Tag: property

What to Know Before Moving Home: Homebuyer Horror Stories

What to Know Before Moving Home: Home Buyer Horror Stories

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Moving home is stressful and tough. No matter how prepared you are, there’s so much that could go wrong. There’s also plenty that could come back to haunt you. We spoke to some unlucky home owners and asked for their home buyer horror stories. Here’s what you really should know before moving home.

Find Out Who Your Neighbours Are – Janet, 53 (Coventry)

My kids had all moved out to places of their own, so my husband and I decided it would be a good time to downsize. We weren’t in a rush to buy but we wanted to find somewhere sooner rather than later. We came across a two-bedroom house that had been on the market for a little while.

We visited it twice and decided we’d go ahead with an offer. We asked the estate agent plenty of questions but didn’t think to speak to any neighbours. About a week after moving in, we noticed a lot of comings and goings in the house next door. Turns out they were selling drugs. In the last year alone we’ve seen parties, fights and arrests. We’re now considering moving again. I’d definitely recommend everyone have a chat with your neighbours. This would have solved so much stress for us.

You may also like: How to Secure Your Home, A Crime Prevention Checklist

Check the Phone Signal – James, 28 (Ashwell, Hertfordshire)

I made such a rookie error when buying my first home. I run my own business and often work from home. When I was viewing homes, I didn’t think to check whether my phone actually got signal. It didn’t! I didn’t notice this until the day I moved in by which time it was already too late. I’ve now got to go for a walk around the village when I need to make a call. I guess it’s a good way to get out the house.

Know What’s Yours – Rosa, 61 (Birmingham)

Me and my daughter moved into a lovely suburban property in Birmingham. We had this large tree in the front garden that would shed its leaves every winter and make a mess of my garden. After a year, I paid for a workman to come and chop it down but the next door neighbour came out and began a row with us. He claims the tree is his. Naturally, a dispute began and now we’re not on talking terms anymore. It has completely destroyed the community spirit in the neighbourhood. I’d advise any new homebuyers to find out what’s theirs before moving in.

You may also like: House Viewing Checklist, Get the Most From Your Property Hunt

Know Your Local Transport Routes – Geoff, 48 (Southminster)

I used to work locally and commute by car. I didn’t consider the need for transport routes. Unfortunately, after getting promoted and having to relocate to the London office, I found my new house was a three hour round commute away from the capital. I’ve only been living here for two years and now we’re thinking about moving again. It’s quite frustrating really.

Visit at Different Times of the Day – Claire, 56 (Doncaster)

I’d suggest people visit the area at different times of the day. Me and my partner only viewed our home in the morning. Had we gone around 3.30pm, we would have realised that our street is the main route from the school to the local park. This meant that the street is flooded with children, it’s havoc. They’re noisy, disrespectful and drop litter all over the place. The road looks like a warzone when they’ve finished.

You may also like: Finding the Right Property, Where Do I Begin?

Check for Parking – Tom, 33 (London)

It’s pretty obvious when you look back on it but I didn’t actually check to see what available parking there was. I moved into a flat in London a few years ago and was so excited about it that I didn’t think to check all the details like this. There’s very little allotted parking for my flat and it’s almost always full. I had to pay for a permit to park on the street and often have to walk at least ten minutes just to get to my car.

Before you move, be sure you know everything there is to know about your prospective house and local area. Find out everything from noise pollution, crime rates, flight paths, amenities, local schools and much more with a Property Detective report. Get your report here.

10 Weird & Wonderful UK Home Conversions

10 Weird and Wonderful UK Home Conversions

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Every few months, the inner pages of newspapers will be plastered with the latest outrageous home conversion. We love this type of news, the ingenuity of some conversions is admirable. So, as a bit of fun, we thought we’d bring you our favourite 10 weird and wonderful UK home conversions. Be prepared, this could just give you a little renovation inspiration.

10. Water Pumping Station Conversion – Ikley, West Yorkshire (£725,000)

Built in 1848, this Yorkshire pumping station has been redesigned as an open plan, two storey luxury home. Stylish, cool and equipped with a modern interior, this property boasts three bedrooms, two bathrooms and two reception areas. There’s even a cinema room too!

Water Pumping Station Conversion - Yorkshire
Image courtesy of Home DSGN

9. Spitbank Fort Conversion – Solent, Near Portsmouth Harbour (Hotel Accomodation)

Okay so it’s not actually a house but we couldn’t help featuring Spitbank Fort in this list. Originally built as a line of defence against enemy attack on the Solent and Portsmouth, the fort has since been converted into a luxurious hotel. Boasting nine exquisite suites, stunning panoramic views and a tranquil setting, the site can be hired out for venues and events.

Spitbank Fort Conversion

8. Cove Park Container Conversion – Rosneath Peninsula, Scotland

Sitting in a centre for creative professionals on the west coast of Scotland, these converted shipping containers offer temporary stay for artists. With a layer of grass covering the roof and decked balcony, these containers offer some pretty extraordinary views of Loch Long. The interior is bright and simply furnished with small porthole windows to allow extra daylight.

Cove Park Container Conversions
Image courtesy of Container City

7. Railway Station Conversion – Bredenbury (£495,000)

Originally a Great Western Railway Station, this converted two bedroom house with additional accommodation is a quaint and picturesque property. Boasting 2.76 acres overall, the land included comprises of the station building, former parcel office, garage/workshop and parking. The lucky owner would also lay claim to the railway track and trolley sheds too. It’s the ideal home for any railway enthusiast.

Railway Station Conversion
Image courtesy of Hereford Times

6. Radar Station Conversion – North Berwick, Scotland (£2,500,000)

It’s not every day you find an old military outpost converted into a luxury home. Found deep in rural Scotland, this wartime structure has been converted into an impressive two-storey property. With 6.24 acres of land, two paddocks and an additional detached two-storey, four bedroom house, this really is a quality buy.

Radar Station Conversion
Image courtesy of WowHaus

5. Water Tower Conversion – Kennington, London (£4,700,000)

The spectacular 99 foot tall water tower is the perfect example of a couple seeing an opportunity in unusual property. Originally part of the Lambeth Workhouse and Infirmary (then Lambeth Hospital), the building has 5 foot thick walls and a large steel water tank at the top. When bought, the building was in a poor condition. Now it boasts four bedrooms, a lift shaft and a 360 degree view of London. There’s an additional modern living space at the bottom, appropriately nicknamed the Cube.

Water Tower Conversion Kennington
Image courtesy of Home Dit

4. St John’s Church Conversion – Hertfordshire (£2,500,000)

Coming with an acre of land, 4-5 bedrooms and an exceptionally well designed interior, this award winning church conversion is a grade two listed building. Sitting in a picturesque Hertfordshire village, the building offers three floors, a vaulted ceiling and bold stain glass windows.

St John's Church Conversion
Image courtesy of Evening Standard Home & Property

3. Nuclear Bunker Conversion – Mill Hill, London (£4,500,000)

A 1950s nuclear bunker in North London doesn’t sound like the most attractive place to lay your hat but you’ll be surprised with this one. The site, originally built to protect local politicians in the 1950s, is now a luxury mansion set on protected green belt land. With 1.5m thick walls on the ground floor and 1.5 acres of grounds, there’s plenty to get excited about.

Nuclear Bunker Conversion Mill Hill
Image Courtesy of Subbrit

2. Water Tower Conversion – Hertford (£795,000)

The small town of Hertford is host to more than just a Pizza Express. It also happens to be the home of an exquisite converted water tower. The historic building is now a three bedroom residence with an intriguing interior. Sitting on three floors, the circular building presents an American Oak spiral staircase in its core leading up to spacious bedrooms and living areas. The garden’s pretty beautiful too.

Water Tower Conversion Hertford
Image courtesy of Money Week

1. Underhill House Barn Conversion – Cotswolds

This is a pretty extraordinary conversion. Originally a derelict 300 year old stone structure sitting on top of a hill in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Any conversion taking place would have serious difficulty obtaining planning permission. This didn’t deter the Underhill House project. Also designed as the first Passivhaus in England (a German standard that offers 90% less carbon emissions than average homes). The build was granted planning permission via a policy which allows special treatment for ‘truly outstanding and ground-breaking’ properties offering ‘the highest standards in contemporary architecture’. To put this into perspective, this is only one of twenty properties in the UK to be accepted by this rule.

Underhill House Barn Conversion
Image courtesy of Seymour-Smith Architects

If you’re moving house (or even converting a property), it’s worthwhile finding out about the local area. With our reports, you can find out the latest information on amenities, schools, demographics, crime rates, noise pollution and much more. Get your Property Detective report here.

What is Stamp Duty? How much will I pay?

What is Stamp Duty? How Much Will I Pay?

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Buying a house is expensive and difficult. When you get towards the all-important business end of the deal, it’s vital to question everything and seek clarity on all aspects of the process. So let’s deal with the elephant in the room. What is Stamp Duty? And how much will you pay? We all know you need to pay Stamp Duty, but what do you actually know about it?

What is Stamp Duty?

First-time buyers have a lot to think about!

When you buy a home in England, Northern Ireland or Wales costing more than £125,000, you need to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax. If you’re buying a second home, this drops to £40,000. If you’re buying a second home or buy-to-let you’ll also have to pay an additional 3% in Stamp Duty as well as current rates.

What About Scotland?

You don’t actually have to pay Stamp Duty in Scotland. Before you pack up your bags and head north, Scottish home buyers don’t get away that easily. An almost identical tax exists named the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax. It’s the same style of lump sum tax – the only difference is the thresholds. More about that later.

How Much Will I Pay?

The more expensive a property, the more stamp duty you’ll have to pay. This goes up in bands and you’ll have to pay a percentage of the cost. You do however only pay the higher percentage on what is above that threshold.

Below you can find a table to help you with working out your Stamp Duty Land Tax:

Stamp Duty Table

Below is a table to help those living in Scotland work out their Land and Buildings Transaction Tax:

Land and Buildings Tax Rate Table

Money Saving Expert offer the following example to better illustrate this:

England, Northern Ireland and Wales:
If buying a property for £300,000
You pay nothing below £125,000, which is £0
You pay 2% on between £125,000 and £250,000, which is £2,500
You pay 5% on the value of the property above £250,000, which is £2,500
So in total this means you’ll pay £5,000 (£0+£2,500+£2,500).

Scotland:
If buying a property for £300,000
You pay nothing below £145,000, which is £0
You pay 2% on between £145,000 and £250,000, which is £2,100
You pay 5% on the value of the property above £250,000, which is £2,500
So in total this means you’ll pay £4,600 (£0+£2,100+£2,500).

If you don’t want the fuss with working out how much Stamp Duty you’ll pay, The Money Advice Service offer a handy Stamp Duty Calculator here.

How is Stamp Duty Paid?

Once you’ve completed the home buying process (signed the contract, received the keys) you’ve got 30 days to pay Stamp Duty. If you don’t pay within this time, you could be fined and charged interest. Your solicitor usually deals with this and will encourage you to pay immediately. Some are known to require the cash before completing the purchase. Having said this, the legal responsibility is yours – so don’t neglect it.

If you’re moving home, be sure to get a full and comprehensive understanding of your new area. Fill out a property detective report and find all you need to know about local amenities, noise, crime rates, schools, flight paths and more. Enter your postcode to view your Property Detective report here.

House Viewing Checklist: Get the most out of your property hunt

House Viewing Checklist: Get the Most From your Property Hunt

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So, house hunting is tough! The problem is, you’re often so excited about the possibility of finding your dream home that you overlook the details that actually need your attention. It’s always good to be prepared for viewings. This is where we come into the frame. We’ve put together a handy house viewing checklist so you don’t have to worry. Get the most from your property hunt and good luck out there, it can be wild.

A Few Tips to Start

First thing’s first, before we start telling you about what you need to look for, let’s offer a few insights. It’s important to do some thorough research!

Here are some solid tips that’ll give your home hunt a helping hand:

  • Do a drive by – Have a look at the outside of the property and surrounding area. Sometimes this can be enough to put you off a property.
  • Never go alone – It’s important to attend the viewing with a friend, family member or partner. A second pair of eyes is always helpful – especially if you fall in love with the property.
  • Be friendly – Remember you’re trying to buy this property (usually for less than the asking price). You’re likely to be competing with others. Make yourself memorable and build rapport with the seller.
  • Inspect, don’t move in – It’s tough but when viewing a property, you should inspect it. Don’t mentally move in before you’ve bought it. A dream home soon turns into a haunted house if there are some serious underlying issues you’ve missed.
  • View more than once – Be eager and pop round more than once. This will show interest and help you spot potential problems.
  • Spend as long as you want – Don’t just rush around the house quickly. View for an extended period of time. Get a feel for the house and its pros & cons.

House Viewing Checklist

Get a pen and paper ready – here’s what you should be looking for when viewing a property:

  • Structure – Check the exterior, look for damp, cracks in walls, loose tiles, broken guttering, etc. Ask questions about any issues you find.
  • What do you smell? – Have a sniff around (literally). Any musty smells or bad drainage?
  • What can you hear? – Any noisy neighbours or train lines nearby?
  • Check the taps – What’s the water pressure like? How long does it take for hot water to come through?
  • Let there be light – Do the light switches work?
  • Check for fresh paint – A common way to hide damp is by painting over it.
  • Check the bills – No one likes nasty surprises. Know what to expect.
  • Boiler – What’s the condition and age like?
  • Any renovations? – Ask about any work that’s been done on the property.
  • Land – See what land comes with the property and what you’re actually buying.
  • What’s included? – Sometimes white goods can come with the house. If they do, check out what condition they’re in.
  • Cupboards and draws – Are they functional and clean?
  • Storage – Is there sufficient storage available?
  • Layout – Will your furniture fit? Is the floorplan desirable?
  • Damp – Search every corner, ceiling and window.
  • Windows – Look for condensation, cracking sealant as well as rotten/broken frames.
  • Phone signal? – It’s pretty frustrating if your home has a poor reception.
  • Walls – Are there any ‘ripples’ in the wallpaper?
  • Any trees? – Excess leaves and trees can cause structural issues.
  • Pollution – Pollution in the surrounding area is becoming an increasing issue for homeowners.
  • Japanese knotweed – This horror plant can ruin your chances of getting a mortgage and cost £20,000 to remove.
  • Council tax – How much is the council tax?
  • Parking – Check to see whether you have an allocated parking spot. If not, is there adequate parking for you?

Don’t forget checking out the neighbourhood too. When moving into a home, it’s important to understand what the crime rates, noise pollution, amenities and local schools are liked. Thankfully, with a Property Detective report, you can find all this and more.

How to Spot an Up-and-Coming Area

How to Spot an Up-and-Coming Area

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So you’ve seen the house prices soar in areas like Shoreditch, Clapham and Camden. Now you want a piece of the pie. Or are you just a hipster looking to move somewhere before it becomes stuffy and cramped with chain restaurants? Either way, if you look hard enough there are a few key ways to tell you’re in an up-and-coming area. Here are some of the more notable tells.

Independent Restaurants, Coffee Shops and Delis

Have you noticed an increase in the number of independently run delis or coffee shops in an area? This is a clear sign that people living there possess a level of disposable income synonymous with up-and-coming neighbourhoods. If you’re seeing chain restaurants or coffee shops like Starbucks, stay away. It’s likely the area has already expanded to its full capacity.

Independent food stores are not necessarily a sure fire way of an up-and-coming area. Get a feel for the vibe there too. If the place is full and buzzing, you’re likely to be on the right track. Ideally, there’ll be numerous retailers like this, maybe coupled with a small art gallery or independent fashion retailer too.

Business Investment

Has a big business registered an interest? If a large company, corporation or employer has bought offices in the area there’s a very strong chance it’s going to boom. First of all, there’s the added population influx this will cause, then you’ll begin to see more competitors or like-minded brands move into the area too. This does come with a big caveat and it’s especially prevalent for small towns. If there’s only one large-scale employer from one industry, the area is likely to decline dramatically if they pull out. Take a look at some of the former mining towns for a clear example of this.

Area Demographic

Take a walk through the area and be particularly observant of the type of people you see. If you’re surrounded by middle aged businessmen and women donning expensive suits, this isn’t the place for you. If however, you’re spotting an unusually high number of 20-30 year olds, there’s a chance you’re looking at an up-and-coming area. This age group tends to have a lot of disposable income which is guaranteed to attract businesses.

Transport Links

This is an absolute must. If an area has poor public transport links, it’s not likely to see a boom anytime soon. For instance, if we’re discussing London, look for an area that’s slightly removed from the stuffy inner-city life but is still close enough to commute to major employment hotspots. Transport developments like the HS1 & HS2 railways are also going to create a frenzy of interest, though you’ve probably already missed the boat on these two examples. Large scale development like this will lead to a very swift wave of regeneration in an area.

Estate Agents, House Shares, Sales and DOM

So, this is a huge tell of any up and coming area. Look at the market activity for the neighbourhood. If you’re noticing a sudden crop of estate agencies opening up, they’re noticing a potential. If there are plenty of house shares being advertised, it’s another tell of the young professional demographic moving in. Then consider the price properties are being sold for. If they’re steadily increasing and the number of days on the market (DOM) is decreasing then you’re looking at an area in demand.

If you want to really drill down into an area and find out about the crime stats, travel info, potential nuisances, schools, amenities and local demographics, fill out a Property Detective report today. All you need is the postcode!

Simple, free and effective energy saving tips for the home

Simple, Free and Effective Energy Saving Tips

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So winter’s here and you’re feeling the chill. As the temperatures drop, your energy bill is creeping up. With Christmas just around the corner, this isn’t what you need. Whether you’re feeling the pinch or simply want to see your money go further, here are some simple, free and effective tips to help you save energy. Remember, when it comes to saving energy, small changes accumulate to make a big difference.

Heating

First thing’s first, let’s deal with your heating. A lot of people deliberately avoid changing heating settings in fear of being left cold and uncomfortable. This isn’t the case, here’s how to save energy but stay toasty:

  • Try turning your thermostat down, it sounds simple but it makes a huge difference. Dropping by even 1 degree can save you as much as £60 a year.
  • Don’t put your heating on for sporadic bursts of warmth, try leaving it at a constant low temperature to gently warm your property.
  • Familiarise yourself with your heating and thermostat settings, mastering this can be tricky but can really boost your energy saving attempts.
  • Get wintery! Wrap up warm with a blanket and cup of hot chocolate. This is both comforting and helpful for your energy bill.
  • Wear a jumper, it’s obvious but so often overlooked.

Kitchen

A lot of energy is used in the kitchen. Thankfully there are some practical and innovative ideas that’ll help you here:

  • Use the oven to its full potential. If you’re heating the oven, consider whether you can cook more than one meal at a time. It’s a shame to use all that energy for only one item.
  • Use the oven as a radiator. Once you’ve finished cooking, leave the oven door open. This heat can help to warm your kitchen. Another excuse to lower the thermostat.
  • What hob ring do you use when cooking? If you’re only heating a small amount of food, try using a smaller pan and hob ring.
  • When boiling the kettle, only heat the amount of water you need to use.
  • If possible, avoid rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. This wastes water doing a job which most dishwashers are capable of doing.
  • If you’re washing up by hand, don’t leave the tap running. Use a bowl or plug your sink. Only fill this to the level of water you require.
  • Keep your fridge and freezer stocked up. If you can keep these appliances full, they use less power keeping things cool.

Washing

Washing is another key area that uses a lot of energy. Make a few changes and watch your bill come plummeting down:

    • Do you really need to wash your clothes at a hot temperature? Try sticking to 30 and 40 degree washes. This will clean your clothes and save you money.
    • Tumble drying uses a lot of energy. Try leaving your clothes to air dry whenever possible.

Appliances

We all have a lot of electrical appliances in our homes. The problem arises when these items consume energy without actually being used. Consider these changes:

  • Turn it off, not on standby. A lot of appliances will use energy whilst being in standby mode. Unplug items when they’re not being used (especially phone chargers).
  • Try using a lamp. Why light a whole room when you can use a lamp? This will also make the room feel cosier and more atmospheric.
  • Open and close your curtains at the right time. Open them during the day to let warmth in, close them at night to keep the cold out.
  • Turn the lights off in every room other than those being used.

General

Here are a few more general tips that’ll help you in the long run:

  • Got a power shower? Try using less water by turning the pressure down.
  • Spend less time in the shower, simple but effective.
  • Block out draughts with small DIY fixes or decorative items.
  • Invest in smart controls that’ll help you remotely alter the heating/boiler.
  • When replacing bulbs, try using energy saving options.
  • Consider double glazing, it’s not cheap but it is effective.
  • Look into government grants covering cavity wall or loft insulation. This will help save money and it’s free. This will hugely impact the efficiency of your home.
  • Look into getting solar panels fitted. Some companies will do this for free but only if you let them collect any profit you make.
  • Compare what different tariffs are on offer, you could find a better deal out there.
  • Ensure everyone in the household is on board with this. For these points to be effective, it’s important for all to implement these changes. You’re one rebellious teenager away from ineffective energy saving tips.

Moving home? Find out all you need to know about the location of a property, just by entering the postcode. Useful information like schools, amenities, crime stats, travel details, neighbourhood demographics and potential nuisances are all available at the touch of a button. Get your Property Detective report here.