23 Sep

Is the housing market starting to recover from Brexit fatigue?

Is the housing market starting to recover from Brexit fatigue?

Among the numerous uncertainties that we’ve been living with under the cloud of Brexit since 2016, and perhaps the most worrying for you, is house prices. With all kinds of markets in states of decline or at best, stagnant, people have been putting off looking for a new home and holding back from putting their house on the market.

There may finally be some good news that shows we’re moving past this though. Reports published by the National Association of Estate Agents last month show that they UK housing market may be beginning to recover from the stagnation caused by Brexit. As the country starts to settle and people just start to get on with their lives, it seems homeowners and potential buyers are leading that march.

The NAEA research reported a 16% increase in the average number of house hunters registered to estate agents in May compared to the previous month. This in itself is good news but coupled with the fact that the average number is also the highest it’s been in 8 months means that this could represent a strong trend rather than just a blip.

It’s not just good news for sellers though. More potential buyers in the market than the supply can accommodate can just lead to disproportionately inflated house prices. Fortunately though t5here was also a 17% increase in the average numbers of properties up for sale with estate agents in the same period. Now, although sellers might not like to hear this as it will inevitably impact on the price they can sell for, it’s undoubtedly good news all round.

An unbalanced market on either supply or demand side is not sustainable in the long term. And while the bubble of a sellers’ market might seem good for some, it’s a false confidence. Economists have told us for years that steady and stable growth is the only way for everyone in a market to benefit, both individually and as a whole. So the fact that both buying and selling markets are growing steadily and, perhaps more importantly, at comparable rates is good news all round. Those looking to enter the markets can now do so with greater confidence but people looking further ahead in the future can rest assured that there is a good chance that these changes are here to stay.

One of the big lessons we’ve learned from the Brexit process is how closely linked so many parts of our personal and professional lives are interlinked and can impact on each other. The way that the housing market affects the retail industry, job markets, currency rates and even travel markets, has become abundantly clear of late. So, even though there is still a lot of uncertainty around what a final Brexit conclusion will mean for us as individuals and as a country, we can be encouraged by this big step towards real signs of stability. Indeed, as market confidence grows, we could soon begin to see a positive knock on effect in other markets too.

16 Sep

What haven’t you factored into  your new home search?

What haven’t you factored into  your new home search?

It’s never too early to start looking for your next home. Whether it’s your first or 10th move, buying a new home is a big decision. Don’t wait until you are ready to start making offers before you see what is available. There are many factors that will influence what you eventually choose, when you chose to buy and how you go about it. The more information you have, the better the position you will be in. And the best way to absorb is by getting stuck in.

Do your research
If you’re moving away from your locality, go and spend time in desired areas. Attend local events, chat to people who have been living in the area for a while. You’ll not only find out information that might not be readily available online but you could also stumble upon buying opportunities early. Speak to friends and family about your thoughts and plans, you never know what might come out of a conversation. They might know someone who is looking to sell or thinking about it. Opening the door to conversations like this might afford you the chance to view a house and talk to a potential seller before they’ve even listed.

Get your ducks in a row
Get the finance question out of the way early. Whether it’s through your bank or an Independent Financial Advisor, find out how much you are going to be able to borrow – if applicable, how much you might get for your current home – and then work out your budget from there. You may learn that you need to work on increasing this budget through savings, home improvements or waiting for changes to housing markets. But the sooner you know, the better, so you can start working on a tangible and planned target.

Don’t make the mistake of starting a search with the wrong budget ideas. The disappointment that comes with finding a perfect home only to realise you can’t afford it is perhaps on par with ruling yourself out of a property range. You may never realise that you could have afforded much more but that doesn’t mean the opportunity still hasn’t been equally missed.

Once you have your budget, make sure you maintain or improve your credit score. Not everyone is aware that your credit rating can change every month. If you’re in the rare and enviable position of having a perfect score then you’ll want to make sure it stays that way. If your score is affecting the amount you can borrow or your available interest rates then you’ll want to find out how you can improve this and start working on it. It only takes a fluctuation of a few points on your interest rate to move a monthly mortgage payment from too expensive to affordable, and vice versa.

You’ve likely already got a good idea of what your new house will look like, what it needs inside and in the local area. If you take a little time to add these simple steps to your process, you’ll put yourself in the best position to making your next move the dream step-up in life that you’ve thought about for so long.

09 Sep

Temporary tenancy or perfect rental home

Temporary tenancy or perfect rental home

Finding the perfect home isn’t easy but taking the right steps can make the process less painless and more hassle free. Before you start searching it is very helpful to have a clear idea of what you need in a new home and what you would ideally like in a new home. Making two lists of these, ideally in priority order, will help not only when it comes to searching property websites but also when you are weighing up the pros and cons of properties on your shortlist.

Identify your needs
Different things are important to different people and you may never have thought in detail about where your priorities lie. Taking the time to sit down and work out what you need and where these needs rank will help when it comes to searching and short listing. Your priority list might look a bit like this:

  • Location – I want to live in the town centre
  • Local amenities – I need a park within 15 minutes’ walk and a late night convenience store that doesn’t close before 11pm.
  • Room sizes – I don’t mind a small kitchen but need a living room that is comfortable for more than 4 people to use regularly
  • Tenant permissions – I’d like to be allowed guests to stay for more than 5 days at a time
  • Storage space – I’d like to be able to keep my bike inside but tucked away
  • Travel links – I don’t want to be travelling more than 30 minutes on public transport to work.

Don’t rely on agents
There are growing opportunities for peer-to-peer tenancies, many of which come with the same level of professionalism and protection for both tenant and landlord. This will both expand the opportunities available to you and potentially save you a significant amount on fees and monthly rental.

The important thing to remember is that you need to protect your rights going into any tenancy agreement. If you’re going through a landlord, don’t assume you shouldn’t have your agreement checked by a second party any more than you may assume that a private contract would be less official. Notice periods, building maintenance responsibilities and deposit protection are some of the essential parts of an agreement and you should make sure you are comfortable with the protections afforded you in each. If you don’t have someone you can ask to check an agreement for you, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau – as well as other online sources – will be able to guide you through checking an agreement before signing.

If you don’t ask
Many tenants wrongly believe that unlike purchasing, rental prices are non-negotiable. If you are making compromises on your wish list or if the property has been on the market for a while, there is a good chance that you will be able to negotiate a reduced rate on the monthly rent. The likelihood and range of this will vary between housing markets but if you don’t ask, you wont get.

Much like with buying, the housing rental market has peak and off peak seasons. Long public holidays, seasons and the presence of local school catchment areas are some of the many factors that affect when demand for tenancies are high and low. If you have the flexibility to work outside of high demand times then you will benefit both from a wider choice of property/reduced competition and more competitive prices. But whatever the market you are searching in or timeframes you are working to, if you have a clear plan and are willing to put the time in then your perfect home is just around the corner.

02 Sep

Unpacking the packing process – tips and tricks

Unpacking the packing process – tips and tricks

 

Sourcing materials

There are all kinds of places to go to pick up the necessary boxes, tape and packing materials to pack all your belongings. Ebay and Gumtree constantly have offers of cheap packing boxes, sometimes even free to those who are willing to go and collect. But before you jump in the car to drive 20 miles in rush hour traffic just to save a few pennies, it’s worth pausing to think about two things. First there’s the false economy. Receiving something for free will always feel like a win but have you really saved that much after you factor in travel costs, hassle and time? Then there’s the second thing, time. Perhaps more than most large scale projects, moving house will take up a lot of time which in many cases you won’t have. Even if you are saving a considerable amount by sourcing your own materials, does that saving justify the time investment?

Sourcing your packing materials from your storage company will not only cut out a large amount of hassle but the staff will also be able to fairly accurately advise you on how much you need, not just number of boxes but also the range of sizes depending on your belongings. Running out of boxes before you finish is far from ideal but equally, being left with a mass of cardboard that you don’t need is just one more thing to store or to dispose of.

Room-by-room

Once you’ve got everything you need, now begins the mammoth task of getting everything in. Steady and methodical is the best approach here. Pick the order you want to go through the house and go room-by-room. Start with the rooms that contain the things you use least often and work up.  Make a list of the order you want to go in and after each room is finished, cross it of the list. Not many people enjoy packing and it can be a grinding task. Seeing the list gradually shrink down will combat the feeling that you’re not getting anywhere.

Sort as you go

Packing is also a great opportunity to sort through your belongings to declutter. We’ve all got things that we’ve been meaning to get rid of and things that we really should let go but haven’t been able to so far. You’ll be going through all your belongings as you pack anyway so it’s perhaps the best opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and keep a “give-away” box nearby to sort as you go. This of course has the added bonus of reducing the capacity of whatever removal solution you are using.

Know your own strength

Some of us like to think we’re stronger than we are. And some of us don’t realise our mistake until we’ve pulled a back muscle. Keep weight in mind as you pack each and every box. Don’t just test-lift every box when they’re full but also think about where you may be carrying them. Is there a long walk to the van at either end? How many flights of stairs are you going to have to navigate? In each case it’s better to be safe than sorry, more boxes that weigh less is far better than the alternative.

However, if you don’t have the time to take a methodical approach, think about bringing in the experts. A good storage company will have either packing services or partnerships with a firm that does. Speak to them about the options and perhaps you can tick the whole house off with one phone call.

26 Aug

Need storage? Find the site and service that fits best

Need storage? Find the site and service that fits best

 

There are many reasons that you might need to put some or all of your belongings somewhere safe and accessible for a while. Are you moving house and have a gap between moving out of your old place and into your new? Are you downsizing for a short time but don’t want to get rid of furniture that you’ll need later down the line? Maybe you’re in the process of selling and just want to declutter a little for those all-important estate agent pictures. Whatever the reason, there may be far more options available to you than you realise.

Fit for purpose

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all storage companies work to a standard offering. Although there are many common options that you’ll find everywhere, there is also a lot that varies. This is perhaps no more apparent than when it comes to unit sizes. And not just sizes but shape too. The latter might seem irrelevant but when it comes to working out what you need, it’s important to factor in the size and dimensions of your larger items in particular. Presumably you’ll check that they fit in but don’t forget to also consider how other items and boxes will fit in around them. This is particularly important if you are going to need to regularly access some of your belongings while they’re in storage.

A good storage company will not only provide the volume and dimensions of their units but also offer to invite you to visit and see units before you rent anything. Take this offer whenever it’s given and if it’s not, ask for it. This may not immediately seem important but getting a feel for how your things will fit in will make the whole process much easier. It could also save you a lot if you realise that you can take a smaller space than you first anticipated.

Run the numbers

The size of your storage unit isn’t the only way that costs could change for you. Although every storage unit will have a minimum required insurance cover you’ll need to take out, that minimum will vary. Equally, the insurance premium for each band of insurance cover will fluctuate with each storage company. Be sure to find out what the varying bands are for each level of cover at storage companies you’re interested in. Then compare these against each other.

It’s also standard practise in the industry to offer introductory discounts for new customers. These Not only are all the discounts slightly different but they all appeal to different customer needs. A large first month discount is great if you’re only going to be using your unit for a short time, but if you know that your belongings will be stored away for a long time, then a smaller but longer spanning discount may well be much more cost effective in the long term.

The key factors that everyone considers like location, opening times, and collection/delivery services are naturally very important but these extra tips just give you an overview of some other important considerations that will affect how well your storage solution matches your needs. Whether you’re looking for a storage solution now or in several months’ time, start talking to companies sooner rather than later. You might be surprised about how much you haven’t considered.

19 Aug

Moving home: A step by step guide

Moving home: A step by step guide

 

The stress and hassle of moving home, like so much in life, can be neutralised with a little forethought and some timely actions. Here are the essential things to think about.

Book a removal firm

As soon as you have your moving date, perhaps even before, do your research on the best removal firm to meet your needs. Not only will you be able to get the best price if you take the time to call around long in advance, but you are likely to solve a number of other things on your to-do list when you’ve selected your remover. The best operators will be able to advise and sometimes supply you with any storage you need, help plan the logistics of the day and in even provide a packing service if you need it.

Schedule your packing

For those doing all the packing themselves, last-minute should be the last option. There’s no need to get everything done weeks in advance but a good plan of what will be done and when will ease a lot of pressure. Make a list of the order in which you’ll be packing and stick it up on the fridge. Put a date against each item and when they’re done, cross them off. The format this takes will vary widely but for everyone the considerations are similar:

  • What can be packed long in advance?
  • How much is fragile and needs extra care?
  • What can be done solo and what will need extra help?
  • What will be needed right up until move day?
  • What will be needed first after the move?

Make a need-to-know list

This isn’t just the usual utilities and bank changes. Think about the subscriptions that are sent to your home, the family and friends who send birthday and Christmas cards, even the local newsagent that delivers the daily paper. It’s likely that it wont be possible to change some until very close to the move but if you start your list long in advance, the chances of missing someone out will be much lower.

“Non-essential” essentials

If you’ve done all of the above then when it comes to the night before, you should be able to relax and reflect on the happy memories that live in the home you’re saying goodbye to. This in turn will then allow you to get a good night’s sleep. We hear all the time about how important sleep is but this is never truer than on the night before a big and long day.

Even after a good rest the night before, there’s little doubt that moving day may well be a very long one. So plan dinner in advance. By the time you get to sitting down after it’s all done, the thought of cooking will be the last thing you’ll want to entertain. Whether it’s finding out the best local pub or restaurant to go to for dinner or sourcing a good nearby pizza delivery place, have a game plan for kicking back to refuel at the end of the day even before it has begun.

12 Aug

Britons leave the UK over Britain leaving Europe

Britons leave the UK over Britain leaving Europe

 

Research carried out in the removals industry over the past 3 years has revealed that it’s not just non-UK citizens who are leaving the country since the referendum. A study carried out by industry experts has shown that over half of all overseas moves since 2016 have been as a direct result of the referendum. Tens of thousands of Britons leave the UK each year to settle abroad and in one company case study, 53% of these have chosen to leave because of our separation with Europe.

Interestingly, the more popular destinations for this group have not been countries in Europe but further afield. America and Australia are at the top of the list with Canada and New Zealand being notably popular too.

The market impact

As more statistics are published, commentators are speculating about the impact this will have on the moving industry. Many companies that are already operating international moves are seeing surges in business and those that hadn’t been are gearing up to do so in order to tap into this growing market. The opportunity is two-fold too as the number of EU citizens who are uncertain about what Brexit will mean for their future are also moving back to the continent in large numbers.

The interesting paradox, according to some, is that while the growth in this line of business is healthy for removal firms, the increased competition in the marketplace means that it is becoming a buyers’ market. With more competition, prices become more competitive as consumers have far more options to choose from than they would have had in previous years. Whether such changes will be a short term blip or have a longer term effect on the industry will only become clear as time goes on.

Caution advised

Industry bodies are asking that both operators and consumers exercise caution during this time. For businesses, it is essential that they don’t rush into a marketplace before they are logistically ready. It’s not just the resource capacity, but also the understanding of the rules and regulations they’ll need to follow if stepping up to international moves. The cost of mistakes, particularly when abroad, can far outweigh the increased revenue from greater business.

On the consumer side, the appeal of a keen quote can distract from checking out the experience and ability of a company to deliver. People are being advised to remain diligent in checking out the necessaries of a removal company before entering into an agreement. Anyone unsure of the requirements should check this out with their estate agents both in the UK and their destination. And however useful this information, it always pays to engage a company that’s accredited by The British Association of Removers to ensure quality and diligence.