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Guide to Coping with the Cost of Living

cost of living

It’s a challenging time for many of us, some more than others. As a local company, we feel it’s important to do something positive for those in our community struggling with this current situation.

In this free downloadable guide, we’ll share some tips and advice we’ve researched.

We’ve created this guide in an easy-to-follow format.

Each section focuses on things that can be done in the areas of energy costs, food bills, home expenses, and how we can take care of our wellbeing and not just our money.

I hope you find this guide helpful, and please get in touch with us if you have tips, techniques or ideas on how to make people’s money go further.

Thank you for your time, and rest assured, things will get better. They always do.

Click here to download your free guide to coping with the cost of living

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Three Fears That Haunt South Devon Landlords and How to Avoid Them


You’ll see plenty of ghosts and ghouls trick-or-treating tonight, but here are three frightening scenarios that haunt landlords all year round.

Being a landlord can sometimes be unpredictable – but the experience is much less scary if you have a good letting agent on your side. Read on to find out why.

Late night emergency

Picture this: It’s past midnight, a full moon is in the sky, and you’re safe and warm in your bed. Then the phone rings. And your cosy evening turns into a fright night.

It’s your tenant calling. She’s in tears because burglars have forced their way into your property. She’s lost valuable belongings, and the property is now unsecured. You’re needed ASAP.

No matter how organised or diligent a landlord is, things can go wrong. And when they do, the landlord has a duty of care to rectify the situation promptly.

But what happens if you’re on holiday or away on business when the emergency occurs? If you have a letting agent managing the property, you can relax – they’ll deal with it. If you don’t, you’ll have to stop whatever you’re doing and take charge.

Red tape horror show

Did you know that there are more than 200 laws that apply to landlords in the UK, covering everything from energy ratings and gas safety to evictions and deposits?

Spend a day or two trying to familiarise yourself with all these regulations and you’ll wind up feeling like a zombie. But you must get to grips with all this red tape, because if you fail to follow the law, you could face a heavy fine or jail.

The alternative is to entrust the job to a letting agent who will be up to speed on all the relevant rules and regulations.

Neighbour from hell 

No doubt you reference check your tenants (if you don’t, what are you thinking?). But unfortunately, a landlord can’t do the same thing with the neighbours.

What happens if a ghoulish person moves into a neighbouring property and makes your tenant’s life hell? If this happens, your tenant will likely turn to you for help.

These situations can be time-consuming and emotionally draining (especially if you need to involve the authorities) and are best handled by a pro.

If you use a letting agent, they’ll help your tenant if problems arise at the property.

From all of us here at Chamberlains, have a Happy Halloween.


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Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Own Veg

growing veg

Growing your own veg might sound like a lot of work, but it’s actually a great way to save money and enjoy a healthier diet. And as this month is Organic September, there’s no better time to dig out that trowel and start sowing some seeds.

Organic September is 30 days dedicated to chemical-free, totally natural, eco-friendly farming. Its aim is to raise awareness of why buying organic produce can really make a difference to the climate. So, what better place to start than your own garden/herb pots/windowsill?

This quick read is your beginner’s guide to growing your own winter veg.

Why organic?

According to the people behind Go Organic UK, choosing organic products (or growing your own) is kinder to the planet, better for wildlife and helps you to enjoy food just as it should be.

Whether you choose to plant a tomato tower or switch to buying organic tomatoes, just one tiny change helps to make a big difference.

Where to grow your veg

You don’t need a big garden or allotment to start your veggie adventure. In fact, window boxes, grow bags and pots work just as well. Make sure you choose a sunny, sheltered spot and prepare the soil by getting rid of any weeds and adding compost.

 Top tip: Protect salad leaves from hungry caterpillars and other slimy creatures by keeping them indoors when you first plant them.

 What to plant

Although most of what you plant this month won’t be ready until next spring, it’s still worth doing. September is the right time to plant the following:

  • Spinach
  • Garlic
  • Broad beans
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Onions
  • Turnips

If you’re planting radishes, they’ll be ready to add a crunch to your salad within three to six weeks. Salad leaves can also sprout up quickly so get ready to eat well in a few weeks.

Get herby

September is a great time of year to start a herb garden. The soil is warm and damp, which is perfect for plants to get their roots down. Stick to common herbs such as bay, thyme, rosemary, chives, mint and oregano and watch them flourish.

Growing veg indoors

Lots of us don’t have the luxury of outdoor space, but we do have windows. We also have household items that can make excellent veg/herb pots. Depending on what you’re growing, you can use jugs, plastic bottles or jars to start off your indoor veg patch.

Do you grow your own veg? Let us  know – comment below!




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How to Make Your Teignbridge Property Stand Out to Buyers

home improvement

Whether you’re a DIY kind of person or prefer to hire a professional, home improvements are on the up.

Since the pandemic, savvy homeowners have been looking for ways to make their properties more comfortable and more desirable to future buyers.

So, what are the most popular home improvement trends?

How can you wow potential buyers with your use of space?

In this quick read, we look at some of the most popular ways to make your home more desirable to future buyers, as reported by the annual Rated People 2022 report.

  • Multifunctional spaces

Using a room for multiple purposes was one of the key trends that came out of lockdown and is important for future buyers. People added bars and gyms to their homes at an average cost of £14,000, while open plan spaces were divided into usable zones for all the family.

Buyers love to see how a space can be used, as it helps them imagine how they can live in a new home.

  • Garden revamp

Gardening is cool. Especially since 2020, and people have been making big investments into their outdoor spaces during and after the pandemic. Al fresco dining areas and garden landscaping have become more popular over the last few years, along with summer houses and conservatories.

Top tip: An easy way to make your garden more attractive to buyers is by creating a living wall (or green wall). While there are some quite technical living wall irrigation systems that require professional installation, you can keep it simple (and budget-friendly) by installing vertical planters or grow bags.

  • Home office

Working from home became a huge challenge for many people in 2020, so it’s easy to see why home offices are now something many buyers are interested in for their future properties.

Whether it’s converting the box room into a usable office or investing in drop-down desks, showing buyers how and where they can work is a great way to boost a property’s desirability.

  • Eco improvements

As the energy crisis continues, many people have invested in energy-friendly home improvements to save on bills and attract buyers. The Rated People report found a massive 419% increase in demand for roof insulation and a 404% jump in demand for electric car charging points. Heat pumps and new windows have also seen a rise in popularity.

Buyers love eco-friendly improvements as it may mean cheaper, green mortgages, which immediately make a property more attractive.

If you’re looking to sell your property, get in touch with our team at Chamberlains.


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A Quick Guide to Setting Your Monthly Rent


As a landlord, you want to earn a good return on your property investment, but how do you decide what rent to charge? In the current market, rents are at an all-time high, but what’s the fairest way to set your monthly price?

In this quick read, we look at how to calculate the right rental price for your property. 

Check out the local area

While not all properties are the same, researching the local market is the first step towards finding out how much rent to charge.

Use a combination of local agent sites and nationwide property portals to do your research. Start with a general area check and then make it more postcode specific. Look at what landlords with similar properties (for example, a two-bed flat with one bath) in the same area are charging.

Does your property have a USP? 

Factors such as outside space, private parking, modern fittings and proximity to transport and amenities will impact the amount of rent you can charge.

Don’t get greedy 

Yes, the demand for rental properties is currently high. However, it’s worth remembering that tenants are extremely savvy and will have done their own research. You may lose out in the long run by setting your property’s rent at the highest level, as the price could put people off before they even arrange a viewing. And even if you do secure a good tenant, they may move on quickly (meaning you have to go through the tenant selection process all over again) if they feel they are paying above market value.

Cover your expenses

While owning rental property is widely considered a sound investment, it’s important to understand that monthly or annual rent is not pure profit. Ensure you’ve accounted for all your expenses such as mortgage payments, service charges and ground rent (for flats), taxes, utility bills, insurance and maintenance.

Use an experienced letting agent 

You may want to avoid fees and find your own tenants; however, this can be risky as you won’t have access to the same resources an agent has. An experienced agent can provide you with an accurate rental valuation, market your property, organise viewings and save you a lot of time and hassle (plus, you can claim agent fees as an expense on your tax bill).

If you need a rental valuation, contact Steve Hill at Chamberlains. We have a database of potential tenants and are ready to get your property rented.


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Six DIY Tips That Will Save You Money on Your Energy Bills


With winter around the corner, there’s still time to make changes at home to minimise your energy usage and save on your bills.

There’s no getting around it: we’ll all be paying more for our energy this winter. But by making a few simple changes at home, you can trim back your energy usage.

While much of the energy-saving advice that has been dished out so far relates to behavioural change – things like using your boiler less and turning off the lights – there are also some DIY measures that can help.

And the good news is that these energy efficiency changes will also cut your carbon footprint and save you money for years to come.

Six energy-saving DIY tips

  • Install a water-efficient shower head in your bathroom. This step could reduce your hot water consumption by up to 50%, meaning you use less energy and water. Win-win.
  • If you haven’t already replaced standard bulbs with LEDs, now’s the time. LEDs use 75% less energy than old-fashioned bulbs.
  • Bleed your radiators. It’s best to do this at least once a year to ensure no air is trapped inside, as these air bubbles stop radiators from working efficiently.
  • Install thermostatic radiator valves on all your radiators so that you can adjust the temperature in each room. This is especially useful if you work from home and only need one or two rooms to be warm during the day.
  • Insulate your hot water tank by fitting a cylinder jacket (these are widely available at DIY stores). British Gas suggests that without one, your hot water cylinder could lose up to 75% of its heat.
  • Stop warm air escaping under doors by investing in a few draught excluders (like the ones your granny used to have). Other draughtproofing products on the market include self-adhesive foam strips that you apply around windows and letterbox brush strips that stop the heat from escaping from your letterbox.

For more information and support

Several grants and one-off payments have been made available to assist those struggling with bills. To ensure you’re claiming all you’re entitled to, visit

From all of us here at Chamberlains, thanks for reading.

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How to Find a Good Property Lawyer


To prevent your property deal from progressing at a snail’s pace – or falling through altogether – you’ll need a good lawyer. Here’s how to find one.

Once you’ve agreed a deal to sell or buy a property, the next step is to instruct a lawyer to handle all the relevant searches, paperwork and enquiries.

It can be tempting to go with the cheapest lawyer you can find or the first one you come across on the high street, but it’s worth doing your research.

Property transactions can be surprisingly complicated, and a good lawyer can make all the difference in completing a deal with minimal fuss and delay.

With a mediocre solicitor, however, the process can get mired in delays. And the longer it all takes, the greater the risk that someone in the chain gets impatient and pulls the plug – leaving you out of pocket and back at square one.

Here are six tips, courtesy of property solicitors The Partnership, to help you make the right decision.

  • Do your homework. Ask around for word-of-mouth referrals and get a few quotes so that you can compare offers.
  • Check fee proposals carefully, so that you understand what you’ll be paying and don’t get stung by hidden costs. Some lawyers still charge the full fee even if the sale falls through.
  • When contacting solicitors, gauge their responsiveness to your initial enquiry. If they take a long time to return your call, chances are they’ll be even harder to get hold of as the case progresses.
  • Look into the firm’s performance figures and the average time it takes to finalise transactions. If a firm has a poor track record in completing deals, it doesn’t bode well for the timely resolution of your transaction.
  • Find out how many people will be working on your case. A lawyer working solo could get side-tracked dealing with other matters, meaning your case is delayed. Work on your case could also grind to a halt when the lawyer is on leave.
  • Choose a firm that uses a secure client portal to communicate, rather than email. There have been cases where fraudsters have intercepted email correspondence and conned buyers out of large sums. Secure client portals are also more convenient for out-of-hours access.

For more information on buying or selling a property, get in touch with us here at Chamberlains.

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Are You Putting Your Rental Investment at Risk?


There’s a lot to think about when you are a landlord.

You’ve got the ever-changing rules around rental property to consider.

Then there’s ensuring your property is well maintained and your tenants are happy.

Add to that the cost of living crisis, pressures on the economy and political instability, and you could be forgiven for thinking, ‘what’s the point?’.

But before you sell up, let’s look at your alternatives.

We believe that the best way a landlord in South Devon can run successful rental property portfolios is to

work with an experienced, knowledgeable and conscientious letting agent.

Now, more than ever, landlords must know what they are doing and have access to expert advice.

Below is an example of what can happen when that doesn’t take place and how much it can potentially cost a landlord.

The wrong (and right) way to find ideal tenants

Mr Smith is a landlord. He has marketed his property himself, putting it on a local Facebook group. He rented it to the person willing to pay the highest monthly amount.

Mr Smith didn’t bother with references as the person paid a deposit, and he also ‘saved’ himself money by using an online tenancy agreement template.

What Mr Smith didn’t realise was that he limited his number of potentially suitable tenants by only marketing in one place. He also didn’t check his tenant’s background and employment status.

If he had, he would have realised his tenant has a track record of falling behind with their rent, leaving properties in bad condition and generally being problematic.

Now, we must stress most tenants are responsible and reliable.

But by cutting corners to save a few quid, Mr Smith has potentially cost himself thousands of pounds in lost rent, the cost of court proceedings and damage to his property.

A good letting agent would have marketed his property across multiple platforms to showcase it in its best possible light and to the widest possible audience.

This creates demand for the property and gives Mr Smith several suitable tenants to choose from.

A good letting agent would then advise Mr Smith on the most suitable tenants (not just someone willing to pay the highest rent). Then, stringent referencing checks covering employment, rental history and financial backgrounds would ensure the risk of the tenancy turning sour is dramatically reduced.

Not only that, but once a tenant is in place, a good letting agent can manage the maintenance and repairs of a property so that small issues don’t become big, costly problems. Again, saving a landlord thousands.

We believe the key to unlocking your rental property’s potential (and saving you time, money and hassle) is working with an agency like us, now, more than ever.

So, if you are a landlord who wants to do things the right way, contact us today.





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Five Reasons to Eat Chocolate


Once you’ve read these five facts, you won’t feel quite so guilty about indulging in chocolate again. A two-minute read.

Humans have enjoyed the delights of chocolate for thousands of years, starting with the Mayans, who drank it as a hot liquid (and even used it in wedding and baptism ceremonies).

Fast forward to today, and chocolate is a 120 billion pound global industry. The Germans are the top chocolate consumers per capita, followed by the Swiss, Estonians and Brits.*

But there’s no getting around it, chocolate gets its fair share of bad press as it is high in calories, and excessive amounts can be punishing on the waistline.

However, that’s not the full story. An increasing body of research shows chocolate has all sorts of health benefits. As it’s the start of Chocolate Week (14 – 19 October), we’d like to share them with you.

Five health benefits associated with chocolate

  • Dark chocolate contains lots of good minerals, including zinc (which aids growth and immunity), iron (which protects against anaemia) and magnesium (good for bone and heart health).
  • Chocolate contains antioxidants. These protect the body from free radicals – the nasties associated with various illnesses, including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.
  • Chocolate’s rich taste is attributed to flavanols, which also protect against inflammation and boost brain function and immunity.
  • One flavanol in chocolate is epicatechin, which increases nitric oxide production in the blood, thus improving strength and endurance. For this reason, some athletes consume a small amount of dark chocolate before exercising so they can work out for longer.
  • Chocolate contains a small amount of caffeine, so it gives you a hit of energy.

How to get the most benefits 

It’s not great news if you’re a white chocolate fan, but the darker and purer the chocolate is, the better it is for you.

Experts recommend opting for a product with a cocoa content of at least 70% to maximise the health benefits. If you find 70% dark chocolate isn’t to your taste, start with a product with a lower cocoa content and keep increasing it slowly over time.

From all of us here at Chamberlains thanks for reading, and remember our granny’s favourite saying, ‘everything in moderation, dear’.


* Statista 

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Why Movers in South Devon Need This Now More Than Ever

south devon

The last two years have been hectic for the South Devon property market.

But now, the market is slowing down, and homes are not selling as fast as they once were.

It’s also becoming harder to sell a home for a premium price.

Add to that the cost of living crisis and other global events hitting us in our collective pockets.

The good news is it’s still possible to achieve an excellent price for your home if the estate agent working with you knows how.

As the economy stagnates, homeowners want and need to get the best possible amount for selling what is often the most valuable thing they own (unless you have a Monte Carlo-moored super yacht, perhaps).

Working with an exceptional estate agent is the key to unlocking your home’s selling potential. Yes, we know, we would say that.

But particularly when every pound counts, selecting a skilled, experienced agent is a worthwhile investment.

Below are the three main reasons you need a value-for-money estate agent now, more than ever.

  • Cheap agents cost more

If the cheapest agent charges a £1,000 fee but sells your home for £10,000 less than an agent whose fee is £3,000, who really is the cheapest? The best agents put more money in your hands.

  • Your marketing matters

When buyers become less active, it’s crucial your property’s marketing is of a high standard. The best agents know this. Skilled agents build a buzz around your property that increases desire and demand by creating outstanding marketing and presenting your home in its best possible light.

When a property is in demand, it drives up the potential price.

The flip side of this is poor photography, lazy property listings and agents being reactive, not proactive. Ask any estate agent you consider selling with to share their marketing plan for your property. If they don’t have a clear, well-thought-out plan – run away. 

  • Negotiation nous

Agents who work off selling as many properties as quickly as possible, but for cheaper fees, often don’t have the will or skill to negotiate on your behalf. It’s simply not in their interest to do anything that would potentially make the selling process longer.

That pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap approach can cost you thousands of pounds. This strategy might work when selling baked beans, but it doesn’t help homeowners maximise their home’s value.

The best agents know how to attract the biggest pool of potential buyers, putting you in a position where you have multiple offers.

And here’s where the art of negotiation comes into play.

A skilled agent will give experienced-based advice on which offer is your best option and advise you. They will then negotiate on your behalf to sell your home for the best possible price.

We’re here for the home sellers of South Devon, now, more than ever.