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
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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