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One way to add value to your home is by renovating it; another is through increasing the amount of accommodation, by either building an extension or converting something like the loft or a garage to create an extra living room or bedroom.
But if you don’t want to undertake that kind of building work, or you’re not able to because of planning or available space, the good news is, there’s another way you can add value – without calling any contractors!
If you invest some time and can spend a little money simply on the presentation of your home, that can carry a huge amount of weight when it comes to securing a buyer and getting the best possible price. The power of first impressions is the reason we have stylists on our team that work with photographers to create the best possible images for our clients’ marketing brochures.
Research carried out last year by The International Association of Home Staging Professionals found that the majority of homes that had been professionally furnished and styled sold for between 4% and 20% more than the asking price. And we know ourselves that when buyers see a home that’s beautifully presented, showing off every room at its very best and suggesting an aspirational lifestyle, they’re much more likely to see its value and make a strong offer.
So, here are our top tips on how to style your home so that you add real value. Not only could that mean securing a higher sale price, but you’re also likely to sell much quicker than other comparable homes on the market that are missing that all-important styling touch.
Maximise light and space
The lighter, brighter and more spacious a home looks, the better buyers tend to feel about it. That’s partly a reaction to rooms appearing larger than they expected and partly because you’re showing them that there’s plenty of space to fit in everything they’ll need to enjoy the home.
The first thing to do is tidy and simplify each room so that the interior space can ‘breathe’. You can still have photographs, ornaments and books on display, but just a few of each placed around a room is enough to show some personality, while still allowing buyers to easily visualise their own possessions in the space. If you’d like some advice on what to keep out and what you should put away while your home’s on the market, just give us a call and our stylists will be happy to help.
Once you’ve created more physical space, it’s then a case of using some optical illusions. Well-placed mirrors can transform a home, bouncing light around and giving an impression of depth, which is particularly helpful in narrower rooms and hallways.
And think about the size and orientation of both mirrors and pictures. The human eye naturally scans vertically before horizontally, so wall hangings with a ‘portrait’ orientation will give the impression of more height in a room. It’s also generally true that larger pictures tend to make rooms feel bigger than if you have clusters of smaller ones. If you don’t already have any larger pieces of artwork, there are many companies that will print images on canvases in a variety of sizes, very cost-effectively. Look through your favourite photographs – something like a unique shot of an attractive landscape can make a stunning feature in a room.
You can also emphasise the size of a room by having something that immediately draws the buyer’s eye to the furthest point from the doorway. That could be a particular piece of furniture, a large plant or a striking piece of art – just something that catches their eye as soon as they walk in. The same trick can be used outside, so that people are immediately encouraged to look down the garden, whether that’s to a lovely seating area or a brightly-coloured shrub.
Given that a home is often the most expensive purchase many people will make in their lives, you’ve got to show that every bit of space they’re paying for is valuable, which means furnishing and styling rooms so that they have a clear purpose.
We find one room that often falls into the trap of looking a little like wasted space is a conservatory. So, if you have one, style it clearly as a peaceful sitting room or a light and airy dining room. Another common challenge is the smallest bedroom. No matter how tight the space, it’s important to style it so it’s functional, so set it up as either a single room or a study. For buyers who work part-time from home or maybe run their own small business, an office space can be just as valuable as a third or fourth bedroom and can make them feel as though they’re getting more for their money.
And make sure you allow furniture to ‘breathe’. In an effort to create more space, some people make the mistake of pushing furniture into the edges and corners – particularly in bedrooms – when this actually has the opposite effect. Spacing the furniture out a little will let buyers see that there’s plenty of room for it to fit properly, without feeling cramped.
Add warmth and colour
While light, neutral décor is certainly attractive to buyers as a basic canvas for your home, make sure you then brighten it up and add some personality with soft furnishings.
Pick a colour scheme for each room and put a few textured cushions and throws on chairs and sofas. You can go for a touch of glamour with velvet or fur, but limit the number and variety of accessories, otherwise it can start to look confusing. The idea is to add a splash of colour and interest, while not intruding on the overall impression of light and space.
Rugs can add warmth to wood or tiled floors and tend to work well in larger rooms. Generally speaking, try to avoid breaking up the flow of the flooring in smaller rooms and keep the number of accessories in proportion with the size of the space. A good rule of thumb is no more than one cushion for every seat and a maximum of two items on any surface.
Finally, make sure you have plenty of lamps around your home. They cast a much more flattering light than overhead fittings and can make rooms feel warm and welcoming, even on a dull day. Don’t forget to have some lighting outside, if possible, particularly if you’re accepting viewings in the evenings. Some solar-powered lights throughout the garden can also create a pretty effect and help make a memorable impression on buyers.
When you’re selling your home, you’re selling a lifestyle, and if you can show people that you enjoy the space in a way that also appeals to them, it’ll encourage them to picture themselves there. And the more ‘at home’ they feel, the more likely they are to make a great offer.
The key is to pick the kinds of accessories that you see in aspirational magazines and boutique hotels, that buyers can easily recognise and identify with. Candles are a really simple and effective way of creating a welcoming atmosphere and, although you don’t have to light them all, some softly-scented candles in the main reception room and bedroom can help buyers to feel relaxed and connect emotionally with the space.
Plants and fresh flowers bring life to a room, so go for a mixture of greenery and colour throughout your home. Peace lilies are easy to care for and look great anywhere, while orchids are perfect for coffee tables and in bedrooms. Hand-cut posies of flowers are great for period and rustic homes, while longer, more elegant stems suit a modern style – and don’t forget to have a few glossy magazines on display as well.
The kitchen is traditionally known as the heart of the home, so make sure it’s beating! Have a lovely big bowl of fruit and a vase of fresh flowers on the counter tops, and then put some fresh bread on a board or cake on a stand before viewings.
Finally, in the bathrooms, have some fresh toiletries on display that have recognisable, aspirational branding such as Molton Brown or L’Occitane. Remember to keep a full set aside that you don’t use every day, then they’ll always look fresh for viewings. Finish the look in the bathroom with some clean co-ordinated towels.
As with soft furnishings, the golden rule with all these lifestyle touches is not to have too many and to place them carefully.
While you may have to spend a bit of money on styling your home, it should only be a fraction of what you’ll get back in terms of pounds on your sale price, so it’s certainly well worth the small investment.
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The stamp duty extension announced by the Chancellor in the Budget last week came as a huge relief to buyers stuck in transaction logjam.
It is thought 300,000 transactions in England could benefit by the end of June from the stamp duty extension announced in the Budget.
However, there was a hope for a more tapered approach to phasing out the stamp duty holiday from what was a “cliff-edge” come the 31st March 2021 when thresholds would return to normal.
The new extension has meant that buyers completing on or before 30 June 2021 will continue benefit from the £15,000 saving when purchasing up to £500,000.
However, beyond this date the only saving made is £2,500 until the end of September for purchases up to £250,000 benefitting from the holiday.
Stamp Duty thresholds at the time of writing return to normal come 1 October 2021.
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New guidance out this week from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) issued with the aim of reducing the number of External Wall Surveys (EWS1 Form) being requested by lenders on blocks of flats has been broadly welcomed.
The aim is to help lenders save time when the inspections are not needed, with most lenders expected to follow the advice.
These checks were first developed to assess the potential financial impact of cladding on high-rise flats following the Grenfell tragedy in 2017.
Initially, only those who owned flats in over 18m with dangerous flammable ACM cladding were affected. Yet, since mortgage lenders started requesting fire surveys from a much wider range of sellers, hundreds of thousands of leaseholders have since been asked for completed EWS1 forms when they sell or re-mortgage. This led to severe delays owed in part to a shortage of qualified surveyors available do the checks leaving thousands of leaseholders in limbo.
The ‘valuation of properties in multi-storey, multi-occupancy residential buildings with cladding’ guidance was consulted on by lenders, valuers and fire safety experts for two months, and the recommendations are now set to be implemented by 5 April 2021.
Dame Janet Paraskeva, chair of the RICS standards and regulation board, said: “This announcement is a crucial step in unlocking the market, by ensuring that only those buildings where there are risks of costly remediation as a result of safety concerns from cladding are subject to additional checks.
“The guidance is anticipated to result in a reduction in the number of EWS1 requests which will therefore allow more focus on the assessments of higher risk buildings, which should speed up the overall process while ensuring appropriate protection for lenders and purchasers.”
In a joint statement, UK Finance and the Building Societies Association (BSA) said they welcomed the final guidance and expected the number of EWS1 requests to fall as a result. But they said it would still be up to lenders to have the final say.
It states: “Government confirmation that it supports the guidance produced by RICS as an appropriate, risk-based and proportionate basis on which to proceed with valuation assessments, in line with the building safety Consolidated Advice Note published in January 2020 is a welcome and necessary step for lenders.
“We anticipate that many lenders will implement this guidance, which should see the number of EWS1 requests fall. However, this is a decision for each lender to make based on their own risk appetite.
“Those buying a flat should understand that a decision made by a valuer not to require an EWS1 inspection under the new guidance is no guarantee that fire safety remediation works will not be required in the future.”
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has welcomed the new guidance from RICS.
He said: “I welcome RICS new guidance which will mean nearly 500,000 leaseholders will no longer need an EWS1 form – helping homeowners to sell or re-mortgage more quickly and easily.
“We need a sensible, proportionate approach to risk and costs should only be incurred where they are absolutely necessary and less costly and intrusive mitigations can’t be put in place.”
“Backed by nearly £700,000 government funding, over 500 assessors have now started training so that where valuations are needed these can be done more quickly, speeding up the process for homeowners.”
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To be clear, this logo is a joke and after some Googling, I wasn't able to actually find a firm of solicitors unfortunate enough to have that name.
If you were hoping I would name names then I am sorry to disappoint.
Those solicitors who are the "wurst" know who they are.
Luckily, they are few and far between.
Most conveyancing solicitors these days are consummate professionals and thanks to the like of Google Reviews can easily be avoided.
This is my personal advice as to how I would select a good solicitor (and/or conveyancer) to support and act for me during a property sale or purchase.
If you're purchasing a property, your choice of solicitor is all that more important. I found this out myself first hand when buying. The solicitor in question stuck to their guns and wouldn't compromise on the information supplied by the other party. Let's just say I am thankful for their assistance and it helped me dodge a bullet on what could have been a costly mistake. Although, I hasten to add I didn't handle it with too much decorum at the time.
Moving home is a challenging and eye-opening experience for anyone and involves more paperwork than you can shake a stick at. It takes you outside of your comfort zone but as long as you have the right support; an excellent estate agent *cough* like Lyttons Estate Agents *cough*, solicitor and mortgage broker, you will find your way through without too much of a headache.
Instructing a solicitor is essential for modern day property purchasing. Even if you’re purchasing without a mortgage, I would still recommend you employ a professional to check it over.
As an estate agent, I have somewhat selfish reasons as to why I want you to employ the best solicitor/conveyancer you can. Essentially, a good solicitor is easier to work with and it’ll make my job that much easier.
What do I look for in a solicitor?
Communication. This is my No. 1 requirement for numerous reasons. If you can’t get hold of your solicitor as their fee-payer then the chances I will are even less. They won’t be able to help you with the other items on this list. I look for them to be able to communicate with me and other estate agents during sales progression, you of course and the other solicitors in the chain in a timely manner, especially by email and definitely on the days when exchange of contracts and completion takes place.
Helps you understand. This is an extension of communication but goes that one step further. I have had questions, you will have questions, we all have questions that we need help to answer. A good solicitor will explain why something is relevant to you and help you understand when our knowledge as mere estate agents is exhausted.
Attention to detail. This should go without saying, especially when you’re purchasing. You’re employing a solicitor to explore your property purchase to ensure you’re buying what you think you’re buying. If this isn’t the case, they should make you aware of it.
Value. I have used “value” in lieu of “price”. Whether a solicitor/conveyancer is “cheap” or “expensive” is determined by the service you receive and the job they have done, not the bill at the end. I have used solicitors that are the cheapest quote and did an excellent job. I have had solicitors who were the most expensive and were so difficult to get hold of, the buyer sat in their office until she was seen so that we could exchange contracts on her purchase.
In my opinion, price should never be the determining factor of who you choose to instruct.
What do you think? Have I missed anything out?
I have a number of local solicitors with whom I work with regularly and would be more than happy to recommend.
I don’t receive any referral fees for recommending them, they’re just good and they’ll make your life easier by using them.
I hope you find these tips useful and best of luck with your property sale or purchase.
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The new £500,000 nil rate band for Stamp Duty Land Tax [SDLT] won't end on 31st March 2021, it will end on the 30th June. 2021. Then, to smooth the transition back to normal, the nil rate band will be £250,000, double its standard level, until the end of September 2021.
That means you will continue pay 0% SDLT on the first £500,000 until 30th June 2021 [Save £15,000]
Then from the 1st of July, you will pay 0% SDLT on the first £250,000 until the end of September 2021. [Save the 2% you would have paid from £125,001 to £250,000 = £2.5k]
From 1st October 2021, back to normal Stamp Duty thresholds.