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2019 has seen record levels of mortgages approved, with lenders in the market in the midst of fierce competition with one another to win customers, which is providing many of us with the chance to obtain particularly favourable mortgage rates.
The latest figures from UK finance show that the mortgage market in the UK is continuing the current rate of growth, with the number of first-time buyer mortgages up 5.8% year-on-year and home mover mortgages also up by 1.4%. Interestingly, buy-to-let mortgages have also seen something of a renaissance after a period of decline due to government changes with regards to taxation, signalling that there is once more opportunity in the marketplace for those looking to invest.
“It appears that no matter what happens in Westminster, and who can predict what might happen next, that people are still moving or managing to get on the housing ladder,’ said Richard Pike, Phoebus Software sales and marketing director.
“With an increased number of longer-term fixed rate mortgages that have been taken out since the referendum, it is unsurprising that remortgage figures are down. Until the uncertainty that is being felt across the country is over, one way or another, that trend is likely to continue as borrowers look for some kind of certainty, at least for their finances,” he pointed out.
It would appear that the competitive mortgage rates which are currently present in the market are trumping any concerns that people may have with regards to Brexit, and therefore many are making the most of the bargains which are available.
According to Adrian Moloney, sales director at OneSavings Bank, a number of buyers abandoning the wait and see approach. “This has been helped by mortgage rates remaining as competitive as they have been for some time, alongside high employment and improved earnings. In this market, there are bargains to be had and it seems some are making the most of these now,” he explained.
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As the days get shorter, it is more important than ever to present your property in an appealing manner if you are going to attract potential buyers. With that in mind, we have put together some season-specific advice to help you find a buyer…
Let in the light
Never is it more important in the year to keep your rooms bright and airy than during the change between seasons. This is because of how quickly the levels of light fluctuate, turning your lovely property into a less-appealing version of itself, with dark rooms and corners. To avoid this, use uplighters to brighten up your rooms during viewings – this type of lighting can be easily placed into corners or areas which may appear darker. Furthermore, blinds and curtains should be drawn back to allow plenty of natural light and don’t forget to turn any lights on in cupboards etc. to create multiple sources of brightness.
Keep paths clear
During this time of year, leaves may start to fall from the trees leaving debris around your property. Ensure that your kerb appeal is kept to its maximum by clearing away any errand plants and debris from your property, especially on the path to your front door where potential buyers will most certainly be surveying. If you have the time, consider tidying up your flower beds and removing and shrubbery which may not be looking quite as lovely as during the summer months.
Clean, clean and clean again
Of course, presenting your property in a clean and tidy state is a given, but it’s also worth considering any other areas that you can spruce up in order to maximise the available light. Clean your windows regularly to ensure that they sparkle for prospective buyers and let in as much natural light as possible (this will also help with the aforementioned kerb appeal). Clean your front door so that it looks at its best – many of us will have white UPVC doors to match double glazed windows, and if this is the case then use some bleach to rejuvenate it.
Increase the pressure
You want your property to seem cosy and inviting, and the drop in temperature gives you the perfect chance to make your home comfortable and welcoming. Turn the thermostat up so that during viewings your property is warm and incentivises viewers to really take their time looking around before they brave the cold weather once more. If you have a fireplace, think about lighting it up or at the very least light some candles.
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As the days get shorter and the temperatures start to drop, it’s hard to avoid the fact that winter is on its way. The colder weather can wreak havoc with your property, so we have put together some top tips to keep your property in tip-top shape throughout the cooler months.
As the temperatures drop, the water in your pipes can freeze causing them to burst and deal major damage to your home. In order to avoid this, keep an eye out for any gaps in external walls as the cold air could reach the pipes and encourage them to freeze over. Sealing over any gaps in external walls, as well as adding insulation around vulnerable pipes in areas such as the loft and garage could mitigate this problem. Further to staying vigilant to external wall gaps, keeping your heating on a low-level (around 4 degrees) - even when you’re away from your home - will maintain a consistent temperature around pipes, thereby avoiding the problem of pipes freezing over.
When was the last time that you had your boiler checked? A poorly maintained boiler wastes energy and costs more to run, as well as running the risk of leaking carbon monoxide into your home. Having your boiler serviced will reap rewards in the long run, as well as giving you peace of mind in terms of safety and efficiency. Naturally, one of the key components of your boiler system are your radiators - a handy hint to maximise their efficiency is to put kitchen foil behind them for the heat to be reflected back into the room they are in.
Fill the gaps
Around a quarter of the heat lost from your home escapes through the loft, and therefore having good loft insulation is key to staying warm this winter. As well as the loft space, cavity wall insulation can make a real difference to keeping your home warm and energy bills low - with a typical saving of £145 per year saved on energy bills simply through having insulation installed. In terms of cost, there are a number of government grants and subsidy schemes available to help you with the initial outlay of insulating your home and staying warm this winter – so do your research and stay warm for less.
The big switch
If you feel that your winter energy bills are high despite your best efforts to prepare your home for the cold months then give your energy supplier a call and have a chat about being allocated a more cost-effective tariff. Remember that you will never experience a disruption in service if you decide to change suppliers, so feel free to shop around and find the best deal that works for you. You can use online comparison tools as well as literature direct from suppliers to find the most competitive energy rates and offers, so turn up that thermostat and get extra cosy!
Down the drain
As the leaves fall from the trees, drains and gutters can easily become blocked with debris, causing build-ups of water which could make its way into your home in the form of damp. As the temperature drops, these leaves are prone to freezing which can weigh down your guttering and damage external structures. Ensure that your drains and gutters are debris free by checking lower-level guttering on your property and clearing these out by hand as safely as possible - if the lower-levels are blocked then higher levels may also require a closer inspection.
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At the annual Conservatives’ conference this month, Chancellor Sajid Javid and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced plans to allow homeowners to add two-storey extensions without the need for planning permission. This would tie-in with legislation brought in earlier in the year which allows homeowners to extend on a single storey without planning permission.
Sally Tagg, the Managing Director at Foxley Tagg has concerns over the plans with regards to the effect on communities if there is little in terms of restrictions, which could result in inconsistent building design.
“Because the announcement is not formal yet it is very unclear about what it will comprise. Conceptually, rolling back further on permitted development should be treated with caution and concern in terms of the potential impact it may have in design terms which is an important plank of place making,” said Tagg.
Tagg’s concerns stem from the fact that although extensions will be required to comply with current building regulations, neighbours will no longer be able to formally object.
The Housing Secretary had this to say on the proposals: “All too often the planning system proves complicated, outdated and bureaucratic and is too complex and costly for people and small businesses to navigate. This is a barrier to building the homes that we need…
“I want to give families the freedom they need to expand their homes and ensure small developers get a fair chance to succeed. Our vision for reforming the planning system will speed up and simplify the process, while ensuring that communities still retain a say over their future.”
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Do you sometimes feel as though you’re drowning in a sea of clutter? Or that your house has become more and more disorganised? Well, now’s the time to hit those common, messy areas!
Start by sorting through everything you own
Getting started is always the hardest part but performing an audit of everything you own is a great first step. Gather common built-up items like books, items of food, jewellery, paperwork, loose batteries or anything you’re saving “just in case”. Find out how many duplicates or useless items you have and throw them away. Whatever there is leftover, sort and store them properly.
Next… tackle the wardrobe
Let’s face it, a wardrobe is a totally different beast to the random things you tend to collect.
A good system to operate in the future is a one in one out system. Every time you buy a new item of clothing, throw away an old item.
Whilst you’re at it, you should tackle your sock drawers. Throw away any old and worn out items, and add an organiser to the draw to keep everything separate and neat.
Sort out your utensils drawer
You know you’ve collected too much cutlery when the draw starts to stick. Take everything out of the drawer and throw away those useless tools (like your melon baller or your citrus juicer) and add a divider to better divide your essential utensils.
Organise your garage, shed and/or loft space
Transparent boxes are your best friend when it comes to organising your storage spaces. You can stack them all on top of each other and you can see all the contents you’ve stored inside them, meaning you don’t need to go through a hundred boxes to find something.
Get the kids involved
Encouraging your kids to keep their bedrooms neat and organised is a brilliant way to keep one of the messiest areas of your house neat and tidy.
Introduce them to the idea of donating unwanted toys to charity shops and how doing so can have a positive impact on the lives of others. It’s also a vital life skill your children will need to learn, so everyone wins!