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Your 2020 guide to selling a probate property

Losing someone close to you is never easy and often, the bureaucracy around sorting out the estate and selling property only adds to the grief.

In instances where beneficiaries do not want to take on the inherited property themselves, a grant of probate will need to be applied for in most cases to sell the property on.

While this might seem daunting at first and just another roll of red tape to cut through, you’ll be reassured to know that one in 10 properties sold in the UK are reportedly probate sales, meaning it’s far more common than perhaps initially thought.

In this short guide, we outline the steps you can expect to go through if you ever need to sell an inherited property.

What is probate and how long does it take?
Probate is the legal process of distributing someone’s wealth and belongings after they pass away. Even when there isn’t a will (potentially 57% of the time), a grant of probate will still be required to transfer or sell a property, except when the property is left to a spouse or partner who is a joint owner.

How long probate takes can vary hugely and ranges from weeks, to months and even over a year. It will largely depend on the circumstances and whether inheritance tax is involved. The UK Care Guide suggests allowing six to 12 months – and this is before you are able to officially sell the property.

What can I do with the property in the meantime?
If the property is empty while awaiting the grant of probate, there are certain things you can do to prepare for the sale, provided you have the rights to access the property and administer the estate. This is often the executors or next of kin where there is no will:

– Ensure the house is secure
– Notify all service and utility providers that the owner has died and that the property is empty – gas, electricity, insurance and council tax, for example
– Clear the house of debris and rubbish and ensure it’s fit for viewing
– Remove personal possessions and valuable items but be careful not to sell items that may have been gifted in the will or without obtaining proof of sale as this will contribute to the overall value of the Estate
– Get a professional property valuation from at least two or three estate agents as soon after the death as you can
– Calculate and put aside any Inheritance Tax that is likely to be due

Will the property be used to pay off debt?
The property forms part of the total value of the estate, so if all other monies had been used and there was still outstanding debt, equity in the property may have to be used to clear it.

If you’re planning on selling the property anyway, you could inherit the proceeds from the sale minus any outstanding debt, including the mortgage – unless this is paid off by life insurance. If you intend on retaining the property, either to live in or rent out, you may have to mortgage the property yourself to release equity to pay off the estate’s debt.

Will I have to pay Capital Gains Tax?
That depends. Capital Gains Tax is payable on any increase in value of an inherited property from the date at which you acquired it to the date of sale, but only when it exceeds £12,300. So, if the property does not increase in value by more than £12,300 from the time probate is granted to the time you sell, then it’s unlikely you’ll need to pay. If, however, you decide to keep hold of the property and sell it years later, you may have to pay 18% above your allowance, or 28% if you’re a higher rate tax payer.

What’s the best way to sell a probate property and how much will it cost?
You can sell a probate property in the usual way via an estate agent and expect to pay the same fees. You can even market it prior to the grant of probate being approved, provided potential buyers are aware of the circumstances and uncertain completion time frame – potentially months.

This is often a good choice for properties in a good state of repair, but if the property has been neglected over the years and you’re not willing to make improvements, then selling at auction or to a cash buyer are fast and alternative options.

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Lifestyle move? 5 more leftfield questions to ask

When looking for a new home to buy or rent, there are the obvious questions to ask: how far it is to the nearest train station, have the local schools got good Ofsted reports, what council tax band is the property in? All completely sensible but home movers shouldn’t be put off asking more lifestyle – even seemingly superficial – questions, as more of today’s buying and selling activity is being fuelled by a change in priorities.

We firmly believe that your new ‘everyday’ is just as important – if not more – that the big moving motivators. The local environment will be with you long after the ‘new home’ cards have been displayed and the direct debits set up to pay the bills.

The stores where you will shop, the parks in which you’ll walk and the places you’ll choose to socialize in can make or break a move, so don’t be frightened to ask a broad range of questions so you can choose an area that really ticks all the boxes. Depending on your motivation for moving, you may like to think about the following:-

Is there a food or farmers’ market close by?
How we shop and where our food comes from is increasingly becoming important for many people. If your mantra is to support local, shop local and eat local, it’s worth finding out about open air markets, retailers who specialize in regional produce and restaurants that serve fresh, seasonal food.

Is the High Street full of chain coffee shops?
Something such as a Starbucks can be a real divide. There are those that love the big chains and those that prefer to get their latte from an artisanal independent. Where people head for their hot drinks is usually quite indicative of the wider retail and social scene too. If you’re after a cold brew coffee with a side of Sriracha scrambled eggs and a natter with the NCT mums, do your research.

Can I buy plant-based, gluten-free of vegan food nearby?
Nipping out to the corner shop for a pint of semi skimmed milk isn’t a problem in most places but if you suffer with a food allergy or have made a conscious nutritional choice, you won’t want getting the daily basics to become a mission. Some places embrace a broad spectrum of diets with more passion and it’s worth knowing where before you move.

Where can I walk my dog?
There are different types of dog walker, so make sure you know what’s available – and permissible – where you’re hoping to move. For some owners, there’s nothing more enjoyable than meeting in the park with lots of other owners and letting the dogs socialize. For others, they love the solace of walking their dog for miles without seeing a soul. It’s worth asking about secure areas, public footpaths, farmland and livestock, and seasonal access to beaches.

Is there an exercise community?
If you’ve adopted a more active lifestyle of late, living in a like minded community will provide all the encouragement you need to keep going. Knowing there’s a friendly running club, a network of cycle paths, an outdoor gym or even a bootcamp in the park will motivate you as soon as you’ve made a property move.

As a local estate agent, we’re happy to be quizzed about new neighbourhoods and their more social, quirkier sides. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

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Extending your property upwards: A 2020 guide

The only way is up, especially if you’re looking to create a bigger home without compromising outside space.

To increase the square footage of your property, you don’t always have to sacrifice your garden or driveway by extending outwards. Building upwards can give you the extra space you want and sometimes be more cost-effective – especially if you buy a property that has untapped extension potential.

It’s not just a privilege enjoyed by house owners either. As long as you own the top floor or the rights to the roof space in your flat, you might be able to use it more wisely – and potentially without the need for planning permission.

So, before we share some upwards extension ideas, here’s a short explanation about permitted development rights…

What are permitted development rights?

Permitted development rights give property owners the opportunity to make changes to their homes without applying for planning permission. Generally, these allow for modifications such as conservatories, outbuildings, extensions and loft or garage conversions, as long as certain limitations are met.

They only apply to houses that are not listed – not flats, maisonettes or properties in ‘designated areas’. If a property has had an extension since 1948, part of the permitted development allowance may have already been used.

To account for the lack of home building over the last few years, many changes have been made to permitted development rights, including the ability to change the use from commercial to residential for example. The latest amendment will allow for many purpose-built blocks of flats to be extended by up to two storeys to create bigger or a greater number of homes.

Great as they are, however, permitted development rights do not mean property changes aren’t subject to other types of permissions and approvals, such as neighbour consultation, building control regulations and the Party Wall Act 1996.

So before you ‘raise the roof’, so to speak, you should definitely seek professional advice and consult with your local authority.

3 ways to build upwards in your home

Convert the loft
The majority of loft conversions fall under permitted development and can add around 20% to the value of your home, according to Nationwide.

However, loft conversions will need to meet certain volume restrictions and window types. You’ll also need to consider whether you have enough space or look at other types of loft conversion options that require planning permission.

The sky really is the limit though if you have rights to the roof space – even in a flat – and could give you that much needed extra bedroom or a home office with a view. But remember to think about the space you might have to lose to access the upper floor.

Add a second storey to a single storey
Another great way to create more space is to build up above any existing single-storey – perhaps on top of your garage attached to the side or to a previous rear extension.

The first thing to find out is whether the existing foundations can bear the additional load. You then need to find out if extending upwards in this way will require planning permission. Currently, a second storey to the rear may come under permitted development but a second storey to the side will not.

Converting bungalows into houses is also a popular option but adding a full second storey will most certainly need planning permission. If neighbouring properties have done something similar, there’s a good chance you can too.

Create a roof terrace
If you don’t have the option to extend outwards, why not create some extra space with a roof terrace?

Roof terraces are synonymous with trendy cities, like New York and Barcelona, but have grown in popularity in the UK more recently. People are now keen to utilise wasted flat roof space and turn the area into rooftop gardens.

Planning permission is highly likely (and possibly a permit) and you’ll need to investigate the load bearing capacity of the roof and how you will access it. If approved though, you could be increasing the value of your property as well as creating a highly sought-after and stunning outside space.

Whether you want to create a home office or gym, extra bedroom or playroom, extending upwards may not be as difficult as you think. Not only will you be able to enjoy a bigger space without using up any extra land, you’ll also make your home more appealing when selling to future buyers.

Just ensure you have the right certifications and approvals, as retrospective applications could be costly or worse – you could be forced to reverse the improvements made!

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Lets with pets: an increase thanks to lockdown?

The UK is a nation of animal lovers and it seems no more so than during lockdown. In fact, pet insurance providers have seen a 78% increase in people registering new animals in the last couple of months. This figure is set to rise as more people work from home on a permanent basis, therefore more able to meet the needs of a constant companion.

There is no question that the company of a feathered or furry friend has helped many during these unique times but it is worth highlighting the position of pets in tenanted properties. It is thought as many as 12 million UK households have at least one animal at home, yet the Government claims only around 7% of landlords advertise homes as suitable for pets.

In January 2020, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP set out to redress the balance by asking landlords to be more lenient when it came to letting their properties to tenants with pets. He paved the way by overhauling the Government’s published model tenancy contracts, which are used by many letting agents and landlords as the basis of their own agreements.

The Government’s model tenancy contracts have been revised to remove restrictions on well behaved pets to ensure more landlords are catering for responsible pet owners, wherever possible.

It is advised that total bans on renters with pets should only be implemented where there is good reason; such as in smaller properties or flats where owning a pet could be impractical, or when the landlord feels their property needs to be protected from damage by badly behaved animals.

The matter of lets with pets is still open to interpretation, however, and we treat every case as individual. The following advice does provide a good starting point.

If you’re a tenant thinking of getting a pet
If you are considering adding an animal companion to your household, you will need to consult with your letting agent and landlord before falling in love with a Fido or a Felix. Your current tenancy agreement will probably stipulate that you need to get the landlord’s permission to move a pet in, and it may even state that pets are strictly prohibited – especially if you live in a leasehold property.

If you’re a tenant moving with a pet
You will need to declare your intentions to move with a pet when you enquire about a rental property – if you don’t and sneak a pet in after, you could be in breach of your tenancy agreement. If social distancing allows, offer a ‘meet and greet’ session between your landlord and your pet and if you use a boarding facility, dog walker or animal trainer, ask them to provide a pet reference.

It is worth noting that rental properties that accept pets may carry a price premium – usually in the range of £50 a month extra. In addition, be aware that your tenancy agreement may also stipulate that you have to pay for any damages caused by your pet and also for any deep cleaning upon check out, should keeping an animal detrimentally affect the condition of the property.

If you’re a landlord
Landlords willing to welcome pets will find they have far more applicants for their property and may be repaid with greater tenant loyalty. It’s worth noting that the new deposit cap (five weeks’ rent where the annual rent is less than £50,000 and six weeks’ rent where the annual rent is £50,000 or more) can not be exceeded by taking an extra ‘pet deposit’. Therefore a marginally higher monthly rent could cover the wear, tear, cleaning and potential damage that a pet can cause.

When creating a tenancy agreement for a tenant with a pet, landlords can request a special clause inserted stating that all animal-related repairs and replacements must be paid for by the tenant. Landlords can also take out a specific pet damage insurance product, or check if their landlords’ buildings and contents insurance covers domestic animal damage.

If you would like to know more about lets with pets, get in touch with us today.

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Lockdown property essentials

Gone are the days when our homes were mostly used for sleeping, eating and relaxing. Since being cooped up within the same four walls for such a long time, however, priorities are changing when it comes to house hunting.

Homes are no longer considered just a place to spend our spare time but a place people can live, work, play and entertain in – sometimes simultaneously!

Those property features that used to be on the ‘nice to have’ list are fast becoming the ‘new normal’ necessities.

Outside space

It’s safe to say that outside space is a growing priority for anyone moving on. According to Rightmove, two and three-bedroom flats are no longer in the top five types of properties searched for and there’s been a 42% increase in searches for homes with gardens – this figure doubles amongst renters.

The same research also reveals that home movers are more interested in countryside and coastal locations, suggesting they want easy access to outside space if private gardens are unattainable.

For vendors and landlords, now is definitely the time to feed and nurture unkempt lawns, replace broken patios with modern decking or artificial grass and convert clutter-free balconies into serene small spaces.

Where gardens are not an option, owners and investors should think about how to bring the outside in by creating indoor gardens.

Home working

Just over 12% of the UK workforce worked from home in some capacity in 2019. This figure rose to more than 61% by the end of March 2020. And despite lockdown measures being eased, data from the ONS shows that half of workers continue to work from home.

After a while, working from the kitchen table or balancing a laptop on your knees wears thin. This is why having a permanent, or even semi-permanent, workstation at home is more important than ever.

Two in five working adults surveyed by Lloyds Bank said that they will now look for properties with a suitable domestic workspace. This has already led to larger property owners finally converting spare rooms into offices and others creatively adapting corners and cubby holes into workstations.

Whatever space you have to work with, there are tonnes of ways you can create a dedicated workspace in any property and showcase this to potential buyers and renters.

Room to exercise

In the fitness industry, it’s been a tale of two halves during the Covid-19 pandemic. While gym memberships were frozen and physical exercise classes paused, the sale of home gym equipment and subscriptions to virtual workout providers soared.

Almost two thirds of people (63%) believe it’s more important to be active now compared to before and 25% of people now regularly workout at home.

Exercising at home is nothing new but choice has previously been limited. Since lockdown, fitness providers, both big and small, have launched free and low-cost online programmes that cater for a larger demographic of people. As a result, space to workout at home is becoming an essential.

Unfortunately, most homes won’t cater for a garden room gym (which could also double up as an office), but there are plenty of space-saving equipment and home gym hacks around.

Pantries and larders

Anyone born post-1980s might have wondered what on earth a larder was until a couple of years ago. But thanks to the likes of Nigella Lawson, Stacey Soloman and the rising trend of clean eating, dry food storage is becoming a ‘thing’.

The need for extra space to store food was only emphasised after panic buying set in, with everyone clearing the supermarket shelves of pasta and flour, and more people cooking every meal from scratch.

Now, social media is full of ‘pantry porn’ and property buyers are suddenly studying potential pantry space in kitchens rather than whether they can fit in a chest freezer.

The good news is space is not an issue and you don’t necessarily need a walk-in larder to appeal to a pantry lover. Anyone can make room for pantry storage and on the smallest of budgets.

For property owners with these ‘new normal necessities’, there’s likely an audience waiting to buy. And if your property is lacking, you may want to consider some small improvements before putting it on the market.

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Stamp duty freeze leads double whammy of property positives

Home buyers who may have been sitting on the fence about moving now have two extra reasons to make the leap. On the 8th July 2020, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered an address to the nation confirming the nil rate stamp duty threshold would be temporarily raised.

As of now, no stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is due on homes worth £500,000 or less – or on the first £500,000 of a property purchase if the home is worth more than £500,000. Both homeowners and landlords will also be able to access a new ‘green’ home improvement grant of up to £10,000 to make energy efficient improvements. 

The Chancellor’s economic address has come at a time when the property industry seeks to keep the nation moving and to provide a boost for the wider economy. Having digested the announcement, the key details you need to know are below:-

Stamp duty freeze

Stamp duty will not apply to the first £500,000 of a home’s purchase price. That means there will be no stamp duty to pay at all if the property is bought for £500,000 or less, and stamp duty will only apply to the portion over £500,000 if the purchase price is over £500,000.  

This measure came into effect on Wednesday 8th July and will initially run until 31st March 2021. The stamp duty saving applies to all property purchases, whether the buyer is a first-timer, second stepper, some trading up to a bigger property, a downsizer, a buy-to-let investor or someone purchasing a holiday home. It is worth noting, however, that extra stamp duty rates still apply to the purchase of ‘additional’ properties – those in addition to a person’s main residence (see table below).

Potential stamp duty savings

On a property worth the national average of £248,000, a buyer will save £2,460. If the purchase price is £500,000, a buyer will be £15,000 better off. It is hoped the money saved will be spent by home buyers in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries to help businesses recover post-pandemic.

The new, temporary stamp duty tiers are below:-

Property or lease premium or transfer value SDLT rate
Up to £500,000 Zero
The next £425,000 (the portion from £500,001 to £925,000) 5%
The next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million) 10%
The remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million) 12%

Buying an additional property during the temporary stamp duty freeze

The 3% higher rate for purchases of additional dwellings applies on top of revised standard rates above for the period 8th July 2020 to 31st March 2021. These are:

Property or lease premium or transfer value SDLT rate
Up to £500,000 3%
The next £425,000 (the portion from £500,001 to £925,000) 8%
The next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million) 13%
The remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million) 15%

‘Green Energy Grant’ for home improvement 

This £2 billion initiative is a ‘three for the price of one’ scheme, with thousands of households across the country eligible to apply for a new home improvement grant that doesn’t have to be repaid (it is not a loan). 

As well as allowing many people – landlords as well as homeowners – to make energy-saving changes to their property (such as installing a new boiler or improving insulation), the stimulus is set to create and save thousands of jobs in the trade, utility and energy sectors, as well as make a positive contribution to the UK’s pledge to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption.

This is a great initiative for buyers who may be considering renovation or modernisation projects, where the property they are buying needs updating in terms of glazing, heating, lighting and insulation. The voucher will cover up to three quarters of the cost of eco improvements to the value of £5,000 per household, or £10,000 per household deemed to be low income.

Also announced….

VAT on food, accommodation and attractions will be reduced from 20% to 5%, starting on Wednesday 15th July until January 12th 2021. This is a measure also designed to stimulate spending and put more money back in the pockets of the general public. 

If you would like to see a sample of properties for sale that are now available stamp duty free or with a reduced stamp duty bill – or need help working out what your new stamp duty bill might be – please contact us today.

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How green is your property?

After Oxford Dictionaries named ‘climate emergency’ the phrase of the year in 2019, more and more people have been conscious about their own carbon footprint and how they can ensure their homes are energy efficient.

Since 2008, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) have been required by law in England before a property can be marketed for sale or rent and in lettings, all rental properties must have a rating of E or higher for the tenancy to be legal.

Research from MoneySuperMarket found that improving a property’s EPC rating could boost the value by almost £25,000, meaning that landlords and sellers willing to make a few eco changes could benefit financially too.

And, even if you’re not planning to sell or rent a property any time soon, making your home greener could save money on energy bills.

5 quick fixes

If you’re just starting out on your energy efficiency journey and don’t have much spare cash to invest in major home improvements, there are some quick and inexpensive changes you can make in your property:

Replace lightbulbs – energy saving light bulbs will cost more to purchase than traditional incandescent bulbs but save you money in the long-term while using up to a fifth of the electricity. Start replacing in rooms where you use the most artificial light.

Turn the thermostat down – you can save emissions by simply turning your heating down a couple of degrees. The optimum temperature is 18°c. Also talk to your energy supplier about smart heating controls that help to manage the temperature when you’re away from home.

Reduce drafts – simply closing your curtains and internal doors will keep the heat inside. Draft excluders under doors and around windows not only look cosy, but could save around £25 per year.

Switch off – when not in use, turn off all lights and appliances at the wall. Some appliances drain power even when they are not in use. It’s a good habit to have and can reduce the risk of fire too.

Save water – reduce water waste by ensuring you have no leaks or dripping taps and that you don’t continuously run water when washing up or brushing your teeth. Use the eco setting on your washing machine and opt for more regular fast showers over long soaks in a deep bath.

4 longer-term energy saving considerations

By making a modest financial investment upfront to improve the energy efficiency of your home, you could save thousands of pounds in running costs as well as increase the value of the property:

Shop smarter – when old appliances need replacing, like washing machines and boilers, consider upgrading to the most energy efficient option within your budget.

Double glazing – 18% of heat loss occurs through windows and twice as fast through single glazing. If you’re in the minority who don’t have double glazing, this must be a priority. And if you’ve had it for a while, think about upgrading to the newer energy efficient option after 20 years.

Insulation – loft and cavity wall insulation can make a huge difference to the energy usage in your home. It can be costly but will give you a return within just a couple of years. Floor insulation is a little trickier but worth investigating.

Solar panels – remove reliance on the National Grid and look into installing solar panels. You’ll be generating your own energy and could be paid for any surplus sold back to the grid.

With some of the more expensive improvements, you may be eligible for an energy grant but even the most inexpensive investments and changes to the way you live could enhance the EPC rating of your property and potentially add value to your home.

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Lockdown reignites the home moving flame

With half of 2020 already behind us and over 100 days spent in lockdown, the property industry is in a position to assess the health of the sales market – and the picture is positive, as our unusual situation appears to be a catalyst for the home moving masses, rather than an activity dampener.

While it may feel counterintuitive to start thinking about buying or selling a property while in such unprecedented times, the pandemic is making many people reassess their priorities and working practices. The result is a rush to move to properties with bigger gardens or a better home working set up, or perhaps a relocation to be closer to friends, family, countryside or coast.

As well as Rightmove experiencing its busiest day ever for home searches during May 2020, two separate reports show that sentiment has translated into a resurgence in buying property. The latest figures from NAEA Propertymark – the UK’s leading professional body for estate agents – show house hunters are undeterred, with the number of movers registering with its branches rising 7% in May.

In fact, the number of people getting in contact with estate agents last month has surpassed the level seen pre-lockdown. The figures released by NAEA Propertymark also showed improving house buying success for first-time buyers, with sales made to property novices up 10% between February and May 2020.

A separate weekly analysis of figures by property marketing specialist BriefYourMarket, also showed that the green shoots of property recovery that were noted in early 2020 have continued to flourish during lockdown.

Its latest Property Index, which reflected combined on-market activity across Rightmove and Zoopla between 20th and 26th June 2020, revealed the number of properties changing status from ‘for sale’ to ‘sold subject to contract’ rose substantially in a week. In fact, an additional 5,481 homes had an offer successfully accepted in a seven day period.

BriefYourMarket’s findings also showed that nerves are continuing to settle, with 3,173 fewer properties being withdrawn from the market in its week-on-week comparison, as well as a reduction in fall throughs – when a ‘sold subject to contract’ property reverts back to ‘for sale’ status.

Commenting on the positive shift in property dynamics, BriefYourMarket.com’s Chief Commercial Officer, Richard Combellack, said: “This trend analysis would certainly indicate that vendors are continuing to gain confidence in the new process of putting their house on the market, and are happy to work under the new conditions that are rapidly becoming the new normal for the industry.

“This optimism is having a positive knock-on effect on the number of withdrawals and the number of new instructions coming to market, as new properties coming to market have remained in and around the 60,000 mark for the last two weeks now.”

If you would like a free valuation and advice on selling your property, or would like a current list of available properties, please contact us today.

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How your next home will help you walk and cycle more

We have long been encouraged to hop on public transport to let the train take the strain and to ditch our four wheels in favour of two but historically, these suggestions have been to reduce pollution and to improve fitness.

In 2020, however, we are being urged to forgo even public transport to pedal or walk wherever possible, casting a new light on property that is close to cycle lanes or within walking distance of town centres and business hubs. In fact, it is such a high priority that the Government has announced a £250 million emergency active fund to revolutionise the way we travel.

The changes will happen in a matter of weeks and will include pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions and cycle-only corridors. More is to follow too, as this is only the first stage of a £2 billion investment – part of a wider £5 billion funding initiative announced for cycling and buses in February 2020. Elsewhere, it looks likely the trial of electric scooters in Britain will be brought forward after a consultation to legalise e-scooters was started in March 2020.

The link between cycling and higher property prices has been strengthening for some time. In the report ‘The Value of Cycling’, released in 2016 in tandem with the Department for Transport, it was concluded that neighbourhoods with cycle-friendly characteristics – low traffic volumes and walk-able to close, off-road cycle paths – are more desirable or have higher property values.

Now, as recently as June 2020, the link between houses prices in London and being able to walk to work has been analysed, with prices in neighbourhoods a short stroll from the office around 18% higher. It’s a trend that is set to spread across the whole of the UK – especially since we’re discovering we actually like walking and cycling.

If you are looking to move home in the near future, your choice of property will help you adopt a healthier, greener way of getting from A to B. You may like to consider the following when conducting your search:-

Plan your route: if you’re planning on walking to work, your commute may be very different. Before you make an offer on a property, do a couple of door-to-door trial runs so you know the terrain and how long the walk will take.

Know where you’re allowed to walk: many home movers will be looking to make a lifestyle move, perhaps with the countryside in mind. While a pleasant amble across acres of open fields sounds romantic, walkers should be aware of rights of way and public access, as well as respect The Countryside Code.

Explore the Government’s Cycle to Work scheme: designed to encourage more people to commute by bike, this Government-run cycle scheme allows workers to buy a bike, tax free. In detail, the employer actually buys the bike and the employee ‘hires’ the cycle through a salary sacrifice scheme (with no tax or National Insurance to pay on the monthly contribution). At the end of the hire period, the employee is usually given the opportunity to buy the bike from the employer.

Think about cycle storage: this is a little more straightforward if you live in a house with a garden, as you can potentially store a bike in a shed. If you live in a flat, you may need to invest in a wall-mounted rack or ceiling hoist, and be mindful of not blocking communal hallways and entrances. You can also buy outdoor, floor-mounted bike racks but if you’re a tenant, consult with your landlord before adding any bike storage. A good option is to look at new build homes, as planning requirements often stipulate that the house builder provide secure cycle storage as standard.

If you are looking to move to somewhere more cycle and walking friendly, let us know. We can send you the latest available properties and provide you with a free valuation on any home you wish to sell or rent out.