Selling your home

May is one of the best months to sell your property and over the last few years ways to sell has changed drastically.

Rated High Street Estate Agent

Traditional High street estate agents are the most expensive option to sell your property.  They tend to work on a commission basis and can charge anything from 1-3% of the sold price.  It is important to choose an agent with an excellent reputation for selling properties.

Website only Sale

In return for a flat fee of approx £1,000 (more in London) you receive internet coverage on sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla, as well as a house valuation and guidance through the sale process.  The price is obviously considerably less than using a traditional estate agent and some sites, eg, Yopa allow you to pay your bill upto 6 months after you instruct them to sell your property.

Plus side of using this option is that potential buyers have 24hours access to your property details and they can be amended at any time, not just during office hours.  The downside is that you most probably will need to conduct your own viewings.

A Quick Sale Company

These companies are useful if you need to move promptly or perhaps have a house that may not be mortgageable and most sales can be completed within 4-6 weeks. Realistic you will only be offered approximately 80% of the house’s market value.

It is important that you thoroughly check out the company that you intend to use before entering any kind of agreement with them.  Details to check include an office address, full name of the limited company, directors’ details and affiliation to any professional bodies.  Look for any reviews and ask for written confirmation that the sale is with a genuine cash buying company and that they are not dependant on a mortgage.

Sell it Yourself

This option is the cheapest and leading advertising company Houseweb has packages from £195 to £395 depending on the service you choose.  A seller may also list their property on Rightmove and Zoopla if they wish at an additional cost.

However, if you choose this option there is limited back up if things go wrong, eg, negotiating the price or conveyancing.

Use Social Media

Regardless of whether you decide to use a traditional High Street estate agent or using a house selling site it is incredibly important that you share sales details on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Factors which add value to a house

Schools

High Performing State School – Living near a school with an excellent OFSTED and exam results will make a huge difference when selling your property, especially if the schools have a catchment area. Live near a high-performing state school and you are ahead of the game when it comes to selling your house.

A map produced earlier this year by estate agent Savills showed that properties close to good schools could fetch 25% more than those less well situated. So, even if you don’t have children, watch the exam results of your nearest school like a hawk.

Supermarkets

Most people who have bought or sold property know about the ‘Waitrose effect’. Which is to say that if there is a store nearby, it is one of the first things estate agents mention.

So it was no surprise when a recent Lloyds Bank report put a figure on the Waitrose effect – 12%, or nearly £40,000, on the average property. That’s what you can add to the value if there is a certain supermarket beginning with ‘W’ in the area.

Tidy Garden

Houses with well-maintained gardens sell for more than ones where the garden looks like a jungle in Borneo and one where rats raise families in the shrubbery.

A recent survey by HomeSearch put a figure of 20% on the value which a tidy garden could add to a property.

Market Town

Never mind Waitrose. If you are lucky enough to live in a market town, you are laughing all the way to the bank.

According to research last year by Lloyds, properties in market towns were typically worth £25,000 more, than similar properties in other towns in the area.

Top Restaurants

We have become so obsessed with food, courtesy of TV cookery shows, that a top restaurant can work wonders for the reputation of an area.

Research by the website prime location.com in 2012 showed that, in some areas with Michelin-starred restaurants, property prices were worth 50 per cent more than the regional average.

Hills

You might not like slogging up the hill from the station at the end of the day, but if you live on a hill, your property will probably be worth more — a lot more, if you heed research carried out by Zoopla.

The average price of properties with a ‘hill’ in the address was more than double that of properties on bog-standard ‘streets’.


 

Crescent

Buying a house on a crescent is also a sound investment. Research published last year by Wetherell estate agents found that, in Central London, properties on crescents typically commanded a premium of 40 per cent.

Houses in squares or in a mews also scored well, while those with ‘road’, ‘grove’ or ‘court’ in the address were seen as less desirable.

Trees

This research comes from America, but one would confidently expect similar findings in this country, given our affection for leafy suburbs.

A study in Portland, Oregon, in 2013 found that houses in streets where there were trees between the pavement and the road fetched an average of $7,000 (£4,700) more than houses on tree-less streets.

Sea Views

As you would expect, sea views command a hefty premium — up to 66% in the South-West, according to research by Knight Frank. Estuary views (82%) and harbour views (81%) were even more sought after.

House Name

Research by the website globrix.com in 2011 found that one in 14 people pay a premium for a property with a name rather than a number. A house name can add between 0.5-% in value, according to estimates.

Odd House Number

And, oddest of all,1 Sandy Lane trumps 22 Sandy Lane.

A study by Zoopla found that average odd-numbered houses fetched £538 more than their even counterparts.

The Effect a High Performing State School has on House Prices

 

Research conducted by Lloyds in September 2016 reveals that despite average property prices being £313,318, some parents are prepared to pay £53,000 more so that they may live within the catchment area of one of England’s top 30 state schools; that is a huge 17% price hike.  However, this amount can differ drastically depending on which area you wish to reside, for example, to stand any chance of your child attending Beaconsfield High School in Bucks you will need to pay on average £629,021; that is a staggering 171% more than the average house price in neighbouring areas.

State schools in areas including London, Buckinghamshire, Cheshire, Warwickshire, Kent and Lancashire are all ranked in the Top 10 for 2016   Below is a table detailing the price premium parents need to pay to ensure they live in the much desired school catchment area:

 

School

 

Area

Average 2016 House Price Average House Price in County 2016 (£) Premium to County 2016 £ Premium to County 2016 %
Beaconsfield High School Buckinghamshire £996,212 £367,191 £629,021 171%
The Henrietta Barnett School Barnet £1,011,016 £581,510 £429,506 74%
Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School Buckinghamshire £587,272 £367,191 £220,082 60%
The Tiffin Girls’ School Kingston upon Thames £721,078 £529,066 £192,011 36%
Dr Challoner’s High School Buckinghamshire £535,498 £367,191 £168,308 46%
Altrincham Grammar School for Girls Cheshire £380,847 £229,127 £151,720 66%
Stratford Girls’ Grammar School Warwickshire £344,502 £256,777 £87,725 34%
King Edward VI School Warwickshire £344,502 £256,777 £87,725 34%
The Skinners’ School Kent £394,904 £308,286 £86,618 28%
Clitheroe Royal Grammar School Lancashire £232,694 £153,238 £79,455 52%

 

As you can see the premium can be anything between 28-171%.  However, currently The Skinners’ school do not have a catchment area and accept pupils depending on their 11+ score. Perhaps if they did have a catchment area the premium may be higher.

Unfortunately, the additional cost of living near any of the top state schools may result in a house being out of reach for parents on an average salary.  Although anyone looking for an investment would perhaps be wise to invest in such a property.  The table below details how house prices have increased drastically over the last 5 years.

 

School Postal District Average House Price 2016 Average House Price 2011 Price Change in 5 Years % Change in 5 Years
The Henrietta Barnett School NW11 £1,011,016 £776,630 £234,386 30%
The Tiffin Girls’ School KT2 £721,078 £488,125 £232,953 48%
Beaconsfield High School HP9 £996,212 £767,383 £228,829 30%
Newstead Wood School BR6 £509,385 £348,902 £160,482 46%
Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School SL7 £587,272 £476,545 £110,727 23%
Sutton Grammar School SM1 £336,412 £227,980 £108,432 48%
The Skinners’ School TN4 £394,904 £290,501 £104,403 36%
Wilson’s School SM6 £355,046 £257,659 £97,387 38%
Wallington County Grammar School SM6 £355,046 £257,659 £97,387 38%
Dr Challoner’s High School HP7 £535,498 £441,998 £93,501 21%
Top thirty State Schools average £366, 744 £290,683 £76,061 26%
Please note that the top 30 schools may change annually and so the 5 year price comparison will not be the same as 2016 schools.

 

However, there is a little light at the end of the tunnel for parents unable to afford these properties. In the March 2017 Budget, the Chancellor announced the opening of a further 110 new free schools on top of the 500 committed to in the last Parliament. It would seem that this can only add to the momentum for new grammar schools given the potential for selection in free schools and the government’s intention to lift the ban on grammar schools.

Five Facts About Norway

Norway is a country known for its beautiful landscapes, good quality of life and for being one of the best places in the world to live. Before moving to any country, it is important to know more about what makes it unique and this article aims to introduce you to the distinct Norwegian way of life. Of course apart from doing your research, moving your belongings will also be a significant part of your plans and companies such as Compass Moving Services can help you make your transition as smooth as possible.

Efficiency

Norwegian people live a very modern and disciplined lifestyle. Because of that, they are accustomed to being efficient and self-serving. Norway is slowly making a transition to becoming a cash free country wherein debit and credit cards are slowly being integrated into the system, making for easier transactions and payments. Very rarely will you find receptionists in Norway because the people are aware of how to conduct themselves and wait patiently.

Education

Norwegians give a very high importance and value to education. Education is free in Norway and everyone entitled to it. Children in Norway are encouraged to pursue their studies in any field that they desire, with the government giving them all the support and aid that they may require.

Taxes

Taxes in Norway take up at least 28 per cent of an average Norwegian’s salary. That is a lot of tax. Norwegians tax almost everything which is one of the reasons why it is considered to be one of the most expensive places to live in. The high cost of living obviously reflects in a positive light for Norwegians because they have an outstanding quality of life. Norway also has an impressive health care system and a pension system for the elderly that is the envy of the world. Coming from another European country, the 25% value added tax and 14% on food and beverages might be a little steep for you but it is all worth it.

Language

Most Norwegians can converse properly in English. However, like for moving in any country that has English as their second language, it is always best practice to learn the national language and fully immerse yourself in the society. This way it will be easier for you to adjust and have a grasp of what is going on around you. Knowing the language will also help strengthen your sense of belonging. It is not mandatory to learn Norwegian in order to survive in Norway though, unless if you plan to work, businesses conduct their affairs in Norwegian.

Holidays

Norwegians take their holidays very seriously. Employees would normally get at least five weeks of paid leave every year. Norwegians have even stagger the holiday sessions in schools in order to make sure that the ski resorts in Norway will be able to accommodate everyone who are visiting without being too cramped or crowded. Apart from winter holidays, Norwegians also take long holidays during the summers.

A Swedish Christmas

St Lucia’s Day

Christmas in Sweden is much more than just Santa arriving on Christmas Eve to leave presents for anyone who has been good.  Christmas celebrations begin on 13 December with St Lucia’s Day.  This celebration originates from stories told by monks who first brought Christianity to the region.

St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred and killed for her faith, in 304. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means ‘light’ so this is a very appropriate name.

The Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, also falls on 13 December and this pagan festival of light is also incorporated into St Lucia’s Day.

St. Lucia’s Day, a festival celebrated since the late 1700’s is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash round her waist and a crown made of evergreen lingonberry branches, symbolising new life in winter and incorporating candles.  A young girl is chosen to play St Lucia in schools, villages, towns and even nationally.  The national St Lucia visits hospitals singing songs about St Lucia and handing out ginger snap biscuits called ‘Pepparkakor’.  Other girls dress up as  ‘tärnor’ (like Lucia but without the candles) and boys may dress up as ‘Stjärngossar’ (star boys).

Food is also important on St Lucia’s day and for breakfast a popular food to be eaten are ‘Lussekatts’,  buns flavoured with saffron and dotted with raisins.

 

Christmas Trees and Decorations

A few days before Christmas, Swedes ventured out to find the perfect tree.  This is taken very seriously since it is the very symbol of Christmas and the tree must be densely and evenly branched, and most importantly, straight!  Even though Sweden has an abundance of fir trees in the forests, it is illegal to go and chop down one yourself.

Trees are decorated according to family tradition. Some are bedecked with flags, others with tinsel and many with coloured baubles. Electric lights are usually preferred to candles on the tree because of the risk of fire.  Decorations made from straw are also very popular since the straw reminds them that Jesus was born in a manger.

Homes are also decorated with wall hangings depicting brownies and winter scenes, with tablecloths in Christmas patterns, and with candlesticks, little Father Christmas figures and angels. The smell of hyacinths fill the house.

While the commercial decorations are there for a specific purpose, they also have a wider effect − they keep the dark at bay. Throughout the country, Swedes help by putting electrical candlesticks in their windows and arranging lights on a Christmas tree, or any other tree for that matter ,in the garden.

Christmas Eve

Like the rest of the world  Christmas Eve is also very important in Sweden and the main meal, or rather the feast, of the festivities is eaten. The meal is often a ‘julbord’ which is a buffet, eaten at lunchtime. The julbord consists of cold fish eg, herring (served in many different ways), gravlax (salmon which has been cured in sugar, salt and dill) and smoked salmon. Cold meats, including turkey, roast beef and ‘julskinka’ (a Christmas ham); cheeses, liver pate, salads, pickles and different types of bread and butter (or mayonnaise) are eaten too. There will also be warm savoury foods including meatballs, ‘prinskorv’ (sausages), ‘koldomar’ (meat stuffed cabbage rolls), jellied pigs’ feet, lutfisk (a dried cod served with a thick white sauce) and ‘revbenspjäll’ (oven-roasted pork ribs). Vegetables such as potatoes and red cabbage will also be served. Another potato dish is ‘Janssons Frestelse’ (matchstick potatoes layered with cream, onion and anchovies that is baked to a golden brown). There’s also ‘dopp i grytan’ which is bread that is dipped in the broth and juices that are left over after boiling the ham. The desert, if there is any more room for food, tends to consist of a selection of sweet pastries, some more pepparkakor biscuits and some home made sweets. A sweet mulled wine known as ‘glogg’ accompanies the food.

Every year, since 1959, at 3.00pm on Christmas Eve, the TV stations show Donald Duck cartoons TV1 shows the Disney special “From All of Us to All of You” or in Swedish it’s “Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul” meaning “Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas.” This is rather popular and approximately 40 to 50% of the Swedes watch it.

Presents are normally exchanged on the evening of Christmas Eve due to the fact that people often go to Church early on Christmas morning. In Sweden, presents may  be brought by Santa called ‘Jultomten’ or by gnomes/elves called ‘Nissar’ or ‘Tomte’. If anyone is peckish there is another dish that is generally eaten whilst exchanging gifts;  more food that can  ‘risgrynsgröt’ (rice porridge that’s eaten with ‘hallonsylt’ [raspberry jam] or sprinkled with some cinnamon)

 

End of Christmas Period

The end of Christmas celebrations end on January 13th (twenty days after Christmas) which is called ‘Tjugondag Knut’ (Twentieth Day Knut) or ‘Tjugondag jul’ (Twentieth Day Yule) and is named after a Danish prince called Canute Lavard. On Tjugondag Knut it’s traditional that the christmas Tree is taken down and and left over cookies and sweets are eaten!

In Swedish Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘God Jul’. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.Swedish Christmas – the origins

 

Compass Moving Services offer a regular removals service to and from Sweden.

 

Seven Top Tips to Celebrate a Swedish Christmas

 

  1. Put lights in your window
    Unlike other countries, Swedish people are very reserved when it comes to Christmas adornments.  Rather than having extravagant decorations, Swedish people do just enough to make things feel extra warm and cosy.  So if you want to celebrate like a Swede this Christmas, put some festal lights in your windows.  It will be equally as enjoyable for you as for all the people that walk by.

 

  1. Build a gingerbread house
    Swedish people are a crafty bunch who love to create things themselves, especially around Christmas.  Along with making many of their own decorations, Swedes love to make gingerbread houses.  Children and adults alike enjoy this activity, and can be very ambitious when it comes to designing and embellishing their edible masterpieces.

 

  1. Drink some mulled wine
    On a cold winter’s day, there is nothing better than burrowing down on the sofa with a warm mug of mulled wine (glögg).  Glögg is made from mixing port wine, orange peel, sugar, and spices such as clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.  In Sweden, it is popular to drink glögg together with raisins and roasted almonds.  It can be consumed both hot and cold, and non-alcoholic versions are available.

 

  1. Find the perfect Christmas tree
    Just like glögg, having the scent of fresh pine in your home is another wonderful smell to associate with Christmas.  As 67% of Sweden is covered by forest, it is no surprise that Swedish people love to place gifts under a real, living Christmas tree.

 

  1. Watch a Lucia concert

Celebrating Lucia is one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, and has clear references to darkness and light, cold and warmth.  Students are welcome to attend SLU’s Lucia procession, where they can sit back as the lights are dimmed, and hear the angelic sound of singing voices approaching.

 

  1. Enjoy a Christmas buffet
    No Swedish-style Christmas is complete without a traditional Christmas buffet (julbord).   Although this feast should be eaten on Christmas Eve, you can often find restaurants serving a Swedish julbord throughout the month of December.

 

  1. Watch the Christmas cartoon
    One of the most unique Christmas traditions in Sweden is watching Donald Duck (Kalle Anka) on Christmas Eve.

 

Finally wish everyone ‘God Jul’, Swedish for Merry Christmas!

 

 

Home Movers ‘Coming In Over Budget’

After you’ve sorted out Dartford removals services to help you move house, you need to make sure that you’ve budgeted for everything and considered all aspects of relocating that you may have to pay for.

According to new research from MoneySuperMarket, 39 per cent of people who recently moved home paid out on average an additional £5,000 on top of what they thought they’d spend, so you clearly do need to give the matter some thought.

The hidden costs of moving home if you’re buying a new property include stamp duty, surveying fees, valuations, legal costs, the mortgage lender’s fee, extra fittings and fixtures you may want to include and insurance.

It’s essential that you have a good look around a prospective new property before you exchange contracts so there are no new nasty surprises, so don’t be afraid to really go through the house with a fine toothcomb. Unexpected repairs can be costly and you don’t want to be caught out.

“Moving house doesn’t have to be a completely arduous process. Being as prepared as possible will help ease the angst. It’s important to consider all costs involved so you aren’t hit with an unexpected bill at any point,” consumer expert with MoneySuperMarket Dan Plant said.

He advised people to come up with a timeline and checklist to help with the relocation and house-buying process to help relieve any pressure on your health, job or relationship. The study found that 55 per cent thought moving out was more stressful than anticipated, so it makes sense to be as prepared as possible.

Mindfulness Techniques For Moving House

They say that getting divorced and moving house are two of the most stressful things that anyone can go through – but there are ways you can help yourself when sorting out removals to Belgium or elsewhere.

You may have heard of mindfulness in passing before. It’s one of the new buzzwords for health and wellbeing that have been bandied about for the last couple of months. Quite simply, it’s a way of anchoring yourself to the present moment so that whatever is worrying you or stressing you out is cleared from your mind, allowing you to relax and reduce any feelings of anger, anxiety and so on.

There are a number of techniques you can employ to help you focus on the present a lot more and, rather like yoga, a lot of them come down to your breath and breathing exercises.

If you feel as though moving day is starting to get on top of you a little, why don’t you do a simple one-minute breathing exercise by breathing in and out slowly and holding your breath for the count of six. Breathe out slowly and as your mind wanders (which it naturally will) just bring your focus back to your breath.

Think about how it feels going in through your nose and the rise and fall of your chest as you do it. You’ll soon find that you’ve calmed down and are better able to tackle the problems that lie ahead of you. It’s true what they say – worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere. Mindfulness can really help you tackle life head on.

5 Essential Tips For Relocating Abroad

Whether you need assistance with removals to America, Australia or China, there will always be one constant – you need to be as prepared as possible. Relocating abroad can be a very stressful and difficult time, not to mention an emotional one, so knowing what needs to be done when and where can really help lighten the load. Here’s what you might want to consider before you leave.

Local laws & customs

Make sure that you know as much about your destination country as possible before you arrive. Read up on all the local customs and regulations so you don’t get caught out early on and so there aren’t any nasty surprises.

Healthcare

You’ll find that there are different rules for accessing healthcare overseas than in the UK so make sure that you’ve got adequate health insurance in place until you’ve registered when you reach your new home.

Notify the UK government

You’ll need to make sure that you’ve told organisations like HMRC, the Social Security Office and the Department of Work and Pensions that you’re relocating, as well as your local GP.

Tax

Make sure as well that you’ve read up on the different taxes that will apply to you once you’ve moved, as well as those back in the UK so you don’t get caught out.

Pets

You may want to bring Fido or Tinkerbell with  you so make sure that your pet is microchipped and immunised at least 21 days before you’re due to set off. Discuss travel arrangements with a professional transportation company as well so you know what you’ll need to do to ensure your pet’s safe journey to their new home.

How To Save Money When Moving House

Moving house is not an easy or cheap thing to do by any means, but by investing the right places and making savings in others, you’ll find it’s more than affordable. First thing’s first – for your time and your sanity, spending on the best removals Bromley has to offer is very much recommended.

According to research from April this year, the average cost of moving house has leapt up by almost 59 per cent in the last ten years. Movers will have to fork out another £11,894 on average to cover moving costs according to research from the Post Office, reported by the Telegraph. So where’s the best place to start saving?

To encourage movement in the property market, some mortgage lenders are also offering deals that incorporate stamp duty – a fee that on average makes up £3,620 of the cost of moving. However, in the long run, you may have to pay interest on this fee, so it’s up to you to weigh up the upfront cost against potentially paying back more over time.

With estate agent fees being the biggest chunk of the cost for moving home, averaging charges of £5,214, it’s certainly worth your while in shopping around for the best deal. Even small variations could translate into big savings.

Or for a more practical idea to help bring fees down – why not use the moving experience as a good way to declutter your home? Selling furniture and possessions you no longer need can raise some key capital that’ll ease the upfront costs of bills to move house.

Help To Buy ISAS Available In December

If you were keen to make plans to move from rented accommodation into your first home through the Help To Buy scheme, there’s no rush to call on the best removals Chislehurst has to offer, as the scheme has already been extended for four more years – now ending in 2020, instead of 2016.

However, in his emergency summer budget, Chancellor George Osbourne also gave a firm date for the launch of Help To Buy ISAs, now set to become available in December 2015. These ISAs will offer those who aspire to own their own home a £50 bonus from the government for every £200 saved in the account, up to a maximum of £3,000 on £12,000.

This equates to a 25 per cent boost to your savings, almost equivalent to making the savings with your pre-tax salary. And while, the ISAs aren’t due to come into effect until December, savers can kick start their saving with an initial sum of £1,000 now.

In his speech, George Osbourne re-iterated the government’s commitment to seeing more people get on the property ladder. “This is a government that is unwavering in its support for home ownership,” he said. Other measures to encourage home ownership came in the form of levelling the playing field between buy-to-let landlords and the rest of the market and continuing to offer council house residents the right to buy their properties.

However, one thing to consider if you’re interested in Help To Buy ISAs is that you can’t pay into a cash ISA in the same tax year, so if you’ve contributed to one, or opened one, since April 2015, you’ll have to wait until April 2016 to take up this offer.