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Get Your Kids Ready for the First Day of Term


As term time approaches, those endless days of trying to entertain your bored and restless kids are almost over. No more surly teenagers sleeping until 2pm, no more grumpy children hounding you for snacks – it’s time to get ready for school.

This back-to-school guide looks at some easy ways to get the September term off to a good start. 

  • Reduce screen time

When there’s nothing to do, or it’s raining outside, screen time quickly becomes a way to keep the kids entertained (and out of the way). But as school looms ahead, getting them into a routine will help. Start reducing the time they spend on screens a week before school starts, so they get used to time limitations and focusing on other activities.

  • Bedtime

Sleeping routines and bedtimes often go out the window during the holidays. Kids stay up later, you zone out and watch TV while they do their own thing. Now’s the time to start setting their bedtime routine again so that when term starts, they know what they need to do and are properly rested.

  • Talk about concerns

Being a kid isn’t easy and being a teenager is an experience many of us wouldn’t want to repeat. So, it’s important to speak to your children about any concerns they might have around going back to school. Whether it’s a big year for exams, a transition into secondary school, or not having seen their friends over the break – talking about it can help to prepare them emotionally. Be positive and focus on the things they enjoy about school.

  • School journey

If your child is heading to a new school or is about to start travelling alone, it’s a good idea to get some practice runs in before the big day. This can help them feel more confident and give you an idea of travel times.

  • Get them excited

Fancy pens, a fluffy pencil case and a new snazzy lunchbox are sure signs of a new term, and kids will love helping you choose what they need. Get them excited about their new start with a back-to-school shopping trip. Let’s face it, their feet have probably grown (again), and they’ll most likely need new uniforms, so include a couple of treats like a new bag or set of pens to get them geared up for the new term.

At Chamberlains, we hope you’ve all had a great summer holiday. 


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Surprising Things Buyers Want from a Property in 2022


Many buyers say that hunting for a new home is like looking for a healthy, low-calorie meal in a greasy spoon café… not easy. As well as wanting the right property in the right location, they usually have a long checklist to satisfy before even viewing a property.

If you’re selling, it’s useful to know what buyers are looking for so that you can get the marketing spot on.

This quick read looks at what buyers want most from a home in 2022. 

Flexible living space 

It’s clear that the pandemic has changed the way we live. One example is how working from home is more popular than ever. Research has shown that by 2025, nearly 40% of employees will WFH. So, it’s no surprise that homebuyers are now focused on finding a space where they can live and work in comfort. That box room you can’t fit a bed into is now the perfect space to set up as a home office.

Garden or outside area

While it seems that house prices continue to rocket, the sale of flats hasn’t followed suit, with price growth much slower than other property types. Recent studies have shown that people are not only desperate for gardens but would also pay up to 5% more for one.

Broadband speed 

People want to be connected, and quickly. That’s why internet speed has become a significant factor for homebuyers. In fact, many sales listings in rural areas include connectivity information alongside the number of bathrooms and bedrooms.

Poor coverage can seriously reduce a property’s saleability, and more buyers than ever list this as a necessity when searching for a home.

Eco-friendly homes

With energy prices higher than ever and green mortgages promising lower interest rates, savvy buyers are looking at a property’s energy efficiency as a deciding factor. Features that make a home more eco-attractive include double glazing, alternative energy sources and electric car charging points.

Proximity to schools

This might be an old one, but it’s still relevant, especially to families. Competition for school places is fierce, so living in the catchment area for a decent school will always be a strong selling point.

If you’re considering selling, get in touch with us here at Chamberlains for more great advice on marketing your home. Contact us to register your details.

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Is Being a Landlord Really Worth It?


If you’re a landlord, chances are you’re feeling a bit hard done by at the moment. It seems like every other day, new rules and revisions are being announced around landlord and tenant law, which means you have to change the way you work and may face higher taxes.

But is it all doom and gloom?

Is it time to hang up your landlord hat and sell up?

We definitely don’t think so.

In this quick read, we tell you why investing in buy-to-let property is still a good idea if you’ve got the money (and the patience). 

Demand for rentals

The pandemic turned the property world upside down. Suddenly, the urban rental market went flat, whilst rural and suburban rental markets saw a surge in demand. People couldn’t move around so vacant properties stayed empty.

However, as the world tries to get back to normal, many people have returned to their offices, and students are looking for accommodation. So, it’s a good time to get back in the game. Demand for rental properties will always go up and down, but currently, it looks like rental prices are staying high.

Steady income 

Many people think being a landlord is the key to getting rich quick – but that’s never been the case. There are lots of costs involved with being a landlord, but ultimately, if you manage your investment properly, it will pay off. If you’re a part-time landlord, you can expect a regular sum to supplement your monthly income. If you’re a full-time landlord with multiple properties, you’ll see a rise in income as demand increases.

Buying (and spending) sensibly 

As a landlord, the first rule to remember is that it’s not your home. Take your time finding a buy-to-let and decide whether you want a ready-to-go rental or a renovation project to which you can add value. A good agent can tell you how much rent to expect and the necessary changes that need to be made to maximise earning potential.

If you watch your pennies and don’t pay out too much for décor and furnishings, you can still earn a respectable income once you’ve taken taxes and other expenses into account.

Saving for the future

Despite changes to tax laws and what you can claim in expenses, one thing remains the same: your rental property is an investment into your future. Many people look at rental properties as part of their retirement income, either by the monthly rental yields or by selling the property on in later years.

Being a landlord isn’t an easy route to riches; it takes a lot of hard work. However, if you maintain the property and work with a reliable agent, it’s still worth investing in the buy-to-let market.

If you’re looking to invest in a buy-to-let, contact our team at Chamberlains for help. 







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This Love is Fur Real: Celebrating International Dog Day

dog day

It’s International Dog Day next Friday – a chance to celebrate our cute, cuddly, devoted and dribbly four-legged friends.

From loyal Labradoodles and plucky Pointers to cheeky Chihuahuas and dinky Dachshunds, the UK has a long and proud history as a nation of dog lovers.

There are 13 million pooches in the UK, up from 7.6 million in 2010, thanks to a massive rise in dog ownership during the pandemic*.

And famous canine admirers include Henry VIII (who favoured Spaniels, Beagles and Greyhounds) and Winston Churchill, who was a Poodle man. And then there’s Queen Elizabeth II and her beloved Corgis.

So why do dogs hold such a special place in the nation’s hearts? In the lead-up to International Dog Day on 26 August let’s look at why we love to love dogs.

  • Happiness – Studies show that dogs reduce loneliness, depression and anxiety.
  • Health – Walking a dog every day is a great way to keep active and enjoy a dose of fresh air. It’s no coincidence that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure than the rest of society**.
  • Super sniffers – Dogs have a brilliant sense of smell. For example, a Beagle’s nose has 220 million scent receptors (we humans have about five or six million receptors). For this reason, some breeds work as medical detection dogs (MDDs) for people with Type 1 diabetes, severe allergies and epilepsy. MDDs pick up on minor odour changes emitted by a person before a medical incident – and raise the alarm. This gives the person time to seek help or move to a safe environment.
  • Intelligence – There’s no doubt that many dogs are brainy (one Border Collie was trained to understand 1,000 different words). There are also examples of assistance dogs who can use cash machines and unload washing machines and clothes dryers.
  • Empathetic – Dogs are social animals who can read body language and sense when a person is anxious or upset. Many charities pair (well-trained) dogs with children and adults with autism because of their ability to build emotional connections.

If you’d like to do something special on International Dog Day, why not donate to a charity that supports assistance dogs? Visit Canine Partners to read about the amazing work being carried out by loyal canines across the UK.

And if you have a pooch, we’d love to see a snap. Share it with us on social media on facebook and instagram


* Statista

** Harvard Health


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Freeholds and Leaseholds Made Simple


If you’re new to the property market, learning the lingo is essential. There are lots of legal and financial terms you need to get your head around and lots of research to be done.

Two terms that you need to be familiar with are ‘freehold’ and ‘leasehold’.

This quick read explains what each one means and why they are important. 

What is a freehold property? 

When you buy a freehold property, you’re buying the property and the land it has been built on. It usually refers to houses*.

You are the ‘forever’ owner of the freehold title until you sell it on to someone else.

*Note: Some houses can be leasehold if you buy under shared ownership. Also, when purchasing new-build houses, be sure to double-check the title status.

What is a leasehold property? 

When you buy a leasehold property, you’re purchasing the property but NOT the land it has been built on. This is most common with flats. Usually, another party owns the freehold of the building, and you will ‘lease’ the flat from them.

A leasehold is time-sensitive. So, if you buy a property with a 100-year lease, at the end of that time, the ownership goes back to the freeholder.

Why are these terms so important? 

Freehold and leasehold titles are important as they affect ownership and your legal obligations. For example, if you have a leasehold flat in a freehold building and there’s a problem with the exterior of the building, it is usually down to the freeholder to fix it, not you as the leaseholder.

If you buy a freehold house and there’s a problem, you are responsible for it.

Differences between freehold and leasehold 

A freehold property is often more expensive than a leasehold as you’re buying the land and building. With a freehold property, you have complete control, so you can change things like windows or apply for extensions.

Leasehold properties often come with extra fees, such as ground rent or service charges (payments you make to the freeholder for the upkeep of the building). Also, if you want to make changes to the property (like new windows or knocking down a wall), you must apply to the freeholder first.

What’s a short lease? 

During a property search, you might find a flat that’s priced under market value because it has a short lease. While you think you’re saving money, be warned that you might have to pay for a lease renewal that can cost thousands of pounds. Also, many mortgage companies won’t lend on a property with a short lease.

What’s a flying freehold? 

A flying freehold is when part of a property hangs over or lies beneath another party’s property. It’s normally a tiny percentage of the property, such as a balcony protruding over someone else’s garden or a basement that extends underneath a neighbour’s property.

In most cases, property owners don’t even realise they have a flying freehold unless the issue of renovation or sale arises – then, it may become a point of legal contention. Always speak to an expert about flying freeholds.

Property jargon can be confusing, but don’t worry, our team at Chamberlains are always happy to explain things. Get in touch today if you’re selling or searching for a property. You can also check out our free guides on all aspects of selling. 



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A Quick Guide to Equity Release

equity release

Have you heard of ‘unlocking the value of your home’? Do you know what it’s all about? If you’re over 55, chances are you’ve seen or heard this phrase several times from targeted advertising.

While ‘unlocking value’ might sound like an elaborate spiritual journey or magic trick, instead, it’s quite dull and refers to equity release.

So, what is equity release? Is it a good idea? How does it work?

In this quick read, we go through the essentials. 

What is equity release? 

In simple terms, equity release is turning some or all the value of your home into tax-free cash without having to sell or move. The amount depends on the value of your home minus the mortgage or any loans you have on it.

It’s a long-term loan that is repaid by the sale of your home once you pass away (or enter long-term care). It can be paid in a lump sum or smaller amounts over time in the form of a lifetime mortgage agreement or home reversion plan (when you sell part of your home to a home reversion company).

Why get equity release? 

There are many reasons, and often it’s pitched by lending companies as a way to enjoy your golden years.

People use the money to fund things such as home-based care, adapting a property to suit changing needs and helping children with property deposits. It’s your choice how you spend the cash that is released.

Is it a good idea? 

As with any large loan, equity release has advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages include regular cash payments or a one-off lump sum to top up your retirement income and the opportunity to enjoy any increase in value of your property since you purchased it.

If you choose a lifetime mortgage agreement, you can still live in the property and be a homeowner.

What are the disadvantages of equity release? 

It is a complex and binding financial agreement.

It impacts the amount of money the beneficiaries of your will are likely to get once you pass away. Also, equity release can lower the amount of means-tested benefits (such as pension credits and council tax support) you previously might have been entitled to and may reduce the amount of care you are eligible for.

If you opt for a home reversion plan, the financial company will part-own your property.

What to do if you’re considering equity release? 

If this is something you’re considering, it’s important to consult a financial adviser to understand the full implications. There are many specialist equity release advisers you can speak to, and charities such as Age UK may also assist.

At Chamberlains, we hope this short guide has been useful. If you are considering selling your home, please contact us on 01626 365055.


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What Are a Tenant’s Responsibilities?


Moving into a new home can be exciting, but renting a property comes with responsibilities. To avoid disputes – or paying for things that don’t fall within your remit – it’s helpful to know your obligations as a tenant.

Read on for a general guide to a tenant’s responsibilities (but please note that for specific detail, refer to your rental agreement).

It’s a two-way street

The most important thing to remember about the tenant/landlord relationship is that both parties have an important role to play. The landlord has a duty to ensure that the property they’re letting is safe and habitable, and the tenant should treat the property respectfully.

Your rental agreement

As with most relationships, things work best when everyone understands what’s expected of them. And that’s why your rental agreement is so important – it’s a legal contract that spells out the responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant. It should cover everything from rent and repairs to how to end a tenancy.

Always read, and make sure you understand the terms of a rental agreement before you sign on the dotted line.

While your contract will cover most eventualities, here are some common causes of confusion regarding tenant/landlord responsibilities.

Repairs and maintenance

Generally, landlords are responsible for the property’s structure (walls, chimneys and the roof), sanitation (toilets, sinks and pipework), boiler and electrical wiring.

Landlords are also responsible for the furniture and electrical appliances that are in the property when the tenant moves in.

Any items or goods brought into the property by the tenant are the tenant’s responsibility.


If a tenant (or their guest) causes damage to the property, then the tenant is obliged to handle the repairs. So if, for example, you invite a friend around and they spill red wine on the carpet, it’s your job as the tenant to get rid of the stain. 

Reporting issues

While the landlord has to take care of structural and external features, it’s a tenant’s responsibility to report problems. It’s best to do this when you first notice an issue so that it’s resolved promptly.


If you’ve reported an issue to your landlord, a tradesperson will need access to the property to do the repairs. This work should be conducted at a reasonable time, and you should be given 24 hours’ notice before they arrive. A tenant can refuse access on ‘reasonable grounds’. But to get the problem resolved as soon as possible, it’s best to be accommodating.


Landlords are typically responsible for fences, guttering and lopping trees. The tenant is obliged to carry out tasks such as weeding, watering and disposing of waste.


Cleanliness can be a thorny issue – half of all end-of-tenancy disputes are about cleaning*. Before moving out, a tenant should ensure the property is cleaned to the same standard as it was at the start of the tenancy (although allowances are made for general wear and tear).  

Talk to your landlord – or their agent

While it’s essential to adhere to the terms of your rental agreement, if you have a question, raise it with your landlord or their agent. Sometimes disputes are caused by simple misunderstandings that can be sorted by having a quick chat. 

To find out about rental properties in the local area, get in touch with us here at Chamberlains.


*Tenancy Deposit Scheme