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30Jan

The start of the year is one of the busiest times for us as estate agents, as people start to make plans for their next move.

 

We may currently be in lockdown, but selling property and moving home is still able to take place and so there is still lots happening on the housing market, especially around the St Albans and Hertfordshire area. 

 

Even though house moves can still go ahead, people are a little bit more reticent about having large amounts of prospective buyers/tenants traipsing through their homes, and if you are looking for a home, you may want to cut down the number of properties that you visit in your search also.

 

So, if you are looking for a new home, why not get laser focused about what you are looking for in your next move, and spend time doing your research online before you get started.

 

Here are a few tips for house hunting which will help you to hone down your searches down before you even step through the door of any properties.

 

1. Location, location, location.

Location is key for many, especially in this area. It might be that you need to be within walking distance or easy travel distance of a station, or motorway. Perhaps your key consideration is to be within the catchment for certain schools, or you want to be able to get to friends, family or a central place of work easily.

 

If you know that having open fields nearby warms your soul, and you love the feel of village life, then somewhere in the countryside may be more suited to your way of living, such as the myriad of small villages on the outskirts of the major Hertfordshire towns.

 

Using tools such as Google Earth can also give you a good idea of the area, as can taking a drive around if able, or visiting the area during the day and in the evening, although we appreciate that things may look a little different at the moment!

 

 

2. Consider the layout of your perfect property

When you start your search, it is important to be clear about what kind of feel and layout you are looking for in a home. It also helps to know whether you would be happy to create the layout you want, or whether you want to move straight into something which already works for your needs. 

 

Think about your lifestyle, and what suits it. So, for example, do you prefer Open Plan living where all of the rooms merge seamlessly around the house, or do you have small children or pets which would make Open Plan living a nightmare, and so separate rooms with doorways for containment would be more important?

 

Would you prefer a cottage with lots of stairs, a newer build home, one on three floors, or all on one level? Do you want an apartment? A property with a lot of garden space, a front garden, or a property which opens straight onto the road? Are you looking for a family friendly estate, something city centric or something mor eon the outskirts?

 

Also think about how you like to live. Do you live a more outdoorsy lifestyle? If so, then something like a utility room or somewhere where you can access the property through the back or through the garage rather than having to traipse muddy feet all through the front, might be a must.

 

If owning a car or more than one is a necessity for you, then it might be that you need a garage, or somewhere on your property to park it, so homes in roads where only on-street parking is available may not work for you.

 

Most Estate agents, including ourselves, are offering virtual walk-throughs nowadays, which makes it a lot easier to get a good idea of the space before actually setting foot in the property.

 

3. Budget

Once you’ve worked out the rough location and type of property you are interested in looking for, of course a consideration will be your budget and whether you budget matches the kind of property you are looking for. If not, then you may decide to look at different kinds of properties if location is key, or at more budget-friendly areas if the property is going to be make-or-break for you.

 

 

4. Vision Board your next move!

Okay bear with us here but mind mapping or vision boarding your next move can be a great way to work out what you really want.

 

Sit down and focus on what’s really important to you in a home, what are your non negotiables during your search, vs compromises that you are prepared to make and add them to your vision board.

 

If you have other family members, especially kids, then this can really be a really fun way to spend time getting them involved. You might be surprised what is important to them versus what isn’t, and also with you. Vision boarding can really help you to get clarity on what is most important to you for your next move.

 

Once you’ve whittled your searches down to only the properties which really match your criteria, and you’ve done your research online, looked at floor plans, done the video walk throughs, looked at the picture, made sure it fits with location, property type and budget, then we would suggest a walk through to see whether this property could be your new home.

 

Hopefully having done all of your homework online, this makes things easier and less time consuming than visiting multiple properties during your search and it will also make it safer for you, not having to view as many homes, or make any more essential journeys than you need to.

 

Of course, if you are planning your next move then don’t forget that we can always assist and we are very happy to help, so why not give us a call on (01727) 221290 for an initial chat.

 

 

30Nov

Are you considering moving into a rental property?

 

Wondering what you need to take into account before doing so?

 

Well, whilst you might be able to afford the monthly payments, there can be a whole multitude of hidden costs associated with renting, plus a whole host of other things to consider, so here are a few handy tips to get you started:

 

Initial Costs

 

Typically, there are costs associated with moving into a property including fees for Credit and Reference checks and Agency admin fees if you are renting through an agency.

 

All of these costs will be added onto the cost of the initial rent. You may also have to give a deposit too. 

 

So, you could find yourself with quite a hefty balance to pay out just to move into the property, which is worth bearing in mind. Before committing to anything or signing anything check, check and check again to make sure that you are understand what you are agreeing to.  

 

Who pays the Bills?

 

Something else to be clear on before committing to a rental property is what bills you will be expected to pay as the tenant, vs what the landlord will take care of.

 

Bear in mind that on top of your rent, you could also be responsible for:

 

·       Council tax

·       Water

·       Gas/Electricity

·       Broadband

·       Landline telephone

·       Service Charge

·       TV (License and subscriptions)

·       Contents Insurance

 

Some landlords will include the cost of some bills in with the rent charges, so it’s always best to check with the agent or landlord and to be clear on what it included and what is not.

 

Do your homework at the viewing

 

The viewing is your opportunity to really delve into the suitability and condition of the property. There’s nothing worse than finding the pitfalls out after you’ve already signed the paperwork.

 

Things like:

 

1) How good the Shower is and what the water pressure is lik

2) Look for signs of mold or insect infestations around the walls, carpets and windows (not in our properties of course!

3) Are there any issues with the locks or with doors/windows?

4) Are there creaky floorboards or any other issues you need to be aware of?

5) Do you feel safe in the property, especially at night?

 

Who provides the Furnishings?

 

Decide in advance whether you are looking to rent somewhere furnished or unfurnished. There are pros and cons to both. Furnished is a great option if you don’t have furniture of your own, or you are just renting whilst your house is renovated for example. However, this does mean that you that the furnishings will most likely have been used by others before you, so it depends how bothered you are by that thought! Plus, you will normally be responsible for the costs if something gets broken.

 

Unfurnished gives you the opportunity to move in with your own furniture and make the space your own. However, this may mean extra outlay to purchase new furniture which you may or may not want to take with you into your next property.

 

Alongside furniture and the like, it’s also helpful to find out what electrical items are included in the rent, and also consider what condition they are in and when they were last tested.

 

If not supplied, then white goods like Fridge, Freezer, Washing Machine, Dishwasher, Microwave, Toaster and Kettle will all need to be purchased. If they in the property, then make sure that you are happy with the condition of everything supplied and if not, speak to the landlord before you move in.

 

Remember to read the meters

 

There can be so much happening on moving day, but one thing not to forget, is to read the meters and to make a note of your meter readings. Make sure you contact energy suppliers to let them know of the change in tenant as you don’t want to find yourself liable for someone else’s bills!

 

Insurance

 

To avoid nasty unexpected costs, check what insurances you will need to purchase for yourself for your rental property. For example, contents insurance can come in handy in case of any damage or theft in your rental home. Make sure that you insure high value items.

 

Emergency Procedures

 

Just as with any home you live in, it’s always helpful to be prepared for the unexpected, so make sure that you know how to turn off the water, have a clear route out in case of an emergency and know who to contact and how if something happens to the property.

 

Be a good tenant and maintain good relations

 

Good Communication is key as a tenant and maintaining good communication between you and your agency or landlord can do so much for good will and also financially too!

 

So, there you have it, a few tips to get you going on your rental journey! We’re always happy to answer any questions that you may have about renting a property. If you are looking for a property to rent either short term or long term in St Albans or the surrounding areas then why not give us a call on 01727 221290.

 

28Oct

Autumn is always a busy time for selling your home as people start to focus on making plans for the following year after the summer has ended and before the winter sets in.

A lot of psychology goes into home buying it’s all about how the buyer “feels” when they are in your home and can they see themselves living there.  

If you’re thinking of selling your home this autumn here are some suggestions to help bring the season inside and create a warm and cosy atmosphere that prospective buyers will love.

Think about your home from the outside in

It’s important to consider the first impression that buyers will get of your home. Unpredictable weather in Autumn can expose your home to the elements and mean that it may not look its best.

Clear falling leaves from paths and keep entrances clear from piles of leaves which can become slippery and create a hazard. Cleaning windows and doors and adding perhaps an autumnal decoration can make your property frontage seem more appealing.

Making an Entrance 

As outside is wetter and muddier in Autumn investing in a door mat or shoe covers could help to save your carpets from multiple people traipsing in and out of the house with their shoes on. 

Create a place for people to take off their shoes as they enter to avoid muddy footprints on the carpets. 

Have the Heating on

No one wants to walk into a cold, draughty house, so even if your home is empty, make sure that you heat your home and warm it up before viewings. Having the heating on can make your property feel cosier and more appealing to potential buyers. 

Keep the Lights on! 

Autumn days can turn dark quite quickly so keeping the lights on, even in the day time can show your home in a cosier light, especially now that the clocks have changed.

Create Extra Light

Autumn conjures up thoughts of roaring fires and twinkling lights, so having the fire going during viewings on cold days, or some twinkly lights hung around the home or strategically placed can really help to brighten up your home, as can the odd uplighter or spotlight in the right place. 

Accessorise for the Season

A few well-placed Autumn accessories can really help to bring your home. to life. Accessorise lounge areas with Autumn throws and cushions. Tactile buyers will love a chunky throw over a cushion or arm chair or some plush welcoming cushions on the sofa. 

Have an “autumnal display” in the hallway, kitchen or on the dining table can also help to create a homely, welcoming feel. Create centre pieces or displays with candles, pine cones, acorns or leaves.

Autumn Scents

Welcoming scents like cinnamon, pumpkin spice, baked apple can invoke happy memories and warm people up to your home. Less is definitely more though. The last thing you want is someone needing to walk out of the home because the smell is too over powering, so try to keep scents minimal. 

Keep your Home Well Ventilated 

On the topic of scents, unwelcome scents from rooms not being well ventilated during the Autumn can have a negative effect on buyers. For example, smells from cooking, animals, or poor ventilation can put buyers off, so be sure to try and ventilate your home in Autumn, but especially before viewings. 

Help your buyers imagine the space

Sometimes it can be helpful to give examples of the way that you use your home during the Autumn season so that potential buyers can imagine themselves in the space. Give examples of Autumn events that you take part in with the neighbourhood, or reasons that you like your home in the Autumn.  

So there you go, a few tips for you to help sell your home during the Autumn period. 

We are always happy to help and advise on property related enquiries, so if you are considering selling your property or looking to buy or rent then please do feel free to give us a call on (01727) 221290 as we’d love to help. 

 

27Sep

Are you thinking about selling your home at the moment? Are you concerned whether it’s the right time to be making such a big financial decision in the current climate?

Well now that the housing market has opened up once again, with estate agents able to conduct viewings and house sales able to take place again, you may be pondering whether now is a good time to be selling your home or getting on the property ladder and making that first move. 

 

Maybe your house sale is being forced by necessity of external factors, so you have to move and you’re questioning whether you will be penalised for selling or buying over the next few months.

 

Well, although no one has a crystal ball, here’s what we know based on activity over the last few months since lockdown lifted.

 

The good news for buyers, is that all of the UK governments have temporarily cut stamp duty, so this means that if they move home before April 2021, buyers could potentially save up to £15,000 in tax which is a fairly big chunk of money to be able to save or put towards other costs of moving or invest into refurbishing your new property.

 

The government hopes that this hiatus on stamp duty will help to reinvigorate the housing market and with 70,710 property sales going through in July, up 14.5% on June’s figures it does look like people are keen to get moving again. In fact, the land Registry’s latest figures demonstrate a 2.9% year-on-year rise in prices.

 

It seems that nationally, there is a great deal of optimism around the property market at the moment. Rightmove recently reported its busiest month for 10 years as lockdown lifted and people flocked onto the website to find their next property, although this could be a short-term burst, and the housing market could slow in the long term with wider economic concerns taking effect as we move towards the colder months and into 2021.

 

Yes, that’s all great we hear you say, but what does that mean for my house move down here in leafy Hertfordshire?

 

Well, reports indicate that mid-range buyers in more expensive parts of England are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of the stamp duty cut, with savings of £10,000 on a £400,000 property and £15,000 on a £500,000 property encouraging more moves, so that means that being situated within commuting distance of London and in prime commuter belt territory to other places too, properties in sought after areas such as St Albans could rise in the short term and before April 2021 it all looks promising. However, remember that crystal ball we talked about? At the moment, not even the government seems to be able to second guess their next set of announcements, so depending on what happens within the political and economic climate, we could see house prices fall over the next 12 months.

 

So, in the short term it seems to be good news if you are considering selling, as it definitely means that there are buyers out there wanting to move and willing to pay market prices, and good news for buyers, as they save on the stamp duty and so may well be looking to move before April to make that big saving.

 

We’re always happy to discuss the housing market locally and to showcase the range of properties we have available for sale and rental, so if you are considering selling, buying or renting, then why not give us a call on 01727 221290