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The Boring Gift Guide You Never Knew You Needed

The Boring Gift Guide You Never Knew You Needed

With the kids safely back at school and the days getting a little bit cooler, can you hear those jingling bells? It might be the end of summer, but get ready because Christmas is coming!

With Santa tucked away in his grotto for the next few months, you might (if you’re ridiculously organised) be thinking about what presents to buy your loved ones, or (if you’re sensible) ways to save some money on those energy bills.

Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered. In this quick read, we look at some of the best money-saving gadgets to make life easier. They might not be the most exciting gifts, but at least they’re sensible.

Electric heaters

Did your energy bills scare the daylights out of you last winter? Were you super stingy with your heating and force everyone to wear an extra jumper? This year, you can try and claw some of those costs back by investing in an electric heater. There are loads on the market with reviews aplenty. So, whether you’ve got a huge lounge you need to heat or want something more portable, there’s an electric heater out there for everyone.

Whilst electricity has gone up in price, it’s still cheaper than gas, meaning electric heaters are more cost-efficient and are better for the environment.

Heated clothes dryer

Whatever the weather, one thing’s for sure, there will always be a pile of laundry that needs to be done. With the winter months rolling in, hanging those pants outside won’t be an option, so back away from the tumble dryer and get yourself a heated clothes rack.

It’s not sexy, but it will make your clothes feel toasty and help dry those fluffy towels quicker than a normal rack. Starting from around £40, heated clothes rails are cheaper to run than a tumble dryer and can be stored away when not in use. Make sure you buy one that suits your space as they come in a range of sizes.

Magnetic key holders

How many times a day do you lose your keys? You need to invest in a magnetic key holder. Starting at around £5.99, this great gadget sticks to your wall with self-adhesive and holds onto your keys so you always know where they are (unless you forget you’ve got one, then you’re on your own).

Home office helpers

All of us know at least one person who works from home, so choose a gift to make their home office/dining table more work-friendly. You can get smart mugs to ensure their coffee never gets cold, spec stands so they never lose their glasses, or a task timer to help them focus. All these items are available online and are relatively inexpensive.

What’s the most sensible gadget you’ve ever received?

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The Best Time to List Your Home When You’re Looking to Move

The Best Time to List Your Home When You’re Looking to Move

If your dreams of buying a new home rely on the sale of your existing property, then there’s one fundamental question you need to answer.

Are you going to look for a new home first and then list your property – or do things the other way around?

While both scenarios can work out in the end, we think one option is far more favourable – and that’s getting your current property on the market first.

Here are four reasons why.

Show you’re a deal-maker, not a time-waster

Competition is strong for the best properties, so sellers can afford to be choosy. If multiple offers are on the table, a buyer who has already listed their property (and is clearly motivated) is a more appealing prospect than one who hasn’t.

It could save you money

Listing your property first puts you in a stronger negotiating position. If a seller wants a quick deal (perhaps they’ve fallen in love with another property and need to move fast), they may be more flexible on price if they think you can move swiftly.

Streamline the process

Once you have an offer accepted on a property, it will be all systems go with surveyors, lawyers and lenders. But if you haven’t listed your home, you’ll also need to get cracking on this front (by decluttering, tackling any DIY and choosing an agent). Juggling all these tasks at the same time can be stressful and time-consuming – but there is an easier way. To avoid having a multi-tasking meltdown, get all your ducks in a row with your property sale first.

Less chance of losing your dream home

One of the most common reasons property chains collapse is that one party grows impatient. So even if a seller accepts your offer on the understanding you still have to list your home, they may get frustrated if progress is slow – and pull the plug. You could miss out on your dream home because you started the process on the back foot and just can’t move quickly enough.

If you’d like a free property valuation, contact us here at Chamberlains today.



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How to Be a Pet-Friendly Landlord in South Devon

How to Be a Pet-Friendly Landlord in South Devon

If you’re a landlord looking to attract long-term tenants, it’s worth thinking about ways to make your investment property as appealing as possible.

And one area you may have overlooked is the army of British pet owners who need a rental property, and want to make their furry friends as comfy as possible.

Unfortunately, over the years, many landlords have been known to refuse pet owners, perhaps due to worries about damage or general unsuitability for a property.

Many pet owners tend to stay put in a rental as it can be difficult to find somewhere suitable. This is a huge plus for busy landlords, reducing the workload of finding new tenants and starting all over again every 12 months.

And with rental reforms on the horizon, now is the time to consider opening your rental investment to responsible pet owners.

In this quick read, we look at ways to make your rental property pet-friendly and attract loyal, responsible pet lovers.

Worried about damage?

Most pet owners will go the extra mile to make sure their animal doesn’t cause damage, but if it’s something you’re really concerned about, you could add a pet clause into your tenancy agreement. This could state that any damage caused by the pet is the tenant’s responsibility and that the property must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of a tenancy period. Speak to your agent to discuss the details of your tenancy agreement.


If you’re having an investment property redecorated or renovated, plan ahead and minimise the potential for damage. Instead of carpets, consider laminate, wood or tiled flooring. These options are easier to keep clean and won’t trap pet hairs or odours.


If you’re offering tenants a furnished property, avoid light-coloured sofas and chairs to reduce the chance of stains. Consider wipeable fabrics such as leather to make sure furnishings can be kept clean. The same applies to curtains or blinds, as muddy paws and light fabrics definitely don’t mix!

Secure the garden

If your property offers outside space, make this a pet haven by securing the fences and/or gate so they can’t get out. Also, remove any plants that could be hazardous to cats and dogs. For a full list of plants and flowers that could cause problems, click here.


You can further pet-proof your rental property by taking out landlord insurance. Make sure you check if the policy includes accidental pet damage as not all do.

If you want to make your rental property pet-friendly, speak to the lettings team at Chamberlains to find out what tenants are looking for.

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Property Negotiations: Tips to Help You Seal a Successful Deal

Property Negotiations: Tips to Help You Seal a Successful Deal

When it comes to preparing for a property sale, most sellers focus on the early stage of the process: sprucing up their home and choosing an agent to manage the marketing.

But there’s another element to nailing a successful property deal that gets less attention but is just as critical: negotiating the sale.

How do you know when to accept an offer and when to hold out for more? And what should your strategy be if you have more than one offer on the table?

With such large sums of money at stake, making decisions in the heat of the moment can be stressful, so it’s helpful to work with an experienced estate agent.

A top agent will have negotiated countless deals throughout their career and be able to advise you on the best steps to take.

Here’s an explainer of what it takes to negotiate a good deal to help you choose the right agent to manage your sale.

  • Get the asking price right. If your property is overvalued, you’ll be starting negotiations on the back foot. Savvy buyers won’t be fooled, meaning you’ll either have to backtrack on price or leave the property stuck on the market. An overvalued property is also less likely to attract multiple offers (that generate a bidding war).
  • Understand the local market. It’s crucial to know what similar properties in your area are currently selling for so you can gauge the competition.
  • Learn as much as you can about the buyer. Understanding a buyer’s motivation for moving and the timescale they’re working to is important. That way, you can judge the seriousness of their offer and if they have room to move on price.
  • Stay calm.Don’t let your emotions rule your decision-making. Stay cool-headed and don’t take the negotiation process personally.
  • Don’t focus solely on the numbers.Yes, you want to secure a good price, but if you have multiple offers, going with the buyer who can move according to your timeframe could save you in the long run. If you’ve already paid for a survey and legal fees for your next property, having your chain collapse could leave you out of pocket.
  • Stay positive.You may experience ups and downs on your property journey but keep the faith. You’ll get there.

For a free property valuation, contact us here at Chamberlains today.


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The Golden Rules of Setting Your Monthly Rent

The Golden Rules of Setting Your Monthly Rent

If you’re a first-time landlord about to rent out a property, or an established landlord looking to purchase a new investment, one of the main questions you’ll have is how much rent you can charge per month.

Of course, you can (and should) take the advice of your agent, but it’s also worth understanding exactly what factors impact the amount of rent you can sensibly charge.

In this quick read, we explore the factors you need to consider before pricing your rental property.


The first thing to look for is properties that are similar to yours. What rents are they achieving? It’s important to look at the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, accessibility and outside space to make a proper comparison. Once you’ve got a basic idea, you can think about why you might be able to charge more (or less).

What’s your USP?

Think about what makes your property different. Is there a driveway or gated parking? How big is the garden? Is it newly renovated? Do you have a functional space such as a home office or gym area? If it’s a flat, is there a lift or balcony? Picking out the features that add value to a property will often reflect the amount of rent you can charge.

Surrounding area

An important factor for most tenants is how close a property is to amenities such as shops, supermarkets, transport connections and schools. You may be able to charge a higher monthly rent if a property is well-connected and close to places people may need daily.

Monthly costs

Keep your costs in mind. How much are your monthly expenses? There’s your mortgage, service charge and/or ground rent (for flats), insurance and potential maintenance costs to consider.

Most landlords take a long-term approach to investing. If your rent covers your costs and you still make a small profit, then you’ve got yourself a good investment.

Don’t get greedy – charging over and above the average local rental prices won’t get you very far, and you may be stuck with a vacant property.

Agents’ expertise

It’s always a good idea to take the advice of your letting agent. Not only do they know the area, but they know what tenants want, expect and – more importantly – what they’d be willing to pay for a property like yours.

There are multiple factors that impact the amount of rent you can charge. Speak to our team at Chamberlains if you’ve got a rental property and need new tenants.






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Why It’s Time for a Digital Declutter

digital declutter

Is your inbox clogged with emails that you never find time to read?

Does scrolling through social media leave you fizzing with rage or grappling with imposter syndrome?

Or are you bombarded by the relentless ping of WhatsApp notifications, news updates and promo offers from fast-food delivery firms?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it’s time for a digital declutter.

Take the concept of a spring-clean (a chance to turf out unwanted items and free up space) and apply it to your virtual world.

By following the steps below, you can achieve two things:

  • Improve your outlook. Just as clutter in your living environment can distract and overwhelm you, a messy, disorganised digital landscape can negatively impact your mental health.
  • Boost the performance of devices that are sluggish or have poor battery life.

Here are some easy ways to kickstart your digital declutter.

  • Streamline your inbox by unsubscribing from newsletters you never open or retailers that bombard you with marketing emails.
  • Cull the number of groups and individuals you follow on social media. If the posts they share aren’t relevant or useful, or make you feel anxious, irritated or exhausted, take action.
  • Delete unnecessary apps from your phone, tablet or laptop. If you haven’t used them in months, uninstall them, as they’re only slowing down the performance of your device.
  • Review your photos. If you’re a keen snapper, there are probably hundreds if not thousands of pictures on your phone – and not all of them good ones. Delete the double-ups and blurry shots, group the rest into albums, and store them in the cloud.
  • Turn off unnecessary notifications so you’re not constantly distracted by trivial updates or reminders.
  • Disable Location Services. Review the apps with which you’ve agreed to share your location. Unless it’s vital for the app’s function, turn Location Services off in settings (as having it on can drain your phone’s battery).
  • If your laptop takes ages to power up, check how many apps automatically launch when you start your machine. While you need antivirus software to start up automatically, there are probably lots of other programmes that you don’t use every day that are powering up unnecessarily (slowing your computer down). Go to the Startup Apps section in your settings and adjust accordingly.
  • Bin files that you no longer need. Arrange the rest in folders – don’t leave them in a random mess on your desktop.
  • Go into your downloads file and have a good clear-out.

From all of us here at Chamberlains, good luck with your digital declutter!




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What Is Next-Door Syndrome and Could It Affect Your Property Sale?

What Is Next-Door Syndrome and Could It Affect Your Property Sale?

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been a nosy neighbour at some point, haven’t we?

A ‘for sale’ sign goes up on a property in your street, and within minutes you’re online to find out what it’s on the market for.

Soon enough, you’re marvelling or shuddering at your neighbour’s taste in décor and deciding that your home is bigger, smaller, smarter or scruffier than theirs.

There’s nothing wrong with this; in fact, if you plan to sell up yourself, it’s useful market research. But it’s also important to keep things in perspective, or you could develop what is known in the property industry as Next-Door Syndrome.

This term refers to a seller whose price expectations are based solely on what their neighbour’s property sold for. (Usually, people think their home is worth at least as much as their neighbour’s, or a bit more.)

While knowing what other properties in your area achieve at sale is helpful, it’s important to look at the whole picture. Other things to consider include:

  • Square footage. Is your neighbour’s property the same size as yours?
  • Selling price. You probably saw the asking price when you did your online snooping, but your neighbour may have had to accept a price reduction.
  • Completion time. Sometimes, it takes half a year to complete a deal, so the price may have been agreed six months earlier when the property market was in a different place.

The impact of Next-Door Syndrome

Focusing too much on your neighbour’s property deal instead of what’s best for you in the current market could mean you get your pricing strategy wrong and prolong the whole sales process.

The risk is you overprice your property and deter savvy buyers. After months of lacklustre interest, you’ll have to drop the price.

Valuation strategy

When you get three agents around to look at your property, don’t take their valuations at face value. Ask them how they reached their conclusions.

A good agent will welcome the opportunity to explain their calculation and the different data sets used to determine a property’s value.

Also, be aware that some agents deliberately overvalue a property just to win business.

Once they’ve secured the listing, they’ll quickly suggest a price reduction.

Go for an agent who is ambitious but honest. Selling a property is a huge undertaking, and it’s important that you trust your sales team.

For a free valuation, contact us here at Chamberlains today.









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Preparing for the end of a tenancy

Preparing for the end of a tenancy

As a landlord, one of your main goals is to make sure your property is tenanted. As soon as the old tenants decide they’re moving on, it’s time to find new renters to move in.

But while you’ll be keen for a quick turnaround, it’s also important that things are done properly (cutting corners will cause you problems in the long run).

Not only will you want to end the initial tenancy correctly, but you’ll also want to start the next one off on the right foot.

In this quick read, we look at how to ensure your tenant changeover goes smoothly.

Communicate with tenants

Before your tenants move out, get in touch and go over what their responsibilities are, as set out in the original tenancy agreement. It’s also an opportunity for tenants to ask about the return of their deposit and giving the keys back. Getting these details sorted beforehand helps move things along.

Be organised

Managing the turnaround is quite a juggling act, so you’ll need to be organised, proactive and thorough with your admin.

For the outgoing tenancy, you’ll need a check-out inspection, meter readings and to release the deposit. For the new tenancy, you’ll need to ensure the paperwork is up to date, prepare an inventory and conduct a check-in report.

Then of course, you’ll need to manage the work in between: cleaning, repairs and redecoration.

It’s a lot to keep track of, so make sure all the important dates are in your diary, and all the paperwork is properly filed.

Check-in and check-out reports

Whether you do this yourself or get an expert, such as a letting agent, to do it for you, this is a vital part of the process that should not be skipped.

During the check-in process, your tenants should have signed an inventory; this report is an important resource for you as a landlord, especially if there are concerns about damage and/or deposit deductions.

The reports can be used as evidence if disputes arise and to record important information, such as a forwarding address and meter readings.

Give yourself enough time

You might be tempted to move new tenants in as soon as the old ones have moved out. But it’s advisable to leave a few days (or at least a week) in between just in case the property needs to be professionally cleaned and/or repairs need to be carried out.

It’s not fair on the new tenants to move into somewhere that still needs work. Also, if you live far from the property and want to inspect it, you’ll need at least a day to do so.

Use a letting agent

Many landlords use an experienced letting agent to make the turnaround process run more smoothly. From finding tenants, to a fully managed service that covers all the bases, a letting agent can ease the pressure and carry much of the administrative burden.

Find out more about our property management services and how we can help you by getting in touch with us here at Chamberlains today.




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From Sepia to Selfies – How Photography Has Changed Over the Years

From Sepia to Selfies – How Photography Has Changed Over the Years

As it’s World Photography Day tomorrow (19 August), we look at how the camera and its role in society has changed over the past 200 years.

Brits do it five times a day, while Americans manage it 20 times a day.*

Yes, taking a photograph has become second nature for many of us who snap our pets, holiday destinations, dinner or ourselves without a second thought.

Across the world, people take a dizzying 1.81 trillion photos annually and share 1.3 billion photos on Instagram and 6.9 billion on WhatsApp daily.**

This is thanks to the high-spec cameras in our phones that mean we can easily capture all of life’s significant (and mundane) moments and share them in seconds.

It’s all a stark contrast to what the pioneers of photography went through in the 1800s. Back then, taking a single image took hours, required specialist equipment and involved handling toxic chemicals such as mercury.

A major breakthrough came on 19 August 1839, when Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre revealed the secrets of his revolutionary image-making process to the world. The move introduced photography to the masses and put many portrait painters out of business.

Later came the roll-film Kodak camera (1888), the box Brownie (1900), the Polaroid (1948) and the digital camera (first sold commercially in 1987).

And then, in 1999, the digital camera was incorporated into the mobile phone – a development that revolutionised how we see the world.

As a result, our hunger for imagery has never been stronger, and we expect it to be high quality.

Gone are the days when we’ll excuse a grainy, out-of-focus photograph. This is worth bearing in mind if you plan to market a property; good lighting and careful positioning can make all the difference.

We’d love to see some of your best snaps. Whether it’s a brilliant landscape or a photo of your beloved pet, share them with us on social media at

Here at Chamberlains, we take photography seriously, which is why we invest time and care into getting high-quality photographs to market properties. To learn more, read our recently published guide to property photography.

* Source: Phototutorial

** Source: Phototutorial





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Why Good Property Photos Are an Essential Step in the Sales Process

Why Good Property Photos Are an Essential Step in the Sales Process

It’s often said that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but then (confusingly), it’s also said that first impressions count… Why are all these clichés so important? Well, when marketing a property, it’s a bit of both: how a property looks will catch a buyer’s eye before they pore over the finer details.

Photos of your property are what hooks the buyer, what drives them to pick up the phone to arrange a viewing, and what helps them imagine living in your home. So, property photography is an essential part of the selling process.

In this quick read, we look at how to prepare your home for photographs and what to expect.

Tidy up

If you know your agent or a professional photographer is coming round, your first move should be a tidy-up. Clear those counters, pack away the clutter, make the bed and give the floors a quick vacuum. Photos of a messy, cluttered home aren’t going to entice buyers. But a sparkling clean and desirable property will.

Quick makeover

Just before you take a selfie, you might give your hair a quick pat down, check your teeth for bits of food and put on your best smile. Well, the same applies to your property. A superficial makeover can make the world of difference to property pics. Open the curtains and let the light in, add some fresh flowers to your coffee table and make sure the dog bed isn’t in the middle of the room.

You might even consider moving the furniture to create more space and putting away all the bottles of shampoo and conditioner that are lined up along the bath.

Don’t be offended

Some property photographers might come in and move things around. They probably won’t start rearranging your sofa and chairs, but they may angle furniture to make a room look bigger or clear a kitchen island of any dishes or piled-up post to get a clear shot.

There’s no need to get offended or upset by these little adjustments – after all, they know what sells and are working with you to achieve the best look for your home.

Whilst not all estate agents use professional photographers, you can bet that even if it’s someone with a smartphone snapping away, they’ll know how to make your house or flat look its best. Give them a helping hand by making sure they’ve got a clear and clutter-free space to take pics of.

If you’re looking to sell your home, get in touch with Chamberlains today. We’ll help get the best photos to achieve your asking price.