How do I choose a new neighbourhood to live in?

Before you looking for a property, you need to decide on the neighbourhood/location of where you would like your new place to be situated. It could be the most important decision you make: get it wrong and you will either be unhappy with where you live, or face the costs of moving again

What makes looking for a new neighbourhood difficult?

If you want to move to a new home close to where you already live, there is little to decide.  But if you want to move to a different part of town, or across the country, then deciding the neighbourhood is more difficult. It can take time to get to know an neighbourhood well enough to know whether you would like to live there, and many of the issues will not be apparent from just visiting.

The UK housing market is highly localised, and only by thoroughly researching individual neighbourhoods and streets can you ensure you don’t make a mistake, and confidently make the snap decision needed to put in a bid quickly if lots of people are interested in your chosen property.

Choose an neighbourhood you can afford

Ideally, you need to choose an neighbourhood where you can afford to live in the sort of property you want to live in. If you want a whole house and don’t have £3m, don’t look at Chelsea. Decide roughly how much you are willing to spend and then look on property websites such as to see what you can get for that amount in different neighbourhoods.

But even within neighbourhood’s prices vary hugely:

  • One village might be more expensive than that on the other side of the valley
  • One end of a street might be cheaper than another
  • What is the minimum number of bedrooms you would consider?
  • Do you want your own front door, or are you happy with a conversion flat?
  • There will naturally be trade-offs – you might be able to afford a flat in a more popular neighbourhood, but a whole house in cheaper neighbourhood

Decide what type of property you want

Then spend your evenings cruising property websites to find out if the neighbourhoods you are interested in have the sort of properties you want at a price you can afford.

Choose what type of neighbourhood you want to live in

There are a number of things to consider:

  • Do you want to be in a happening place, with lots of life?
  • Do you want to be somewhere more rural? Do you relish a laidback lifestyle or will you get bored?
  • Do want to be able to walk to the shops, or are you happy having to get in a car to get a pint of milk?
  • Does the village have a shop or post office? Remember that village shops and pubs are closing so don’t be completely dependent on just one
  • How long will it take to get to work? How close do you want to be to your parents, family, and friends?
  • Are there community groups around? Sports teams, amateur dramatics, gardening – can you get an allotment?
  • If you like fine shopping, don’t move somewhere with lots of pound shops. If you like good value, don’t go somewhere which only has top-end grocers
  • Check out the crime, schools, transport links and council tax rates.

What are the employment opportunities?

If you are already employed, where will you work? What happens if you decide to leave your current job, or if your company goes bust? Ensure you leave room for career flexibility. Don’t move to a one-industry town if you are about to leave the industry. Ambitious people may require access to larger centres of employment and job markets.

If you are moving from the city to the countryside, consider that you may want to adapt your work-life balance or spend more time with your kids, all of which might require employment opportunities closer to home.

Spend time in the neighbourhood

Spend days wandering the neighbourhood you are interested in. You will probably spend years there – it is really worth investing time to make sure you are happy where you end up.

  • Visit the parks, the pubs and shops
  • Can you feel yourself living there?
  • What does the local paper tell you?
  • How old or young, affluent or poor is the neighbourhood?
  • Are there lots of kids running around? Do you like that?
  • Where is the farmer’s manure or silage pit located? Is it going to stink out your garden?
  • Make sure you try out the local transport to see what it is like in real life, rather than relying on the estate agent saying it is wonderful

If you are unsure, rent first

It is better to rent somewhere in a village and find you can’t stand village life, than buying and selling in distress a couple of years later.

Take the long term view

Unless you plan to move again in a couple of years, take the long term view.

  • Don’t move somewhere you will grow out of in a couple of years: move somewhere you will grow into
  • Those in the first half of their careers will hopefully earn more money each year, enabling you to grow into neighbourhoods (and take on properties) that at first seem expensive. But do be realistic about your future earnings!
  • Do worry about the long term value of your house: for many people it is their biggest asset, outstripping their pension
  • Cheap neighbourhoods surrounded by expensive neighbourhoods are likely to gentrify, unless there is a particularly powerful reason they are cheap, such as bad housing, motorways, chemical plants or post-industrial wastelands
  • Fashionable neighbourhoods that everyone is talking about may well have topped out, and have lower growth
  • A good value neighbourhood, with good properties and decent transport connections, is a good bet because local house prices can take years to catch up with transport improvements
  • If a new transport connection has been announced to be opened some years in the future, property prices nearby are likely to rise above average until the transport connection starts operating. On the downside, big building works might cause disruption for some time or cause problems if you decide to sell

Do you have kids – or are planning to have them?

Then you will need to make sure you are moving somewhere child-friendly

  • Good schools are vital – Ofsted’s website will tell you what they are like
  • Local councils will generally tell you the precise catchment neighbourhoods of their schools in recent years – vital to know if you want to make sure your children get into it
  • Living where lots of other families already live is a good bet, and will ensure lots of facilities for families
  • Is there lots of playing space?

Know the exact streets you want to live in

Once you have chosen a rough neighbourhood, drill down – life can vary dramatically street by street, or village by village. Get chatting to the estate agents – they usually have really good insider information about the local variations.

If you are moving to a city:

  • One side of a suburb can be very different from another one
  • Five minutes walk to the bus stop doesn’t feel that different from 15 minutes the first time you walk it, but it does when you do the journey twice every workday
  • Living next door to a pub will be a very different experience from living a street away
  • One side of a street could be in the catchment neighbourhood of a school, and the other outside it
  • In London, council tax can vary dramatically from one side of the street to the other

If you are looking to buy in the countryside:

  • How does this village measure up to another nearby?
  • Is there any public transport?
  • How far are the good schools – are you prepared to drive that twice a day?
  • And how long would it take you to get to work?
  • Are you near a train station?
  • Are you a gym fiend – if so, is there a gym nearby, or will you buy equipment?


How do I find the perfect property?

Buying a home is one of the biggest and riskiest decisions you must make in life, and it really is worth putting in the effort to make sure you get it right. A lot of people make mistakes in buying homes, which can affect your well-being, be a major hassle – and be very expensive.

You should only start choosing a property once you confirmed the area you want to live. There is no point in having the right property in the wrong area.

Plan for the long term

If you are a first time buyer, you might just want to get your foot on the property ladder and move on in a couple of years.  But most people end up living in their homes for many years, and it is vital to factor that in. If you don’t buy a home that is future-proofed, you can end up having to move more frequently, which is incredibly expensive.

  • Ensure it is a home you will grow into. People tend to like having more space as they grow older
  • If you are planning kids, or more kids, do you have enough bedrooms, and a garden? Living at the top of a staircase might not matter if you don’t have kids, but could be an impossible barrier with a pram
  • Think about conversions or changes you might make to the property – you don’t have to do them all at once
  • Can you build into the loft or other undeveloped space?
  • Furniture and home improvement costs wither away after the first few years
  • Unless you lose your job or stop working for other reasons, you will almost certainly enjoy earnings that rise steadily year on year throughout your life
  • The cost of a mortgage does not increase year on year, varying at most with interest rates.  That means that your mortgage will get steadily more affordable as a proportion of your income year by year
  • Barring personal setbacks, a property that was difficult to afford when you bought it will almost always be more easily affordable five years later
  • You can change the colour scheme easily, but there is nothing you can do about the total floor area in a first floor flat
  • Can you envisage developing the property over the years – is there room for extensions, or loft conversions?
  • Ugly features might depress the value, but can be very cheap to remove
  • Changing narrow corridors or awkwardly shaped rooms can be impossible

Stretch yourself

All other things being equal, owning a home almost always gets steadily more affordable every year you live there.

Focus on the fundamentals

Make sure you distinguish between what is superficial and what is fundamental. For example:

Learn everything you can about the property

Once you have your eye on a property, learn as much as you can about it.

  • Ask the estate agent smart questions about the property.
  • When you go to view the property, make sure you check out the right things.
  • Rival estate agents will often dish the dirt on a property, particularly if they have previously had it on their books and failed to sell it
  • Sometimes you can contact previous owners, who no longer have a vested interest in talking it up – this can be particularly informative if you suspect there might be problems with it
  • Ask the neighbours. Knock on their door and tell them you are thinking of buying the house next to them – most people will be delighted to speak to prospective new neighbours. If they aren’t, that tells you something too


Selling Your Home? 5 Tips To Make Your House Look Amazing In Photos

This week on we have collaborated with Josie from the blog to provide you with 5 key tips that can help you to present your home in a better manner for photos.

Attracting the right home buyer is easier and faster when you have great photos that will have buyers drooling and running to your doorstep! Improve your home’s chance of a sale with these 5 tips to consider before you start staging your pre-sale photoshoot.

Take Down The Curtains

Trust me when I say this – we sold our last home $150,000 over asking price using this trick. We staged our home by actually removing the curtains completely out of our home. Why? It opens up the space to make it look wider, and the ceilings look much higher than they are. Not only that, it accentuates beautiful windows and invites natural light inside. If you have a beautiful yard, pool, or great views, then this trick will work for you. Buyers will have a great view of the outdoors from the moment they enter through the front door. Trust me, this works!

Research The Quality of An Agent’s Listings

Before you get on board with a real estate agent, make sure you thoroughly research the quality of their previous listings. Have a look at the photos they have listed of any homes they sold. If the photos look good, don’t be afraid to ask the agent these questions:

  • Do you have a professional photographer to take photos of my home?
  • Will the agent bring in additional lighting for the photoshoot?
  • What equipment do you use? A cell phone, professional camera, a tablet?

Clean Windows and Baseboards

Making your windows shiny and clean with giving buyers a great impression that your home is was well cared for. Use a store-bought glass cleaner and paper towel to get down and dirty from the inside and outside as well. To remove tough grime, soap scum, or hard water minerals from your glass, use a vinegar and water solution with a wet towel for best results.

Pro tip: Pay attention to your baseboards! Buyer will notice dirty, unkept baseboards while they walk through your home. Make sure you vacuum up the dust and wipe them down with a damp, sponge or cloth to remove dirt. Make sure they’re looking bright, white, and clean to give the illusion your home is well kept.

The Obvious – Remove Clutter and Toiletries

This is the simple trick of all professionals. Buyers want to envision themselves living in your home, so remove traces of any personal items, clutter, trinkets, and family photos off kitchen counters and shelves. You can store it away in boxes until the house is sold, later on. Buyers love seeing the amount of space a home has to offer, so removing clutter will show off the maximum your property has to propose.

Shine Up Those Wooden Floors


If your home boasts hardwood floors, you already have an advantage in the market as this is a really strong selling point. Make sure you dust them off and use a floor cleaner that is safe for hardwood. Double check to make sure the cleaner will leave the floors shiny. Buyers are attracted to shiny floors that look new and strongly maintained.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to buff your floors with a microfibre cloth while they’re drying. Failing to buff floors dry can result in streaks and unsightly residue marks. Some homeowners even swear by dry diapers to buff their floors to the perfect shine!

Check out the original article with the accompanying images on Josie’s blog now!

Handy tips to keep your home safe this Christmas

The leading trade association for the locksmithing profession Master Locksmiths Association issues security advice on keeping your home secure this Christmas.They are encouraging homeowners to remain vigilant during the festive period.

Whilst Christmas is an exciting time with plenty of festive celebrations, presents. It is also a time when burglaries traditionally peak, with homes full of presents and families out and about enjoying the festivities, opportune criminals can be watching for the right moment to strike.

Over this festive period, homeowners are advised to:

1. Keep your Christmas lights on safely:

With 30% of burglaries occur via unlocked front doors and  26% occur via open or unlocked windows. So ensure you use or install outdoor electrical sockets for those Christmas lights and do not be tempted to run cables for outdoor lights through partially open windows or doors.

2. Keep gifts out of sight:

Even though it may be a tradition to keep gifts under the tree during the lead up to Christmas, this can also be an advertisement to potential thieves. Consider placing yours out of sight and away from the window, in particular away from those that look onto busy streets. And if you’re buying expensive presents that will be kept outdoors, such as bikes, why not include an appropriate lock that has been independently tested by a third party certification agency.

3. Don’t advertise an empty home:

While Christmas is a time for enjoying the occasion, if you do plan on spending the festive season away from your home, be careful not to shout about it on social media, you potentially could be advertising an empty home to strangers. Similarly think carefully about any message you add to your voicemail or answer phone. Adding a timer system to your lights requires very little effort and can work as an excellent deterrent against would-be-thieves especially when used upstairs or away from sight

4. Consider fitting a home security system:

Homes with security systems are 300% less likely to be burgled. So for further peace of mind, consider installing an alarm or CCTV system which will allow you to keep an eye on your property from wherever you are in the world via the internet, including your smartphone

5. Review your security regularly:

Check that all locks on doors and windows are correctly fitted and functioning and replace any that are broken. Don’t be tempted to take the DIY route. On average, the cost of fixing botched DIY security jobs is £323.A local expert locksmith, such as an MLA approved company, will be able to check your locks and advise on the best products to use. Plus, they can usually carry out an assessment of your home security free of charge

“Christmas should be a time of excitement, but we often see homes targeted by thieves at this time of year. By taking a few simple precautions, homeowners can do a lot to keep their homes safe and secure. For extra peace of mind, ask an MLA-approved locksmith to review your home security – they have the expertise and knowledge to advise you on appropriate security measures in line with your home insurance requirements and will often carry out home security assessments free of charge.” Said Dr. Steffan George, Managing Director of The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA)

#PROPERTYOFTHEDAY #6: 4 Bedroom Detached House – Brentwood


This gallery contains 16 photos. we are introducing the #PropertyofTheDay segment, which will highlight properties across the UK that are currently available for sale or rent on the portal. Today we are highlighting Keith Ashton Estates in Brentwood and their lovely 3-bedroom, flat property … Continue reading

#PROPERTYOFTHEDAY #1: 4 Bedroom in Kestrels Mead, Tadley Hampshire


This gallery contains 18 photos.

On we are introducing the #PropertyofTheDay segment, which will highlight properties across the UK that are currently available for sale or rent on the portal. To start of this series we are highlighting Parkers With Adrian Noad Estate Agents … Continue reading

Benefits of having a property management company assist you with your lettings

If you are considering letting a room, studio flat, house or even an estate, a property management agent can be very valuable in taking care of the whole process for you.

Property management agents are able to provide a variety of services; from the collecting of rent, the day-to-day management of the property and also dealing with any legal aspects of the property and the let on your behalf. So we have highlighted some points below that property management agents can offer you and which ones you should look for when selecting the right agent for your property?

What’s the right time to use a management agent?

Whether you are an active landlord or you are managing the property yourself, the choice as to whether you would like a property management company to undertake the tasks on your behalf is down to you and your circumstances/experience. Another thing that can determine this is if you own several properties, letting out to several people or own a large area of land, then you may not be able to handle all the logistics of keeping the properties maintained, so that’s where a property management company could come in and assist you.

Also, you may not want to deal with all the financial and legal aspects of the letting the property directly with your tenants and prefer to have it all dealt with by experienced professionals. Whatever your circumstances, a property manager can provide you with a wide range of services designed to make the process easy and relatively painless for you as a landlord.

What services do a property management companies offer?

A property management company will provide you with the full range of management services for your properties. In certain circumstances, the property owner will only hand over a selected few tasks to a management company and choose to handle some aspects themselves, but if you choose, you can pass full responsibility to the company. So what are the services a typical property management company offer?

The property management company will act as the middleman between the owner of the property and the tenants who are renting it and are often responsible for the following:

  • Advertising/Marketing your property to potential tenants

  • Sourcing suitable and reliable tenants for the property

  • Accompanying potential tenants to view the property

  • Obtaining references and conducting credit checks on potential tenants

  • Providing you with all information on the latest safety regulations

  • Preparing the tenancy agreements on your behalf

  • Organising and managing the collection of the tenant’s deposit

  • Preparing the inventory and conducting a state of repair assessment on the property

  • Checking in the tenant and agreeing on the inventory

  • Collecting the rent from the tenant

  • Transferring the rental income to your account and providing you with statements of account

  • Managing and arranging any necessary repairs

  • Inspecting the property periodically and feeding back any comments to you

  • Providing tenants with notice at the end of the tenancy

  • Re-letting the property as quickly as possible and minimising any breaks in income

Dealing with legal aspects of the tenancy and property, including evictions, non-payment, harassment or problems with squatters is also another service property management companies provide.

What do I look for in a property management company?

One of the most important things to look for in a management agent is their qualifications and credentials. Check to see if the management company is a member of the Association of Rental Letting Agents. ARLA has recently introduced an award called the Technical Award in Residential Lettings and Property Management. Look out for this accreditation when selecting a property management company. ARLA lists qualified management agents on their website, so it’s a great place to start looking for one that lives near you.

A good recommendation can go a long way. Check with friends or acquaintances that also employ a property management service to understand what their experience has been with their agent.

The majority of property letting agents will offer both letting and full management services, but talk to several and negotiate and understand their terms before deciding which to the agent to instruct. Make sure you know which services you are getting and what you’re paying for, either as part of a package or as extras. Ask about ‘To Let’ boards, newspaper adverts, websites, magazines and their own marketing ideas.

How much does a property management company cost?

The cost of instructing a management agent will depend on which services you buy into. The majority of management agents will ask for a percentage of the gross rental income, rather like a commission. Don’t always be tempted by the cheapest fee, however. You want your agent to be motivated to keep the property occupied and the tenants happy at all times, so negotiate a mutually rewarding deal where you can. Fees can range from anywhere between 5 and 10 percent of your gross rental income for a basic service to 15 percent or more for a full management service.


What are the advantages of renting a property?

Due to the notable increase in the sales market and the sudden surge in property prices, a lot of people has turned to the cheaper alternative, renting.

For many people, renting is the only option they are looking to in housing as the prices of homes look to be increasing and increasing. This has reportedly had a major effect on the lettings market as up to a third of the population are renting or are being housed in urban centers and are compact in the inner cities.

So we have listed some reasons why renting is of great advantage to a multitude of people:

1. Short Term/Long Term Stays

You are not solely confined to one space, as a long-term tenancy can start from as little as 6 months and then after you have the choice on whether you would like to stay or move, and it all depends on your preference.

2. Flexible Housing

Due to the high costs of living, a lot of people are changing jobs and are also changing their locations. So renting allows for working professionals to frequently move to locations that offer excellent transportation links and are generally closer to their new job.

3. Less Maintenance

As a lot of Landlords rely on property management companies to manage the homes and also take care of maintenance, this means you can worry less about resolving issues within the property you are staying. As the property management company will be the ones to look for contractors and oversee any works.

4. Getting on the Property Ladder

A majority of people only dream of getting onto the property ladder, and that’s the sales property ladder. But the rental property ladder is significantly cheaper than purchasing a property.

5. Exploring different ideas

If there is a specific area you would like to reside in, property sharing decreases the cost per person and also allows you to stay in locations that would normally be out of your budget.

6. Your safety

All rental properties must abide by the law on health and safety, and are only given approval as rentals if the property passes the safety standards and checks.

7. Landlords pay

Any continuous maintenance, building works and any additional costs for the property are covered by the landlord. So you will have less to pay/worry about.

Also, you are most likely to find one bed or two-bed apartments in a city center that will most likely be already furnished and are cheaper than you buying and decorating the place. Landlords used to be able to claim tax relief against furnished properties.  This tax break has now been removed and so there is no financial benefit to a landlord in providing a furnished property other than it making the property more desirable in certain circumstances.


How to showcase your property in preparation of viewings


When selling or renting out your home one of the most important things to consider would be the presentation of your home, especially as it’s well appreciated when a homeowner has put time and effort into making a good first impression on their homes.

Preparing your home for viewings is definitely an important step in the current buyer’s market. Why is that? Well, it’s because your buyer audience will decide within just a few minutes of viewing whether or not your property is an ideal for them: an unkempt garden or peeling paintwork is often all it takes to secure a lousy review and send them house hunting somewhere else. Giving your house kerb appeal however, isn’t just about dressing for effect. Rather what you should be targetting is encouraging potential buyers to make an emotional connection to your property, to see how easy it will be to live there, rather than spend time imagining how the place might look and how hard it might be to whip it into shape. So how exactly do you go about showcasing your home to the best it can be?

Make an entrance

The exterior of your home is the very first thing potential buyers see and probably make the judgement on. So take note of the property across the road – and make sure your front garden frames the house with a design that gives it good character, but which also complements the street and also the uniqueness of your own home. Keep garden paths wide and weed-free to emphasise the feeling of arrival and separate any driveway with small trees and hedging plants or neat garden ornaments/decorations. Give your front door a fresh coat of paint and stick with quality door furniture that suits the age and style of the property.

Get snappy happy

It’s human nature to overlook what we see every day, but when you see things on the screen, you get a much-needed ‘other view’. So take photographs of your property and analyse them on the computer. This will allow you to critique each room in sequence and make improvements accordingly and also make sure the theme of your home coincides. 

Clean up the clutter

An excess amount of clutter makes it difficult to concentrate on what you’re actually viewing; the more we see in a room, the less we process naturally. Clutter also has the knack for making everything look smaller, so strip back rooms and detox them of unnecessary items. Put large items of furniture, knickknacks, and books into storage or get rid of them if they are currently in use. Prune furniture – people tend to line their walls with chairs and tables – floating furniture away from walls into cosy groups makes the traffic flow more obvious and the perimeters clear.

Lose the ‘me, myself, I’

Your home is no longer yours once that “for sale” or “for rent” sign goes up, but you still need to prepare it so potential new owners pick up on the positive undercurrents of your efforts. Start by depersonalising and neutralising spaces – remove photos, clothing, and personal items and replace them with more generic alternatives and items that are only fit for yourself/your family. You can still give your home personality with carefully chosen items such as decorative mirrors or scatter cushions; just keep the family heirlooms and kiddie art to a minimum, or store them away.

Light the way

The atmosphere is best created by having a variety of light levels according to your mood and the time of day, so install dimmers if you want to especially showcase this feature of your home. Remedy bad lighting by increasing the wattage of your lamps and fittings. Aim for a combination of floor, table and overhead lighting in key rooms to create contrast and highlight eye-catching objects. 

New research suggests : Despite doomsday predictions for house price growth in the capital, prices in Hackney will continue to keep growth strongly over the next three years.

Westminster and Lewisham which will both experience growth of prices of more than four percent. With Hackney are expected to grow more than five percent in the years to 2020.

With Richmond Upon Thames will experience the lowest growth, with prices rising around 1.5 percent. That’s followed by Harrow and Hounslow, where prices will rise around two percent.

The forecast, by KPMG, follows figures published by Savills yesterday which suggested having fallen this year, London house prices will not begin to rise until 2020. The figures suggested prices will fall two percent next year and remain flat in 2019, before rising five percent in 2020.

KPMG said it expected the UK’s economy to remain relatively lackluster, weighing on local demand in London in the medium term.

“On the whole, our projections for the London housing market see a continued cooling in the short term, followed by a gradual rebound in the medium term, which will allow the cumulative price growth to remain positive over the forecast horizon overall.

“However, annual growth rates are not expected to revert to the above-five percent figures seen before 2017 in most boroughs during the period.”

Borough House price growth up to 2020
Hackney 5.31%
Westminster 4.27%
Lewisham 4.11%
Waltham Forest 4.03%
Newham 3.99%
Southwark 3.90%
Haringey 3.75%
Wandsworth 3.73%
Lambeth 3.63%
Islington 3.41%
City of London 3.36%
Barking and Dagenham 3.23%
Camden 3.18%
Tower Hamlets 3.17%
Brent 3.15%
Greenwich 2.90%
Hammersmith and Fulham 2.84%
Kensington & Chelsea 2.79%
Merton 2.63%
Barnet 2.60%
Redbridge 2.60%
Hillingdon 2.50%
Kingston upon Thames 2.46%
Enfield 2.46%
Bexley 2.43%
Croydon 2.43%
Havering 2.40%
Ealing 2.29%
Sutton 2.18%
Bromley 2.12%
Hounslow 2.00%
Harrow 1.93%
Richmond upon Thames 1.65%