Walton on Thames




Are you ready to Downsize now?



At any given time in the UK, there will be a number of people looking into downsizing their home. In many instances, it’s part of the circle of life, of course. In most cases, families will have grown, children will have flown the nest and the people that remain simply don’t need the space anymore.



Extra rooms remain empty, gardens become a little too large for the owner’s needs and, in some cases, the property requires too much maintenance to remain a viable option. At some point, most home owners will look into the pros and cons of downsizing to somewhere smaller and more hassle-free.



It makes sense to do so, of course, for a number of reasons, but that doesn’t mean the process will be an easy, straightforward one. Some people will have a strong emotional attachment to the property, having spent many decades there and, of course, having brought their children up within those walls.



This is completely understandable, but it’s something that most people overcome. It’s a wrench to move, but the benefits eventually outweigh the upset. Moving to a smaller home may seem like a backward step at first, but in many ways it’s far more of a forward one.



More space, more time, more freedom



If the garden is smaller and more manageable, so much the better, and of course there is no need to keep unwanted spare rooms fully maintained and decorated. The move provides the perfect opportunity to de-clutter, and in many cases the financial benefits of downsizing can make a real difference.



With less of a need to clean, tidy, redecorate and maintain comes an increase in the amount of free time for you to enjoy, not to mention more spare cash. Those of a certain age are becoming more mobile, more active and more free than ever before, and downsizing has often played a part in this development.



Thanks to James Neave the Estate Agent you can sell your current home and find a smaller, more manageable one with ease. The emotional ties that you have with a property may be a little difficult to overcome at first, but once you’ve decided to move the process need not be upsetting any longer.



It’s not always easy for parents to come to terms with life at home after their sons and daughters have left, but of course it’s all part of life’s long cycle. So-called empty nest syndrome takes a little time to come to terms with, but once it’s accepted you start to realise there’s a big wide world out there waiting for you. Downsizing your home can be the first step towards an exciting new chapter.





Sights, Sounds and Smells: How to Prepare your Home for Viewing



When you have to show your home to potential buyers, or indeed to potential renters, there are a number of important factors to take into consideration. And while there will be plenty of minor details that need to be taken care of, the most important thing to remember is that you are trying to make your property stand out from the rest.



It’s vital for you to bear in mind the fact that viewers are almost certainly going to be looking at a number of homes, and several of those on their list will seem like much of a muchness by the time the viewing process is complete. By that stage, you want your house or flat to be the one that ticked all the right boxes.



First impressions are crucial



If the outside of your home is untidy, unkempt and uncared for, the impact on potential buyers or renters can be devastating. In some instances, viewers will have made their minds up before they have even knocked on the door, so it’s important for the outside of the place to look as good as the inside. Therefore, tidy up the front garden and keep the area clean.



A de-clutter is vital



People make their minds up very quickly about individual rooms, and that’s why chaos and clutter are definite drawbacks. Make sure your home is as tidy as it can be, and that means disinfecting kitchen surfaces, cleaning mirrors and polishing furniture. Nobody expects to see a show home, of course, but an organised and tidy property is more likely to appeal to viewers.



Don’t forget the outside



While you might make every effort to leave the inside of your home sparkling, you must not forget the outside. Garden rubbish, discarded toys and unused implements are a no-no here. There are many people for whom the garden is a major selling point, so be sure to put the effort in. The same applies to outbuildings such as sheds, workshops, garages and summer houses.



Make it a sensory experience for viewers



If you thought it was a cliché to have the aroma of fresh coffee in the home during a viewing, you’d be right, but it really does work. Viewers to your property will vote with their noses as well as their eyes when they visit, so it’s also a good idea to have flowers in one or two rooms as well. The TV should be switched off at this stage, but it doesn’t hurt to have some pleasant, understated music on in the background while people wander around.



Here at James Neave, we are always happy to offer advice and guidance on property matters. If you’d like further information, please get in touch with our experts today.



The recent increase in the number of online Estate Agencies has been a matter of some debate in the property industry. Today we feature a guest blog by David Mintz of Normie & Co., a traditional Agency based in Manchester. Here at James Neave, we echo David’s findings.


Cheap as Chips


In 2007, Steve Ballmer, then CEO of Microsoft, famously said in an interview "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." The rest, as they say, is history.


The lesson to business people everywhere is never to underestimate your competition and never dismiss new innovations as fads that will never catch on.


In the property industry, it’s fair to say that love us or hate us, Estate Agents are part and parcel of any house sale. So what of the rise of the online Estate Agent? What does this mean for the market in general and what does this mean for you, the consumer?


Online Estate Agents have been around for a few years now, offering a cut price option to market your property. Depending on the company you choose and the package you opt for, they offer different levels of marketing and in most cases leave you to do most of the work yourself.


These express-style agencies offer a minimal amount of personal contact, most of the calls being routed through call-centres and staffed by "local property experts" who actually live several miles away and have never had occasion to visit your neighbourhood previously. But hey, who cares right, it’s cheap?


Well the saying "you only get what you pay for" has never been more apt. The online reviews for one online agency struggled to attain more than a one out of five scoring, and those reviews are numerous. A typical review that sums up their customer's feelings stated "Save yourself the heartbreak and headache, and invest your money in a proper Estate Agent. Online Agencies take your money and then couldn't care less, a terrible service."


Based on what we hear, it’s tempting to have a Steve Ballmer moment and say that it will never catch on but with the amount of money being raised by some of these online Agents, it would appear that there is an appetite for this sort of cut-rate innovation - particularly in London where agency fees are likely to be much higher than the rest of the country.


Nothing can replace the personal touch


Locally, there is still no replacement for your local Agent. Our offices are staffed by people who have been selling property for years, they live locally, shop locally and their children go to school locally. Practically, this means that they are able to offer advice to both sellers and prospective purchasers that is factual and helpful. When they are selling a house, they are very much selling an area and all the day to day things that people consider when moving home such as travelling distance to work, shops and of course schools.


The personal touch of fully accompanied viewings is an absolute must, as in addition to actively selling your property it adds a layer of professional separation between you and your buyer which most vendors love. With an online Agent, you will be left to do a lot of the viewings, negotiating and chasing all on your own. You might at first be comfortable with negotiating directly with your buyer, but as the relationship deepens will you still feel as comfortable when having to renegotiate a sale after issues are raised on a survey, for instance?


Selling a property is often not as straightforward as simply uploading it to the internet and hoping for the best. Whilst that remains the case, the traditional high street Estate Agent is here to stay. After all, you and your home are unique and the false economy of trying to sell your house online the same way you may sell a second-hand couch on EBay might well end up costing you a lot more in the long run. There's still value in a professional service provided by an Estate Agent that will work tirelessly to achieve the best for you and your property.


Our reviews speak for themselves. Before choosing your Agent, be it online or traditional, always ask for testimonials.




The 12 Days of Property Selling


Twelve friendly welcomes

A happy smile and a friendly welcome will make potential buyers feel more at home when they arrive for a viewing. Always make sure you feel honoured that they are looking at your property.


Eleven minor fixes

If there are small repairs that need to be made, it’s a good idea to do them before people come to view the place. Doing so can make the difference between losing a buyer and gaining one.


Ten painted walls

If the house or flat is in need of a facelift, give each room a lick of paint before you sell. It can freshen up any area, and will help potential buyers to see the place looking its very best.


Nine polished surfaces

Tidy, spotless surfaces, especially in the kitchen, are a must for anyone who wants to sell their home. Viewers will be put off from the start if there are pots and pans waiting to be washed up and overly congested open spaces.


Eight rooms a-gleaming

Every part of the house needs to be tidied up and, crucially, cleared of any unnecessary clutter. Potential buyers will be looking at several properties, so make sure yours stands out from the rest.


Seven brighter homes

Nobody wants to see dark, uninspiring rooms when they go viewing. Make sure your windows and mirrors are cleaned and that the home is bright. Side lamps in previously dark corners are a good idea.


Six tidy gardens

Many sellers treat the garden as an after-thought, but they need to realise just how important this area is. Potential buyers will want to picture themselves relaxing here in the summer, so make sure it looks perfect.


Five fresh towels

A clean, welcoming bathroom can make a huge difference to the overall perception of your home, so make sure it’s in tip-top condition. Fresh towels are a good idea, because they will add to the overall ambience.


Four shining floors

Many people notice the floors of a room before they notice anything else, so it makes sense to ensure they look their best. Wooden floors need to be waxed to leave them gleaming, and carpets should be clean and stain-free.


Three bunches of flowers

Fresh flowers will add a touch of elegance to any room, and of course will help to create a more relaxed atmosphere. Bowls of fruit will also add to the overall feel-good factor of your home.


Two cups of coffee

It’s always nice to walk into a home and to be greeted by the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee. Be sure to offer visitors a drink to make them feel welcome, and to encourage them to give your property a more thorough viewing.


And an agent that you can really trust

Here at James Neave the Estate Agent, we always go the extra mile to help you sell your property for the right price. We have all the expertise and experience you need, so contact us today for a chat.


How to Beat the Rise in Stamp Duty on Buy to Let Purchases 


The headlines surrounding George Osborne’s recent Autumn Statement focused mainly on the decision to scrap plans to cut tax credits, and while this was a major news item it should be noted that there were several other important points. One of them will affect the housing sector in a big way, and it will spell bad news for anyone who is considering the purchase of a property that is to be let out to others.


From April 2016, purchases of Buy to Let properties and second homes will be subject to an additional 3% Stamp Duty charge, a strategy that will no doubt be a deterrent to some potential investors. The BTL market has been growing recently, but this announcement may cause a slowdown in the coming years as buyers start to rethink their options.


The 3% hike represents a significant rise in costs, and it’s possible that some investors will want to recoup their extra outlay via an increase in rents. For anyone who is thinking about the purchase of a BTL property, it’s a good idea to act fast. The increase takes effect from April 2016, so if a purchase is made before that date then it will be a great deal less expensive. On a £275,000 property, the Stamp Duty will rise from £3,750 to a whopping £12,000.


The clock is ticking for potential buyers


It should be noted that people who are thinking about selling their homes in the near future will also need to take this matter into account. If their house or flat is likely to be of interest to BTL investors, they will restrict their potential market if they wait too long before putting the property on the market. The next few months will almost certainly see a more active market for this reason.


While the increase in BTL Stamp Duty has understandably caused a great deal of concern in the property sector, it should be noted that there were other important announcements during the Autumn Statement. One of them, a pledge to build around 400,000 new homes in the coming years, will be seen as welcome news for a sector that is struggling to keep up with demand.


There will be incentives to construct starter homes, too. Following up on a policy announcement made a year ago, there is to be a 20% discount on prices of such properties. The Government has also pledged to invest in specialist homes for elderly people as well as those with disabilities.

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