Categories
Sales Group 2

It’s still a sellers’ market

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the end of the stamp duty holiday is the end of sales success. Reports are coming in of a positive moving market ahead, with some very encouraging statistics in early autumn.

More….but not quite enough

Rightmove found the number of new listings in the first two weeks of September 2021 was up 14% on the last two weeks of August. Although encouraging, it is far from an oversupply of property. The trickle of new-to-market homes will hold up values and continue the sellers’ market as we move through the last quarter of the year and into 2022. 

To put the current supply and demand situation into context, there are 10.1% fewer properties for sale now compared to the same period in 2020, with demand up 20.2%, according to property data analyst TwentyCi.

Looking at property through fresh eyes

The motivation to move home remains undented and in a recent article, The Times reported on the ‘deeper dissatisfaction with our homes’ uncovered in the first lockdown. In addition, a new study by Samsung Electronics UK found that 74% of UK consumers look at their homes differently now than they did 18 months ago.

This level of discontent was evidenced later on in the same study. Over half of homeowners questioned (52%) said their long-term property plans had changed, with 22% wanting to sell their property and buy a new one a top priority, followed by 12% looking to buy another property to rent out  and 11% buying a second home for themselves. 

Tenants too are reflecting on their next property step, with 64% of renters reporting that the pandemic had changed their future plans. Almost a quarter are now considering buying (23%), with 19% planning to purchase a property sooner than anticipated (19%).

Finding that ‘fit for purpose’ home

Although clichéd and over reported, agents agree that buyers are still looking for an antidote to where they currently live – be that faster broadband speeds, an extra room to turn into an office or a bigger garden. Many just dream of a bigger kitchen so they can cook for their family more conveniently with sufficient space for family and friends to gather, but the underlying reason for moving remains dissatisfaction in the face of re-evaluated lifestyles. 

Also advancing up the agenda and spurring on home movers are eco issues – perhaps coming as no surprise in the wake of a fuel and energy crisis. The Samsung Electronics UK study also found 79% of Brits now consider how green and environmentally friendly their property is a priority – as well as the impact on the local environment.

Confidence returns 

Worries about the downturn in prospects with the stamp duty holiday ending and furlough winding up have been misplaced, as the Building Societies Association quarterly Property Tracker survey illustrates. The number of people for whom the risk of a job loss presents a barrier to homeownership is plummeting. Only 34% are putting their buying plans on hold due to the thoughts of a redundancy, after reaching a peak of 68% in September 2020 and resting at 45% only three months ago.

Buying & borrowing for the first timer

One home buying group not fazed by the end of the stamp duty holiday is first-time buyers – purchasers who are essential for a fluid and fast-moving property market. They retain favourable treatment, paying zero stamp duty if their purchase price is £300,000 or less, while first-timers buying a property worth between £300,000 and £500,000 will only pay 5% on the portion of the purchase price that exceeds £300,000. 

Property novices can also use their stamp duty benefit in conjunction with the Government-guaranteed 5% mortgage scheme that has, in turn, stimulated the whole lending market to re-introduce low-deposit home loans. 

We’d love to discuss the changing nature of the property market with you, relating current trends to the home you own or a property you wish to purchase. Contact us for buying and selling advice that’s tailored to your personal circumstances.

Categories
Sales Group 1

Boost your home’s value via the bathroom

How much importance do you place on the condition of your bathroom? If you’re thinking of selling, the smallest room in your home can have the biggest impact on potential buyers – and it can lead to higher offers and increased desirability. 

When Royal London asked UK homeowners about buying decisions, they were prepared to offer an extra £10,915 for a property with a new bathroom – the second most valuable home improvement after a new kitchen. Even an upgrade can add up to 5% in value, so we strongly recommend paying particular attention to your bathroom ahead of a sale.

What adds the most value?

According to research by Plumbnation, installing an extra bathroom could add £50,000 to your home’s value – especially if there are more than two bedrooms and only one existing facility. If you can’t create an extra bathroom, making your current one bigger will also add around 5% in value, according to QS Supplies.

Next on the value adding list is creating an en-suite – a feature that a 2020 survey by the Nationwide Building Society found could increase a property’s value by 5% – adding around £13,300 to the average home. 

Offering a similar return on investment is a cloakroom. Providing a WC on the ground floor can lift your property’s value by 5%. Even shaking up your bathroom’s heating can be a winner – install underfloor heating and potentially add £7,000 to your asking price.

Bathroom blues: 4 to avoid when selling

As a seller, you really don’t want to give buyers any excuses to put in a low offer, so presenting your bathroom well will help you achieve as close to the asking price as possible. You may wish to consider.

  1. Coloured bathrooms: the avocado suite is always used as the biggest bathroom faux pas and for good reason. In fact, a 2017 survey discovered homebuyers would offer almost £5,000 less for a home with one in situ. Rarely installed since the 1980s, this and pastel-hued sanitaryware instantly date when a bathroom was fitted. It’s an acquired taste, so the first thought of many viewers will be the cost and hassle of replacing it. 
  2. Carpets: another hangover from the past is a carpet in the bathroom. They can harbour bacteria, are hard to clean and can feel depressingly damp underfoot. Anything is better than carpet – even cheap vinyl – so make the swap before selling.
  3.  Signs of mould: water leaks and damp issues can be expensive to fix, so any sealant or grouting that shows signs of mould will worry potential buyers. Mould on ceilings and walls can also be an indication of poor ventilation, and needs investigating prior to a sale.
  4. Bad smells: whether emanating from your toilet bowl or from a pile of wet towels, unpleasant odours can confront buyers on viewings, putting off a reputed 78% of people. Always remove the source of bad smells, open windows and use a subtle fragrance to freshen the air.

We are happy to appraise your current bathroom and make some value-adding suggestions, based on your budget, floorplan and selling timescale. Contact us today and we can make an appointment to visit your property.

Categories
Lifestyle Group 2

Doorscaping: designs to elevate your property’s entrance

So many magazine pages and column inches are devoted to interior ideas that it was only a matter of time before the ‘outside’ got in on the act. ‘Doorscaping’ is the latest design trend to catch the eye, with the forthcoming autumn and winter months the prime time to elevate your home’s entrance.

Doorscaping is actually a trend that has been slowly creeping up on us in the UK. We have already started to follow the lead of our friends across the pond, adopting the American penchant for a different door wreath every season. Instead of confining ourselves to a traditional Christmas arrangement for two weeks of the year, more UK front doors have been sporting Easter wreaths and late summer examples made from dried flowers.

Aesthetic efforts outside really ramped up last Christmas, when a number of famous faces adopted a ‘more-is-more’ attitude to dressing their front doors. While 2020’s efforts were grand, this year’s doorscaping is set to be even more substantial. 

Not all of us have the help of interior design stylists to create a ‘wow’ entrance but there is good news. It is possible to create a visually striking doorscaping display with a supermarket dash, a trip to Hobbycraft and a scavenge around your local park or woods. Once you have your haul, visit Instagram or Pinterest and search #doorscaping for inspiration. 

An integral part of doorscaping is a wreath. While you can buy pre-made items, those feeling creative can follow Hobbycraft’s guide to make your own this autumn. Simply swap the choice of autumn flowers for holly, ivy and pine cones next season, and you’ll have a bespoke winter-themed example too. As well as foraging for twigs, autumnal leaves, dried grasses and seed heads, wreaths also look appealing when adorned with cinnamon sticks and dried slices of orange, so add these to your next food shop. 

Doorscaping is as much about your front steps as it is your actual door and Halloween presents an entry-level way of experimenting. You can quickly create a compelling scene by arranging a selection of pumpkins and ornamental gourds on your steps. If you’re not too fond of carving, add some storm lanterns filled with battery-operated candles and you’ll extend the appeal to after dark. 

Some doorscapers change their door mats in line with seasons and events – an easy switch as different types are readily available in hardware stores, garden centres and online. Others dedicated to the doorscaping cause use props to set the scene – think baskets of harvest vegetables, hand-tied wheat sheafs, apple crates and even hay bales.

If you want to go all-out when it comes to doorscaping, the most extravagant projects involve door arches. It’s a hallmark that’s been carried over from weddings, high-end hotels and boutique shops into a residential setting. The very best arches are much-photographed focal points  – even tourist attractions – so if you’re adding this doorscaping element, be prepared for people to stop and admire.

Flora and fauna – fresh, dried or even faux – usually provide the backbone of an arch but each season sees the introduction of extras – balloons, baubles, fairy lights and fruit have all made appearances to great effect. 

While a local florist may offer a door arch service, you can create your own by following Georgia Rivett’s guide, as featured in Northern Life magazine. Attractive alternatives include an arrangement of branches that are intertwined with leaves, lights and berries, or pre-made garlands that are easily draped over a porch.

As an agent, we know that kerb appeal really helps generate interest in a property. Why not apply a few doorscaping ideas to where you live and share the results with us?

Categories
Lifestyle Group 1

Revealed: Bright Skies is Dulux’s Colour of the Year 2022

Whether you are preparing your home in advance of a sale or have recently moved into a new property, applying a fresh lick of paint may be at the top of your ‘to do’ list. With literally thousands of paint shades to choose from, the choice can easily become overwhelming, so how do you pick a colour that you won’t regret?

Design and decorating companies usually announce an annual ‘colour of the year’ – a shade that encapsulates a nation’s mood and complements current interior trends – and Dulux has been the first to break cover. It has announced that its Colour of the Year 2022 is Bright Skies – a great shade for those who want something neutral with wide appeal.

Unlike the colours nominated by Pantone, which are unusually bold, often divisive and not always suitable for liberal use in the home (browse its choices from the past 11 years here), Dulux’s annual pick is always less controversial and more accessible. The latest choice doesn’t disappoint.

Bright Skies is a cool, pale blue described by Dulux as an ‘airy and fresh tone that opens up and breathes new life into any space’. Using the colour is also designed to revitalise and bring a new sense of optimism – perfect for anyone stuck in a decorating rut.

Its cool, fresh qualities allow Bright Skies to be used to paint entire rooms and lighten up dark corners. As well as lifting the mood in living rooms and bedrooms, it can be used to refresh bathrooms, hallways and kitchens, as the paint is available in Easycare Washable, Tough Matt, Easycare Bathroom and Easycare Kitchen (the latter two are available as tinted and mixed-to-order products). 

A versatile shade, Bright Skies also works well when combined with other colours. You can create a warm and inviting interior scheme by mixing it with beiges and creams – Dulux’s Cardamon Pod and Fossil Hunting are the perfect neutral paint partners. Bright Skies also pairs well with light greys, duck egg blue, sage green and pastel pink – why not get some tester pots of Moon Cloud, Romantic Reverie, Tranquil Dawn and Frosted Steel to go with Bright Skies? 

If your plans don’t involve painting, you can still join the colour club and use Bright Skies to influence your choice of accessories. Fabric manufacturers and homeware retailers are usually very quick to pick up on colour trends, and the shops are already full of blues that match Dulux’s Colour of the Year 2022.

Changing your bedlinen is a quick way of introducing Bright Skies to your bedroom and Dunelm’s floral design duvet set won’t break the bank, while scatter cushions can perk up a tired sofa – Marks & Spencer’s quilted version in chambray is a good colour match. Other ways to bring Bright Skies into the home include Loaf’s ceramic bowls in Baker’s Blue or Annabel James’s super soft throw

If you’d like more advice about getting your home ready for a sale – or are hunting for the perfect property to paint as you wish – we’d love to hear from you.

Categories
Lettings Group 1

Revealed: revised attitudes to the private rental market

The private rental market is an integral rung on the property ladder. For many, it is the first step when leaving the family home or going off to study. For others, it’s a safety net when life’s plan changes direction. Whether it’s a stop gap, a stepping stone or a lifestyle choice, one thing is constant – the need for quality rental accommodation.

A recent buy-to-let report suggested that mood in the buy-to-let market was nothing short of positive, with more than a third of landlords planning to buy a property in the next year, and two thirds feeling confident. Rents are rising, demand is rising and the value of the private rental sector is rising too. With many aspects in the ascendency – and a very different landscape in terms of lifestyles and working arrangements – now is a good time to re-evaluate attitudes to renting.

HMOs & student accommodation

Yields will remain the crucial factor when purchasing a first buy-to-let or expanding a portfolio. Once overlooked for their perceived level of hassle, HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and student accommodation could be a valid alternative to the default choice of a two-bedroom apartment. Research shows that since 2016, student properties have enjoyed mean gross yields in England of between 6.15% and 6.6%, compared to the overall rental market yield of between 5.43% and 5.6%. Landlords who opt for a professional management service will enjoy a market-leading return with none of the day-to-day administration.

Targeting older tenants

At the other end of the spectrum, landlords could exploit the growing band of tenants that fall outside of the ‘home leaver’ and postgraduate age bracket. The latest English Housing Survey showed there was a generous rise in the number of 35-44 year olds living in privately rented accommodation, as noted between 2009/10 to 2019/20. The results also showed the number of 55-64 year olds with private tenant status has risen from 7% to 10% during the same ten-year period.

Longer terms & fixed rent

Post-pandemic attitudes to living are well documented and may bring about some ‘against the grain’ thinking for both tenants and landlords. While the ability to rent for short periods has always favoured the tenants – and the ability to raise the rent favoured the landlord – both parties may find mutually beneficial ground in the shape of longer tenancy agreements and fixed rents. Indications show the turbulent times of the last 18 months have left more people involved in the private rental sector seeking long-term stability and reassurance.

The ‘doubling-up’ property

Although Propertymark’s latest figures show a 30% decrease in void periods since the start of 2021, having a contingency plan is best practice. New research suggests 17% of landlords said they would look for a future property investment that could double up as a holiday let so they could counteract a void period. As well as a let that attracts holiday makers, some properties can easily double up as serviced accommodation or as an ultra-short-term rental aimed at professionals.

If you are a portfolio investor looking to expand the number of properties you own, or are a first-time landlord requiring advice, we’re here to chat all things yield, return and property management. Get in touch today.

Categories
Lettings Group 2

Rent controls? Not on the radar

The UK’s property market can be hard to keep up with. As well as a new minister for housing, communities and local government (step forward Michael Gove), the industry is awaiting the Government’s publication of a Rental Sector White Paper. There is a gentle murmur that rent controls could be on the cards but is it time to panic?

It’s a firm no. The letting industry’s gut reaction is that rent controls are not part of the Government’s immediate plan, especially as the post pandemic recovery is still underway and the leading letting agents’ professional  body – ARLA Propertymark – is not supportive of such an introduction.

History shows us that rent controls have rarely had the desired effect those in charge want, so despite a few rumbles in the press about a possible introduction, landlords should read with passing interest but it’s definitely not time to worry.

A brief history of rent control

The idea that a limit is put on how much rent can be charged – or by how much rents can rise – is not a new one, nor is it a concept consigned to ancient history. Modern-day rent controls were introduced during World War I, when approximately 90% of UK households rented privately. 

As rent caps existed to prevent profiteering during troubled times, it was no surprise that rents were also limited during World War II. Local rent caps, rent tribunals and revised rent Acts prevailed in some form right up until 1989, when the Housing Act 1988 deregulated rents on new private sector lettings and legal limits on rents were lifted.

Will Scotland set the precedent?

Rent control discussions are already happening in Scotland, where a new power sharing agreement between the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Greens has allowed rent caps to make it onto the agenda. The Green Party manifesto outwardly supports rent regulation, favouring ‘a points-based system’ of rent controls, although it remains to be seen if this notion wins cross-party backing. The mood is definitely that controls won’t make the final cut. 

Tenants in Scotland don’t, however, have to wait for a coalition Government to enshrine new ideas to curtail soaring rents. Local Scottish authorities have recently been given the power to introduce ‘Rent Pressure Zones’ – a way of capping rent increases where rents are rising to unaffordable levels. This initiative has staved off widespread rent controls but it remains to be seen whether it’s an effective or sustainable housing model.

Has London already provided the blueprint?

London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has been extremely vocal in his support of rent controls but he actually has zero power to introduce them and there’s actually no need for them.

The capital already has an active way of controlling rents in the shape of the ‘London Living Rent’ – a below-market rent held at one-third of median local household incomes in a localised area. It’s an initiative that doesn’t affect many private landlords, however, as London Living Rent properties are generally only available at dedicated Build to Rent schemes. 

How would other rent caps work?

As nationwide rent caps are theoretical at this stage, how they would be implemented is merely speculation, serving as a discussion topic and nothing more. The Scottish Green Party’s points-based system would work on the basis that housing costs should not equate to more that 25% of a household’s income, while others – including the Labour Party – suggest that rent rises could be limited by linking them to the RPI (Retail Price Index) – which is a measure of inflation. Previous rent caps were linked to the age, condition and location of a property. 

If the mechanics of the lettings sector are something you’d like to know more about – in your position as a tenant or a landlord – get in touch today.

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Lifestyle Group 1

Securing your new home

Moving into a new home is one of life’s most exciting milestones and while it may not feel as exciting as choosing new sofas or deciding who to invite to a housewarming party, paying some attention to the property’s security will help you feel more settled – and may even result in cheaper insurance premiums.

When you’re compiling your ‘to do’ list as you move in, you may find these 6 essential security changes useful:-

  1. Change front door locks: the handing over of keys always marks the end of one property ownership and the start of a new one but there’s no way of knowing whether past owners have retained a spare set, or whether neighbours may have keys too. Changing the front door locks should be up there with reading the meters as a default moving-in ritual. Always opt for a five-lever mortice lock with a BS heart-shaped Kitemark that meets the BS 3621 criteria – the gold standard in door security and a requirement from home insurance companies in order to secure a cheaper premium.
  2. Change or replace a key safe: key safes have grown in popularity  – used by forgetful teens, cleaners and carers, among others – but with many unlocked with a simple 4-digit code that’s easy to share and remember, it’s wise to change the code or replace the whole box.
  3. Install a safe: a fireproof safe is a great addition to a new home – especially for high value items of jewellery, spare keys and valuable documents – but any safe must be fixed securely to a wall or the floor for it to be effective.
  4. Secure windows & other entry points: anything that’s broken, jammed or missing should be repaired. This could include fixing a window that is stubbornly ajar, reinstalling a fence panel that’s blown down or replacing a patio door that doesn’t lock.
  5. Change the alarm code: ask your solicitor or agent to verify if the property you are moving into has a burglar alarm. If so, request that the operational instructions are left at the property, although many manuals are available to download online if you know the make and model. Make replacing the alarm code with something new a priority.
  6. Don’t overshare on social media: moving day is exciting and it’s news you may want to share online but do so with restraint. By all means document your first few days in a new property but it’s a good idea to share photos and details within private groups, and not publicly.

Other security measures for moving day & beyond

  • Update your home and contents insurance so cover starts at your new address as soon as you move in
  • Hang curtains or blinds as quickly as possible
  • Don’t leave valuable items in unlocked vans or cars on moving day
  • Find out whether the property is in a Neighbourhood Watch area
  • Don’t leave empty boxes for new TVs and gadgets in plain sight on recycling day

We’re experts at managing moving days, so if you have any question about the order of events, timings, collecting keys and keeping your possessions safe, just ask!

Categories
Lifestyle Group 2

The green green walls of home

Summer has departed and we’re heading for the year’s wetter seasons but on the plus side of so much rain in the UK, our land is a truly green and pleasant one. The leafy flora and fauna outside provides a veritable feast of verdant shades that can influence how we decorate inside.

Using green as a colour in your home has many benefits. Not only is the breadth of shades available dazzling – from mint, apple and lime through to fern, sage and emerald – there are health benefits too. 

Physiological studies have found that surrounding yourself with green can lower your heart rate, reduce stress and prolong lives. Psychologists will also point out the colour can provide a soothing, calming environment in the home and at work. If you need any more convincing about why green is the colour for 2021, this article from Livingetc is a good place to start. 

Understanding shades of green

With a vast spectrum of greens to choose from, it can feel overwhelming when starting out. Although green paint is probably the go-to medium when decorating, the colours mentioned below can be used as inspiration when choosing wallpaper, soft furnishings, accessories, fabric and artwork.

Bold greens with blue undertones, such as Crown’s Exotic No. 343 and  Dulux’s Emerald Glade, can look cold in north facing rooms but they work well when paired with chalky whites and mustard yellows. Use in cloakrooms, dining rooms and home offices, or as a single feature wall for real impact.

Yellow-based greens are generally softer on the eye and can be used to paint an entire room without colour overkill, no matter its aspect. Options to try include Crown’s Gentle Olive or Farrow & Ball’s Churlish Green – shades that look fabulous in living rooms, bathrooms and kitchens. 

Vibrant & lush

If you want a pop of colour, Margarita from Benjamin More or Antibes from Annie Sloan are perfect and if the paint name contains the words Lime, Zest or Grass, you’ll usually be rewarded with bold, beautiful green. Pair with brilliant white for a year-round punch of tropical vibes or use to refresh accessories – you could repaint existing picture frames, candlesticks and bedside cabinets for an instant injection of colour.

‘On the border’ greens

There are other shades of green that dance on the border of other colours, making them ideal for those who still need convincing to go all-out green. Dulux’s almost-blue Peppermint Beach is a safe choice, while Green Stone Pale by Little Greene really is one shade away from cream. Pale Georgian is another option to explore – it’s a golden green from Paint & Paper Library with bags of sunny charm. 

Go easy with the lightest of greens 

If you’re hesitant about introducing green to your home, or are worried the colour will make your home feel dark, opt for paint names with aqua, glass, mist or pearl in the name, as they’re usually super-light shades with just a hint of green. Looking Glass from Crown is perfect for those transitioning away from grey, while Little Greene’s Aquamarine Pale and Paint & Paper Library’s Glass colour spectrum will add freshness and tranquillity.

If you’ve been inspired to get creative with the colour green and need a blank canvas in the shape of a new home, get in touch for our available properties.

Categories
Sales Group 2

Are you guilty of sabotaging your own sale?

While an estate agent will do everything in its power to ensure your home is marketed to the right people, catches the eye of buyers and is priced attractively enough to encourage offers, sellers can also help themselves.

As a company that has sold hundreds of homes, we were very interested in the results of a new survey commissioned by GoCompare Home Insurance. It specifically asked home buyers and would-be purchasers what puts them off most when looking for a new home.

Tellingly, many reasons why a home may not sell were facets that, while out of the control of an estate agent, could easily be rectified by the seller. Taking joint first place in the top 20 reasons why a property for sale is rejected was damp patches or stained walls/ceilings, with 52% of those questioned saying this was off-putting (the other was no garden, which is probably the hardest point to address by anyone).

In second spot were bad smells, including pet odours, cigarette smoke, damp and food, with 50% of respondents citing this as a property turn-off. Other fixable issues that discouraged buyers included a property in a poor state of repair (45%); unfinished building work (38%); a dirty house (31%); untidy rooms (18%); overgrown gardens (18%) and a dated/over-the-top décor or carpets (12%).

The survey results indicate that first impressions really count, even though it’s a cliché in estate agency. The problem with a poor outward appearance is that it’s hard to see the true potential of the property underneath, while dubious stains and damp patches could give the impression there’s something more serious going on – even if the discolouration is merely superficial. Unfinished DIY or building work is also off-putting as the cost and effort involved in completing the projects is a barrier for many potential buyers.

Other aspects under a seller’s control that may be sabotaging a sale may need a little effort and diplomacy to fix. Neighbours are a bone of contention among buyers, with rubbish strewn in the garden next door (46%), a dilapidated neighbouring property (40%) and a student let adjacent (33%) are all red flags for those on a viewing. 

Also of concern are connections – especially if the property is in a broadband blackspot. Of those questioned, 44% said an unreliable broadband service would be a deal breaker, while a poor mobile phone signal would put off 35% of hopeful buyers. 

Even if a purchaser is keen to look past a property’s flaws, they may want compensation and could offer well below the asking price. Tidying, cleaning and repainting are quick fixes that will dramatically improve the chances of achieving your asking price, while switching to the provider of your area’s best broadband service and knowing the mobile operator with the strongest signal will win over those who’ve been online to check speeds and coverage.

If you would like a property valuation, together with honest advice about selling your home, contact us today.

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Sales Group 1

Houses in high demand

Two up, two down, smart semi or a sprawling detached family residence – the house has overtaken all other properties as the most in-demand dwelling. The craze was even noticeable in the new build sector, where analysis of Land Registry data showed detached houses were the most frequently bought style since 31stJanuary 2020. 

Much has been reported on the ‘race for space’, which has seen home movers make a beeline for houses, but trading up to a bigger home was a trend forecast to end in line with the stamp duty holiday. 

New analysis has, however, shown houses are still in high demand and are predicted to remain hot property well into 2022. Property portal Zoopla reported that demand for houses in July this year was twice as high as typically seen at the same point between 2017 and 2019. 

You’ll be well aware that lockdowns provided a laser focus on where we live, with many lamenting the lack of privacy and cramped conditions when everyone was under the same roof at the same time. This propelled the first house buying wave, with many knee-jerk purchases and unplanned moves. 

Now the sustained demand for houses is linked to something else – low levels of available properties. In fact, Zoopla says some house stock levels are down 25% in the first six months of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020. It’s something we’re noticing too. 

The result is a supply and demand imbalance – there are simply not enough houses for sale to serve the number of people who want to buy them. As we move into autumn, we’re seeing panic buying being replaced by home movers who have bided their time – those who have waited for lockdown to lift and the outlook to stabilise before they started searching for a new house. It’s a sellers’ market and here’s exactly what that means for you if you own a house.

Every time a new house is added to our portfolio, there is instant interest. Many buyers have been on waiting lists for weeks – even months – and we’re finding the phone rings and the emails ping as soon as a fresh house appears for sale.

More often than not, we receive multiple requests to view a house within the first 48 hours of it appearing on our website and across the property portals. The diary is filled quickly and it’s not long before people are making offers. In some cases, the competition to secure a house is so fierce that a bidding war breaks out and the asking price is surpassed.

Many buyers are looking for a house just like yours, particularly if it’s smart and of sound construction. If you can help us address the shortage of houses for sale in the local area and would like to see a ‘for sale’ board up outside your home, contact the team today and book a free valuation.

Categories
Lifestyle Group 2

Digging deep to add a basement

Much has been made of this year’s ‘race for space’, with home movers buying and selling to gain an extra bedroom, a bigger living area or a much-coveted home office. When you couple this with news that a detached house was the most popular property type bought by new home purchasers during the pandemic, it’s no surprise there is a big squeeze on space.

Many people buy a smaller property for its potential to extend but the traditional route is to go up – a two-storey extension or a loft conversion, for instance – but how about digging deep? It’s easy to assume that basement conversions are just for property high rollers, with A-list celebrities excavating to add a swimming pool, a home cinema or a gym complex, but can anyone add extra square footage by going underground? 

With land at a premium, basements are gaining in popularity as an extension option. If you are considering this route, a quick look at other houses like yours may give you a clue as to whether you’ll enjoy success – if the properties already have basements, your plans will start on a positive note. 

If you are not aware of a successful cellar conversion or basement excavation at neighbouring houses, you will need to work with a structural engineer and the local council on a feasibility study. They are likely to raise the following points:

  • The Party Wall Act: neighbours will need to be notified about any planned work as part of this Act, as it may involve underpinning their party walls and inserting beams into shared brickwork.
  • Permissions: your local planning officer and building control department will decide what’s possible and what will need planning permission.
  • Evaluation: every aspect of your home and land, from soil type and the water table to access and service pipework will need appraising as part of the planning stage. If you don’t understand what heave and hydrostatic pressure is – and how they can affect basement plans – consult with the professionals.

Don’t forget that creating a basement isn’t a run-of-the-mill building project. Going underground requires a team of experts, including structural engineers, surveyors, architects, excavators and waterproofing professionals. This basement guide, created by SWJ Consulting, is a good read for those who’d like more detail about what adding a basement involves.

The need for specialist skills brings us to the cost of creating or converting a basement, and this will vary according to what you have already. If you’re converting an existing cellar, costs can range between £900 to £1,400 per square metre. If your basement is brand new and requires excavating, expect to pay in excess of £1,500 and £2,000 per square metre.

It’s wise to contact everyone who needs to be on board for an estimate before getting too carried away. Ask about their availability too – the best trades can be booked up for months and demand may also mean their prices rise (as will a shortage in building materials).

So will a basement end up paying for itself? The answer is: possibly. For the shrewd property owners out there, basements may present a way of creating an additional income stream. Xcavate Robotics is a company that works with homeowners to establish whether they can squeeze additional underground properties onto their land, with the build taking place under their garden. 

Its subterranean construction system is capable of adding a lower ground floor below an existing structure, and it can even carve out an entire one-bedroom apartment beneath a lawn – perfect as a property that can be rented out, or as an annexe for multi-generational families.

Even if you’re not looking to become a landlord, adding a basement can add as much as 20% to your home’s value, reports the HomeOwners Alliance. Already have a cellar? Even converting somewhere dark, dingy and demoted to a dumping ground will increase your property’s worth.

Ask us for advice and examples if you’re looking to buy a property with basement potential. If the idea sounds like too much hassle and you’d prefer the work to have already been completed, we can find you a home with more space than you have now.

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Lifestyle Group 1

Interior trend: make time for mantelscaping

As the temperature drops and we head back into our homes in search of cosiness, fireplaces will, once again, become a home décor focal point. While we may only light the gas, fan the real flames or flick the switch of a stove-effect heater when it’s really cold, the mantelpiece is a year-round feature that you can dress to have a big impact. In fact, there is something called ‘mantelscaping’ – the art of arranging knick-knacks, trinkets and flowers on the ledge (the mantel) that sits above a fire. 

The good news is you don’t have to have a working fire, or even an opening, to have a mantel and enjoy mantelscaping. It’s increasingly common to affix a piece of timber to a wall – such as an old railway sleeper – to create a mantel, while others retain a mantelpiece as a feature after decommissioning a fireplace, just so they can decorate it.

The most authentic addition to a mantel would be a mantel clock – also known as a shelf clock. Dating back to France in the mid 18th century, the tradition still pervades today, although more contemporary styles are manufactured alongside the ornate versions seen in Georgian and Victorian eras.

The perfect companions to a mantel clock – an addition that can be traced back centuries – are candles. While we are spoiled with different sizes, fragrances and types today, the classic mantel candle would be a tapered example held in a decorative candlestick. 

Before you dismiss this candle and holder combination as too pretentious or fussy, the art of mantelscaping includes balancing the height of objects. Elegant candle sticks with tall, slim candles work perfectly with chunkier jar candles and tea lights. Just be sure to leave enough distance between the wall and the candle to avoid leaving soot marks when lit, use a proper candle snuffer to extinguish the flame and always be aware of fire safety 

Varying heights can also be achieved by adding object d’art – items that bring aesthetic delight or tell a story. Glass bell jars and cloches, sea shells, driftwood and decorative urns all work well, and you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a vase. As well as choosing the actual display vessel according to its stature, the height of your flowers (either fresh or dried) can draw the eye and add a dynamic edge.

Photo frames are another mantel staple where you can express yourself and have fun. Choosing to frame only black and white images lends a classic feel, especially when the photos are in gold or silver frames. A more casual look can be achieved by simply propping up postcards, small, unframed prints or even invites to weddings and thank you notes.

Mantelscaping is also rivalling the door wreath as something that can reflect the changing seasons, especially when it comes to festive events. Why not pile your mantel high with mini pumpkins and gnarly gourds when it’s Halloween, or intertwine battery-operated fairy lights between your every-day items at Christmas? For an effortless option, choose a pre-lit, pre-decorated garland – readily available online and in garden centres. Look out for seasonal versions with pine cones, autumn leaves and berries, studded with tiny, warm fairy lights for a cosy glow. 

When mantelscaping, it’s up to you whether you opt for symmetry, with a focal point in the middle of the mantel and items mirrored either side, or whether you follow the interior designer’s much favoured ‘power of three’ rule, where objects always appear together as a trio. The joy of mantelscaping is its accessibility – simply arrange what you love most and make small tweaks until you can sit back and enjoy your display.

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Lettings Group 1

Student lets leapfrog other property investment prospects

September can only mean one thing – back to school. While the concerns of younger students include pencil cases and packed lunch boxes, undergraduates will be thinking about more serious matters, such as where to live.

Student lets are big business for landlords, even for institutional investors. The Financial Times recently reported on Blackstones – the world’s biggest commercial landlord – offloading offices and retail units so it could bid to buy student housing operator, GCP Student Living.

Even for the humble one-property landlord or investment novice, there are gains to be made in the student let market. A shortage in traditional ‘hall’ accommodation, coupled with the desire to live with like-minded undergraduates in a freer environment, has buoyed the private student rental market.

A recently published student living index found that growing demand was behind student rents increases of almost 20% over the last 12 months. Students in Leicester were most affected, with a £188 rise in their average monthly rental costs.

The ability to increase rents is important when it comes to yields and there is good news for those aiming for the university market. Analysis of 5,000 student lets between January and July 2021 found that yields were climbing steadily, with marked gains in the North East, the North West and the South East. 

Investing in a town where there is a single university has also been proven to be a good strategy, with research revealing 7 out of the top 10 cities for the best student rental yields only had one main university. Swansea came out as the top location, with landlords enjoying student yields of +9.56%, followed by Hull (+8.68%) and Sheffield (+7.58%).  

If your head has been turned by the attractive student let market, here’s some advice about appealing to undergraduates:- 

 

  • Operate compliantly

 

If you’re hoping to run a house share, also known as an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation), you’ll need to check with the local authority about a license to operate and also familiarise yourself with the extra compliance required when renting to multiple households.

 

  • Consider fully furnished

 

Students like fully furnished properties so they can move in with just the basics. Budget for buying furniture and ensure anything you purchase second hand, or are given meets fire safety regulations. When offering a fully furnished student let, an inventory will be especially important. 

  •  Minimise financial risks

Don’t hesitate to ask for a parental guarantor or a whole year’s rent upfront. This is quite normal in the student let market, giving landlords a greater degree of financial security and less chance of arrears.

 

  • Offer brilliant broadband

 

With many lectures remaining online, reliable and fast broadband is on the top of every students’ housing wish list. Installing the very best WiFi could be part of a ‘bills included’ package, should you choose to follow this path.

 

  • Students are driven by location 

 

Think about the property’s location when looking to purchase a student buy-to-let. The holy trinity of places to be close to include the university campus, shopping facilities and any social centre – walking distance is preferred as students will not necessarily drive or own a car.

 

  • Don’t hesitate in marketing

 

It’s never too early to market your student let. Competition for the best properties can be fierce and as a result, many students will look for a place to live in the autumn, ready for the following academic year.

We are well versed in helping landlords get ready for the student market. If you would like advice on compliance and HMOs, setting the rent, how to operate a ‘bills included’ let, working out yields, how to find tenants and managing a student let with the minimum of fuss, talk to us today.

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Lettings Group 2

Rental guarantors: the new normal in lettings?

If we were to draw positives from the pandemic, one would be that workers have been presented with the opportunity to change their career path. Whether they’ve started a cottage industry from their kitchen table during furlough or have gone it alone after being made redundant by an employer, one thing is for sure – self-employment is on the rise.

In fact, the number of those working for themselves broke through the 5 million barrier for the first time at the end of 2019, while the Institute for Fiscal Studies forecasts a record rise in solo self-employment in 2021. So why does this have a bearing on the lettings industry?

Financial security and employment prospects form a critical part of the referencing process when vetting potential tenants. Those looked upon most favourably are those with job security – workers with a stable income and for the same employer for a number of years.

With the last 18 months seeing a dramatic shift towards freelancing and self-employed status, many tenants renting in the near future will have a largely unsubstantiated income. When it comes to referencing, a few months as an untried and untested self-employed worker may not be enough to satisfy landlords. This is why rental guarantors may be the most important aspect of lettings moving forward – and not just the preserve of student renters. 

What is a rental guarantor?

A guarantor is someone who agrees to step in and pay the rent if or when the tenant can’t. Becoming a rental guarantor isn’t a trivial matter – it carries legal obligations and the agreement has to be made in writing. As well as covering any payments, a rental guarantor also acts as a second point of contact, should the landlord be unable to reach the named tenant, and they will be called upon to pay for any damage to the property if the tenant can’t. 

A landlord will also want to know that the nominated guarantor has the financial means to pay the rent and to cover damage. As a result, they too may also need to clear credit checks before they are accepted, proving they have an income or savings of their own as part of the process. 

Who can be a rental guarantor?

Usually a rental guarantor takes the form of the tenant’s parents or an immediate relative, although it’s also possible for a close friend to become a guarantor. It’s worth noting that some trustworthy people will be declined as a guarantor, such as those who are retired, those who don’t own a property and those who are themselves self-employed.

There are also businesses who will act as a guarantor – useful for when a landlord wants 6 or 12 months’ rent upfront or when the tenant can’t provide a UK-based guarantor. The renter pays a one-off or a monthly fee in return for the company guaranteeing to pay the rent if the tenant can’t.

An option if you can’t get a rental guarantor

If you’re newly self-employed and your earnings are still on the ascendancy, a guarantor is a great option when renting a property. If you’re not in the position to secure a guarantor, you can offer to pay the rent six months in advance, as a clear indication to the landlord that you have the funds to meet the monthly rent. When the six months is up, you may be able to prove your earnings and switch to conventional monthly rent payments.

Landlords and tenants looking for further information about the referencing process and the option of a rental guarantor should contact our team for friendly advice.

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Sales Group 2

What influences buyers in 2021?

Our lives changed dramatically in 2020 with the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns forcing us to spend more time than ever in our homes. Here we explore how our lifestyles and professional priorities have shifted, and why this is influencing what we look for when buying a new home. 

Changing priorities

Before the pandemic, being able to walk to the local Tube or train station, living close to the right schools and even having a well-known supermarket close by were what drew in buyers. These things, which were so important a couple of years ago, have now slipped down our must-have lists, making way for green spaces and home offices. 

In fact, a report from Market Financial Services found 42% of us have changed our view on where we want to live and 46% of home movers are now looking for more space.

Gardens and outdoor areas

As we realised the true value of outdoor space, having a garden is now the top priority for many buyers, with searches for homes with gardens up 42% in May 2020 according to Rightmove

If your current home has a garden – big or small – make sure you show it off to its full potential before it hits the open market. Set a small budget to create an area for socialising, remove weeds and clear away any junk. In a small garden or even on a balcony, some potted plants can add colour. Showing your garden as a tranquil space to relax and entertain could be key to attracting the right buyer. 

No garden? No problem! Having outdoor spaces, like parks and woodlands nearby is also important to today’s buyers. If your home is near one, make sure it’s included in your property’s marketing details. 

Home offices

Working from home became the norm for most people in 2020 and it appears that the trend for at least some work days to be completed from home looks set to stay. Creating a dedicated home office or workspace will appeal to those who have struck a flexible working arrangement with their employers.

If you have a spare room, box room or an additional, but unused  reception room – clear out the clutter and fit in a small desk to show what’s possible. Making sure your home Wi-Fi set-up is the best it can be may also be important – after all, it’s an essential tool when working from home and buyers can check broadband speeds online ahead of a purchase.

Making the most of what you have

While you can’t change where your property is, you can make it more appealing before you sell and show off the things you do have. Never has it been more important to sell a lifestyle, and as a result sellers will need to ‘set the scene’ with furniture and accessories. This will help buyers instinctively see themselves living there when looking at photos or when they’re on a viewing. Our friendly team can advise you on how you can make your home appeal to the widest audience, so get in touch. 

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Sales Group 1

Top 10 apps to manage your home move

Increasingly our lives are run from the palm of our hands, especially now almost everyone owns a smartphone. As buying, selling and moving home is made up of lots of elements to keep track of, apps can really help streamline the process. Here are 10 we recommend:-

  1.     Emma – Budget Planner Tracker  

Available on iOS and Android

Emma can show you what you spend your money on and can help you economise, helping you save a deposit for your dream home.  

  1.     Freecycle

Available on iOS and Android

If you are decluttering before you move, Freecycle is a great way of giving unwanted items another life rather than taking them to the tip. Just list the items you want to give away and arrange a collection time. 

  1.     Houzz Interior Design Ideas 

Available on iOS and Android

If you need ideas for a new home or want to spruce up ahead of a sale, Houzz offers more than 20 million photos of home interiors and exteriors for inspiration.

  1.     Pinterest

Available on iOS and Android.

Pinterest offers a digital place to store visual resources. Create a board for every room in your new home, browse the app for ideas and pin photos you’ve already taken. 

  1.     Photo Measures 

Available on iOS and Android

This app enables you to take photos of rooms or furniture and note down measurements directly on the image, so you can make sure your furniture will fit in another property while you’re on a viewing. 

  1.     MooveMe: Let’s Get Packing

Available on iOS.

With MooveMe, you can print QR code labels for your moving boxes. Simply scan the code and see the pre-populated list of what’s inside without having to open or unpack the box. This app even works offline – great for when your Wi-Fi isn’t set up. 

  1.     Moving App – Moving Checklist 

Available on iOS and Android

This app will help keep you organised in the run up to moving day, with a weekly tasks section. It can also help organise your packing, keeping notes of what’s in each box and print box labels too.

  1.     Google Keep – Notes & Lists

Available on iOS and Android.

Google Keep enables you to quickly capture photos, ideas and checklists in one place. You can share your notes with others and set up reminders to make sure important tasks are done on time.  

  1.     Nextdoor 

Available on iOS and Android

If you are settling into a new area, Nextdoor can help you meet your neighbours, find local businesses, buy and sell homewares, and find out about events in your area.  

  1. Dulux Visualizer

Available on iOS and Android

Download this app before you go on viewings to visualise any paint colour from the Dulux range on any wall – invaluable if you turn up to discover the seller’s decorating taste is nothing like your own.

Whilst apps can help you keep track of your move, there really is no replacement for estate agency advice, so always use apps in conjunction with a property professional. Get in touch with us to see how we can help.

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Lifestyle Group 1

7 Shortcuts to Boho Chic

Just like on the catwalk, interior fashions come and go but there is one which is stubbornly sticking around – boho chic.

So just what is boho chic, we hear you ask? In terms of interior design and accessorising, boho chic is the best of laid back, unstructured living, with global influences and a love of all things handmade.

Before you assume it’s an ‘anything goes’ look, the most relaxed and carefree rooms seen across social media and in the top interior design magazines are actually painstakingly pulled together.

But fear not, you don’t need to be a professional property stylist to create bohemian, louche-living vibes where you live. Follow these simple rules and you’ll be lounging Ibiza-style in no time.

  1.     Wall hangings: the casual essence of boho chic means the clean lines of framed photos and prints are replaced by eye-catching wall hangings. Anything with tassels and tapestry works well so don’t discount wall mounting your favourite rug!
  1.     Texture: fringing, beading, knots and even pom-poms provide a shortcut to boho chic. The texture de jour is macramé, so look out for cushion covers, hanging planters and even indoor hammocks for an arts and craft feel.
  1.     Low-level seating: socialising boho style means sitting low down but not at the expense of comfort. Add bean bags, pouffes and oversized cushions to your living room for maximum lounging capabilities. 
  1.     Exotic treasures: a boho interior should look like you’re well-travelled but don’t worry if your passport hasn’t seen the light of day for years. Scour the internet and no one will know that your gilded tea glasses weren’t purchased in a Marrakech medina or that your Nepalese string of prayer flags were bought on eBay.
  1.     Non-matching furniture: the eclectic nature of boho chic dictates that nothing should match. Vintage and heirloom items can sit side-by-side with more modern pieces. There are no rules about upholstery either, so mix and match velvet, linen, embroidery and bold prints.
  1.     House plants: botanics lend any interior design scheme an exotic vibe and while there are a myriad of faux plastic house plants to choose from, there are more health, environmental and air purification benefits from growing the real deal. Opt for palms, ferns and the on-trend Swiss cheese plant for maximum foliage.
  1.     Colour combinations: almost every boho chic interior design has one common denominator – a neutral backdrop. White or cream walls in a chalky paint finish are reminiscent of far-away villas and allow the accessories to shine. Add splashes of jewel tones for an Ibizan island vibe or choose lush greens and deep turquoise for an Indonesian take on boho chic.

If you’re dreaming of creating a boho chic ambience in a new home, ask us for a list of available properties in your area.

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Lifestyle Group 2

Is the dining room dead?

What is your gut reaction when you view a property’s floorplan and see there is a space marked dining room? Are you one of those genial hosts who runs off to devise an eight-course tasting menu in anticipation of your first dinner party? Or do you instinctively think ‘waste of space’ as you’re more than happy with a TV dinner eaten off a tray?

Open plan living has pretty much killed off the dining room, with round tables, benches and breakfast bars initiating a much more informal approach to eating and drinking. The separate dining room has, however, been brought back from the brink of extinction in the last 17 months.

Now is a great time to re-evaluate your approach to this most formal of spaces, especially if you have resisted the urge to knock through and create one big open space, or are looking to buy a property with a separate dining room. Here are 5 ways to work a dining room into your property plans:-

  1.     No candelabra needed

If dining rooms conjure up images of mahogany tables, lead crystal glasses and a thin layer of dust, it’s time to find a fresh perspective. Opt for the most modern dining table and chairs you can find, be generous with lighting to keep the ambience upbeat and add vibrancy with brightly-coloured placemats, crockery and napkins (paper versions are perfect). 

  1.     Dual purpose room

If your main concern is that a dining room will be an underused space, give it two identities. Install floor-to-ceiling fitted shelves so the space provides storage or cover the table with wipe-clean cloth so it doubles as a crafting room.

  1.     Convert with a couch

If your dining room is generously proportioned, you could add a sofa so guests can relax with a drink before being called to the table. Even more space? Make that sofa a sofa bed and your dining room can double as an emergency guest room.

  1.     The new home office

Not every home will have a dedicated study or home office, so it’s no surprise that dining tables across the UK have been commandeered by home workers and studying students. After all – you can close the door of a dining room and join a Zoom meeting that isn’t disturbed by the bustle of an open plan kitchen. 

  1.     An excuse to entertain

Although formal meals account for a fraction of our time, retaining a dining room can be the gateway to some fantastic occasions with family and friends. Be liberal with your invitations, drop all airs and graces and don’t save your dining room ‘for best’. Sometimes the most memorable gatherings are over a take-away shared at the table – it’s the company that counts!

If you’re persuaded to find a new home with a dedicated dining room, let us match you with something where you can sit down to a feast. Got a property to sell? We can provide a free valuation and a snapshot of your local sales market, so get in touch.

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Lettings Group 2

7 realistic rental tips if you’re moving for a school place

Whether you think it is ethical or not, many families choose a rental property and time their move to put them in a favourable position when applying for schools. 

The admissions process for both primary and secondary places is based around a set criteria and although the distance from your home to the school gates isn’t at the top, it often counts when a school is oversubscribed. 

There is, therefore, much manoeuvring and jostling ahead of the application deadlines, with parents desperate to secure the right address before they fill out the form. For many, buying a property within the catchment of the best schools can be impossible in terms of cost and timings.  

Property sales can take up to four months to reach completion once an offer has been made (and longer in more complex circumstances), which leaves parents at risk of missing the application deadline. Plus, properties closest to the best schools often carry a price premium.

An alternative is to move into rented accommodation, as the set-up costs are a fraction of the costs involved in buying and the entire moving process, from a viewing to collecting the keys, can be concluded in a matter of days, if the tenancy is straightforward.

There are, however, a number of serious points to consider if you are thinking of renting a property with the specific aim of applying for a school place. Here is our list of top 7 tips and hints:-

  1.     Check a school’s catchment area before you start your property search: sometimes the catchment will be an irregular shape and not a circle, so the house right next door to the school may still be out of catchment. Some schools only take from certain parishes or postcodes, while others adjust their catchment every year, based on the volume of applications.
  2.     Establish the application closing dates: the Government’s official school application website states the primary school application process opens in September and closes on 15 January. When it comes to places at secondary schools, the deadline for applying is 31 October.
  3.     Rent a property well in advance: local councils do have rules about families whose moving timings are suspicious. They may want proof that you have lived in a rental property for a minimum period before you apply for a school place, so ensure you are moved in well before the closing date.
  4.     Don’t assume a buy-to-let address counts: there have been cases where families have used the address of a buy-to-let property they own that falls within a school’s catchment on the application form. A local council will want an owner-occupier address on the form and could send an officer to the property to check the status of the person living there.
  5.     Be mindful of a short let: the most popular of schools are hot when it comes to parents who take out a short let agreement just to have an address within their catchment. They may not accept applications where the tenancy length is six months or less, unless the family can prove all ties with their previous property have been cut.
  6.     Be prepared to evidence your move: if you have started renting a property quite close to the school application deadline, be prepared to provide your local authority’s admissions department. You’ll need a solicitor’s letter confirming you have sold a prior residence or proof that you have given notice on your current rented property, plus a signed copy of the new tenancy agreement, together with the start date.
  7.     Stick to the rules: if there is a suspicion that a local council’s application rules have been broken and no validation or proof of a legitimate address is provided, the school application could be declared void.

Our local knowledge will help you choose the right rental with a favoured school in mind. Talk to us about timings and availability today.

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Lettings Group 1

How to rent your home and everything in it!

Carrie Symonds, now Carrie Johnson after her wedding to the Prime Minister, often makes news headlines but one of her latest front page stories was an altogether more sustainable – and less salacious – affair. 

Many were surprised to learn that her wedding dress cost a mere £45! The catch? It was rented for a couple of days, representing an estimated saving of £2,825. While renting a property would not gain similar headlines, the act of an affluent couple hiring a wedding dress does.

Let’s look at the notion of renting in a little more detail. It represents a cheaper way to enjoy something that may be too expensive to buy outright. Wedding dresses fall into the same category as cars – pay a more affordable price to enjoy the pleasure for a limited amount of time. Hand the item back and move on, or rent again for a different experience.

It’s the same when it comes to property. Renting gives tenants freedom and flexibility, with tenancy agreements of 6 or 12 months allowing people to move on with ease and very few ties. In addition, setting up a rental agreement is also far cheaper than buying a property – there is no stamp duty to pay and the deposit is capped at a fraction of the price needed to secure a mortgage.

So if you’re renting your property, why stop there? We take a look at what other items you can rent as a tenant. Whether it’s haute couture clothes, the latest tech or the must-have interior design trends, renting instead of buying has an added ethical bonus too – it stops items heading for landfill when they fall out of fashion. Here are four to try:-

  1.     Gadget & appliances: if you lived in the 1980s, you may have popped into Radio Rentals to pay your monthly fee for a new fandangle VHS player. While the brand has disappeared from the High Street along with video tapes, it is still possible to hire the latest home tech and appliances – a wise option if you’re always looking to upgrade. Hughes Rental, among others, rents out Sonos sound systems, 65” TVs, white goods and laptops.
  2.     Art: if your money doesn’t stretch to buying a masterpiece, why not rent a painting, rare print or an iconic photo instead? The rentals at Rise Art start from £25 a month, and represent a risk free way of adorning your walls. 
  3.     Furniture: Roomservice by Court is just one company that offers furniture packs specifically for hire by tenants. Ideal for unfurnished properties or short lets, an entire property can be kitted out without the need to buy – even down to the bed linen. Renting also removes removal costs, as the furniture is delivered and collected by the rental company.
  4.     Clothes: Carrie Johnson’s wedding dress was rented from My Wardrobe HQ, which operates a clothes, shoes and accessories rental service online and from within Harrods. You can fill your rented wardrobes with rented designer fashions from as little as £4 a day, ensuring you’re always sporting the latest styles.

If you’re looking for help with your next rental property, feel free to ask us for advice and a list of available properties.