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Guide for First-Time Property Sellers

Selling a property for the first time? Here’s a helpful guide to help you navigate the process. A two-minute read.

 

Putting your property on the market can be stressful at the best of times, and even more so if you’ve never done it before. But don’t worry. With planning and preparation, you can avoid some common property pitfalls.

 

Let’s assume that you’ve made up your mind that it’s time to sell. Here are the next steps that you need to take.

 

Do your research

Look at similar properties already on the market and note their asking price and state of repair. How does your home compare? If it needs a spruce-up/declutter, make a to-do list and get started. You’d be surprised what a difference a lick of paint and a few minor tweaks can make.

 

Nail your admin

Go through bank statements and get a clear picture of your earnings and expenditure (no cheating), so you know what you can afford in terms of mortgage repayments. It’s also worth getting together all the paperwork for your home: deeds and details of leasehold or share of freehold arrangements (if applicable). This will speed things up further along the selling process.

 

Money talks

Your big move will most likely involve purchasing another property, so discuss your financing options with an independent mortgage adviser. Be aware that if you have an existing mortgage, you may get hit with an early exit fee if you sell and move mortgages to a different provider.

 

Choose an agent

Recommendations from family and friends can provide a useful starting point but always talk to more than one agent. We suggest you invite three agents around to value your property. Ask lots of questions and be wary of agents giving unrealistically high valuations – they’re telling you porkies to land the listing.

 

Also, steer clear of agents trying to lock you into an extended tie-in (some make you commit for 24 weeks and an additional 28-day notice period). If they need half a year to sell your home, they’re not very good.

 

Instruct a solicitor

It’s useful to have a legal eagle on board before the sales process kicks into full swing. Again, ask around for recommendations and talk to your agent, who will also have contacts. As with choosing an agent, the cheapest isn’t always the best. Go for a solicitor with a good reputation.

 

Get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

You’ll need to get an EPC (it’s a legal requirement), and your agent will help you arrange this.

 

Dress your home

When it’s time for your property’s marketing photos, talk to your agent about how best to present your home. Take their suggestions on board because first impressions really do matter.

 

Here at Silverspring Sales, we have a great sales track record. Get in touch to find out more about our winning formula.

 

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Six Instagram Interior Design Accounts You’ll Love

In this quick read, we’ve pulled together some of the most popular interior design profiles on Instagram to give you some inspiration.

 

Are you fed up with bland magnolia walls, wilting pot plants and tired kitchen cupboards? Then grab your phone and click onto Instagram. It’s a hotbed of aspirational interior design, décor on a budget and tips on how to make the most of small spaces. Here are six of the best accounts to follow.

 

The name of this profile gives it away – beautiful home ideas that are affordable and easy to get hold of.

 

The focus of the account is how to style a room, and it gives great insight into colour schemes, soft furnishings and where to buy budget-friendly items from popular high street stores.

 

Run by interior designer Katy Orme, this account shows the transformation of her South East London home.

 

Simple lines, bold colours and perfectly placed statement furniture pieces have us swooning with envy. Worth a follow if you like a mix of classic pieces with modern/bold patterns.

 

This account was voted one of London’s best interior design blogs in 2016 and is all about bright colours, bold patterns and ridiculously neat and tidy spaces (even the inside of the fridge looks perfect).

 

Curated by Geraldine Tan, an interior design teacher amongst other things, her colour choices might not be for everyone, but are well worth a look if you’re fed up with plain white walls.

 

These two women are not only BFFs, but they’re design, DIY and cleaning gurus. Once you’ve scrolled past the countless pics of their cute kids, they both offer great cleaning and tidying tips, budget-friendly soft furnishings, the most organised kitchen cupboards you’ve ever seen and beautifully decorated rooms.

 

We’ve probably all visited the big blue and yellow furniture God at least once in our lives. Who hasn’t struggled with flat-pack drawers or left the marketplace lugging all sorts of unnecessary bits and pieces? This account is genius. Not only does it style common furniture pieces in unique ways, but it also offers advice and hacks on how to fix everyday problems.

 

At first glance, yes, this is just an account of someone’s shoes on various floors, but it’s also a tile-lover’s haven. From amazing colours to geometric patterns, ceramics to cement, here’s a profile all about making tiles trendy. You’ll be desperate to give your bathroom floor a makeover once you’ve had a peep.

 

Have you got a favourite Instagram home account? At Silverspring sales, we love a bit of interior design, comment below with your top profile.

 

 

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What You Need to Do Now to Be in a New Home by Christmas

Severe conveyancing delays mean savvy sellers must act now to be in a new home by Christmas.

 

You probably think it’s too early to be thinking about Christmas, right? After all, why worry about tinsel, trees and a present for dear old Aunt Bertha when it’s the middle of summer?

 

But if you’re planning to move home and hope to be in your new pad by Christmas, then now is the time to get moving. Let us explain why there’s no time to delay.

 

Conveyancing logjam

There are currently huge conveyancing delays in the UK. As a result, once a sale has been agreed, it takes on average 150 days to complete the purchase*. (To put this into context, this is 50 days longer than it took back in 2019.)

 

Now, some buyers and sellers (especially the ones with proactive agents) might be able to navigate the conveyancing process faster than the average time. But property transactions can be complicated, so it’s essential to work to a realistic timeframe to avoid disappointment.

 

Get the ball rolling

If you hope to sell your home and purchase a new one, the first step is to market your current property.

 

There are many reasons why you should do this before you start searching for your dream home:

  • You’ll put yourself in a stronger negotiating position. Aware of lagging completion times, many sellers are prioritising offers from buyers who are ready to move.

 

  • While the market is experiencing completion delays, sales are being agreed in record time (on average 32 days**). So even if you do shake hands on your dream home, if you’re not organised, there’s a risk that the seller will get impatient and walk away from the deal.

 

  • If you’ve accepted an offer on your property, you’ll know exactly where you stand regarding budget.

 

  • You won’t be tempted to accept a lower offer on your home because you’re desperate to hurry the sale along so that you don’t miss out on your dream property.

 

For advice on marketing your home to achieve top asking price or for a valuation, get in touch with us here at Silverspring Sales.

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Let the Children Play – Join the Scheme Bringing Communities Together

We all know that kids these days spend more time indoors (often on screens) and less time running around outside. If you’re a parent or carer frustrated by this trend, read on to learn how some parents are fighting back through a scheme called Playing Out.

 

What is Playing Out?

Playing Out was set up in 2009 by two mums dismayed that their kids couldn’t play out on the street like they did when they were growing up.

 

The pair asked their local council for permission to temporarily close their road to traffic to allow the children to play, run, skate, cycle and scoot in the street safely.

 

After a bit of paperwork and consultation, the first Playing Out session was held and was such a success that it became a regular fixture.

 

Since then, more than 500 streets in the UK have introduced similar schemes. Here’s how it works.

 

  • To instigate a Play Street scheme, you must ask the council for permission to close the road for a few hours. If your council doesn’t have an official Playing Out policy, you can apply using the council’s Street Party policy.

 

  • Playing Out sessions usually last for three hours. Volunteer stewards patrol each end of the street to ensure a rogue driver doesn’t ignore the road closure signs. If a resident in the street needs to use their car, a steward will walk ahead of the vehicle to ensure it’s safe.

 

  • Some streets have occasional Playing Out sessions. Others opt for monthly events, while some keen beans do it weekly.

 

Playing Out benefits

Health: The scheme encourages physical activity, and with childhood obesity at record levels, that’s got to be a good thing.

 

Friendships: Kids make friends and develop social skills.

 

Sense of community: Residents of all age groups can enjoy a natter and get to know each other better.

 

Top tips

  • The Playing Out website (playingout.net) offers a step-by-step guide to starting your own scheme. Save time by making use of their experience and expertise.
  • Before applying to the council, speak to your neighbours. Discussing your plan with them is important as the whole point of Playing Out is that it’s inclusive.
  • When you notify people about a session, remind parents that they must accompany their children and be responsible for their safety and behaviour.

 

  • To keep things manageable, don’t publicise your Playing Out event too widely.

 

From all of us here at Silverspring Sales, thanks for reading.

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Equity Release: A Great Idea Or Just Another Loan?

Have you heard of ‘unlocking the value of your home’? Do you know what it’s all about? If you’re over 55, chances are you’ve seen or heard this phrase several times from targeted advertising.

 

While ‘unlocking value’ might sound like an elaborate spiritual journey or magic trick, instead, it’s quite dull and refers to equity release.

 

So, what is equity release? Is it a good idea? How does it work?

 

In this quick read, we go through the essentials. 

 

What is equity release? 

In simple terms, equity release is turning some or all the value of your home into tax-free cash without having to sell or move. The amount depends on the value of your home minus the mortgage or any loans you have on it.

 

It’s a long-term loan that is repaid by the sale of your home once you pass away (or enter long-term care). It can be paid in a lump sum or smaller amounts over time in the form of a lifetime mortgage agreement or home reversion plan (when you sell part of your home to a home reversion company).

 

Why get equity release? 

There are many reasons, and often it’s pitched by lending companies as a way to enjoy your golden years.

 

People use the money to fund things such as home-based care, adapting a property to suit changing needs and helping children with property deposits. It’s your choice how you spend the cash that is released.

 

Is it a good idea? 

As with any large loan, equity release has advantages and disadvantages.

 

Advantages include regular cash payments or a one-off lump sum to top up your retirement income and the opportunity to enjoy any increase in value of your property since you purchased it.

 

If you choose a lifetime mortgage agreement, you can still live in the property and be a homeowner.

 

What are the disadvantages of equity release? 

It is a complex and binding financial agreement.

 

It impacts the amount of money the beneficiaries of your will are likely to get once you pass away. Also, equity release can lower the amount of means-tested benefits (such as pension credits and council tax support) you previously might have been entitled to and may reduce the amount of care you are eligible for.

 

If you opt for a home reversion plan, the financial company will part-own your property.

 

What to do if you’re considering equity release? 

If this is something you’re considering, it’s important to consult a financial adviser to understand the full implications. There are many specialist equity release advisers you can speak to, and charities such as Age UK may also assist.

 

At Silverspring Sales, we hope this short guide has been useful. If you are considering selling your home, please contact us.

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The Latest Trends in Garden Gadgets and Accessories

If you’re planning to entertain friends or family at home this summer, check out the latest must-have garden gadgets and accessories. A two-minute read.

 

Spending time in your own garden, be it pottering around alone or entertaining family and friends, is one of the true joys of summer.

 

And there’s a host of products on the market to help you make the most of the experience.

 

Here’s a list of what is proving popular at the moment.

 

Garden fireballs – Fire pits were a hit last summer, but this year, it’s all about the fireball. Like a fire pit but spherical, fireballs look striking and keep you warm when the sun goes down. Just be a bit wary if you have young children or pets.

 

Pizza oven – Bored with barbequed bangers but still want to cook al fresco? Then invest in an outdoor pizza oven. There’s one to suit every price range, from dinky, portable gas-fired models to built-in woodfired ovens that wouldn’t look out of place in a Napoli pizzeria.

 

Patio heater – A patio heater will allow you to make the most of your days and nights in the garden. (Let’s face it, this is the UK, so you know the mercury will plummet at some point.) We’re all familiar with the big outdoor heaters you see in pubs (clunky but effective), but many smaller models are available for domestic use. You can choose from free-standing or wall-hanging, gas or electric. Be mindful of those energy bills, though.

 

Smoke-free barbeque – Enjoy the taste of barbequed food without the smoke or smell (ideal if you live in a built-up area and the neighbours are prone to complaining about smoke wafting into their garden).

 

Sunken trampoline – Kids love trampolines, but many people find them visually intrusive because of their height and the safety net (which, by the way, is crucial if you want to avoid a visit to A&E). A sunken or in-ground trampoline can be the solution – they’re less impactful visually and safer for the kids. Most people get a company to handle the installation, although you could tackle the job yourself if you’re a confident DIYer (just check you don’t disturb any underground pipework).

 

From all of us here at NAME, we hope you enjoy the summer.

 

 

 

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Shhh… Unique Staycation Spots No One Knows About

And just like that, it’s the summer holidays again. Six painful weeks of keeping the kids entertained, and the house in one piece. Oh, and to add to this woeful mix, you’ve forgotten to renew your passport and got no sun-drenched holiday planned.

 

If that sounds like your situation, keep reading, because it’s an ideal time to book a staycation. No passport needed, possibly a bit of sun, and plenty to keep the entire family amused.

 

While we’re all familiar with the big tourist spots around the UK (yes Devon and Cornwall, everyone knows how lovely and picturesque you are), what about some of our lesser-known attractions?

 

In this quick guide, we’ve pulled together a whistle-stop tour of some of the UK’s most unique holiday locations.

 

  • High Force, Durham, England

Despite being one of the most impressive waterfalls (yes, the UK has waterfalls, who knew?) in the country, this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is often overlooked by staycationers.

 

The waterfall is approximately 21m high and genuinely breathtaking. Enjoy guided walks, luxury accommodation nearby and lots of places to visit in the local area.

 

  • Loch Awe, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

Forget the Lake District, everyone goes there. How about visiting the longest lake in Scotland instead? At 24 miles, you might spot the occasional fisherman but that’ll be about it. It’s a stunning location for a family holiday surrounded by a rugged landscape and teeming with wildlife.

 

  • Tyneham, Dorset, England

Fancy a spooky summer break? This historical village is home to… absolutely no one, it’s completely deserted. Enjoy eerily quiet walks around crumbling buildings and empty houses. Perfect if you’re looking to get away from the crowds. And for something a bit different, the next day, why not jump in the car and visit one of Dorset’s many seaside towns? In less than an hour, you can be in busy Bournemouth for a completely different holiday experience.

 

  • Pembrokeshire, Wales

There are so many beautiful Welsh beaches to visit along this stretch of coast, picking just one was impossible. In fact, Pembrokeshire has a whopping 10 Blue Flag beaches (basically the best of the best). Soft sand, miles and miles of blue sea, rockpools, luxury accommodation… there’s just too much to ooh and ahh about.

 

If you’re looking for an experience rather than an actual area, how about searching for quirky accommodation? A few nights in a treehouse, lighthouse or shepherd’s hut could be great fun for everyone.

 

From all of us at Silverspring lettings, we hope you have an excellent summer and enjoy a well-deserved break.

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A Helpful Guide to Selling Property to Pay for Care Costs

If you or a loved one need to move into a care home or require home care, you might be considering selling your property to pay for the costs. This is a difficult decision, and there’s a lot to consider.

 

It’s important to go through all the proper steps when considering long-term costs, and this article is not a definitive guide on what you should do.

 

Instead, in this three-minute read, we offer some helpful advice about the process and what to do.

 

Understanding assessments 

In the first instance, you need to contact your local authority to see how they can help. You (or a loved one) may have already had a care assessment which sets out what sort of care is required.

 

The next step is a means test. This is a detailed financial assessment which decides whether the council will pay for all or some of the care required. It examines your income from benefits and pensions and your capital (investments and savings). If you’re a homeowner, the value of your property may also be included.

 

If you or a loved one live with a partner, their financial situation is not assessed.

 

If you have the funds to pay for care, then a shorter assessment will take place.

 

Selling your assets 

You may decide to sell valuable items or assets (such as your property) to reduce the cost of care. However, the council’s financial assessment can include your past income and capital. So, this may not be a helpful route to take. The council may still require you to pay fees, as selling assets before an assessment could be deemed as a ‘deliberate deprivation of assets’.

 

Things to avoid

Even if the need for care is urgent, avoid turning to ‘quick sale’ companies who promise to buy your property for cash. Often, you’ll be left with far less than if you went through the normal sales process. Instead, sign up to a local estate agency so you can meet with an experienced and reputable agent. They will have helped many people in your situation and are best placed to get you a good market price.

 

The need for care is a sign of change, and you may want to delay the process for as long as possible. However, by facing up to the situation and getting things moving with an estate agent, you can start a new chapter without the need for panic or undue stress.

 

Get the property ready for sale

A lifetime of memories can be hard to pack away, but it will also allow you to give value to what’s important now and in the future.

 

Start by packing away your most precious items, such as family photos or antiques. Ask your agent if any glaring repairs need to be made and use a trusted tradesperson to help get issues sorted.

 

For more assistance, contact Age UK Advice Line or Money Helper.

 

If you’re ready to sell your home, contact us, Silverspring sales.

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Get the Picture: Why Sellers Should Use High-Quality Property Photos

When selling a home, good-quality property photos help you attract more buyers and achieve a higher asking price. What’s not to love? A three-minute read.

 

One of the golden rules of property selling is not to skimp on photography. And you don’t have to take our word for it – look at the results of a recent survey of home buyers.*

 

A survey of 1,300 people who had purchased a property within the past six months revealed three critical things:

 

  • Photography creates a powerful first impression (and we all know first impressions count). 93% of respondents said they formed an opinion of a home based on the imagery.

 

  • Dodgy photos cost sellers money. 62% of buyers said they’d make an offer below the asking price if the pictures were poor.

 

  • Good photos generate viewings. 94% of buyers were more inclined to view a property that was marketed with good photos and/or a video tour. Meanwhile, 78% said they’d be less likely to view a property if the photos were howlers.

 

Why quality pics matter

As most smartphones have decent cameras, you might assume that anyone could grab a few snaps of a property, and no one would be the wiser.

 

But most prospective buyers are sophisticated social media users and scroll through countless high-quality images online every day.

 

When buyers see dubious, poorly lit snaps they assume that the seller either doesn’t know what they’re doing or is desperate to offload (both options are likely to prompt a reduced offer).

 

Conversely, good-quality photos are a sure-fire recipe for attracting higher offers. Property photographers know all the lighting and perspective tricks to ensure a property looks light, bright and welcoming.

 

But wait, there’s more!

One issue that we’ve noticed in our agency, but didn’t come up in the survey, is that many buyers share the listing of a property with family and close friends before making an offer.

 

The buyer may be wobbling and want a second opinion or relying on the Bank of Mum and Dad for help with the deposit. So, it goes without saying that you want the images in the listing to be good quality.

 

We always use high-quality photography here at Silverspring Sales, as we know it gives sellers the edge. Get in touch with us to learn more about our comprehensive property marketing strategy.

 

* Survey by Giraffe360.

 

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Food Banks Need You

The cost of living crisis is affecting more people than ever, and sadly, it’s set to get worse, as more and more households are turning to food banks to supplement their supplies.

 

Research by the Trussell Trust – a support network for food banks across the UK – found that 2.1 million emergency parcels were distributed between April 2021 and March 2022, a 14% rise from the previous year.

 

With these statistics in mind, what can you do to support your local food bank?

 

In this quick read, we offer a few ways to help.

 

Donate mindfully

Donating food and toiletries may sound obvious but giving some thought to what you donate is equally important.

 

A typical food parcel contains staples such as cereal, soup, tinned vegetables, tinned meat, rice, pasta, lentils/beans, tea/coffee, UHT milk and biscuits. The aim is to provide three days of balanced, nutritional meals for those who need a parcel. So, think about what you’re donating and how it will be used. Keep in mind that some items are stored for long periods, so check use-by dates.

 

Non-food items such as sanitary products, cleaning products, baby care items and toiletries are always needed.

 

What not to donate

Some items are just not suitable for donation. For example, anything containing alcohol or alcohol flavoured cannot be used. In addition, baby formula can’t be distributed (however, families can request vouchers for support with buying this instead).

 

Other things to avoid include:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Opened or used goods
  • Items without a use-by date
  • Homemade food
  • Items without a list of ingredients.

 

Any items that can’t be used are donated elsewhere by the food bank.

 

Where to donate

Search your local authority website for listings of local food banks or have a look on the Trussell Trust website here.

 

You can donate directly or through collection points which can be found at supermarkets or churches. You could also organise your own collection drive perhaps along your street or at a local school.

 

Cash donations

Making a one-off cash donation, a regular monthly payment or organising a fundraiser for a local food bank is a great way to provide support.

 

Volunteer

Food banks rely on volunteers to help put together and distribute food parcels. Just a few hours a month can go a long way. Look for places to volunteer near you here. The Salvation Army also runs food banks throughout the UK so check their local sites, too.

 

From all of us here at Silverspring Sales, thanks for reading. We hope this has been helpful and remember, an easy way to support a food bank is to pick up some extra items at your next weekly shop.