The Inside Edge
Whether you’re moving alone or with a family, moving to a new city like London can be both thrilling and daunting. So if you’ve got your new job lined up, it’s time to start house hunting.
Share or Go Solo
Of course, this is largely determined by whether you’re bringing your family along, but if you’re moving to London alone, you have the choice of whether you share with housemates, or you find somewhere to live alone. I’m sure you’ve heard that London prices can be extortionate, so if you’re going to London alone, then flat-sharing can be the most cost effective, and it will enable you to meet new people quickly and easily. You can find flatmates on various websites and forums online.
Alternatively, take a look at local estate agents that offer area guides and info to help you decide where to live.
Choosing Where to Live
It’s a good idea to live somewhere near where you’re working. It might sound okay spending an hour on the tube twice a day, but the reality will be far from different. Ideally, live within a tube line or a bus connection away from your work. Of course, if your partner is working the other side of town, this may not be an option for you, but try to compromise for a similar commute.
It’s important to do lots of research into the different areas, as they can be quite different from each other. London is really made up of many small towns that all merge into one, so there are different moods and amenities to each one.
Master the Transport System
London is huge, so knowing how to get about is an important part of living there. The underground network is probably the best way to get around, as it is affordable and quick. Buses can be slow, but cheap, and taxis are the most expensive, but they will get you from door to door. You can own a car, but many in London don’t as the city doesn’t offer great driving experiences. If you have a family however, this may be different as you’ll want to be able to transport your family safely.
For the first few months, try to avoid travelling on the tube. Instead walk or use a bus, so you can begin to understand whereabouts you are in relation to the rest of London, and so you can get to know your area.
After months of mulling over the idea of moving, you’ve finally made up your mind to take the plunge. Now it’s time to launch a search to discover your new home. But before you jump straight into making an offer on a house that catches your eye there are some things you should consider.
1) How close is everything?
You may have found your dream home but where in the world is it? Have you considered things like the distance to work, or to the shops? Maybe you are relying on public transport or are thinking about learning to drive? Think about the distances you may need to travel from home to work or to local doctors’ surgeries etc and plan ahead – whether that is preparing for a test or arranging for a season ticket – to enable a smooth transition to your new home.
2) How much will it cost?
It is important to know what types of mortgages are available and what type of mortgage you can get before you set your heart on a property. You’ll need to consider whether you want a repayment mortgage or an interest-only mortgage for example. Remember that a repayment mortgage, while it costs more each month, does actually pay off the original debt whereas an interest-only mortgage won’t chip away at the total debt. Next, you’ll need to consider whether you want a fixed or variable rate mortgage. The most important principle of a fixed rate is that you know exactly what your mortgage repayments will be for that time. To get a better idea of how much of a mortgage you could be offered try out a mortgage calculator to see how much those repayments will cost.
3) How will I meet new people?
We all have that moment of doubt when we think “how am I going to get involved in the local community and make new friends?” – especially when you are moving out of an area. There are lots of ways to get involved in local sports and hobby groups. Have a search on the internet or pick up a local paper to see what’s going on in the area. Don’t be afraid to put a little effort in to fit in.
4) How good are the local schools?
If you are moving home with a family then you will need to consider the quality of schools in that area. You will probably not still remain in the same catchment area for your children’s current schools so you’ll need to either be able to arrange transport for them or look for an alternative closer to your new home. When looking at potential schools always arrange a visit to the schools and try to take your children as well if possible so they can get a feel for a new school at the same time.
5) Is everything as it seems?
When viewing your potential new home, take time to check for any ‘hidden extras.’ Have a look at the walls – are there any signs of damp problems such as wet spots, signs of mould, peeling wallpaper or condensation on the windows? Check for ceiling cracks; is the plumbing, boiler and electricity all in working order? Fixing some of these issues could end up costing you a fortune. Save yourself time and money by spotting them before you make a decision.
Selling your house can sometimes be difficult. Lenders have placed far tighter financial restrictions on buyers, and the property market can often be uncertain. In order to ensure that you sell your home quickly there are certain things that you can do to make your property more attractive. Here are five ideas that can help.
1. Use storage facilities and de-clutter
Property experts all agree about the need to declutter your home before opening your doors to potential buyers. If you don’t want to throw all of your surplus possessions away, then it’s a good idea to look at some alternative options. For those living in the West Midlands, Sheldon self storage can act as a useful asset. You’ll be able to retain all your essential household possessions and consign anything that you’re not sure about, or not using at the present time, to this storage facility. Your house will then look cleaner and more appealing to any potential buyer.
2. Photographs will help
Once you’ve got your house into tip-top condition, make sure that you take some good quality photographs of the property. Your estate agent will take their own snaps but this doesn’t mean that you can’t post your own pictures on any of the social media channels. Just ensure that they tempt the buyer into making an appointment with the estate agent to come and view your house.
3. Make your property stand out from the crowd
If your house looks well maintained, you stand a far better chance of selling it more quickly. An article in The Daily Mail suggests that decorating your house before you put it on the market will freshen up your living space and make it look more appealing to buyers. Don’t make the mistake of touching up a few areas with a spot of paint days before a viewing – the buyers might wonder if you’re trying to hide anything.
4. Tidy up the garden
The appearance of your house can be ruined by an unkempt garden and exterior. Even if you haven’t got green fingers yourself, see if you can hire someone to mow the lawn, clip the hedges and generally improve the appearance of your garden. Check that your garage doors are presentable and that your drive looks neat and tidy. A tatty exterior can also devalue your house, so if you want to sell your property quickly don’t neglect it.
5. Make the best of your house
Most people, when viewing a property, apparently make their decisions based on the appearance of the kitchens and the bathrooms. An article in The Daily Mirror suggests that you don’t have to replace all the units in your kitchen, but you can at least ensure that lime scale isn’t blocking the taps and remove any grease stains from the room. According to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, a good kitchen can add as much as 4% to the value of a home.
Every now and again your home needs some attention. Whether your tastes have changed, fashion has moved on or you want to breathe life into tired-looking decoration, the need for an interior design project is fairly common.
The trick to getting this right is to ask yourself the right questions… and then work out the answers to them.
What don’t you like now?
This is the important starting point for a home redesign. Get to the heart of why you’re changing and what you want to change. It’s fine just to fancy a change for change’s sake, but it won’t help if you don’t think what exactly you don’t like about your current design or theme. Also, think about any features you’d like to keep and incorporate into your new look.
What are the strengths of my property?
On that point, it’s important to consider what strengths your property has and work out how to enhance them. If your kitchen is your pride and joy, then you can replicate that look in other rooms. Alternatively, if you’ve got a great garden then make the most of the views of this and treat it as a focal point.
Consider the direction your rooms face in detail, this will have a big bearing on the time of day they get the most light, and you might need to address that in whatever theme you choose – for example, light airy decoration for living rooms that get no natural light in the afternoons.
What inspiration can I take from others?
Be nosy. Take an interest in the design deployed by others. Which elements do you like about your friends and families’ homes? Talk to them about their themes and get an insight into how they delivered their look. Then, of course, there is the sheer wealth of help that rests online. Pore over pages online to get inspired.
What can I do to visualise my changes?
It’s all well and good having ideas, but will they work? These six top tools highlighted by Interior Style Hunter will allow you to model some of your ideas so that you can find that out. The more you use these the more you’ll get an idea for what you can do with your space.
What are the latest interior design trends?
Embracing nature is set to be a big trend in 2016 – with strong use of greens, browns and wooden furniture to bring the great outdoors indoors. Why not spend some time exploring how you could update your home in the latest styles? Often one strong basic idea can be all you need to spark you into action.
What’s the secret to getting a strong theme?
Whatever you choose as your design theme, accessories are the absolute key to getting this right. Take time to look through the top quality items on the pages of How To Spend It to unearth fittings and additions that can really set off your design in style. This is the trick to turning a ‘redecoration’ into a ‘redesign’ and a bold, recognisable ‘theme’.
When you inherit a property, there are a great number of factors to consider. Whether you’ve inherited suddenly after a bereavement, or you’ve inheritance has been planned for a while, there’s sure to be a number of things associated with inheritance that you’ve never even considered before you actually inherited the property. Here we look at what you can do when you’ve inherited a property and whether you should sell it, live in it or rent it out.
Live in it, rent it out, or sell it?
The first consideration you’ll have to have when you inherit a property is to decide whether to live in it, rent it out or sell it. The most common action for those who inherit a property is to sell it, but this doesn’t mean that you have to.
Selling a property can often be the simplest answer if you’re unsure what to do. This is because it avoids any possible implications with letting it out or owning multiple homes. Plus, on top of all this, there’s the emotional stress of dealing with a property that used to belong to a loved one and the possibilities surrounding joint ownership, which can be a potential legal minefield.
Due to all of these factors, selling can often be the easiest option. However, it doesn’t have to be the only option, and there are pitfalls too, such as immediately selling the home of a loved one and having to ‘let go’ so soon. Other options are available, so let’s look at the positives of living in the property and renting it out, too.
Living in it
If you’re only renting your current property, then moving into the inherited property could be a wise move, particularly if you’re the sole owner. In the long run, this could save you a large amount of money on rent, and could even make you feel closer to someone that you’ve lost.
Living in a property really is a great option if it can ease a financial burden. However, as previously mentioned, you need to be aware of the implications as well. Living in a property that was once owned by a loved one (particularly a close one) can mean that you suffer from a large amount of emotional stress and, if you’ve jointly inherited the house with someone you don’t live with (such as a brother or sister), you may not be able to inhabit it as they may wish to sell it. As a result, you’ll have to consider this option carefully.
Renting it out
Finally, if you’re not looking to sell as you think house prices may increase in a few years, then you should consider renting it out. If you find the right tenant, then the rental market can be a lucrative one, helping you pay off your own mortgage in the process, and maybe even turnover a small profit.
However, as with the other options, there are downsides to this. As part of renting out the property, you’ll be allowing someone to live in your loved one’s old home, so you’ll want to be sure they’ll take care of it. Additionally, becoming a landlord is also a huge responsibility, so make sure you know what it entails.
So there we have it, when you inherit a property you can sell it, rent it out or live in it. There are positives and negatives to each option, so be sure to pick what’s best for you.
Winter is well and truly upon us, and as the weather’s got colder, many of us have turned the heating on already – and probably won’t be turning the thermostat down until after February!
Although energy prices are falling, the average family still spends over £1000 a year on gas and electricity, which is no small sum.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to cut your energy costs without shivering all winter. If you want to keep warm without breaking the bank, here are five top tips.
Maximise your radiators
How many of us have our sofa up against the radiator in the living room? It might be keeping the back of your sofa toasty warm, but the heat won’t get much further than that. Moving furniture away from the radiators, even just a few inches, lets the heat circulate through the room and warm it properly, as well as saving on damage to your furniture.
To make your radiators work even harder, consider investing in radiator panels; reflective panels you put behind a radiator to reflect more heat into the room – these really do make a difference: using them on every radiator in your house can cut your heating bills by as much as 15%! And if you don’t fancy buying them, you can achieve a similar effect by lining the wall behind your radiators with tin-foil.
Stop losing heat
You may already use draught excluders to keep heat from escaping under doors, but what about your windows? Even with double glazing, thin curtains or blinds can let heat out. Consider replacing yours with a heavier option to keep the warmth in the room, or line them with a thermal lining – a cheap fleece material will do.
And curtains aren’t just for windows! Try placing them over external doors for extra draught exclusion, as well as a bit of interior design flair. However, don’t keep curtains or blinds drawn in the day, as sunlight will warm your rooms up naturally.
Don’t heat what you don’t need
If you have a spare bedroom or second bathroom that’s rarely used, turn radiators off in those rooms, and shut the doors to them so that heat from the rest of the house doesn’t escape into them either. It might be unpleasant if you have to nip in to find something, but it’ll be worth it for the savings!
Additionally, if you have radiators in the halls or corridors of your home, these can be turned down slightly – if not shut off altogether – as you’ll only ever be passing through them for a couple of minutes at a time.
Professional home insulation can be costly, but DIY loft insulation is relatively cheap and simple. Foam insulation is cheap, and three 8inch rolls should be enough to give most lofts a decent layer of insulation. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you start, and wear protective clothing and goggles to stay safe, though.
Another part of your house to insulate is the hot water tank and pipes. You can buy a jacket for the tank and foam tubes for the pipes, both of which are easy to fit, and will keep the heat inside the pipes – so it heats the water, not your airing cupboard.
It’s all about timing
It’s a basic tip, but putting the thermostat on a timer is a great way to make sure you’re only heating the house when it’s needed. Set the timer for 20 minutes before you wake up and 20 minutes before you get home from work, and you’ll feel toasty 24/7 without having to think about it.
Additionally, try to keep the heat setting at 18C – this is the temperature that most of us should feel warm in a jumper and jeans, and ensuring your heating doesn’t go above this temperature often will save you cash. If it seems too cold at first, try bringing the temperature down 1 degree every few days until you’re acclimatised.
Liberty is writing on behalf of Lifestyle Blinds.
Managing a property is something that can take time but must be done well and efficiently if you are to receive a return on your property investment and attract the right tenants. The Autumn 2014 Lettingstats report indicates that 75% of tenants surveyed think that their property is managed either very well or quite well. So to ensure that you fall within this category, Glenham Property Management has put together some top tips to help you on your way.
Almost 25% of tenants spend 30% – 40% of their income on rental with 31% of respondents living in rented property for a continued period of 3 – 5 years*. This suggests that tenants are willing to spend money on a property they will find comfortable; a reliable longer-term tenant can be less stress than lots of short-term lettings!
Top Tip: Research your market and competition to establish the standards expected and you are competing against. Then decorate and furnish your property to a better standard than the competition as this will drive a higher yield.
86% of tenants have never experienced a rental increase during their tenancy*. This can often be the case when both landlord and tenants are in a comfort zone.
Top Tip: Stay alert to rental rates and property prices in your area to ensure that you are competitive. If you do feel that a rental increase is justified then explain to your tenant why this is the case; often presenting some sort of value-added benefit to the tenant can ease the blow.
Vacate the Property
Your circumstances have changed and you need your property back. Did you know that 95% of tenants felt any request to vacate property was reasonable*.
Top Tip: Ensure that the contract clearly establishes tenancy termination so you are legally within your rights to request that the tenant leaves but try to be a human too – many tenants become attached to the rental property and view it as their home so provide as much notice as possible and try to be flexible with exit dates.
The most popular reason (25% of respondents) noted for moving to a rented property was due to work or study relocation*.
Top Tip: Develop relationships with local businesses so that if they are recruiting employees from around the UK you are top of their recommended relocation list.
*Data taken from Autumn 2014 Lettingstats Report
A high-quality hardwood floor can give you and your family many years of enjoyment. However, in order to preserve its allure and showroom sparkle, a comprehensive schedule of cleaning and maintenance is required. While hardwood floors require less upkeep than carpets, it’s still important to use methods and cleaning agents that won’t affect your floor’s natural qualities.
Prevention is the best cure
The best way to preserve your hardwood floors look and protective layer is to prevent dirt, excess water and potentially harmful substances from ever getting anywhere near it. The simplest thing you can do is to place mats at doorways and runners along high-traffic areas. These will stop dirt from being unnecessarily dragged around your home, and they’ll absorb excess moisture from dirty shoes when it’s raining or snowing outside. You can also protect your flooring from furniture by using floor protectors under tables and chairs.
Clean as you go
The best hardwood floors will retain their natural shine for weeks at a time – but only if you look after them on a daily basis. Sweep up dirt and vacuum dust as soon as they start to accumulate, and wipe up spillages immediately. It may be a good idea to use a hardwood attachment on a leading vacuum cleaner at least once a week in order to remove all traces of dirt, dust and foodstuffs. You may also find that quality electrostatic cloths will pick up dust without the need for anything else.
Schedule regular deep cleans
There will be areas of your floor – particularly in a kitchen – that don’t respond to daily sweeping, wiping and vacuuming. Areas around cookers, sinks and fridges may require deep cleaning once every few months.
In most cases, they can be applied by hand using a micro-fibre cloth or sponge. However, water can seep into the smallest of cracks and crevices – undermining your floor’s protective layer.
You should always aim to ring out your cloth or mop fully before cleaning. And although some people use of steam mops for the job, they aren’t usually recommended by the manufacturers of real wood flooring.
Remove marks as and when they arise
It is always a good idea to identify your floor’s finish before attempting to remove marks, scuffs and stains. Where marks have occurred on the outer surface of your floor, the chances are it has a hardened protective layer, such as urethane. However, if the mark seems to have penetrated the wood, your floor has probably been treated with an oil-based sealant.
If yours is a hard-sealed floor – which most are these days – nothing more than a wipe with a soft-fibred cloth and a little hot, soapy water will be required. You can use dedicated hardwood floor cleaners if necessary, but never use abrasive cleaning materials such as steel wool, sandpaper or scouring pads, as these will scratch the surface of your floor and make it susceptible to moisture penetration.
If your floor has been treated with an oil-based sealant, you may need to employ the use of steel wool, specialist cleaning chemicals and floor wax. However, you should never attempt complex repair jobs without first consulting the manufacturer’s guidelines. It may also be worth consulting a flooring specialist, as using inappropriate materials and cleaning agents could actually lead to more damage.
With a little tender, loving care, there is absolutely no reason why your hardwood floor shouldn’t provide you and your family with a lifetime of faithful service.
With a well-known national newspaper reporting on possibly the world’s smallest but most expensive house in North London this week – where people visiting the house walk through the front door only to find themselves directly under the bed – one can fairly confidently suggest that the London property market is holding its own. London is still an incredibly desirable location to live.
In fact, everything points to now being a good time to invest as the property market grows and grows, and London is the first to experience a positive uplift. This belief is supported by data from the London Housing Market Report (Source: GLA 2014), which focuses on key trends in London’s housing market and shows an upward trend in many areas including price and lending over the last 12 months.
Small, and pricey
Whether you are international property developers interested in London, a private investor looking to add to your global portfolio or you are buying a home for yourself, the London housing bubble seems yet to burst and buyers continue to look at moving into smaller accommodation for larger price tags. So if you bought low, chances are very likely that, right now, you will definitely sell high.
Good news for developers
This upward trend is absolutely positive news for developers, and the news is backed up by the Office of National Statistics figures, which indicate that property values rose 9.1% in February this year compared to a year ago – the highest annual increase in property values since June 2010. Again, it was in London where prices saw their greatest growth. Property values in London soared by 17.7% in February compared to the same month a year earlier. The Greater London Authority (GLA) Report on 27th August 2014, also confirmed that unemployment is going down, more first time buyers are getting mortgages and there is generally a strong economic growth in London.
More lending breathes new life into marketplace
In addition to property holding its price, first time buyers have also been given a chance to get back on the ladder, which has injected new life into a previously stale marketplace. The amount of new mortgages given to first time buyers in the capital grew to almost 50K in from April 2013 to March 2014, the largest combined annual total in six years (source: GLA Report Aug 14). The amount of lending to owners who have already installed their property has been fairly steady, and we have seen almost 40K new loans in the last 12 months.
London stronger than ever
Putting a smile on existing property investors’ faces, the key house price indices show on-going steady month by month improvement in London house prices. Following results announced by Halifax, in London there was an over 4% increase in the second quarter of 2014. Nationwide announced quarter-on-quarter growth of nearly 11%.
Attractive yield on rented property in London
If you are thinking of investing in a London property, the rental market is also strong. In fact, you can expect a very attractive yield at the moment, with domestic rentals in London up 1.4% from July 2013 to June 2014, following data released by the Office for National Statistic’s index of private rents, against a smaller 0.7% rise across other areas in England.
According to uktv.co.uk, around 25% of all home renovation projects end up going over budget. As a homeowner, you are obviously keen to add as much value as possible to your property when selling it but there are a number of things you need to consider.
5 Things You Need To Look Out For
- Planning Permission: Once your project goes beyond a certain scale (see legal considerations below), it will be necessary to get planning permission. This can be a time consuming process and it also costs around £1,000.
- DIY Pitfalls: Legally, you need to be qualified to complete certain DIY jobs such as electrical wiring for example. Additionally, an estimated 14% of people will damage their property doing DIY jobs with the average damage caused believed to be over £340.
- Cowboy Builders: According to Santander Insurance UK, almost 20% of UK homeowners have suffered from poor quality work and fixing these issues causes over £1,500 worth of damage on average.
- Compare Quotes: Always look for 3-5 quotes and base your final decision on experience rather than cost.
- Project Completion Time: On average, a loft conversion can be completed in 4-6 weeks while a kitchen conversion can take 8-10 weeks. A conservatory should also be finished in around 4 weeks depending on planning permission requirements.
The Cost of Renovating/Extending Your Property
Obviously, the total costs associated with any project will depend on its complexity. However, a good marker is £1,000 per square metre for an average extension. Below, we look at a list of potential costs for different projects.
- The estimated cost of a purchasing and installing a conservatory in the UK is just over £8,700.
- A 4×2.5m ‘lean-to’ conservatory will cost around £6,000 while a 6x3m model should cost an average of £6,700.
- You may also need blinds for your conservatory and these can cost anywhere from £80 to £120.
Interestingly, the price for loft conversions varies throughout the UK. Scotland and South-East England are the most expensive regions whereas Northern Ireland is by far the cheapest. We give the lowest and highest prices below:
- 20m2 Standard: £8,600-£12,000
- 20m2 Deluxe: £19,400-£27,000
- 30m2 Standard: £9,500-£13,300
- 30m2 Deluxe: £20,000-£28,500
How Much Is My Extension/Renovation Worth?
Back in 2010, Phil Spencer of Location, Location, Location fame claimed you could double your money on a loft conversion; in his example he said that a £20,000 conversion could add £40,000 to your property’s value. He also suggested that a conservatory could add 7-11% to your home’s value.
Although the face of the property market has changed exponentially in the last four years, it seems as if loft conversions and conservatories are still ‘old reliables’ when it comes to adding value to your home. A 2014 Nationwide study suggested that a loft conversion or extension could add as much as 23% to your home’s value. So if your property is worth £400,000 right now, spending £20,000 could add an incredible £92,000 to your home’s value in theory!
While we feel this level of profit may be overstated, there is no doubt a loft conversion reigns supreme when it comes to adding to your property’s sale value. Incidentally, the same study showed you would add 5% to your property value by adding an extra bedroom.
Good new also for owners of classic Victorian or Edwardian homes and add central heating, this will increase your property’s value by up to £4,000.
For more tips on how to market your home and sell your property for the best price possible, visit Fish Need Water.