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

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

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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How To Be The BEST Estate Agent In Your Area!

If you’re an estate agent it’s important to be on top of your game. Understanding your clients is very important if you want to reap the rewards of loyalty and a good reputation. We decided to ask the experts on their tips on how to be the best estate agents in their areas. Here’s what they had to say: Ajaye Gopal, Director, Eden Harper , an estate agents in Brixton: “Make sure that you keep your promises and don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Estate agents will often raise a client’s expectations, only to let that client down when they can’t achieve the price they want or deliver the service they expected. If you stand by your principles and offer a client the professional advice, that would certainly get my vote as being a key point for being the best agent.” Robert Lazarus, Sales Director, Paramount Properties an estate agents in West Hampstead: “It’s important to have expert knowledge of the local area and to be on top of market trends. It’s also key to have experienced negotiators who’ve worked in the same area and who know the community inside out. That way you can build relationships with local people and develop a strong understanding of the property and architectural styles.” Jon Collard, Director, Robert Holmes , an estate agents in Wimbledon: “Good local knowledge is key, values of prices achieved in the area and understanding about planning advice. We have expertise in providing vendors and purchasers with advice on redevelopment and extensions, having had considerable experience where refurbishment and new developments are concerned.” Richard Symes, Director, Eden Harper , an estate agents in Battersea: “In any selling role there are sharp ups and downs so it’s very important to expect them and to keep your reactions in perspective. As a young negotiator it can seem like a [...]

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Brixton – Music, Food And The London Vibe

Brixton has come a long way in the past few years, with major improvements to the tube station and the streets given a facelift with regeneration cash. Brixton Village has become a foodie destination on the weekends too and the area has seen an influx of professionals looking for affordable housing with quick access to central London. It’s still cheaper than neighbouring Clapham, and has a real community feeling. Here’s our overview of why Brixton is so great, and why it’s well worth a visit if you’re looking for a vibrant place to live, work or socialise… Musical Brixton You can find live music well into the evening and even further into the early hours of the morning in areas packed full of clubs, bars and live music. There’s Mass, a club which used to be a church, The Dogstar on Coldharbour Lane and of course Brixton Academy, which has been open as an entertainment venue since 1983, and plays host to some of the best music acts in the world. Foodie Brixton If you like eating out, make your way to Brixton Village . Years ago it was a run down arcade, but now it’s a buzzing mix of restaurants, takeaways and cafes getting rave reviews in the national press. Musicians play in the open air and you can try food from all corners of the planet.  Brixton Market is busy and colourful, crammed with exotic fruit, foreign vegetables and an array of weird and wonderful looking seafood. Residential Brixton House prices, while still lower than other parts of London have steadily risen over the years. There is a good mix of flats that have been converted out of the large Victorian buildings and new builds of smaller houses and flats. It is at the end of the Victorian Line and [...]

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How to incorporate renewable energy solutions into your home

renewable energy

The impact of carbon emissions on our environment has become a very important topic within both politics and the society we live in. Installing a renewable energy system into your home is not only a great way to help protect the future of the world we live in, but it can also reduce your heating bills. Air Source Heat Pumps There are two types of air source heat pump available which heat your home in different ways: An air-to-water system takes heat from the air outside your home (even cold air!) and passes it over refrigerant-filled coils. The heat pump compresses the refrigerant which raises its temperature, before feeding the concentrated heat into your wet central heating system. It’s like a fridge in reverse! These pumps provide both heating for your home or a hot water supply. However, they produce less heat than a standard boiler system. This makes air-to-water heat pumps ideal for those who have underfloor heating as they deliver heat at just the right temperature for this type of heating. An air-to-air system also concentrates the heat taken from outside air, which is then used to heat and circulate the air in your home using fans. It is less likely that an air-to-air system will provide your home with a hot water supply. In the warmer months, an air-to-air system can also be used as an air conditioning unit to keep your home cool while some have an air filtration feature which can be beneficial to many people, particularly those who suffer with allergies. Having an air source heat pump installed at your home can both lower your carbon footprint and save you money if you are replacing an electric or coal heating system. They are easy to maintain and, as long as you have enough space [...]

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Buying a Home…The Checklist

Buying a home is one of the most important things anyone will ever do, and it will undoubtedly be the most expensive. Doing things properly will ensure that you don’t waste money and that the process runs smoothly. If you’ve bought a home before, you’ll be familiar with the process and what’s needed when, but if not, Lawsons and Daughters ,  an estate agents in Fulham share their top tips for making your next home move as seamless and hassle-free as possible: Work out your budget Talk to your mortgage provider to find out how much they are prepared to lend and decide how much you want to spend. Then make sure you have a firm mortgage offer Location If you’re buying your first home and you don’t have children, you might pick a location close to work or your family, if you’re moving because you want children or you have already got them, you need to consider schools and parks along with the distance you or your partner want to travel between work and home and whether you can walk to the schools or shops, or if you will need to drive. Checklist Make a list of the things you want from your home; the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the size of the kitchen, if you want a garage, a garden, a downstairs toilet,whether you are prepared to buy something that needs renovating or you want something you can move straight into. Viewings Make a list of questions you want to ask, so you don’t get carried away in the moment and forget them, look around carefully and write down how you feel about the house and anything you particularly like or dislike. Ask questions If there’s a shared driveway, make sure there are no problems with access. Find out if [...]

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How can colours in your home affect your emotions?

TJ Hughes

If you are thinking about making changes to the interior of your home, you should first consider the emotions that certain colours can evoke. Studies have found that choosing to decorate or furnish your home using particular colours in the wrong place can have a negative impact on our emotions. Similarly, using the right colours in regularly used rooms in the home can help you to create a relaxing environment, so choose wisely. The below infographic looks at various colours, their meanings and what emotions they tend to evoke. Find out what colours reflect your personality best and which rooms to use them in. So whether you are looking to create a dramatic, mysterious impact or bring peace and calm to those who walk through your front door, the guide will help you to create your very own haven at home. TJ Hughes is a UK based department store offering affordable furniture for your home and garden in a range of styles and designs.

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