Gardening this May bank holiday? Read this first…

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Did you know that the contents of the average garden are now worth nearly £2,000 with home owners splashing out on £894 alone in the past 12 months on the likes of outdoor furniture and decorations.

Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? But if you have your eye on something it’s best to set a goal. The Money Advice Service guide How to set a savings goal could help.

One in ten homeowners recently admitted in a report that they have spent money on their garden as they can’t afford to move home, while one in three say that spending a lot of time outside (weather permitting) is the main reason for upgrading their outdoor spaces.

Despite this hefty investment, 12.5 million (or more than two in five) of homeowners are leaving their gardens unprotected, by not checking whether their items are covered under current policies, or by having no insurance at all.

It’s all the more worrying in light of the fact that 1.4 million thefts from gardens and outdoor spaces were recorded last year, marking a 17% increase over the last five years.

Follow these handy tips from the Money Advice Service for keeping your gardens safe:

1. Check your contents insurance documents to see what you are and are not covered for. If you have no contents insurance, it might be an idea to get some.

2. When possible, keep expensive tools, lawnmowers and bicycles out of sight and locked away.

3. Don’t forget about tools and ladders that could be used to break into your home too.

4. Make sure garden sheds, gates, garages and outbuildings remain bolted with a secure lock.

5. Plug gaps in fences or bushes to stop opportunistic thieves slipping through.

6. Use landscaping to your advantage. Try to plant some thorny plants and shrubs with prickly leaves as a natural barrier to deter the thieves.

7. Shrubs and overgrown trees can prove to be an asset to burglars. Make sure you prune overgrown and large trees.

8. Mark valuable items, such as patio furniture and ornaments, with your postcode, and keep photos of your garden valuables for your claim in case anything is stolen or vandalised

9. Keeping your driveways or front paths updated with pebbles or gravel can help you to hear someone approaching your property.

10. Look into joining your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme in order to help protect yours and your neighbours’ properties

May 3, 2013 at 9:30 AM Leave a comment

Properties to buy in Huddersfield and Harrogate

Four properties to buy in Harrogate, West Yorkshire

3 bedroom end terrace house for sale £199,950

Torrs Road, Harrogate HG1

Torrs Road

5 bedroom semi detached house for sale – offers over £425,000

Kent Bank, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG1

Kent Bank

2 bedroom flat for sale Guide price £315,000

Imperial Mansions, Royal Parade, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG1

Imperial Mansions

2 bedroom flat for sale Offers in region of £349,950

Otley Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG2

Otley Road
Want to know what the market is doing in Harrogate? Check out our area property stats page

Four properties to buy in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

5 bedroom detached house for sale offers in region of £595,000

St Helen’s Gate, Almondbury, Huddersfield, Kirklees HD4

Huddersfield St Helen's Gate

2 bedroom flat for sale £389,950

Stoneleigh Pavillions, Bryan Road, Huddersfield HD2

Stoneliegh Pavillions

4 bedroom terraced house for sale £234,950

Gledholt Road, Gledholt, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire HD1

Gledholdt Rd

2 bedroom flat for sale £190,000

Beech Hollow, Edgerton, Huddersfield HD3

Beech Hollow

Want to know what the market is doing in Huddersfield? Check out our area property stats page

May 1, 2013 at 7:00 PM Leave a comment

Housing market confidence at highest level in 3 years

Percentage - values change - 6 months

The housing market has seen a number of positive events in recent weeks including initiatives in the Budget and the latest Zoopla Housing Market Sentiment Survey reveals that confidence is up amongst homeowners – a significant step towards a recovery.

According to the research UK homeowners are expecting house prices to rise by 4.5% over the next six months. This is the biggest predicted house price increase by UK homeowners in over 3 years and could signal that 2013 is set to be the best year for the property market since the financial crisis struck.

What will happen in next 6 months - Zoopla Sentiment Survey

The proportion of homeowners who think that house prices will increase this year is also at the highest level for almost three years with three quarters (74%) of those surveyed predicting prices in their area will increase, the most since the second quarter of 2010.

Confidence has grown notably over just the past few months as only 65% of owners predicted an increase back in December. And only 13% of owners now expect prices to fall over the course of the next six months, down from 19% at the end of last year.

Owners in Yorkshire and the Humber are the least bullish with only 61% expecting property prices to rise over the next six months. In stark contrast, 89% of London homeowners predict prices to rise by the end of summer making them the most confident property owners in the UK.

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So, with first-time buyer lending gradually increasing and mortgages becoming more readily available, there is real belief that the property market is starting to turn a corner and finally drag itself out of the hole since the financial crisis.

Methodology

  • Zoopla invited registered users of Zoopla.co.uk to participate in this study.
  • The survey was fielded from 25th – 29 March 2013.
  • There were 4116 total respondents. 3485 of these were homeowners. Statistics based on a sample of this size are accurate to within less than +/- 1.0% with 95% confidence, if the sample is drawn at random from the population it intends to represent.
  • These respondents represent the perspective of the Zoopla.co.uk user community, and could be considered to represent the population of people interested in the UK residential property market.
  • All statistics are based on the full sample unless otherwise noted.

April 30, 2013 at 12:46 PM Leave a comment

Soho, Kate Moss and The Look of Love

Flat where Kate Moss was photographed in the living room for a cover photograph in Vogue.

Jessie Hewitson takes a look at the property market in the once-seedy area, now home to Michelin-starred restaurants

The streets of Soho are currently being featured in The Look of Love, a biopic about Paul Raymond, the Liverpool-born “King of Soho”. Raymond started his career as a mind-reading novelty act and opened the UK’s first strip club in 1958. By the time he died, in 2008, he amassed a gigantic property portfolio, around 60 acres of land between Shaftesbury Avenue and Oxford Street.

Soho Zoopla SmartMap

Zoopla.co.uk SmartMap of Soho

The property market of the area has changed unrecognisably since Raymond’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. “Since we began selling and letting property around Soho in the mid to late Eighties, the edgy ‘Sohemian’ atmosphere and rougher sides to the area have changed considerably,” says Laurence Glynne, partner at LDG agency .

While the seedy underbelly is still very much in existence in places, particularly in Brewer Street, much of Soho has moved out of the red thanks to a clear-up spearheaded by Westminster City Council. Now, in the place of the strip clubs and brothels, Michelin-starred restaurants have popped up – Quo Vadis, Arbutus, as well as the Soho Hotel – populated by media and creative-types who love nothing better than to base themselves in a formerly run-down area.

Soho has three distinct quarters says Glynne: the stylish office and residential area around Broadwick, Lexington and Carnaby streets; the “livelier” atmosphere (read: be prepared to be woken up at night) around Old Compton Street, Brewer Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, and the fashionable food quarter of Greek Street, Frith Street, and Dean Street. The jazz scene and pop music influence is more apparent in Frith and Dean Street, most notably at Ronnie Scott’s.

Soho’s (relative) affordability as a zone 1 location is driving popularity, according to buying agent Roarie Scarisbrick, partner at Property Vision. “You can buy a half-decent flat in Soho for £1,000 per square foot, whereas the base price in Mayfair would be at least £2,000 as a starting price.” See here for Zoopla’s Soho property stats page.

This doesn’t mean Soho is a cheap place to live: a typical one-bed rents for £374 per week, according to Phin Twiselton, an agent with Hurford Salvi Carr, and a two-bed for £600 per week. For sales, a one-bed in a period block costs around £550,000 and a two-bed starts at £775,000. LDG is currently selling a 602 sq ft one-bed flat in Brewer Street for £675,000. The property is formerly owned by photographer Corinne Day, who snapped Kate Moss in the living room for a cover photograph in Vogue.

LDG_BrewerSt_Reception

Formerly owned by photographer Corinne Day, who snapped Kate Moss in the living room for a cover photograph in Vogue.

Buyers are often young, arty and at home in an Soho’s urban environment. Properties close to Golden and Soho Square are among the most covetable – small pockets of green in which to retreat from the hustle and bustle.

Property for sale in Soho in our new Grid view on Zoopla.co.uk.

April 26, 2013 at 4:15 PM Leave a comment

Phil Spencer’s Top Property Tip of the Month: Focus

phil's-property-tip-focus

Focusing on your property search requirements.

If you’re looking to buy a property, there is no point in going out on viewings until you’ve established what it is you’re looking for, where you want to be and what you’re likely to get with the budget you have. Viewing properties before you know what it is you’re looking for can be dangerous and a waste of time for both you and the agent.

You need to know what you’re looking for in order to be confident you’ve found the right place at the end of the day. This comes down to good property research and asking yourself many searching questions.

A successful property search needs focus and direction. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle with three key pieces – budget, space and location. What you can spend is the starting point; the other two pieces need to fit around your budget.

Here are the steps to take to ensure a successful property search:

1. Speak to an IFA or your bank to get an idea of what your budget might be for the property purchase.

2. Make a list of your requirements (number of bedrooms, kitchen size, style, commute time, schools, garden, etc.). Mark each requirement on an importance scale of 1-10 as you’ll likely to have to compromise on something down the line.

3. Use the information on Zoopla to research local property values, sold house prices and area stats such as average price per square foot in the areas you’re interested in.

4. Discuss your requirements with a few local estate agents – good ones will be helpful. You can find a list of local agents in the areas you are interested in here

5. Explore all the options – only by exploring all the options can you eventually make a decision on the right home with confidence and speed.

6. Narrow your search – with every viewing you will find out more about what you want, don’t want and can and can’t afford. Use each viewing as a means to refine your criteria so that you can be more precise in what you are looking for and where.

And finally, listen to your emotions – but don’t let them take over!

Every month, Phil’s top tips will be published on the Zoopla Blog.

Make sure you never miss one and sign up for the Zoopla newletter here

April 18, 2013 at 3:12 PM 6 comments

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