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.

Trendy kitchens and bathrooms – What can they do for you?

The quality of a bathroom/kitchen can increase or decrease the value of a property so it’s essential to keep them up-to-date. They should be a space for relaxation and, for many, unwind after a long day. A potential buyer could easily be put off by a dated bathroom or kitchen as they may see this as an area where they would need to invest extra money in when purchasing a property.

Installing a new bathroom or kitchen is a big commitment. Any design choices will need to be lived with for several years, so it’s important not to be too easily influenced by current trends that can come and go (i.e. 1970s style avocado green bathroom suite). This month’s blog post covers our top tips on how you can improve kitchens and bathrooms with simple, cost-effective changes.

Let’s begin with kitchens…

A pop of colour

Adding a statement pop of colour to your kitchen can help modernise tired paintwork. This adds a sense of personality and character to your kitchen and reflects who you are within your home. Adding a fresh coat of paint to walls is a relatively inexpensive way to transform your kitchen. If you enjoy more intense colours, focus on painting one statement wall and keep the rest of the walls neutral so that the colour does not overpower the room.

Matte black appliances

No matter what colour your kitchen, matte black is a perfect contrast colour for your appliances –  including ovens, kettles, dishwashers and fridges. This helps to add a technological and futuristic feeling for your kitchen and can blend in with most interior design schemes.

Headless ventilation

Headless ventilation is something that many kitchen designers are now implementing into modern homes. It saves drawing unnecessary attention to less attractive features, such as your cooker hoods. It also means you have a much airier and open spaced kitchen.

Clutter-free surfaces

This idea of minimalism is huge in all areas of the house and there is no exception for the kitchen! Take a leaf out of famous tidier, Marie Kondo, who preaches about storage and keeping only what you need. If you have an excessive amount of tabletop appliances then narrow it down – if things such as electrical appliances are old and not working as well as they used to, get rid of them too.

Tons of texture

This is a simple yet highly effective way to keep your kitchen visually pleasing. Having a variety of textures works to add dimension to the room and can include wooden counters, glass splash backs and tile flooring. 

Open-plan living

If you are someone who has watched the show ‘World’s Most Extraordinary Homes’, many modern homes have open-plan kitchens combined with living rooms so that families can enjoy spending more time together in one space. ‘Broken-plan’ layouts are becoming increasingly popular – by adding bookcases, screens or half-walls creates distinct areas within a kitchen for eating/socialising.

Darker floors

Adding darker floor tiles or wooden flooring can create a sleeker and chicer kitchen. Having chestnut or ebony wood floors, or grey/black tiles is the way forward. Marble flooring can add make an impactful statement, however, if marble tiles are out of budget, why not take a look at marble- effect tiles?

 

Next up is bathrooms…

Don’t be tempted to buy a coloured bathroom suite!

Bold coloured bathroom suites might be making a comeback but white bathrooms are truly timeless. If you want to add colour to white bathrooms, they are easily accessorised with towels and blinds that can provide a funky accent colour or can be complimented with patterned tiles and flooring. In contrast to kitchens, choose more angular styled white suites to add a contemporary twist.

Make a big statement in a small space

Bathrooms are often the smallest rooms in a house but that doesn’t mean you can’t be adventurous in your design choices. Using large print wallpaper can create a vibrant wall or utilising a statement mirror can be both practical and add some drama to the space.

 

Go natural

Cold, stone textures and materials have been popular in bathrooms for quite some time but now wood is on its way in. Darker-stained, rustic timber can be used to add a warmer touch to often cold, clinical bathroom designs. There are even wood effect tiles on the market to add a more natural feel without compromising on functionality.

A metallic touch

Forget shiny chrome – think industrial copper or glamorous gold. You may not want to commit to changing your taps to these bold new metallic trends, but you can accessorise your bathroom with gold or copper accents by installing an on-trend light fitting with coordinating metallic framed mirror or shelving unit.

Wet rooms

If you’re planning a complete bathroom renovation, a wet room may be a great option. They are becoming increasingly popular as they offer an easy to maintain bathroom and are a practical alternative to a walk-in shower, offering greater accessibility.

Industrial chic

Industrial chic is an emerging trend. With a more masculine feel, the industrial look consists of bold, straight lines, exposed pipework and black, chunky fixtures and fittings. Simplicity is key with this design and larger, more stylised shower screens hint at influences from Japanese minimalism.

Space saving bathrooms – always on trend

If your bathroom is particularly tiny, there are lots of space saving options available from vanity units with built in storage to slim basins, compact WCs and even tapered bathtubs, perfect for awkward spaces. The use of mirrored tiles can make a small space feel bigger, as can lighter colour palettes and choosing bright lighting. Neutral tiles, around 30-60cm, are ideal for bijou bathrooms, smaller tiles can make a small room look too busy.

 

 

 

 

 

What is a catchment area and why should you consider yours when buying a property?

Relocating to a new town is a big decision, and there are a few factors that you should consider before moving. One of these factors is the school catchment area, especially if you have children or are thinking about having children in the future.

A catchment area can be defined as the geographical area served by a school and it is important to do your research into the schools in the area that you are looking to move to. Both primary and secondary schools should be able to provide information on where their catchment areas are, so you can find out if you’re close enough to be considered for a place.

Milton Keynes is fortunately packed with Infant, Primary, Secondary and Independent schools, meaning that when you are looking for an area to move to, you will probably have a choice of schools to send your child/ren to. In Milton Keynes, we are also very lucky in that we have a various Special Education schools for children with complex needs along with SEN provisions in place at all Primary and Secondary schools.

In light of this, one area within Milton Keynes that is worth mentioning is Bletchley, as it has a large amount of schools within its borders, including Lord Grey Academy, Abbey’s Primary School, Barleyhurst Park Primary School, Romans Field School, MK Prep School, Chestnuts Primary School, St Thomas Aquinas School, Newton Leyes Primary School and Sir Herbert Leon School. Average housing prices in Bletchley are £265,483, which is below the average of £313,587 for a house in Milton Keynes as a whole.

You should also take into consideration a schools Ofsted rating, especially if you would be looking to sell you home later down the line. According to Net House Prices, the average price of a house with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted school in its catchment area is £331,605. That’s 13.2% higher than the cost of a home near a school with an Ofsted grade of ‘good’. The figures show the average house price increases by a whopping £96,363 if you want to live in an area with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating compared to one with an Ofsted ‘inadequate.’

As well as considering catchment areas, it is important to consider when in the academic year that you are moving to a new area, most schools will need you to be living at your new address before you apply for your child to attend the school, and although it is possible for your child to move schools midterm, it is recommended that this happens in a half term or, even better, over the summer holidays.

If you are considering relocating to Milton Keynes, click here for more information

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

 

 

 

Tenant Fees Ban: Clean up your costs this Spring with Limestone

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale talks about the upcoming changes that Limestone are putting place for Landlords over Spring.

As Spring approaches it is synonymous with change and new beginnings. Many people embark on a ‘Spring clean’, which often means an increase in dusting, cleaning around the house, but what about tidying your finances?

In our 25 years’ experience within the local property market, we have learned what best to offer to our Landlords. At Limestone, we currently offer a wide range of landlord services to help landlords manage every aspect of the tenancy lifecycle, however, we have recently revised our services to offer landlords greater flexibility and choice.

As of 1st June 2019, the Tenants Fee Act comes into force, which bans tenants letting fees in the private rented sector and sets a cap on tenancy deposits in England. Our understanding is that many agents will pass the fees that they have been traditionally charging to tenants onto Landlords. Here at Limestone, we are committed to NOT passing this cost on and you can be assured that all of our fees are upfront and transparent.

For any new managed tenancy, our charges to the Landlord will be as follows:

  • £350 + VAT – One off admin fee charged at the start of a new tenancy to a new tenant. No renewal fees to the Landlord.
  • 10% monthly commission from the rent collected.

In accordance with this restructured approach, our historic ‘Tenant Find Service’ will no longer exist as a ‘fixed service’. Any Landlord will be able to choose exactly what they want us to do based on our Tenant Find Price List that includes factors such as:

  • Internet advertising and viewings
  • Right to rent and identity verification checks
  • Moving tenant into the property
  • Informing utility companies of new tenant and meter readings and much more

Prices will start from £360 Inc. VAT

Full details of our Tenant Find Price List can be downloaded here.

With all of these exciting changes going on, why not get in touch with us and see how we can help you to manage your tenancy.

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

It takes two: How to have a good Landlord and Tenant relationship

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale talks about what makes for a good Landlord and Tenant relationship.

Renting a property requires both the tenant and landlord to be cooperative and strive to be the best for a smooth renting process. But what really makes a ‘good’ landlord and a ‘good’ tenant?

What makes a good tenant?

  • Honesty is the best policy: No matter what you are getting yourself into in life, being honest is always the best way to be. In your role as a tenant, don’t give excuses as to why your rent is late, lie about your employment status or any damages or problems in the property while you’ve been there. Communicate in an open and honest fashion with your landlord or letting agent so that all parties are on the same page.
  • House proud: Your landlord pays you a visit- are you panicking that the place is a mess? Or are you welcoming your landlord into a smart property? Treat the place with the upmost respect – after all, it is your current home. Keeping it clean and tidy is essential in being a good tenant and is a lesson learnt for when you eventually move into a property that you own.
  • Steady income: This is an essential aspect in being able to pay your rent each month. Your Landlord can also run a credit check to see if you are in any debt, which could indicate reliability issues for paying the rent on time. If you struggle to pay your rent each month, you could face eviction, so it is important to make sure you have a reliable source of income each month and you can afford the rent payments from your salary.
  • Communication is key: Urgent matter or not, it is important that you respond to emails, phone calls and texts from your landlord or letting agent to ensure you always have good communication with them. Showing you are responsive and willing to work with them is always a good sign.
  • Be kind: Kindness goes a long way. This doesn’t mean becoming best friends with your neighbours or building a friendship with your Landlord. A simple “hello” and a smile and wave gives the people that live around you and the person you rent from a good impression of you. Being friendly during your tenancy will make the whole experience much easier, and it can also mean that if a problem does arise you’re treated a bit more generously.

What makes a good landlord?

  • Firm but fair: As a landlord, you need to keep the balance between being firm and being fair. Good landlords should keep their rental properties in order (such as organising annual gas safety checks and addressing any repairs immediately) and treat the tenant with respect at the same time (i.e. giving advance notice before visiting a tenant at the property).
  • Always be available: If you have chosen to manage the tenancy yourself, then you must be available to a tenant when needed. There is nothing more frustrating from a tenant’s point of view than not being able to reach their landlord. No matter how trustworthy your tenant is, or how big or small the problem is that they are contacting you about, things have to be dealt with right away.
  • Be transparent: A good landlord doesn’t cover things up from their tenants. You have to be honest with the property you are offering, including things that you cannot see at first glance. The history of the property such as pests, mould, plumbing etc. are key facts to inform your tenants of.
  • Document everything: You need to ensure that your tenants sign a well written, detailed tenancy agreement. Any extras such important dates and details are also vital to document (i.e. where a tenant’s deposit will be held). If something isn’t in writing, it usually can’t be enforced if it was ever needed.
  • Trust your tenants: Innocent until proven guilty right? If you do not trust your tenants to look after the property, then it’ll form a bad relationship between yourself and your tenant. By trusting them, you can use this to your advantage by having them work with you for things such as styling the property, so it is attractive to future tenants.

If both parties work with these pieces of advice, then it’ll help to make the experience smoother and easier. Besides the tenants and landlords, a letting agent can help facilitate a smooth tenancy. At Limestone, we offer a range of services including a range of tenant find services that cover areas such as checking potential tenant’s credit history to moving the tenant into the property. We also offer a ‘Fully Managed Service’ in which all you have to do is sit back and watch the money come in each month.

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

 

5 top tips for a first-time buyer – and someone you’d never think to talk to when buying a house

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale talks tips and advantages for first time buyers to consider, and ways to save yourself from unwanted fees and other financial issues.

Buying a house for the first time is something everyone faces at some point and is undoubtedly becoming more demanding and competitive. In the first half of this year, first-time buyers purchased 985,000 single-family homes, which breaks the record since 2005. Within the second half, 512,000 houses were sold, which is a 1% increase compared to last year. However, in overall home sales there has been a decrease, which has led to an increase in interest rates and home prices; this means for first time buyers the monthly mortgage payments have risen by 12.6% year over year. Within this blog, you will learn the best ways to safely and efficiently purchase your first house.

 

  1. If you are interested in a house, be quick and stay up to date-

This may seem like a simple thing, but if you are interested in placing an offer or viewing a house then be sure to be quick to contact the seller; if you don’t, you will risk losing out. The kind of things that could cause this problem is things such as the house getting a high amount of offers and therefore all showings would be cancelled; this could happen in as little as a day, so make sure to avoid this.

  1. Keeping housing money in one account-

If you are buying alone you will have a bank account for housing anyways, but if you are a moving out with your other half or just a friend this in the long run makes your life as buyers a whole lot easier. With putting down deposits it means big money, and that’s hard enough to deal with; you don’t need the bank asking for proof of where the money has come from via statements every time you and your partner must transfer money to one account for the housing (which is something the bank will do). Setting up a joint account will save you this hassle and will allow with easy and clarified savings.

 

  1. If you are currently renting, keep your Landlord in the know-

The last thing you need is problems with your current Landlord while you’re trying to branch out and get away from the renting life. However, you will face problems if you don’t keep them up to date, such as if you plan to move out before your contract ends you could face an early termination fee, which could knock you back in your fund for a house. If the landlord is aware then you may be able to come to a sort of agreement and avoid these fees.

 

  1. Document everything in writing-

If you discuss something with the seller’s agent such as keeping appliances in the house like a microwave, washing machine etc. or discuss minor fixtures that the seller will do on your behalf such as changing light bulbs then it is important to not only agree to these things face to face but to also write it down, date it and sign it from all parties, in case for example you go for your final viewing and the things you agreed to are not in place for you, you can take these written documents to your attorney and get what you have agreed to. If you face any issues and there is no evidence of them being discussed, then your attorney can do nothing for you.

 

  1. Finalise a closing date as early as you can –

By this point, you are pretty settled on the house you are going to buy, but that doesn’t mean it is time to relax just yet. There may be factors that you consider before settling a closing date, such as having a month or so left on your renting contract, but if you do not settle a date as soon as you can, you could face charges such as an increase in interest rate, which is something that could be avoided if you locked in a date sooner. Another thing to consider with your bank is a courtesy extension, which means that if there is something that delays you moving in when you should, such as delayed paperwork, it covers you from fees for moving in later than agreed.

 
Pro tip- someone to consider:

It is easy to get caught up only in the financial side of house buying, and it is easy to forget that your home is your personal place. As important as it is to keep up contact with the seller’s agent, the bank and your landlord, you would also benefit from simply talking to a neighbour within your new area. Whether you catch them on your house viewings or driving through the area it is super handy to talk to someone first hand about where you’re about to live. Consider asking, what are the people in the community like? Are there any local events within your area? What are your local councillors, headteachers, doctors like? Remember to take this information with a pinch of salt, as it should work only to give you an idea of the area, and once settled you will enjoy that area differently to your neighbour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is important for you to consider all these points and will make house hunting and buying a little easier on your long journey to a successful home.

 

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

How to dress your home ready for sales photos

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale shares his photography tips for selling your property.

So, you have made the decision to sell your property and now face the task of achieving the best possible price. A lot of factors will determine the valuation and final sum you can realistically expect to achieve, but one thing entirely in your hands is the effort you put into presenting your home. Wowing would-be buyers as they tour your home is one thing, but first you will need to convince someone to come and see it!

From the moment you list your property as for sale you are in competition with other sellers, and the first thing anyone is going to do is see how your home stacks up in comparison to others in the local area. The best way to make it onto someone’s shortlist in this scenario is through top quality photography. They say a picture says a thousand words, but you only need yours to say two, BUY ME!

Working with an established agency will mean you gain access to sales representatives who are experienced in taking optimum house selling photography. They will show your home in its best light and showcase its appeal, but so will many of your competitors. So, what can you do to help your agent ensure somebody puts your home on the must-see list, and avoid the dreaded maybe pile?

Firstly, time when your photos are taken well.  Choose the time of day when the front of the house is shown in a good natural light, as this will likely be the first image most will see and if it is not looking bright and attractive you risk losing interest before anyone sees the inside. Move any cars, bins or other clutter from outside the front of property, cut the grass and clean all the windows.

Once that is done, it is time to set the scene inside. Open all curtains and blinds before photography commences indoors and replace any light bulbs that may have gone out. Moving furniture around may help to make a room look more spacious but keep in mind the overall aesthetics. A common mistake is to give your imagery a show-home feel. Whilst this approach is understandable, you do not want to make the property seem cold or business like. The idea is to create a mental picture for potential buyers where they can imagine enjoying living in your home themselves, so the careful balance to be achieved is a mixture of lived in, but clean, tidy and welcoming.

Ideally, remove rugs and throws from sofas, arrange cushions neatly, set dining room tables and put away any toys, magazines or DVDs on show in living areas. Moving upstairs, ensure all beds are made and that any visible drawers and wardrobe doors are fully closed. Kitchen and bathrooms are naturally associated with hygiene, so it is imperative that these areas are spotless.

Keep toilet lids down and ensure any towels on display are neatly folded and compliment the décor. Clear all kitchen work tops and make sure there are no chopping boards on show. It is best to move bins out sight and keep all cupboards closed with appliances inside of them – dirty dishes in the sink are an absolute no-no!

For a final touch, maybe consider adding flowers around the home or a full fruit bowl in kitchen shots, it seems a moot point, but the connotations of fresh and vibrant colours could sway someone towards your property and make all the difference!

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