5 top tips for saving money on household bills

With the new year in full swing, there is no better time to take a look at household spends to understand best how you can make some positive changes for the year ahead. In the UK, the average household bills total to £144.30 a month. With some simple tips in this blog, we share how you can save on household bills.

Switching energy supplier

A great place to start to save money on your household bills is by changing energy supplier. If you are not sure how to find the best deals, you can use a variety of comparison sites such as Comparethemarket, uSwitch and GoCompare. Some of these even have rewards you can get such as discounts on meals out and buy one get one free movie tickets, so you can benefit from a better energy supplier and a trip to the cinema!

It is important also that you ensure that your meter readings are accurate, rather than estimations. If your energy supplier has overestimated your energy use, you could be entitled to a rebate. You should also look into a smart meter to help keep track of your energy consumption. You can contact your supplier for more information on installation.

Water meters

 

Following on from the previous tip, water meters could be a great way to save on your water bills. Instead of being charged for the size of your home, you will instead be charged for what you use. However, if you are unsure about whether a water meter will help you save money, simply use the water calculator by The Consumer Council for Water. If you live in a rental property, you will need to ask your landlords permission if you have a fixed-term tenancy agreement of fewer than six months. If your fixed-term tenancy agreement is longer than six months, you don’t need your landlord’s permission to have a meter, but your tenancy agreement may mean you have to ask their permission for alterations to the property.

Combi boilers

Otherwise known as combination boilers, these boilers work by having both a high-efficiency water heater and a central heating boiler in a compact, single unit. They also work to save roof space, by not requiring a hot water storage cylinder or a cold-water storage, but instead come straight from the mains when you turn on a tap.

These boilers are both cost-effective and energy-efficient as the water is heating instantly compared to being heated and then stored in a cylinder. Their compact size benefits for smaller properties as they do not require much space.

 

Broadband savings

With the latest superfast broadband being rolled out through Milton Keynes, it is important to check that you have the best broadband for your area. To find the best broadband for you, simply enter your postcode on switchly. You can also take a look into saving even more with getting broadband without paying for line rental. A major provider for this at the moment is Virgin Media, but there are other options you can take a look at on GoCompare.

Saving on the food shop

The average household spends £3,151 a year on food for at home. As essential as food is, there are certainly ways you can save. Small actions can make a huge difference, such as picking up food in the reduced isles and purchasing own-brand ranges. Furthermore, you can sign up to be a member with supermarkets, such as the Tesco Clubcard, Morrisons more and myWaitrose means every time you shop you earn points which become discounts and coupons that you can use in-store.

You would also benefit from saving on food waste by doing simple things like storing food correctly so they last longer, saving leftovers and reusing as much food as you can in meals. For ideas on recipes, check out lovefoodhatewaste.

Waterside Living: Is it all plain sailing?

Waterside properties have always been high up on the property wish list. With picturesque views and a calming environment, there is a vast array of homes available – from traditional canal side cottages to contemporary townhouses and modern flats overlooking Milton Keynes lakes, rivers and canals.

Milton Keynes is famed for its man-made balancing lakes that are designed to provide open spaces for the town’s residents to enjoy in their free time and are cleverly engineered to prevent flooding. Lakes such as Furzton, Caldecotte and Willen provide beautiful waterfront homes for those longing for a stunning all-year-round view that brings an ever-evolving scene, with migratory wildlife and the changing of the seasons.

But what is the price you have to pay to enjoy this water life? Buyers and tenants are willing to pay a premium for a waterside property and prices can be between 20-50% more than countryside properties. They attract city-dwellers who need an escape from the hustle and bustle of a hectic, fast-paced working life. Milton Keynes creates the perfect balance of both urban and waterside living. You’re never too far away from civilisation and you can still enjoy those gorgeous sunrises over the water.

Let’s dive into the bonuses of waterside living a little deeper…

Boost your health

Living near water has added physical and mental health benefits, allowing for walking, cycling and relaxing with activities such as fishing and boating. Milton Keynes has various cycling and walking routes along its waterways such as the River Ouzel and the Grand Union Canal. Aside from building stamina and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercising, you also reduce the risk of developing various illnesses and help to improve your mental health with the release of endorphins.

Lower pollution

If you’re concerned about pollution levels and their impact on your health, these tend to be lower by lakes and rivers as these areas are generally free from heavy traffic found in the more densely populated areas of town. By having a less polluted environment to live in, your general health can benefit from clearer airways, lower blood pressure and improved digestion.

Stimulate your mind

Do you work from home or work in a creative industry? If so, a waterfront property could be the ideal home to relocate to. Imagine having all that creative inspiration on your doorstep – just step outside into a watery scene and feel re-energised by your surroundings. A clear clean environment also helps for a clear mind, which benefits productivity.

Future investments

In terms of investment and value for money, waterside homes are in short supply meaning it is highly likely that your property will always be in demand, making them a sound investment for the future. If you’re considering purchasing a second home in a desirable waterfront location, your property could also provide the opportunity for a holiday let investment.

What are the drawbacks to living in waterside homes?

Home insurance premiums

With all the benefits of owning a beautiful home by the water, there may be an increased risk of flooding. Elevated homes and gardens provide some protection against this, but it can have an impact on insurance premiums if the location is known to flood. Always read the fine print and check you have flood insurance, this is something you can find out more about here. You can also check the risk of flooding with the Environment Agency.

Safety first

If you live in a waterside property with young children, it is advisable to invest in extra child-safety precautions such as securing the boundary of your property with sturdy fencing or gating. It is not only important for children to remain safe around water, but also for pets too. Any boundary fencing/gating will also help to keep pets safe within your property.

A price to pay

Despite the longer-term benefits on investing in these properties, it is inevitably more expensive to buy and rent these desirable properties. With high demand and short supply on the market, they can be difficult to get your hands on. Remember it’s all about location, location, location!

There are many benefits of living in waterfront homes, including personal benefits for your mind and soul. However, factors such as price, availability, safety and insurance should all be considered when deciding whether to invest in these properties.

 

 

 

 

 

Smart investments to keep your home a safe one.

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale gives his top tips for looking after your home and keeping it safe.

Owning a house and making it a home is one of the greatest achievements in life. It is important that you know how to keep your home safe and there are smart investments you can make to help achieve this. Some of these investments may also make your home more appealing to potential buyers in the future.

Digital home monitoring

A remote home monitoring system is usually controlled by an app, in which you can place small cameras around your home to view both the inside and outside of your property via your phone and can be used for everyday use, such as watching your pets or checking the kids while you’re out. If motion is detected whilst you are away from home, you’ll be sent a notification to your phone so you can watch the activity in your home, sound an alarm or call the police. You can also place detectors on doors and windows which can detect when they are being broken into.

Smart doorbells

Smart doorbells help you to see who is at your front door before allowing visitors access to you home. These doorbells are particularly useful for pre-screening unwanted cold-callers or monitoring the whereabouts of parcels. Many of these smart doorbells you can connect to an app on your smart phone to view camera footage and will get a notification if you have a visitor at your door and for other things, such as when the post arrives.

Remote Garage door opener

This gives you the power to open your garage from wherever you are. Therefore, if you have a trusty friend popping over to check the house then you can grant them access to your home via the garage with a click of a button. On the other hand, if you were to have an intruder (most commonly homes are burgled through the garage) then you would receive a notification immediately.

Security gate

There are a variety of gates that you can use to protect your home, including Aluminum double swing gates, manual gates and wireless gates. These can be fitted near the front of your home or around it. You will also be able to use it every day to let visitors in and out of your property. With this system becoming more and more affordable, protecting your property through secure gates is becoming much more accessible. 

Access code home lock

Do you often lose your house keys? An access code home lock allows you to enter your property using a PIN code. This device rather than using keys. This means that the door is much more advanced and is a good preventative measure for house intruders as it removes the risk of traditional locks being snapped or forced open. This can also be used as a great safeguarding device for the elderly as relatives can access the home using a key code instead of having multiple sets of keys.

LED home lighting

When in doubt, trick ‘em out. By using remote LED lighting, you can schedule times for your lights to go on and off within your home while you’re away, to give the impression that someone is home. This is also a great tool to use day-to-day (e.g. If you want to monitor the lights on behalf of an elderly family member).

From smart doorbells to LED lights, all of these things will help you have a safe and secure home. However, not all security has to be smart. For official guidance, Thames Valley Police have their very own top tips regarding how to maintain your garden, windows, doors etc. to help prevent crime. You can find out more here: https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/residential-burglary/

For more tips like these and to get the best price for your property, contact the team on 01908 234 111 or email us at info@limestonemk.co.uk

10 ways to save money and make your home more energy efficient

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale talks about the ways to save money and help make your homer more environmentally friendly.

The talk about saving the planet and becoming energy efficient is a conversation that has been sprouting up all over the news recently, as the world become more advanced, the demand to start looking after the planet has increased. The question is, where do you start? The answer to that is to simply begin at home. The amount of energy wasted everyday in your home is a lot more than your probably realise, not only does this effect the environment, but your wallet too. In this blog you’ll discover how to make your home more energy efficient and save money.

Cool washes for the win:

Did you know that 90% of the energy used by your washing machine is used to head the water and the other 10% is used to run the machine? That is a lot of energy. To solve this problem, simply use cooler water for every load to help save a significant amount of energy.

Install solar panels:

These may not be the cheapest of things, but the return on investment is worth it. Not only does it heat hot water, but also generates electricity for your home. Long term, they will help to save money on the energy bills and promote lower fossil fuel usage.

Top ratings with Energy Star products:

If you are about to kit out your new property or jazz up your current home, then look at Energy Star products. Energy Star-qualified appliances (televisions, refrigerators, ovens, washing machines and air conditioners) use anywhere between 10-50% less energy than standard appliances and help reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses.

Hi tech= less electricity:

Once you find a desktop computer that best suits you, it can be hard to part from it, especially when tech experts recommend you replace your laptop every 4 years, that doesn’t always sound like the kind of investment you want to make. However, laptops use up to 80% less electricity and run on less energy than desktop computers. Desktops use around 175 watts, with laptops using only around 60 watts at their peak.

Take those plugs out!

For some people, keeping plugs in that aren’t being used keeps them awake at night and bothers them throughout the day and quite frankly, everyone should be concerned about it! The average charger consumes 0.26 watts of energy when not in use and 2.24 watts when connect to a phone. With a collection of unused chargers left plugged in, they can accumulate 10% of your energy bill.

Keepin’ it cool:

As simple as this next tip may sound, it can help to save 5%-15% every year off your energy bill. Turn the thermostat down. Dropping the temperature by around 3/5 degrees to get your overall house heat to around 10/15 degrees can hugely help to save money and reduce energy wasted.

Go with the slow flow:

To improve your water sufficiency, replace your shower heads with low flow ones. The conventional shower head uses 5 gallons of water per minute, but low flow heads use less than half of this. Make the change and save your water!

Here’s a bright idea…

The average home has 40 light bulbs, so there is no better time than now to get to switching you light bulbs. Take your pick from Halogen bulbs, LED bulbs or CFL bulbs to make sure your lights are energy efficient. Not only are these good for the environment, but they also offer longer lasting light.

Chuck it in the bin… the compost bin.

Compost is created by organic waste that is kept in a pile or container to compose over time. This helps to reduce the amount of waste you produce, but your fruit and vegetable compost is a great fertilizer for your garden.

Smart meters being… smart:

Smart meters are a great way to keep on track of the energy you use within your home, along with cutting out the need for meter readings. Along with telling you how much you’ve used; it also tells you how much it costs all within up-to-date real-time. You can then compare past and present use of the smart meter and see how well it is working.

So, there is everything you need to know about saving money and making your home eco-friendly. From turning down the thermo to solar panels to switching those light bulbs, all while monitoring your environment loving activities success on a smart meter. Even doing a couple of the things in this list will help to make a difference in the long time.

For more tips like these and to get the best price for your property, contact the team on 01908 234 111 or email us at info@limestonemk.co.uk

 

 

 

Buying a property for the first time? Here’s what to expect.

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale talks about what you can expect as a First-time buyer and how to successfully join the property ladder.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you invest in your first property. However, it isn’t an easy step to take; it is time consuming and means spending a lot of money. Statistics show that the average first-time buyer is aged 30, and the average UK Homeowner will pay off their mortgage by 69 years old. Due to this, many are eager to get onto the property ladder as soon as they can. As of January 2018, there were 24,500 new first-time mortgages. So, how can you become a successful first-time buyer? Here are some top tips from Limestone to you.

Put yourself in a position to buy:

This may seem like one of the first things you would prepare yourself for, but there are still many things to consider. To begin with, you need to try and save on average 5%-20% of the cost of the home you’d like. So, say you’d like to spend £150,000 for a home, you’d need to save at least £7,500. If you are sensible with your money and save more than 5%, it grants you access to a wider variety of cheaper mortgages available. Speaking of mortgages…

Shopping for a mortgage that is suited best for you is key:

Shopping for a mortgage is just as important as shopping for a house. There are many lenders with many different deals to offer, so it is important to have a good look around and weigh up your options. At Limestone, we have an exclusive relationship with Lewis Christopher, a financial advisory company that helps source a variety of mortgages including for shared ownership mortgages, no deposit mortgages, and guarantor arrangements. Find out more about their services here: https://bit.ly/2FOv9Dc

Take a look at what local estate agents have to offer – and get yourself a good relationship with them:

Understanding the different estate agents within the area that you wish to move to will help you to feel more at ease with the help of expert advice when buying your first home. At Limestone, we have 20 years’ experience in the local property market. This means that we have top knowledge and advice for first-time buyers, along with properties best suited for you to consider on our website where you can gain all of the key aspects of the properties you are interested in.

There are many other costs that come with buying a home:

Budgeting for a home and a mortgage is one thing, but it is important to budget for additional costs. This could include home insurance to protect your home, moving costs to cover moving vehicle services and extra savings in case the property you have fallen in love with needs vital renovations such as plumbing repairs or central heating installation. There are other costs such as admin fees, booking fees, solicitor’s fees, completion fees, local authority service etc. To cover your back on costs like these, you would need to save anywhere from £4,000-£15,000.

Location, location, location:

It is important to thoroughly research the area you want to live in and see if property prices are within your budget. If you struggle to find a property that you can afford within your desired location, expanding your search by even a few miles may open up new possibilities. Expanding your search criteria allows you to be more open-minded about what you want and how that lines up with what you can achieve.

 

At Limestone, we always have a range of properties available to buy that are suited for a first-time buyer. For example…

One-Bedroom cluster home in Newport Pagnell is currently available for sale within a suitable price range of £165,000. This is an ideal home for a single person or a couple to move into. It has a double bedroom with a built-in wardrobe and allocated parking space. Find out more about the property here: https://bit.ly/2U6DJ3Z

Another ideal property is this 2 bedroom bungalow in Blakelands, which is available for sale within an appropriate price range of £214,995. This property has a garage, shower room and a large rear garden, giving the opportunity for extending. View the property here: https://bit.ly/2RKpEwl

Overall, it is important to understand that you cover all costs when being a first-time buyer, from the house itself, the mortgage and additional housing costs. Keeping an open mind and levelling your expectations about the whole experience will ensure that you get the best property that you can within your budget.

 

For more tips like these and to get the best price for your property, contact the team on 01908 234 111 or email us at info@limestonemk.co.uk

 

The power of social media for sales and lettings.

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale talks about the power and advantages of using social media to promote your sales and lettings business.

Social media is a powerful tool which can boost awareness of brands and help generate more customer leads. But how can social media specifically benefit property agents? There are actually more benefits than you’d probably realise…

By promoting your properties on social media, it allows your audience to share, tag others and react instantly to what you’re posting. This is a cost-effective way to advertise and promote your properties, all with the help of those interested in what you have to offer!

Whether you are buying your first property, the property you set to retire in or looking for a property to rent, the process of property searching is unique to every person. Therefore, having your own social media accounts for your property agency allows you to reach out to new audiences and adds a personal touch to your organisation by providing an opportunity to share what makes you stand out from your competition.

Social media does not only help you to promote the properties you have on offer, but also the services you provide – which is what we also promote! This allows our customers to get direct links to services they may need from us on our website. By keeping your customers in the know of what you have to offer as a company is just as important (if not more) as promoting what properties you have available to buy or rent. Having your customers know that you can be a helping hand from a buyer and sellers’ perspective is a massive bonus for your company.

 

 

When promoting properties via social media, give potential customers snippets of useful information. High – quality images are also a powerful asset that can immediately connect a user with a property. If you’ve also had a property on your site for a while, you can always add an alternative perspective on promoting the property by remarketing it on your social media.

 

Hashtags are also another great way to promote your services and properties. As you can see, we have used #property #rent and #MK, short and simple tags that relate to the tweet. These can help you massively with boosting the awareness of your property.

If a user who has never heard of your company is currently looking at the hashtag #rent and spots the property you had posted and clicks the link-result!

 

Another way to gain a trusted relationship with your customers and followers is by posting content other than things to do just with your own company. At Limestone we like to post top tips, latest news and useful articles to help inform our customers and share best practice. Another good content tip is to keep up with the seasons and post content related to the season you’re in help to stay relatable and relevant to your following. For example, we recently posted this on our twitter:

Not only is it relevant to something that a lot of people face in the New Year/Christmas, but it is also a third-party post, giving our customers the best advice and guidance to tackling moving out before the New Year.

Showing your customers that you have got advice for them from your own expertise and sourcing others helps to make you build a better sense of trust and a better relationship with them.

Overall, if you invest the time in social media it can become a powerful marketing tool for property agents. From boosting the awareness of your new properties to helping to build a better relationship with your customers, the opportunities and power that social media can give you are endless, so why not give it a try?

 

For more tips like these and to get the best price for your property, contact the team on 01908 234 111 or email us at info@limestonemk.co.uk

 

Congratulations Paul! Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager achieves new qualification

Limestone Sales & Lettings would like to congratulate Office Manager Paul Neale, on achieving his City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Property (Residential Property and Letting Management) and Certificate in Customer Service.

Paul has been hard at work earning his qualification in the office, whilst on the job. This certification is testament to Paul’s professional conduct and desire to go the extra mile in customer service.

 

To achieve these qualifications, Paul was required to show expertise in many areas including health and safety, security, marketing, legislation, codes of practice, market appraisals, tenancy agreements, inventories, letting of residential properties and qualifying prospective tenants and landlords.

Paul was also assessed on his ability to resolve customer service problems, use bespoke software, apply risk assessments and handle customer complaints.

“Despite being in the estate agency business for nearly twenty years and concentrating on lettings for the last five, I wanted to refresh my knowledge and ensure that I was up to date with the current legislation” said Paul. “Knowledge is everything and the more you have, the better the level of service you can offer to both landlords and tenants” he added.

He went on to say “All agents offer a very similar service, but at Limestone we pride ourselves on the high-level of customer service we offer. I feel that by attending annual training and refresher courses, and achieving a recognised qualification, I will be able to help us maintain this moving forward”.