Category Archives: Sales

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Landlords – be aware of energy efficiency changes

The Energy Efficiency of Private Rented Property in England and Wales Regulations 2015 has introduced several measures that have started to take effect.

In the UK, there are still plenty of naturally inefficient properties. An estimated 343,000 private rented properties have an EPC rating of F or G and there will be a ban on granting new tenancies for any properties with these ratings. This takes effect from April 2018.

This measure will apply to all existing or new tenancies by April 2020 and failure to comply could lead to a fixed penalty of up to £5000.

Manjit Virdi, Redstones’ Managing Director advises, “If you have an F or G rated property, start assessing any potential improvement plans as soon as possible and get that rating increased before April 2018. There are funding initiatives available that could help. We are happy to advise landlords on a personal basis.”

In addition, since April 2016, tenants have the right to request energy improvements to any property they let. Landlords cannot reasonably refuse requests, however, they are not required to contribute funding. If a tenant makes a request, they must identify the source of funding for any proposed works and identify proposed improvements from a government approved list.

If a valid request is received, landlords must respond in writing within 1 month, either consenting to the improvement or refusing consent. This must be backed up with valid reasons and there are only certain grounds on which consent can be refused. Exemptions include if an expert advises that improvement may damage the fabric or structure of the property or if the improvements will result in a reduction in the market value of the property of more than 5%.

Redstones are always on hand to advise landlords on changes in legislation and offer a diverse range of services that reduce the time and stress of being a pro-active landlord. Find out more about our lettings and property management services.

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How to choose the best estate and lettings agency

Estate and lettings agents don’t always have the best reputation but with our focus on customer service, Redstones is the brand that goes against those pre-conceptions.

For those seeking a home for sale or rent, in addition to landlords, here’s what we always advise:

Complete your research

Choose an estate agent that is selling or renting properties similar to yours or those you are interested in and an agent that is prominent in your local area. Ask about their track record in your area.

Assess estate and letting agents

Why not pop into the office and meet them? Are they professional, friendly and enthusiastic? It’s essential to find out about their marketing methods too. Are they utilising SEO, 3D floor plans and advertising on all of the best websites?

It’s so important to build up a good rapport with your agent from the start too. You need to find them to be honest and trusting, as well as flexible.

Ask about the level of service you can expect. Ensure they have good local knowledge and the right level of experience. Be honest about expressing your own concerns too. Perhaps you want ensure they will be flexible in terms of showing buyers around your home or if you’re a landlord, you will want to know the level of support the agency will offer.

Redstones offer many unique services that are highly attractive to landlords such as Switch Agent and Redstones Platinum Total Care.

If you want a valuation for your home, don’t always go for the agency that states the highest price. Ask them how they intend to achieve the best possible price, as there’s much more to selling a home than just price.

Many people also ask family and friends for recommendations and some canny individuals even pose as buyers so see how effective a certain estate agent is!

Check testimonials and accreditations

Recommendation websites and independent testimonials are useful too, as you can find out more about the experiences of previous customers.

Always make sure the estate and letting agency you choose is accredited as well. At Redstones, we are members of NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) and ARLA (Association Residential Letting Agents).

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How to ‘winter-proof’ your property

As a tenant or home owner, it’s worth thinking about how you can ‘winter-proof’ your property, so that you are well-prepared regardless of what the unpredictable British weather decides to throw at us!

Here are 5 easy to do tips:

  • To prepare for the expense of Christmas, why not compare utility providers to see if you can get any better deals? Remember that bills are always higher in Winter and good deals are available.
  • Are any of your rooms prone to damp? Before the cold weather really sets in, move all furniture away from walls to allow air to circulate better.
  • If your garden furniture or any other objects such as potted plants are still in the garden, make sure you keep them covered in a garage or shed to avoid the ravages of winter weather.
  • Cracked and burst pipes can be prevented by ensuring an even temperature in your home. Set your thermostat at a lower temperature when nobody is at home and set it to gradually rise just before the evening.
  • Consider draught excluders to keep the heat in for doors or even a draught-excluding letter box!

Here are some bigger tasks that are worth considering too:

  • Get your boiler serviced, clean the guttering from leaves and bleed your radiators if necessary before it gets too cold.
  • Don’t forget to check your roof! Cracked or broken tiles let water in, leading to damp, so it’s worth getting a professional in to check if you’re concerned.
  • Ensure that your home is as well insulated as it can be to keep the heat in and to save money. Windows and doors should be double-glazed and the walls and loft could benefit from cavity insulation. Keeping damp and mould at bay is the key.
  • To prevent too many leaves from falling or even branches falling onto your home or car as the weather gets very cold, prune back any large trees that reside close to your property or driveway.

Some forward thinking and vigilance is all you need to assure yourself that you’re keeping your home warm and safe.

Alternatively, if you’re considering a new home to buy or for renting this winter or beyond, Redstones has a great selection available.

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The impact of school performance on property prices

Nationally, figures have been released that reveal that house buyers are prepared to pay more to live near high performing schools. This could also offer landlords great opportunities, if they take this into consideration.

Research from Lloyds Bank has revealed that parents pay an average of £53,000 extra to live in such areas. This figure has increased by 31% or £13,000 on 2015. Where pupils are achieving the strongest GCSE results, average property prices have soared to £366,744.

The research demonstrates that average house prices in areas with a state school in the top 30 of exam results have soared by £76,000 since 2011 and seven of the areas covered in the survey have seen house prices rise by over £100,000 since 2011.

Parents who manage to secured a place for their child at a leading school have seen prices rise from an average of £290,683 to £366,744 over the last five years. This represents a significant increase of 26%. This is in contrast to average house price increases in England, which have increased by £42,145 over the past 5 years from £240,208 to £282,353. This is an increase of 18%.

Of course, the popularity of areas close to high performing schools means that some buyers will be ‘priced out’. However, for landlords or buy to let investors, it could represent a great opportunity.

Director of Redstones, Manjit Virdi says, “This research shows the importance that parents place on living near top performing schools. For any landlords with properties in such areas, this should be reflected in their rents and for landlords looking to expand their property portfolios, checking academic league tables as part of their research would be a wise move.”

Making house moving run smoothly

It is very rare to hear from anyone who didn’t find the process of moving house stressful. However, being prepared and making sure you don’t miss anything will be the key to making the process run as smoothly as possible.

Here are some of our top, tried and tested tips!:

  • Ensure that you have cancelled all bills and let all banks, insurance companies, the DVLA etc. know of your house move a few weeks in advance. Redirect post in advance too, in order to protect yourself from identity theft.
  • Research the best value utility contracts for your new property well in advance and remember to read the meters in both properties on your moving day
  • Use a good removal firm. Seek recommendations from friends or members of the British Association of Removers. Confirm the time and date of your move with the company in advance too.
  • Save time and cost by doing as much of the packing as you can yourself, clearing your diary to ensure you leave enough time to pack your belongings
  • Make sure that everyone who is helping you move is aware of the journey between your old and new property
  • Mark all boxes that you pack with the content and the name of the room in which they belong
  • Make arrangements for food and refreshments on moving day, keeping tea, coffee, milk and the kettle to one side!
  • Try to avoid Mondays and Fridays for your moving days, which are the busiest days on the roads
  • Be considerate to the new owners and explain how crucial items work (perhaps leave out instructions) such as your burglar alarm, boiler switches or a built-in oven. Also, provide details of who currently provides utilities at your property
  • Check all windows and door are locked and that utilities are turned off before you leave

These are some essential tips but as you get ready for the big move, it’s worth keeping a notebook close by and making any notes to remember that you feel will make the move more effective. Being as organised as possible is sure to miminise your stress on moving day!

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Important considerations for choosing your next home

Determining what you want and need when choosing your next home is vital. Buying a new home is an expensive and long-term decision, so it’s worth thinking through all of the considerations.

The first set of considerations is what you may want from the property itself, in terms of number of bedrooms and bathrooms, parking provisions, a private garden or conservatory. Consider the amount of time or money you are willing to invest in refurbishment or redecoration too. If you speak to an estate agent such as Redstones, let them know what elements you would be willing to compromise on and what you don’t want.

A major decision will be whether or not you wish to consider a new build property. Some buyers want the challenges of refurbishing an existing property if it offers them other attractive features they desire, such as ample space or a conservatory. However, new builds are growing in popularity because they require less money and time to redecorate or repair. They are often more energy efficient than traditional properties and mean that they will be no upward chains upon purchase, making the process of exchange quicker and less stressful. New homes also come with a National House Building Council (NHBC) 10 year warranty.

Another big consideration is the area you will be moving into. Research is crucial to see whether the area suits your lifestyle. Information to gather includes house prices, school performance in the local area, public transport links and other amenities. Use Government websites to check council tax bandings in the area and information on population, crime, health and housing. The Highways Agency website provides information on road transport links and plans for future development that may impact house prices. In addition, the Environment Agency offers data on pollution or flooding, if this is a concern.

Managing Director of Redstones, Manjit Virdi says, “The bottom line is that if you’re looking for your next home, thorough research really pays off and will ensure that you make the right decision. Redstones are always on hand to advise home buyers as we know our local areas extremely well, so we always welcome questions from potential new home buyers who are trying to make the best possible decision they can.”

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Achieving the right style with your next home

If you’re currently searching for a new dream home, have you given any thought to how you can achieve that impressive designer interior, without the price tag to match?

Here’s how to achieve an effortlessly stylish look:

Declutter
We all hold onto furniture or household objects we don’t really like or use anymore. Make the effort to only include furnishings that you love, which really work together. Even re-positioning your existing furniture can have a big impact.

Simplicity is key
Why not let your high quality furniture or accessories do the talking and keep walls clean and crisp? Good décor should be easy on the eye and kept simple and striking.

Pay attention to lighting

To create a particular atmosphere or mood, lighting is key. It’s not just an after-thought. Nowadays, lighting itself can be a work of art. In particular, metallic finishes are becoming very popular.

Make bedrooms and bathrooms luxurious

Crisp, white sheets are the latest in vogue look and a bed throw and some plump cushions can help create the feel of a 5 star hotel. For bathrooms, keep toiletries hidden away, whilst displaying any luxury handwashes and complement this with some high quality, fluffy towels.

Kitchens
Kitchens are the heart of the home and make the greatest impact to visitors, so place some extra effort here. Keep all surfaces as clutter free as possible and freshen up the space with some beautiful flowers or plants.

Accessories
A great way to keep up with the latest trends, but with minimal expense, is to invest in simple accessories such as vases, candle sticks or small items of furniture that embrace the latest colour trends or finishes, such as copper or rose gold.

A welcoming front
Any pots and plants in your garden or near the front door creates a welcoming atmosphere and helps establish your stylish new home as one to admire.

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Spring cleaning before your big move

Many people sell up and move home in the spring and summer, which makes right now a perfect time for a spring clean before the ‘big moving day’ to save you both time and money before a house move.

Remember that reducing clutter can help you focus on your plans to move, reducing the stress involved. Here are Redstones tips for making your spring cleaning much simpler:

1. Be prepared
Start cleaning a few weeks before you plan to move and ensure that the right tools are in place, including the correct amount of dusters, bins bags and cleaning products! Start looking into finding a professional removals company too.

2. Declutter effectively
Go through your house and work out what you do and don’t want to take with you to your new home. Don’t waste time and money on packing, moving and storing any furniture and items you no longer need.

3. Start cleaning
Clean your own house as thoroughly as possible for the new occupiers and think about arranging for your new property to be cleaned. It’s always better to clean carpets and windows without having to empty rooms again. You could tackle this yourself or there are plenty of cleaning companies that charge reasonably for this service.

4. Some useful cleaning tips
You don’t necessarily have to throw everything away. Save old towels and bed linen for the move. They can be used as dust sheets, for wrapping furniture or for covering carpets if any painting is taking place. Remember that some of your old belongings can still be valuable, so consider eBay or a garage or car boot sale. Finally, ensure you wear comfortable and protective clothes when moving and keep rooms well ventilated if working with chemical cleaning products.

Cleaning your current home and ensuring your new home is clean and comfortable too takes some organised effort but will help you settle in faster in the long-run.

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Speeding up the home selling process

When you’re selling your home, often the last thing you want is for the process to take a long time. So, what is the best way to improve your home’s ability to sell? Redstones recommend that you try these top tips:

Understand the market
One of the main reasons for a house not selling is because it’s priced too high. Despite the money you may have spent on the property, you need to go with what the housing market in your area dictates. Look at the prices of comparable homes and ensure your home is priced competitively.

‘Fixer upper’ homes can be difficult to sell
Nowadays, more people are looking for homes they can move into quickly, without conducting significant repairs. Avoid making your home look like a ‘fixer upper’ by fixing any damage, painting the home to freshen it up or tending to the garden to make your home an inviting prospect.

Location, location, location
The location of your home is vitally important to a buyer. Emphasise the good points about your location to buyers, including access to amenities, schools or even strong broadband access!

First impressions count
Keep your home neutral, simple and uncluttered. When buyers come around for viewings, it’s important that they can imagine it as their home, with their belongings.

Always be flexible
Just like you, remember that buyers are busy people. Always be flexible about when you can show them around your home. Also, to compete with other homes in the area, make sure you are prepared for viewings by keeping your home clean and orderly to make the best possible impression.

If your home isn’t selling as quickly as you would ideally want, why not give some of these tips a try? Alternatively, Redstones offer tailored advice to help. Discover even more about the home selling process with Redstones.

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How will the Brexit affect property prices?

It’s a question that many buyers and sellers are asking us right now – how will the Brexit affect property prices? Redstones have been following the latest developments carefully.

Expert views are all mixed. George Osborne has made public comments about mortgage rates rising and house prices plummeting post-Brexit by an estimated 18%, causing concern for some who may be downsizing but perhaps not for first-time buyers. The ratings agency Moody’s has stated that first-time buyers would benefit from a vote to leave the EU, as a decrease in house prices would make it more affordable for people trying to get onto the property ladder.

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) have stated that Brexit would depress future price rises, leaving the average UK house worth £2,300 less in 2018. These leading industry bodies also state that rental amounts may fall if Britain exits the EU.

Interestingly, a KPMG poll of 25 global real estate investors has revealed that two thirds believe a Brexit would result in less investment into property in Britain. This is because, in times of uncertainty, investors feel more comfortable to sit tight.

A lack of investment could affect the rate at which house building occurs, which will only make the current housing shortage worse. Furthermore, a shortage of workers from abroad to work on house building projects could also occur. However, some believe that uncertainty for investors and developers may prop up property prices, which have already jumped nearly 10% in the UK in 2015.

Although nobody quite knows the outcome of the referendum vote yet and the resulting impact on the property market, the potential impact is yet another consideration for the public to take into account.