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The Blog

Jun 3, 2023

FIRST-TIME BUYER TIPS

So, you've decided to buy your first home? Congratulates! But, before you get ahead of yourself, let us talk you through a few things to make your experience as stress-free as possible... The first step To make you more attractive to sellers, and to save time in the long run, get a mortgage in principle in place. Get a little help from a friend Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you know someone who has recently purchased their home. They will be able to offer you their experience and, more importantly, their contacts if you’re buying in the same area as them. The all-important deposit You probably already know this by now, but a mortgage deposit is the lump sum of money you put towards your new home upfront, and it is a percentage of the total house price. Normally, a deposit is between 10% and 20%, but can be as low as 5% from some lenders currently. Remember, the bigger the deposit you have to put down, the more likely you are to land a low-interest rate. Don’t be afraid to negotiate Sure, the property market is full of ups and downs, but don’t be afraid to negotiate if the price is out of your budget. Because of the smooth process, first-time buyers are favoured by sellers, which will work in your favour. Don’t pay over the odds or out of your budget. Don’t forget the extra fees Saving for a deposit can be tough, but remember those extra fees. Costs such as solicitor’s fees and moving fees should always be taken into consideration but are often forgotten. Insurance Having insurance is not only a sensible thing to have but it’s also a necessity when it comes to buying a home. Most mortgage lenders will ask you have buildings insurance in place to proceed with your contract. Be patient Most first-time buyers are surprised by how long the process takes when buying a home. Prepare to play the waiting game as the process can be painfully slow. We’re talking months here. Different types of surveys Your chosen lender will carry out a valuation survey to check if your found home is worth the asking value. You could also pay for your own survey - which, even though it costs, will be more in-depth. Time to get your documents prepared Alongside your ID and proof of address, a mortgage application often requires further information such as bank statements, payslips, and pension plans. Get all your paperwork together as soon as possible for a smooth application process. Always read the small print Prepare yourself for a mountain of paperwork throughout the whole process, but always remember one thing - always read the small print. It’s easy to get over-excited when things seem to be going to plan, but don’t get caught out because of the small print.

May 3, 2023

PROTECTING YOUR HOME WHEN YOU'RE AWAY

We all want to protect our home when we’re away from it - but sadly, most of us don’t take any safety measures to do it. The following tips are designed to help you keep your home safe when you’re away. SECURE THOSE DOORS AND WINDOWS We start these tips with an obvious one - many break-ins are carried out by simply smashing a weak door or window or forcing a vulnerable lock. If your doors and windows have seen better days, then it’s time for an upgrade. TIME TO GET AN ALARM If you already have an alarm system, make sure you properly activate it before you leave. If you don’t already have one, it’s time for you to make an investment. A good alarm system doesn’t cost the world and is one of the best deterrents money can buy. COMMUNITY CONNECTION It’s time to make use of your community. If you have a neighbour you trust, then it’s a good idea to tell them when you’re going away and coming back - this way, if they notice any suspicious activity around your home, they can call the police on your behalf. DON’T TELL THE WORLD As good as social media is, you should never post when you’re going away anywhere online. It’s easy for criminals to monitor social media, especially if your account is public. Keep the holiday photos off social media until you’re back. CHECK YOUR HOME INSURANCE POLICY Just because you have home insurance, doesn’t mean you’re always covered if the worst happens. Many home insurance policies state a limit on how many days you can leave your home unoccupied before your claim is rejected. It’s always worth taking a look at your policy to make sure you’re still covered. KEEPING UP APPEARANCES Opportunistic burglars will always look for an easy target, so keeping your home looking lived-in while you’re away should always be a priority. The best way to achieve this lived-in look is by buying plug timers - this way, lights will turn on and off when you’re away.

Apr 15, 2023

What’s on guide!

What? Wat Tyler Country Park Where? Pitsea Hall Lane, Pitsea, Basildon When? 9am-5pm everyday Nominated by English Nature as a ‘Site of Specific Interest’, Wat Tyler Country Park has 125 acres of country walks, wildlife spotting, and adventure play for kids. There are always events going on to keep the kids entertained (including Easter events and trails!) and a lovely café to catch a family lunch! What? Hadleigh Spring Fair Where? Hadleigh Old Fire Station, Hadleigh When? Sunday 28th April 2019 Get ready to celebrate spring with this family fun spring fair! Craft Stalls, a merry-go-round, children’s activities, home-made cakes and lots of fun to be had, this event promises no one will go bored, and best of all – it’s free! What? Rent Where? Chelmsford City Theatres, Fairfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex When? Monday 29th April - Saturday 4th May This April, the talented and award-winning Young Gen will be performing Jonathan Larson’s hit rock musical ‘Rent School Edition’. This inspiring musical tells the story of a group of friends and young artists struggling to survive and create a life in the East Village of New York City. With phenomenal songs, this is a show that you must see. What? London Marathon Where? Various London locations, London When? Sunday April 28th 2019 Join the crowds of spectators lining the 26.2 mile route of the world-famous London Marathon and cheer on your favourite runners as they break a sweat while wending their way through the capital. You'll find the largest crowds at Tower Bridge and Embankment and the emotional finish of the Marathon takes place on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. What? Calendar Girls: The Musical Where? Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-Sea When? Tuesday 23rd – Saturday 27th April Calendar Girls- The Musical by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth is the award-winning production based on the true story of the calendar girls – a group of ordinary ladies who achieved something extraordinary. This marvelous musical comedy received fantastic five star reviews in London’s West End and features an all-star cast. What? Free Mini Golf Where? Canary Wharf When? From April 15th 2019 Brush off your putting skills, because free mini golf is back! With 9 holes to play through, including the classic ‘loop-de-loop’, the ‘death drop’, and many more trick shot opportunities to show off your prowess, this is the perfect chance to foster some healthy competition in the office and have fun at the same time. What? Dr Feelgood Where? Civic Theatre, Chelmsford When? Friday 19th April Formed on Canvey Island in Essex in the early 1970s, Dr. Feelgood remains one of the most popular and exciting live rhythm and blues acts in the world. The raw and uncompromising style of their performance resulted in the album Stupidity that immediately went to the number one position in the U.K. charts. What? Chelmsford Jazz Club Where? Cramphorn Studio, Chelmsford When? Sunday 14th April Matt Wates (Sax) Leon Greening (Piano) Julian Bury (Bass) Matt Fishwick (Drums) come together to play some incredible jazz. For an evening of great music, drinks and entertainment, come on down.

Apr 3, 2023

Advice if your property isn’t selling

When you first put your property on the market it’s easy to get over-excited - you were probably full of anticipation and assumed you’d get multiple viewings and an early offer. But, as weeks, or perhaps even months pass, your excitement plummets as the interest in your property isn’t what you anticipated. If this scenario sounds familiar, then read on to hear our possible reasons for this... You chose the wrong estate agent This is one of the most important factors why your property hasn’t sold yet. If you’re not choosing a local agent with years of experience then you could potentially be setting yourself up for failure instantly. Also, it is extremely important you get along with your chosen agent and they love your property as much as you do. You launched at the wrong time of year Spring is traditionally the best time to sell your property, but there are “bad” months - months such as December slow dramatically thanks to buyer priorities changing due to the festive season. Ask your agent when’s the best time to sell in your area. Your house isn’t ready for viewings Ask yourself, “is my house ready for public viewing?”. If you’ve had viewings but no offers then perhaps you need to tidy up or de-clutter to show off the property’s full potential. Why not even give the whole place a fresh lick of paint to give it that showhome look? Be honest with yourself, see yourself as a buyer and not the owner - you’re there to sell the property, not make it your forever home. Your photography is unflattering Are the images taken by your estate agent dark or amateurish? If you’re struggling to even get viewings then this may be a contributing factor. The first thing your potential buyer sees are images of your property, and having unflattering photographs will deter buyers from viewing your property. Make sure your chosen agent produces good-quality photography to show your property off and highlight its great features. You put it on the market at too high a price Were you convinced by an eager agent saying you could get x amount for your property, or perhaps you had a high asking price in your head yourself? As with everything in life, price is important. Get the price right and you’ll get interest right away, but get it wrong, you could put off buyers instantly as soon as they see the price tag. You should always consider a number of factors when it comes to the asking price - consider things such as your property’s unique features, the price of other sold properties in your local area, and the state of the property market itself. Your chosen agent should answer all your questions on this subject.

Mar 3, 2023

OUR HELPFUL TIPS TO HELP SELL YOUR PROPERTY

When you first put your property on the market it’s easy to get over-excited - you were probably full of anticipation and assumed you’d get multiple viewings and an early offer. But, as weeks, or perhaps even months pass, your excitement plummets as the interest in your property isn’t what you anticipated. If this scenario sounds familiar, then read on to hear our possible reasons for this... You chose the wrong estate agent This is one of the most important factors why your property hasn’t sold yet. If you’re not choosing a local agent with years of experience then you could potentially be setting yourself up for failure instantly. Also, it is extremely important you get along with your chosen agent and they love your property as much as you do. This is one of the most important factors why your property hasn’t sold yet. If you’re not choosing a local agent with years of experience then you could potentially be setting yourself up for failure instantly. Also, it is extremely important you get along with your chosen agent and they love your property as much as you do. You launched at the wrong time of year Spring is traditionally the best time to sell your property, but there are “bad” months - months such as December slow dramatically thanks to buyer priorities changing due to the festive season. Ask your agent when’s the best time to sell in your area. Your house isn’t ready for viewings Ask yourself, “is my house ready for public viewing?”. If you’ve had viewings but no offers then perhaps you need to tidy up or de-clutter to show off the property’s full potential. Why not even give the whole place a fresh lick of paint to give it that showhome look? Be honest with yourself, see yourself as a buyer and not the owner - you’re there to sell the property, not make it your forever home. Your photography is unflattering Are the images taken by your estate agent dark or amateurish? If you’re struggling to even get viewings then this may be a contributing factor. The first thing your potential buyer sees are images of your property, and having unflattering photographs will deter buyers from viewing your property. Make sure your chosen agent produces good-quality photography to show your property off and highlight its great features. You put it on the market at too high a price Were you convinced by an eager agent saying you could get x amount for your property, or perhaps you had a high asking price in your head yourself? As with everything in life, price is important. Get the price right and you’ll get interest right away, but get it wrong, you could put off buyers instantly as soon as they see the price tag. You should always consider a number of factors when it comes to the asking price - consider things such as your property’s unique features, the price of other sold properties in your local area, and the state of the property market itself. Your chosen agent should answer all your questions on this subject.

Feb 3, 2023

HOW DO ESTATE AGENTS VALUE YOUR PROPERTY?

Many of us think that valuing a property is easy - the estate agent goes around your home and values it on how many bedrooms you have and what street you live on, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, number of bedrooms and the street name does count towards the final valuation value but a trully accurate value from an estate agent will take dozons of other things into account - from small unique features that buyers will fall in love with, to the age of the central heating system in your property. FIRST THINGS FIRST Whether you’re calling your agent or popping in to their branch to see them face to face, you probably want to immediately know what your property is worth, but all good things come to those who wait. On first contact, your chosen agent will check the price and sale time of similar and recently sold properties in your area to gather as much information as possible to value your property accurately. This is always a great place to start for your agent as it tells your agent about buyer demand. You should always choose an agent that has local experince, that way they already know your street and the surrounding attractions like the back of their hand - things like transport links, good local schools, and other amenities close to your property will all add value. GETTING TO KNOW YOU When your agent first visits you, it’s important you tell them what you want from the sale. If you want a quick sale then perhaps it’s a good idea to list your property competitively. Taking a few thousand off your marketing price could turn more heads and get more people viewing your property. This is something you, as the seller, needs to decide as your chosen agent will always aim for you to get the most money from your property. Don’t forget, our agents at Fisks work for you and always have your wants and needs in mind when dealing with us throughout. THE WALKTHROUGH During your agent’s walkthrough, they will take plenty of notes, measure things up, and look for unique selling points that make your home special. No two valuations are the same, remember that - Tom’s house down the street could be worth more on paper, but that could be because he’s recently had a new extension or new heating system installed. As well as room sizes, your agent will note things like original fireplaces, recently installed things like bathrooms and kitchens, and even office space - all of which are looked at favourably by buyers. BOOST YOUR PROPERTY VALUE Ask your agent if there’s anything you can do to boost your home’s appeal to buyers - every little helps and it all goes a long way to get the best price for your property. Why not give that kitchen a lick of paint if it’s needed or take years off that driveway by giving it a quick pressure wash. First impressions count, never forget that. THE VALUATION Once all the property information is gathered together, your chosen agent will give you their professional valuation of your property. But remember, your opinion matters. If you have a value number in mind then share it with your agent - at Fisks we’re more than happy to discuss the valuation... it is YOUR property after all.

Feb 1, 2023

Date ideas for going out or staying in this Valentine's Day!

Yes, the holiday when your sweetie gives you flowers and you take your other half on a specially planned date. During these times we can find our creativity stifled. This makes finding unique things to do very difficult. If you share this problem of romantic blockage, we have some fun things to do in the Benfleet area that could interest you: 1: Hadleigh Castle Is your sweetheart a history buff? Do they like old engineering and history? Then Hadleigh Castle (Only 2 miles from Benfleet) could be a phenomenal choice for a very special and memorable date, on this, the most romantic of days. You will be treated to amazing sights while you are there and for those of you with kids, there is lots for them to do. On the property, they also have a Salvation Army Café which has a very highly praised Cream Tea. The Castle was built during the Henry VIII Monarchy and was used, according to local history, as a lookout post for invasions from the Thames Estuary and fires would burn here to signal towns further north of the impending enemy troops. 2: Hadleigh Country Park Regardless if you are a historian, outdoorsy type or any other kind of person, almost anyone can appreciate breath-taking views and the beauty of nature. Hadleigh Country Park is a beautiful park, offering trails from beginner to advanced. Aside from the beautiful nature views, an old castle remains in the area. There is a plethora of places to take beautiful pictures with your partner to remember the day forever. Don’t feel like going out? No problem! Some of us are the types who don’t like going out. That’s ok because we have some things you can do in the comfort of your own home! 1: Make an entire meal together! It may seem silly. All the time on TV, we see surprise dates sprung on significant others. Believe it or not, it can actually be pretty romantic to cook a romantic dinner with your sweetheart! Set everything up, wait for them to come home and get cooking! Doing anything together with your partner can be romantic. Light some candles, dim the lights, put on some romantic music and cook away. Then enjoy the fruits of your combined labour when you’re done! Heartwarming and delicious! 2: Make a Movie at Home Romantic! When we think about a movie at home, we typically think about sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn watching Netflix. Well, watching a movie at home as a Valentines Day date is actually a great idea! Here is how you can make a simple at-home movie into a romantic date! Firstly, cover all the windows and turn off the lights. Pull the curtains or draw the blinds. Turn the lights down or off and light the room with candles. Don’t use Netflix, go out and buy a DVD or Blu-Ray. Get the movie to the main menu, make sure it’s a movie they will like, and prepare a romantic snack. Making popcorn and using red food colouring on the butter is a good way to make popcorn more Valentines Day themed.

Jan 15, 2023

Steps To Control your stress when buying

If you’re a first-time buyer, or have plenty of experience, buying a home is often stressful and full of complications you didn’t expect. Your home will probably be the biggest financial investment of your life so it’s important to prepare for it so you don’t get over-stressed. Many things could go wrong during the buying process - your financing could fall through, another buyer could offer the seller a better deal, a home inspection could reveal a hidden problem. There will always be things you can’t control during the process - however, there are ways you can make the whole thing as stress-free as possible. Know What You Want Estate agents aren’t mind readers. Start your search by writing down all the essentials you need from your new home. Your estate agent will take all your wants on board and no doubt help them narrow down the search for you, saving you time, effort and stress. Consider things like how many  bedrooms and bathrooms you want, do you want a one-level or multi-level property, what area do you want to live in, are schools important to you... Be Flexible This is a big one - you must learn to be flexible. Don’t compromise on big requirements, but do understand that very rarely you’ll get all your boxes ticked. This is the harsh reality of house hunting. Prioritise your wants and needs to help you decide what you can and can’t live without. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Loan It’s no secret, financing a property can be a serious headache. It’s advised to get a pre-approved mortgage before bidding on houses as this will avoid disappointment for you if you’re ineligible for financing. Plus, more and more sellers and agents only work with buyers with pre-approved mortgages, so get one as soon as possible. Listen to Your Real Estate Agent Always listen to your estate agent. Their expertise and know-how are essential for making your move as smooth as possible. Don’t get caught up thinking you know better because you’ve read something online or heard Tom down the street saying otherwise. Remember, agents don’t get paid until the sale goes through, they have no reason to give you bad advice or sabotage the deal for you. Save Enough Cash Remember, the property price is not just the cost you have. There are plenty of other costs tagged on to the back of buying - appraisals and inspections are two worth mentioning. If you run out of money mid-deal, you may have to pull out. Final Word If you’re feeling stressed, take a moment and remember that it will all be worth it in the end. Take your estate agent’s help, educate yourself with the process, and prepare as much as possible.