Our Top 10 Apps For House Hunters

 

Whether you’re renting or buying a new home, it’s often a stressful experience. In this article, we review some of the best applications for house hunting on the go. Mobile phone

1. Kirstie And Phil’s House Hunter

House Hunter is like having the expertise of Kirstie and Phil, right there in your pocket. Using this app gives you access to advice on house searches, viewings, closing deals and utilizing their video guides to make the best choices for you.

Available for download on iOS for £2.99.

2. Mouseprice

Mouseprice is an essential app that helps you stay informed on the history of any property. You can view anything from how much someone has paid for a property to the fluctuation in price over any given time period.

Available for download on iOS for free.

3. Houzz

Whatever stage you’re at in the buying process, it’s never too early to start thinking about interiors. With the Houzz app you’re able to browse their collection of mood boards featuring stunning designs from around the world. There’s no end to the amount of inspiration here and makes for excellent food for creative thought.

Available to download on iOS and Android for free.

4. Crime Map England & Wales

This app uses real data provided by the National Policing Improvement Agency and is licensed under the Open Government Licence. It helps you find out where local crime hot spots and anti social behaviour occurs in your area, plus where any safe areas are. By browsing the map, you can zoom into more detail on your chosen area, and see how your area compares to national averages. A great app for house hunters, parents or businesses alike.

Available to download on iOS for free.

5. MagicPlan

Overseeing a renovation can be so much more difficult than buying a new home. With MagicPlan hopefully you can ease some of the pressure. Using your phone’s camera, it allows you to map out entire floor plans, helping you keep track of every detail without losing your cool.

Available to download on iOS for free.

6. Zoopla

Zoopla is a great little app for helping you search for properties to add to your shortlist. Easy to navigate, it includes numerous filters to refine your search by price, location and other variables. As one of the most popular house searching apps, it’s a sure-fire way to help find your perfect home.

Available to download on iOS for free.

7. Rightmove

Similar to Zoopla, Rightmove is another comprehensive app for searching homes to rent and buy. With full, refineable listings as well as information on the local area, you’re able to gain a full overview of a home and it’s location, before deciding on whether you’d like to take the plunge and book a viewing.

Available to download on iOS for free.

8. Cell Phone Coverage Map

We’re all connected to the phone network in some form these days. There’s no escaping our shiny gadgets, therefore ensuring your new home has good mobile phone network coverage has to be on your agenda somewhere before you buy. The Cell Phone Coverage Map does this brilliantly, showing you coverage details for all major networks.

Available to download on iOS for free.

9. Paper

Not happy with carrying around notepads and bits of paper with hasty scribbles? Not to worry. Paper is a handy app that lets you take notes, sketches and all manner of doodles, all in one simple, intuitive application. Use Paper to collate your ideas and keep them together in one place.

Available to download on iOS for free.

10. Around Me

What do you do once you’ve found your new home? You get to know the local area of course! Enter Around Me, an app that gives you an overview of your area including the nearest hospitals, petrol stations, schools and even restaurant reviews.

Available to download on iOS for free.

Final Thoughts

With so many apps to choose from, it’s difficult finding the best ones to help you with your house hunting experience and decisions. With a bit of luck, the apps we’ve covered will add value to your property hunt and help finding your dream home, that little bit more enjoyable.

Have you used an app as part of a property search? Do you have any recommended apps for use when buying or renting a place? We’d love to hear your thoughts: please talk to us at @WhitegatesEA and let us know what you think!

What To Look For When Choosing An Estate Agent To Sell Your Property

 

Finding an Estate Agent to sell your property is easy. Finding the right Estate Agent to sell your property takes some research and investigation. In this blog post we will provide some guidance and advice on what to look for when choosing an Estate Agent to sell your property, to make the process a little less stressful.

Martin and Co

Sole or Multiple Agent?

The first question to ask yourself is whether you will choose a sole or multiple agents to sell your property. Listing with your property with every Estate Agent on the high street will get the most exposure and more viewers through the door, but you will pay much more in fees. Many house sellers choose a sole agent for this very reason. However, a sole agent may take longer for your property to sell so isn’t advisable if you are in a hurry. However sole agents generally work on a lower commission so may actually save you money. There are pros and cons to both options, and there isn’t a one-size fits all approach here so do your research.

Word of Mouth

A great incentive to use a particular Estate Agent is through personal recommendation. Ask friends and family or neighbours what experiences they have had. Anyone who has had a good experience with an Estate Agent is worth listening to, because this can cut out a lot of the searching and the mistakes that could be made.

Locality

Good Estate Agents know the market in your local area like the back of their hand, and they also have good connections with local people, that are in the market to buy. The impact of this cannot be exaggerated – a good Estate Agent can find the perfect buyer for your property, quickly and easily, simply because of their network of active house buyers. They will be close by, to meet prospective buyers and this makes it good practice to choose an Estate Agent local to the property you are selling.

Valuations

Unfortunately, some agents give deliberate optimistic valuations as a ploy to get you to go with them, after all, they know that the valuation is the main reason a seller will use them. This is not good practice and you should not be fooled by higher than expected valuations.

Err on the side of caution, and find an agent who gives you what you think is a realistic price according to the market. This is much better than you being fooled by a high price and then being disappointed months down the track when your property still hasn’t sold.

Here’s the thing. You, as the seller, can set the price for your property. You can say to the agent exactly how much you would like to sell your property for. It has been this way since time immemorial, and it is not going to change.

Marketing

When you are looking to buy a property, the first place you head for is the Internet so it is vital the Estate Agent you choose to sell your property advertises online. As well as listing your property on their own website, always check which portals they will use to advertise your property – the big players are Zoopla and Rightmove with a new portal OnTheMarket having launched at the start of 2015.

When selling a property, it is important to consider which portals your chosen agent uses to ensure your property gets maximum exposure.

Fees

All Estate Agents have different terms and conditions, and their fees cover different things – many of which are open to negotiation – so it is always best to ask.

Estate Agents usually charge the seller between 1% and 3%, excluding VAT, for a sole agency agreement of the price at which the property sells. With the VAT added on, the fee rises between 1.2% and 3.6% of the value of the property. Fees are generally negotiable, and a good Estate Agent will be happy to talk this through with you to find a level of fee you are comfortable with.

If an Estate Agent has incredibly low fees compared to other agents, then it is worthwhile investigating what is covered in the terms and conditions. For instance, the quoted fee may not cover marketing of the property, preparing the property details or even for sale boards. The best Estate Agents are upfront about fees, and what is and isn’t covered.

Additionally, some Estate Agents stipulate that a fee must be paid just for finding you a ‘ready, willing and able purchaser,’ rather than for actually selling the property. This means you still have to pay the agent’s fee even if the sale falls through. It is advisable to only use an Estate Agent who charges a fee as a result of exchange of contracts, and nothing less.

Online Agents

The online Estate Agent market is still relatively new, although a quick search on Google provides a plethora of online agents on the web. Online state agents offer cheaper services than traditional high street Estate Agents and there are no standards in terms of quality provided.

If you are considering an online Estate Agent, always contact them by telephone and have a discussion with them regarding their practices and their experience. In addition, it is a good idea to look for testimonials, preferably contacting some previous clients to see what their experience was like.

Online Estate Agents will not have the in-depth local knowledge that a traditional high street Estate Agent will have. Therefore it may be advisable to contact a local Estate Agent for a valuation first, so you are sure your property will be marketed at the right price.

 

Contact your local Whitegates branch for a free, no obligation, Market Appraisal of your property and see how we can help you achieve your sale.

Alternatively, see our tips on how to get your property ready to sell.

New Landlord Checklist: Part 2

 

This is the second of a series of two blog posts, which detail our ten-step checklist for new Landlords.

It has been designed for first time Landlords but can also be used as a useful reminder for even the most experienced Landlords.

Gas safety

The first article, Checklist for new Landlords part 1 covers items such as consent to let, insurance and health and safety requirements, all related to aspects of letting your property before you have secured your tenants.

But once tenants are chosen, what should you remember to ensure are carried out? This article will detail five important things you need to do to protect yourself, your property and maximise your rental income.

1. Conduct an Inventory

This is a very important document; you should conduct an inventory at the start and end of a tenancy. Make a list of all items in the property and the current conditions. The inventory should include items such as the walls; carpets, fixtures and fittings- remember you can use photos to support the inventory. This document will need to be signed and dated by both the new tenants and you as the Landlord.

You should also make sure your tenants knows where to find the important things, burglar alarm codes, stopcocks, meters, boiler and heating controls. It might be worth preparing and leaving behind a guide. This can feel like a bit of a hassle but it is important because if there was a leak, and tenant knows where the stopcock is, they will be able to turn the water off quickly, to stop more potential damage happening. Whitegates offer an inventory as part of our Property Management Services. Please contact your local Whitegates office for information.

2. Inform All Utility’s Including The Council

Applicable once the tenancy agreement has been signed, but important none the less, you should inform all utilities and the council. You will need to pass on the names of the new tenants, and the date on which the tenancy agreement began. This will help to avoid disagreements over any outstanding bills, at either end of the tenancy.

3. Organisation

It is important that you keep on top of the inevitable paperwork that comes with being a Landlord. We recommend you keep a file of information relating to your property and tenants. Use a computerised accounting system to manage your finances. Act fast when it comes to tackling missed payments or problems with neighbours and record anything serious in writing. Remember that you need to give your tenants 24 hours’ notice if you want to enter the property.

4. Marketing and Viewings

The key to letting your property quickly is to ensure it gets maximum exposure to the right people. You will need to think about the kind of tenant you want to attract, and where best to find them. At Whitegates, we are on the high street and online and we have thousands of properties currently marketed through the UK’s major property portals as well as our own.

5. Tenancy Agreements

Once you have found a tenant that you are happy with, you will need to agree and sign the tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement is the most important document at your disposal. You should make sure that your tenancy agreement is properly drafted and that it relates specifically to your property. This is where you get to include any clauses, terms or restrictions, so if you don’t want pets and smokers this is where you need to make that clear. It should name each of the tenants individually. The agreement should be signed and dated by you, and by each of the tenants. Whitegates can draw up legal tenancy agreements as part of our Property Management services.

6. Deposits

Getting a deposit is a good way of protecting against any damage and since April 2007, all Landlords are legally obliged to protect the deposit in a government-supported deposit protection scheme, and to provide the tenant with details of the scheme being used within 14 days. The schemes gives both the Landlord and the tenant peace of mind that the deposit monies have been lodged in safe hands. All Whitegates local offices hold deposits under one of the three Tenancy Deposit Schemes.

 

There are a number of additional things to remember, which Whitegates can assist with if required. To find out how, contact your local Whitegates office.

  • You may require a range of references from prospective tenants. At the very least, most Landlords request employment details. In addition you may wish to take details of their previous Landlord. Having received these references, it is important to check them. Many Landlords do not follow up references – rendering them virtually pointless.
  • Depending on the nature of the tenant, you may also wish for them to provide a guarantor. In this case, you should ensure that you have their name, their current address, and their previous address if they have moved in the past year. This information will be required if you wish to run credit checks.
  • Some Landlords choose to request bank statements from prospective tenants, in order to ensure that they are in a position to pay the rent. This can be particularly useful if the individual is self-employed, or not in regular employment.
  • You may want to arrange a formal credit check with your applicant’s employer and any previous Landlord.

This checklist is only a guide, as all rental properties requirements are different. As a Landlord, there is always something to be dealt with and it can quickly become a struggle to keep up with it all, especially if you are working full time or have other commitments. In which case, we advise you consider using a Letting Agent, however we also understand it is not always viable to do so.

Whitegates offer a comprehensive range of services to Landlords, from a tenant find only service, rent receipt and a full managed property service – leaving you safe in the knowledge that everything will be dealt with correctly and efficiently, and with more time for the fun things in life.

If you would like to discuss any items mentioned in this two part series, please contact your local branch.

New Landlord Checklist: Part 1

 

Renting a property for the first time can be quite a daunting prospect. There are many tasks that need to be implemented and checked before you even begin to start to think about finding tenants to move in.

That is why at Whitegates, we have created this first time Landlord checklist – to make life just a little bit easier at this very busy time.

Tenancy agreement

This is the first of two blog posts, which details four important things to think about when letting your property before you have found your tenants. It shows you what you need to do to protect yourself, your property and tenants, and maximise your rental income.

Checklist For New Landlords: Part 2 will contain useful information for once you have secured suitable tenants, and covers six further items such as tenancy agreements, deposits and marketing of your property.

The checklist has been designed for first time Landlords but can also be used as a useful reminder for even the most experienced Landlords.

1. Consents to Let

This is the first thing you should do when renting out a property for the first time. If your property is subject to a mortgage, your mortgage provider must consent to the rental. If you have a corporate tenant, this will need to be in writing. In addition, if your property is leasehold you will need permission from the freeholder. This can usually be obtained from the managing agent of the building.

2. Preparation

Before potential tenants view the property, make sure that it’s clean and that you have finished any DIY. The property should be in a clean and tidy condition, particularly the kitchen, bathroom, carpets and curtains. Think about how you would hope to find it if moving in yourself. A tenant can tell if the property is well cared for and is more likely to look after it during the tenancy if it is clean at the start.

Additionally, properties that look good achieve higher rents and let more quickly. So it really is worth taking time to ensure your property is presented to the highest possible standard.

If you’re living in the property while it is being marketed, do make sure that you keep it clean and banish clutter. Keep the decorations neutral – it is worth thinking about the kind of tenant you want to attract, as each type will have different needs. For example, young professionals tend to want contemporary decoration, while students will require desks and young families generally like a kitchen table.

If your property is let furnished, include everyday items like a vacuum cleaner, ironing board and, if there is a garden, a lawn mower. If your property is unfurnished, you will still need to supply carpets, curtains, light fittings and a cooker.

Where applicable, any chimneys should be swept and boilers should be serviced and tanks filled (with instructions to the new tenants). It is also important to check every light bulb is working and that everything is in good working order within the property.

3. Insurance

It is vital that you protect yourself, your property and your contents – if included in the rental property – with the right insurance products. Firstly, all Landlord insurance should cover third party liability, ensuring any damage caused to the property by the tenants is covered. Unfortunately, basic Landlord insurance will not cover you if your tenants do not pay their rent. Rent guarantee cover can usually be bought as an add-on to your policy. Whitegates can advise you on what you need and help you secure the most competitive quotes, so contact your local Whitegates branch for more information.

4. Health and Safety

It is vital that you comply with fire, gas, electric and furniture regulations. You must make regular safety checks and keep records to protect your tenants. Safety checks also help to ensure that your insurance is valid and failure to adhere to these safety requirements can lead to potential dander and serious penalties.

Here are some safety documentation recommendations:

  • If your property has a gas supply, you will need to provide a valid Landlord’s Gas Safety Record every year.
  • To ensure electrical safety, an annual portable appliance test (PAT) is advisable, and fixed wiring tests at 5 yearly intervals.
  • You must provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for each property you wish to let. An EPC lasts for 10 years and will usually cost you around £100. This will allow anyone who is interested in renting out the property to see how energy efficient it is.
  • All relevant furniture/ furnishings must comply with fire regulations.
  • Smoke detectors should be installed on each floor of the property.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed next to each gas appliance and in any room through which a flue runs.

To find registered contractors, visit the Gas Safe Register website and/or Electrical Safety Council website. Whitegates provides a range of services to Landlords, including advising on health and safety responsibilities and can even recommend a reliable local contractor.

This article forms the first part of the Whitegates, 10 step checklist for new Landlords. You can access the next six items, in Checklist For New Landlords: Part 2.

If you would like to discuss any items mentioned above please contact your local branch, or alternatively, download our company brochure.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Tenants

 

Spring is here.

There’s something about the warmer weather, which inspires a spring clean in many of us. Maybe the bright light now streaming through our windows, which shows up a mirage of grime accumulated throughout the dank gloomy winter months.

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Whatever the reason, carrying out a deep clean now, and at regular intervals within your tenancy period, means you won’t have a huge job when you decide to move, plus it could help safeguard your deposit, saving you time and money, in the long run.

According to the Tenancy Deposit Service’s Dispute Service Annual Review, in 2014, 53% of disputes over deposits were due to cleaning. Most tenancy agreements state that you must return the property to the state you found it in, and your deposit could be a risk if you do not follow this rule.

This is why; all Whitegates local offices hold deposits under one of the three Tenancy Deposit Schemes. It gives both the landlord and the tenant peace of mind that the deposit monies have been lodged in safe hands.

Help is at Hand

When you come to make a start on your spring cleaning, it is easy to start procrastinating, so it is often good to have a checklist to help you prioritise and tick things off as you go trough your home.

A checklist that may be useful to you, is this from lifestyle expert, Martha Stewart. It outlines basic techniques that will help you clean almost every surface (or object) in any room. The tasks are broken down by location, including outdoor spaces. The checklist also focuses on window washing and upkeep, which is essential if you’re going to let the sun shine in on the bright days to come. It covers a lot, so you can tailor it to your needs.

Here are our tips to make spring cleaning less of a chore and as easy as possible.

1. Stock Up

As a tenant it is often your responsibility to provide cleaning products and utensils. The first thing to check is whether you have enough of these items to help you through. Do you have enough sprays and wipes, cloths, etc? You will need a mop and bucket, dustpan and brush, window wiper, scourers and more. If your products are running low, or your mop is looking a little less than hygienic, it may be time to invest in a new one.

2. Make it a Family Affair

Spring cleaning aside, keeping your home spik and span is a family affair. All people living in the home must contribute to the maintenance of cleanliness. Children should pick up their toys after playing with them, rather than leaving them on the floor. Crockery should be washed up after use, rather than leaving them on the kitchen worktop and dirty clothes should be placed in the laundry basket ready to be washed. These are important all year round but especially important a few days leading up to and during the big clean, to make it easier.

3. Dress the Part

It goes without saying that when you are carrying out a spring clean, you don’t want to wear your Sunday best. The most practical option is to wear comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty or stained. If you have long hair, tie it up, out the way and refrain from wearing jewellery.

4. Pace Yourself

A spring clean done well, will take a little more time than a few hours to complete. You will need to schedule in a few days to really do a good job, and to do everything on your list. To stay focused and enthusiastic, it is best to tackle one room at a time, rather than flit from one room to another. Plus, doing it this way will give you a great sense of achievement when you finish a room and see it clean and tidy.

5. Look After Yourself

As mentioned above, giving your rental home a spring clean will take time. Take regular breaks, have an energising lunch and remember to drink lots of water. Cleaning could be considered a form of exercise, and if you build up a sweat, can be tiring. So, after a long day, relax and recuperate – you could take a warm bubble bath or shower, just remember to keep it clean after you have finished!

Lastly, this is an ideal opportunity to clear out some of your unwanted or unused household items and create more space. You could donate what’s not needed to a local charity shop, pass them on to a friend or make some money and sell them at a local car boot sale or on the Internet. It is advisable to check your local newspaper to find out where and when your nearest car boot sale is held.

Keep an eye on our blog, for regular property news, tips, advice for tenants and more!

The Costs of Buying A Home

 

The process of buying your own home can be challenging at the best of times. With packing, logistics and having to notify people of your change of address, it’s easy to overlook how much things are going to cost you.

Luckily in this article you’ll find a breakdown of the type of costs you can expect to incur. We’ll look at each cost in detail and finally, give you an estimated idea of the overall budget you should aim for.

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The deposit for your new home is likely to be the first cost you incur and makes up a percentage of your overall property purchase price. An average deposit is usually between 5% and 20% of the purchase price, however if you put down a larger deposit, you’re much more likely to be given a mortgage, as well as a lower interest rate.

Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty Land Tax applies to properties that cost over £125,000. This tax applies to both freehold and leasehold properties – whether you’re buying outright or with a mortgage.

There are a variety of rates depending on the price of your property, beginning at 2% for properties in the £125,001 and £250,000 price bracket. Therefore a property at £175,000 will cost £1000 in stamp duty.

Valuation Fee

Not all mortgage lenders charge a fee for valuing a property for you. In most cases however, the charge can be anything from £150 to £1,500. This all depends on whom you choose your mortgage with and what type of mortgage you opt for.

It’s worth bearing in mind that your lender’s valuation shouldn’t be considered as an extensive survey. The valuation is purely to determine the overall value of the property for the purpose of your mortgage and may not take into account repairs and structural damage.

Surveyor’s Fee

This leads us on to paying for a detailed survey to be carried out on the property. Having a surveyor do this is crucial to gain a good understanding on any issues the property may have, before you purchase.

A basic home condition survey will cost around £250. To get the very best survey, including any structural damage to the building, the price can be closer to the £600 mark and over. It’s important to get a survey carried out, as it will save you money on repairs further on into the future.
Legal Fees

It’s difficult to get away with buying a home, without employing a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to carry out allthe legal paperwork. They will also do local searches to see whether there are any local plans or issues that might affect your property, which will cost you £250-£300. On top of this the legal fees are typically £500-£1,500 including VAT at 20%.

Electronic Transfer Fee

While this is a relatively small fee in comparison to some of the others, you’ll need to budget in at least £40 to £50 in electronic transfer fees. This will cover the cost of your lender transferring the money for your mortgage over to your solicitor.

Estate Agency Fee

How much you’ll have to pay your Estate Agent can be difficult to pin. Prices vary widely across the many different agencies on the market, however if you’re only buying a home and not selling one in order to move, you shouldn’t have to pay them anything.

If on the other hand if you’re selling in order to buy, your Estate Agent will normally charge anywhere from 1 to 3% of the overall sale price, plus 20% VAT. In situations like this, it’s best to get all of the facts you possibly can together, before approaching an agent. This will help you should you try to haggle the price down.

Removal Costs

Finally you’ll need to consider the cost of moving your furniture and possessions to your new home. Hiring a professional removal company can be a great route to go down, in order to lessen the burden and stress placed on you as you move. Many will pack your contents and unpack them upon arrival.

A typical home removal service will cost around £300 to £600, although it’s worth bearing in mind that they tend to charge more over weekends, and towards the latter end of the month.

Summary

Putting the higher end of each estimate together, based on a property of £175,000, the maximum estimated budget you’ll need to save in order move without a hitch would be in the range of £45,000.

This is a significant cost; therefore look to save in areas that aren’t crucial – areas such as removal costs and transactions fees. There are also many agencies available that can help with these costs in certain circumstances, so it’s worth exploring every possible option.

Ultimately knowing your budget will give you a goal to save towards, saving you time, money and a lot of stress further down the line.

If you are thinking of buying your own home, or would like more information on the buying process involved, contact your local Whitegates office.

How to Get Your Property Ready to Sell

 

Selling your home can be an exciting and overwhelming process. Whether you’re selling to upgrade, downgrade or simply fancy a change there’s plenty to keep your mind occupied. It’s often the case that during the excitement, people forget a fundamental part of the buying and selling cycle – preparing your current property for sale. Ideas-Floor-Rug

In this post we’ll explore several important ways you can get your home in the best possible shape. This enables you to show off your home to its fullest and ensures you make a lasting impression on potential buyers.

1. Remove Your Emotional Attachment

You’ve no doubt spent a lot of time building memories in your home, therefore getting ready to say goodbye to it can be upsetting. Slowly try to see your situation in a new light. Yes you’ll be leaving a home full of experiences, but you’ll also be creating new and better ones wherever you end up next.

Removing your emotional attachment in this way will make it easier to say goodbye in the long run. It’ll also help you tackle the next stages as highlighted below.

2. Clear Away The Clutter

Pets, children, years of general living can generate a huge amount of clutter over the years. This clutter is a distraction from the home you’re trying to sell and is likely to put buyers off.

Starting with one room at a time, slowly begin to clear away possessions that haven’t been used for more than a year. Chances are if it hasn’t been used for that long, it won’t be used in the future. A good way to do this is to have three boxes and to separate items to be kept, recycled and thrown away.

3. Keep Personal Items Out of Sight

If you like to display your identity through photographs, family portraits and personalised items, it’s best you tone this side of your personality down, at least until you’ve secured a buyer. While being individual isn’t a bad thing, it can take the emphasis away from your home, the building and the space within it.

4. Re-decorate In Neutrals

Neutral colours are perfect for creating a blankcanvas. This is why whenever you view a home to buy or rent, you’ll usually find plenty of magnolia, white and beige tones. Redecorating in this way in your own home, can create the same effect. Potential buyers will be better able to visualise their own possessions in your home, helping them to decide whether they’d fit within the space provided and how they could add their own touches.

5. Repair Damaged Areas

Damaged furniture, holes in the walls and broken door-handles aren’t going to make the best impression. They suggest you’re not interested in providing a great living space and merely want to make a sale.

It’s good practice to repair any damage before you accept buyers in to view your home. You’re likely to find some great deals on re-used furniture in local discount or thrift stores. A lick of chalk paint can also bring dull wooden furniture to life with a vintage edge.

6. Hire A Professional Cleaner

There’s nothing quite like the smell of a newly cleaned home, however it’s difficult to achieve this effect on your own. It’s worth investing a small amount of money in getting your home professionally cleaned in this instance. Not only will it make things smell good, it’s likely to transform the way your home looks – something new buyers will definitely appreciate.

7. Arrange Rooms Aesthetically

There’s one final step to take, to really make your home shine. Staging is a term used in the industry, which basically means to make a space appear in its best possible light. Staging within your home can take the form of arranging your furniture, ornaments and possessions so they’re more pleasing to the eye.

Consider using houseplants and flower arrangements to freshen up your rooms. Large mirrors are great for creating the illusion of light and space, while scatter cushions, throws and rugs help build texture and create a cosy, homely feel.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately preparing your home for sale, doesn’t have to be a harrowing experience. Providing you keep in mind your buyers, there’s no reason why the above suggestions won’t make things easier.

If you are thinking of selling your home, contact your local Whitegates office.

Doing It Yourself This Easter

With Easter, and the first bank holiday weekend of the year just around the corner, many of us will be tackling some of that DIY in and around the house that they have been putting off since the start of the year. But before you rush into a project, first take a look at our tips on what you can do on a budget that will increase the value of your home, and get it ready to sell.

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1. Paint

Many of the major DIY and home stores have sales on over the bank holiday weekend, which always makes it cost effective to stock up on essentials such as paint. For a very small investment, you can transform a room and make a huge improvement. Potential buyers feel put off by having to carry out this work themselves, so when your home presented in a move-in state, with freshly painted walls and woodwork, you are likely to sell quicker and at a higher price. But remember, keep it neutral, don’t add garish splashes of colour which your buyer will have to cover up when they move in.

2. Insulate

Having your home well insulated is a huge plus for buyers, as it can reduce heat loss and cut energy costs in the long run, a benefit for every homeowner. According to a Government report, making improvements to a property’s energy efficiency rating could add more than £16,000 on average to the sale price of a property. There are many grants available for cavity wall and loft insulation, so this one may not cost you anything at all.

3. Give it curb appeal

When you are selling your house, chances are you cant avoid getting people in through the front door, which makes it smart to create a lasting impression. Small upgrades can create an eye catching exterior on any budget. Often, sellers overlook the front entrance, but first impressions are crucial and sometimes it is the most simple of things, which make the most difference. A freshly painted front door will make a good impression to potential buyers and an affordable quick fix is to replace or renew door furniture too. Getting the outside as presentable as possible and keeping up with exterior maintenance is important. At the very least you want the outside to look better than your neighbours, which means painting the exterior of the house, cleaning out gutters, cleaning dirty windows, and having a driveway clear of rubbish.

4. Replace flooring

Take a look at your flooring. Are carpets looking tired and worn, laminates chipped and uneven? Nothing will turn buyers off more than having to replace all the flooring in a new home. It is a good idea to evaluate your floors when selling your home. Ideally you want to replace worn carpets and laminate but if your budget doesn’t allow for replacements, hiring a floor cleaner for the day to get those carpets spik and span, and laying down a cosy rug, is a good alternative.

5. Apply for planning permission

Applying for planning permission gives potential buyers possibilities and makes them feel like they are getting a lot for their money. Even if you don’t have the money for an extension or similar, submitting plans to your local planning authority will cost a few hundred pounds and will last 3 years if granted. It will ultimately make buyers feel they can put their own stamp on the property. It also provides security for potential buyers, as they can be sure that if and when they come to sell and move on, they too can increase the value by carrying out the work.

6. Modernise the kitchen

Ok, so this may take a little longer than a bank holiday weekend, however it is probably the easiest way to add value to your home. The kitchen is often the heart of the home, and therefore a major deciding factor of whether to purchase a property or not. If your kitchen could do with a makeover, investing in this room, when you come to sell really will increase the value you achieve, and reduce time to sale. However, if you do decide to replace the kitchen, bear in mind, you are not replacing it for yourself, so, as with painting, keep colours neutral.

Plus, do the maths – it is easy to go overboard and spend £25,000 on a kitchen. This may look great, but if your house is only worth £200,000, you wont recoup your investment. Rather, spend £5,000 and you will still have improved the kitchen, plus, will make your money back. If budget is tight, replacing cupboard doors and the worktops is a cost effective alternative, which will also really pay-off – but don’t spend thousands on a kitchen your buyer is likely to immediately rip out.



These are only a few of the ways you can increase the value of your home on a budget, there are lots more, and you don’t have to do them all. Pick out what suits you and your budget and make a start.

If you are selling or thinking of selling your property, we are here to help. Contact your local Whitegates office or request a Sales Valuation when you are ready.