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Having a home that smells pleasant is one of the finer things in life. There’s nothing quite like getting home from work and being greeted by a scent you love.
If you’re selling your Tameside home this winter, you’ll know that buyers’ love viewing a property that smells nice. As Christmas approaches, many sellers limit the decorations they put up to keep things looking like they normally do, which can mean you miss out on that Christmassy feeling. But a great alternative to filling your home with decorations is to fill it with a festive smell instead!
If you want to make your home smell like Christmas, here are three easy DIY ways to create a festive smell that you (and your buyers) will love.
1. Bake Sliced Fruit
A quick and easy way to fill your home with a warm, zesty smell is to make your own homemade potpourri using oranges, lemons and limes.
Simply slice the fruit, place them in the oven on a wire rack and heat at 200 degrees for around 2 hours. Turn the fruit every 30 minutes and leave the oven door open to let moisture out.
Once the fruit has cooled down, you can use the dried assortment to make a Christmas garland or add them to your dining room table to create a fresh, sweet-smelling centrepiece.
2. Make Scented Pinecones
Pinecones make great indoor Christmas decorations for sellers. They’re small, simple and create a festive, woodland vibe without too much effort.
There are lots of different ways to make pinecones smell like Christmas, like dipping the edges in wax or boiling them with cinnamon sticks. However, one of the easiest ways to make scented pinecones is to put them in a sealable bag, add essential oils and shake it up.
Afterwards, seal the bag and place it in a cool, dark place. After a week, your pinecones will be bursting with a strong scent that should last until Christmas.
3. Simmer a Pot
If you’re expecting visitors, simmering a pot is a great, temporary way to fill your home with a strong, Christmas smell. You can choose your own ingredients, but things like cinnamon sticks, tangerines, apple cider and vanilla extract work well together.
Simply add your ingredients to a large pot and fill it with water. Place the pot on your hob and bring it to the boil, before reducing the heat to let it simmer. Shortly after, your home will be full of a festive smell that lasts for hours!
If you’re keeping the pot simmering for long periods, make sure you add more water throughout the day as needed and check that it’s always a safe distance from children and pets.
The great thing about this DIY potpourri is that you can save it and reheat the pot again another day, which is great if you’re hosting multiple times over the festive period.
Are You Selling Up This Christmas?
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Whether you want to invest in property or save for retirement, there are plenty of pros and cons for each. If you’re unsure what’s best for you, this guide should help to give you a few handy tips to fit your circumstances.
Property – The Pros
If you find the right property then you could have a fixed income for life. Rental yields can be as high as 8% in some cities, and demand for rental properties is very high, especially in cities.
With demand often outstripping supply, there’s no reason why your property can’t remain permanently occupied if it’s in the right location.
Another advantage of a property vs a pension is that you can cash in at any time.
Of course, a property sale can take many months, and if you need the money by a certain point then you’ll need to plan ahead, but a property can essentially free up a large amount of cash relatively quickly.
Property is also generally considered to be a solid long-term investment. Although the market can fluctuate, house prices tend to go up over the long-term, so unless you’re in a position where you need to sell quickly and potentially make a loss, you can ride out any storms in the housing market to ensure that you sell for a tidy profit if and when you need to cash in.
Property – The Cons
Owning a buy-to-let property isn’t as simple as buying a place, renting it out and watching the money roll in.
Although rental income can be quite lucrative, there are often lots of additional factors to consider, such as maintenance costs, letting agent fees, and landlord insurance, which can all eat away at your profit.
Void periods are another consideration you’ll need to think about, particularly if you’ve got a mortgage on the property, as a few months without tenants can quickly lead to significant extra costs.
Changes in government legislation in recent years have also made owning a second property far less profitable than it once was, with increased taxes affecting profit margins for landlords.
You should also bear in mind that being a landlord can be quite a hands-on role, even if you employ a letting agent or property management company to look after the property. Ultimately, things like repairs and maintenance costs will fall on your shoulders, and a lot of would-be landlords are surprised by the level of responsibility that comes with owning a buy-to-let.
Pensions – The Pros
Compared with property, a pension is usually a far more hands-off way to grow an investment. In many cases it’s as simple as putting money into a pension pot each month and watching it grow, and especially if you have a financial adviser that you can trust to manage your affairs.
After all, there are no tenants or maintenance repairs to think about when you compare it to a buy-to-let property for example.
Another major plus point for pensions is the fact they attract tax relief. So instead of seeing lots of your investment go into the government’s pocket, you’ll actually be benefiting personally, with pensions being the most efficient investments from a tax perspective.
Pensions – The Cons
The main downside to a pension is that you can’t access any of the money until you’re at least 55. However, as it’s an investment for your retirement, this shouldn’t be an issue, and in some ways, this can be a blessing, as it stops you from pulling the money out on a whim.
Another possible downside to a pension is the fact it’s invested in stocks and shares, meaning it could fluctuate. However, as with property, it tends to go up over time, and you have the option to decrease your risk if you wish to.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal circumstances to determine what’s right for you.
When it comes to tax benefits, pensions are the clear winner as they attract tax relief, whereas landlords have been hit with ever-increasing tax bills in recent years.
However, when it comes to growth, property fares better than pensions, with house prices reaching record highs in recently, especially in certain parts of the UK.
As with any investment, there’s risk involved with both options, and while property can be more lucrative if you find the right place, it’s also widely considered to be the more risky of the two options.
If you’re unsure how to invest your capital then it’s always a good idea to consult a financial adviser.
Have questions about investing in property or becoming a landlord?
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The UK property market has seen a drop in sales, but prices continue to rise. Meanwhile, the happiest place to live in Britain has been named in a survey, and one mortgage lender has launched an extraordinary new fixed-term product.
These are just some of the headlines this month in November’s UK property market update. Read on to find out more.
House Sales Fall 52% In One Month, But Prices Continue To Rise
Figures released by HMRC have shown a significant 52% drop in property transactions across the UK for October, following the end of the government’s stamp duty holiday.
There were just under 77,000 transactions completed as buyers rushed to get their purchases completed before the 30th September. This made it the slowest October since 2012 and signalled a 28% drop in transactions from the same month last year.
Despite the slowdown in sales, prices continued to rise across the UK, with Halifax reporting a 0.9% increase in average property prices, which was the fourth consecutive month they’ve risen. Their data also confirms that the average property price in the UK has crept above £270,000 for the first time, while fellow lender Nationwide also reported an increase of 0.7% on the average price.
40-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Launched
In a very rare move, one lender has recently launched a fixed-rate mortgage for up to 40 years.
Specialist lender Kensington Mortgages has taken the highly unusual step as they seek to capitalise on growing uncertainty among buyers and homeowners who are anticipating an increase in interest rates.
Although some lenders already offer a 10-year fixed term mortgage, Kensington’s new deal will allow borrowers to sign up for anything from 11 to 40 years.
The interest rate will vary depending on the size of your deposit and the length of the mortgage term, but for those fixing between 36 and 40 years, the rate currently starts at 3.34%.
The Bank of England’s interest rate is currently at a record low of 0.1%, but an increase is expected in the coming months, which will make the prospect of a 40-year fixed term deal attractive to many homeowners.
Rent Increases Hit 13-Year High In Major Cities
Increased demand for rental properties in major cities across the UK has led to the cost of rent reaching its highest point for 13 years.
Some cities have seen demand double in their central zones, squeezing would-be renters out of town and forcing prices up.
According to leading property portal, Zoopla, average rents across the UK have risen by 6% in the past 12 months, with the South West seeing a 9% increase as demand for properties has continued to outstrip supply.
It’s a similar picture across the UK, with only London failing to see the same kind of increases, although prices have still risen 1.6% in the year to September, but they’re 5% lower than they were pre-pandemic.
Britain’s Home-Selling Hotspots Revealed
Research from leading property website Rightmove has revealed the country’s 6 top hotspots for sellers.
Grays in Essex and Mangotsfield, Bristol share the number one spot, with 84% of the homes listed for sale on the website already sold subject to contract.
Following closely behind, Eastleigh in Hampshire and Redditch in Worcestershire both have 83% of properties sold subject to contract, while Yeovil in Somerset and Hythe in Kent complete the top 6, with 82% of properties sold STC.
Perhaps rather tellingly, none of the top 6 are city-centre locations as an increase in remote working since the pandemic has led to employees having more options when it comes to where they live, and buyers are increasingly looking for more bang for their buck.
Britain’s Happiest Place To Live Revealed
Leading property portal Rightmove has released the results of their annual ‘Happy at Home Index’, which reveals that Hexham is the happiest place to live in Britain.
The market town in Northumberland scored highest overall based on factors like the friendliness of neighbours, its sense of belonging, the quality of local amenities, and the availability of open space.
It’s a return to the top spot for the North East town, which was also number 1 in 2019’s survey.
Richmond upon Thames was the happiest place to live in London for the 7th year in a row. The affluent borough in the southwest of the capital, where average house prices are just under £1.2m, came second overall in the standings.
Harrogate in Yorkshire rounded off the top 3, while 2020’s winner, St Ives in Cornwall came 8th.
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Here at Alex Jones we often get asked this question. And we can categorically say no, don’t take your house off the market just because it is December!
Now is an ideal time to have your property listed for sale, and you really ought to be instructing a pro-active estate agency just like Alex Jones to get things moving.
We think now is a great time, and here are our five reasons why…
1. It’s quieter – but people are looking
This time of year, when the ground is frosty, and the air is crisp, it’s undoubtedly a quieter time for the property market. There are other things on many people’s minds, such as buying presents, getting the house dressed for the Christmas festivities, or looking forward to spending time with close family.
But people are also still looking for the right house to move to. Website traffic shoots up over Winter. Think about it – people are at home more, particularly this year, and they have a bit more time to browse properties. Some might just be being nosey, but many will be people looking to move.
New house builders and property portals like Rightmove report high traffic levels during December, even on Christmas Day afternoon and Boxing Day. Perhaps people have eaten or drunk a little too much and just want to chill. So what do they do? Look at properties they could be moving into!
Top Tip: Choose an estate agent who understands the importance of marketing on the internet, particularly during the winter months. If you’re struggling to think of one – it’s us!
2. Winter can be Welcoming …
Picture the scene. A warm house, a fire lit, the smells of gingerbread and spiced teas permeating through the house. Decorations are up, family pictures with smiling faces are displayed. What a lovely setting and how warm a feeling will a potential buyer get when they step into your home?
You’ll want them to fall in love with your home, just as you did when you made the decision to purchase, and you want them to picture themselves living there in the coming years.
Top Tip: Set the scene. Fragranced candles or air fresheners help to create a lovely atmosphere. Perhaps you can create a small display of winter twigs with a splash of colour from holly berries.
3. But…Don’t Make too Much of a Scene
You want your home to be welcoming and seasonal too. What you don’t want though is a mess of blingy decorations inside or out. You want people to see the house and imagine being there. Keep it classy!
Top Tip: Decorate but do not go overboard. You want to create an impression, and a stylish setting will work best with a two-colour theme throughout.
4. Plan for the New Year and Beat the Rush
While it is often quieter over Winter, many people see New Year as the time when they will buy somewhere new to live. A New Year, new house, new chapter in their lives.
What better time then to market your house. If others are deciding to wait before selling, you have the opportunity to stand out in the market and be noticed. Moving home does take time, but if you’re able to get ahead of the game, you’re winning.
Top Tip: It’s all about planning. Do your research so that when an offer does come, you’re ready to get the process moving. Choose a conveyancer, sort finances, get recommendations for a removals company, think about packing and consider whether you will need to downsize your belongings.
5. Time to Get Your Own House in Order
In Winter, you’re more likely to spend time at home. During this period you could be preparing your house for sale by tidying up the garden, doing the DIY jobs you’ve been putting off, cleaning windows, and clearing gutters. When you’ve done this, your house will be sparklingly clean and ready to present. By putting it on the market, you’re giving yourself a deadline and a purpose to get things done. And, as we said earlier, you can take advantage of those potential buyers who are spending Winter looking for their new home.
Top Tip: Write yourself a list of things to do around your home. Then make your home beautiful and ready to sell.
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Who doesn’t love a bit of sparkle at Christmas time? And don’t we all need some glamour in our lives right now?
Oh, yes, we do! Here at Alex Jones we absolutely love Christmas, and we’re so looking forward to it, especially this year. Aren’t you?
We knew it. We knew you were! So, it’s time to be thinking about how to add sparkle to your dining room in time for Christmas Day.
You can add a touch of glamour and a dash of style for little cost. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
Here are our five top tips on how to add sparkle to your dining table this Christmas.
1. Set the Scene and Declutter
There’s simply no point making your dining table deliciously delightful if the rest of the room looks like a dog’s dinner. You may well have set place settings, draped ribbons, placed holly and berries and have it looking beautiful, but if you have to step over discarded toys or waltz around the ironing board and laundry that’s no good! Declutter and remove anything that doesn’t go with your theme and colours for Christmas.
Top Tip: Take the opportunity to really think if you need everything you have on display, or if some could be packed away or given to charity shops. Consider if you’re using the space to its best all year round.
2. White Christmas
We don’t often get snow at Christmas, but it’s synonymous with the festive period. This might be a great time to create a lovely winter wonderland in your dining room – white cushions or table runners, white candles in white holders, white plates and bowls, and white-handled crockery. You might want to add light-blue glassware, or faux fur throws over the back of a chair.
Top Tip: This does not have to be expensive. You’re creating a dining setting, so think about the things you already own and could use. Add a sprinkle of gold glitter on the table to give a dash of colour.
3. Have you Twigged it?
Here’s another low-cost idea. Bring the landscape to your dining table. A sprig of holly, a couple of twigs tied with a red ribbon, and you have a lovely little scene.
Pine cones too can be collected and used in a display, and you could sprinkle them with glitter or a gold spray that you can buy in the supermarket or DIY store.
Top Tip: If you collect a couple of twigs or cones, they can go straight into the compost or garden waste bin after Christmas. You won’t have bought yet more plastic, and it’s environmentally friendly.
So your table looks good but a little plain? Accessorise. It’s so simple.
Little strings of lights, battery-operated, can be stretched across the table. Crackers can be placed next to plates. Holly twigs can bring a touch of green and red to the table. Wooden ornaments can be arranged – if you’ve got room, create a village scene. A Poinsettia plant is associated with Christmas, so you could place one as a focal point. If you have red bead strings for your tree, you could use them on the table. Sequins and glitter will also help to set the scene.
Top Tip: If you love how you’ve accessorised, take a picture and keep it safe so that next year you can recreate your table.
5. The Light Touch
Lighting is essential to making your room sparkle! You might have a “big light”, but how about using table lights to create more atmosphere, or using candles in gold holders for a touch of style.
Top Tip: If you’re using candles, please be careful! Don’t place anything near them that could fall into the flame and cause a fire. Be sensible.
Did you know that Winter is a great time to be selling your home? People look online, often on their new phones and tablets, and browse properties available ready for a potential move early in the New Year.
As we’ve been helping people to prepare their homes for sale for some time now, we know what works best when it comes to selling your home in Winter. If you’re thinking of selling, call Alex Jones on 01612929223 for an informal chat to see how we can help get you moving