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According to the latest data from Responsible Equity Release, the first two months of 2017 have seen a 70% rise in new equity release plans compared to the same period in 2016, with 52% more homeowners releasing equity from their homes.

The average amount of equity released by homeowners has also increased, at just over £70,000 in the first two months of 2017, compared to £63,197 during the same period in 2016 – an 11% increase.

Regional figures reveal that Yorkshire homeowners have taken more than five times more equity (444%) out of their properties in 2017 so far, compared to last year. While homeowners in the East of England have released 250% more equity since the start of the year compared to the same period in 2016.

Average loan sizes have also increased the most in Yorkshire, with an average of £75,451, compared to £49,792 for the same period in 2016.

Steve Wilkie, managing director at Responsible Equity Release, commented: “The momentum from last year has continued into this year. Equity release is increasingly being seen as an important financial product for thousands of people with different needs; from pensioners wanting to supplement their retirement income, to grandparents wanting to help out their children at a time when a boost of funds can make the biggest difference.

Source: http://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/finance/equity-release-momentum-continues.html?utm_source=Email+Campaign&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=21136-197997-Campaign+-+16%2F03%2F2017+FRA 

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The latest research from Connells Survey & Valuation shows that, during February, first-time-buyer activity soared to a market share of 36% – an 8% rise against February 2016.

The near zero base rate has ensured that mortgages remain more affordable than ever – with gross lending at its highest level since 2008.

First-time buyers have seized the opportunity to get on the property ladder. This group now accounts for a third of activity in the property market during February (36%) – the highest proportion of first-time buyers since July 2011 and the highest February since 2010.

John Bagshaw, corporate services director of Connells Survey & Valuation, said: “Continued affordable mortgages have provided first-time buyers with an ideal opportunity to take their first step onto the ladder in February. Lending to aspiring homeowners continues to rise, while the base rate remains so low. For those with enough savings for a deposit, now is a great time to buy. Many are taking advantage of the opportunities on offer.”

John said: “The stamp duty surcharge has succeeded in helping first-time buyers at the expense of landlords. But this may well be temporary. Less competition for today’s first-time buyers comes at the expense of tomorrow’s. Most people rent as they save for a deposit, but the steady investment into the rental market is running dry. With limited new homes being built for the PRS, rents will soon start to rise. This will devour tenants’ disposable income which would otherwise have been saved for a deposit. The problem will be exacerbated next month as mortgage tax relief is removed, forcing more landlords to exit the market or ramp up rents.

In the Housing white paper, the Government announced plans to boost build-to-rent and institutional landlords, but it will be years before anyone can move into the accompanying new homes. Rents remained relatively stable following the influx of investment before the stamp duty surcharge but tenants could soon feel the full force of recently announced Government policies.”

However, the increase does not mean the Government has succeeded in boosting the prospects of first-time buyers long-term, says Connells Survey & Valuation. The surge from 28 per cent last February to 36 per cent this February is only marginally higher than the 10 year average.  Over the course of the last decade first-time buyers have been responsible, on average, for 35 per cent of the market. And the 36 per cent of valuations that first-time buyers represented in February 2017 pales into insignificance compared to the 41 per cent peak in February 2010.

John continues: “The rapid growth in first-time buyer activity is a recovery from a lower position, rather than a substantial improvement in market conditions. It’s important to not just look at the snapshot numbers but take into account the long-term trends. It’s still incredibly difficult to get on the property ladder. Most aspiring home owners will tell you about the Herculean challenges they face to save for a deposit. Despite all the Help to Buy programmes, first-time buyer activity is only 1 per cent higher than it has been, on average, over the last decade.

We may be in the eye of the storm in Britain’s housing market – a brief period of calm before the turbulence begins again. The base rate can’t stay on the floor forever. With Brexit approaching, economic conditions may get tougher. First-time buyers may need to board the ladder now before it’s hoisted up again.”

 

Source: http://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/property/ftbs-storm-the-property-ladder-in-february.html?utm_source=Email+Campaign&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=21136-197729-Campaign+-+15%2F03%2F2017+CT 

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When it comes to home decor, 2016 was the year of everything from woven wall hangings to Scandinavian-inspired interiors. And as the year winds down, soon enough your thoughts will most likely wander to a home refresh. So it’s worth exploring the top decorating trends that will likely be on repeat in homes across the country—and possibly in your own abode.

We checked in with three interior designers—Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, Young Huh, and Beth Diana Smith—for their 2017 decorating forecast and some easy pointers on how to make them your own. These trends are chic, inspiring, and (fortunately) don’t require a complete room overhaul.

Green
According to celebrity interior designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, who counts Kendall Jenner among his list of clients, green is “strong again.” From lime green to emerald, the hue works throughout the home—whether it’s as a wall color or a room-filling rug. If you’re not too keen on the idea of using green in large doses, Lawrence-Bullard has a suggestion: “Add really fun emerald glasses to your regular white plates and suddenly you’ve got that up-to-the minute look.”

Tropical Prints
It’s no secret that interior design takes cues from the runways, and this year, we’ve seen the likes of Marc Jacobs, Prada, and Emanuel Ungaro experiment with all things tropical. The print will continue to appear in wallpaper and designer fabrics, according to Lawrence-Bullard. But don’t worry if such in-your-face prints are out of character for you. He suggests throw pillows boasting the trendy pattern: “Always buy a plain sofa and change it up with new pillows,” Lawrence-Bullard advises. “It’s just like buying a great piece of classic clothing. You can certainly refresh it with a new bag and shoes.”

Texture
Weaving texture into an interior makes it more inviting and the idea of mixing fabrics and materials will be on the rise. “Texture is really important,” says Lawrence-Bullard. “We are seeing more and more texture in every form, from brushed brass tables to light fixtures to fabrics and wallpapers.” A quick way to test the trend: Drape a nubby wool throw over a leather chair or mix fabrics used for decorative pillows.

Marble and Brass Combinations
Young Huh, who was named one of Vogue’s five young interior designers on the rise in 2015, promises marble and brass will continue to dominate in 2017. “We’re going to see this trend in both kitchens and baths,” Huh explains. “It’s that combination of something very natural and clean, like white marble, and something industrial, hard, and a little bit glamorous with the brass.”

Muted Colors
Does the thought of bold colors anywhere in your home make you feel a tinge of anxiety? Don’t fret—it’s all about neutrals in the year ahead. “Whites, beiges, pale grays, camel, and blush pink are super on-trend,” Huh says.

Geometrics
Your goal should always be to create a home that feels curated, and an easy way to accomplish this is through pattern. “We’ll see inventive geometrics that speak to ancient cultures, whether it is African or Asian patterns, but they’ll be modernized,” Huh says. Think simple lines, geometric designs, and triangles, Huh explains.

Quirky Lighting
Think of lighting as an accessory for your home—it’s the perfect way to show off your unique design sensibility. “A quirky lighting fixture looks great in a dining room,” Huh says. “It’s a great space to go for it and do something unusual.” Also consider sprucing up your bedside lamps with something truly memorable.

Artisan-Crafted Furniture
For New Jersey–based interior designer Beth Diana Smith, the new year will include an emphasis on uniquely crafted furniture. “People will be going back to furniture that is more of an investment—furniture that is very well-made,” Smith says. She recommends antique shopping for pieces that will add character to your home and browsing sites like Chairish.

Gray
Gray was a prominent color in 2016 interiors and it will continue to reign in 2017. “We will see different tones of gray, a lot of gray and white, and gray in deeper colors,” Smith says. It’s the sort of color that complements a full spectrum of shades, from bold red to mellow ivory.

Bronze
Smith promises that 2017 will bring loads of bronze—a metal that warms up any space. “It’s a lot more classic in a sense,” she says, as it complements a myriad of decorating styles. “I like it in lighting and accessories, whether it be vases, lamps, or decorative bowls for the kitchen,” Smith says.

Source: http://www.vogue.com/article/home-decor-decorating-trends-2017 

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Property owners in one in three areas in UK areas earn more from owning their home than they do from their work, new research has found.

Overall house prices outpace owners’ earnings in 119 areas and 17% of all local areas have seen average house prices increase by more than total average pay, according to a study from home lender the Halifax.

Average house prices have increased by more than total average employees’ net earnings in 31% of local authority districts in the past two years and the proportion of areas where house prices are outpacing earnings over the last two years has edged up from 28% in 2015.

More than nine out of 10 are in London, the South East, South West and the East of England with these four regions accounting for 111 of the 119 or 93% of areas.

The biggest gap between rising property values and earnings was in Haringey in London. House prices in the borough increased by an average of £139,803 over the last two years, exceeding average take home earnings in the area of £48,353 over the same period, a difference of £91,450, equivalent to £3,810 per month.

Haringey is followed by Harrow in north London with a price growth to earnings difference of £77,791, St Albans at £72,990 and Waltham Forest at £63,646. In total, six London boroughs appear in the top 10 districts, including Newham at £63,583, Redbridge at £56,528 and Hounslow at £54,569.

‘Buoyancy in the housing market over the past two to five years has resulted in homes increasing in value by more than total take home earnings for the average homeowner in many areas, though mostly in southern England,’ said Martin Ellis, housing economist at the Halifax.

‘While it’s no longer unusual for houses to earn more than the people living in them in some places, there are clearly local impacts. Home owners in these areas can build up large levels of equity quickly, but for potential buyers whose wages have failed to keep pace, the cost of buying a home has become more unaffordable during that time,’ he explained.

Four areas have recorded a differential of over £100,000 over the past five years. The greatest was again Haringey, where average property prices have increased by £242,121, surpassing average take home pay during the period by £124,300. Then Harrow at £115,522, Waltham Forest at £105,195 and Three Rivers at £101,082 with nine of the top 10 performers in London.

 

Source: http://www.propertywire.com/news/uk/research-reveals-much-home-earns-owner/?utm_source=Property+Wire+News&utm_campaign=016843e7c3-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cb0fe1dd73-016843e7c3-108361813&goal=0_cb0fe1dd73-016843e7c3-108361813 

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Woodford Green office organised a charity Quiz night in aid of Haven House Hospice for children yesterday at the Rose and Crown pub.

We would like to thank everyone that participated and supported us.

We all had a great night and are happy to confirm that we have raised a total of £512 for this worthy cause.

  

A big THANK YOU to all the local business’s that donated prizes.

 

Ashleigh Flowers, Woodford High Road

Prezzo’s, Snakes Lane West.

Nu U, Woodford High Road.

Rose & Crown Pub, Woodford

The Kilns Hotel, Brentwood.

Canary Riverside Hotel & Plaza, Canary Wharf.

Loveweds Jewellers Of Harpenden

 

Thanks to you all for making this evening successful.

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Come along for what promises to be a fun evening, with all money raised going to this worthy cause.

Minimum six people per table, £5.00 per person, there will also be a raffle with some excellent prizes.

Due to limited numbers, please let us know as soon as possible if you would like to be a part of this exciting evening.

To reserve your table, please call 020 8559 7040 or email:

mahe.georgio@victormichael.com

 

We look forward to seeing you!

 

 

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International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed since in the early 1900’s – a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. International Women’s Day is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity. No one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women’s network or media hub is solely responsible for International Women’s Day. Many organizations declare an annual IWD theme that supports their specific agenda or cause, and some of these are adopted more widely with relevance than others.

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights,” says world-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist Gloria Steinem. Thus International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women’s Day has been occurring for well over a century – and continue’s to grow from strength to strength.

Learn about the values that underpin and guide IWD’s ethos.

International Women’s Day timeline journey

1908
Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women’s oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

1909
In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

1910
In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs – and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament – greeted Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women’s Day was the result.

1911
Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women’s Day was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on 25 March, the tragic ‘Triangle Fire’ in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women’s Day events. 1911 also saw women’s Bread and Roses‘ campaign.

1913-1914
On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women’s Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women’s solidarity. For example, in London in the United Kingdom there was a march from Bow to Trafalgar Square in support of women’s suffrage on 8 March 1914. Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested in front of Charing Cross station on her way to speak in Trafalgar Square.

1917
On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for “bread and peace” in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in World War 1. Opposed by political leaders, the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women’s strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.

1975
International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975. Then in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

1996
The UN commenced the adoption of an annual theme in 1996 – which was “Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future”. This theme was followed in 1997 with “Women at the Peace table”, and in 1998 with “Women and Human Rights”, and in 1999 with “World Free of Violence Against Women”, and so on each year until the current. More recent themes have included, for example, “Empower Rural Women, End Poverty & Hunger” and “A Promise is a Promise – Time for Action to End Violence Against Women”.

2000
By the new millennium, International Women’s Day activity around the world had stalled in many countries. The world had moved on and feminism wasn’t a popular topic. International Women’s Day needed re-ignition. There was urgent work to do – battles had not been won and gender parity had still not been achieved.

2001
The global internationalwomensday.com digital hub for everything IWD was launched to re-energize the day as an important platform to celebrate the successful achievements of women and to continue calls for accelerating gender parity. Each year the IWD website sees vast traffic and is used by millions of people and organizations all over the world to learn about and share IWD activity. The IWD website is made possible each year through support from corporations committed to driving gender parity. The website’s charity of choice for many years has been the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) whereby IWD fundraising is channelled. A more recent additional charity partnership is with global working women’s organization Catalyst Inc. The IWD website adopts an annual theme that is globally relevant for groups and organizations. This theme, one of many around the world, provides a framework and direction for annual IWD activity and takes into account the wider agenda of both celebration as well as a broad call to action for gender parity. Recent themes have included “Pledge for Parity”, “Make it happen”, “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum” and “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures”. Themes for the global IWD website are collaboratively and consultatively identified each year and widely adopted.

2011
2011 saw the 100 year centenary of International Women’s Day – with the first IWD event held exactly 100 years ago in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In the United States, President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2011 to be “Women’s History Month”, calling Americans to mark IWD by reflecting on “the extraordinary accomplishments of women” in shaping the country’s history. The then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the “100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges”. In the United Kingdom, celebrity activist Annie Lennox lead a superb march across one of London’s iconic bridges raising awareness in support for global charity Women for Women International. Further charities such as Oxfam have run extensive activity supporting IWD and many celebrities and business leaders also actively support the day

2017 and beyond
The world has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation may feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970’s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men. However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so each year the world inspires women and celebrates their achievements. IWD is an official holiday in many countries including Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

So make a difference, think globally and act locally!
Make everyday International Women’s Day.
Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.

 

Source: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About 

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The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has released guidance to landlords of privately rented non-domestic property on complying with the 2018 ‘minimum level of energy efficiency’ standard (EPC band E).

The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property)(England and Wales) Regulations 2015 mean that, from April 2018, private non-domestic (and domestic) landlords must ensure that properties they rent in England and Wales reach at least an EPC rating of E before granting a tenancy to new or existing tenants.

The document provides guidance and advice on:

  • Scope of the regulations: the steps a landlord should take to determine whether their property is covered by the regulations, and the steps they should take to ensure their property complies with the minimum level of energy efficiency;
  • Relevant improvements: how a landlord can identify appropriate energy efficiency improvements for their property
  • Cost effectiveness: how a landlord can calculate whether particular improvements would be cost effective to install
  • Exemptions and exclusions: the exemptions framework and the steps a landlord should take to register a valid exemption
  • Enforcement: the enforcement framework and the options open to enforcement authorities when policing compliance with the minimum standards, including information on fines and other penalty options
  • The appeals framework: landlord appeals will be heard by the First-tier Tribunal, part of the court system administered by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service; the guidance discusses the steps a landlord will need to take to lodge an appeal, and how that process will be run.

Source: http://www.arla.co.uk/news/february-2017/government-guidance-on-complying-with-2018-energy-regulations/?utm_campaign=8038153_ARLA%20News%20Issue%20123&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dotmailer&dm_i=Z6K,4SAA1,LGLRXA,I06R1,1

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People in the UK looking for a new mortgage now have even more choice with a number of lenders launching new rates and products.

The TSB has reduced interest rates by 0.10% on selected mortgages for home movers, first time buyers and remortgage borrowers. These include five year fixed rates and two year fixed rates for remortgagers.

‘We want to help more people to borrow well and today’s rate cuts are good news for those with a higher deposit,’ said Roland McCormack, TSB mortgage distribution director.

Accord Mortgages has launched a selection of competitive fixed rate mortgages for borrowers with a 35% deposit and there are added features such as cashback, free standard valuation or free legal fees.

The intermediary only lender, which is part of Yorkshire Building Society, has also made rate reductions by up to 0.25%. These include a 2.99% five year fixed rate at 85% LTV which is available to both home buyers and remortgage customers and has no upfront product fee.

‘By refining our product range we have a greater ability to ensure our core mortgages remain competitive and appealing to borrowers. However, as always we will monitor the market and listen to brokers to ensure our product range continues to meet a variety of customer needs,’ said David Robinson, Accord national intermediary sales manager.

The Chelsea Building Society has launched a variable rate two year tracker mortgage with no early repayment charges (ERC) with an interest rate of 1.15%, the lowest variable tracker mortgage rate currently on the market, and it is available to both home buyers and those looking to remortgage with a 35% deposit. It comes with a £995 product fee.

The new mortgage, which tracks the Bank of England base rate, is designed to provide homeowners with flexibility to exit their mortgage early without paying an ERC should their circumstances change over the next two years.

‘Our new tracker doesn’t tie borrowers into their mortgage, giving them breathing space to review their options on a regular basis with the bonus of not being subject to early repayment charges. As it is the lowest variable rate tracker mortgage currently available on the market it will appeal to customers who are keeping an eye on interest rates,’ said Richard Barker, mortgage product manager at the Chelsea Building Society.

‘The market continues to benefit from buoyant demand for Buy to Let remortgage as landlords take action to minimise costs and manage profitability. This market has become even more active since the changes to stamp duty came into effect last March and ahead of the impending changes to tax relief,’ said Jaedon Green, Leeds Building Society’s director of product and distribution.

Leeds Building Society introduced new criteria on 01 January following changes to underwriting standards for buy to let by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
New criteria includes an income covering ratio (ICR) of 140%, reducing the stress test rate for remortgages with no additional borrowing to 5%, and removing the minimum income requirement.

Source: http://www.propertywire.com/finance-update/choice-added-mortgage-deals-uk-home-borrowers/?utm_source=Property+Wire+News&utm_campaign=bff7d979c4-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cb0fe1dd73-bff7d979c4-108361813&goal=0_cb0fe1dd73-bff7d979c4-108361813

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Less is more so kill the clutter


If you put your hand onto a hot stove you would not be surprised to burn it. That’s obvious I hear you cry.
And if you go for a stroll when it’s hammering down with rain you’ll get soaked, right? Duh, of course, you’re now probably thinking ‘tell me something I don’t know’.
However, it’s also pretty obvious that if you put your property on the market and it’s filled with clutter it is a much harder home to sell.
It makes your home look smaller and I’ve never had a potential buyer say to me ‘I’m looking for somewhere really small and cluttered’.
Sure we deal with lots of people downsizing but they still want ample space to live in and enjoy.
We recently surveyed the team in our office asking for their top property tip.
Leading the way by some distance was the vital importance of keeping a property clean and clutter free when people are coming round to view it.
You want viewers to marvel about how big your bedroom seems not be turned off by the fact there’s no floor space due to unnecessary items left everywhere.
Less is very definitely more in this scenario as untidy properties tend to stay on the market a lot longer than smart, clean and tidy ones.
So spend a bit of time decluttering your property before it goes on the market. If you have items you can’t part with, put them into storage. Just don’t leave them lying around for a potential buyer to step over.
The few hours you spend ridding your home of unnecessary clutter could make you thousands in an increased sale price.
Put simply, space sells, clutter doesn’t. It sounds obvious but many people dismiss this advice.
Our team at Victor Michael are always delighted to answer any of your questions on preparing to bring a property to market successfully.
Thanks for reading.

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