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World Earth Day 2022

world earth day

In this two-minute read, we look at what we can all do to play a part in the fight against climate change.

It’s never been more evident in human history that we need to change the way we live if the planet is to have a future.

So, this year’s World Earth Day, which takes place on Friday, 22 April, has never been more important.

The day which has been taking place across the globe for more than 50 years, aims to raise awareness of what we can all do to make a difference.

We’re encouraging people to consider some of the ten tips below to adapt the way we all live to a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way.

  1. Cycle or walk where possible.
  2. Buy second-hand items – we prefer to call them pre-loved
  3. Eat local, seasonal produce
  4. Shower instead of bath
  5. Wash clothes at 30 degrees or lower
  6. Make sure your home is well insulated
  7. Consider buying an electric car
  8. Use LED bulbs
  9. Recycle and upcycle
  10. Share these tips

As an agency, we are putting together a sustainability statement to outline all the ways that we are going to do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint. From ensuring we only use FSC paper to looking at our energy suppliers and use, we’ll cover all aspects of our business to make sure we are doing the best we can. More info to follow!

What tips do you have for going green?

Thanks for reading.

 

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Why Are More and More Private Landlords in Teignbridge Setting Up Limited Companies?

Why Are More and More Private Landlords in Teignbridge Setting Up Limited Companies?

In this two-minute read, we have a quick look at what you need to consider when becoming a landlord.

Before becoming a landlord, you need to consider how you want to buy your rental property. There’s lots of tricky tax stuff to consider and changes to tax relief over the last few years mean that becoming a landlord might not be as profitable as you first think.

So, what should you do? Should you buy a rental property in your personal name or via a limited company?

Setting up a limited company

Since 2016, more private companies than ever before have been set up to hold buy-to-let properties (primarily because of tax changes) and it’s relatively easy to do. Whether you’re starting a company on your own or with others, it’s a matter of choosing a name, deciding who does what, having a company address, and registering online with Companies House.

Keeping the accounts and records for a limited company can be a lot more complicated than personal tax, so it’s always advisable to hire an accountant. In addition, proper accounts are a legal requirement when running a limited company, so by hiring a professional you can have peace of mind that things will be done the right way.

Taxing stuff

Tax. Ugh. A word that makes everyone feel slightly sick. And when you’re a landlord, it’s an area you need to get your head round.

Over the last few years, the government has brought in several tax changes that impact private landlords with property in their own names and their level of tax relief. In simple terms, this means less profit and more tax.

For example, in England, rental profit is subject to income tax. Previously, if you had an £800 monthly mortgage bill and earned £1,000 in rent, you would only pay tax on the £200 profit. However, since April 2020 tax changes have meant that mortgage costs can no longer be treated as an expense, meaning after-tax profit has considerably reduced.

Limited companies now hold more tax advantages for landlords. For example, a limited company can still treat mortgage costs as an expense along with other related costs of managing a rental property. In addition, limited companies are subject to corporation tax which is currently set at 19% (although this is set to increase), instead of income tax, which changes the more that you earn.

Other tax areas to investigate if thinking about setting up a limited company include:

  • No capital gains tax
  • Inheritance tax issues (if you plan to pass your property on)

Always speak to an accountant or financial advisor when it comes to tax matters.

If you’re thinking about buying a rental property, please speak to us at Chamberlains.

 

 

 

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Advice for Selling Up Due to a Divorce

divorce

This three-minute read looks at the property-related issues that arise after a relationship breaks down.

A survey of 2,000 Brits found that there’s only one thing more stressful than getting divorced – and that’s moving home.*

Spare a thought then for people who sell their home when their long-term relationship ends. They find themselves dealing with two of life’s most challenging moments at the same time.

Here are some property-related tips to help people navigate such a scenario.

Get good advice

Seek good, independent legal advice. Many factors can influence how assets are divided, such as the length of the relationship, each party’s income and responsibilities, and if children are involved.

Consider your options carefully 

Could you buy your ex’s share of the property (or vice versa)? Or would it be best to sell up altogether? If you and your former partner can’t agree, a court will decide for you (and you’ll have to abide by the decision).

Notify your lender

Discuss the situation with your lender; they’ll have seen this type of thing before and will be able to advise you. Remember, if you and your ex-partner have a joint mortgage, you’re both liable for any missed payments – even if one of you has moved into alternative accommodation.

Don’t short-change yourself

Beware of home-buying companies that swoop in and purchase properties at lightning speed from people in tricky situations. In return for a quick sale, these operators will hammer you on price. (You’ll kick yourself later for accepting a measly sum.) The more you make from the sale of your home, the more you’ll have to put towards starting the next chapter in your life.

Get an independent valuation

Whether you’re doing a deal with your ex or selling on the open market, always get an independent valuation from an experienced estate agent. Never rely on a figure given to you by a quick-buy company or your former partner.

Be realistic about future costs

If you plan to buy a new home post-divorce, you’ll need to budget for a removal firm, stamp duty, and legal fees (all good reasons to maximise the price you get for your home).

Communication

If possible (and we accept that in some circumstances, it’s just not), try to keep the lines of communication with your former partner open. If you can work together to present your home at its best, you can achieve the maximum price. 

Work with an experienced agent 

Choose an agent with a good track record. They’ll streamline the process as much as possible and minimise stress and disruption.

For confidential advice about selling your home, get in touch with us here at ChamberlainsWe’ve got a free guide to help, for download. 

 

*Survey conducted by Yopa in 2019.

 

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‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ – Especially South Devon’s Community Champions

Christmas

In this two-minute read, we say a big thank you to those in South Devon who are working or volunteering during the Christmas period.

It’s the night before Christmas, and excitement is reaching fever pitch among children (and adults, some of our team included).

But let’s also spare a thought and share some gratitude for the people, around one million of them across the UK, who work on December 25th.

While you’re tucking into the turkey or munching away on your seasonal veg, it can be easy to forget that it’s another working day for some of our neighbours.

Emergency services, hospital staff, carers, traffic officers, HGV drivers, and hospitality workers all come to mind as people who will be putting in shifts across South Devon while many of us are having fun.

There are also scores of volunteers who give up their time on Christmas Day.

From helpline call handlers to those who organise lunches on December 25th for lonely or vulnerable people in the community.

These superstars are giving the most precious present anyone can – their time and attention.

So, to all those hardworking and community-spirited folks, we salute you.

You are local heroes, and we are grateful to you. And we hope you get some quality downtime to enjoy the festive season.

At Chamberlains, we’ll be taking a well-earned break to prepare ourselves for what promises to be a very busy 2022 for the South Devon property market.

Our opening hours over the festive period are:

Thursday 23rd December – 09:00 to 17:30

Friday 24th December – Closed

Saturday 25th December – Closed

Monday 27th December – Closed

Tuesday 28th December – Closed

Wednesday 29th December – 10:00 to 15:00

Thursday 30th December – 10:00 – 15:00

Friday 31st December – 10:00 to 15:00

Saturday 1st January – Closed

Monday 3rd January – Closed

Tuesday 4th January – 09:00 – 17:30

All of us at Chamberlains would like to wish everyone in South Devon a happy, healthy, and very Merry Christmas.

 

 

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WARNING – Be Wary of Scammers in South Devon This Christmas

WARNING – Be Wary of Scammers in South Devon This Christmas

In this two-minute read, we look at some of the scams targeting Christmas shoppers in South Devon and how to avoid them.

Which classic festive song opens with the line, “It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid.”?

Easy, eh? It’s Band Aid’s “Do They Know it’s Christmas?”.

And while no one should be scared during the festive season, we should all be aware of one set of people hell-bent on cheating people out of Christmas cheer – scammers.

Scams are more prevalent now than ever due to the pandemic driving more people online to buy gifts and the relentless pace of modern life meaning we’re all often rushing.

And fraudsters thrive at this time of the year. So be wary of these tricks they’re pulling below.

  • Unexpected e-cards

If an anonymous e-card pops up in your inbox, err on the side of caution and don’t open it. It’s a common tactic scammers use to infect your computer with viruses. Always use a good anti-virus product across your devices and check out www.cyberstreetwise.com for more helpful advice.

  • Online bargains

Buying things online has become second nature to many of us. And there are some great deals to be had. But if a deal looks too good to be true, there’s usually a reason why. Many scammers entice shoppers into handing over financial information to buy cut-price items that don’t exist. Always buy from reputable online retailers, check for reviews, and trust your gut instinct.

  • Ticketing fraud

As the UK eases out of the shackles of the lockdowns, many people want to get out and experience live events again. It’s a great way to treat a friend or family member. But be warned, scammers love ticketing scams – especially ones around supposedly sold-out events. So only buy tickets from reputable websites and always look for secure websites (showing a padlock at the start of their web address).

  • Holiday horrors

According to Action Fraud, one of the UK’s leading websites offering advice to consumers, holiday fraud is rising. This is because overseas travel has been limited for so long and many of us are desperate to get away, especially over Christmas. Watch out for last-minute bargains from companies that won’t accept credit cards and aren’t ATOL or ABTA protected. You can check a travel company’s status with the Civil Aviation Authority.

Thanks for reading, and from all of us at Chamberlains, here’s to a happy, healthy, and safe Christmas.

 

 

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Two Important Questions to Ask Before You Sign with an Estate Agent

estate agents newton abbot

How South Devon Sellers Can Spot an Agent Who Means Business 

In this three-minute read, we look at how to gauge if an agent is giving you an honest property valuation.

The first question a seller always asks an estate agent is: “How much can you sell my property for?”. The second is: “What is your fee?”.

This focus on price and fees makes perfect sense; understandably every seller in South Devon wants to get the best possible property deal.

But before you jump in and choose an agent based solely on these two things, ask two more questions to determine if an agent is telling you the truth or a load of porkies.

Before you sign a contract, ask:

  • If there is a tie-in clause in the contract? If so, how long is it?
  • If you can terminate the agreement if you’re unhappy with the service?

Unfortunately, many sellers skip these questions, and it’s not until things go awry that they realise they’re locked into an unfavourable deal.

Tie-in periods

Some agents don’t do tie-ins at all (Chamberlains certainly doesn’t), while others will ask that you commit to allowing them a minimum period, usually a few weeks, to market the property.

Other agents go so far as to lock you in for 24 weeks (with a 28-day notice period on top of that).

It’s up to you to decide what length of tie-in is reasonable – but make sure you understand from the outset what you’re getting into.

Overvaluing a property

It’s also worth questioning why an agent wants a 24-week tie-in. If they genuinely believe in their pricing strategy, why do they need nearly half a year to shift the property?

Unless, of course, they’ve deliberately overvalued your home to secure your custom. They know that eventually you’ll have to drop the price, but they don’t care – they’ve got you cornered.

The whole thing is a ploy to get your business. It wastes time and can jeopardise your next purchase, especially if you’re in a chain.

Bad service

Also, be wary of long notice periods. Some contracts not only commit you to an extended tie-in but require that you serve notice if you want to terminate.

So, you get to the end of a long tie-in, and think ‘hallelujah, I’m ditching these cowboys’ only to discover you’re still locked in.

Often, the longer the tie-in and notice period, the worse the service because the agent knows you can’t go elsewhere.

Top tips
  • Always do your research before choosing an agent.
  • Never sign a contract you haven’t read.
  • Remember, you can negotiate tie-in periods. They’re not set in stone, even if an agent tells you otherwise.
  • Go with a local agent with a reputation for excellent service and delivering on their promises. Google Reviews are a great place to start!

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

 

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Why Do People Up Sticks? The Eight Reasons for Moving Home

people move

Eight Reasons Why People Move Home

A two-minute read on what prompts people to sell up and buy elsewhere.

Most people looking to move home fall into one of eight categories. Learn what these categories are so that you can fine-tune your property selling strategy.

  1. Space Chasers– These movers want more space to accommodate a growing family, a home office or a Labradoodle puppy. Homes with a generous garden, garage, and loft conversion top their most wanted list.
  2. New Lease of Lifers– These city slickers yearn to feel the sand between their toes or fresh country air in their lungs. They crave a quieter life surrounded by nature – but still covet creature comforts like high-speed broadband.
  3. Lovers and Leavers– People in this category are buying with a new partner/spouse or looking to make a fresh start after a relationship breakdown.
  4. Empty Nesters– With the kids all grown up, Empty Nesters are rattling around large homes (that are expensive to heat). They’re keen to downsize to an energy-efficient, low maintenance home with top-notch security.
  5. Family Guys and Girls– This category includes parents with young children looking to be closer to a family support network and those who want to live near an ageing relative who needs TLC.
  6. Catchment Hunters– Members of this group can recite the Good Schools Guide  They’ll pay a premium for a property close to an ‘Outstanding’ school (especially a high-performing secondary).
  7. Mortgage Freestylers– This group is looking to restructure their finances. They aim to sell up, buy a cheaper property and live mortgage-free (hopefully with a few extra quid to spend in their retirement).
  8. Career Boosters– Thanks to a new job or promotion, members of this group need to move to be closer to their place of work.

Top tip

When marketing and presenting your property, think carefully about who is most likely to buy it and promote your home accordingly.

Don’t overlook small details like broadband speeds, catchment areas and home security. These factors can be very influential to some buyers.

And remember that movers often fall into more than one category (for example, an Empty Nester might also be a Mortgage Freestyler, and a Space Chaser also a Catchment Hunter).

 To learn more about successfully marketing your South Devon home, contact us here at Chamberlains.

 

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Why Some South Devon Workers Are Opting for the Office

home working

Why Might the Office Make a Comeback in South Devon?

A three-minute read looking at why some workers are opting for the office.

Once upon a time, in a land before Covid-19, working from home was considered the holy grail for many. Who knew that the vision of an idyllic flexible work-life balance where you could manage the school run, a lunchtime dog walk, and avoid the lost time of a commute, would become reality. For some, this was one of the very few positives to have emerged from the pandemic.

Now, it appears that the novelty of this unexpected ‘work from home – if you can’ order has long since worn off and many are itching to get back to the office.

Why?

Distractions and boundaries

When you physically go to work, you are there for one purpose – to work. When you’re working at home, distractions are all around – household chores, last night’s leftovers, Federer v Nadal… Boundaries work the other way, too. Focused workers can find it hard to switch off from work at the end of the day – especially if their dining table doubles up as a home office space.

It’s good to talk

While the dog may be the ideal colleague for some, they’re generally useless when it comes to IT, brainstorming, and bringing in cakes on their birthday. We are humans and we need social interaction. A quick chat, while you’re making a brew, makes for strengthening co-worker relationships. And sometimes, you just need five minutes face to face with your boss, rather than a 30-minute Zoom.

Osmosis

How much we learn about a business and its operation by subconsciously listening to others is often underestimated. Career progression for trainees and apprentices who learn ‘on the job’ is inevitably hampered if the workforce is remote.

Suited and booted

There’s a reason it’s called a power suit. Dressing smartly can instil self-confidence and boasts an air of authority. We’ve gotten used to a mix of shirts and trackies for Zoom calls, but there’s nothing quite like donning a sharp jacket or a pair of killer heels to make you feel unstoppable.

Whether work is office-based, fully remote, or a hybrid mix of both, we hope that employers will adopt a sensible approach going forward.

What we do know, is that a desire for home office space is likely to increase. If you’re looking to buy, sell, or let, talk to us at Chamberlains about how to make the most of your property to accommodate working needs.

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Low-Fee Agents: Why South Devon Sellers Should Beware of Rock-Bottom Deals

low fees

Low-Fee Agents: Why South Devon Sellers Should Beware of Rock-Bottom Deals

In this two-minute read, we look at why low agent fees don’t equal top selling price.

Unless your name is Elon Musk, selling your home will probably be the biggest transaction you make in your lifetime. So, who will you entrust to get you the best deal?

Option 1: You go for the agent with the lowest fee. This agent is a doppelgänger for Del Boy, but you love the idea of saving yourself a few hundred quid in fees.

Option 2: You go for an agent who makes properties look and sound A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. The fee is a little higher, but they have a reputation for achieving sales that are above asking price.

Do the maths

The agent in Option 2 offers the best value because they will put the most money in your pocket.

When an agent cuts their fee, they’re cutting back on the time and money they invest in marketing a property.

They might sell your home, but they won’t get the best possible price for it.

Here are five ways to tell if an agent will offer you good value.

  • Images

Top agents use quality photography to capture properties at their best. Grainy, shadowy photos taken on a smartphone are a turn-off for buyers.

  • Property descriptions

Look at how agents market properties online. Do the descriptions create an aspirational picture? Or are you reading a list of measurements, plug sockets, and radiators? Good agents will also include a floorplan in listings.

  • Bringing a property to market

If an agent brags that they can have your property on the market by tomorrow, run for the hills because they’re cutting corners. The best agents have a tried-and-tested launch strategy that takes more than 24 hours to implement – but adds thousands of pounds to a sale.

  • Long tie-ins

An agent who is confident that they can sell your home doesn’t need to lock you into a lengthy tie-in (some agents push for 20 weeks’ exclusivity).

  • Social media

Even if you’re not on Instagram or Facebook, many buyers are, so go with an agent with a strong social media presence. Look for engaging posts that cover more than properties for sale. Community content, mortgage updates, and sneak peeks are big winners.

We all love a bargain (that’s why Poundland exists), but with a low-fee agent, the person who lands the great deal is the buyer, not the seller.

If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, get in touch with us here at Chamberlains. We’ll exhaust every possible avenue to secure the best price for your home.

© Chamberlains 2021

 

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Tips for South Devon Sellers Looking for an Agent They Can Trust

Tips for South Devon Sellers Looking for an Agent They Can Trust

In this three-minute read, we list five things South Devon sellers should look for in an estate agent.

It pains us to say this, but a recent survey found people were more likely to trust a traffic warden or a lawyer than an estate agent.

When it comes to telling the truth, it seems that only politicians have a worse reputation than estate agents (source: YesHomebuyers.com).

As you can imagine, this frustrates us. Firstly, we’re a hardworking South Devon business with a strong track record – just ask our happy customers. We know there are some cowboys out there – and thankfully, the industry is working to weed them out – but we hate being lumped in the same category as them.

Secondly, selling a home is one of the most significant transactions a person makes in their lifetime. We hate to think that people are being led through that process by someone they think is a consummate liar. It must make the whole experience more stressful.

So, we’ve put together a five-point list of things to look out for when you’re hunting for an estate agent you can trust.

  • Word of mouth 

Speak to friends and family about their experiences of selling in South Devon. Don’t just ask them to name a good agent but dig deeper to find out: how long it took them to sell their property, if the agent’s valuation was realistic, who conducted the viewings, and if the customer service was up to scratch. Checking Google Reviews is a great place to start!

  • Marketing research

Identify popular agents in your area and scrutinise how they market their properties. Look for good quality photography and well-written property descriptions as these are vital ingredients for achieving top price. Dodgy snaps of cluttered rooms, and minimal information, should set off alarm bells.

  • Are they registered?

All UK estate agents who deal with residential properties must register with either the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme. These organisations deal with customer complaints (hopefully, you won’t have any, but it’s good to have peace of mind). If they’re not registered, steer clear.

  • Are they a member of a professional body?

Many good agents will be part of a professional body, such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) Propertymark, or the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Membership shows they take their professional responsibilities seriously.

  • Realistic valuation

If an agent vows to sell your home for a price that far exceeds market trends or your expectations, be suspicious. They’re either over-promising to win your custom or clueless (or both!). Either way, buyers won’t buy it (literally), and you’ll wind up dropping the asking price later. Don’t fall for this time-wasting exercise.

To find out more about why people in South Devon have been trusting us with their home sales for years, give us a call.

© Chamberlains 2021