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The Blog

Jul 15, 2020

Property renovations to invest in before selling your home

But before you take the plunge, it’s worth thinking about whether your house is at its very best in order to achieve a higher valuation and, ultimately, sale price. So what renovations are worth investing in before selling your home? The first areas to tackle are any structural issues which may be present. These are issues such as rising damp and missing or broken roof tiles. Although a more costly renovation to consider, they are most certainly worth the investment in terms of adding value onto your property – without them, the price of your house could plummet as potential viewers must not only consider the price of the repairs to fix themselves, but also the time and effort this will take for them. Another means of adding value on to your home is converting any unused space. Perhaps you have a spare reception room or bedroom that has simply been used for storage – why not clear it out and decorate it to become a playroom? Lofts are also a brilliant way to increase your property’s worth, converting them into large bedrooms, office space or modern entertainment rooms. The final more structural aspect to look at is the garden – are all walls and fences in working order, or do some stones or panels need replacing? If you’re no gardener, try sowing wildflower seeds into less maintainable patches of land – these native, bright and varied blooms need no upkeep and behave as a meadow, and help make uncared for areas far more alluring. Don’t worry, not all renovations are costly structural ones – you can easily add value to your home through simple cosmetic changes. Cosmetic changes are all about updating your property to give it a more modern look to appeal to a wider audience. Easy changes include replacing old gas fires to electric or, if the chimney place hasn’t been blocked, a sought after wood burner. Take a look at your carpets and see if they might need replacing – again, this will cost a bit of money but when viewers are looking at your property they’ll see that replacing carpets won’t be a job that they’ll have to do themselves. If you know you have original wooden floors underneath, you could even pull up your carpets and varnish the wood underneath. This gives a polished, elegant look to your home which is also neutral enough to allow viewers to easily imagine your house with their own mark on it. On this subject, it’s worth putting some investment into updating kitchens and bathrooms – a few new tiles or a more modern oven can work wonders. If possible, replacing electric showers with power showers is a great idea; not only for practicality, but they are far more aesthetically pleasing – waterfall showers are a particularly popular trend right now. Finally, it’s time to look at the smallest investment jobs. Tidy up any paint work, and be sure to take time at every inch of yours house – window frames and skirting boards may pass you be every day in your own home, but will stick out like a sore thumb to the fresh eyes of your viewers! Finally, why not invest in a professional window cleaner? This will ensure your panes are sparkling and bring in as much natural light as possible to make your home look larger and more inviting.

May 15, 2020

Places to take the kids this May half term holiday!

From exciting castles to high-powered go-karting, there’s loads to keep them busy. Book ahead wherever possible, get there nice and early and stock up on snacks. What: Hadleigh Castle Where: Castle Lane, Hadleigh, Essex The ruins of the two ancient towers and part of the curtain wall are all that remain standing of Hadleigh Castle, but of course the destruction of the ages as wrought on such an indomitable seeming structure is fascinating for kids, and the backdrop of the Thames estuary and Essex marshes make for great nature walks while they role play knights and kings (or indeed queens!). What: Rayleigh Indoor Karting Stadium Where: 13 Brook Road Ind Estate, Rayleigh, Essex Arrive and Drive sessions provide a great introduction to karting, where anyone over 10 can be taught to handle their Honda 200cc 4 stroke karts! Ideal for improving your racing skills and trying to beat your previous fastest lap times, and everyone else's too! What: Base Jump Where: 26a Brook Road, Rayleigh, Essex Base Jump is the largest trampoline park in the entire South East, boasting over 185 interlinked trampolines and 35,000 square feet of fun for all ages. It offers more than any other trampoline park, including Ninja courses, battle beams that pit friend versus friend in a fun ‘fight', Base Jump platforms up to 2 metres high, and the UK's first trampoline half-pipe. What: Museum of London Docklands Where: No1 Warehouse, West India Quay, Docklands Dive right into history as you uncover London’s secret past at the Museum of London Docklands. When you arrive, make sure you pick up an activity pack. This is filled with exciting activities for your kids to enjoy as you explore the exhibitions. Make sure you don’t miss the exciting Tunnels, Trains and Tools exhibition and other interactive exhibits and shows for kids up to 8 years. What: Legacy XS Centre Where: Richmond Park, High Road, South Benfleet Boasting a 4,500 sq ft indoor skate park and 5,500 sq ft outdoor park, some of the star features of Legacy XS Centre include a 6ft volcano, 90° and 45° hips, 8ft quarter pipe, vert wall and rails, and that's nowhere near all of it! Skaters over 4 years are welcome with parental supervision. What: Leisure Island Fun Park Where: Eastern Esplanade, Canvey Island Leisure Island Fun Park is a little world of fun, made especially for the youngest adventure-lovers (from 18 months to 9 years). Located on the beautiful Canvey seafront, the park is a great place to visit during warm weather. Leisure Island Fun Park is filled with mini-coaster and funfair entertainment, designed for young kids. What: Castle Point Transport Museum Where: 105 Point Road, Canvey Island Canvey Island's vintage Castle Point Transport Museum is now home to over 35 tremendously old and rare buses, coaches, vintage commercials, military and emergency vehicles. True Train Spotters will love this place to bits! What: Rayleigh Mount Where: Rayleigh, Essex The dramatic Rayleigh Mount is the atmospheric remnants of an early medieval motte and bailey castle site, built by Sweyn of Essex. However these days this whole area is an urban wildlife haven great for some family exploration and offers sweeping views across the Crouch Valley.

May 15, 2020

Home buying schemes available to help you onto the property ladder

Whatever your circumstances, there should be an option below to help you obtain your very first property, and while it may seem an impossible feat these days, with the support outlined below, you can take that first step into the world of property ownership. Here’s what’s out there and how they work. Shared ownership Under shared ownership, you buy a portion of a property and pay rent on the part you don’t own. Shares start as low as 25%, which reduces the deposit you need to buy a home. Once you are in, you can staircase the portion you own bit by bit as your income grows and you are able to afford a larger mortgage. Help to buy: equity loan This government-run scheme offers first-time buyers in England a loan of up to 20% of a property’s value, which is interest-free for the first five years. Not only does this reduce borrowing costs for first-time buyers, but it also means they only need a 5% deposit to secure the rest of what they need as mortgage. Help to buy: ISA Another branch of the help to buy scheme is an ISA available at a variety of banks. With a help to buy ISA, for every £200 you save the government will add £50. The maximum the government will add is £3,000. But that is a significant boost to your savings if you’re working towards a deposit. Starter homes In England, the much-anticipated starter homes scheme is due to begin soon and you can register your interest online. It will offer first-time buyers a 20% discount on new-build homes in participating developments up to a maximum of £250,000 outside of London and £450,000 within the city. Rent to buy The scheme enables aspiring buyers to live in a rented property for five years paying below the market rent, which is subsidised by the government. This gives the renter the financial space to save for a deposit. At the end of the five years, the renter must buy all or part of the property (under shared ownership). If they choose not to buy the property, they must move out. Right to buy If you live in a council home you may be eligible to buy it subject to certain criteria and conditions. You might even be eligible if your home is no longer owned by the council but is still social housing. And if you’re a housing association tenant, you might be able to buy your property under the right to acquire, which works in a similar way to right to buy. Finding out which scheme could be right for you is the first step towards one day owning your dream home! If you do your research, and take advantage of the support being offered, there’s no reason why you can’t make that dream come true sooner rather than later! For support buying your first home, or if you would like to see what we have available to buy, visit our website or get in touch today! We’re here to help.

Mar 15, 2020

The top 4 habits successful sellers always adopt

With spring being so popular for selling your home, there are certain habits that we typically see in those homeowners whose property sells successfully and swiftly.  So what are their secrets, and how can you adopt them? 1. Grill estate agents Successful sellers aren’t interested in commission rates; they want the agent who they believe will get them the best price for their property.  The agent who will hold that sale together and drive it forward, so they can be in their new home sooner rather than later. These sellers give us estate agents a grilling. When we’re invited into their home for an appraisal, they have a list of questions ready.  We love the challenge of proving our ability to perform. 2. Wreck it Ralph If your apartment isn’t in a good state of repair you are wrecking any chance of achieving the highest possible asking price for your home.  Become a ‘Fix it Felix’ and start to get your home in the best shape possible. Successful sellers don’t rest on their laurels when the work is done. They continue to monitor their home to ensure it is in the finest condition for when a buyer walks through the door. 3. Binge on Netflix If you only watch one Netflix series this January make it Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.  With episodes covering everything from tidying up with toddlers, when two (messes) become one, and breaking from a mountain of stuff, you will learn some incredible ways to not only tidy your home, but fantastic habits for not going back. Having a ‘show-ready’ home and one that is impeccably clean and beautiful today is a must when selling.  We must stress this is not about turning your property into one that is sterile and void of personality, as this can give a negative impression.  A home is one that looks loved and cared for with little touches that add warmth and colour. 4. Don’t sit on the fence Buying a property is an emotional experience and, as such, buyers get frustrated when they are not being responded to.  Successful sellers respond quickly. They have a clear idea of what figure they would be happy with; they are eager to start the negotiation process and understand that delaying it could mean the buyer loses interest or finds something else. When an offer is made, act quickly. What home-selling habits are you adopting this year?

Mar 1, 2020

Bank holidays are coming!

You may be starting to think about all those bank holidays ahead of us, excited at the prospect of spending time with family, and enjoying a rest, with seaside and an ice cream an exciting idea if we continue to enjoy some warmth. But before you make your plans, you might want to think tactfully about how to make the most of your holidays this year. By planning carefully, and booking off the right days, you could more than double your time off during the year – that’s a lot of holidays, which can only lead to a relaxed and carefree 2019 spent with loved ones! Here's how it works: Easter 2019 - Take 8 days off for a 16-day holiday Book off: 15th – 18th April & 23rd – 26th April Bank holidays: 19th & 22nd April Your holiday: 13th – 28th April Early May bank holiday - Take 4 days off for a 9-day holiday Book off: 7th – 10th May Bank holidays: 6th May Your holiday: 4th – 12th May Late May bank holiday - Take 4 days off for a 9-day holiday Book off: 28th – 31st May Bank holidays: 27th May Your holiday: 25th May – 2nd June August bank holiday  - Take 4 days off for a 9-day holiday Book off: 27th – 30th August Bank holidays: 26th August Your holiday: 24th August – 1st September Christmas - Take 5 days off for a 12-day holiday Book off: 23rd, 24th, 27th, 30th & 31st December Bank holidays: 25th, 26th December & 1st January Your holiday: 21st December – 1st January Make sure you arrive at work early tomorrow to book off the days, before your colleagues figure out the same trick!

Apr 20, 2019

Why so many people are choosing to move to the seaside

This is the question we aim to answer today. We will run through the various benefits to living near the sea and why it is that so many people seem to be infatuated with seaside living. 1: A Feeling of Inner Peace One of the things that should immediately come to mind when thinking about seaside living is the peacefulness of it. Living near the sea is like living with a white noise generator right next to you at all times. The sounds of the ocean are well known to be incredibly relaxing when you hear them. They have proven effects in Therapy and Meditation for grounding yourself and being present and in the moment. 2: Breathing Clean, Healthy Air There is absolutely nothing better than waking up and inhaling a big breath of that fresh sea air! That salty sea air does wonders for our respiratory system. It can result in less frequent sickness (The common cold and allergies etc) and overall just a much cleaner feeling to the air you’re breathing. Have you ever seen commercials for seawater powered nasal spray? It’s true that it does work. 3: Feeling Closer to Nature Removing yourself from the hustle and bustle of the city can help us feel close to nature. Being closer to nature can make us feel more relaxed and more at peace within ourselves. There is no better way to get closer to nature than to be next to the sea. A couple of ways you can feel closer to our beautiful planet is to go swimming or boating in the sea. There is nothing more cathartic than swimming with the fishes! 4: Less Daily Stress There are all kinds of things in our daily lives that simply wear on us. When you work hard, you deserve to relax! Nothing is more relaxing than lounging on the shore next to your seaside property! Relax and unwind with beautiful views and therapeutic sounds! There is obviously, many reasons people move to the seaside. Whatever they might the answer is simple. Seaside living is simply better. Who doesn’t want to feel more relaxed at home? No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone can benefit from seaside living! Every single year, countless people move to the seaside to enjoy the many benefits of living there. You could be one of them! Living at the seaside isn’t nearly as expensive as a lot of people seem to think it is. As with living anywhere, the prices vary greatly. With some searching, you too can find your perfect seaside home and start enjoying the thousands of different benefits that living near the ocean provides to you, your family and your friends! We can promise you won’t regret the choice. Your better life waits at the seaside.

Mar 20, 2019

What’s on guide

What? Don Quixote - Harlow ballet association Where? Harlow Playhouse in Harlow When? Thursday 18th - Sunday 21st April 2019 Don Quixote, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa in 1869, and recently performed by the Royal Ballet, has now been adapted and directed by Michael Branwell for the Harlow Ballet Association. This exciting, vibrant ballet blends fantasy with comedy and is set amongst the windmills in the sunny Spanish countryside. The colourful costumes and beautiful music by Ludwig Minkus will delight all. What? RHS Hyde Hall Where? The Royal Horticultural Society, 80 Vincent Square, London When? Open year round RHS Garden Hyde Hall in rural Essex is a place where you can unwind in stunning natural surroundings while your kids run around, play and explore. To start with, there’s a giant 7-metre Higgledy Hyde woodland tower to keep your cheeky monkeys entertained with slides, swings on ropes, wobble boards and much more. And this is just the beginning... What? A Midsummer Night's Dream Where? Chelmsford City Theatres, Fairfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex When? 20th - Saturday 23rd March 2019 A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a wonderfully romantic, comic tale, set in a moonlit woodland in the realm of fairyland. The fairy King and Queen, Oberon and Titania, argue over Titania's refusal to give up her changeling boy to Oberon; he has become quite jealous of her giving him so much affection. He sends Puck, his servant, to find a magic plant to cast a spell on Titania. You can only imagine the trouble this causes. What? Mum2Mum Market Southend Where? St Thomas More School, Kenilworth Gardens, Southend On Sea, Essex When? Saturday 30th March Mum2mum Markets are award winning indoor nearly new sales. At our Southend sale we will have around 30 stalls of high quality, nearly new items (up to 90% off the RRP!) and a small selection of businesses offering goods and services of interest to parents. Refreshments will be available and the first 100 buyers through the door will receive a free goody bag! What? Don Quixote - Harlow ballet association Where? Harlow Playhouse in Harlow When? Thursday 18th - Sunday 21st April 2019 Don Quixote is a comical character, who after reading too many romantic novels, sets on a journey across Spain as a chivalrous knight, with his faithful, if dishonest, servant, Sancho Panza. Searching for adventure, they arrive in a village on the day of its Annual Fiesta, where they meet Kitri and Basilio, a young couple in love. Kitri’s father, however, wants her to marry the wealthy nobleman, Gamache. Don Quixote decides to intervene… What? The Edge of Oil City - A Walk in Canvey Island Where? Benfleet Station, South Benfleet When? Saturday 4th May 2019 Starting at Benfleet station you’ll walk the wall that keeps low lying Canvey from flooding, as it did in 1953 with disastrous consequences. Despite the risk of flooding, Canvey Island has been inhabited since the Romans and Rob will tell the story of the island as we walk, including the plans to develop the island as a tourist destination in the 19th century, a visit to the post apoclyptic landscape of an abandoned oil refinery, and local legends Dr Feelgood. And it being a guided walk we will of course stop at a pub that Charles Dickens visited! What? Adventure Island Where? Adventure Island, Sunken Garden, Western Esplanade, Southend on Sea, Essex When? Various times and dates throughout the year Rides and attractions at Adventure Island include Rage, a 75ft roller coaster with a more-than-vertical drop! Over The Hill, a new dark ride experience that is your best worst nightmare! As well as three more roller coasters, Barnstormer, Mighty Mini Mega and Green Scream, intense rides include Dragon's Claw, Vortex, Scorpion, Ramba Zamba and Sky Drop. What? Transport Museum Model Railway Show 2019 Where? Canvay Island Transport Museum When? Sunday April 21st 2019 The first event in their 40th anniversary year, the model railway show is going to be popular this year. With model rail/tramway layouts, vehicle displays, sales stalls, refreshments, and free parking, this is an event for every train and model train enthusiast!

Feb 20, 2019

The benefits of downsizing according to our property market stats

‘Downsizing’ is the term that is used to describe moving from a larger property into one that is smaller and generally more economical. Typically seen as a solution for the retired, those whose homes now feel too big to manage once their children have moved on to homes of their own.  Yet today, in an era when people are starting to re-focus their lives around the idea of working to live, we are seeing more and more people looking to ‘downsize’ for a wide range of reasons. Discovering the reasons why a person wishes to buy or sell a property can be really enlightening.  We are blessed to be able to gain an insight into their lives, their wants, their needs, and how this move will be the solution they seek, whether that is due to location, needing more space, or even helping to create a specific lifestyle. Instead of the stereotypical ‘downsizers’, we are now seeing people from all generations looking to move somewhere smaller.  Having too much space is not the main driver for this new generation of downsizer; instead, their focus is creating a better life for them and their family.  Becoming mortgage-free is a dream for many, and by downsizing you will more than likely reduce your monthly outgoings, enabling you to be able to pay off your mortgage quicker. The Stats                             Let’s start with the basics – how much cash could you free up? In Canvey Island, the average two-bed costs £225,000, three-beds cost £275,000 and four-beds cost £365,000. In crude terms, this means that each room a homeowner sacrifices could free up about £70,000. In Benfleet, the average two-bed costs £280,000, three-beds cost £350,000 and four-beds cost £515,995. This means that each room a homeowner sacrifices could free up about £118,000! When you add to that the money saved from reducing your bills in a smaller home, and possibly selling some of the excess belongings which used to clutter up the extra rooms in your larger home, that’s plenty more money in the bank to raise your standard of life, and give you peace of mind you deserve. The smaller mortgage can be the difference between huge stress, and happiness. While downsizing used to be synonymous with a reduction in homeowners’ standard of living, today it’s seen as the opposite, and for those chasing the mortgage-free dream, it could be the right choice. If you would like to talk about the possibility of downsizing in Canvey Island or Benfleet, pop into our office or give us a call today for a friendly chat. We’re here to help!