Keeping Your Property Secure Online

home security keys

With so much information now available online, burglars no longer need to leave the comfort of their home to pick the perfect property to target.  Although many of us are wary of giving out personal details, seemingly harmless tools and data sets such as Google Street View and the National Census provide would-be burglars with information on affluent areas and escape routes. However, it’s online property listing sites that amalgamate in-depth data about prospective target properties into one place. Recently sold or rented properties are specifically targeted, as there tends to be a wealth of data available on them, as well as the assumption that new residents will have brought new furniture and valuables. Information on property sites such as Zoopla’s Sold Prices Guide , allow the public to see how much homeowners have paid, indicating to burglars how wealthy a household will be, as well as a timescale of the moving-in period. For rented accommodation, the search feature allowing users to see let properties works in a similar way. Floor plans and interior images are another innocent selling strategy which plays into burglars’ hands. Being able to study the layout of a house in detail allows them to plan which rooms to target and the quickest route to them. It can be worrying realising how much a burglar can find out through Google, but there are steps you can take to increase your property’s online security. Take charge of your information When adding your listing to property sites such as Right Move or Zoopla, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you must disclose every last bit of information to secure a sale. Take time to contemplate whether it is something which is really necessary and how the information could potentially be used. Never list your exact address When advertising a property [...]

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Your ultimate springtime home maintenance checklist

Brushed-Wood-Blue-Grey

While the arrival of spring is traditionally a time for major domestic cleaning, for landlords and homeowners alike it’s also an important time for home maintenance. Whether you have a new homes in Stanmore or a period property in Stafford, now is the time to check if the winter has had any lasting effects on your property and prepare for the warmer months ahead. The Met Office counts 1 March as the official start of spring, so although it may feel like we’ve barely waved goodbye to the last flurries of snow there is only a matter of weeks before the new season arrives. Here are four parts of every property that need your attention… Roof and guttering Check the roof for any obvious damage such as missing tiles, which can become dislodged in high winds. If the roof is inaccessible or you’re not qualified or confident about climbing a ladder, view from ground level with a pair of binoculars. You should also inspect gutters and downpipes for signs of damage, leaks or for a build-up of leaves, dirt and other debris. Check for damp Check your home for discoloured walls, peeling paint and patches that feel damp to the touch. Condensation is the main cause of damp in modern homes but it can also be caused by problems such as leaking gutters, failed window seals or even a leaking internal pipe. The best time to deal with damp is in dry weather so mark any problems to be dealt with at the earliest opportunity. Touch up the paintwork Paintwork should ideally be inspected before winter to help avoid damage to woodwork and other surfaces, but it’s always worth going over it again once the bad weather has started to ease off. You might just need to touch up an area, or it might [...]

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Quartz Worktop Selection Guide for Homeowners

Quartz-Worktop

A top trending and the most demanding material today is the Quartz. With the many varieties of worktop materials available, it’s often challenging for homeowners to determine which will be the best choice for their home. To aid in this process, here are few guidelines top make Quartz as your top choice. Certain features that will help you in selecting Quartz Worktop for your kitchen: Budget: The first and the foremost criteria while buying a Worktop is its cost and related expenses. Obviously, you want the best value for your money. Therefore, Quartz is the right choice for you. Quartz Worktops are not very expensive like other stones. Also, you can get a variety of patterns and shades in Quartz at an affordable price. Maintenance: Of course, maintenance of whatever we buy plays an important role in making decisions. Since, Quartz is non-porous, stain-resistant, scratch and heat resistant material, a basic routine cleaning is more than enough for its longevity. It is clean and easy to maintain. Lifestyle: The type of Worktops you choose and how they are integrated into your kitchen as a whole is an important consideration. Quartz Worktops are known for their modish and lavishing look, they add a spark to your high-value kitchen. Its non-porous surface and unique blend of beauty makes Quartz an excellent match for any kind of lifestyle. Durability: Buying material for Worktops is not an easy job, both in terms of money and efforts. Therefore, it becomes important to choose a material that provides durability. Also, Quartz is durable in terms of its strength, hardness, resistance against staining and corrosion from oils, liquids-avoiding the need for its periodic resealing. Features: There is one more reason to go with Quartz Worktop- it’s GREEN! Quartz Worktops show less or no Radon radiations, as compared to other [...]

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Moving to Brighton

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Moving to Brighton: What You Need to Know So would you like to be beside the seaside – as a resident? Then Brighton and Hove could be the ideal area which offers the quirky combination of seaside attractions, a vibrant arts culture, a wonderful variety of shops and services, scenic coastal and countryside backdrops as well as an easy commute to London… Seaside attractions With a popular beach which offers all the requirements of a high tide pebbly picnics and low-tide sand for walking, running and castle-building, as well as two historic piers. Of these, the working pier now forms part of the Brighton Marine Palace and Pier attraction, offering typical seaside amusement arcades and fairground rides, along with delightful places to eat, drink, relax and shop whilst watching the ever changing seascape and beach. This area also includes a large aquarium which hosts over 150 resident species, as well as the occasional visiting species which occasionally wash up on the shore or have been caught in local nets. Brighton’s West Pier is now in a famously sad state of repair but stands as an eerie, but iconic skeletal silhouette which is as much a part of Brighton’s famous coastline as the many local fish and chip shops. Community and culture As one of the major cities on the south coast, Brighton couldn’t be farther from being a sleepy seaside resort that only springs to life during the summer. It has a vibrant local community, arts, literature and history community, plenty of music venues and clubs for everyone. With two universities on the doorstep, the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton, there are plenty of graduate exhibitions and events of educational as well as cultural interest. The historic popularity and vibrant of ‘vive la difference’ of Brighton is [...]

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Enlarge your living space with bifold doors

FoldingDoorsToYou

However large or small your house is, the chances are that you could do with more space, whether it’s the living/dining/kitchen area, the conservatory, or some of those more fiddly places within the house. Doors can waste an enormous amount of space. A traditional door has to have an area clear for it to open, and there’s really little that can be done with that part of the room. Sliding doors offer more economy, but they rely on there being somewhere to slide into. So what’s the answer? Bifold doors Real Homes Magazine recommends using bifold doors, which “will increase the use of space and create a unique third living area when the doors are fully opened”. Bifold doors can be tucked tidily away to the sides when open, without needing any extra space to open into, and the range of materials and styles available allow a perfect blend with the rest of the house when closed. Similarly, the Telegraph quotes advice from Jamie Lester of Haus Properties with regard to adding an extension to your house. Lester’s recommendation is to “extend the kitchen or living area into a large open plan area with bifold doors onto the garden”. Inside the house Most people tend to think of bifold doors in terms of patio doors. They’re certainly ideal for that purpose, since they not only create more space and uniquely connect inside and outside, but also they combine excellent insulation with style when shut. Nevertheless, bifold doors can also provide a great connection between rooms such as living and dining areas, or between the living room and kitchen. They allow for a genuine open-plan feel that would be impossible with traditional doors, while securely separating the areas when needed — when the kitchen is in use, for instance. Bifold doors also come into their own when space is tight and there wouldn’t [...]

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London’s Most Romantic Valentine’s Day Hotspots

Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

Valentine’s Day is here again. It’s a day which is  dreaded by singletons but adored by lovers, and a classic choice for that special first date. But if we’re being totally honest, it’s also one which would be much more convenient and easier to make a success if it fell smack bang in the middle of summer. But it doesn’t – it occurs every winter instead, which means that leisurely boating trips, romantic strolls or picnics in the park are all pretty much ruled out. While it’s literally freezing outside, we can’t do anything about the weather and we can’t move the date. So if you don’t mind digging out your thermals and finest bobble hat there are plenty of romantic places which are well worth a Valentine’s Day visit. Indoors or outdoors, day or night, dress up or dress down, there are some great places to enjoy on Valentine’s Day in London. Here’s six of our favourites: 1.  The London Eye Superb views, champagne and chocolate – sounds like our idea of Valentine’s Day heaven. And one which, thanks to our favourite London landmark, couples can enjoy in complete privacy. Take a trip into the heart of London to enjoy the skyline at night. It doesn’t get much more romantic than that, does it? 2. Kew Gardens If escaping the hustle and bustle is your idea of a relaxing Valentine’s Day, then nowhere offers such a splendid retreat than Kew Gardens. Stroll the gardens at your leisure, and if the temperature drops, stop off at one of the 40 listed iconic buildings and impressive glasshouses, all topped off with a warming cuppa our bowl of soup in one of the site’s cafes or restaurants. From Friday 13th to Sunday 15th February, celebrate Valentine’s weekend with a luxurious afternoon tea. With majestic scenery, warming glasshouses, and stunning botany [...]

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Factors to consider when investing in student property

student accomodation

Of the many buy-to-let investment opportunities on offer in the UK, one of the most attractive and popular is student accommodation. What makes the student property market so attractive is the fact that the number of UK students is only going to grow in the years and decades to come. The housing market may crash and British industry may go through tough times, but there will always be hundreds of thousands of new students in need of somewhere to stay. This is the kind of guarantee that doesn’t generally come with any other kind of buy-to-let investment. It doesn’t necessarily mean assured success, though. Student populations shift and evolve in terms of the regions they flock to and the types of properties they favour. Therefore, making a success of student property investment depends on acknowledging and understanding a variety of factors. The most important considerations to make when looking to invest in student property are: Location Nothing matters more than the location of the property itself both in terms of the area of the UK and the town/city itself. If, for example, you were able to back a stunning apartment near University College London, the chances are you’d be able to ask a much higher rent than if you’d invested in a rather dark studio apartment 12 miles from Barnsley College. But the prestige of the area doesn’t necessarily guarantee a successful investment as it can often be more beneficial to offer affordable accommodation in an area that’s generally considered overpriced. High purchase prices in markets such as London will mean that your rent will have to be much higher to generate a worthwhile yield, making your initial investment more expensive and the resulting property more difficult to sell to tenants. New-build or old school? It can be tempting to [...]

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Tips for investing in a new-build property

robertholmes.co.uk

Investing in a new-build property comes with a number of advantages, not least fresh and modern design, convenient fixtures and features aimed at 21st century living and little required in terms of modernisation or maintenance. But despite the fairly obvious benefits of buying a newly built property, there are certain aspects investors should be aware of. Before you sign on the dotted line, take a look at the following tips to help ensure your investment goes smoothly. 1. Research developers in the area If you are planning on buying a new-build from a property developer it can pay to carry out some preliminary research on the developers in the area. Have a look at customer testimonials and reviews of the developers. This will help you discover which companies are offering the best deals and what kind of customer service and after-sales care they offer. 2. Have an active say in the finishing touches Buyers of new-builds should know that it may be possible to add some finishing touches to the property before they are even given the keys. Certain developers enable buyers to gain access to the property and actively contribute towards the look and design of the home. By fitting the curtains, pictures, carpets, lights and other furnishings of your choice, you can put your own personal stamp on the property before you move in. Certain developers will even make this part of the deal, which could potentially save you money in the long-term. 3. Make room for negotiation And finally, negotiate. Just because you are investing in a new-build does not mean to say you lose the power of negotiation buyers typically have when purchasing second-hand property. In order to successfully negotiate the best deal, do your homework before making an offer. Have a look at what other [...]

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Buy Your Way Onto the Property Ladder

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House prices rose by nearly 8% in 2014, with the average price of a property reaching £188,858. Growth was slowed as a result of the rising prices, along with speculation about a rise in interest rates. Those looking to join the property ladder have been panicking due to properties going for £50,000 more than the asking price, even outside of the capital. It’s clear that people are panic-buying now in the hope of avoiding the worst of the price surge but is it a good idea to go rushing into the property market at such an unpredictable time? Here are a few things you should consider prior to reaching for the chequebook: Be Aware of Rising Interest Rates We should probably start with an outlook on potential interest rate rises, which have been at an historic low for six years. Rising interest rates are expected towards the spring time, which would then see mortgage lenders checking up on their applicants to see whether or not they could afford the repayments if the rates do indeed go up. Larger monthly outlays would mean you’d probably struggle spending your money elsewhere, so think about reducing the amount you’re looking to borrow. There’d even be more flexibility if you did this as smaller mortgages mean more substantial deposits. Consider Renting We’d all feel safe living somewhere we’d bought for ourselves, but it’s a mistake to presume that renting a property wouldn’t give you these benefits. Rental properties are incredibly popular elsewhere in Europe as tenants do have greater rights, yet there are many landlords in the UK who are more than prepared to discuss a secure and stable long term tenancy. If you’re prepared to rent for a lengthy period of time, you may even get a cheaper deal in return. Is It [...]

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What Does It Really Cost To Buy?

moving cost calculator

With so many changes to the recent housing market it can be a minefield to understand the true cost of moving. Even as we move into 2015 there have already been some significant changes that will make many reconsider their New Year moving options.  From the prediction of the house price drop to the Welsh Renting Homes Bill set to be launched , both home owners and renters will be affected. But the road to owning a home will stay uncertain as the struggle to step on to the property ladder continues to be unclear.  An aspirational asset for many there is no clarity for those looking to rent or buy. First time buyers are never truly prepared for what is the biggest decision of their lives, and are often expected to just know the jargon that is put in front of them. Unless you’re hot on property or currently own your own home, the housing market can seem like an untamed beast, fraught with hidden costs. With the introduction of the stamp duty reform this moving house tool has been created to add some clarity to the process. Calculating costs that are often not even considered including the Deposit, Moving Fees, Legal Fees and the New Stamp Duty. Whether buying or renting a property the app takes you through each cost involved so that budgeting can be one less worry. Tools such as this will only encourage first time buyers and give them confidence and understanding of such a continuous grey matter. Having a clearer understanding of such costs could revolutionise the way the housing market approaches those looking to move. Having the tools to make an informed decision is perhaps the only way the future of property will gain a boost from a new generation.

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