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26Apr

So you’ve found the new home of your dreams, spent the last few months building up to the day when you are finally going to move in and finally it’s here! It’s time to move you’re your new home! It’s common for people to panic about remembering everything on Moving Day so here are a few pointers to help your move go as smoothly as possible! 

1.Keep the Kettle Handy!

Moving is thirsty work, so whatever you do, don’t pack the Kettle until the last minute!  Create a box with kitchen essentials such as Tea Coffee, Sugar, Milk, Squash, biscuits teaspoons and a few cups and have those handy for when people need to refuel during the day. You can then transport this yourself to your new home and have it ready for immediate use. Also perhaps pack some other essentials such as kitchen towels; bin bags, soap and loo roll so that you aren’t caught short once you reach your new home. We also think that having the corkscrew handy is mandatory to toast your new home too!

2. Ensure that your Mobile Phone remains charged!

You can typically expect a flurry of calls and activity on moving day as you wait to hear that contracts are exchanged and the sale is confirmed, and then liaise with those in the chain, or with your movers, so it’s important to ensure that you keep your mobile phone charged and ready! Don’t let your phone charger be packed away, keep it with you for those charging emergencies on the day!

3. Take Electricity Readings

On moving day, don’t forget to read your gas and electricity meters as you leave. Perhaps take a photo of them with your phone as you leave in case the paper you write the reading down on gets lost during the move. When you get to your new property, make it a priority to take readings too and contact the new energy supplier within the first 24 hours if possible to ensure a smooth transition between you and the previous residents or tenants.

4. Simplify the Electronics

Hold fire before you go about unplugging all of the tech! If you have a multitude of wires plugged in to various different devices and they all look the same, it can be helpful to use coloured stickers and attach one to the plug and one to the socket it goes in so that you know which one goes in which once you start to set up your devices in your new home. 

5. Pack an Overnight Bag

Make life easier for yourself on moving day by packing an overnight bag for each family member with the essentials in so that you don’t have to start rifling through taped boxes the minute they come off the lorry. Pack any important medication, toiletries and a spare change of clothes including pyjamas to ensure that everyone can function for the first 24 hours without unpacking boxes immediately.

6. Make the Beds 

Have a separate box with all of the bedding – duvets, sheets, pillows etc. and as soon as your beds are unloaded, prioritise setting up and making the beds. This ensures that when you are exhausted by the end of the night, everyone has a comfortable bed to sleep in! If you are having friends or family help you move, then perhaps make this job the responsibility of someone so that you have the peace of mind of knowing it’s being done without having to worry about it yourself. 

7. Delay Delivery of New Items

Hopefully everything will go according to plan on moving day but you don’t want to add to the chaos of people, and your furniture and boxes being carried in by having large items such as your new washing machine, sofa or TV delivered. Perhaps arrange for these items to arrive a couple of days after moving day so that you can get through the initial moving day first! 

So there you have it, hopefully some tips to get you started with making moving easier for you! If you have any queries about any aspect of moving home, or you would like to discuss how we can help with you with your selling, buying or renting journey then please do pick up the phone and give us a call! 



22Mar

As if there isn’t enough to think about when preparing to move home, once you have moved, there are suddenly a whole new array of things to take into consideration. 

So with this in mind, here are some tips from us at Aubrey and Finn of things to consider once you have moved into your new property. 

1) Change the locks

As one of our locksmith friends always reminds us – do you really know who has a key to your property? When you move and don’t change the locks you never know who the previous occupants have given a key to, their friends, and family, Beryl the next door neighbour or even Doris who lives at number 15! For your own security and peace of mind perhaps consider having the locks changed on moving day so that you can be certain that the only people who have keys to your home are people you’ve given them to! 

2) Re-Stock your Food Supplies

People will often try to use up all of the food in their fridge, freezer and cupboards before moving so that they don’t have extra stuff to transport over to their new home and may worry about the food defrosting or going warm during the move, especially during the summer months. 

Before moving, order an online supermarket shop to arrive at your new property either the evening of, or the day after your move so that you can restock food at your new home without having the hassle of going out to the shops on moving day.

3) Change the Utilities  

Ensure that the services which are attached to your old property like your Council Tax, Water, Utilities provider, TV, telephone and broadband provider are informed you are moving. Give readings if needed for your old property and take readings as soon as you get into your new property, or order your new services and get them set up as soon as you can. 

4) Find out when refuse is collected 

Perhaps not the most glamorous of questions but it’s important to know when and how refuse is collected in your new home. If you haven’t been told by the previous owner or occupant, you can use the Postcode checker for Dacorum or St Albans  to discover when your refuse will be collected each week and which bins to put out for collection. 

5) Change your Address

One of the most pressing things to do will be to change your correspondence address with as many companies as possible.  Setting up a redirection may help you to catch any post which is still being sent to your old address but it’s important to ensure you change your address with companies including for any bank accounts, credit cards or other accounts you have. 

6) Inform Insurance Companies and the DVLA!

Insurance premiums are often affected when you move home, so it’s vital to inform your insurance companies and change your home, car, health or pet insurance cover over to your new address. 

Also, inform the DVLA. Did you know that it’s illegal to have a driving licence with an incorrect address on it so it’s important to change your address on your driving licence asap!  

7) Send out those “Change of Address” Cards!

Want to ensure your nearest and dearest know your new address? Make a note of who is on your Christmas Card list, or who sends you letters through the post and have some new cards printed up with your new address so that you can send them a “New Address” card well in advance of expecting that birthday or Christmas card!

8) Changing Doctor’s Surgery

If you have moved out of the previous area you were living in, then it may be helpful to find a new GP or Dental Surgery. Do your research and ask around for the best ones in your new area, or maybe consider which surgeries will match your needs – late night opening for example, a pharmacy onsite or the ability to book appointments online. Once you have decided on your chosen surgery then go in and register. It’s important to do this asap as any referrals will be sent to your old address until your new address is updated.

9) Have a plan for emergency situations

Once you are in then ensure that you familiarise yourself with how to deal with basic emergency situations around your home for example, where your stopcock is to turn your water off, how to reset your fuse box if you need to or even how to reset the boiler in the event it goes off. You don’t want to be figuring out how to do these things on the day that you actually have a problem so familiarising yourself when you move in can help to pre-empt this. 

10) Locate local amenities

Want to know the best place to go for that essential takeaway at your new home? Ask your new neighbours or research via the internet where your new essential go-to amenities are including the nearest takeaway, convenience store, post office, hair dresser, even hospital if you have moved towns or bus/tube/train routes if you will be relying on public transport!

We hope that these tips are useful to help you if you are considering moving home. If we can help with any aspect of your next home move then please do get in touch! 


19Feb

Did you know that nationally one in four families move home to secure a school place?

With this year’s National Allocation Day for secondary school only a couple of weeks away, we know that in Hertfordshire, one of the big reasons for families moving is to be in a good catchment area for schools.

There were just over 1400 applications for a secondary school place in St Albans last year and just over 1000 applications for a secondary school place from Hemel Hempstead and villages, and places at the best local schools, especially the selective schools are often hotly contested.

So if you are moving home, how can you ensure that your move increases the likelihood of getting a place at the school of your choice?

Well, whilst no home move can ever 100% guarantee a school place, here are some tips to help increase your chances.


1. Research School  Admissions Criteria

The biggest tip we can give you is to do your homework on the local schools you are interested in and read their admissions criteria so that you understand how places are allocated.

Most schools in Hertfordshire will firstly give priority to children who have been the public care system at any point of their lives and children with a particular medical or social need (i.e. with a medical condition or an EHCP) before other pupils, often regardless of home address.

After these admission rules then typically priority is given to children who have a current (and in some cases past) sibling at the school again, often regardless of home address. Some schools will also include children of staff in this rule.  Typically this will account for one-third to half of all places allocated.

After this then some schools may consider religious affiliation as a priority rule, or academic, musical or sporting ability. These rules are often also distance based, so a child may have to meet the criteria and then places will be allocated on a distance basis. Some selective schools in Hertfordshire will use these indicators as a basis for admissions.

Most non-selective Herts schools will include a priority catchment area and will admit children to the school in order of distance within the priority area only. Some (such as STAGs and Verulam) will offer a random allocation within the priority area.

Finally, places will then be allocated to children on a distance basis outside of the priority catchment area. Many of the St Albans schools and some of the Hemel schools will have fulfilled their places before ever getting down to this rule so if you are hoping for a place but live outside of the priority area then depending on the school it may be unlikely that they will offer a space to you.

See… simple! Or, maybe not so simple! Trying to work out which rules your child would be eligible under for each school can be an even bigger headache than contemplating moving home!


2. Research Nearest School & Priority Area Schools using the Herts Admissions Website.

Before agreeing to a purchase or rental, it’s important to understand what schools you would be eligible for based on location and distance to the school, so we would definitely recommend using the postcode checker to do your homework on the likelihood of getting a school place from your new property based on the “nearest school” and “priority area” rules.

Your nearest school is the school that a child is most likely to get into depending on their address. Note that the “nearest school” physically may not be your allocated nearest school as they may have special admissions criteria or be in a different local authority. “Priority Areas” are the schools which will consider applications from certain areas, so they are schools that a child at that address would have the best chance of getting a place at. Being in a priority area doesn’t guarantee a place as some priority areas include the whole of south-west Herts such as Parmiters School in Watford which takes pupils from Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead postcodes.

In Herts you can input in the property postcode to find your nearest school and priority area schools on the Herts Website here. 


3) Look at previous statistics

Although never fool proof, previous years statistics can give you an indication of where you need to be living to be allocated a school place based on distance, so researching these figures can help you to decide where to buy/rent. The statistics are available from the Herts Website.

 Here are last year’s statistics for St Albans and Hemel based on distance only. These are subject to change year-on-year.  You can see that Beaumont and Sandringham have extremely small catchment areas in St Albans whilst Hemel School catchment is pretty much confined to the HP1 postcode.

 

Figures from Continuing Interest Round Two - Maximum Distances admitted:

St Albans Schools

School

Maximum Distance Admitted

Notes

 

 

 

Beaumont

1181.47 metres

 

Sandringham

985.19 metres

 

STAGS

2236 metres in priority area

Plus random in-area allocations

Verulam

2236 metres in priority area

Plus random in-area allocations

Samuel Ryder

4303.25 metres in Priority Area

2776.76 metres outside priority area

 

Townsend

Took children who were not allocated a school which might indicate it was not oversubscribed.

 

Loreto

Not Reported

 

Marlborough

Not Reported

 

Nicholas Breakspear

Not Reported

 

 

Hemel Hempstead Area

School

Maximum Distance Admitted

Hemel Hempstead School

1454.4 metres

Adeyfield School

7212.65 metres

Longdean School

6970.67 metres

Astley Cooper School

28,453.31 metres

Cavendish School

13,006.40 metres

JFK Catholic School

Not Reported

Ashlyns School

8299.99 metres

Kings Langley School

5347,52, in priority area and nearest school

3567.75 in priority area.


4. Work out what’s most important and be willing to compromise.

Homes in good priority school catchment areas are notoriously more expensive than those that aren’t so it’s important to take this into consideration when buying or renting a new home. It’s essential to work out what your budget is and to be realistic about what you can achieve for your budget in the areas you want to live. Also consider what you are willing and not willing to compromise on for your budget. If you really want to live a stones-throw from the best schools then you may find that you have to compromise on features such as that extra bedroom, utility room, large garden, or even off-street parking, so really give some thought as to what is more important... having to pay for permit parking, live in a smaller property, or being able to see the school from the front door. 

5.  5. Ask us for Help!

Once you’ve worked out what schools you are interested in and the areas where you have the best chance of securing a place, it’s time to start your property search and here’s where we can help! Scanning property sites such as Rightmove may or may not bring up the home you are looking for within the right budget and within the right catchment area.

However, we can help you to find a home in your desired area. We know the most popular areas for schools and so we regularly seek out homes in the Beaumont and Sandringham catchment areas in St Albans and in Boxmoor in Hemel as well as in other popular areas for schools locally.

We can keep our ear to the ground for properties becoming available in that area, or approach homeowners who may be considering selling or renting their homes and give you priority on viewing these properties so that you get in there first.

Similarly, if you own a property in a priority catchment area, we can help you market it to interested parties to ensure you get the best sale price or rental return possible as we know how valuable a school-catchment property can be!

So there are our five top tip for what to consider when moving home if you are intending on applying for a secondary school place in St Albans or Hemel Hempstead.

It’s important to remember that moving into a catchment area or within a certain distance of a school doesn’t guarantee a school place but hopefully these tips can help you to plan your move a little more wisely and will help you understand what to think about when considering moving for school applications.

We are always happy to chat with people over the phone or in-person to try and help them plan their next move, whatever the reason, so please feel free to get in touch or pop into the office for a no-obligation chat!   

24Jan

Today we are discussing how Airbnb can work as an alternative to renting out your home via the traditional methods.

So why would you consider making an income on your property via Airbnb in St Albans or Hemel Hempstead rather than simply renting to a long-term tenant?

Well if you have a second property which you don’t live in, or perhaps live in your home but work away frequently leaving your property empty for periods of time then Airbnb could be for you!

Although renting to one tenant can provide a stable monthly income, you may find that you can make a higher return on your property by renting it out by the night – especially locally where people need a place to stay short-term because they are visiting the area, working away from home themselves or may even be having their own home renovated and in need of a temporary home until works are complete.

But we hear you say, I don’t want to be dealing with the hassle of Airbnb… I’m a busy person!

Well at Aubrey and Finn we offer an Airbnb Management solution which takes the stress out of renting out your home in this way. Our current Airbnb clients tell us that the Airbnb management service works really well and we are currently the only locally based Estate Agent with a physical office offering Airbnb Management options.

We make it so easy for our clients to Airbnb their property.

We advertise and market the property for you and deal with all of the bookings and enquiries.

We then handle check-ins and check-outs and we are available during the clients stay to answer any queries or deal with any issues they may have.

After the stay, we will clean the property and turn around the bedding etc.

We then send you email updates telling you how much you have earnt for each stay.

All you have to do is give us the keys and tell us when the property is available!

If you are someone who works away frequently it may be that you have contemplated renting your accommodation out before, but perhaps you are only at home on weekends, or maybe you are away weekends, and you can’t see how it could work for you. Well we can help! 

If you are still living in the property then we can liaise with you to ensure your home is always free for when you want to use it. 

Airbnb Management through Aubrey and Finn works really well for those not living in their property either because it’s a second home, their work takes them out of the area some nights a month, they want to go travelling or maybe they want to move elsewhere but not sell their current home.

For further information on our Airbnb offerings visit our website

We’d love to chat further to you if you think Airbnb might be a good option, or indeed if you are looking for an Airbnb property to stay at in the local area!