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Changing Property Trends: What Buyers Really Want

property

If you’re looking to market your home, read on to find out what’s hot and what’s not in the property world.

Forget trend forecasters and property commentators; if it’s insight into housing trends that you want, turn your attention to estate agents.

As agents spend so much time looking around people’s homes, they have their finger on the pulse when it comes to changing property tastes.

And they use this knowledge when they write the marketing descriptions that you see on property portals. These are designed to show a home at its best and attract suitable buyers.

Now, Rightmove has analysed the marketing material that appears on its website by looking closely at the features most commonly listed by estate agents. The results reveal the changing preferences and priorities of Brits in 2022.

First, let’s look at the key phrases that have skyrocketed in use over the past decade and those that have waned in popularity.

What’s in

Garden office, up 1,046%

Bi-fold doors, up 589%

Orangery, up 173%

Underfloor heating, up 114%

Summerhouse, up 90%

Open plan, up 74%

What’s out

Conservatory, down 52%

Greenhouse, down 46%

Fitted wardrobes, down 29%

Dining room, down 28%

Covid impact

The pandemic radically changed what many people want in a home. With more of us working remotely at least some of the time, home buyers are looking for a property that can cater to their work needs (hence the dramatic jump in the use of ‘garden office’).

Flexible spaces

The research suggests that buyers want spaces that can adapt to their needs, hence the popularity of ‘bi-fold doors’ (up 589%). These provide a separation between home and garden when closed but a free-flowing indoor-outdoor space when open.

It’s also interesting to note the rise of orangeries and summerhouses at the expense of conservatories and greenhouses. Orangeries and summerhouses can quite easily serve as an office during the week and an entertainment space on the weekend. However, conservatories can be too cold to work in through the winter months, while greenhouses only make great workspaces if you’re a gardener. 

Casual living

While ‘open plan’ has become an increasingly popular selling point, dining rooms are on a downer. Could this be because we now favour casual get-togethers over formal dinner parties?

Environmental factors

The analysis found that, in the past year, listings mentioning ‘electric car charging points’ jumped up 495% – a clear sign of growing environmental awareness.

What are your biggest property must-haves? Garden office? Open-plan kitchen or how about a hot tub? Get in touch with us on social media and let us know. Click here to go to our Facebook Page

 

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What Homeowners Should Know Before Insulating Their Property

inmsulation

Get it right, and insulation can add value to your home. Get it wrong, and it could be difficult to get a mortgage for your property. Read on to find out why.

With energy prices sky-high and global warming a pressing issue, many homeowners are looking to insulate their homes.

While there are many benefits associated with insulation, one issue you should consider before committing to work at your property relates to a product called polyurethane foam, also known as spray foam. It is power-sprayed in liquid form, often in lofts and walls, where it then expands and sets.

Spray foam has been on the market for decades, and because it is relatively quick to install and can be used in hard-to-reach places, it is in hundreds of thousands of homes in the UK.

However, because of the problems associated with it, many lenders will not approve a mortgage on a property with spray foam (especially in the roof). Let us explain why.

The two most common types of spray foam are:

Closed cell: this is rigid when it sets and has high insulation values. However, because it blocks moisture, it can cause condensation. This can lead to wooden beams decaying.

Open cell: this has a soft and flexible texture when set. It’s less dense than closed cell spray, so you need more of it. However, it is permeable to vapour.

Given the potential for things to go awry, great care is needed during the installation process. However, Alan Milstein, Chairman of the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA), says many spray foam installations are “poorly executed and without proper consideration of moisture management within the property, leaving structural roof timbers at risk of damage or failure.”

As a result, the RPSA’s guidance to surveyors is to “recommend removal of spray foam insulation in every property they visit”.

Issues have also been raised surrounding cold-calling of vulnerable homeowners and mis-selling.

Homeowners left in a tight spot

Often, homeowners are unaware of the problems associated with spray foam until they try to sell up and discover that lenders are unwilling to provide a mortgage for their property.

Their only resort is to remove the spray foam, a process that can cost thousands of pounds – sometimes more than the original installation costs. There’s also a risk that you discover major issues with rotting beams when the foam comes out.

Demands for tighter regulation

The RPSA, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Property Care Association are calling for greater regulation of the spray foam insulation industry. While this is yet to happen, homeowners are warned to never agree to installation at short notice or under duress, and to carefully consider the ramifications on their property’s mortgageability before they act.

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

 

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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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Are You Putting Your Rental Investment at Risk?

rental

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

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 the Property Market Never Stops

property market

You’d be forgiven for adopting a head-in-the-sand approach to current affairs.

Listening to a news bulletin filled with the energy crisis, the war in Ukraine, cost of living surges and political uncertainty are enough to put anyone on a downer.

The clouds of gloom and doom have gathered over the South Devon property market.

“Will there be a house price crash’ is a common feature for many involved in the media to discuss.

Some ‘experts’ are confident we are heading into a property market going bust. But many of these experts have been predicting this for the past decade.

That’s despite (or perhaps because of) the past two years seeing prices increase and more homes sold than ever before in many parts of the UK.

But some more melodramatic commentators have predicted the housing market grinding to a halt.

This won’t happen. The market may slow, but it will not totally stop.

The only time it has totally stopped is for around two weeks post the initial lockdown. However, even after that first fearful fortnight, we started receiving enquiries from people wanting to move.

While the chances of a crash are always possible, never say never, the likelihood is prices may remain stable.

This is mainly because we have a national housing shortage.

Demand drives the property market. So it’s another D to add to the traditional 3Ds.

The 3Ds have been around for as long as people have bought and sold places to call home.

They are:

Death – When someone dies, and their home becomes for sale.

Divorce – When people split up, and property is involved.

Debt – Some people need to sell their home for financial reasons.

But along with demand, the 3Ds are now joined by downsizing.

Older people, in particular, are selling their former family homes to move to smaller and more cost-effective places to run, especially in light of soaring energy bills.

So the 3Ds are now four. But all play a part in keeping people and the market moving.

When reading or listening to the property market doom-mongers, it’s worth remembering this famous quote from the author Mark Twain.

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Call us today for solid advice based on our years of experience selling homes across South Devon.

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BREAKING NEWS – What the Mini Budget Means for Homeowners

stamp duty

A two-minute read.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng outlined his plans for the economy during the ‘mini-budget’ announced this morning.

This included changes to stamp duty, tax cuts and other measures aimed at boosting the nation’s finances.

Here’s what the Chancellor said about stamp duty as reported by leading estate agency news website – Property Industry Eye.

“The government is reforming stamp duty by doubling the level at which people begin paying this from £125,000 to £250,000.

“The government also committed to helping first-time buyers get on the property ladder in two ways. Firstly, by increasing the level first-time buyers start paying stamp duty from £300,000 to £425,000.

“In addition, the government is allowing first-time buyers to access the relief when they buy a property costing less than £625,000 rather than the current £500,000.

“According to the Chancellor, these measures will reduce stamp duty bills across the board for all movers by up to £2,500 with first-time buyers able to access up £11,250 in relief.”

The announcement comes less than 24 hours after the Bank of England raised the interest base rate to 2.25%.

What it Means to Buyers and Sellers

Call us on 01626 365055 to find out more about what the stamp duty changes mean for you.

Thanks for reading.

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The Latest Trends in Garden Gadgets and Accessories

garden

If you’re planning to entertain friends or family at home this summer, check out the latest must-have garden gadgets and accessories. A two-minute read.

Spending time in your own garden, be it pottering around alone or entertaining family and friends, is one of the true joys of summer.

And there’s a host of products on the market to help you make the most of the experience.

Here’s a list of what is proving popular at the moment. 

Garden fireballs – Fire pits were a hit last summer, but this year, it’s all about the fireball. Like a fire pit but spherical, fireballs look striking and keep you warm when the sun goes down. Just be a bit wary if you have young children or pets. 

Pizza oven – Bored with barbequed bangers but still want to cook al fresco? Then invest in an outdoor pizza oven. There’s one to suit every price range, from dinky, portable gas-fired models to built-in woodfired ovens that wouldn’t look out of place in a Napoli pizzeria.

Patio heater – A patio heater will allow you to make the most of your days and nights in the garden. (Let’s face it, this is the UK, so you know the mercury will plummet at some point.) We’re all familiar with the big outdoor heaters you see in pubs (clunky but effective), but many smaller models are available for domestic use. You can choose from free-standing or wall-hanging, gas or electric. Be mindful of those energy bills, though.

Smoke-free barbeque – Enjoy the taste of barbequed food without the smoke or smell (ideal if you live in a built-up area and the neighbours are prone to complaining about smoke wafting into their garden).

Sunken trampoline – Kids love trampolines, but many people find them visually intrusive because of their height and the safety net (which, by the way, is crucial if you want to avoid a visit to A&E). A sunken or in-ground trampoline can be the solution – they’re less impactful visually and safer for the kids. Most people get a company to handle the installation, although you could tackle the job yourself if you’re a confident DIYer (just check you don’t disturb any underground pipework).

From all of us here at Chamberlains, we hope you enjoy the summer.

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Property Shows We Love to Watch

property shows

Hands up if you’ve ever lost a couple of hours sitting on the sofa watching a property show? Whether it’s a 30-minute fix or a full-on binge, programmes about other people’s homes are fascinating.

Entire cable channels are dedicated to home renovations, property sales, flipping houses and so on. We just can’t seem to get enough of them.

In this quick read, we look at some firm favourites and why they’re so good.

  • Homes Under the Hammer (BBC 1)

Daytime TV is like a warm, snuggly blanket. It’s easy watching and seemingly endless. Homes Under the Hammer is just that. You see properties transform from crumbling bricks and fluorescent wallpaper into homes you want to live in.

Gracing our screens since 2003, there are well over 1,000 episodes, which just goes to show that the fantasy of turning a dump into a dream home is one we all relate to.

  • Location, Location, Location (Channel 4)

While some of us tune in to Kirstie and Phil to enjoy their flirty, no-we’re-not-a-couple banter, the rest of us just can’t imagine buying a home without their wise input.

On our screens since 2000, 36 seasons in, and we’re still watching. The journey of unhappy buyer to elated homeowner has proven irresistible and it doesn’t seem like viewers are ready to switch off.

  • A Place in the Sun (Channel 4)

Ever fancied running off to Spain and opening a chip shop in Benidorm? Well, many of the participants in this long-running overseas property show have, and we love to see it. People look for homes all over the world, and they all seem to have sun, sea and dodgy tiling in common. Still going strong after 22 years, it seems that viewers have a never-ending appetite for sun-drenched property hunts.

  • Property Brothers (various channels)

A firm favourite over in the USA, twins Jonathan and Drew Scott help families find their forever homes. The show always seems to be on a random cable channel, and you can’t help but get strangely invested in finding out whether Billy-Jo and Emily-Sue find their dream property (which is always gigantic in comparison to our UK homes).

While one brother helps on the hunt, the other gets the current property ready for sale – no one knows which brother is which, but who cares, their passion for property is infectious.

  • DIY SOS (BBC 1)

Property renovation with a heart, this show is about well-loved homes begging for a much-needed makeover. While many of the changes are made to cater for a family’s needs, this programme combines heart-wrenching stories with good, old-fashioned demos. Amazingly, it’s been on our screens since 1999 (that’s a whole different century).

At Chamberlains, we live, breathe and watch property all the time. So, what’s your favourite property programme? Comment below.

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Why Sellers Should Use High-Quality Property Photos 

property photos

When selling a home, good-quality property photos help you attract more buyers and achieve a higher asking price. What’s not to love? A three-minute read.

One of the golden rules of property selling is not to skimp on photography. And you don’t have to take our word for it – look at the results of a recent survey of home buyers.*

A survey of 1,300 people who had purchased a property within the past six months revealed three critical things:

  • Photography creates a powerful first impression (and we all know first impressions count). 93% of respondents said they formed an opinion of a home based on the imagery.
  • Dodgy photos cost sellers money. 62% of buyers said they’d make an offer below the asking price if the pictures were poor.
  • Good photos generate viewings. 94% of buyers were more inclined to view a property that was marketed with good photos and/or a video tour. Meanwhile, 78% said they’d be less likely to view a property if the photos were howlers.

Why quality pics matter

As most smartphones have decent cameras, you might assume that anyone could grab a few snaps of a property, and no one would be the wiser.

But most prospective buyers are sophisticated social media users and scroll through countless high-quality images online every day.

When buyers see dubious, poorly lit snaps they assume that the seller either doesn’t know what they’re doing or is desperate to offload (both options are likely to prompt a reduced offer).

Conversely, good-quality photos are a sure-fire recipe for attracting higher offers. Property photographers know all the lighting and perspective tricks to ensure a property looks light, bright and welcoming.

But wait, there’s more!

One issue that we’ve noticed in our agency, but didn’t come up in the survey, is that many buyers share the listing of a property with family and close friends before making an offer.

The buyer may be wobbling and want a second opinion or relying on the Bank of Mum and Dad for help with the deposit. So, it goes without saying that you want the images in the listing to be good quality.

We always use high-quality photography here at Chamberlains, as we know it gives sellers the edge. Get in touch with us to learn more about our comprehensive property marketing strategy.

* Survey by Giraffe360.