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Estate Agent Myths: What South Devon Sellers Need to Know

estate agents

How much of what you know about estate agents is really true? This three-minute read debunks a few common urban myths.

The digital revolution has given rise to several assumptions about estate agents, but we’re here to tell you they’re not true. It’s time to separate fact from fiction and debunk four myths about estate agents. 

  • Estate agents just post stuff on the property portals. Anyone can do it.

Given that 95% of people search for their next home online*, any selling strategy that doesn’t have a strong digital element is a failed one (but more on that in a minute). When selling a property, dozens of decisive calls are made before and after a home is listed online. You must nail the asking price, presentation, photography, viewings and negotiations. Then, once a sale is agreed, you need a professional in your corner to keep the process moving, paperwork ticking along, and wrap up the deal ASAP.

  • Agents are redundant. Properties sell themselves these days.

You can sell a property, or you can sell it for top price. Which one would you prefer? (Bear in mind the difference could be tens of thousands of pounds in your pocket.) There are companies out there that encourage sellers to do it themselves. But as selling your home is probably the biggest (and most stressful) deal of your life, do you want to wing it? Don’t short-change yourself. Get a pro to help you do it properly and more profitably.

  • Digital selling strategies just involve property portals.

There’s no doubt that property portals are essential, but great agents take their digital strategy so much further. They’re active on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram and work hard year-round to engage their local community. Before choosing an agent, analyse their social media presence and website. The best agents are proactive, professional and have engaged databases that help when it comes to selling your home for the best price.

  • The best valuation is the highest.

Since the dawn of time, some less scrupulous agents have pursued a strategy of making ridiculously high valuations just to land listings. But sellers these days are more price-savvy than ever as a huge amount of information about past sales is available online. Twitchy lenders are also unwilling to provide a mortgage if the price is outside market norms. If your valuation is astronomical, you’ll deter genuine buyers and drag out the sale (and wind up dropping your price eventually). Always go with an agent with a good track record, who gives you comparable evidence and who tells it to you straight.

Bonus myth-buster – Not all estate agents wear pointy shoes, flashy suits and only care about their commission. We take pride in not being your typical type of estate agency.

Get in touch with us here at Chamberlains to discover why people choose us to sell what is usually their biggest tax-free asset. 

* Survey by Property Price Advice

 

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A Helpful Guide to Selling Property to Pay for Care Costs

seling

If you or a loved one need to move into a care home or require home care, you might be considering selling your property to pay for the costs. This is a difficult decision, and there’s a lot to consider.

It’s important to go through all the proper steps when considering long-term costs, and this article is not a definitive guide on what you should do.

Instead, in this three-minute read, we offer some helpful advice about the process and what to do.

Understanding assessments 

In the first instance, you need to contact your local authority to see how they can help. You (or a loved one) may have already had a care assessment which sets out what sort of care is required.

The next step is a means test. This is a detailed financial assessment which decides whether the council will pay for all or some of the care required. It examines your income from benefits and pensions and your capital (investments and savings). If you’re a homeowner, the value of your property may also be included.

If you or a loved one live with a partner, their financial situation is not assessed.

If you have the funds to pay for care, then a shorter assessment will take place.

Selling your assets 

You may decide to sell valuable items or assets (such as your property) to reduce the cost of care. However, the council’s financial assessment can include your past income and capital. So, this may not be a helpful route to take. The council may still require you to pay fees, as selling assets before an assessment could be deemed as a ‘deliberate deprivation of assets’.

Things to avoid

Even if the need for care is urgent, avoid turning to ‘quick sale’ companies who promise to buy your property for cash. Often, you’ll be left with far less than if you went through the normal sales process. Instead, sign up to a local estate agency so you can meet with an experienced and reputable agent. They will have helped many people in your situation and are best placed to get you a good market price.

The need for care is a sign of change, and you may want to delay the process for as long as possible. However, by facing up to the situation and getting things moving with an estate agent, you can start a new chapter without the need for panic or undue stress.

Get the property ready for sale

A lifetime of memories can be hard to pack away, but it will also allow you to give value to what’s important now and in the future.

Start by packing away your most precious items, such as family photos or antiques. Ask your agent if any glaring repairs need to be made and use a trusted tradesperson to help get issues sorted.

For more assistance, contact Age UK Advice Line or Money Helper.

If you’re ready to sell your home, contact us, Chamberlains, on 01626 365055.

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Food Banks Need You

foodbank

The cost of living crisis is affecting more people than ever, and sadly, it’s set to get worse, as more and more households are turning to food banks to supplement their supplies.

Research by the Trussell Trust – a support network for food banks across the UK – found that 2.1 million emergency parcels were distributed between April 2021 and March 2022, a 14% rise from the previous year.

With these statistics in mind, what can you do to support your local food bank?

In this quick read, we offer a few ways to help.

Donate mindfully

Donating food and toiletries may sound obvious but giving some thought to what you donate is equally important.

A typical food parcel contains staples such as cereal, soup, tinned vegetables, tinned meat, rice, pasta, lentils/beans, tea/coffee, UHT milk and biscuits. The aim is to provide three days of balanced, nutritional meals for those who need a parcel. So, think about what you’re donating and how it will be used. Keep in mind that some items are stored for long periods, so check use-by dates.

Non-food items such as sanitary products, cleaning products, baby care items and toiletries are always needed.

What not to donate

Some items are just not suitable for donation. For example, anything containing alcohol or alcohol flavoured cannot be used. In addition, baby formula can’t be distributed (however, families can request vouchers for support with buying this instead).

Other things to avoid include:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Opened or used goods
  • Items without a use-by date
  • Homemade food
  • Items without a list of ingredients.

Any items that can’t be used are donated elsewhere by the food bank.

Where to donate

Search your local authority website for listings of local food banks or have a look on the Trussell Trust website here. If you are looking to help in Teignbridge then HITS Foodbank (Homeless in Teignbridge Support) are a fantastic organisation that are always in need, you can check out their website here:

You can donate directly or through collection points which can be found at supermarkets or churches. You could also organise your own collection drive perhaps along your street or at a local school.

Cash donations

Making a one-off cash donation, a regular monthly payment or organising a fundraiser for a local food bank is a great way to provide support.

Volunteer

Food banks rely on volunteers to help put together and distribute food parcels. Just a few hours a month can go a long way. Look for places to volunteer near you here. The Salvation Army also runs food banks throughout the UK so check their local sites, too.

From all of us here at Chamberlains, thanks for reading. We hope this has been helpful and remember, an easy way to support a food bank is to pick up some extra items at your next weekly shop.

 

 

 

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Reasons Why Landlords in South Devon End Tenancies

ending tenancy

This two-minute read looks at why landlords end tenancies and the issues and implications around taking such a step.

From toxic tenants to financial friction – there are many reasons why a landlord might want to end a tenancy.

These reasons can include:

  • The tenant has breached their contract by missing rent payments, subletting, or trashing the property.
  • Relations between the tenant and landlord have turned toxic.
  • The property is in need of repair, and it would be easier and less disruptive if the property were empty.
  • The landlord wants to live in the property.
  • Financial reasons mean the landlord wishes to sell up.

Whatever the motive for wanting a tenant out, one rule applies: never act impulsively.

It’s easy to get hot under the collar if you discover your tenant is treating your property like a dump or a drug den.

And it’s understandable if your circumstances suddenly change and you want to take back possession of your property (it belongs to you, after all).

But ignoring your contractual obligations and letting your heart overrule your head could prove costly.

What you can do

Before taking any action, make sure you understand your legal position and, if in doubt, get professional advice.

The steps you take will be influenced by the type of tenancy, the length of term, and the notice period.

Your strategy will also depend on if the tenant has breached their contract (in which case you’ll need evidence) or if you have a different reason for wanting the property back.

Whatever you do, don’t blag it. If the case winds up in court, a judge won’t look kindly on a landlord who has cut corners and ignored procedure.

Have someone in your corner

Having a letting agent manage your property means you’ll not only have a great source of advice at your disposal, but they’ll also do the legwork.

What a relief to have someone else deal with head-banging, anti-social tenants or chase late rent payments

When it’s your property, it’s difficult not to take things personally – and lose your cool.

Having a professional deal with situations in a measured and calm way means less hassle and often proves more effective.

With discussion and negotiation, it’s often possible to avoid messy court disputes and move the situation along quickly.

 Get in touch with us here at Chamberlains to learn more about our property management services.

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What Will the Homes of 2050 Look Like?

2050

Star Trek fans, look away now.

“It’s a home, Jim, but not as we know it.” The original phrase (we’ve replaced life with a home) didn’t even feature in the popular sci-fi show, apparently, but we’re digressing.

If you’re interested in what life will be like in the homes of 2050, keep reading.

A report commissioned by the respected industry organisation the National House Building Council (NHBC) sees experts look into the future and make predictions around how homes will change.

The report, fittingly called Futurology: The New Home in 2050, makes for fascinating reading.

Below are ten forecasts from across the 40-page report.

  • Multigenerational living will become increasingly popular. As property prices increase and people live longer, more families will come together to live under one roof.
  • ‘Green roofs’ featuring grass areas will become the norm to encourage wildlife activity.
  • Electric car charging points will be a feature of every new home and development.
  • Smart boxes will replace letterboxes so that deliveries can be safely and securely left.
  • The homes of 2050 could monitor our health and remind us to go for a walk, take medication, or even let us know if the bathwater is too hot.
  • With demands on homes to be multifunctional, expect to see many more properties with movable walls.
  • Micro living, for people living on their own, will increase. These smaller homes will be part of developments that offer communal areas, shared services, and cycle storage.
  • New homes in 2050 will be highly energy-efficient – featuring several ways of capturing, storing, and distributing energy.
  • Due to climate change, homes will need to be more responsive to weather events. In addition, better cooling systems will ensure homes don’t overheat in the potentially warmer summers.
  • Light switches and electrical sockets could become obsolete as movement detectors and voice controls become omnipresent.

If you’re thinking of moving a little earlier than 2050, maybe even this year, feel free to contact us with any questions you have.

We’ll use our expertise and experience to help you on the journey to a new home in the future.

 

 

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Top Tips for Selling an Empty Property

empty property

This three-minute read looks at the issues around selling an empty home.

Most estate agents will tell you that to secure a good property sale, it’s best to market a home fully furnished. But to quote the Rolling Stones, ‘You can’t always get what you want’.

Whether it be due to a death in the family or a sudden change in circumstances, sellers sometimes find themselves with an empty property to market.

When this happens, what’s the best strategy?

Let’s think about visuals 

Empty homes tend to ‘stick’ because we humans are visual creatures. We find it easier to imagine ourselves living in a property that looks ‘lived in’. Photographs of empty rooms don’t ‘tell a story’.

Buyers also struggle to judge the size of a room without everyday items, such as beds or sofas, to provide visual perspective.

Bearing this in mind, if you’re selling an empty property, here’s what you should do. 

Create a blank canvas

Invest time into presenting the property as a blank canvas onto which a buyer can quickly stamp their own personal touch.

  • Remove junk from inside and outside and give everything a good clean. (Empty doesn’t have to mean grotty.)
  • Patch up the walls and paint them in a neutral colour.
  • Clean the carpets or, if they’re beyond saving, pull them up and tidy up the floorboards.
  • Cut back any overgrown bushes in the garden.

To stage or not to stage

Once you’ve got the bare bones of your home shipshape, consider whether to ‘stage’ the property.

You could go big and rent furniture and furnishings from a professional staging company. While this will require a financial outlay, if your property is in a high-value area, it’s a move that could make you money in the long run.

If this isn’t a realistic option, you could still bring in some furniture – borrowed or nabbed from your own home – to help buyers understand the layout. Think beds in the bedrooms, a table and chairs in the kitchen, and a sofa in the living room. It’s a kind of ‘staging lite’ approach that can give a property an extra push.

A final word about security

Whatever you decide to do, prioritise security ­– thieves and squatters target empty homes. Check the locks and make regular visits to the property to remove any tell-tale signs that it’s empty. Install lamps that operate on a timer, so that the lights go on at night.

For more advice on marketing your Teignbridge property, contact us here at Chamberlains.

 

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Reasons to Be Cheerful for Home Sellers in South Devon

home sellers

In this two-minute read, we share how homeowners thinking of selling can avoid feeling down in the dumps on the year’s most depressing day.

Next Monday is, according to social scientists, the most depressing day on the calendar.

It even has a name. Such is the doom and gloom attached to it – Blue Monday.

It’s the perfect storm of wintry weather, festive spending credit card debts coming in, New Year’s resolutions falling by the wayside, and Christmas being a memory that’s fading fast.

We all feel down from time to time, and it’s important to share with people we trust how we’re feeling.

All our relationships here at Chamberlains are built on trust, and we like to think that’s why we know what gets home sellers feeling blue.

The good news is we have the answers to the five main things that get people involved in property transactions feeling down.

1 – Home won’t sell – A home that’s been on the market for a long time is a headache for the seller. It’s usually because the price is unrealistic or it is being poorly marketed.

2 – Apathetic agents – Choosing an estate agent to sell your home is a big call. And when you get it wrong, it can be the source of a lot of stress and anxiety. Look for local agents who know the local property market, are experienced, and have good Google reviews and testimonials.

3 – Slow solicitors – There’s no getting away from it, an inefficient conveyancing solicitor can hold up your sale and cause no end of frustration. Always go with recommendations from people you trust who have successfully used the solicitor themselves.

4 – Vanishing buyers – There’s very little in the property selling business as annoying as buyers who make an offer you accept only to vanish for whatever reason. The best way around this is to work with an agency that properly qualifies every offer to see if the person making it is in a position to actually proceed.

5 – Overvaluations – This goes back to point two and highlights the importance of choosing the right agency. A common tactic used by unscrupulous agents is to deliberately overvalue a property to get the chance to sell it. More often than not, a price reduction follows as the property won’t sell and attracts little interest. Ask for clear, comparable evidence to back up an agency’s valuation of your property.

If you have anything property-related weighing on your mind this Blue Monday or any day come to that, give us a call. We’re here to make selling a home a happier experience.

 

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Simple Ways to Save Money on Your Energy Bills

energy bills

This two-minute read looks at how to trim down your energy bills.

Householders were hit with budget-busting energy price hikes in 2021 – a trend that looks set to continue well into the new year.

Here are some ways to claw back some cash on your heating bills and help the environment at the same time.

Small steps

Individually these measures offer modest gains but put them together, and you’ll notice the benefits.

  • Use energy-efficient light bulbs.
  • Switch off appliances at the socket when you’re not using them.
  • Turn your boiler down by a few degrees.
  • Wash your clothes on a cold-water cycle or use a quick wash or eco mode. 
  • Use draught excluders (like the ones your granny used to have) to stop warm air from escaping under doors.
  • Clean your tumble dryer filter to ensure it’s working efficiently.

Big-ticket measures

To see real bang for your buck, invest in making your home more energy efficient. You’ll incur some costs upfront but reap long-term returns.

Smart thermostats

These clever gadgets give you more precision over how and when you heat your home.

While traditional boiler controls are blunt instruments (allowing you to turn all the radiators on or off), smart thermostats allow you to heat specific rooms (handy if you work from home and only need one room to be toasty).

Most are operated via an app, so you can adjust your heating when you’re out, which is great if you forget to turn it off before you leave home.

Insulation

If your home isn’t insulated, what are you waiting for? Loft insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to cut your fuel bills.

If your insulation is several decades old, consider upgrading it. Older-style loft insulation is often far thinner, and therefore less effective than modern-day insulation.

Install double-glazing

Ill-fitting single-pane windows let the heat escape – and cost you money. Double-glazing will cut your heating bills and add value to your home.

Upgrade your appliances

Consumer champions Which? say installing an energy-efficient dishwasher could save you £32 a year, while a new model fridge could save you £76 annually.

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Shhh… Get Rid of Unwanted Christmas Gifts Without Anyone Finding Out

christmas

In this two-minute read, we give you our best ideas for unloading your unwanted socks, smellies, toys or slippers.

Now we’ve all eaten our weight in turkey, pulled some crackers, and snoozed in front of the TV, it’s time for the great post-Christmas tidy-up.

The first place to start (once all that wrapping paper has been cleared away) is with your unwanted presents. Don’t just shove them under the bed or at the back of a cupboard. Get savvy, get rid, and get a little richer.

Donate them to a good cause

The guilt-free option for getting rid of something you know you’re never going to use. Charity shops benefit from new and unopened items, and you can feel happy in the knowledge your unwanted pressie is doing some good in the world.

Regift them to someone

You may feel a bit cheeky doing this, but in the grand scheme of things you’re actually doing your bit to help save the planet, avoid waste, and bag yourself some pennies.

Swap shop

Get online and swap your presents. Sites such as Preloved or Swapz let you find items of a similar value and arrange a swap. No money, no clutter – win-win. Alternatively, if you fancy hosting a little get-together, organise a post-holiday swap party where everyone brings an unwanted gift and swaps it for another guest’s present.

Sell online

There are so many online selling sites to choose from, your granny will never know you sold her gift of embroidered handkerchiefs, we promise. Obviously, there’s eBay, but check out other sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Amazon Marketplace, or Gumtree.

Return them

Now this is easy if you’ve got a gift receipt, but there’s hope even if you don’t. Most retailers have a returns policy that allows an exchange or will offer a credit note but there’s no law that forces a retailer to accept non-faulty items. Remember, in most cases you’ve only got 28 days to return something in store.

Things that can’t be returned include perishable items such as food and personalised items.

Give them away

It might not be a good idea to stand outside your house offering strangers a pair of brand-new flannel pyjamas, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Make use of sites such as Freecycle, Freegle, and Trash Nothing to offload your unwanted gifts.

Whatever you decide to do with those extra presents, we at Chamberlains hope you’ve had a great festive period.

 

 

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Top Tips for Choosing an Estate Agent

Top Tips for Choosing an Estate Agent

How to Choose an Estate Agent to Sell Your South Devon Home

In this two-minute read, we look at how to select the best estate agent to sell your home.

When it comes to selling a property, it pays to do your research before choosing an agent to manage the sale.

Now you might think that all agents are much of a muchness (they all flog homes, don’t they?), but you’d be wrong!

A great agent won’t just sell your property; they’ll sell it for the highest possible price (which is the whole point, obviously).

A mediocre agent will go through the motions and probably secure a sale – it is a seller’s market after all – but won’t go the extra mile to get the absolute best deal.

Given that you’ll most likely only sell a property once or twice in your life, why wouldn’t you go with someone who will secure the best transaction for you?

Here are six things to look for in a good estate agent.

Track record. Go with an agent who has a good local reputation and experience selling properties like yours. And don’t just take the agent’s word for it; a good agent will have client testimonials.

Fees and costs. It may be tempting to go with the agent with the lowest fee – but be wary. Low-fee agents skimp on marketing and photography (it’s the only way they can do the job for such a low price and stay afloat). That might be good for their business model, but it’s terrible for your bank balance.

Professional marketing. Buyers do so much of their research online that an agent must have a professional digital presence. Compare how local agents in South Devon present properties for sale. Look for good quality photography and well-written property descriptions.

Read the fine print. Be wary of agents who want to tie you in for an excessive period. It suggests they don’t have confidence in their own abilities.

Valuation. If an agent vows to sell your property for a sum that is jaw-droppingly higher than market value, be suspicious. Most likely, they’re over-promising to lure you in and will have to drop the price later when savvy buyers don’t fall for it. This tactic just wastes time. Go with an agent who is optimistic but realistic.

Gut instinct. Do you trust the agent or feel like they’re pulling a fast one on you? Follow your instincts.

For a free property valuation or to find out more about our selling track record, contact us here at Chamberlains.