Tips to help solve money issues when moving house

Moving house can be expensive as there is much more expenditure involved than simply the cost of the new property. Costs associated with selling a current home include estate agent’s fees, energy performance certificate and legal conveyancing costs.  Whilst purchasing a new property will include stamp duty, mortgage valuation/survey fees, legal conveyancing costs and other legal fees and searches.

Stamp Duty
There are some costs that cannot be avoided such as Stamp Duty Land Tax, which has to be paid by the buyer to the government for selling the house. There is an exemption for certain designated disadvantaged areas if an individual buys a property that is worth less than £150,000.

Estate Agents
Estate agents are not essential when selling a property although many people use them. The fees they charge vary from area to area. Choosing a cheaper firm can save money, but this has to be weighed against the quality of service provided. The alternative is to sell your home yourself online. There are a number of websites that offer services to individuals wishing to sell their homes. Some sites are free and offer a basic DIY approach whilst others charge fees and offer more services. Sellers should check carefully all the fees charged and remember that you still have to pay other costs such as stamp duty and legal fees.

Solicitors and Surveyors
Solicitors and surveyors again are not essential. Individuals can do their own conveyancing and there are free online DIY conveyancing packs available.  However, this requires that the individual is competent and willing to do the job or there could be legal problems later on. There are two types of survey, a basic one and a full structural survey. The difference in cost between a basic survey and a full structural survey is considerable but it is a good idea to have a full survey if you can afford it. It is essential to have the survey done by a professional surveyor because if there is a serious structural fault with the new property finding out before the purchase can save a lot of money and heartache.

Removals
Costs that can be reduced or eliminated are cleaning, removals and storage. These can be done by the individual depending on how much needs to be moved. If you do decide to choose a professional removal firm there are various ways of reducing the costs. Get a range of quotes and in big cities consider companies from outside the immediate area that may be cheaper. Agree a price up front, move earlier in the week when they will be less busy and book early. Providing your own packing materials can also reduce the cost, as can throwing away stuff you don’t need and doing your own packing. Moving some of the items into storage can also be less expensive. Disconnecting and uninstalling your own large appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators will also save money.

Short-term loans
During your move you may have the need for a loan to tide you over. There are various organisations that offer short term lending, including banks, online loan companies and a new form of lending known as peer-to-peer lending. The latter cuts out intermediaries such as banks and has advantages for both lenders and borrowers. Often lenders get higher returns and borrowers lower interest rates than they would with traditional lenders.

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Orangery or Conservatory?

Reading a home improvement magazine featuring an orangery triggered an obsession in me. Orangeries are popular in England and in southern U.S. states and although I am neither British nor American, I shared their deep love for gardens and light, airy spaces. In my mind, an orangery would fit in really well and would make our rather staid-looking house more charming and interesting.

Settling the Conservatory or Orangery Question
No doubt the mainly glass double glazed conservatory was the more streamlined and inexpensive option but my heart was set on a more solid construction made of timber and glass. I also thought it gave us a bit more privacy since this portion would be seen at street level. Our initial orangery was considered “bigger” than average and served as the family room for years. The wooden beams and the solid base which was finished with mock stones blended perfectly with the façade of our existing home.  My husband, blessed with a green thumb plant planted shrubs and passion flower vines. We would have preferred roses but they take too long to get picturesque. Our passion flower vines (passiflora) only took 4 months to frame the orangery with spectacular purple and crimson blooms.

From Orangery to Home Office
When I decided to work from home to save on overhead head expenses and have more time to spend with family, we had to transform part of the much-beloved orangery into an
office. It was quite a transformation since we only added translucent Japanese-style screens in lieu of modular divisions to seal it off.  The screens which could be folded after
office hours but we rarely make the effort to do so because the rest of the orangery is ample enough to huddle in.

Smart Investment
What started out as a homemaker’s fancy turned out to be one of our smartest moves throughout the years. I’ve completely recovered the cost of construction many times over. My office space is now “rental free” with just minor additional electric costs for office computers. A few things to consider converting an orangery into a home office: Make sure you are wired for the additional equipment.  Consider where the powder room is. You want this near for the convenience of your office guests but not too obtrusive. Your family won’t appreciate strangers traipsing back and forth. Consider the heat and glare. Occasionally using the orangery as sun room is a world apart from using it as a home office especially if you keep regular hours. I’ve gotten around this by keeping appointments between 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm.  Friends and clients have marveled at how the orangery keeps my business and home life balanced. Whether you use your additional space for work or pleasure, bear in mind the cost of your renovation. The costs, especially if you have set your eyes on a larger structure can be huge but the returns are well worth it. My
son has even eyed the rear portion of the house to create his own orangery. A painter and musician, he wants to take advantage of the natural light. I of course would demand it be sound-proofed!
Guest blog by bloomagency @movinghome

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Top 10 UK Cities to live in

Are you thinking of moving home then check out the UK Top ten cities:

For individuals and families in our modern times, quality of life has become much more important than ever before.  Some people enjoy the country life, whilst others hanker after the bright lights and entertainment that a large town or big city has to offer.  Listed below are 10 UK locations that are notable for providing its residents with the quality of life that comes with pleasant surroundings, good entertainment, respected educational facilities and work opportunities.  Technically Richmond is a London borough but it has been  included because of its desirability.

Newcastle
Its wealth of cultural heritage and enviable selection of popular entertainment, make Newcastle a great place to settle. People come from all over Europe to enjoy the theatre, clubs and restaurants of this premier northern city. The transport system is excellent, and the North East heritage coastline is just a few miles distant.

Brighton
Brighton’s restaurants make a point of sourcing local and seasonal produce, and e-bikes are being rolled out as a part of the council’s drive to boost the health of the population. With iconic landmarks such as the Brighton Pavilion and the Royal Pier, there’s plenty to see and do.

Norwich
Norwich in Norfolk was recently voted as being one of the top 10 happiest places to live in England.  It is a fine cathedral city with wonderful architecture.  The shopping facilities there are second to none.  The surrounding countryside is very attractive and the city is only twenty miles or so from the North Norfolk coast.

Richmond
Richmond upon Thames has 11 Green Flag awards for its spacious parks, and 450 new cycle parking spaces were recently added. The riverside cafes and restaurants, spacious parks, theatre venues and numerous markets make Richmond a fantastic place to settle.

Liverpool
Liverpool became a World Heritage Site in 2004 and is one of the UKs major historic cities, and the first in the UK to obtain the Carbon Trust Standard award. The city is an international centre for music and entertainment, and is second only to London in its number of museums and galleries.

Oxford
Oxford is the quintessential English city of famously dreaming spires and a cultural life second to none. Home to an ancient and world-class university, Oxford has numerous open spaces and plenty of fine restaurants, museums and galleries. Its excellent transport system is a model of environmental friendliness and London is just a short drive away. Abingdon storage is located nearby and can help you move to your new home with minimal disruption.

Leicester
Leicester has one of the UKs lowest carbon footprints. Its history goes back over two millennia and the city is packed with a fascinating medley of architectural styles. Entertainment venues include the City Gallery and the Curve Theatre, and there’s plenty of good shopping in the centre.

Sheffield
Sheffield has a great industrial heritage and is now steaming ahead with green planning programmes such as its excellent tram service. In 2010 the city was shortlisted for the prestigious UK City of Culture Award because of its wealth of art galleries, theatres, sporting venues and museums.

Bristol
Since 2007 Bristol has been in the top five of Forum for the Future, and it became the first ‘cycling city’ in the UK recently. The city has numerous museums and entertainments, such as the Edward Jenner (smallpox vaccine) Museum, and is the site of the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Derby
Derby has an enviably ‘green’ track record thanks to numerous recycling and biodiversity programmes by the council. It also has a 44 per cent recycling rate and sustainable transport programme in place. It is a rich and vibrant city with a great heritage; it was once home to Florence Nightingale and Rolls Royce still produce their world-beating cars there. It is situated on the River Derwent and has numerous museums, galleries and open spaces to enjoy.

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What is Smoover?

Smoover is a new online system that acts as a hub for the benefit of home buyers/sellers so that they can interact with their estate agents and conveyancers in one place. We do not make any charges or obligations on the home buyers/sellers that use the system or against estate agents that interact with the case management element of the system either.

How Smoover works

Once the client has entered their details into our legal fee calculator, they will get an instant quote on what it will cost them to engage with us for their legal and/or surveying services. Once the client accepts that quote, all they have to do is enter the address of the property and the system will do the rest. As the case progresses, the system will keep in contact with our clients to tell them what is happening and what they need to do themselves to progress the transaction. The system will also send email updates to both the estate agents and the buyers/sellers as the transaction progresses which is fed into the system by the conveyancing solicitors who are handling the transaction.

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Have you considered Home Staging?

Home Staging is a fantastic way for any home owner to improve on their properties saleability potential, whether you are considering selling or you just want to brighten up your home!

East Sussex based Katie Jackson is a Professional  Home Stager, offering her clients a variety of service to improve their homes and to get their properties to stand out from the crowd.  Katie is a member of various professional bodies and trained with the House Doctor Network, Chanel  5’s Anne Maurice.

Katie deals with many issues such as space problems, odour smells and colour schemes.  Katie will help you de-clutter, de-personalise and emphasise focal points you already have in your home to create an environment that buyers will aspire to live in.

Other services available are Moving Home Assistance; Katie will help you to take the stress out of moving day.  She will organise the removals, packing, collecting the keys and then have your home staged and ready for your return.

Looking to re-accessorise your home?  Katie will source accessories that will compliment and improve any room. Contact Katie Jackson for a friendly no obligation chat to see how she can improve your properties saleability  on 07960 656 922 or you can go to the website www.katiejacksonktj.com

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HSBC TO DROP ITS LEGAL PANEL

HSBC is to drop its controversial requirement that homebuyers use one of a panel of just 43 firms to do the bank’s legal work following a string of complaints from customers and lawyers. From August, the bank will allow all members of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) to act for it and the borrower in the conveyancing work needed to buy a property, increasing the number of firms consumers can choose from by more than 1,400.

Following the change homebuyers will have three options: they can still use one of the panel for their own and HSBC’s legal work and pay a fixed fee for the service; they can use one of a larger panel of firms which have the CQS mark but can set their own fees; or they can still instruct two solicitors – one to represent them and one the bank.

CQS-accredited firms with just one practitioner will be restricted to handling mortgages worth up to £150,000, but there will be no restrictions on larger firms.

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Viewing Property Differently

Walk Through Property Videos from Zest Video.

In a competitive market, successful estate agents and home sellers know they have to do everything they can to stand out from the crowd. With video you can!

A Kent based company call Zest Video have combined their passion for property and video to bring virtual property viewings to a new level of sophistication. Based in Tunbridge Wells, they produce professional property videos throughout Kent, Sussex and South East England.

Video is a dynamic and highly effective way of communicating with clients – a well shot video will literally walk prospective buyers through a property without them having to leave home! Zest Video uses the highest quality, professional wide angle lenses and Steadicam equipment to produce full motion, HD walk through property videos that really communicate the space and flow between rooms.

With the advent of very high speed broadband in almost every area, the ability to stream video online is now really coming into its own. YouTube is now the second largest search engine after Google, with users uploading 1 hour of video to the site every second and 4 billion video views a day. Indeed, Deloitte recently identified web video as the 3rd most influential marketing medium after television and magazines.

There are many benefits for buyers, sellers and estate agents when it comes to having a video of a home that’s up for sale:

  • It’s convenient for out of town buyers
  • Video does the talking for you
  • Helps to reduce the need for out of hours viewings
  • Acts as a useful point of reference for sales teams
  • Enables 24 hour, multiple viewings
  • Emphasises a property’s best features
  • Brings a property to life in a way photos can’t
  • Can be used in viral campaigns on the internet
  • Above all video makes you stand out!

Compared to conventional press, virtual video tours have several advantages. While a video might cost about the same as an advert in the press, it has a much greater impact on customers. A newspaper advertisement might only last a few days – your customers can view your property videos again and again.

Compared to TV, video tours offer incredible value for money. TV advertising is prohibitively expensive for most. Video tours offer broadcast quality at affordable prices. Whether you decide to embed a property video into your own website, or have it posted on other sites your target audience is already interested in the product you’re selling.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Video is the equivalent of 25 pictures – a second! Give our friends at Zest Video a call today on 01892 670 966 or visit: www.zestvideo.com to find out how video can give your business a competitive edge in the property market.

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How Smoover can help make moving home easier.

We all know that buying or selling your home is a complex process, but still the reality of how difficult it can be a shock when you find yourself in the thick of it.

I have a great friend called Liz who used to live in the Fiveways area of Brighton. Summer 2010, Liz decided that she would like to move home to Chichester and this is when her problems started.

Liz soon secured a buyer for her flat, found a new house that she fell in love with and the chain was established. What should have happened next was everyone did what they were being paid to be doing, following due process and getting the chain completed on time.

What actually happened was Liz spent the next 3 months cajoling everyone involved in the chain over the phone, by letter and in person to simply complete their due tasks in a timely manner. At one point Liz was physically running between solicitors with documents and information to keep the chain from collapsing.

At the end of January 2011 I met Liz for lunch in town and my friend looked tired and worn. It was a week before completion. Liz recounted her story to me and I sat there thinking that surely there must be a way to make life easier for everyone involved in a residential property transaction?

And so Smoover was conceived. The aim of the system is to keep homebuyers & sellers in control of their transactions from inception to completion with reminders, prompts, and guidance for all parties.

We’ve set the system up to be as simple for everyone to use as possible and everyone is invited to take part. The system automatically keeps you and your Estate Agent updated when the solicitor completes key steps, and it prompts everyone involved as to what they have to do next.

All participants in the process can see what’s going on at all times, so if something needs to be done, it will be obvious to all.

Every part of the transaction is recorded to ensure smooth progress through the legal steps and minimise delays using Smoover’s unique step-by-step system to ensure total transparency throughout the process of moving house with 24 hour access to the status.

I am pleased to tell you that just over a year on, Liz couldn’t be happier in her new place and the nightmare move is a distant memory but should Liz summon up the courage to move again, at least she knows it won’t be so difficult next time, thanks to a certain Sunday lunch.

www.smoover.co.uk

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The Council of Mortgage Lenders has just released figures

to show that between 1.2 and 1.5 million interest-only mortgages are due to mature between 2012 and 2020. The Financial Services Authority fears that as many as 80% of households will still owe capital at the end of the term.

Many took out interest-only mortgages linked to endowment policies, but these have performed poorly. Others were permitted to take out what were called PEP (now ISA) Mortgages or Pension Mortgages. These were not contractually linked to the loan, and were no more than a loose understanding that borrowers would repay capital from tax efficient savings within a PEP or their pension lump sums. Both PEP and Pension Mortgages relied on regular and sufficient contributions allied to assumed growth rates.

In the current climate lenders are often reluctant to extend the term of the mortgage or to allow those in, or approaching, retirement to re-mortgage.
The only solution in many cases may be downsizing.

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What’s the difference between exchange and completion?

“Exchange” means the exchange of contracts. Many years ago, this would happen in person – all parties would meet and sign the contracts together.   On exchange there is a legally binding contract between seller and buyer for the sale and purchase of a property.

One of the terms in this contract will be that of a completion date.  This is the date on which the property’s ownership moves from seller to buyer.  So, the window between exchange and completion can be anything from a couple of days to several months (though is usually 5-20 days).

The exchange is effectively a promise of the house sale. Completion is when the property has changed hands completely.

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