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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Top tips for maintaining your garden this summer

Our gardens are now a true extension of our home and are becoming as important as any other room. Terraces and patios help add extra usable space for al fresco dining, socialising with friends and family or simply enjoying the evening sun with a glass of wine and a good book. With summer in full bloom, it’s time to get out there and enjoy your garden. Here are our top tips for maintaining your garden through the summer so you can make the most of your outdoor space.

Weeding – kill em off!

Weeding is one of those dreaded tasks but if you can keep on top of it, it can help make the task a lot easier. Try to weed kill little and often – look out for signs of new weeds growing and remove them before they grow bigger. Consider using mulching to supress weeds and make life a little easier…

After weeding, carefully sweep away debris and dirt ready for pressure washing. Pressure washers are a fast and effective way to bring back the colour to paving slabs and rejuvenate a dull-looking patio. If you don’t own a pressure washer, a garden broom and soapy water can do the job just as well.

Side note: It is important to choose child and pet-safe weed killers if appropriate.

There’s so mulch you can do!

Using mulch to dress borders and flower beds not only looks smart, but it also reduces weeding, helps retain moisture in the soil in the summer and protects plant roots during the winter. Biodegradable mulches such as wood chippings, compost and leaf-mould release nutrients into the soil as they break down and will need to be replaced as they rot. Non-biodegradable mulches including slate chippings, decorative pebbles and stones do not add anything to the nutrient content of the soil but are a good way of suppressing weeds and help to maintain moisture levels. Non-biodegradable mulches do not need to be replaced on a regular basis as with biodegradable options and can add a polished look to any garden.

Perfecting your patio and driveways

The warmer summer months provide the perfect opportunity to clean up tired-looking patios. Start by pulling up weeds that have surreptitiously grown between slabs and block paving. Be careful to remove the roots to prevent future regrowth. There are several different weed-killing options on the market, from fast-acting sprays to chemical free weed burners. However, the good old-fashioned method of pulling up weeds by hand is eco–friendly, effective and it’s free!

Side note: It is best to treat wooden decking in the spring or autumn to avoid the hot summer sun from drying out the treatment before it is fully absorbed into the wood.

It’s time to cut back

Keeping hedges neat and tidy is vital for a well-maintained garden, making the space look well-cared for and inviting. Cutback excess growth using shears or an electric hedge trimmer, being careful not to disturb nesting birds. Hedges can be pruned to look informal and natural or can be carefully trimmed to look more formal with crisp, sharp edges. Use a green bin to discard of larger, thicker hedge trimmings, smaller cuttings can be added to the compost heap, if you have one.

Side note: Conifer clippings release tannins which can harm other plants. Any excess clippings must be composted on their own for at least 3 months

The grass really can be greener

During the summer months, lawn mower blades should be set a little higher than during the rest of the year. Try to keep the height of your grass at around 5cm as this prevents the soil beneath becoming scorched thus stunting future growth. It’s easy to forget to water grass but aim for once a week if you can (your lawn will really thank you for it!). For an extra special touch, you could even add some stripes for that Wimbledon feel! Strawberries and cream anyone?

Keepin’ it cool

As important as it is to keep yourself cool in the summer, the same goes for your garden. By keeping your garden cool it helps to keep your soil fertilised, which allows garden insects such as worms and ladybirds to survive and your plants to grow.

A way to do this is to invest in an irrigation system. An irrigation system not only keep your garden cool, but it is time efficient and uses water more efficiency than a traditional hose. Water timers and mini sprinklers are also good alternatives to irrigation systems as they help to keep grass and plants hydrated.

The best time for watering your garden is in the early morning or later in the evening as this avoids evaporation and allows more of the water to be absorbed into the soil. When watering, it is best to dampen the soil, concentrating on the root point rather than the leaves, as this can result in leaf-mould diseases. It is best to water flower beds only once or twice a week but do ensure that you are watering sufficiently without waterlogging the soil. Installing a water butt is a great way to save money on your water bills and it’s much better for the environment, using a watering can instead of a hose is also a good way to keep costs down.

Even if you are renting a property, water systems are a good investment as it saves time in watering an entire garden manually and is good gardening practice for when you own a property.

Plants, plants, plants:

Plants are the aesthetics of your garden. It is important to choose plants dependent on different conditions, such as weather, season, soil condition etc. and consider this when buying plants because they have to be able to survive where and when you plant them. During summer, choose plants that require little moisture and little shade as they are often easier to maintain. Your local garden centre will be able to offer advice on what plants to buy. If you are not a homeowner, you can still invest wisely on plants. Hanging plant decorations and balcony plants are a great way to add greenery to smaller garden spaces and are more versatile if you choose to move to a new property. You can also plant this in your front garden to make your house look pretty!

The birds and the bees… and everything else:

If you are investing time and effort in maintaining your garden, it is also important to consider making your garden more wildlife friendly. Adding bird feeders to trees and bushes will help to entice the birds to your garden. Not only are they beautiful to watch, but they also help remove pests and other critters within your garden. You can also make your garden friendly for bees by planting wildflowers to attract them and help spread pollen. They also provide nectar which is important for food pollination as they offer a source of food for birds. Why not consider planting nectar-rich plants like salvia and lavender. Buying or making little homes such as bird houses and bee hotels help to allow birds and bees and to repopulate and allows for general shelter throughout the colder seasons.

Finally…

Enjoy your garden! After all the hard work, make sure you take the time to sit down and admire your beautifully maintained outdoor space this summer. Whether you are renting a property, or you own your home, you have the guidance right here to make sure your home is loved and cared for this summer.

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

Top 10 tips for moving home

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale gives his top tips for moving home.

There is a time in everyone’s lives where you take the plunge and move home. Whether it be moving into a flat or your ideal family home, moving can be hard work! However, if executed correctly, the job can be made a whole lot easier. We share our top 10 tips fora (relatively) stress-free house move.

  1. Pack early

Seems like an obvious thing but is it crucial you make time to pack. If you leave it too late, you run the risk of ‘panic packing’, which would result in things not being packed as organised or as well as they could be. Set aside a small amount of time each day at least one month before the final move date to start packing away non-essential items – this will help significantly reduce the amount of packing you need to do before you move.

  1. Start with the things you use the least

Non-essential items are usually stored in the ‘spare room’, utility room or in lofts. By doing this, it also saves time so you can focus on packing your essential items and moving large pieces of furniture. Prioritising is the key to the whole process of moving home and choosing what rooms are most important to start packing helps everything else fall into place.

  1. Pack one room at a time

It is important to take time and ensure you pack one room at a time. This helps to make sure that you aren’t jumbling up your things, like kitchen utensils with duvet covers. This also means that when you move into your new property, you will be able to easily and quickly place each box to the right room instead of having to dart around the house trying to find the right room for your belongings.

  1. Label your boxes

This relates to the previous point, if you organise the boxes in a logical order (such as by each room within your current home), labeling them accordingly makes organising your new home a lot easier to do. If you are getting rid of a cluster of things labeling the boxes, they’re in helps to differentiate what you are taking to your new home and what you are parting with.

  1. Declutter!

When sorting out your things, you are almost guaranteed to sift through things and find that you have a lot of unwanted or unused items. This is a prime opportunity to organise what items you want to get rid of and you can either donate the goods to a local charity shop or start selling them at car boot sales or online on Depop/eBay. By selling these things, it also helps to accumulate a few extra coins for things you may really need in your new home. Any items that aren’t fit for selling (e.g. if they are broken or missing parts) can either be recycled or disposed of.

  1. Do not make the boxes heavier than 30 pounds

Packing light will mean that you have more boxes to move, but overall it makes moving and handling your boxes safer. If you over pack and accumulate heavy boxes, you are putting yourself and others at risk of injury. Lighter boxes reduce the risk of injury and you are less likely to drop or break boxes because they are easier to hold.

  1. Heavy boxes at the bottom, lighter boxes at the top

Seems logical but having the heavier boxes at the bottom and the lighter boxes at the top when travelling means you are less at risk of accidents and breakages. If anything were to fall from the top, it is less likely to cause a problem and also means that the lighter items are not crushed by heavier things.

  1. Fill empty gaps within the boxes

Filling gaps in boxes, particularly with crockery or glasses with newspaper or polystyrene, helps to keep delicate things stable and secure. By preventing breakages within boxes, this also helps reduce injuries when moving, handling and unpacking boxes for those involved.

  1. Have an ‘essentials’ box

When you are finally ready to move out of your home, it is great to have an ‘essentials box’ full of the things you use every day, such as phone chargers, tea and coffee, cereal, milk, toilet rolls, body wash etc. This is the box you should load last and unload first. This box would essentially work as your overnight bag for the transition from your old home to your new home and is also great to have if you don’t manage to finish unpacking within your first day. It is also wise to try and assemble a bed or have an air mattress to hand so you have a comfortable place to sleep at the end of a hard day’s work.

  1. Take time to clean

Your mind may be completely fixated on moving everything out of boxes into your new blank canvas home, however, it would also be useful to take time to clean your new home, so your new and beloved furniture is sat within a clean home, rather than having to clean around them. Take advantage of the fact that the rooms are empty and easy to clean! Don’t forget to make sure your former home is also left in a clean and tidy state (especially if you are moving from rented accommodation) when you move out as it will add a nice touch to those moving into the new property and if you are moving out of a rented property, it will also help to recuperate your deposit money

As exciting as it is to move home, keeping these tips in mind will help you to make your moving home journey much smoother, easier and safer.

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