Real Estate

Winter is coming. Snow blizzards and plummeting temperatures are predicted for the UK so it’s important to consider ways of keeping your home warm without it costing a fortune in heating bills.

Here, seven industry experts from the Heating Installer Awards share their advice on how to do just that, and why using your trusted, local tradesman is key.

ake back control

Chris Ingram, Managing Director, Continental Underfloor, says: “Have you considered changing how you control the temperature in your home? Many homes across the UK have outdated thermostats, such as dials; installing a more modern, programmable tool will generally mean you can run the system for less time for the same level of comfort. You should also consider smart controls. Compatible with most standard gas-fired boilers, smart controls allow you to set your heating from your mobile phone, putting the power of heating back in your hands!”

Choose smart when it comes to taps

Mike Johnson, Taps and Mixers Manager, Pegler Yorkshire, suggests: “Water-saving taps can help you control the amount of water you’re using in the home and therefore save you money and energy. As the tools in our homes become ever smarter, look out for taps that monitor water flow and have auto on/off functions that sense when your hands enter and leave the sink. This way, you can be sure you’re wasting barely any water at all, saving you pounds on your bills.

Think about your valves

Gareth Ash, Marketing Services Manager, Danfoss, offers this advice: “A Room Thermostat and Thermostatic Radiator Valves – or TRVs – are proven to help householders cut their fuel bills by up to 40%. Research from Salford University’s Energy House showed that even if a home’s heating system is properly balanced, optimum energy savings can’t be achieved without TRVs being put in place. If you struggle to get your head around smart controls, TRVs are a simple-to-use and cost effective way of keeping your house comfortable and warm, while also reducing the spend on your energy bills. Ask your local installer to introduce you to their range of heating controls, and you could soon see a drop in your energy use!”

Keep corrosion in check

Daniel Cheung, UK Trade Marketing Manager, Sentinel, had this to say: “High quality chemical inhibitors, like Sentinel’s X100 Inhibitor, will permanently protect boilers and heating system components from corrosion and limescale (when dosed into clean systems). Issues such as small leaks and poor system design will lower inhibitor levels, leaving the system vulnerable to premature repairs, parts replacements and even breakdown, which can be costly. For complete peace of mind that your heating system is fully protected, ask your local installer to perform a Sentinel X100 Quick Test (kit available from leading plumbing and heating merchants) once a year. Easy, fast and cheap, the kit will check your inhibitor levels. If they are low, simply top-up! ”

ASHPS? Ready to do the biz…

Kamlesh Vadukul, Sales Manager, Heating Solutions, LG, comments: “Air source heat pumps have become an accepted technology for providing renewable heating in the UK. In modern homes with several bathrooms, it’s common to see heating demand halved and hot water demand tripled – so high temperature air source heat pumps are ideal in this scenario. LG offers its Therma V High Temperature heat pump which can deliver hot water at up to 80 degrees C. Head to for details.”

Government funding

Steve Keeton, Marketing and Technologies Director, Vaillant, advises: “37 per cent of landlords for rented properties and social housing say addressing fuel poverty and reducing fuel bills for tenants are their key drivers when thinking about new heating installations. If you want to discuss energy saving methods with your landlord, mention the opportunity of them securing government funding to help solve this challenge. According to research, funding support remains the biggest barrier to improving heating in social housing homes, however there are a number of schemes available which might help your landlord make living conditions for you and community warmer and more comfortable.”

Bust the myths

Ian Kenny, Marketing Director at Graham the Plumbers’ Merchant, said: “According to leading energy experts at the Energy Saving Trust, as well as British Gas, the idea that it’s cheaper to leave the heating on low all day is a myth. They’re clear that you’ll save energy, and therefore money, by only having the heating on when it’s required. Thinking about your whole-house heating solution is the best way to approach energy efficiency, however, as the heating market continues to evolve, keep in touch with your trusted, local installer to find out about new products and best practice which can help ramp up those energy savings.”



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When it comes to selling your home, preparation and doing your homework will help to make the task run smoothly. As well as the time and effort it takes to get your home ready for viewing – in terms of giving it that easily achievable ‘show home feel’ – there are also a number of legal and financial considerations.

Harrison Murray Estate Agency and Nottingham Estate Agency (both part of The Nottingham), have a few tips when it comes to getting your property sale-ready – from de-cluttering, conveyancing, arranging a mortgage and everything in between.


Su Snaith, Head of estate agency, said: “When people think about preparing their house for sale, they often think about the physical aspects such as DIY and decorating to attract potential buyers, in efforts to accelerate the time taken to receive an offer. However, very few think about legally preparing their house for sale.

As part of The Nottingham we can help provide a one-stop shop when it comes to legally and financially preparing customers for, and guiding them through, the house selling process.”

Top tips:

Once you are certain you want to move – and are emotionally and financially ready – choose your agent wisely. Instruct an agent with a good reputation whom you feel will market your home to the best of their ability, and who is a member of the Property Ombudsman Scheme and the Office of Fair Trading.

Step back and look at your home through the eyes of a potential buyer. Make the most of your space, make sure the house is clean and tidy; focusing on de-cluttering, giving windows and doors a lick of paint if needed, and pay some attention to your outdoor space; cutting the lawn and getting rid of unsightly weeds.

Be sure to highlight, and pass on to your agent, details of any outstanding features that first attracted you to the home. Your agent will work this information into the property details. This could include such things as an under-the-stairs storage space or a dedicated outdoor dining area.

There are many legal points to consider, but being well prepared may help to speed up the process, from viewings to the eventual sale.

Draw up an inventory of items that you are including or not including in the sale of the house, for example curtain poles and light fittings, to avoid confusion later down the line.

Gather any documents you have that relate to the property, no matter how trivial you think they are. Buyers will expect to see all documents and by not providing them, it could result in delays. For example, windows installed after 1 April 2002 need FENSA certificates, and any remedial works should have associated guarantees.

In addition, building work that has been carried out on the property will result in you needing to produce building regulations and planning permissions, as well as the relevant completion certificate for the work. By law, an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate), giving information on how to make your home more energy efficient and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, needs to be provided. Your estate agent can arrange this.

Conveyancing – this is the last legal hurdle. Put simply, it is the act of legally transferring a property from one person to another and has, by law, to be carried out by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer. Harrison Murray and Nottingham Estate Agency’s conveyancing solicitors can open the file at the start of the marketing process and prepare all the necessary documentation to reduce the time from offer to exchange – as the longer the process takes, the more likely the sale may fall through.

A move to a new home may take its toll financially, but it may be wise to think about home insurance, finding the right mortgage and future financial planning.



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Landlords typically paid £310,265 for an investment property in 2016, £35,000 more than £275,286 in 2015, research from The Mortgage Broker shows.

In the process they borrowed £15,000 more, with typical loan sizes reaching £185,188, and deposits rose by nearly £20,000 to £125,016 in 2016.

Darren Pescod, managing director of The Mortgage Broker, said: “Landlords are certainly feeling the pinch, but the raft of tax changes that came into force in 2016, do not appear to have dampened the buy-to-let market.


More landlords converting properties into HMOs

“In many towns and cities, landlords have increased their investment in buy-to-let property, despite the financial challenges that have been recently thrown at them by the government.

“Our research shows that landlords are finding larger deposits and increasing their borrowing to secure property.  With mortgage interest rates so low and the demand for rental property booming, the market still provides a great investment opportunity.”

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), gross buy-to-let lending in November was the highest since the stamp duty changes on second properties were introduced last April.


Landlords borrowed £3.2bn in November 2016, up 10% month-on-month but down 9% year-on-year.

Pescot expects larger landlords to become the norm and smaller ones to pull out of the market.

He added: “Though the stamp duty additional levy and income tax changes that come into force in this tax year have slowed down this sector it terms of the number of applicants applying for new buy-to let mortgages.

“This may lead to some consolidation with larger landlords, scooping up rental opportunities in their local area and beyond.

“Our view is that smaller landlords with fewer than three properties may find it financially tough and will pull out of the market.”



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Accord Mortgages has anounced this morning that it has reduced rates on a range of selected fixed rate products by up to 0.24%.

The intermediary-only lender has reduced rates at the 75%, 80%, 85% and 90% loan-to-values (LTVs), across two, three and five year terms.

Available to house purchase customers is a competitive five-year fixed rate mortgage at 2.20% for those with a 20% deposit, or at 85% LTV there is a 2.39% deal.

Both mortgages include the additional features of £250 cash back on completion and free standard valuation and come with a £995 product fee.

Those who want to fix for a shorter period can opt for a three-year offering at 2.37% at 90% LTV, which is available to both buyers and borrowers looking to remortgage and comes with a £995 product fee.

In addition, Accord has launched a 2.76% three-year fix at 90% LTV option for home buyers which comes with no up-front fees plus £250 cashback on completion and free standard valuation.

David Robinson, Accord’s National Intermediary Sales Manager, said: “We are sure the new rates will prove attractive to brokers and borrowers, and we are keen to offer mortgages that deliver value for money to our customers with features like cashback on completion. The five-year rate reductions will appeal to borrowers looking for the security of fixing their mortgage repayments to a competitive rate for a longer period.”


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The latest report from Halifax has shown that more first-time buyers climbed on to the property ladder in 2016 than in any year since 2007.

However, it comes at a cost as the lender revealed would-be home owners now need to raise more than £32,000 for a deposit.

Deposit sizes have more than doubled over the last decade. In 2006, the average first-time buyer deposit across the UK was £15,168. Now it is £32,321 – around 16% of the price of a typical first home.

According to the report, those buying their first property can expect to pay more than £200,000 across the UK generally and an “eye-watering” £400,000 in London. On average, in the capital, a first-time buyer’s deposit is more than £100,000, assuming they can also cover moving costs and stamp duty.

First-time buyers in London put down a 25% deposit on average in 2016, amounting to £100,445.

Halifax also revealed that during 2016, the average house price paid by first-time buyers was £205,170 – the highest on record. This average has grown by 7% over the last year, pushing it over the £200,000 mark.

In London, first-time buyers can expect to pay £402,692.

The number of first-time buyers is estimated to have reached 335,750 in 2016. This is the highest figure since 359,900 in 2007, and marks the third year in a row that the number has topped 300,000.

Halifax said the number of first-time buyers in 2016 was 75% higher than a low point in 2009, but 17% below a pre-crisis peak of 402,800 in 2006.

As the cost of housing has increased, first-time buyers have been taking out longer mortgages. In 2006, just over a third (36%) had mortgages lasting beyond the traditional 25-year period. In 2016, 60% of mortgages were for 25 years or more.

More aspiring first-time buyers are also having to factor stamp duty into their costs. Less than a third (29%) of first-time purchases in 2016 were below the £125,000 stamp duty threshold. This share was 45% in 2013.

The average age of a first-time buyer is 30, ranging from 27 in Carlisle in Cumbria and Torfaen in South Wales to 34 in places such as Slough in Berkshire and the London boroughs of Barnet and Ealing.

   Martin Ellis, a housing economist at Halifax, said record low mortgage rates, high employment levels and Government schemes such as Help to Buy have helped first-time buyers. The UK-wide Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme ended in 2016, but other schemes are still available.

   He added: “Across the regions there is a contrasting picture. In London – which has one of the youngest populations in the UK – the average house price for a typical first-time buyer is now more than an eye-watering £400,000 with an average deposit of over £100,000 – more than twice that in the South East, the next most expensive region.”

   Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: ’The Halifax’s findings are good news in terms of the increase in number of first-time buyers but are also indicative as to what parents and grandparents put themselves through so that they can afford those deposits – with more than £100,000 required in London.

If the housing market is going to function properly, as the government has told us so many times it should, then we need to protect first-time buyers. First-time buyers are the life blood of the market as they tend to buy at the bottom and trade up whereas investors buy at one level and stay there.

Although lenders are supposed to be providing support via Help to Buy now that the mortgage guarantee element has been withdrawn, on the ground we are finding it is not happening in all cases and more flexibility on lending criteria at higher loan-to-values is required.’

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Woodford Green office just helped a vendor to follow his dream and set up his new life in Thailand.

Why choose living overseas?

Moving overseas is rewarding on so many levels, according to our customers. If you are seeking a place to retire, consider the cost of living relative to your savings. If you are an young entrepreneur, looking for new adventures, consider a place that inspires you and build you up for the next business challenges.

How can we help?

Many fail to make it happen, overwhelmed by the technicalities of setting up home and a new life from scratch. If you approach relocating with the right frame of mind the question remains: will you be brave enough to make the first step? If yes, we are here to help with Victor Michael living overseas services and real estate offers. To start, we have over 412 international properties on our books waiting for you to make your dreams happen.

Arrange a viewing with us. right in this very unique moment. It’s up to you to make it happen!

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Finding a good place to live in London can be a challenge, especially if you are focused in finding the perfect flat or a nice cozy place you wish to call home. If you’re new in town and no one is here to help we recommend you: Airbnb. Here you can find a nice cozy place to rent for a few days time, while you’re focusing on your search to rent or to  buy: either an old victorian house or modern apartment in central London.

Why London?

Well, here it depedends. Some move here, for business reasons, other for finding a new job and many others for studying in one of the great universitites you can find around town. No matter the reason, we all end up having the same first problem: where do I stay in London?

Here, we can recommend you with open hears the advice of a professional real estate agent. There’s no one better, who can show you around town for the best options you have available on the market. Also to help you get the best prices for the coziest houses or apartments in London.

Apartments ‘To Rent’ or ‘For Sale’ in London.

London has an incredible choice when it comes to variety and different types of apartments. No matter the taste, whether if you are looking for luxury apartments or value or a great riverview, there is for sure something outhere to suit your style and budget. To get a brief overview of the types of apartments you can expect to find in London, get in touch with one of our real estate agents.


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