Sales Group 2

Is it worth making eco improvements before I sell?

Improving a property so it produces less carbon and lower fuel bills makes perfect sense but what about the return on investment? Unless you stick to low-outlay changes, such as LED light bulbs and thermal curtains, there will be a significant spend involved in creating an energy efficient home.

The most impactful eco improvements are often the most pricey to purchase and install, therefore a common point of resistance is the time it takes to recoup the cost of the investment, especially among those who are hoping to move home in the near future.

There is, however, growing evidence to suggest that ensuring a property is as energy efficient as possible before it is sold repays the owner in a number of ways. 

Let’s start with how many pounds eco improvements can add to a property’s value with this list compiled by Rated People:- 

  1.     Solar panels – £13,512 (value increase)
  2.     Wind turbine – £12,941
  3.     Triple glazing – £12,788
  4.     Underfloor heating – £12,290
  5.     Ground source heat pump – £12,251
  6.     Double glazing – £12,005
  7.     Extra insulation, like cavity wall insulation – £11,764
  8.     Biomass boiler – £11,756
  9.     Air source heat pump – £11,670
  10. Solar water heating – £11,646
  11. Electric car charging point – £11,538
  12. Green/living roof – £11,477
  13. Biodiverse garden – £11,444
  14. Old appliances replaced with new ones – £11,190
  15. Draught proofing – £11,151

If you’re hoping to make your home more valuable before you sell, it’s worth paying attention to the cost of making any improvement versus how much value it will add.

As an illustration, you could buy and install an electric vehicle charging point and still add £10,000 in value, even after costs are deducted. The average electric vehicle charging point costs between £800-£1,100 to buy and install but it adds an estimated £11,538 to a home’s value.

Flat owners can be even more financially astute as they are eligible to apply for the Government’s new ChargePoint grant, which offers a 75% discount on the cost of purchasing and installing an electric vehicle charging point, up to the value of £350.

It’s a similar story for air source heat pumps, which cost in the region of £10,000 to purchase and install. This figure can be reduced by £5,000 for those using the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme, while 20% off the pump’s purchase price can be secured if the pump is bought in the next five years as there’s zero VAT on energy efficient materials. When you consider an air source heat pump can add £11,670  in value, the investment looks enticing as long as the Government’s discount schemes are utilised. 

Attract buyers willing to offer more

As well as adding value to a property, eco improvements can also ensure your home attracts the most attention on the sales market and even compel purchasers to make higher offers. In fact, the results of a study by the Halifax found the most energy efficient homes can sell for up to £40,000 more than their less eco-friendly counterparts.

Another survey of 1,730 prospective homebuyers by Redrow found 82% of those questioned said they would be willing to pay more for a sustainable home, while 38% said they intended to buy a property with features such as thermal wall insulation, efficient boilers and renewable energy supplies. 

EPCs: an outward sign of how eco-friendly your home is

If your home doesn’t have an EPC or your existing certificate has expired (they’re only valid for 10 years), you’ll need an energy assessor to issue a report as displaying a property’s EPC rating is a legal requirement when selling. Buyers are increasingly paying attention to energy efficiency, so ensuring your home has the highest EPC grade possible before going on the market is a good idea. 

If you would like to know what your current home is worth and how that figure could be elevated with eco improvements, contact us for advice.

Sales Group 2

Chain-free buying & selling: your questions answered

Chain-free: two little words that can fill the hearts of home movers with happiness but do you know why? We’re often asked about the benefits of no one above or below you in the transaction, so we’ve put together a helpful Q&A guide to being chain-free.

Q. What does it mean to be chain-free?
A. If you’re a chain-free buyer, you won’t have a property to sell and there will be no transactions behind you. Typically first-timer buyers and purchasers moving from rented accommodation are chain-free.

Chain-free sellers don’t need to buy an onward purchase in order to sell their current one. For example, a chain-free sale could be an empty probate property or a transaction where the seller is moving into rented/sheltered accommodation.

Q. Why do buyers and sellers like chain-free transactions?
A. A chain is the line of buyers and sellers who all depend on each other’s success to move home. Some chains can be long and complex – if one person pulls out, the entire chain may collapse and everyone needs to start again in terms of finding a buyer and/or property to purchase. The fewer people involved in a chain, the simpler and more reliable the transactions tend to be.

Q. Is a chain-free home more valuable?
A. Sellers able to offer a chain-free property may find people are willing to pay more for the benefit of a shorter chain and for a quicker transaction, especially as they won’t have to wait for the seller to find an onward purchase. If you want to put a figure on the value of being chain free, HBB Solutions found that chain-free properties can attract an average price premium of £23,131 above a property that is involved in a chain.

Q. Do people specifically look for chain-free homes?
A. Those looking for less stress and to move quickly often prefer chain-free homes. In 2021, Rightmove discovered a 72% increase in property searches that contained the phrase ‘no chain’, so being chain-free will definitely appeal to a buying audience.

Q. Will I complete quicker if the property is chain-free?
A. With fewer people involved in a chain, it is highly likely that the conveyancing stage will move more quickly. Properties involved in a chain generally take around 10 weeks to go through the conveyancing stages but research suggests this could be cut to around 4 weeks if a property is chain-free.

Q. Will I be more successful as a chain-free buyer?
A. Sellers are looking to reduce the risk of a complicated chain as much as purchasers, so they generally look favourably on chain-free buyers who have no one else below them. This is especially true in a competitive market when vendors may have to choose between multiple buyers – they’ll often opt for those who present the shortest chain.

Q. How can I become a chain-free seller?
A. There are a few options open to sellers wishing to advertise their home as chain-free. The most common one is to sell with the intention of moving into rented accommodation. This has the added bonus of making the seller chain-free when they come to buy in the future. Sellers can also choose to buy a newly built home that’s come to market for the first time, or only consider onward properties that are also chain-free, therefore becoming the end of the chain.

If you would like advice on buying and selling, with a view to becoming a chain-free home mover, contact our team today.

Lettings Group 2 Sales Group 2

Inheriting a property: your questions answered

Whether expected or not, finding yourself the owner of a property after someone’s death is a sensitive subject. Here we answer the most frequently asked questions by someone who has inherited a home.

Q. I’m named in the will so is probate necessary?
A. Unless a property is passed on to a joint tenant, probate is almost always required. Although the will sets out who inherits what, the probate grants the legal right to an executor to deal with someone’s property, as well as their money and possessions, after they die.

Q. More than one person has inherited the property, what happens next?
A. It’s very common for siblings to jointly inherit their parent’s property, with multiple new owners responsible for the future plan. All the owners need to consent for it to happen. One way to gain sole ownership is to buy the co-owners out.

Q. Can I move into a property I’ve inherited?
A. If you are the sole owner and the property is empty, there is nothing stopping you from using the inherited property as your place of residence. If you have inherited a buy-to-let with tenants in situ, you’ll need to wait for their tenancy to end before you move in, or give them the pre-set notice period if there are valid reasons to ask them to leave.

Q. Is there anything stopping me from selling the property?
A. If you don’t want to move into the inherited property or rent it out, you can sell it. It’s a straightforward process if you’re the sole owner but everyone needs to agree to a sale if the property is jointly owned.

Q. Are there any tax implications attached to an inherited property?
A. Tax is a big consideration, especially if the deceased was in debt or faces a large inheritance tax bill. Sometimes the only way for beneficiaries to balance the books is by selling the property asset. It’s also worth remembering that when an inherited property is sold, there may be income tax to pay upon completion or a mortgage to settle.

Q. What happens about stamp duty when I own more than one home?
A. This is another tax consideration. If you retain an inherited property and rent it out, but go on to buy another house to live in, you will be classed by the Government as an owner of additional properties. All homes bought in addition to the inherited property will incur an extra 3% levy on top of basic stamp duty rates.

Q. Can I rent out an inherited property?
A. If you don’t want to sell a property you’ve inherited, you could become a landlord and advertise the property to tenants. You’ll be able to keep the property in the family and always have somewhere to move into in the future but being a landlord also comes with its own tax implications. As well as income tax to pay, any profit made when selling the inherited property in the future may be subject to capital gains tax.

Q. I’ve inherited a buy-to-let with tenants, can I evict them?
A. Inheriting a tenanted dwelling is slightly different as you’re gaining residents as well as a property. Depending on the tenancy agreement in place, the landlord has to give an average of two months’ notice to regain their property, or they have to wait until the fixed-term tenancy ends.

Q. Could I take over the buy-to-let?
A. If you like the idea of an inherited property with tenants in place, there’s nothing stopping you from taking over as the landlord. You’ll need advice from a letting agent and a tax specialist but renting out can be a rewarding way of keeping ownership of an inherited property.

Q. I’ve never bought a property but I’ve just inherited one – how will I be affected?
A. Your first-time buyer status will likely be scuppered if you inherit a property as you’ll automatically be considered a homeowner – even though you’ve never been through the buying process. Your access to discounted stamp duty rates, benefits attached to a LISA (lifetime ISA) and ability to use Help to Buy may all be compromised, even if you never live in the inherited property and sell it on immediately.

Q. So can I refuse an inherited property?
A. You can refuse to inherit a property and the technical term for this is ‘disclaiming’ it. We do recommend taking legal advice before you disclaim any inherited asset, especially if you have never owned a property before.

We are here to sensitively advise families and individuals who are going through the probate process, so please get in touch to discuss your options.

Sales Group 2

5 value-adding ideas to help achieve your asking price

While it’s universally accepted that, in many circumstances, the price we pay is the price we see – in supermarkets and restaurants for example – there are a couple of instances where a little haggling is to be expected.

Buying a property is one of them. After all, estate agencies are staffed with skilled negotiators and the clue is in the name. Even in the strongest selling market, buyers may offer a figure below the asking price, hoping the seller will say yes in order to secure a sale.

As a guide, we traditionally see buyers offering up to around 5% less than the asking price on their first bid. The longer a property is on the market, the more likely an offer will be 10% under what the property is marketed for. There’s even such a thing as a ‘lowball’ offer – a figure that’s 25% or more below the asking price, but this is highly unusual.

As experienced agents, we understand your need to achieve as close to the asking price as possible but what happens if you come across a buyer who drives a hard bargain? A keen purchaser who repeatedly submits low offers shouldn’t always be dismissed.

They may be an excellent prospect in terms of their circumstances – perhaps a cash buyer, someone with no chain behind them or a purchaser who can offer a quick exchange – and we’re here to help you weigh up a person’s situation versus their offer.

If low offers persist but you are worried you may lose the interest of potential purchasers, there are ways to keep buyers engaged without budging on your asking price. It all comes down to adding extra value.

Here are 5 value-adding ideas to explore:

  1. Sell with planning permission already granted: the cost of submitting a full planning permission application for alterations/extensions to a single dwelling house or a flat is £206 but it could add as much as 10% to your home’s value.
  2. Leave behind high-value items, such as white goods: fridge freezers, ovens and even furniture can all be used as bartering tools. If this approach appeals to your buyer, ensure negotiations are conducted through the solicitors using the TA10 contents and fixtures form.
  3. Be flexible with the completion date: value can’t always be measured in monetary terms, so being in a position to exchange and complete at speed will be an advantageous trade-off tool among buyers who are in a hurry.
  4. Offering to rectify flaws found in the survey: one of the most common reasons for a low offer is unfavourable survey results. Offering to pay for issues such as damp is a cost but it could allow you to stick to your asking price – a critical point when funding an onward purchase.
  5. Throw in extras: there’s definitely something in the concept of buying a lifestyle so if your purchaser has fallen in love with your home, they may be persuaded to up their asking price if you include accessories such as lamp shades, curtains and rugs.

If you are hoping to come to market this spring, why not start with one of our free valuations? We will suggest an achievable asking price and advise on ways that you can add value to your home. Contact us to get started.

Sales Group 2

7 things sellers should know about a TA10 form

Almost every estate agent can tell a story about buyers moving into a property that isn’t handed over how they assumed. From gardens being stripped of plants to every light bulb being unscrewed, tales like this reinforce how important a TA10 form is in the buying and selling process.

If you are moving and don’t want any unexpected surprises, here are 7 things you should know about the TA10 form.

1. The TA10 has a more friendly name
TA10 is the name given to a form issued by The Law Society. It’s part of a wider set of templates used by solicitors during the conveyancing process. A TA10 is more commonly known as a ‘fittings and contents’ or ‘fittings and fixtures’ form. It’s filled out by the seller and sent to the buyer via the solicitors.

2. The form is legally binding
Honesty is definitely the best policy for sellers filling in their TA10 form. It is a legally binding document and may become part of your sales contract. If a seller removes items that were described as included on the TA10 form, the buyer is within their rights to make a legal claim against the seller in the future.

3. You can take…or leave…almost whatever you want
It is up to the seller to decide what is left behind and what is removed – after all, they usually own everything within the property and its grounds. Fixtures and fittings that could be removed include the obvious – white goods, bathroom cabinets and curtains – but the TA10 form will ask sellers if they’re planning on removing boilers, radiators, door fittings and electric sockets, for example – all classed as ‘basic fittings’. It is uncommon and unwise, however, for a seller to rip out a property’s fundamentals.

4. Rubbish must go
One thing a seller must not leave behind is rubbish. All refuse and recycling should be removed from the property before move out day, including anything that has accumulated in lofts, gardens, outbuildings, garages and sheds. The property should also be left in a ‘reasonably’ clean and tidy condition.

5. Leave a light bulb
Arriving at your new home to discover all the light bulbs have been removed may sound petty but it happens. The Law Society’s TA10 template does state that ‘if the seller removes a light fitting, it is assumed that the seller will replace the fitting with a ceiling rose, a flex, bulb holder and bulb, and that they will be left in a safe condition.’

6. Smart devices need special attention
If you have a Ring doorbell, a Nest wireless central heating control, a smart energy meter or a wifi-connected security system, take note. Smart devices could become a bone of contention if the buyer has seen them during a viewing and assumes they’re included in the sale. Although there is no current section on the TA10 form devoted to smart devices, there is an ‘other items’ section where these can be listed and noted as ‘included’ or ‘not included’.

7. You can use your TA10 to sell items
As well as ‘included’ and ‘not included’, another option on the TA10 form is ‘price’. This is useful if you’re not happy to leave behind a very expensive American fridge freezer but realise it won’t fit into your new property. By writing a figure in the price box, you are disclosing your willingness to sell it to the buyer.

If your purchaser is interested, they have three options. They can conduct negotiations directly with you, go through your estate agent or contact your solicitor – although the latter may incur extra charges. Any agreements to sell items should be communicated to both solicitors involved, especially if agreed privately.

If you need help filling out your TA10 form – or any other document pertaining to your house move – give us a call.

Lettings Group 2 Sales Group 2

A guide to council tax & property bands

The way we buy and sell homes is forever changing but some things stay the same. The property ‘bands’ that were set more than 30 years ago in 1991 are still used when calculating today’s council tax charges. Expressed as a letter, with A being the least valuable property and H being the most expensive, these bands dictate how much council tax a household should pay.

If you are curious about your property’s band, want to know if it can be changed or whether the bands will alter in the future, read on for our guide to council tax and property bands.

Today’s bands
Let’s start with a little background. Each local authority is free to set their own council tax but they do, in fact, all work to the same set of property bands, as follows:-

A: up to £40,000
B: £40,001 to £52,000
C: £52,001 to £68,000
D: £68,001 to £88,000
E: £88,001 to £120,000
F: £120,001 to £160,000
G: £160,001 to £320,000
H: more than £320,000

When you move into a property, whether owned or rented, it usually falls to the occupant to pay the council tax bill. The money collected by the local authority pays for vital services, such as refuse and rubbish collection, street lighting, emergency services and community assets, such as libraries.

You could be in the wrong band
The job of valuing properties before the council tax’s launch in 1991 was very rushed. In some cases, those responsible for providing the figures simply drove past rows of houses, assigning each property the same band without detailed examination.

The financial commentator, Martin Lewis, estimates that thousands of homes were incorrectly banded and it is possible for occupiers to challenge the band they were given. This process is managed by the Government’s Valuation Office Agency and it can present a successful way of re-banding your property and reducing your council tax bill.

If you are thinking of asking for a band reassessment, be aware of the pitfalls. Quite simply, the Valuation Office Agency may think you aren’t paying enough council tax and your new banding may make your council tax bill more expensive. Alternatively, your band may remain the same.

A new garden room may have an impact
If the recent ‘race for space’ and a greater appreciation of your garden prompted you to add an annexe or a fully habitable outdoor room, this may be taken into account when a band is recalculated.

If the Valuation Office Agency deem your outdoor room to have been ‘constructed or adapted for use as separate living accommodation,’ they are obliged to give it its own property band and, therefore, its own annual bill. It’s worth noting that the use of an annexe or garden room is not taken into account. Instead, an assessor will look at its physical features, such as provisions for cooking, sleeping and washing.

The good news is the ‘Granny Annexe Tax’ was abolished in 2014. This spelt the end for two full-price separate council tax bills – one for the main residence and one for the annexe. Now, at the discretion of the local authority, it’s more likely that a 50% reduction in council tax is applied to the annexe.

There’s no plan to reassess every property
With bands that were generated three decades ago – and a property market where values have soared in that time – there has been speculation that the Government would force a mass reassessment of property bands.

As of January 2022, there is no evidence to suggest such a move is scheduled. With an estimated 23 million domestic dwellings in England, any plan to revalue and re-band properties would take years in the planning and would require huge resources. For now, the current bands look set to stay, unless challenged by the property owner.

If you would like more detailed information on property bands and whether you qualify for a council tax discount, visit the Government’s dedicated webpage. If you would like to know the band and council tax bill for a property we are marketing, please get in touch.

Sales Group 2

Japanese knotweed: 7 plant points to note

A report by Environet UK at the end of 2021 discovered that Japanese knotweed – a non-native and aggressive weed – had knocked an estimated £11.8 billion off the value of UK property. While it’s lush leaves and dainty white flowers may look attractive, its potential to scupper a transaction is something buyers and sellers need to be aware of.

Despite its bad reputation, identification and successful treatment of Japanese knotweed almost always result in favourable outcomes for sellers. Here are the 7 most important points you need to know when it comes to the plant:-

1. Even though Japanese knotweed is a well-known horticultural pest, only around 4% of UK properties actually have a problem with the plant. It is an invasive species that is classed as a weed but it’s not illegal to let it grow in your garden.

2. When you sell a property affected by Japanese knotweed, this must – by law – be disclosed on the Property Information Form (TA6). Disclosure also pertains to Japanese knotweed that has spread from a neighbouring property or from surrounding land – any plant within 7 metres of the property’s boundary must be mentioned.

3. Some lenders won’t approve a mortgage on a property where there is Japanese knotweed as it represents a threat to the structure of the building. Its roots and rhizomes can damage drainage systems, foundations and walls – harming a home’s current and future value, and potentially making it unsellable in the future.

4. If you suspect Japanese knotweed, you will need to instruct a Property Care Association (PCA) approved surveyor, who will assess the plant and its posed risk. They will grade the problem using a categorisation system set out by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – a system widely used by mortgage lenders to assess risk.

5. Eradicating Japanese knotweed needs the involvement of a specialist company. The plant’s rhizomes are buried very deep in the ground and simply pulling out what’s above ground is very rarely enough – the stems merely snap and the plant regrows quickly, sprouting up to a metre a week in spring. There are also strict laws governing the disposal of Japanese knotweed, set out by The Environment Agency.

6. Japanese knotweed doesn’t always have a detrimental effect on a property’s value. Reports suggest the plant can reduce a home’s value by around 5% but in cases where there has been a successful insurance-backed treatment (see below), the full market sales value is often achieved.

7. It is essential that any eradication work is carried out by a specialist Japanese knotweed contractor that offers an insurance-backed treatment plan accepted by mortgage lenders (also known as knotweed IBG, Japanese knotweed indemnity or knotweed insurance-backed warranty). With this in place, mortgages on properties that have Japanese knotweed are usually granted, although the lender will usually want the treatment finished before completion takes place, and it may also require a larger deposit.

If you have any questions about Japanese knotweed – as a buyer or a seller – please call us for guidance.

Sales Group 2

4 things you need to know about mortgages & interest rates

House prices have long held the property headlines but making a late charge for column inches of late are interest rates and their effect on mortgages. December 2021 was a busy month for the Bank of England, whose actions and intentions will shape the year ahead for property buyers.

Here are four key take-aways from the most recent announcements:-

1. The interest rate has risen: it has taken the Bank of England three years to start raising the interest rate from its historic low of 0.10%. As of December 2021, the interest rate is 0.25% – still a very low rate and a return to the figure we last saw in March 2020. The mortgage market, however, remains fiercely competitive and lenders continue to offer attractive rates on home loans in a bid to win borrowers’ business.

2. Most borrowers are unaffected: mortgage rate volatility in the past has encouraged more borrowers to take out fixed rate home loans. As a result, UK Finance estimates that 74% of all current mortgages are fixed and enjoy a rate that doesn’t budge, despite what the Bank of England does. Borrowers should, however, pay attention to when their fixed-rate period ends. Many lenders have already increased their standard variable rate – the rate you’re automatically switched to if you take no action at the end of a fixed-rate period – in light of the Bank of England’s decision.

3. Long-term mortgages are on the rise: coming at a time when more property buyers will be looking for long-term repayment security, another 40-year fixed-rate mortgage has launched in the home loan market. While borrowers need to check details – such as any early repayment charges, the set interest rate and the ability to ‘port’ the mortgage to a different property – fixing for four decades allows people to borrow greater sums of money, with a repayment figure that stays the same, even if interest rates rise.

4. Affordability checks may be eased: before the Bank of England decided to raise the interest rate, it had floated the idea of easing mortgage affordability checks. This tests the borrower’s ability to keep paying the mortgage after any fixed-rate period ends and interest rates rise by 3%. It is thought the 3% benchmark may be revised downwards, making it easier for more people to borrow money. It’s a case of ‘watch this space’, with further details expected.

Whether you are taking out your first ever mortgage, need to borrow more to fund your next move, want to purchase a buy-to-let or are thinking of freeing equity by remortgaging, we urge you to take independent financial advice.

Sales Group 2

The super habits of deposit savers

Many of us may feel the squeeze in 2022, especially with rising fuel and food costs leaving first-time buyers wondering how they can save for a deposit. With the average deposit hovering around 18% of a property’ purchase price – that’s almost £50,000 – it can feel like there’s a mountain to climb.

Saving is not impossible, however. The secret is getting into good habits and despite what the coming months may throw at us, you can squirrel away a tidy sum of money to use as a deposit. If 2022 is the year you’d like to take your first step on the property ladder, here’s what super savers are doing:-

They give themselves a deposit deadline

Savvy savers will be motivated by a deadline. Don’t, however, set a D-day and promptly forget about it. Diarise monthly ‘check ins’ to see how your fund is building and re-evaluate how much you need to save at the halfway point to avoid any shortfall. 

They choose the right savings account

Shopping around for the best savings account is essential. ISAs are a tax-free way of saving money and they usually have higher interest rates than bank accounts. There’s even a product – the lifetime ISA (LISA) – specifically for first-time buyers saving a deposit. With a LISA, the Government will top up your fund, adding £1 for every £4 saved. In addition, money can’t be withdrawn for any reason other than for a property deposit or for retirement, removing the facility to raid the account. 

They set up a standing order

Even the most disciplined of savers can forget to manually transfer money to a savings account. A good action plan is to set up a standing order that automatically transfers a set amount every month, without any action required.

They don’t deal in cash

The phrase ‘money burning a hole in your pocket’ is the enemy of the saver. If you’re ever in receipt of money – whether that’s a gift or when selling something – ensure the payment is made directly to or transferred quickly into your savings account to remove the temptation of spending it.

They live frugally, not lavishly

Saving for a deposit isn’t the time to live the high life. Short-term but impactful compromises may involve swapping the Amalfi coast for camping in Cornwall, luxury spa days for DIY facials and Michelin-star restaurants for stay-at-home suppers. Even switching a Costa cappuccino a day for instant coffee granules will help.

They sell, sell, sell

As the saying goes, every little helps so selling unwanted goods and gifts is a great way to swell the deposit savings. Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Vinted and Shpock are online platforms where it’s easy to sell clothes, homewares and collectables.

They start a side hustle

Smart savers are willing to go the extra mile in terms of income. If you’ve dreamt of starting a kitchen table craft business, have thought about taking part in market research or want to turn a hobby into a money-making side hustle, now’s the time to make it happen. 

They bank what they save

There’s no ground breaking advice when it comes to saving money but the best savers bank what they’ve saved before it’s frittered away. You’ll reach your deposit goal quicker if you identify how much you are gaining by switching broadband suppliers, for instance, and amending your standing order by the same amount. 

We’re here to help all first-time buyers, so get in touch if you’d like advice regarding deposits and starter homes.

Sales Group 2

2022: the year of the power buyer

We’ve had power dressing, the power lunch and even power walking but have you heard about the power buyer? It’s a phrase recently used by property portal Rightmove to describe purchasers who are in the strongest position possible.

As we move into 2022, becoming a power buyer will increase in importance. Expert forecasts for the months ahead are in agreement – moving activity will continue, buyers will face competition from rival purchasers and sellers will prefer offers from those who can proceed without drama and delay. Have you got what it takes to be a power buyer?

The value of the offer is important….

As well as reflecting a home’s value, finish and desirability, the asking price will play an instrumental role in the owner’s next move. In almost every case, the seller’s onward purchase and potentially how much money they need to borrow will hinge on the offer they accept. A power buyer will offer as close to the asking price as fairly possible.

….but it’s not everything

As an estate agent, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll encourage sellers to accept the highest offer without investigating the potential buyer’s wider circumstances. One of the first questions we ask anyone hoping to view a property is ‘do you have a property to sell?’. If the answer is yes, we’ll ask if the property is under offer.

These questions relate to time and proceed-ability. A power buyer will already have their home under offer so they’re ready to hit the ground running and won’t risk delaying the transaction. Remember, even if a buyer offers way over the asking price, they may be overlooked if their own property isn’t on the market and this can draw out a transaction for weeks or even months. 

It’s behind you

A chain, that is. Power buyers realise that getting caught up in a long chain isn’t what any seller wants, so they make themselves as chain-free as possible. Of course, first-time buyers are naturally chain-free but some power buyers will sell their own property and move into rented accommodation as a temporary measure. This makes them chain-free when they decide to make their next purchase.

Money matters

Some of the most powerful buyers are those who can purchase with cash. By having money in the bank, they sidestep the mortgage application process and remove the risk that they may be turned down for finance. For a seller, a cash buyer represents a quicker, simpler transaction. 

The majority of buyers, however, will need a mortgage to purchase a property but there are two simple steps people can take to move them into the power buyer category. The first is to have valid evidence of your deposit and the second is to have a mortgage agreement in principle. Both of these should be in place before a buyer starts looking for a property.

Be authentic

Sellers will sit up and take notice of purchasers who are sincere, open and reliable. That means turning up to pre-booked viewings (preferably on time), putting forward sensible offers and not making outlandish demands. Building the best ‘power buyer’ picture also includes having a solicitor instructed when an offer is made, showing flexibility when it comes to a completion date and taking a genuine interest in the property for sale. 

If you would like more advice about how to become a power buyer, contact our team today.

Sales Group 2

Storage sells: buyers will pay more for space

What sellers assume adds value and what buyers don’t mind paying over the asking price for may not match, if the results of a new survey are to be believed.

While it’s common to think purchasers will stretch their budget for a property with a newly-installed bathroom, an all-singing, all-dancing garden room or perhaps off-street parking, lots of storage is actually one of a home’s most valuable aspects.

When Hammonds Furniture conducted a survey to establish what Brits valued most when buying their next home, 84% said adequate storage space was a must. In fact, those that took part in the survey said they would be willing to pay an average of £12,574 more for a home with lots of storage space to put their possessions. 

In some cases, storage was such a priority that buyers would be willing to exceed a property’s asking price for the luxury of space and storage facilities, with 7% of survey participants willing to offer £55,000 more that the advertised price.

The survey results also found the appeal of storage does wane with age. Those below the age of 44 were most likely to increase their offer to secure a new home with good storage, while those over the age of 45 would pay the smallest amount over the asking price to be successful.

Storage is such a broad term that the survey wanted to establish what specific storage options would be most likely to prompt buyers into increasing their offer. A garage was the top storage option, with 42% of buyers willing to pay more for a property with this facility. 

A utility room was also well ranked by many purchasers, with 40% saying they’d up their offer if a home had this small but useful room. Another top-performing storage asset was a kitchen with plenty of cupboards and drawers – with 34% saying they’d pay more for this benefit.

While the survey results have highlighted that storage is a winning factor when it comes to encouraging buyers to make attractive offers and even bid over the asking price, good storage can also help sellers during the viewing process.

It’s no secret that people will be put off if your worldly goods are scattered about the house, and a neatly organised home will impress potential buyers and add value too. Even how you utilise what storage you have can impact the interest in and offers on your property – chaotic scenes may suggest there isn’t enough storage for the size of the property.

In most cases it’s not the amount of storage that’s the issue but the way the items are folded, stashed and stowed. When you’re getting your property ready for viewings, it’s worth spot checking your storage beforehand

  • Prioritise small rooms that can feel cluttered: Ideal Home’s storage solutions for small spaces is a brilliant place to start.
  • Reinvent the everyday: if your storage is from the big Swedish warehouse, why not upgrade it with one of House Beautiful’s amazing Ikea hacks?
  • Make sure drawers and doors close fully: first impressions will be improved if the contents are not spilling out.
  • Reorganise chaotic shelves: pay attention to places that potential buyers may investigate, such as the airing cupboard. 

If you’d like more advice on getting your property ready to sell on the open market, talk to our team today.

Sales Group 2

Are gas boilers banned?

While there was no mention of stamp duty, first-time buyers or inheritance tax in 2021’s Budget, October has left homeowners with a number of pressing questions. The majority of them stem from the Prime Minister’s Net Zero announcement made earlier in the month – a proclamation of eco intent with a particular focus on domestic heating.

We have already been contacted numerous times for clarification on the future of gas boilers in the home, so we have answered the most commonly asked questions below.

Do I have to remove my gas boiler now?

No, if you have a safe and functioning gas boiler, you can continue to use it until it is condemned or is broken beyond repair. We recommend getting your boiler serviced annually to keep it working efficiently and to prolong its lifespan.

Are gas boilers going to be banned in the future?

Yes but there’s no immediate panic. The first change will come into effect in 2025, which will ban house builders and developers from installing conventional gas boilers and their oil-fired counterparts in the new properties they build. The next ban will happen in 2035, when new gas boilers will be withdrawn from public sale. If your gas boiler breaks down after 2035, you will not be able to replace it with another gas version. Until then, you can swap your current gas boiler for another gas model without issue. 

What are the alternatives to a conventional gas boiler?

The Government ideally wants us all to install heat pump systems, which come in air, ground and water versions. Alternatives include biomass boilers, which run off wood chips, logs or pellets, and solar panels, or homeowners could go down the all-electric route. At the moment, oil-fired systems and wood-burning stoves are still permissible heating methods but it’s unclear whether you’ll be able to buy a brand new oil-powered boiler after 2035. It is hoped boilers that run off hydrogen may be developed for use in a domestic setting but this may take a decade or longer to come to fruition.

Aren’t heat pumps costly to install?

At the moment, heat pumps are still a niche heating product, therefore the costs to supply and install are pretty high when compared to a gas boiler (expect to pay in the region of £8-£10,000 for an air heat pump). The energy savings should help the technology pay for itself over time.

Will the Government pay for me to switch to a heat pump?

Possibly. A £450 million fund called the Clean Heat Grant is being launched by the Government in April 2022. Households can apply for up to £5,000 to put towards the cost of a heat pump system, although the money will only help around 90,000 households before it runs out, with the fund available on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis. Any shortfall in purchase and installation costs will need to be met by the homeowner. 

Will a gas or oil-fired boiler hinder my house sale?

This is an interesting question. Purchasers are becoming more concerned with EPC ratings as fuel bills rise and they realise an inefficient boiler will use more gas or oil. It’s possible buyers will favour homes for sale that have a heat pump as not only will it deliver monthly energy savings, it will ‘future proof’ a property they want to buy . It’s also worth noting that the Government is considering setting minimum energy standards for every home in the country by 2050, and an inefficient boiler could stop properties meeting any future standards – potentially jeopardising a sale.

Is it true an inefficient boiler may prevent me from getting a mortgage?

No, not directly but there is some truth in the rumour. The Government is asking mortgage lenders to help it achieve its eco agenda by giving greener homes preferential treatment. Purchasers borrowing money to buy homes with the highest energy standards will be offered the best mortgage deals, while banks and building societies will be asked to disclose the average EPC of its loan portfolio in a bid to ‘shame’ those who finance too many energy-inefficient properties. The extreme outcome may be some homes will become unmortgageable due to very poor EPCs, or a property will need to be brought up to a higher EPC rating before it’s legally allowed to be sold on the open market.

Why is the Prime Minister so concerned with central heating? 

The Government has set an ambitious target to be a net zero carbon emissions country by 2050 and with residential property currently responsible for 16% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, getting the nation to switch to greener ways of heating our homes is seen as a crucial part of eco success.

If you are wondering what your current EPC rating is or would like advice about selling your property with its current boiler in place, get in touch today.

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.

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.

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. 

Sales Group 2

Have you got the energy to be bothered about EPCs?

With climate change in the media almost every day, is it time for homeowners to pay more attention to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings? We look at the increasingly-important role an EPC rating plays in the sales market – not only in attracting buyers but also in affecting a property’s value. 

Duty of environmental care

It appears that now, more than ever, people are looking for ways to live more sustainably and help the planet. In fact, a recent survey by home appliance brand Beko found 9 out of 10 of those questioned felt it was their personal responsibility to make changes to the way they live.

Why should home movers be bothered about EPC ratings? 

Although EPCs are a legal requirement for every property coming onto the market, they also offer a range of useful information to a prospective buyer. EPCs are now scrutinised to check estimated energy costs, read advisory notes on suggested eco improvements and see the typical financial savings. If buyers don’t like what they find, they may be deterred from booking a viewing or making an offer. 

Elevate your home’s value with a better EPC

Research has found that around 82% of home buyers, particularly the younger generation, would be willing to pay more for an eco-efficient home that allows them to reduce their carbon footprint. It was also found that more than 1 in 4 people would pay at least a 6% premium for a home with sustainable features.

The results above dovetail with what found in a recent survey. The comparison site discovered, on average, an A-rated home has a value 14% higher than that of a similar G-rated property. There are even bigger differences regionally, so having a good EPC rating doesn’t just contribute to a lower carbon way of living, it can contribute to a final sales price too.

A poor EPC may stop buyers getting a mortgage

As part of its commitment to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, the Government is considering whether to set lenders ambitious targets around the energy performance of the properties they lend against. The end goal would be to encourage homeowners to improve their home’s energy performance before they sold.

It is thought mortgages lenders would be named and shamed for repeatedly lending against homes with poor EPC ratings, and there is even a suggestion that lenders could be forced to consider a property’s EPC rating before they approve finance, perhaps making the most eco-inefficient homes unmortgage-able. 

If you are looking to market your home and need help arranging an EPC assessment, get in touch. Likewise, if you’d like to buy a property with a better EPC rating, we can match you with an eco-efficient property in your area.

Sales Group 2

How to avoid arguments when moving home

They say moving home is up there with death and divorce in terms of stress levels. It’s hardly surprising given the sums of money involved, the level of commitment required and the pressure of deadlines. Together, these elements can put a strain on any relationship, whether you are buying with a friend, sibling or partner. Here’s our guide to surviving one of life’s most testing times with as few squabbles as possible.

Acknowledge that not everybody is equal

Money is often at the heart of arguments and it’s no different when it comes to property – perhaps one person has put down more of the deposit or maybe one buyer is going to pay more of the monthly mortgage repayment. If you’re the party stumping up the most cash, the temptation is to use this as a position of superiority in arguments, or to take control, which can lead to resentment further on. Quarrels can be avoided if there is a serious ‘clear the air’ discussion before any property is bought.

Explore a ‘Deed of Trust’

This is also known as a Declaration of Trust, and protects the financial interests of the buyer who is contributing more – an important aspect if there should be a parting of ways in the future. A Deed of Trust ensures shared assets are divided fairly, and it covers instances where one buyer is stumping up a bigger deposit, paying off more of the mortgage or is picking up the cost of the property’s maintenance. Just having this legal agreement in place can ward off arguments.

Sharing the same property vision

It’s no good looking at property without discussing what you can afford and really need beforehand. Being dragged along to a house that’s £50,000 over your budget or that is too far from a school, for instance, will lead to tension. Make sure you agree on what you can afford before going anywhere near a ‘for sale’ sign. Agreeing on a budget and a shared list of things a new home must have can also stop buyers falling out. Use two columns – ‘essential’ and ‘preferable’ – so you’re both working towards the same vision.

Split the admin

There is a fair share of paperwork and administration involved when buying a property and if you have a property to sell too, that workload can double. Filling in forms, chasing solicitors and talking to mortgage lenders can be time-consuming and tedious. Split the admin side of things equally to avoid one person feeling like they have been burdened with the mundane but crucial tasks.

And if it goes wrong…

…..don’t blame each other. Sadly some property purchases never get off the ground or the transaction fails to clear the final hurdle but this is usually because of factors outside of the buyers’ control – especially if you’re in a property chain. Focusing on a new plan made together is much better than dwelling on the ‘what ifs’.

If you are looking to buy a property with a friend, relative or partner, we’re here to help. Although we won’t take sides in any arguments, we will be here with impartial, constructive and useful advice.

Sales Group 2

Stamp duty: when does the holiday end?

Are you one of the many home movers who think the stamp duty holiday ends on the 30th June 2021? A reduced rate of property tax actually runs right through until the end of September this year but there are some changes to note. Home buyers will still pay less when they complete on a property purchase, although the discount will be reduced.

If you are thinking of moving home, now is a good time before this window of opportunity closes. Here’s a summary of all the details and deadlines:-

Stamp duty rates until 31st June 2021   

The Government introduced temporary stamp duty thresholds during the pandemic to keep buying and selling activity fluid. The initiative applies to both owner occupiers and property investors, with cash savings of up to £15,000 per transaction.

As per many Government schemes, there are terms and conditions that, in this case, apply until 30th September 2021.  The current stamp duty threshold for residential properties is £500,000. There is zero stamp duty to pay on the first £500,000 of a property purchase, although tax is still due on the portion over £500,000. 

Rather than the stamp duty holiday coming to an abrupt end in June, the Chancellor announced a tapering of the initiative, which effectively softens the blow for home movers. The stamp duty holiday continues after 30th June but in a reduced capacity.

Property purchases from 1st July 2021 to 30th September 2021

Instead of the first £500,000 of a property purchase being stamp duty free, this figure will be revised down to £250,000 from the 1st July 2021. This new level of discount will run until 30th September 2021.

Property purchases from 1st October 2021

Unless the Government intervenes and extends the deadlines again, the stamp duty thresholds will revert to their pre-Covid levels as of the 1st October 2021. These will be:-

The Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) thresholds will be:

Property purchase price = £0-£125k

Owner-occupier stamp duty rate 0%

Buy-to-let & second home buyer rate 3%

Property purchase price = £125,001-£250,000

  • Owner-occupier stamp duty rate 2%
  • Buy-to-let & second home buyer rate 5%

Property purchase price = £250,001-£925,000

  • Owner-occupier stamp duty rate 5%
  • Buy-to-let & second home buyer rate 8%

Property purchase price = £925,001-£1.5m

  • Owner-occupier stamp duty rate 10%
  • Buy-to-let & second home buyer rate 13%

Property purchase price = £1.5m+

  • Owner-occupier stamp duty rate 12%
  • Buy-to-let & second home buyer rate 15%

Special rates for first-time buyers

The Government is keen to encourage first-time buyers onto the property ladder, so it is making a stamp duty exemption for property novices. From 1st July 2021, first-timer buyers pay less stamp duty or potentially even no tax if both the following apply:

  • all those involved in buying a property are first-time buyers
  • the purchase price is £500,000 or less

This discount is being applied retrospectively, available to those who bought their first home before 8th July 2020.

Please contact us if you need help with working out what your stamp duty bill might be if you decide to buy this year. 


Sales Group 2

Talking about multi generation

Recent events have brought the distance between family members into sharp focus, so it’s only natural to start thinking about moving loved ones closer and providing a roof over the heads of those who need support. Multigenerational living, however, isn’t anything new. 

Parents, grandparents and children living under the same roof is still commonplace in mainland Europe – the comforting presence of ‘Nonna’ cooking pasta in an Italian kitchen comes to mind – but even here in the UK, more than one generation sharing the same house was commonplace up until World War II.

When the post-war middle classes grew in wealth and mobility, we shook off the image of crammed family homes in favour of independent living and more personal space. Now, however, there are indications we are returning to the idea of multi-generational living. 

Aviva’s How We Live report, released in late 2020, found an upwards trend in the extended family set up – with a third of UK households now multi-generational. This is mainly made up of adult children living with their parents but the rate of older relatives living with their younger family is on the rise – standing at 14% now compared with just 9% when the same report was collated in 2016.

Modern reasons for multi-generational living

  • Lack of affordable housing for first-time buyers, leaving them to reside with parents while they save up for a deposit
  • The ‘Boomerang’ generation – adults returning to the family nest after university, between renting and buying a property, or after a change in circumstances
  • Older adults moving in with their grown-up children for healthcare needs and everyday living support
  • Grandparents moving in with families to help provide childcare and share living costs
  • A lack of specific retirement and assisted living properties
  • Inability to afford private care homes in later life
  • Isolation, disconnection due to geography and general feelings of loneliness

Making multi-generational living happen

Many movers are finding their next home will need to accommodate more than just their immediate family – with the spotlight now on who makes up a household. Planning an extended family residence can be exciting but there are a few considerations too. 

The granny annexe: an old idea with new provenance

Having a separate space for additional family members is growing in popularity. Aviva’s report found 1 in 20 UK households (5%) already have a granny annexe, with converted garages, cellars and separate outbuildings providing extra accommodation. A further 7% of householders say they have plans to develop this type of space in the future.

Attached or not?

One of the biggest considerations of multigenerational living is how close is close enough? A true annexe is a separate building within the grounds of a home, with its own entrance and facilities. This is most commonly a converted outbuilding or detached garage. If you’re thinking of adding an annexe for residential use, you will need to check with your local council’s planning department for any permission needed, and establish whether the annexe qualifies as a separate dwelling with its own council tax and utility bills.

Alternatives to increase space and capacity for family members include converting the loft, extending the existing property out to the side or up, or converting a dining room and utility, for instance, into another bedroom and a shower room. There are some great ideas, as well as food for thought, in this Grand Designs article on multigenerational living. 

Self-contained or communal?

Anticipated levels of privacy, dependence and social interaction also need consideration. Whether you’re comfortable sharing a kitchen and bathroom facilities will influence how you remodel an existing dwelling or what floor plan you’ll need should you be buying a property to accommodate more family members. 

The age of everyone under the same roof also matters – a young adult will not have the same needs as an elderly parent, for instance. Planning for health and mobility issues should be factored in too, as will the size of the property – especially if there’s potential for an ‘empty nest’ later on. A big home may prove costly to run in the future if only one generation remains.

The estate agents’ view

The good news is there is a growing demand for larger houses and properties with separate annexes. We can help if you would like to sell a home suitable for multigenerational living, or if you’re looking for a property where lots of family members can live together. Contact us for advice today.

Lettings Group 2 Sales Group 2

Interior trend watch: wall panelling

It’s the interior trend that’s happening across the country! People are swapping their plain walls for panelling – a classic design facet that adds drama, texture and interest. The material of the moment is wood, although the approach to panelling varies from house-to-house. From half height or floor-to-ceiling, to feature cameos or just the end of a kitchen island, we have fallen back in love with battening out our walls.

Choose your panelling style

If you’re looking for inspiration, social media is your friend. Use the search function on Instagram and Pinterest to see real-home examples, or head to YouTube for tutorials of DIY panelling in action. 

You can choose from traditional panelling created using mouldings, cornices and dado rails, quick-fix kits for a shiplap look or Scandi-style thin slats that are super sleek but the different styles all have one thing in common – they have the ability to change the atmosphere in any room. Here’s how you can get the look:-

Take the DIY approach

If you’re handy with a spirit level and a glue gun, you can create your own panelling with a few simple items from a good DIY store. It will involve basic woodwork skills, precise measuring and some patience but the effect can be stunning – especially if painted a dramatic shade. This simple ‘How To Panel A Wall’ guide from Homebase is a great place to start.

Ready-made panelling

If your DIY skills are more entry level, you can actually buy sheets of tongue and groove-style panelling. This approach covers large areas of a wall in one go and takes the hard work out of achieving a professional look. The sheets can easily be glued or screwed in place. If, however, you’re a tenant, you could simply prop the panels against a wall or use some of the many removable adhesive strips that are perfect for use in rented properties. 

Fake it with paper

Not everyone has the patience, skill or time to add real-wood panelling to their property but there’s good news – a shortcut exists in the form of panelling-effect wallpaper. Retailers including  Mineheart stock a range of panelling on a roll; you can even choose which period your faux panelling comes from, as there are Georgian, Victorian and Dutch Inlay styles to choose from. 

Temporary, no-damage solutions

If you’re prone to changing your mind or you live in rented accommodation, you can still follow interior fashions by choosing a ‘peel and stick’ wall decal in a panelling print. These decals can be applied with ease and removed without leaving a mark or residue. Etsy is a good place to source decals – we love this ornate panelling decal with gold details for adding a regal feel to any room. Looking for something more modern? Try this whitewashed timber plank decal for a Californian beach house vibe.

If you’re looking for a new home that provides you with a blank canvas to personalise, get in touch today. We’ll let you know all of the available properties to buy and rent within your budget.