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National Home Improvement Month starts in April, so how can property owners can add value to their homes by making improvements?

National Home Improvement Month encourages home owners to improve their homes this April. NAEA Propertymark advises that whether you are selling now or maintaining your home to sell in the future, there are many small home improvements you can address to keep your property in best shape for when the time comes to sell-up.

Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark, had this to say: “Faced with a difficult housing market, updating and maintaining a property is more important now than ever for homeowners. Whether you need more space but can’t afford to move, or want to put your house on the market, you should be making the most of what you’ve got. You can be on a budget or willing to spend, there are always innovative improvements that can be undertaken which will successfully increase your home’s value”.

10 top home improvement tips to increase the value of your home:

1. Mirrors

If you cannot add a skylight or build a conservatory to brighten up your home, there are simple yet effective ways of creating light through the use of a few mirrors. Hanging mirrors opposite windows tricks the eye into thinking there is another window there and maximises the impact of natural lighting. Another illusion when capturing light is to reflect it into any darker corners, to make your property look bigger and brighter.

2. A pristine and private garden

Giving your garden a makeover can go a long way. Start by tidying away any litter, mowing your lawn, removing all perennial weeds and cutting back overgrown trees and shrubs.

Once you have made the space look attractive, try and create a feeling of solitude. An open, clutter-free space is appealing but privacy is essential. Consider growing trees or adding boundary fences and walls, which can go up to two metres without needing planning permission. Another option would be to assemble a structure in the space such as a pergola. As well as creating privacy, this is a great way to separate areas of your garden for socialising and to extend the use of your garden into the colder months.

3. Opening up space

Opening up living space is becoming more and more popular, particularly for the kitchen and dining room. Combining the two into one large room creates a sociable space, great for the whole family to enjoy. Knocking through walls to create this open-plan living space is an effective way to add value to a property because a larger space is not only trendy but more useful. However, it is important to remember the practicalities with this, as many consumers still like the front room philosophy that can be used for special occasions or to be used for privacy by the adults.

4. Makeover the kitchen

An attractive, hygienic and fresh looking kitchen is essential. Start by painting the cabinets to give a fresh look and replace doors and handles if needed. Improve kitchen storage where you can; a larder for example is hugely attractive among house-hunters. Make sure there is adequate lighting as well, it’s very easy and cost effective to install under unit lighting. Finally, ensure that any floor tiles are well fitted and a colour that is easy to maintain and keep clean.

5. Get rid of busy wallpaper

With each potential house buyer having varied tastes in patterns and texture, certain wallpaper designs can be seen as overwhelming. Wallpaper can also be difficult to remove which could lead to people being put off by if they are looking for a home to move straight into. We recommend using paint and keeping colours neutral, making it a simpler job for the next homeowner and the property overall becomes more appealing.

6. Replace doors

First impressions count. The front door of your home can say a lot about the rest of the house to viewers seeing it for the first time. If you cannot afford to replace the door, make sure it looks attractive by giving it a power wash or a fresh lick of paint.

7. Converting the loft

A loft conversion is a more expensive improvement yet probably gives back the best value for money. Most lofts can be easily converted and expanding the house upwards offers homeowners an extra bedroom for growing families or a space for extra storage. Adding an extra bedroom can give huge value to your home, particularly if it includes an en-suite bathroom.  Remember to seek planning permission before undertaking this work though.

8. Be energy efficient

Fitting your home with energy efficient appliances can add value to your home by promising to knock the costs of bills. With a huge variety of new products on the market for this, it’s increasingly becoming a key feature for new homes.

9. Double glaze the windows

Noisy roads can impact the value of a property. It will keep the home warm and keep the noise out, even if it’s near a main road.

10. Install a fireplace

A fireplace can bring a lot of character to a room and creates a focal point. It’s also practical; the warmth from the fire allows you to reduce the use of your central heating which will lead to savings on your energy bills.

Source: http://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/household/top-10-improvements-to-add-value-to-your-home.html?utm_source=Email+Campaign&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=21136-199643-Campaign+-+28%2F03%2F2017+MT 

 

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THINK OF YOUR GARDEN LIKE AN INTERIORS ‘SCHEME’

Gone are the days of neglected gardens that are only used on the sunniest of days. With space often at a premium, gardens are increasingly seen as an extension of the home. And this year, interiors trends are set to make their way outside more than ever before.

Swedish cool

Both of the major Swedish interiors trends – hygge and lagom – translate to the outdoors. Whether you want flaming fire pits and cosy blankets or favour a more minimalist, pared-back approach, the latest Scandi trends will work in your garden, too.

Natural materials


As the popularity of natural materials rise in interiors, gardeners are making them their friends, too. Less concrete, less composite materials, more timber, and more soft, free-flowing elements are the key.

Colour hit

Colour is heading out into the garden and if you think clear wooden varnishes are the only option for fences, think again. Bright block colours are a great way to create the feel of an outdoor ‘room’.

2. CREATE AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PLOT
The environment is a hot topic and the garden is the place to put your eco-friendly credentials to the test.

Native plants


This year will see a move to planting more and more native plants that won’t disrupt the ecosystem. Shopping locally will also avoid transportation costs and is likely to be more affordable in this current economic climate.

Avoid chemicals


Natural weed killers and fertilisers will become more and more important too, to avoid the polluting effect of chemicals.

Grow wild


But it’s not just what you plant – it’s how you plant. Wilder gardens that are slightly more unkempt are great for birds and insects, plus wildflowers attract bees. Less work, more eco– bonus!

3. REAP THE HEALTH AND WELL BEING BENEFITS OF THE OUTDOORS
Green spaces are well known for their stress-busting properties and being outside regularly will make you feel more Zen. With long work hours and more time spent in offices, 2017 is set to be a year when people remember to get back to nature.

Solo pursuits


With this in mind, you might want to use your garden as a calming retreat for reading or having a post-work glass of wine. Or you may want to get active and do some yoga stretches.

Grow your own

To be truly at one with nature, why not grow your own fruit and veg? The satisfaction of producing your own food is bound to give you a boost, plus you’ll know that everything you’re growing is 100% organic. What could be better for body and mind?

4) TREAT YOUR SPACE LIKE AN EXTRA ROOM
People are beginning to want more comfort from their outside spaces, so expect a big move towards furnishing your garden as you would your interior.

Outdoor furniture

The lines between indoors and outdoors are being more and more blurred, especially as French or sliding doors often lead from an open-plan space directly out into the garden. That feeling of flow means people are demanding more from their gardens and want to make sure that they are comfortable. Large seating that resembles a three-piece suite, huge multi-function cooking stations, plus sturdy dining furniture that isn’t easily moved will all help to build a feeling of an ‘extra room’.

Light up


Garden lighting is set to become more of a feature, rather than a functional afterthought. Uplighters beneath big plants, pretty hurricane lanterns and even fairy lights will add a magical feel after dark.

5) PLAN AN EASY-CARE GARDEN
We all know what it’s like to be busy. Time is of the essence and anything that can be done to make sure that gardens aren’t a time drain will be a bonus in 2017.

Mow no more


If you hate mowing the lawn, artificial grass will be your friend. With modern production techniques, faking it is a far more natural-looking alternative than ever before. No mowing, no watering – simple! If you feel you are desperate for a real lawn to sit on, minimise the work by keeping it small and filling the rest of the space with pretty pale pebbles.

Dig free


Flower beds need a lot of attention, but you can get plenty of foliage from container grown-plants. Terracotta pots are super on-trend for 2017. A variety of plant sizes will add interest to your garden.

Robust plants


Hardy shrubs and plants are the answer for those who are tight on time. There will be a move to planting varieties that aren’t overly sensitive and that can thrive in any conditions. Sounds good to us. Achillea ‘Coronation Gold’, Alchemilla mollis and Lamprocapnos spectabilis are just a few recommended by the RHS.

 

Source: http://www.idealhome.co.uk/garden/garden-ideas/hot-garden-trends-2017-156339

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New research by the Federation of Master Builders has found that when it comes to making vital decisions regarding building work, women are twice as likely to have the final say on the style and scope of the project.

The FMB also asked female home owners if they have ever carried out a range of basic DIY tasks around the home and the results were as follows:

• Almost 80 percent have painted a room;
• 65 percent have put together flat-pack furniture;
• 58 percent have unblocked a sink;
• Over 50 percent have changed a fuse;
• 44 percent have unblocked a toilet;
• Over a quarter have cleared the guttering.

Jenny Carter, mum of one from North West London, said: “I’m happy to hire a builder for the big jobs but it would cost me a fortune if I had to pay a trades person every time I needed to change a fuse. If I’m a bit unsure, I tend to search online for “how-to” videos to help guide me through the process – these videos give people like me a bit more confidence to tackle the smaller jobs. Every family is different but in our house, when it comes to these sorts of tasks, I’m easily as handy as my other half.”

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “This research shows that any lingering gender stereotypes regarding domestic life are totally outdated. Not only do women lead on decisions regarding the style and scope of building projects, they also get stuck in themselves when hiring a builder isn’t necessary. In 21st century Britain, you’re just as likely to find a woman up a ladder clearing out the guttering or battling with flat-pack furniture, as you might be likely to find her performing some of the more traditional domestic chores.”

Berry concluded: “On a more serious note, the construction industry is facing a massive skills shortage and we’re crying out for more female builders. At present, only 2% of construction workers onsite are female and until we start to appeal to 50% of the population, we won’t be able to plug the skills gap. It is my hope that these hands-on women, many of whom will be mums, are inspiring their daughters to think differently about what is an acceptable career path for girls. There is no reason why young women can’t become the next generation of brickies and sparks and it’s our job to remind them of that.”

Source: http://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/property/women-twice-as-likely-to-take-charge-of-building-projects.html?utm_source=Email+Campaign&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=21136-198646-Campaign+-+21%2F03%2F2017+FRA 

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A petition that has so far gathered 144,343 signatures and argues that making rental payments is proof of ability to meet mortgage repayments is to be considered for debate in Parliament.

The petition creator, Jamie Jack Pogson, says he wants “paying rent on time to be recognized as evidence that mortgage re-payments can be met”.

Jamie had this to say: “Since living on my own I have paid £70,000+ in rent on time yet still struggle to get a mortgage. Unless you’re getting handouts, wealthy or in receipt of inheritance it’s almost impossible.”

Recent research from Lloyds Bank found that home affordability – as measured by the ratio between average house prices and gross local earnings – across UK cities is at its worst level since 2008.

Yet buying still remains more affordable than renting in all 12 UK regions. Halifax data shows that on average, first-time buyers are making annual savings of £651 compared to those who rent.

Buying is most affordable compared to renting in London, with the typical first-time buyer paying £161 (10%) a month less than the average renter (£1,420 against £1,581) an annual saving of £1,927.

Source: http://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/finance/should-rental-payments-be-proof-of-mortgage-affordability.html?utm_source=Email+Campaign&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=21136-198062-Campaign+-+16%2F03%2F2017+MT 

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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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