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18Dec

Now that the general election is out of the way and the current government has been chosen to serve the UK for the next few years, we know that many are now hoping that this will mean good things for the current state of the housing market. 

Well unfortunately we don’t have a crystal ball, so we can’t comment on whether a steady government means good things for the housing market or not, but we do know that life goes on, situations change and that there will be people looking to move in 2020, whether through necessity due to life events, or simply because they want to make a change to their living accommodations. 

With Christmas on the horizon you might be thinking that people aren’t really house-hunting, but actually it’s a well-known fact that the Christmas period is one of the most popular times of the year to start house hunting.

According to popular property portal Rightmove.co.uk, over 1.6 million people visited its website between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day last year, with those hoping to move in the New Year property hunting in-between opening presents, watching Christmas films and over indulging on the Turkey, Mince Pies and Chocolates. 

So, if you are considering house hunting over the Christmas season, here are some tips to get you started.

What’s your Budget?

If you don’t know how much you can afford, then it can be tricky to work out which properties may be within your price range , so we would recommend working out what your mid-range and top-end budget for a property is to start off with, as this will most-likely determine the areas you will be hunting for a new home in, and the types of property you are planning on looking at. It may also be helpful to visit a mortgage advisor to get an idea of the mortgage figure you would likely be granted. We always recommend visiting an independent Mortgage Advisor, and if you need any suggestions, then please do feel free to get in touch. 

Location, Location, Location 

Although you may have your heart set on a certain type of property, ultimately, many people will be considering the location of their property as a priority above anything else. 

It may be that you have a couple of options for locations, or perhaps your move depends on being in a certain area for schools, travel to work, ease of transport to the motorway, train station or a need to be close to family and friends. So firstly, decide on the proximity of the location you REALLY want to live in, and then perhaps also consider options for locations you would be willing to compromise on if the property met all of your criteria. 

Decide on your property must-haves 

Write a list of all of the things you want your property to have. Perhaps split the list into Must-Haves and Nice-to-Haves. 

For example, how many Bedrooms does the property have to have? Would you prefer a house versus an apartment? What about Parking, or a big Garden? Are these high on your must have list? Would you rather have a kitchen-diner or a lounge-diner? Is an en-suite bathroom, garage or utility room a non-negotiable? Knowing what amenities, you would really like your new home to have and what is a negotiable vs non-negotiable can really help you to narrow down your search, although remember, it’s all about potential! If the property doesn’t tick all of your boxes, does it have the potential to do so in the future? 

Get Online and start booking appointments!

Although Christmas week may not be the time that home owners will thank you for visiting their homes, there is no harm in booking an appointment to view the property in the new year, so if you see something that you like, it’s always worth making an enquiry about it. 

Do also be aware that there may be a flurry of new properties which come on the market in the new year. Your Estate Agent may have info on some which are set to be advertised from the New Year which meet your requirements, so do ask what stock they currently have available and whether they know of anything suitable coming onto the market in the next few weeks also. 

We are always very happy to offer help and advice on all things moving, selling, lettings and rental related so please do get in touch for any ways that we can help 

Why not get in touch, or visit us in the Office to get ahead for your next move in 2020. Give us a call on 01727 221290 or 01442 230400.

From all of us here at Aubrey and Finn, we want to thank all those who have supported our business during 2019, and we look forward to serving St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and the local community in 2020!

 

27Nov

According to popular opinion, moving home is one of the most stressful life events that people can experience. Hopefully it’s something that most people will only undertake a handful of times, but it is definitely a big upheaval, moving your life and your possessions from one property to another.

It’s perhaps something that may be relatively simply to do if it’s just you and a suitcase, but is significantly harder to do, if you are moving with family, or have spent a lifetime accruing possessions including large items of furniture.

In this instance, it definitely helps to find a professional removal company who can step in and make moving day so much easier, hopefully ensuring that the move from one property to another is as stress-free and simple as possible.

We’ve heard our fair share of moving day stories, so here are a few tips which we hope will help when choosing a removal company!

 

DIY or hire the professionals?

One of the first things to consider is whether you are planning on packing up your belongings and moving them yourself, or whether you are going to be enlisting the help of a professional moving company to do so.

If you are moving into your first home, or don’t have many belongings to be moving in with, then it might be that using the vehicles of friends and family, a local “man with a van” or self-drive van may work, but do factor in the amount of hard work that this requires you and your willing volunteers to undertake.

Moving day will be so much less stressful with others doing the heavy lifting – especially if it’s not something you are physically in a position to do.

 

To pack or not to pack?

Did you know that most removal companies offer a service where they will come and pack up all of your belongings on one day, and move them the next?

We would definitely recommend this option as it makes life so much easier for you and also is quicker because removal companies aren’t as emotionally attached to your belongings as you are, so will pack them up a lot more quickly.  

Of course, whilst many removal companies can definitely pack up all of your belongings, they can’t do any of the decluttering beforehand. We would recommend doing this yourself before you move so that you aren’t arriving at your new home or property with unnecessary belongings or clutter which are no longer required or wanted.

 

The quoting and booking process

Once you are moving further along the process it’s helpful to obtain and compare around three quotes from different companies, so that you know what the costs involved in moving your belongings to your new property will be and what each one includes.  This will help you to compare and see which service would best suit your needs.

The best time to book your moving company for definite is once you have actually exchanged contracts and you have a moving date. Do be aware that especially if it’s a popular day of the week or time of the year, that there is a chance that your preferred company may not be available, so perhaps have a couple to chose from.

Another thing to check when getting a quote for moving costs is whether the company carries insurance for breakages and damages and to understand what will happen if something gets broken or damaged in transit.

 

On moving day

On moving day ask the company what type of vehicle they will be sending over, so that you know what kind of vehicle to expect, and can make preparations for parking and access to your property either end.

Also, place any personal or valuable items (documents, jewellery etc) that you don’t want to go with the removal company in your car in advance, so that they don’t get lost and wrapped up with everything else.

Similarly having a crate with the kettle some cups, teabags coffee and milk and those all-important essentials and driving them to your new property yourself, means that you will have them handy when you arrive.

When you get to your new property, it’s helpful for yourself or another person to be letting the removal company know where you would like things put as they are unpacked from the van, so perhaps have a plan in your head about where you want large items to go, and whether you want boxes in certain rooms, or all of the boxes in a garage/storage space or loft for you to unpack as you go along.

Obviously, some things may be quite self-explanatory, but there might be other things which require a little more guidance and you don’t want to find that items have ended up in the wrong place. Before the removal company leaves, make sure that you are happy with where everything has been placed so that you aren’t going to struggle to move things around once they go.

One of the best pieces of advice we can give you on anything moving related is to is to go with your gut feeling and to go with the company who you think will be able to look after and take care of you and your belongings most effectively.

This may or may not be the company who is the most competitively priced. If your gut is telling you that you have reservations then you probably have a good reason for them.

So these are a few things to consider when choosing a removal company for your next move. What else would you add?

We’re always happy to advise on all things moving related, so why not give us a call on 01727 221290 or pop into the office to see us as we’re always happy to chat!

27Oct

There are a multitude of reasons that tenants will choose to rent a home rather than purchasing, including renting to be near a certain location, their family or personal situation necessitates renting, buying a home is not a viable option for them, or they would rather simply be able to be location free and not be tied to a single property. 

As we all know, especially in the current climate, renting may be a good option for many people who may be in the limbo of not wanting to buy something whilst there is so much financial uncertainty around. 

So having good quality tenants is every landlords dream. Tenants who will treat your home like their home, be happy to help maintain and add value to your home as it appreciates leads to lower maintenance costs as tenants are more likely to look after the property, and lower administration costs overall. 

We’ve all seen those TV shows where landlord’s properties are held to ransom by nightmare tenants who wreck the home and this is definitely something most landlords will aim to avoid by ensuring that tenants are properly vetted. 

So how can you ensure that your rental property is appealing to long-term tenants? Here are a few tips…

1. Make your house a home

Tenants who are looking to rent more long-term will typically be looking for somewhere that they can really make their home. They will typically be looking for a property which is decorated to a good standard, maintained to a good standard and (for fully-furnished properties) furnished to a good standard too. 

Having a house full of basic fixtures and fittings may not attract the kind of tenants you are hoping for, whilst ensuring that there is a good central heating system for hot water, functional but stylish kitchen and bathroom suites and that the home is staged in a way that appeals to the kind of tenant you want to attract, can mean that you are more likely to succeed in your search for the idea tenant. 

Staging companies may be able to assist with this if you are trying to attract more high-end clients, as can also having technology integrated around the home which may appeal to a more upmarket client. 

2. Maintain your property

Demonstrate that you have a maintenance plan for your property, or keep a detailed history which shows when the boiler was last serviced, the broadband was last upgraded or the house was last decorated, or even deep-cleaned. Showing that you are proactive about these details is more likely to make tenants want to live in the property as they know that you will look after the property and that it will not crumble away before them. Make it clear in your agreements what you are responsible for in terms of maintenance, versus what the tenant is responsible for. 

3. Be Flexible

Tenants may often want a property which they can “put their own mark on”. This could involve enabling them to be involved in planning soft furnishings for the property, flexibility to decorate within reason, giving them carte-blanche to get creative in planting in the garden, or other avenues which ensure that they can feel that their rental property is also a place that they can call home. 

4. Show your tenants that you appreciate them

Flattery will get you everywhere and although it may sound shallow, showing your tenants that you appreciate them by remembering them at Christmas with a card or even a small gift, around their moving date and any other significant dates could mean that they are more likely to stay remain in the property out of loyalty then look elsewhere. Treating your tenants well and giving them flexibility helps to build trust and credibility between you as the landlord and them as the tenant

5. Avoid Students and the gig economy

If you are looking for long-term tenants, then letting your property to students, or to those working in the gig-economy is not a good idea, as both of these groups of people are more likely to be transient, as they will typically also have ties to other places and be less likely to stay in one place if they don’t have ties to keep them there. 

6. Tell your Estate Agent who you want

It’s always advisable to let your letting agent know that you would prefer a long-term tenant, as they may be able to help you find someone who is looking for a longer term let, and can market the property with this in mind. 

If you have a property that you are considering renting, and would appreciate some help and guidance on how to make the most of it, then we are always very happy to help. Simply give us a call on 01727 221290!

 

25Sep

The first day of Autumn this week brings reminders that the nights are drawing in and summer is now set to become a distant memory. No longer will the patio doors be flung open all day long or the garden be an added entertaining area in the home, in Autumn it’s common for us to retreat into our homes in search of warmth, cosiness and shelter from the cold.

So, here are a few tips to help prepare your home for the Autumn season ahead.

Test your Heating

You’ve heard those stories of people who will try and leave their heating off as long as possible, until the cold weather forces them to switch it on, but it can be helpful to have the boiler serviced, and switch the heating on and let it run whilst the weather is still fairly mild, as this ensures that you won’t get a nasty surprise once the cold weather arrives and you realise that your heating is no longer working and you possibly need a new boiler, or your heating fixed as soon as possible. Testing your heating now, means that you are all set for the Autumn and Winter ahead.

Eliminate Drafts

Autumn is notorious for exposing all of those drafty spots that you have in your home, which cold air creeps in through.  Draft-proofing your home now can help to save you money on your energy bills in the months ahead. Use fabric draught excluders, or foam or metal strips to help stop the heat escaping in the colder months. Having long curtains hung on windows can also help to achieve this.

Prepare the Garden for Colder Weather

It’s helpful to put anything that won’t be used in the months ahead (like patio furniture or garden toys) away in a shed or garage, or cover it up. Give the grass that final once-over and do any other gardening preparations that you may need to, before Garden Waste collections stop.

Dig out the Slow Cooker

In the colder months, there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing that you’re coming home to, or looking forward to, a nice warm meal at the end of the day, and so a slow cooker is a great way to ensure that a hearty evening meal awaits. Just a few moments preparation in the morning, or the night before, could mean that you can look forward to a delicious warming meal, ready to serve, with minimum fuss and effort.

Change the Duvet

If you want to sleep well at night, then you need to be warm enough, so now is a great opportunity to change your Duvet for a thicker tog, and add extra blankets and a bed spread to the bed, to keep you warm all season long!

Wardrobe Swap

Autumn means putting away those summer clothes until next year and digging out that cosy Knit Wear and those Boots. Swap the clothes in your wardrobe around, so that the clothes you will need for Autumn are more accessible and don’t forget about Outdoor Clothes too! Swap Flip Flops and Sun Hats by the door for Coats, Hats, Scarves and Gloves and check that you and those in your family have everything they need in preparation for the colder weather ahead, as shopping for new items now will save time and hassle in the long run.

Candles, Rugs, and Throws

Accessories in your home can really help that feeling of “Hygge” in the home as the weather changes. Wooden Floors may be great in the summer months, but in Autumn, a cosy Rug on the floor can really help you keep warm underfoot. Additionally, having a couple of throws handy to snuggle under on those colder evenings will help keep you cosy and warm.

Add a few scented candles, gently flickering away, and you’ve got all of the elements needed to help your home extra cosy and welcoming on a dark Autumnal evening.

Bring the Outside in

There’s so much opportunity to celebrate nature and decorate our homes with items from Nature during Autumn.

Why not forage for some of the gorgeous foliage which is around this time of year and create a stunning autumn display on a window sill or sideboard. Even a bowl full of conkers can make a great centre-piece at this time of year, or if you’re feeling extra creative, you could create an Autumn Wreath for the door.

If you, or someone you know has an allotment, then Autumn and Harvest are definitely the time for a bounty of vegetables, which you could turn into some hearty soups and store in the Freezer to enjoy over the season.

Autumn is also prime blackberry and sloe berry season, so why not go foraging for berries and get that Sloe Gin collection off to a great start.

Those are just a few tips for you to get Autumn off to a great start in your home.

We’re always happy to advise on aspects of all things home related throughout the year so please do feel free to get in touch if we can be of any assistance on 01727 221290.