Posts filed under ‘Advice’
The dream of getting a foot on the property ladder – one of life’s most momentous occasions – is actually one of life’s most stressful events, according to research from Which? Mortgage Advisers.
The process of buying a house topped the stress list at 91 per cent above other major milestones, including having a child at 81 per cent, changing jobs at 87 per cent and retiring from work at 43 per cent.
In spite of Government initiatives such as Help to Buy helping first-time buyers onto the property ladder, many are unprepared for how long the house-buying process will take. Moving day at 87 per cent and finding the right house at 80 per cent were identified as two of the most demanding moments, closely followed by securing the right mortgage, with three-quarters of people saying it is stressful.
Consumer trust in the mortgage industry is low with just a quarter at 25 per cent of people with mortgages saying they trust the industry to act in their best interests. Over-complicated language and terminology is also a problem for consumers, with over half saying they found all the language and terminology used in the process of arranging a mortgage confusing.
Seven in 10 people with a mortgage want to see the process of arranging a mortgage simplified, which is how a dedicated mortgage adviser can help.
Mike Lawton, managing director of Which? Mortgage Advisers, said: “Buying a house should be a happy occasion, but many people say it’s more stressful than having a child or changing jobs.”
It might be rather damp and chilly outside, but February can be the perfect month to don coats and wellies in order to start sprucing up the appearance of a property, writes Caroline Knight and Karin Hawkes.
The excess rainfall we have endured so far this year will have washed debris into gutters, so clearing those should be a priority.
Next – provided it is ice-free – you could jet wash your paths and driveway. There’s certainly no danger of a hosepipe ban. You might be pleasantly surprised just how much difference a clean-up makes – but check the pointing as any loose stones or mortar will inevitably become dislodged during this rather harsh process. Mossy paths, uneven surfaces and slimy decking can present a very real ‘trip and slip’ hazard – and while sweet Auntie Mabel wouldn’t dream of suing you if she fell and broke her arm, cantankerous Kevin next door might grasp the opportunity of compensation as he happens to know that you have a duty of care towards visitors to your home.
An even greater risk of slipping applies if and when we are blessed with snow.
First, we should be thankful that we don’t reside in countries such as Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands where there is a legal obligation to keep pavements cleared. In the UK, during snowy times we might witness householders rushing outdoors ready for action, but they are more likely to build snowmen than shovel away the snow.
Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984 our duty extends only to visitors on our property. If you think you are being kind by clearing snow from the pavement and someone subsequently slips over you might find you are held liable.
Most homes are looking pretty glum this month, so if yours is on the market make sure it stands out from the dowdy crowd. Wash the paintwork, clean the windows and clear leaves, twigs and last year’s dead undergrowth from the front garden.
Consider pots, window boxes and containers to inject a burst of much needed colour into the garden and around the front door. There are plenty of flowering plants looking their best this month, including pansies, violas, primroses, heathers, hellebores, daffodils and early tulips.
• Select pots with care. Avoid small containers and ensure your pot has plenty of drainage holes – you can hardly have enough
• Consider putting a plastic pot inside a clay pot so that you get the benefit of better moisture retention together with pleasant appearance
• Add crocks to the bottom, just like granny used to do. Crocks stop roots from blocking the drainage holes, they also encourage air to stay in the compost and they prevent plants from drowning in too much moisture. You can use broken pieces of terracotta, gravel, or light bulky matter such as polystyrene
• Use soil-free compost which is fluffy and light, but buy the best you can afford as it will have more nutrients and better growth potential. Fill your container to around two thirds full.
• Make a hole, loosen the roots of your colourful flowers and pop them in
• Fill your pots with compost to within 3cm of the top
• Gently firm down the compost, then water gently. Top up with compost and water again
Zoopla garden of the month
Why do we approve of this front garden at a six bedroom detached in Kent, which is currently on the market for £595,000?
• It’s neat, clean and tidy, with enough greenery to provide interest but no dead or slimy plants to remind us that it is still winter
• There’s just enough height to provide a little variation and we like the way that the clean driveway has been framed with evergreen planting so it doesn’t give the impression of a wide, barren space
• The heather bed in the centre divides the space discreetly and encourages people not to park too close to the front door
Caroline Knight and Karin Hawkes are passionate about the beneficial impact that outdoor space can have on a property. An effective garden, courtyard or even parking space can not only provide considerable charm but also offer enormous benefits for occupants of homes of all sizes – from the tiniest, diminutive dwelling to the most expansive country estate. This is why it is essential to make the most of your outside space before putting your property on the market.
Caroline and Karin, who met while studying for a BA (Hons) in garden design, feel that front gardens represent a vastly neglected area. Their design and maintenance service, Kerb Appeal South East, seeks to correct this imbalance, thereby forming a missing link in the house sales process within Kent,Sussex and Surrey. They are on a mission to enable sellers to enhance their properties with the minimum of fuss and upheaval, thereby maximising the selling potential of any home.
Brighton has been revealed as the place in England with the best odds of finding a soul mate this Valentine’s Day, according to research by Zoopla.
Zoopla examined data from across the country to find the areas with the highest proportion of single adults and the largest number of property enquiries for studios and one-bedroom flats, typically sought after by singletons.
Brighton, where the average asking price for a studio or one-bed flat is currently £168,616, topped the list of places with the best combination of the single adults searching for singleton pads.
Manchester came a close second in the ‘single adult seeking property’ stakes, with an average asking price of £101,348.
At the other end of the spectrum, the combination of a very low proportion of single adults and lower interest in studio and one-bedroom flats makes Woking and Luton potentially a disappointing target for those on the lookout for ‘the one’ this Valentine’s Day.
Within London, Croydon has the best Valentine’s combination while Isleworth is best avoided if you are looking for the best chance of finding romance.
There are several streets across Britain where romance is always in the air. Streets with Love or Kissing in the name are among the most valuable “Valentine” streets in the country, with average property values of £305,338 and £287,015 respectively, above the UK wide average property value of £214,003.
Meanwhile, loved-up house-hunters looking for a bargain can find properties with an average value of £169,413 on a street with Passion in the name.
It’s a term most of us will have become used to these days, but it is incredibly important when you’re selling a house, writes home staging expert Anna Hart. It’s called ‘de-cluttering’.
We tend to accumulate all manner of things as we go through life, and while we’re staying put in one house that’s just fine. But once you decide to sell your house, all that stuff will get in the way and could easily kill your sale.
De-cluttering is a process that helps you to mentally move out of your home, ‘removes’ your ownership of the house and helps turn it back into a ‘blank canvas’ that could easily become someone else’s home.
Without de-cluttering, you’ll only get a good offer from a buyer who likes to live exactly as you do.
We’re all so very different, so what are the chances of someone else wanting their home to look identical to yours? Very slim.
When you’re selling, I believe you should remove about half of your stuff. Apply the 50 per cent rule and get rid of half the items on any surface or shelf, and in any integral storage areas such as fitted wardrobes, under-stairs and airing cupboards, and porches.
Garages, attics and sheds need to store items cleverly so they don’t look over-full and make buyers think you don’t have enough storage space.
Have a box for each of the following destinations:
• Bin or Tip
• Charity Shop or Give Away
• Keep but Pack Away
Take one area at a time, bring everything out and try to get about half of the items into one of the above boxes. The things that stay need to be either:
• Absolutely necessary to daily life
• Attractive in a safe, non-quirky way (think Ikea art, not Damien Hirst)
• Beautifully matches the room’s (neutral or safe) colour scheme
Then get rid of the boxes straight away before things creep back in to mess up your tidy rooms. If you find you’re struggling with this, carefully choose a friend or family member to help. Someone who doesn’t live there will have a different view on things, might suggest solutions you wouldn’t have thought of, and could be the much-needed voice of reason when you’ve got frustrated and lost the ability to make decisions.
Top five things you can live without for a while:
1. Seasonal clothes – pack up your summer clothes if you’re selling in winter, and vice versa.
2. Sports gear, hobby or craft supplies – if you’ve got lots of these things, pick a sub-set to keep out and pack away the rest for now.
3. Boxes of old paperwork – they really don’t need to be getting in the way while you’re selling.
4. Old technology – you know, phones, computers, that box of cables you’re keeping ‘just in case’.
5. Most of your CD, DVD and games console collections – free up some of that shelf space to make everything appear larger.
This three bedroom terrace house in Stockport is for sale for £299,000 and has followed the de-cluttering rules brilliantly – even the baby’s room is neat and tidy with plenty of clear surfaces. The house has personality but not so much that buyers couldn’t imagine their own style and possessions there. The only things I’d change would be to remove the baby photo and free up some wardrobe space, but all in all, it is worthy of a gold star.
Anna Hart is an expert in staging homes for sale, working with house sellers to maximise their chances of selling as quickly and as profitably as possible. Anna’s new e-book “How To Sell Your House For Top Price, Fast” brings her practical and proven house sale preparation strategy to sellers across Britain. Anna stages and styles homes for sale and rental, manages residential refurbishment projects for local landlords. Visit www.annahartconsultancy.co.uk for more information and to buy ‘Anna In A Book’.
If you’re looking for some inspiration ahead of Valentine’s Day in two week’s time, here’s a few property ideas to help you get in the mood.
1. Tap into your wild side with some leopard print wallpaper. This four bedroom detached home in Crewe is for sale for £350,000.
2. Enjoy a walk in a romantic garden. This £4.5m eight bedroom home in Kent has a bridge in the garden leading to an island with a rose clad arbour.
3. Don’t forget the hot tub. This two bedroom property in Cornwall for £160,000 is the ideal getaway.
4. Cosy up in front of the fire. This 14 bedroom detached property in Perthshire has an asking price of £1,100,000 and offers the perfect snug for Valentine’s Day.
5. Celebrate with some champagne. This detached house in Hatfield is currently on the market for £4,750,000 and has its own poolside bar.
6. Don’t forget to lay on the glizt and the glamour for your loved one. This four bedroom town house in London’s SW3 is on the market for £1,975,000.