01932 221 331
38 High Street, Walton on Thames
01932 221 331
38 High Street, Walton on Thames
Walton on Thames

Could living near water be the secret to happiness?

We have had a wet few days, so you may be sick of the sight of water in Surrey. The
restorative benefits of nature has been wildly spoken about, even your local GP in the High Peak has
the option to prescribe spending time in the outdoors to support patient well-being. This is nothing
new: the Victorians used to take the sea air as a treatment for melancholy, and for centuries, the
French spent time in natural springs to treat ailments. Spending time near green spaces is commonly
known to be beneficial for your mental health; now, new studies highlight that living near water
could be the secret to happiness.

Blue spaces

From the sound of rain whilst you’re snug and warm, watching a stream dancing down the
countryside, waves gently lapping at the shore, to a water fountain creating a relaxing environment
in your garden. You don’t have to be physically close to the ocean to gain the benefits of blue spaces
– urban water, such as rivers, canals, fountains and pools, counts as well, and even just listening to
or watching videos of water can have the same effect.



Scientific Reports published a study in 2021 which had surveyed people in 18 countries. They
explored the association of natural settings with mental health. They found that people who lived in
‘greener/coastal neighbourhoods reported higher positive well-being,’ and particularly those that
frequently visited blue spaces expressed lower mental distress and, overall, a better well-being.
Nature is in no way a substitute for medication or therapy, but it can surprisingly help us to feel

In his book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science that Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water
Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, More Connected and Better at What You Do, marine biologist
Wallace J. Nichols states that when we are near water: “Your creativity is going up, your stress
hormones are going down, your ideas are expanding, your sense of yourself, you can hear yourself
breathe, you’re connecting with the water.” He calls this ‘Blue Mind’.

The benefits

There are several ways that being in or close to water can benefit your mental well-being. Being
around water creates a sense of awe, expanding our minds a little and giving us a sense of
something greater then ourselves. If you have ever sat and watched the waves, you may have
experienced a soothing of your senses. It isn’t just the sight of the waves, but the sound of them
crashing, the salt and even the sand under your feet. You don’t need to be at the ocean to have a
sensory experience near water, and as such, a calmer state of mind.

Because of its motion, water has the ability to grab our attention; it is dynamic in many ways,
especially in how it encourages us to rest, should we be floating within it. It is this strength that helps
to facilitate mindfulness and reflection, watching water can help to clear our minds and sooth our

Medical reasons

You would be shocked to receive a prescription from your GP to go and spend some time within
nature, but following a successful pilot project in Scotland, that is about to happen. During the
original trial, it was found that 74% of those prescribed benefitted from a nature prescription. It also
helped to change habits, with 87% saying that they would try to spend time in nature to help to
support their health and well-being.

The RSPB, in collaboration with the Peak District National Park Authority, will be seeing the first
green prescriptions being issued in the High Peak, Derbyshire with the hope they can be rolled out
across the country.



Home effect

When buyers are viewing a property they want to feel at home in, they are no doubt filled with
nervous excitement, and it is important to try to create a calm and relaxing environment which will
allow them to relax. As the weather starts to get warmer, and hopefully drier, and you start to
maintain your garden or outside space, why not have a think whether a water feature would
enhance the space. This could not only be transformative to your health but could also, potentially,
make buyers feel at home.

For advice on buying or selling a property in Surrey contact our team at James Neave Estate Agents
on 01932 221331.

Rules you now need to break when selling your home

There is no doubt that the last two years have been a seller’s dream, with houses selling within
hours and multiple offers often happening. Yet this bubble has been burst: the days of bidding wars
due to the lack of available homes have gone, and there is a new era beginning in the housing
market in {name of town}. Since the mayhem caused by the mini-budget, property prices in October
saw the biggest fall for 12 months as confidence in the market starts to dive. Therefore, to achieve a
successful sale, you need to rethink your selling strategy, which is why it is now time to break some
rules when selling your home.

Price it high

The lack of properties on the market over the last couple of years sparked bidding wars and often
saw homes selling above the market value. Prices and demand were high then but, as research from
Halifax shows, things have certainly changed. Halifax report that there has been a third month-on-
month drop in property prices, with the average three bedroom semi now valued at £292,598 –
that’s a fall of 0.4 per cent.

“While a post-pandemic slowdown was expected, there’s no doubt the housing market received a
significant shock as a result of the mini-budget, which saw a sudden acceleration in mortgage rate
increases. It’s likely that those rates have peaked for now following the reversal of previously
announced fiscal measures. But it appears that recent events have encouraged those with existing
mortgages to look at their options and some would-be homebuyers to take a pause.

“Understandably, we have also seen consumer caution grow as industry data shows mortgage
approvals and demand for borrowing declining. The rising cost of living coupled with already
stretched mortgage affordability is expected to continue to weigh on activity levels” said Kim
Kinnaird, Director of Halifax Mortgages.

Pricing your property high in this market will only lead to heartbreak. You need to listen to your
agent who will be able to advise you on the best strategy to sell your home. You may decide to wait
and see what the future brings, or your circumstances or desire may push you to take a leap of faith.
Whatever you decide, at James Neave we will provide you with the clear and honest advice,
even if we feel that you should wait for a more robust market.

It's not worth staging

Staging your home for sale has its advocates but also its doubters; many sellers feel that their
property is fine to sell as it is, and potential buyers will be able to “see through” any flaws. Over the
last couple of years, because of demand, investing in staging a home was not seen as the priority we
believe it is today. Buyers wanted to get into homes whether they were ready for sale or not,
whereas now it will take something really special for them to make that move.

You need to make your property irresistible: there should be no doubts in a buyer’s head that your
home is what they want and need. There should be no sign of forgotten repairs or dodgy DIY
clouding their judgement as they ponder what other issues could be lying in wait for them when
they move in. The décor should be flawless, no marked walls or tired looking skirtings, every room,
wall and door handle should be freshened and, where needed, replaced.

Staging a home isn’t about creating stark soulless rooms – you want buyers to feel a sense of
warmth and welcome as they enter each space. You want a room to be clean and tidy, but it also
needs personality and homely finishes that give it that little something extra. Think about properties
you see in magazines or on one of the many home programmes: finishing touches bring life and
make a house for sale into a home.


The road ahead

There will be some challenges ahead, but there are also some positive signs too. Moneyfacts
reported that they have seen a gradual increase in the number of mortgage products to 3,220 deals
as of the 7 November. One thing we are certain about is that when you decide to sell your home, it is
essential to have the right estate agent on your side, give our team a call today on 01932 221331 
 to see how we can ensure the road to your move is as smooth as possible.

Increasing the selling power of your home with these hot tips

There is no doubt that we are in a time of uncertainty and there’s a lot of concern about what the
future may bring. A September survey by Property Rescue, conducted by Perspectus Global,
revealed that of 1,000 UK-based homeowners questioned 65% are worried and anxious about rising
inflation and interest rates. Therefore, if you’re planning to sell your home this year, you want to
ensure it sells quickly and doesn’t sit languishing on the market for months on end. With this in
mind, our team at James Neave have put together some hot tips to increase the selling power of
your home.

Get a broker

Forecasts suggest that it is likely that interest rates could rise over the next 18 months, therefore
having a mortgage in principle, especially with a fixed rate, seems the best option. But make sure
you shop around; we highly recommend that you use a mortgage broker. We know we keep saying
it, but they have the ability to look at deals that you may not have access to, some of which could be
available for just a couple of hours.

In the words of Martin Lewis: “Mortgage brokers are worth their weight in gold now. Get yourself a
mortgage broker.”

Quality marketing

One way to grab a buyer’s attention is through the imagery used for your property’s marketing
campaign. Nothing entices us more than a striking image. This is why you need to make sure that the
estate agent you choose will do your home justice. You want to try to get photographs taken whilst
the weather isn’t as grey and miserable can winter bring, so you can maximise on natural light.
You need a negotiator

It is important to do your research so you understand the property market; house price indexes are
a good place to state, but look at overall trends. When speaking to an estate agent you want to see
what their strategy is to achieve you the highest possible price. What you are looking for is an
experienced negotiator, one that won’t settle for the first offer but sees it as the starting point. It
needs to be priced right from the start – priced too high and your home may become stagnant as it
won’t attract potential buyers.


Help reduce delays

Delays are one of the curses in home moves, they increase nerves, and doubts start to take hold.
This is why the sales process is the hardest part of selling your home: it is the time where homes
complete and others fall through. Having a strong and experienced estate agent who is on top of
your sale at all times, proactively monitoring the situation and resolving issues before and as they
arise, is an absolute must.

You can also play your part by creating a pack for your buyer that includes all the documents,
certificates and permissions relating to your home, such as electrical certificates, your boiler service
record, any planning permissions and sign-offs from building regulations as well as documents
related to rights of way etc. Not only will this help speed up the process but will also show your
buyer your commitment and transparency with the sale of your home.

Energy efficiency

Having an energy efficient property will be an advantage, especially with the cost-of-living crisis; are
there any measures you can take in your home? Improving insulation, double glazing, servicing your
log burner and boiler – any positive changes can all make your home more appealing.


Don’t leave anything unfinished

We all have unfinished projects around our homes; often, because they are things we are used to
seeing, we actually don’t notice them any more. Rest assured that potential buyers with their sharp
eyes will notice every little detail. Therefore, go around your home with a fine-tooth comb; even
better, get a friend who is not as familiar with your home to do the same. Get any imperfections
fixed; that way buyers can not use any little unfinished projects as an excuse for not buying your
property or as a reason to negotiate the agreed sale price down before exchange of contracts.

Increase the selling power

Selling a home in Surrey could be more challenging in the months ahead as buyers and
sellers alike navigate the cost of living crisis and changing interest rates, which is why it is essential to
do what you can to increase the selling power of your property.

For more advice, call our team today on 01932 221331.

Key things affecting homebuyers right now

Within the space of just a few days, confusion has gripped the property market, but changes to
stamp duty could be positive for those looking to buy a new home. It is suggested that the mini-
Budget was the catalyst for the pound to fall dramatically on the stock market resulting in mortgage
lenders withdrawing mortgage products from their portfolios. Yet in Surrey the number of
properties coming onto the market is increasing, and the there are still no signs that anything is
slowing down. If you are thinking of a move before Christmas, here are the key things affecting
homebuyers right now.

Stamp Duty

In the mini-Budget Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced that there would be a permanent stamp
duty cut, which raised the stamp duty threshold from £125,000 to £250,000.

Before this announcement, buyers would not pay tax on the first £125,000, then 2% of the value of a
property from £125.001 to £250,00 and then 5% on the portion that fell between £250,001 and

Now buyers are exempt from paying stamp duty on properties up to the value of £250,000, but the
percentage paid over the remaining proportions remains the same. Buyers will be taxed at 5% of the
value of the home from £250,001 to £925,000 and 10% for the portion between £925,001 and


If you are a first-time buyer, the level at which you will have to pay stamp duty rises from £300,000
to £425,000; it is hoped this change will increase home ownership.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s housing expert, said while it could lead to some “unseasonal price rises
over the next few months”, the permanent change may mean the increase in demand is slower than
the temporary cut in 2020. “Plus, buyers could save up to £15,000 during the temporary stamp duty
holiday, while the savings are lower with this change.”

Home buying schemes

The housing market over the last couple of years had made it harder for first-time buyers to get into
the market, especially when you realise that the average price of a property is up by 15.5% since this
time last year. But there are a small number of home-buying schemes that could help you take that
all-important step onto the ladder.

Mortgage Guarantee Scheme

Introduced in the 2021 budget, the mortgage guarantee scheme is also known as the 5% deposit
mortgages government scheme. Only available on properties with a purchase price of up to
£600,000, buyers can secure a mortgage with a loan-to-value of 95%, as the scheme sees the
government backing lenders to offer more mortgages at a small deposit. You need to be looking
now, as the deadline for the mortgage guarantee scheme is 31 December this year.

Help to Build

This is the perfect scheme for those looking to build their own home, thanks to an equity loan which
the Help to Build scheme offers. The loan offered to you by the government is based on the
estimated costs of buying the plot of land and building your home, or doing your own renovation
project by buying a previously commercial building and converting it into a home.

You typically need at least 5% deposit, and the loan can be between 5% and 20% of the total
estimated project costs.

Two other schemes to look into are Right to Buy and The First Homes Scheme.

Interest Rates

It is predicted that the cost of borrowing to buy a home could rise due to the Bank of England’s
recent interest base rate hikes and warnings it could increase these more in the future as a way of
tackling inflation. Even if your mortgage is coming to an end, don’t panic! We would strongly advise
that you speak to an independent mortgage broker who can look at multiple options to find you the
best way forward: many of our clients recommend Fortis.

This could mean remortgaging early to extend your loan and secure a fixed rate, seeing if your
current lender has products you could transfer to, or even switching lenders altogether. Although
you can do this alone, brokers can find deals that you probably won’t, and are able to access rates
that may only be available for a short window of time.


There are always unique trends within the Surrey property market, and therefore, if you
are new to the area or looking for a home in a niche location, we are here to help. You can call our
team today on 01932 221331.

Could creating a Koselig home be the key to selling this autumn?

There has been a notable change in temperature over the last week or so; dare we say we even
contemplated putting the heating on? It is the time of year where the nights are getting longer and
the days colder, and when it comes to selling your Surrey property you want buyers to see
the warmth your home exudes. In Norway, freezing winters are welcomed. Koselig is not directly
translatable into English, but is often simplified as a ‘feeling of cosiness’; it’s a sense of intimacy,
happiness and being content. What buyer wouldn’t start to see a Koselig house as a home? Could it
be the key to selling this autumn?


When it comes to creating a Koselig home, lighting is an essential element. At this time of year, days
are extremely short in Norway. Although not just any light will do when it comes to Koselig: you
should be opting for lamps rather than harsh ceiling lights. Lamps soften colours and add a feeling of
warmth, and candles are perfect – and lots of them – whether it’s a wealth of tealights or a beautiful
fragrant three-wick design. Adding candles to your lighting design, introducing a soothing effect due
to watching flames, is said to evoke feelings of calm.

Many of us could be adding candles to our décor, not just for interior décor this autumn but also to
help reduce costs associated with the cost of living. With this in mind, and for safety reasons, take a
look at battery powered candles that can give the same flickering motion and create the look and
feel you wish for.

Effortless comfort

A Koselig home is one that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance: it is clutter free, filled with textures
and encourages you to relax; it’s a place where, when you enter, the wild weather outside is
forgotten and your thoughts are focused on getting comfy, and each room makes you happy. It is an

effortless comfort which, actually, takes a lot of effort to create, but the resulting design is hard to
resist, especially for potential buyers, as they will instantly feel at home.


Minimalism works seamlessly with Koselig: use natural linens in the bedroom, creating a chic and
soft contemporary aesthetic; keep colours neutral, adding colours through materials such as leather
and wicker. Throws and cushions are the perfect accessories for any room to add that ‘feeling of
cosiness’ you are trying to create.

Bring the outside in

Norwegians are nature lovers; you only have to look at the dramatic scenery that the country is
blessed with to understand why. Scientists have proved that spending time in nature benefits our
mental and physical wellbeing; it’s also known to reduce stress and lower blood pressure, amongst
other things. Spending time outdoors and enjoying nature is an important aspect of Koselig, but you
can bring some elements of the environment into your home. Exposed wood, organic textures,
evergreen branches, and unique hand-crafted pieces from natural materials will all add to the overall

Create moments

A home is a place where we love to spend time with our friends and family, and those intimate
moments aid in establishing the right Koselig ambiance. When staging your home for sale, put
together a couple of vignettes that demonstrate how moments can be created: a board game
casually set up, with a throw to snuggle under close by, a window seat with an opened book and a
tray with a coffee mug and a snack. Or how about a breakfast bar casually laid for a dinner with
friends. When you bring a sense of intimacy into your home you also establish trust.


Warmth and relaxation

It kind of goes without saying that an open fire is an important element of that Koselig feeling. It
helps to create that warm and comforting home. Who can resist the sight and sound of wood
crackling in the fireplace on a cold evening? Just as you walk into a country pub and long to enjoy
the warmth of a fire, when potential buyers walk into a home and see a lit fire, it transforms the
space into a place they want to relax in. Even if you don’t have a log burner or a multifuel stove, a
bioethanol fire may not have the crackle but it will still add that warmth and flame that is still very

It's all about emotion

Viewing a property is an emotive experience, and it is essential that you tap into buyers’ emotions to
help them see your house as their home. Koselig is a feeling, one that embodies everything we want
from a ‘home’, which is why adding some of its key elements is the perfect complement to anyone
selling their home this autumn.

If you would like more advice on how to attract and wow potential buyers in Surrey,
contact our team on 01932 221331.

01932 221 331
38 High Street, Walton on Thames
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