statistics relating to building status showed that the average price of a new build property in England in July was £295,039, down minus 2.2 per cent on June but up 16.4 per cent on a year ago. The average price of a resold property was £228,779, a rise of 0.7 per cent over June and 8.5 per cent higher than 12 months ago.
Statistics on buyer status in England showed that the average price of a house sold to a first time buyer was £195,484 and to a former owner occupier £264,184. Prices to first time buyers increased by 0.3 per cent over June, while re-purchasers saw an increase of 0.6 per cent. Over the year, prices for first time buyers increased by 8.9 per cent and for former owner occupiers by 9.2 per cent.
The latest figures on funding status, which compare average cash and mortgage prices, show that in England the average cash price was £218,331 and the average mortgage price was £240,233. The monthly increase in prices for cash buyers was 0.3 per cent, while mortgage purchase prices rose by 0.5 per cent. However, the annual change for cash purchases was 8.3 per cent, while for mortgage purchases it was somewhat higher at 9.4 per cent.
At its mid-September meeting, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee unanimously voted to leave its main interest rate at 0.25 per cent. The Bank halved its interest rate from 0.5 per cent to the new historic low in August with the aim of maintaining the stability of the UK’s banking system following the June referendum on membership of the European Union.
A number of indicators measuring near-term economic activity suggest that the impact of the Brexit vote has been weaker than at first feared. However, the Bank still expects that the pace of economic activity in the July to September quarter will still be half the growth rate recorded earlier in the year. The Bank reiterated that it might yet need to cut interest rates further in the coming months.
The Monetary Policy Committee also voted to stand by its August decision to expand quantitative easing. The Bank will purchase an extra £60 billion of government bonds, which will take the total to £425 billion. It will also buy a further £10 billion of corporate bonds as part of its continuing measures to prevent the economy falling into recession.
Under a new timetable, the next Monetary Policy Committee meeting will not take place until November.
One of the economic indicators that seems to show that consumer confidence has not fallen away since the Brexit vote is that UK retail sales were stronger than expected in August. The Office for National Statistics reported that sales volumes fell by just 0.2 per cent from July and were up by 6.2 per cent from August last year. Furthermore, the sales increase for July was also revised upwards from 1.4 per cent to 1.9 per cent, representing the best performance for the month in 14 years.
Another positive indicator was the slight fall in UK unemployment to 1.63 million between May and July. The unemployment rate was 4.9 per cent compared to 5.5 per cent a year ago. However, the number of people employed in the public sector is at its lowest level since the Office for National Statistics started collecting the figures in 1999, down to 5.33 million, indicating that it is the private sector that is making the jobs.
A key measure of the economy is the UK Consumer Prices Index of inflation; in the year to August, the average cost of everyday household goods and services went up by 0.6 per cent, unchanged from July. The Retail Prices Index, which includes the cost of mortgages, dropped to 1.8 per cent in August from 1.9 per cent in July.
The latest monthly report produced by the Royal Institution of Surveyors has indicated that the housing market is stabilising in the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the EU.
The report gathers the observations of surveyors across the country, and is considered to be a good measure of confidence within the market.
Following the referendum result, initial findings suggested a drop in prices as uncertainty amongst buyers grew. Members of the Institution are now forecasting an increase of around 3.3% a year for the next 5 years.
One of the main factors in the predicted increase is a shortage of property for sale. Average numbers on estate agents books have been dropping over recent months, with numbers close to the record low recorded last December.
However, the recent base rate cut, record low mortgage rates and low unemployment levels, should help to boost the confidence of potential buyers over the next few years, as negotiations to leave the EU begin.
When the Bank of England decided to cut interest rates in August, the main aim was to make the cost of borrowing cheaper. A less-reported side effect is that it also helps consumers borrow slightly more.
A while ago the Prudential Regulatory Authority brought in rules to ensure that lending wasn’t purely based on the record low interest rates we’re currently enjoying. If it were, many people could find themselves in serious difficulties when interest rates eventually rise.
When assessing affordability, lenders are required to check that the loan would still be affordable if rates increased by 3%. This is what they call the “stress rate” and will typically be 3% above the lender’s Standard Variable Rate - even if the actual deal you’re applying for is much, much lower.
Of course when the rule came in no-one expected Base Rate would in fact fall further. But that’s what’s happened and so you could borrow slightly more today, than you could in July. That’s not just theory – a number of lenders have announced reductions to their stress rates, including big names like Barclays and Nationwide.
In real terms a 0.25% reduction to the stress rate isn’t going to make a huge difference to the amount you can borrow but anything that helps buy your dream home is good news.
Saving up to buy your first home can be a challenge, but assistance is at hand in the form of the Government Help to Buy ISA.
This initiative allows a First-Time Buyer to deposit an initial £1,000, followed by £200 a month. When they decide to buy, the Government will provide a 25% bonus up to a maximum of £3,000. This means savings of £12,000 will be boosted to £15,000.
There has been some recent criticism over when the bonus can be claimed. The bonus is only available on completion rather than at exchange of contracts, when the deposit is normally paid.
Purchases can go ahead however without the need to pay the typical 10% deposit at exchange.
The best way to avoid issues further down the line is to make sure that the solicitor is aware from the outset that a Help to Buy ISA is being used.
First Time Buyers should certainly not be put off using a Help to Buy ISA to get their foot on the ladder. At the moment interest rates are better than on most standard savings accounts, and that 25% bonus will provide a much needed boost.
Each person can have one of these ISA’s, so those buying jointly could bump up their deposit fund significantly, and get a foot on the first rung of the property ladder a little quicker.
Most of our attention has been centred on fixed rates over recent years, as economic uncertainty grew and borrowers looked for some peace of mind.
With the Bank of England cutting the base rate to an all-time low of 0.25%, and questions being raised over the possibility of a further cut, there is now likely to be more interest in tracker mortgages.
These are variable mortgages that move up or down in line with another rate (usually the Bank of England Base Rate) and as such the monthly repayments are also variable.
The potential for another drop in monthly payments will appeal to many. Borrowers should check with their lenders however. In recent years some have applied a collar to their deals, which would prevent monthly payments from going down any further, even if base rate was to be cut again.
The variable nature of tracker mortgages mean that they will not be suitable for everyone, and many borrowers will still prefer the security of a fixed rate, especially as they are so low at the moment.
Are you in a hurry to sell your home? Or are you feeling impatient now you have committed to selling? There are no guarantees, but here are some sure-fire ways to grease the wheels of your sale:
1. The right time to sell
Knowing the right time to sell can depend on many factors. For example, it makes a difference if your property is a three-bedroom home with a garden or a studio flat. The family buying your three-bedroom home could be reluctant to move during the summer holidays – not only are they likely to use that time for their annual holiday, but it would be far easier to pack the house when the children are in school all day!
Read more about when to sell your property.
Your estate agent will be able to guide you through this process, and you can always call and get their opinion ahead of committing to your sale. However, a swift sale may be necessary due to specific circumstances meaning there is no chance to pick the best time. That’s when settling on the right price with your agent can make all the difference.
Find a Guild Agent in your local area.
2. Is the price is right?
Price is everything. It’s important you explain your time-frame to your agent when you instruct them and make it clear what your aims are. For your own reference, you can compare your property like-for-like with similar properties in the local area to give you an idea of what is achievable. If you are desperate for a speedy sale it could be that a slightly lower price will move the process along, but speak with your agent – their advice will be based on their detailed, in-depth knowledge of the market.
Read more about how to spot an overpriced house.
3. Declutter and clean all
Chuck out everything you don’t need and then give what’s left a thorough clean! Nothing will put people off quicker than a muddled mess. Let the features and space shine through your furniture and personality to capture your prospective buyer’s imagination.
4. Pack up your troubles
Wanting to turn your property around in a matter of days means being seriously organised, especially when it comes to the large, time consuming jobs. Packing is a bit of an unknown quantity, depends on how much ‘stuff’ you have, and how much you threw away in your clean and declutter phase. Whether you mean to hoard or not, removing around a third of your furniture and things will make your home look even better.
However, no one wants to shuffle around a room avoiding the fort of boxes in the centre of what should be your dining room. So, unless you have ample room in the garage for a discreet line of boxes that won’t be sabotaging a viewing, rent some storage. You will be so ahead of the game that you can move out almost at a moment’s notice.
5. Get your paperwork straight
Do you know where your title deeds are? If you have just decluttered, clean and then packed you certainly should! Legal delays can often slow a sale down and there is no need for you to postpone your move because you haven’t dug the deeds out of the box under your bed.
6. All the world’s a stage
Pretend your house is a show home: you are selling a lifestyle to someone, so don’t overlook the small details. Although packing ahead of time is good, leaving your home completely bare isn’t the aim. A sofa cushion seems a trivial item, but it can imply comfort and relaxation. Indicating to your potential buyer this is a space to unwind after a long week, or a place to curl up on a winter’s evening – it could make all the difference.
7. Leave no space unused and unloved
Your spare room doesn’t need to look spare, and it certainly needn’t be a dumping ground. Even if you are using it as a dressing room, sort the floor-drobe out and transform it into a dressing room. Wherever possible you should make the most of the space in your property – if you are selling home with a dining room, put a table in it!
8. Wow-factor kerb appeal
First impressions are so important – many people make their minds up about a house within seconds. Make your potential buyer want to live in your property, to be proud to call it home. Cleaning and decluttering is just as important outside as it is inside, so remove toys, weeds, gnomes, wash the windows, and so on.
Read more about maximising your kerb appeal.
9. Shout it from the rooftops
If you want to sell your home fast, people need to know you’re selling it! A Guild agent will provide you with a comprehensive package to market your property, however if doesn’t hurt to tell people you’re moving, after all someone at the local shop may know someone who is looking to buy in your area.
10. Always be prepared
Your home should be ready to view at a moments’ notice. Whether you have a strict timeframe or not, making viewings difficult will absolutely get in the way of selling your home.
Read more about how not to sabotage your sale.
Wondering whether an open house is the right choice for you? There are many factors to take into consideration: is there enough interest to warrant an open house, or would just one couple turn up? Do you have a tenant and will they cooperate?
A good estate agent should be able to answer these questions and suggest whether or not you should opt for an open house style viewing.
Here, Guild member agents offer their views on the practicalities of hosting an open house and how successful they can be with the right attitude.
Holroyd Miller Estate Agents say:
Before you rush out to buy ground coffee and a bread-making machine there is a less extreme approach.
Of course de-clutter, attend to those pesky maintenance jobs, tidy up – make it visually appealing, but before any of that you must employ the right agent for the job.
There’s no point in appointing an agent that has no experience of the town/village you live in. You will need an agent who is well and truly embedded in the community, knows the area and, more importantly, one that knows who your target audience is.
At Holroyd Miller we approach the open house format very differently. In fact, we purposely don’t call it an open house, and with very good reason. We prefer to organise grouped viewings; the main distinction is we book each individual viewing with its own time slot and dedicated attention with a member of our team, but, the appointment is designed to slightly overlap with the next booked session. The overlap creates a steady stream of visitors and it indicates serious interest in the property. It encourages faster decisions rather than a ‘walk away and think about it’ approach.
This steady stream also allows us to do the best job we can with the ultimate aim of obtaining an offer that day. We have found a higher percentage of potential buyers are reluctant to walk away without putting their cards on the table. It works for us, we achieve more instant offers with approach, and more importantly the house is sold much quicker!
Gary Butler at Trading Places Estate & Letting Agents commented:
An open house viewing day/event strategy is only beneficial in certain circumstances. Firstly, the market, or at least the property in question, should warrant an open day e.g. there should be sufficient buyer demand.
We have found that by allocating specific viewing time slots, you allow prospective buyers their own time to take everything in. Even if those time slots are just 10-15 mins long, the prospective buyer is able to focus on the viewing, instead of bumping into others. In our experience, and based on client feedback, house hunters really do appreciate this one-on-one time and they feel more comfortable asking questions.
We would usually start with a 2 hour viewing window and have the event take place 7-14 days after the property goes onto the market. When the viewings are being booked you will usually find that the initial viewing window will increase, dependant on the level of interest coming in.
We believe it’s important to be clear with those viewing the property as to exactly what would happen should they wish to make an offer. Each prospective buyer is given a set of property details along with an Offer Form. The form requests information to assess a buyers’ circumstances and buying credentials, for example ‘what is the offer you wish to make?’, ‘do you require a mortgage?’ and ‘what level of deposit do you have?’, and so on.
The Offer Form explains how to submit an offer and the timeframe. For example, since these events are often conducted on a Saturday, offers are to be received by midday on the following Monday or Tuesday.
We strongly advise the seller to go out for the day, and leave everything to the agent. That being said, when sellers spend a few pounds on some sandwiches, crisps, cold drinks, even a few bottles of wine, the prospective buyers really appreciate the gesture. Bringing children to a viewing can be demanding for them, so a few light refreshments go down very well. Of course, this kind of scenario may not suit every situation, but it has never failed to impress and is not a big expense for the seller.
Getting any tenant on side can save issues. Whilst the seller is motivated to find a buyer, it often pays to work with the tenant; a day’s free rent in return for making the property as clean, tidy and uncluttered as possible, as well as going out for the day, could well be worth it.
Like this post? Read more about selling your home here.
Thomas Morris holds many open house events and has enjoyed huge success with them. Below are some key tips they would offer:
Pricing. The price of the property is incredibly important. In order to generate high levels of activity and ensure a busy and successful open house the price needs to be attractive. We have found that where this is the case the final selling price is often far in excess of the initial asking price as having a number of interested buyers, when handled correctly, will inevitably push all potential buyers to offer their maximum for the property. In most cases, when holding an open house, we will set the property price as a guide price only, as this seems to be far less fixed and helps to encourage offers above the asking price.
Timing. When organising an open house, our teams put much thought into the most appropriate time to hold the event. When is it most likely that potential buyers will be available? We have always found that weekends encourage more interest, and in particular scheduling it across a lunchtime may mean people who work weekends can find the time to visit.
Pre-event marketing. It goes without saying that the higher the marketing exposure you are able to give the event, the more likely it is to be a success. However, it is also important to consider the period of time given to market the property before the event. If the property and the event are not marketed for long enough, it won’t generate the maximum levels of interest. Conversely, if the property is marketed for too long then buyers can lose interest before the open house as other properties take their eye. The optimum marketing time can depend on a number of things; price, desirability and likely demand for the property, time of year, current market conditions and other factors should all be considered when deciding when to book the open house.
Conducting an open house. Staff hosting are always fully versed with as much information as possible on all relevant aspects of the property, including the seller’s situation, the immediate location and wider area, current market conditions and the offering and sales process. The ability to address and answer all of the buyers’ concerns will give them the confidence to make strong offers.
There are many different ways to approach the event, and each agent works out the best way to deal with their own, based on their many years of experience and detailed knowledge. With the right approach, an open house event can be extremely successful!
Like this post? Read more about giving your home kerb appeal!
In celebration of London Fashion Week, we take a look at the TOP 10 stylish homes in the capital:
Live in the lime-light in this five-bedroom Victorian property. The modern kitchen is perfect for cocktails and canapes, and any party would perfectly spill from the elegant glass extension onto the patio area. Ultimate relaxation can be found at the end of an evening in the freestanding tub positioned in the centre of the statement bathroom.
Like this kitchen? Take a look at Ten of the best Bake Off Kitchens!
What is more fashionable than investing in a future development? Due for completion in 2020, this two-bedroom apartment will offer 750.6 sq ft of living space and an additional 54.7 sq ft winter garden.
Rising 50 storeys, the ultra-modern AYKON London One tower will stand proud between Vauxhall and Nine Elms. Stone, terracotta and glass come together in a fresh and distinctive world-class design to create an inspiration in luxury living, inside and out. The communal roof gardens are suspended above the city and you will be able to choose a garden to suit your mood - a large, south-facing roof garden, a generous terrace with city views to the north or a sun deck terrace. Everything you could possible desire.
Moments away from the City of London and directly next to Tower Bridge, this apartment is within walking distance of some of the finest dining and culture the capital has to offer. This three-bedroom, 7th floor apartment boasts two balconies with views over Central London. The 1,689 sqft apartment also benefits from a large open-plan kitchen and reception room which fills with light thanks to the floor to ceiling windows. The development further benefits from a concierge and gym and spa facilities, including a swimming pool.
Although these images are just indicators of the finish, you can see just how stylish this apartment could be. Situated in Bolander Grove North, the owners can enjoy modern, open plan living. As you approach the avenue from Seagrave Road, the eye is drawn towards the heart of Lillie Square, taking in the complementary relationship of the various buildings. The distinctive contemporary architecture reflects the design principles of this predominantly Georgian and Victorian neighbourhood. The architecture of this space alone is a real statement.
Consider this fifth floor, west facing apartment with a terrace over the communal gardens which spreads over1,188 sqft, and comprises of two south facing double bedrooms and two luxury bathrooms.. There is no need to travel far in search of most things as this development offers a luxury Fitness Suite, Spa, Cinema, Business Suite and 24-hour Harrods Concierge.
Located near Child’s Hill, this beautifully presented semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors, extending to 3210 Sq. Ft. The clean white kitchen is stylishly lit with tinted up and down strip lighting – perfect for serving nibbles to friends as they sip champagne; or you can enjoy a garden party on the decking, overlooking the garden. The balcony leading from the bedroom gives a real sense of grandeur, as though you are enjoying a hotel room for the evening.
St Michael’s Street
A stunning duplex loft apartment in this attractive period building. Measuring over 2500sq ft the apartment has been comprehensively refurbished. The top (third) floor boasts an exceptionally spacious 1686sq ft space with vaulted ceilings giving light and space to the kitchen, dining and living area. The purple feature lighting highlights the modern, clean lines of this space.
The bedrooms are finished in a glamourous style and have plenty of space to keep the many clothes you might
This elegant Mansion Block apartment is located on the corner of the second floor. Make the most of the large reception room with a bay window and the abundant period features, such as the beautiful fireplace. Located just a short distance from West Kensington station, this plush pad is in a great location and perfectly suited for entertaining friends over a delicious meal. The current interior style is elegant and regal – but the possibilities are endless beneath the high ceilings!
This south facing apartment boasts far reaching views over London. The 11th floor apartment consists of two bedrooms and bathrooms with nearly 1000 sqft of living space. A state of the art kitchen, full width floor to ceiling windows and access to a balcony with river views would really impress. This apartment includes access to the Gym, Atrium Pool, Library, Cinema and Games Room (coming in 2017), 24-hour concierge and virtual golf!
Spaced over four floors, this three-bedroom mews has an abundance of natural light throughout. Complete with a garage, secluded internal vertical garden, a bright reception room, open plan kitchen with the dining room and 3 en-suite bedrooms, this is a chic family home.
The open plan dining area and modern kitchen make a great social space. All the floors benefit from the quirky vertical garden running the height of the house, giving this city home a hint of green.
Moving might be commonplace, but the average person doesn’t actually do it very often! It’s surprisingly easy for sellers to get in the way of selling their own home, so here are 10 top tips to keep you on track:
1. First things first; do you really want to sell your home? If you’re putting obstacles in the way of selling, you may have a case of sellers-remorse. Be sure you want to move and then be fully committed – only being 50% sure will absolutely hinder your sale.
2. Overpricing your property is likely to dampen your chances of selling. If you insist on selling your home at the wrong price you may be your own worst enemy. Speak with your agent and agree a realistic figure based on the market, location, condition and so on.
Find out how to spot an overpriced home
3. Clean up! No one wants to view a dirty home – don’t let traipsed-in mud, excessive dust or cobwebs stand in the way of a good viewing!
4. Fix it! If the tap is leaking, call the plumber. Small repairs could stand in the way of a great viewing when they don’t need to. If your agent mentions something needs replacing or updating, listen to them – they know what they’re talking about.
5. You love your pets, but it doesn’t take much to become ‘nose-blind’. Don’t let smells put potential viewers off. Your agent can help by being the objective third party here and give you an honest opinion; if you aren’t sure, ask.
Find our what devalues your home
6. Present your home in the best possible light. Imagine your interior as a shop window and present your space appealingly. It can be hard for buyers to imagine the decor differently, so make it as versatile as possible. Painting over a lime green wall with a more neutral colour could be worthwhile, and decluttering will dilute your personality and create more of a blank canvas.
7. Make sure the interior and the exterior match; presenting your home doesn’t just mean your rooms. Potential buyers should be able to take pride in the exterior of the property and, if there is a garden, look forward to enjoying the outside space with friends and family.
How to give your home more kerb appeal
8. Leave the viewing to your estate agent. You know your home inside out, but being present at viewings, or insisting on doing them yourself, can be off-putting. The things you consider important could be utterly irrelevant to, or even hated by, your house-hunter; not everyone loves a serving hatch or a dumb waiter! Your estate agent’s skills come into their own here – let them make your property shine. They understand what the buyer is looking for and can sell your home in the best way.
9. Make your home available. You should never assume that someone will come back if you prevent a viewing. There are plenty of house-hunters who will not try to rearrange or they may find another house they like in the meantime, and all because you haven’t given the bathroom a quick clean in time. Order your priorities so that you are as close to viewing-ready as possible whenever you need to be.
10. Keep the momentum. If you’ve had a few viewings and no luck, your enthusiasm is likely to wane. Vendors love their homes and when others aren’t feeling the same love it can be disheartening. Remember, it only takes one buyer! Maintain your presentation and tidiness because it will be worth it in the end.
People are always told not to judge a book by its cover, but with property, first impressions are extremely important. Use these top tips to give your property serious kerb appeal:
1. The approach
No one wants to stumble through a gate falling off its hinges, unless you are selling a ‘project’. If you are replacing it, choose a suitable gate for your property; does wood or wrought iron work best, for example. If you’re painting your current gate, the aim is to be appealing but in keeping. Think neutral colours for a fresh, palatable look.
Tidy the path up, by removing any weeds and cleaning the edges. Trim the grass or plants neatly or sweeping the stones off the path. Make a manicured ‘yellow brick road’ to your front door.
2. A touch of green
Many people love quirky, off-beat looks, but consider giving your front door some symmetry with a matching set of shrubs or hanging baskets. It can create a clean, precise look and be pleasing to the eye.
Alternatively, layer some plants around your porch to give depth and definition. Having a selection of plants in various pots gives a ‘garden’ feel, while keeping the look casual and contemporary. It will also give a low-maintenance and achievable feel.
Remember even the most polished, modern homes will be softened by some greenery, breaking the aspect up.
3. The front door
Take a closer look at your door fittings and be objective. If you don’t want to press your finger into the mouldy-looking ringer, no one else is likely to! Choose something in keeping with your home.. Think about whether a knocker or a door bell is more in-keeping and a nice clean handle is a good starting point.
Also, take a look at the door itself. Start by giving it a good clean and remove dust and cobwebs which have built up. You could also give it a new lease of life with a fresh, colour. Avoid neon pinks, but you can be bolder than you think and give your property some character.
When it comes to the welcome mat, opt for something simple and welcoming. A personalised mat may put people off when trying to imagine your property as their home.
4. General tidy up
There is no need to have your children’s summer toys strewn all over the garden or piled in the sandpit, collect them and store them away. Your potential buyers may not have children, which could make the toys extremely off-putting.
Remove weeds in any plant beds, mow the lawn and tidy the edges up. Even if you aren’t into gardening, there is no need for it to look messy.
Don’t forget to take a good look at your windows – they should be clean and streak-free, just in case your viewers choose to peek inside.
General tidying up is one thing, but the guttering needs your attention. Get your rubber gloves out or call someone who can help you; you should replace it if absolutely necessary. It’s something we often put off, but a gutter full of leaves and black muck will be one of the first things people notice. If you have gone to the effort of cleaning the rest of the house, the guttering should match.
6. Artwork, sculptures or water features
Give your home some personality with a sculpture or water feature. It doesn’t need to be pretentious or twee, a simple waterfall could work and would make a lovely sound. Be wary of families with small children and don't go for anything too deep. Gnomes tend to stir strong feelings in most, so maybe choose something different!
There will undoubtedly be some viewers who do a late night ‘drive-by’. Light your property with affection – give it a homely glow that looks inviting on a winter’s evening. There’s no need for neon uplighters which upset everyone on the street. Instead, some subtle solar lights along the path, or well-chosen lamps by your front door will look lovely.
8. Don’t forget the garage
If your garage and its door is visible when approaching your house, it is definitely part of your kerb appeal. Again, give the door a good clean to freshen it up – although you should get the paint brush out if you need to. Plants are another way to style and hide the garage a little, making if feel like part of your home rather than an ugly, forgotten extension.
9. Hide your rubbish
Following a thorough spring clean, you’re likely to have lots of rubbish – don’t leave it out in piles for people to see! Think ahead and clean and declutter before any visits and in time for bin collection day. Of course you can’t predict when you may have a viewing, but you should be prepared to let people in whenever.
10. The pavement
The street outside your home may not be your responsibility, but it is part of the viewing experience. You can’t possibly control it all, but there are some things you can do. If you live on a leafy street, sweep away the dead leaves. If your neighbour’s bins are strewn all over the path, straighten them up. The little details might just help.
The recent cut in the Bank of England base rate may have come as welcome news for many mortgage holders, but for savers it has been yet another hit on their returns.
There is light at the end of the tunnel however. At times when homeowners are struggling to make their savings work for them, offset mortgages offer an excellent alternative, and can also be big money-savers.
This type of mortgage works by allowing homeowners to ‘offset’ the balances held in their savings and current accounts against the mortgage debt, thereby reducing the amount of interest payable on the mortgage. Put simply, instead of earning interest on their savings, a borrower pays less interest on the mortgage.
There are a number of other attractive benefits to offsetting. Because no interest is earned on the savings, there is also no tax to pay, so this can be particularly useful for higher rate taxpayers.
Like this post? Read more on this topic here.
There is also a greater degree of flexibility than can be found with many traditional mortgages. Most deals provide an overpayment facility, but this is often restricted to 10% of the mortgage balance per year. Offset mortgages generally provide an unlimited overpayment facility and, perhaps more importantly, borrowers retain easy access to their savings at all times.
This type of mortgage can be especially effective for homeowners with variable sources of income. The self-employed, for example, might use their offset account to put money aside over the course of the year to pay their tax bill, so having that easy access is essential.
Lenders generally offer two options depending on how the borrower wants their mortgage to work. They can choose to reduce their monthly payments as a result of the reduced interest charge, if cutting costs is a priority.
Many opt to keep their payments as they are however, in order to reduce the overall term of the mortgage. This means making savings on the overall amount of interest paid and clearing the debt much quicker.
The interest rates available for offset mortgages are higher than for traditional mortgages, so borrowers will need to do their sums before deciding if this is a worthwhile option for them. However, with interest rates currently at record-lows, and savings accounts offering little in the way of returns, now may be the time for borrowers to consider using their money in a different way, and ultimately for their own benefit.
If you are considering an offset mortgage or simply need mortgage advice, then please speak to the Guild Mortgage Service provided by fee free L&C Mortgages.
You can contact L&C mortgages on: 0800 073 1945
Economic News August 2016
On the 4th of August, the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee unanimously agreed to cut the base interest rate to 0.25 per cent from its already record low level of 0.5 per cent, where it had remained since March 2009. The aim of the cut is to encourage households and businesses to borrow more and to encourage banks to create more money for loans and thereby keep money flowing into the economy. However, as rates are so low, the effect may be limited.
As the cut was announced, some major mortgage lenders, including HSBC, Santander and Nationwide agreed to pass on the cut. However, Tesco Bank raised rates on a dozen tracker loans for new customers and the Halifax has followed suit, increasing the interest rate on two-year trackers offered to borrowers with small deposits to 2.04 per cent.
At the same time as cutting the base rate, the Bank of England announced further measures to stimulate the economy, which included a new round of quantitative easing to the tune of £60 billion, as well as buying up to £10 billion of UK corporate bonds. It also set up a new £100 billion Funding for Lending-style scheme. The Bank stated that there was still scope to cut the interest rate further if the economy worsens.
The Bank’s quarterly inflation report, delivered alongside the rate decision, downgraded Britain’s future growth forecasts but maintained the 2 per cent forecast for 2016 following a better-than-expected 0.6 per cent GDP growth in the three months up to June, up from 0.4 per cent in the first quarter of the year. A further positive note was sounded when the Office for National Statistics reported that UK industrial output grew at the fastest rate for 17 years in the April to June quarter. The figures were 2.1 per cent up on the first quarter of the year.
Mixed views are being reported on the state of the housing market. According to a survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the UK housing market is continuing to slow in the wake of the Brexit vote, with a significant slowdown in price rises in the three months to the end of July. The Halifax said house prices fell by 1.0 per cent in July compared to June but the Nationwide said prices rose by 0.5 per cent. On an annual basis, the Halifax said house prices had increased by 8.4 per cent, while the Nationwide said annual house price inflation was 5.2 per cent. However, the latest House Price Index published by the Office for National Statistics affirms that UK house prices in June had increased by one per cent over May and by 8.7 per cent over the previous year; the official July figures will be released in September.
The Office for National Statistics reported that UK construction output fell in June but stated that there was ‘little anecdotal evidence’ of a Brexit impact. This contrasts with the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index, which suggests output in July shrank at its fastest since June 2009.
New inflation figures were released in mid-August. The Consumer Prices Index rose from 0.5 per cent in June to 0.6 per cent in July. The main reason cited was an increase in fuel prices, which are priced in dollars and thus affected by the fall in the value of sterling. The Retail Prices Index measure of inflation also increased from 1.6 per cent in June to 1.9 per cent in July.
UK HOUSE PRICE INDEX: June 2016 (released 16 August 2016)
The June 2016 house price index data for the UK showed a monthly rise of 1.0 per cent across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, while in England the increase was slightly lower at 0.8 per cent. In London the monthly change was 0.2 per cent but it was the South East region that experienced the highest monthly growth with a rise of 1.5 per cent. The West Midlands and the North East each saw the most significant monthly price fall with a movement of minus 0.2 per cent.
On an annual basis the price change across the UK was 8.7 per cent, bringing the average house price to £213,927. In England the annual price increase was a little higher at 9.3 per cent and the average house price £229,383. London experienced a rise of 12.6 per cent making the price of an average London home £472,204. However, it was the East of England that saw the greatest increase over the year with a rise of 14.3 per cent, while the North East saw the lowest annual price growth at just 1.5 per cent. In terms of property type, flats and maisonettes once again saw the greatest annual increase in prices both across the UK as a whole at 9.8 per cent and in England at 10.6 per cent.
Detailed statistics for local authority areas continue to show a wide variation but ten areas saw a fall in prices over the year, notably Hammersmith & Fulham and South Lakeland at minus 3.2 per cent. The highest annual rise was seen in Slough at 24.6 percent, while Stevenage, Croydon, Luton, Newham and Waltham Forest also saw increases of 20 per cent or more.
Sales volumes for England in April 2016 totalled 42,938 compared to 102,597 in March. April sales were also 33.4 per cent down compared to a year ago when 64,467 completed house sales were made.
Statistics relating to building status showed that the average price of a new build property in England in June was £268,703, down 4.6 per cent on May but up 9.2 per cent on a year ago. The average price of a resold property was £227,377, a rise of 1.6 per cent over May and 9.6 per cent higher than 12 months ago.
Statistics on buyer status in England showed that the average price of a house sold to a first time buyer was £192,987 and to a former owner occupier £259,780. Prices to first time buyers increased by 0.6 per cent over May, while re-purchasers saw an increase of one per cent. Over the year, prices for both first time buyers and former owner occupiers increased by 9.3 per cent.
The latest figures on funding status, which compare average cash and mortgage prices, show that in England the average cash price was £215,534 and the average mortgage price was £236,363. The monthly change for cash buyers was an increase of one per cent, while mortgage purchase prices rose by 0.8 per cent. However, the annual change for cash purchases was 8.7 per cent, while for mortgage purchases it was rather higher at 9.6 per cent.
The seven-year itch
Both Coventry Building Society and Barclays Bank have announced the launch of some highly-competitive 7-year fixed rates.
These deals not only offer longer term security for borrowers, but have been priced to match the cost of some of the best 5-year fixed rates currently on the market.
Deciding how long to fix your mortgage for is not an easy decision, and for some, locking in to a deal for 10 years may seem too long. These new offerings will provide a useful alternative for homeowners.
The recent vote to leave the EU has resulted in a degree of uncertainty, and this combined with falling funding costs could mean that now is the perfect time for borrowers to grab some peace of mind for the medium to long term.
These deals do carry Early Repayment Charges throughout the fixed period, so it’s important to be mindful of any potential changes in circumstances over the next few years.
Fixing for this length of time will not suit everyone, but for some a seven year deal will provide peace of mind for the future, and being able to do so at record-low rates is an added bonus.
Leeds Building Society improves its Buy-to-Let criteria
Leeds Building Society has introduced a greater degree of flexibility into its criteria, by announcing that it will no longer impose a maximum tenancy period for Buy-to-Let mortgages.
Criteria regarding tenancy agreements has improved throughout the market in recent years.
Rather than insisting on a maximum of just 6 to 12 months, most lenders now allowing tenancies of 2, and in some case 3 years.
Very few currently go beyond this however, so the move by Leeds has been welcomed by many.
With people renting for longer, and an increase in the number of families with children living in the rental sector, there is a definite need for more security of tenure.
Leeds has now opted to accept agreements for a time period which is suitable for both landlord and tenant.
This will provide more choice for those who would prefer to have a longer agreement in place and offer a greater level of security for both parties.
Fixed or variable?
Falling funding costs and a recent cut in the Bank of England Base Rate means that the choice of mortgage deal is as good as it’s ever been for borrowers.
Fixed rates are currently at record lows, so now is the perfect time to protect your mortgage payments for the foreseeable future by locking in to one of today’s highly competitive rates.
With talk of another cut in the base rate later this year, some borrowers will be attracted to variable rates, such as trackers or discounts, and the chance to make savings now. Many of these deals also come with no Early Repayment Charges, so the flexibility on offer can prove useful.
It is worth noting however that, since the base rate cut, some lenders have already increased the margins on their tracker mortgages, and others are likely to follow suit.
It is also worth checking the small print, as some tracker deals contain a collar, which would prevent it from dropping any further.
The choice of mortgage comes down of course to personal preference, but it’s important to consider how much room you have in your budget to cope with rising payments.
Anyone concerned about the prospect of an increase should look to fix now and take advantage of some rock-bottom rates.
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