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Weird and Wonderful Ways the World Celebrates NYE


Whether you’re planning a big night out, popping open the champers in front of the TV or having an early night, New Year’s Eve is all about having a good time any way you want.

From fireworks to group singsongs, late bedtimes for kids and lie-ins for sore heads the next day, the UK loves a celebration. But while we clasp hands and sing an out-of-tune rendition of Auld Lang Syne, how does the rest of the world celebrate the new year?

In this quick read, we look at some of the ways people will bring in 2023 around the globe.

South America

Have you got a pair of lucky pants? Well, if you live in Mexico, Brazil or Bolivia, NYE is the day/night to put your fave undies on to determine your fortune for the year ahead. Those hoping for a bit of wealth should wear yellow pants, while others hoping to find love need to don a pair of red knickers. White pants are all about inner peace and calm.


At the stroke of midnight, many Spanish people will chow down on grapes – 12 to be exact. The aim is to eat the grapes before the clock stops chiming so you can enjoy a lucky year ahead. If you don’t finish the grapes before the last chime, you might as well go to bed as tradition states you won’t have a good year to come.


While we know our Greek friends like to smash plates at weddings, it’s also a New Year tradition for folks in Denmark. They smash plates outside the homes of friends, family and other loved ones to bring luck. The more smashed ceramics someone has outside their home the next morning, the more luck they will have.

Some Danish people also jump off chairs at the stroke of midnight, literally leaping into the new year.


There are lots of weird and wonderful traditions carried out by Italians, and one of the strangest is in Naples, where people throw furniture out the window or off the balcony. Most people stick to soft furnishings (thank goodness), as hurling them out of the home symbolises starting afresh for the next 12 months.


You can’t start your NYE celebrations in Greece until you’ve hung a string of onions outside your house. Onions are ancient symbols of fertility as they’ll sprout new roots if they don’t make it into your curry or salad. So, hanging onions represents rebirth and starting afresh for the new year.

Happy New Year to all our readers from the team at Chamberlains! 

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Checklist for Homeowners Planning to Sell Up

home for sale

Are you planning to sell your home in the new year? Here’s a checklist to help you prepare for your next move.

Have you got an exciting plan for 2023? A move to a bigger home to accommodate your growing family? Or perhaps you want to downsize and start afresh in a different part of the country?

Whatever your goal, the best way to turn your dream into reality is to secure a good price for your current home. And to help you achieve this, we’ve put together a checklist for preparing a property for sale.


If you’ve accumulated lots of ‘stuff’ over the years, now’s the time for a ruthless declutter. Piles of junk and bric-a-brac are a major turn-off for buyers, so give each room in your property a clear-out.

Instruct an agent

Arrange for three agents to value your property. Don’t automatically go with the agent offering the highest valuation (they could be plucking a figure out of the air to secure the instruction). Choose the agent with the best track record and who is giving you a fair but realistic valuation.

Minor repairs

Once you’ve chosen your agent, chat with them about the best way to market the property. They can advise you about any minor repairs that will give the property a lift. Fix any wonky cupboard doors, creaky floorboards and broken tiles and give tired walls a fresh lick of paint.

Spruce up the garden

Don’t forget to tidy up outdoor spaces (front and back). A neat front garden will create a good first impression, and a tidy courtyard or back garden could help you clinch the deal. Trim back hedges and plants and check that fences are in good repair. 

Remove personal items

Buyers often feel uncomfortable if personal items such as family photos, trinkets and certificates are on display. Remove these items from view until the sale is completed.

Get cleaning

Make an effort to ensure your property is sparkling clean from top to bottom – it really does help to create a positive impact with buyers.

Dress each room

Make sure it’s clear what purpose each room in the property serves. For example, a bedroom should have a bed in it (not piles of gym equipment and sporting items).

Get rid of odours

Before viewings start, eliminate the smell of pets, damp, rubbish or cigarette smoke. Use scented candles or flowers to create a pleasant aroma in your home.

Once you’ve followed these steps, let the viewings begin! Your agent will handle them for you and keep you updated on progress.

If you’re thinking of marketing your home, click the button at the top of this page to book a free valuation. 


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What the New Year Will Bring for South Devon Landlords


It’s safe to say, 2022 has been a year full of change for landlords. The last 12 months have seen more buy-to-let landlords selling up than ever before despite the demand for rental properties surging.

With new laws in force impacting landlords across the UK, the media has described such changes as a ‘war on landlords’, whilst tenants’ rights groups have applauded reforms around health and safety and eviction rules.

So, what next? What can landlords look forward to (or not) in 2023?

In this quick read, we look at some areas that could influence landlords’ profits and portfolios.

Rent increases

Starting with the good news, it looks like monthly rents and demand for rentals is set to grow in the new year. Instability in the housing market and increases in interest rates may mean that people looking for new homes put off buying for the time being and could rent instead.

Landlords can look forward to a surge in interested tenants and rising rents. In many areas, letting agents are seeing potential renters making over-offer bids to bag themselves a property.

Rising interest rates

Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad, and as interest rates rise, so too will the monthly cost of both residential and buy-to-let mortgages. Higher mortgage rates will be off-putting for many residential buyers and may force them into the rental market. However, landlords looking to renew mortgages or invest in new property will be facing similar hikes in the cost of borrowing.

Landlords may want to consider cheaper properties if planning to increase or start a portfolio to save paying out large chunks of their monthly rental income. On a more positive note, tenants may want to stay in their rentals for longer creating a stable income stream.

Availability of buy-to-let mortgages

In the last quarter of 2022, many lenders pulled their fixed buy-to-let deals from the market as a reaction to interest rate increases. Whilst it’s expected that these products will return to the mortgage market eventually, it may make borrowing for investment properties more difficult in the short term.

Expect tighter lending criteria and higher monthly outgoings.

Energy efficiency standards

The drive to make rental properties more energy efficient will impact landlords across the UK and whilst the rules won’t come into force until 2025, landlords need to start preparing.

Making changes to improve a rental’s EPC rating in 2023 will minimise the mad rush to do it when the law takes effect. Small steps such as getting a boiler serviced, improving insulation and draught-proofing and installing LEDs and smart appliances can make a huge difference to a rental’s energy efficiency.

In conclusion, the buy-to-let market still has much to offer those who are looking for a solid long-term return on their investment.

If you’re a landlord looking for new tenants, get in touch with our lettings team at Chamberlains.  

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The Six Best Christmas Films of All Time

christmas films

Here are six of the best festive flicks to feast your eyes on over the holiday period.

There’s something reassuring and cosy about snuggling up with a box of choccies and watching a Christmas film with loved ones.

It can be an old favourite you know word for word, or a classic that you’ve never managed to see before. As long as it’s feelgood with a happy ending, then you’re on to a good thing.

Here’s a list of some of the best festive films of all time. How many have you seen?


Will Ferrell steals the show as Buddy, a man-child in tights who was raised among elves at the North Pole. When Buddy heads to New York to find his biological father, he’s like a kid in a sweet shop. All sorts of shenanigans follow in this silly, charming caper.

Home Alone

When Kevin McCallister’s (useless) parents leave him home alone while they jet off to Paris, a series of comic escapades ensue. Eight-year-old Kevin revels in his new-found freedom until two hapless burglars try to target the property. Can Kevin outsmart the bad guys? Will his parents make it back? And why are American houses so very, very big? A good watch for all the family.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Released in 1946, this movie is often lauded as the best Christmas film of all time. James Stewart plays a small-town businessman ready to give up on life until a guardian angel changes his mind. The film’s emphasis on community values still resonates today.

Miracle on 34th Street 

Another black and white classic, Miracle on 34th Street is a gentle tale about a kind gent called Kris Kringle, who plays Santa in Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. When he starts telling Macy’s customers and staff that he really is Santa, Mr Kringle’s claims and sanity are tested in court.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Michael Caine is a British film legend, but his performance in this retelling of Charles Dickens’s novel is undoubtedly his best. He plays it straight as grumpy Scrooge while Kermit, Piggy and the rest of the Muppet gang ham it up in Victorian costumes. And if your heart doesn’t melt at the sight of Robin the Frog as Tiny Tim with his little wooden crutch, then we need to talk. 

The Snowman

This perennial favourite tells the story of a small boy who makes a snowman in his back garden, which then comes to life. There’s something about the charming illustrations of Raymond Briggs, combined with the haunting soundtrack, that makes this animation quite magical.

Have a wonderful Christmas! 


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Why the Highest Offer for Your Home Isn’t Always the Best Offer


So, you’re selling your home. You’re looking for the highest price and crossing your fingers for a smooth sale. But is the greatest offer always the best choice?

Well, we wouldn’t be writing this if the answer was yes. Unfortunately, the biggest offer won’t always be the best and there are many reasons why.

It’s not about selling your home for less than it’s worth, but it is about looking at the bigger picture. Is the buyer with the highest offer ready to buy? Can they move quickly enough to meet your timescale?

Remember, the highest offer means absolutely nothing if the sale falls through.

In this quick read, we look at reasons why the highest offer isn’t always the best, and why you should analyse all offers before making a decision.

Is the offer subject to mortgage funding?

Your highest bidder might be keen, but do they have the money to buy your property? If they don’t yet have their mortgage sorted out, you might be in for a nasty shock. Possible scenarios include: no mortgage offer at all, not qualifying for the loan amount they need, having their mortgage application rejected or down valuing your property.

Where does that leave you? Well, nowhere. By chasing the biggest number, you may have overlooked someone with a mortgage in principle ready to get the sale going. Worse still, you may have had a lower offer from a cash buyer (the property equivalent of a pink unicorn) which would have made the whole sales process faster.

Is the offer subject to sale?

This basically means the buyer won’t buy your home until they sell their own. Welcome to the dreaded property chain. The buyer might be offering you the highest price, but it means nothing if they can’t sell their own property.


There are lots of issues when it comes to timing. For example: maybe the buyer is in such a hurry to move that you can’t meet their time expectations, perhaps their mortgage in principle is coming to an end and they need to speed things up. Or, what if you’ve found your dream property but the buyer wants to take things slowly, putting you at risk of losing your next home?

How to analyse offers

Quite simply, you need to communicate with your agent. They’ll have an outline of each buyer’s situation so you can make an informed decision rather than being swayed by £ signs.

Ask your agent questions such as:

  • Are they a first-time buyer?
  • Are they in a chain?
  • Are they a cash buyer?
  • Does the buyer have any contingencies?

Understanding who your buyer is and how fast/slow they can move forward is invaluable and no one will know more than your selling agent.

If you’re selling your property, get in touch with Chamberlains today. We’re ready to help you make your next move.










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Why Property Management is Value for Money for Landlords

property management

As a landlord, you might have invested in property for additional income; maybe it’s a way to save for your future, or perhaps you’re an accidental landlord and had to rent your property out due to a change in circumstances.

Whatever the reason, it’s a safe bet that you want to make a good return on your investment.

But while you’re happy to use a letting agent to find tenants, when it comes down to it, you just can’t bring yourself to pay them to manage the property for you.

This might just be one of your biggest mistakes.

In this quick read, we look at why paying for property management might be the best decision for your pocket (and sanity).

How much does it cost for an agent to manage a property?

Let’s tackle the hard bit first. Agents can charge anywhere between 10% and 15% for full management. So, if your monthly rent is £1,500, you could be shelling out up to £225 a month. It’s definitely not cheap, but it does offer peace of mind in the event of problems occurring.

What does property management include?

Once an agent is managing your property, they can take care of aspects such as finding tenants, communicating with tenants (and you), rent collection, deposit protection, repairs and maintenance, inspections and deposit disputes. It’s best to speak to your chosen agent to find out exactly what their fee includes.

They have a black book full of contacts to get all your repairs done, including gas safety checks and boiler repairs.

When should you consider property management?

If you’re a full-time landlord managing several rentals, it may not be the right choice for you. However, rent collection services could save you time.

If you own a single rental and have a demanding job or other commitments, paying a monthly fee for management services may be the best thing you do.

Think of it as an extended insurance policy. Not only will they do all the admin required when finding tenants, but they’ll also manage the day-to-day elements of your property, saving you time and hassle. They’ll also carry out regular inspections, which many landlords fail to do. Speak to your agent to clarify what’s included in their service.

Similarly, if you live far away from your rental property, using a property management service just makes sense. They’re closer and can deal with issues as and when they arise.

What else does property management offer?

Rules and regulations around rentals are always changing, and it’s an agent’s job to know what the government is implementing and when. They can keep you up to date with your legal obligations and ensure the property is fully compliant with health and safety laws.

Letting agents are also regulated, so must adhere to codes of professionalism, and have a duty of care towards you as their client.

If you’re looking for a property management service or help to find new tenants, get in touch with Chamberlains today.



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Low-Cost, Eco-Friendly Ways to Make Your Home Look Christmassy


If you’re watching your pennies this Christmas, here are some festive decorating ideas that are simple, effective and plastic-free.

With six in ten squeezed Brits saying they have less cash to spend due to the cost of living crisis*, Christmas 2022 is shaping up to be a pared-back affair for many people.

If you’re tightening your belt, the good news is that there are many ways you can make your home look, smell and feel festive without breaking the bank.

This back-to-basics approach has an added bonus, too – it’s better for the environment. By re-using items you have at home and foraging in your garden, you can cut down on unnecessary plastic and packaging.

  • Go foraging

Bring a bit of the outdoors in by decorating your mantelpiece or dining table with foraged greenery. Use holly, ivy, yew or fir cuttings to create a festive feel. Once you’ve arranged your foliage (there are plenty of pretty pictures on the internet if you’re looking for inspiration), add bundles of cinnamon sticks and pinecones for interest.

  • Homemade Christmas crackers

Christmas lunch wouldn’t be the same without crackers – and the cheesy jokes and party hats (that flatter no one) you get inside. As shop-bought crackers can be expensive and always seem to include mini plastic toys that last all of five minutes, why not create your own? To make:

  • Fill cardboard loo rolls or paper towel tubes with homemade party hats, handwritten jokes and a few sweeties.
  • Wrap each tube with colourful paper, as if you were making a bonbon.
  • Tie each end with ribbon.
  • Paper chains

Give the classic paper chain a Christmas makeover and create strings of snowmen, gingerbread men or stars. To make:

  • Take a long rectangular strip of paper and fold it concertina-style.
  • Draw half of your creation on the top side of the paper.
  • Cut carefully along the outline you’ve drawn, making sure not to cut along the folds.
  • Then unfold the paper and – voila! – your festive paper chain is ready for decorating.
  • Clementine time

Dry clementines don’t just look the part; they smell great, too. To make:

  • Cut several evenly spaced incisions from top to bottom around each clementine.
  • Leave the fruit to dry out.
  • Add string or ribbon and hang.
  • Paper baubles

For real impact, make several baubles in varying sizes and hang them together. You’ll need waxed tissue paper, cardboard, glue, scissors and string. There are several easy-to-follow tutorials on YouTube explaining how to make these pretty decorations.

* Deloitte


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Are Mortgage Overpayments Good or Bad?


Mortgages are dull. Let’s be honest. They’re huge commitments, they’re complicated to arrange and in the current climate, it’s understandable if the thought of a mortgage gets you a bit jittery.

Putting rising interest rates to one side (easier said than done) and ignoring the doom and gloom news we’ve been exposed to over the last few months, it’s time to talk about mortgage overpayments.

What are they? Are they a good or bad thing?

In this four-minute read, we explain the ins and outs of overpayments.

(Note: This isn’t financial advice, and if you’re thinking about making overpayments you should speak to your lender or a financial adviser in the first instance.)

What is a mortgage overpayment?

In simple terms, it’s paying more than your contracted monthly mortgage payment. So, if you have a mortgage of £1,500 per month, and you pay £2,000, you’ve made a £500 overpayment. Simples.

You can make a one-off lump sum payment or regular overpayments.

Can you make overpayments on any mortgage?

Some lenders are happy for you to make as many overpayments as you like, whilst others may cap the annual overpayment percentage. It’s important to find out what category your mortgage falls into, as you could be charged a penalty for going over the limit.

The benefits of overpaying a mortgage might not be as great if you have an interest-only deal. If you have a repayment mortgage (where you’re paying the capital and interest) then overpayments will reduce the mortgage balance (i.e. the loan on the property itself). With an interest-only mortgage, overpayments reduce your future interest payments, however, you’ll still owe the original sum you borrowed to purchase the property.

What are the benefits of overpayments?

An overpayment now means you’re saving money in the future, as you’re effectively reducing the debt and the interest on the amount you borrowed to buy your property. So, as the big supermarket says: every little helps.

By making overpayments, you’re also increasing the equity in your home as you’ll own more of it than you would by making your contracted monthly payment. And every overpayment is a tiny step closer to being mortgage-free.

What are the disadvantages of overpayments?

It may mean you have less cash to hand for that rainy day. By using your savings to overpay a mortgage you could leave yourself financially vulnerable if something unexpected occurs, such as job loss or illness.

Other debts you might have (such as credit cards) are far more expensive, so it makes more sense to pay them off before considering mortgage overpayments.

If you’re considering making an overpayment, always speak to an expert first. They can help you decide what the best course of action is for your individual financial situation.

At Chamberlains, we can’t promise you a cheap mortgage deal, but we can promise to put you in touch with fee free, brilliant mortgage advisers


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A Landlord’s Guide to a Stress-Free Christmas


For most people, Christmas is a blissful time, a chance to unwind with family and friends and recharge the batteries.

But if you’re a landlord, you can’t ever completely relax, can you?

There’s always a possibility that something could go awry at your rental property. A pipe could burst, the boiler might pack up, or an uninvited guest (we’re talking about a burglar, not Santa) could pay a visit.

Whatever the scenario, landlords have a duty of care to act promptly in an emergency.

The good news is that you can reduce the risk of having to curtail your festivities by taking a few proactive steps now in the run-up to Christmas.

Here’s a checklist to help you prepare.   

Talk to your tenants

Contact your tenants and wish them a happy holiday (it’s a nice thing to do, and a good way to build rapport). If your tenants are going away, remind them to lock up carefully as burglars often strike at this time of year. Also, ask if there are any niggling issues at the property that need addressing. It’s better to find out now than when you’re snoozing on the sofa on Christmas Day or raising a toast on New Year’s Eve.

Maintenance check

No doubt you already have a regular maintenance routine, but it’s worth checking that:

  • The boiler is in good working order and has recently been serviced.
  • Pipes are well insulated (this will reduce the risk of a pipe freezing and ultimately bursting and causing a major leak).
  • There are no cracks in the pipework or brickwork. Water can seep into these cracks and freeze, causing severe damage.
  • Carbon monoxide and smoke alarms are working.
  • Gutters are clear of leaves, so rainwater drains away rather than seeping into the brickwork.

Prepare an emergency contact list

It’s useful to have the contact details of an emergency plumber, electrician and locksmith in the event something goes wrong. Having to ring around on a public holiday to find someone who can help will only add to the stress and waste time.

But wait, there’s one other option!

Savvy landlords enjoy a trouble-free Christmas every year by having a letting agent manage their investment property. A good letting agent will step in if there’s an emergency. That means you can switch off your alerts and let your hair down, safe in the knowledge that an expert is in charge.

To learn more about our property management services, contact us here at Chamberlains.

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Support Your Local Charities This Winter


The month of December is filled with fun, festivities and food for most of us, yet for many others it is cold and lonely. And in the current cost of living crisis, it can feel more overwhelming than ever.

Charitable donations in the winter months are essential. By making a small contribution, you could make a huge difference to individuals and families facing an otherwise bleak winter.

In this quick read, we look at how you can help.  


If you want to donate locally, then foodbanks are always looking for donations. More and more people are coming to rely on foodbanks to provide for their families. And this winter, with the high energy costs, for many it can often be a choice between heating a home or missing a meal.

Food parcels offer people staples such as rice, pasta, tea, coffee and cereal. They can also contain cleaning products and toiletries. Avoid donating perishable items such as fresh fruit and veg, milk and homemade foods. Pick up a few extras during your grocery shop and drop them at collection points which can be found at supermarkets or community hubs, such as libraries.

While you may be tempted to donate seasonal items such as mince pies or Christmas cakes, it’s best to check with your local foodbank to see what is really needed.

Check out The Trussell Trust to find your nearest foodbank.

Winter essentials

For people experiencing homelessness, low-income families, or vulnerable people, having the right clothes and bedding is imperative.

Homeless charities will need additional coats, gloves, scarves, hats and other items of winter wear to support their clients. Bedding items such as waterproof sleeping bags, blankets and pillows are also needed.

If you’d like to make cash donations, check out charities such as Shelter or St Mungo’s. To sponsor a room for the winter, check out this Centrepoint campaign.

Many local charities that support families would appreciate warm children’s clothing, toys and games. Look at Home Start which has branches all over the country.

Your time

Charities need people, and your time is one of the most underestimated ways to offer support, yet is so important. Whether you want to do something hands-on such as volunteering at a foodbank or kitchen, hold a Christmas-themed fundraiser or offer a few hours talking on the telephone, your help is invaluable.

Charities such as Age UK work to support elderly people experiencing isolation and loneliness. You can offer 30 minutes a week to their telephone friendship service. Just having someone to talk to or a call to look forward to can provide a huge emotional boost to someone who spends their days totally alone.