Guild Blog: Secret Tips to Sell and Move in Before Christmas

Buying a property can be complicated, and so getting it right is pivotal to speeding up the process. Whether you are a first-time buyer, or an experienced home owner, our Guild agents are here to help. We have collected our secret tips to help you sell and move in before the holidays.

 

Secret Tips for Moving Home before the Holidays

 

1. Preparation

Preparation is always key when it comes to selling your home. Simon Davies from Norman F Brown said: “Make sure your photos are taken before Christmas decorations go up and be prepared to accept viewings. Don’t put off launching your home until spring as lots of properties are launched in the new year and it may get lost amongst other properties.

Statistically, most homes take on average 10-11 viewings to sell between January and November. In December, that drops to four or five viewings as the quality of the buyer increases. The busiest week of the year on the internet is Christmas time as the vast majority of people are off work.”

John Newhouse from Roseberry Newhouse said: “With an antiquated conveyancing system, having all your paperwork relating to your property prepared in advance will help speed the process up. Choosing a property with no onward chain will also significantly improve your chances of getting moved quickly.”

 

2. Is the price right?

It may seem obvious, but ensuring your property is priced correctly and competitively will save you a lot of time in the long run. It is often overlooked by many and is one of the primary reasons for a slow-moving property. Your agent will give you the best advice based on the market and current demand.

Steve Wayne from Benjamin Stevens Estate Agents said: “Listen to your agent. If you are being advised correctly, then it shouldn’t matter what time of year you are trying to sell. If your agent is working hard for you then there should be no ‘quiet periods’ in the housing market. Make sure your agent is marketing your property on all the online outlets as well as their own social media outlets. The idea is to catch a buyer before they start thinking about festive spending.”

 

3. Make sure agents have immediate access

When conducting viewings, it is imperative that your home is accessible for the agent to arrange these appointments. You never know who might want to view your home last minute, or when you are unavailable to the agent.

 

4. Present your property properly

Stephen Wayne from Benjamin Stevens Estate Agents said: “It may seem a tiny detail, but nothing puts off a potential buyer more than seeing little things that already need fixing, so make sure all the light bulbs work and your curtains are open if it’s during the day or lights are on during the late afternoon. If a buyer’s first impression is that the property is dark, then within 20 seconds the rest of the viewing is often pointless as this is the lasting impression they have.

To ensure you’re in your new home by the end of the year, have a good de-clutter. Clear out any stuff you’re not proposing to take with you when you move. Remove anything hanging on or placed behind doors. If a door can’t be opened fully, it gives the illusion that the room is smaller.”

 

5. Have an efficient solicitor

The more efficient your solicitor is, the quicker you can get things moving. There’s nothing worse than waiting weeks for paperwork, or lack of communication. You could save a lot of time once an offer has been accepted if you are organised.

Aimee Fancourt from Wooster & Stock said: “Instruct a solicitor and provide all the necessary identification and initial paperwork. This way your solicitor can prepare the contract pack in advance and it will be ready to send over to your buyer’s solicitors once you go under offer. This could potentially speed up the process by two weeks.”

Jonathan Keegan from Bryan & Keegan said: “Have quotes ready and  your questionnaire forms filled out in plenty of time. From experience, it is money well spent using an established solicitor rather than looking to save a few hundred pounds.”

 

6. Sort out your mortgage provider

Your estate agent can put you in touch with the right mortgage provider, or you can do the research yourself to find the best for you. Your mortgage provider will talk you through the steps of getting a loan and calculating how much you can afford for your property.

 

Are you looking to sell your home? Contact your local Guild Member for help through the moving process.

Top Tips for Protecting your Home in the Winter

Top Tips for Protecting your Home in Winter

  • Check the roof Have any broken or missing tiles or slates replaced and other damage repaired.  Keeping the rain out is one of the most important things you can do.
  • Clear out the gutters. Clear out leaves, moss and debris from rainwater gutters, downpipes and gullies.  Reset any displaced joints.
  • Check the roof insulation. Birds, squirrels, rats and mice can displace the insulation in the roof, and so can we when rummaging about. Check the insulation and consider increasing it, as this could help keep down your heating bill. It needs to be at least 10-11 inches (270mm) thick of insulation.
  • Boiler Serviced. Have the boiler and heating serviced and check that all thermostats and programmers are working and set at a sensible temperature. And when the house is unoccupied, turn the temperature down. Again this will save on heating bills.
  • Don’t get too cold. If you have a large old brick or stone house with thick walls, don’t let the structure get too cold as it will take a lot of energy to rebuild a comfortable temperature. Doing so may cause condensation on the walls, which sometimes results in mould and spores. These can prove a hazard particularly for those with breathing difficulties and should be avoided.
  • Draught proofing.  As to keeping the heat in your home, ensure outside doors and the windows fit well and consider fitting draught proofing strips where there are gaps between the frames.  Keep doors inside the house closed to reduce heat loss from unnecessary air circulation.
  • Don’t forget the curtains. Draw them after dark and use thicker ones if windows are single-glazed.
  • South facing windows. Keep south-facing curtains open during the day to take advantage of the sunshine, which will help heat the house.
  • Check the woodwork. Check the woodwork on windows and repair now if necessary. Otherwise, there will be a risk of penetrating damp affecting the interior of the house.
  • Check the paintwork. Check the paintwork on the window frames and redecorate before the weather deteriorates.  Thorough preparation of the surfaces and use of good quality paint is key to providing a durable finish.
  • Bleed your radiators. A great way to warm up your home is to bleed your radiators. This releases any trapped air, allowing hot water to fill every part of your radiator and warm your home more efficiently.
  • Find your stopcock. Make sure you know where your water stopcock is located. If you suffer a burst pipe you’ll be happy you found it in advance!
  • Create a power-cut kit. Be prepared for the possible winter power cuts by putting together a power-cut kit i.e. torches / blankets etc.
  • Sweep your chimneys. If your chimneys are in use, make sure that they get swept every year. This will remove the build up of dirt and grime from your chimney walls.
  • Smoke Alarm Check. Make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are in full working order.
  • Emergency Numbers. Keep a list of useful numbers handy in case of emergency. Include your plumber, gas installer, electrician and doctor

 

AND IF YOU ARE AWAY FROM YOUR HOME….

  • Leave your heating on for at least an hour a day while you are away from home
  • In severe weather, or if severe weather is forecast, you should leave your heating on day and night at your usual temperature setting
  • Check that loft insulation is laid over, and under pipes in the loft
  • Consider asking a friend or relative to visit your home every day while you are away. This will mean that, if you do suffer a burst pipe, it will be detected as soon as possible. Make sure that they know where the stop tap is located.
  • If high winds are forecast, make sure objects such as garden furniture or ladders are fully secured

 

winter-proof your home

Guild Blog: Top Tips to Winter-Proof your Empty Property

All properties require ongoing maintenance, but when you’re not there to keep an eye on things, the safety and security of your property may be at greater risk. Don’t forget to protect your property in Winter!

You may be a landlord with a void in the tenancy or own a holiday home mothballed for the winter months. Perhaps you’re working or travelling abroad for an extended period, leaving your flat or house unoccupied. Whatever the circumstances in which the building is left empty, it’s worth taking some simple measures to protect your property.

Inspect the outside

Starting with the outside, make sure general maintenance regimes are up to date, and that any necessary repairs have been carried out before winter arrives. A poorly maintained roof that collapses under the weight of heavy snow can easily run into five figures to put right.

Begin by clearing the gutters which, by autumn will be full of leaves, moss and other debris. Left undealt with, this can result in weeping joints and overflowing or sagging gutters, causing water damage and damp issues.

Next, check the roof to ensure that roof coverings are intact without any missed, slipped or damaged tiles that could become dislodged in bad weather. Pay particular attention to mortar beds and joints to the ridge tiles as any deterioration and dislocation here could allow rainwater into the roof space.

Once the cold season has passed, it’s good practice to check over everything again, just in case the winter weather has caused any new damage that now needs addressing.

Protect your pipework

One of the biggest issues with an unattended property is the risk of water damage. Even the smallest leak can, over time, do untold damage to your furniture, furnishings and entire interiors. It can even cause structural damage to the building.

Water damage is often caused by burst pipes in winter, so keeping the house warm enough to avoid frozen pipes in the first place is the most important job.

Step 1

Service your boiler annually to make sure that it can be safely left on over the winter, and check that all radiators are working properly.

Step 2

Set the heating to come on daily for a few hours morning and night to prevent the water in the pipes from freezing.

Step 3

Keep the thermostat on a low temperature. 12-14 degrees should be sufficient to get warm air circulating.

Step 4

Open the loft hatch and cupboard doors under the sink to encourage warmer air to flow into these areas and protect your pipes.

Step 5

Any exposed, vulnerable pipework (external, in the loft or garage) should be adequately lagged and the installation of frost protection systems considered.

 

In case of emergencies, you should familiarise yourself with the exact location of the stopcock for your mains water supply to the property – often found in the kitchen under the sink, or in the garage. Check periodically that the stopcock can be operated easily, and share its location with a trusted neighbour, local friend or property agent.

Drain the central heating system

If you prefer not to pay utility bills for an unoccupied property through the winter, an alternative is to drain down the plumbing and heating system. t’s not a fool proof solution since some water may remain trapped in parts of the system, but any damage should be limited.

External taps should be turned off securely, hose pipes disconnected, and the tap covered with an insulated cap or box. It is important to eliminate any risk of outside taps dripping since these are most at risk of freezing.

If you choose to shut down the heating system for the winter, be warned that the cold building might be more susceptible to condensation, which can lead to mould and mildew deposits, and cause damp issues in the longer term.

Improve your home security

Unfortunately, an empty property tends to stick out like a sore thumb, particularly at night time. Would-be thieves are more likely to take advantage of breaking into a house or flat that is obviously unoccupied.

In addition to ensuring that all windows and external doors are securely locked or fitting an intruder alarm, there are other measures you could take to give the impression that someone is home in order to deter any opportunist burglars in the neighbourhood.

If you do nothing else, fit simple timer switches for lights or radios (spoken word stations are best) in several rooms. At the advanced end of the scale, smart home security systems allow you to view, monitor and control various home operations from a smartphone app. Some even come with a moisture sensor that detects water leaks or floods in the home!

Check your insurance

Finally, you must tell your home insurance company if the property will be left empty for more than 30 days or so (check your policy for details), and you may have to arrange unoccupied property insurance.

Some insurers have specific stipulations for unoccupied property cover, particularly for vacant properties during winter. These may include maintaining a low-level degree of heating around the clock, leaving the loft hatch open or draining the system. For your own peace of mind, contact your insurance company to check their specific requirements to make sure you have adequate cover, should you ever need to make a claim.

Contact us today!

Looking for further advice on property related matters, then contact a Guild Member in your area. 

Guild Blog: How do I know if my house is haunted?

Halloween is known for its eerie tales, creepy ghouls and mysterious occurrences. We have put together a collection of spooky stories, inexplicable sightings and things to look out for. Here is a tongue and cheek look at how you know if your house is haunted. 

 

1. What’s the history?

School Lane, Turville – This quaint three bedroom property is based in a small village in Buckinghamshire and comes with an intriguing history. The tale of ‘The Sleeping Girl of Turville’ plagues this adorable village with a mystery that is yet to be solved. In 1871, Ellen Sadler fell asleep and did not wake for nine years. The case attracted the attention of the international newspapers, medical professionals and the public. Ellen became a tourist attraction for years, but not without sceptics questioning the anomaly.

2.  There’s something in the air

Darren Challis, Director of Chambers Sales and Lettings said, “I would say ask a medium to attend the property and tap into the spirit world at that location.  I can usually tell if a property has a positive or negative vibe just by being there and getting a feeling around. Sometimes the negativity can rub off on the occupants and in some cases the property will have this affect for years.”

 

3. Ask the agent

Brain Carlisle from JR Hopper & Co said, “There are a number of houses in the Dales where viewers have commented about a “bad feeling” or not being comfortable in the house. In these instances move on as they will not buy. Having said that, if I have a house with history or stories of Ghoulies and ghosts then better to make it a feature, rather than hide it and hope no one finds out. The brave and adventurous will love a good highwayman or jilted bride story.”

 

4. Is anything flying through the air?

Simon Miller, Partner of Holroyd Miller said, “Unless you live in the notorious 30 East Drive, Pontefract, Yorkshire, which is classed as one of the most haunted homes in the UK, then weird happenings are probably no more than squeaky expanding and contracting floorboards or air in the central heating pipes. However, paranormal activity can take on many guises. Are you experiencing a fine chalk like dust falling inside your home, green foam appearing from taps and the toilet, lights turning on and off, cupboards shaking, and objects levitating? Such activity was reported at 30 East Drive and they most definitely had a poltergeist. Many people report haunted happenings, from the unexplained hair-raising feelings, to objects that simply appear to have been misplaced. But in truth how can we ever really make sense and explain the unexplainable.”

5. Time for a ghost hunt

Mike Coles of Debbie Fortune Estate Agents in Wrington has some interesting top tips for all the ghost hunters out there. Study the history of your home and the region, “Allegedly, areas with a violent past can increase the risk of a haunting. You could try setting up a video camera in your home when you’re away to capture any unusual shadows on film,” said Mike. Don’t forget to rely on your senses and intuition; unusual images in the corner of your eyes, noises like footsteps and smells like sulphur can be more sinister than you think.

 

6. Animals… or not

Often, people report hearing unusual sounds, such as scratching and footsteps. Anything from rats to woodlice can make your mind wonder with all sorts of ideas. Sometimes, it is the most simple of explanations. If these sounds continue, call an exterminator to have a look around, especially in attacks and basements. If nothing is found, congratulations you have a haunted house.

 

7. When in doubt, listen to the dog

Dogs are known for their keen hearing and sense of smell. They can detect far more than humans, so are the perfect sidekick when ghostly occurrences are in your home. If you canine is barking when no one is at the front door, whimpering at thin air or staring at blank spaces, your best friend on four legs might be trying to tell you something.

8. Got a chill?

Does your home have cold spots for no apparent reason? Before jumping to any conclusions, give a call to your builder to take a look around. He may find cracks or areas which needs insulating. However, if your trusted builder cannot find a reason, then something creepier might be at large.

 

9. Misplacing little things?

Everyone misplaces their possessions from time to time, especially items like glasses and car keys. However, if this starts to happen a little too often then you might have a ghostly trickster playing around in your home.

 

10. Lights flickering

This is arguably the most noticeable sign for a haunted home. It is there in all the horror films and spooky stories. If you have checked your fuse box or even called an electrician then there is only one explanation for flickering lights…

 

We hope you have enjoyed our top 10 indicators to find out how you know if you house in haunted. Happy Halloween!