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Who needs some fun? You don’t? Oh yes you do. Christmas will soon be here, and hopefully, some of us will get to mix for Christmas time fun and quality family time.
It got us thinking though, what sort of games can you play at Christmas that the whole family will enjoy?
1. Hunt the Candy Canes
This will get your children moving about. Grab some candy cane treats and hide them around the house. Then, send the children to find them, making sure they have collected all of them before they can start munching!
Let’s be honest, you’ll need a sit down so as the children are looking for candy canes, have a rest with a little glass of something festive!
White marshmallows make great snowballs. And what do snowballs make? Snowball fights! Now we’re not talking about launching them at each other, but you could either see who can toss the most into a cup or bucket. Whoever collects the most gets to eat them! YUM. Make sure your hands are super clean for this one!
3. Gloves On
This is a staple favourite in many households and is COVID friendly! All you need is a pair of oven gloves or mitts, and some things to pick up. You then take it in turns to try to pick up objects like a tennis ball, sweets or a pencil. You’ll be all fingers and thumbs as it’s trickier than it looks. While it is fun, avoid any tears and tantrums by making sure there is something that little ones will be able to pick up.
This game is straightforward. All you need is an ornamental reindeer (nothing precious or fancy) and some hoops. Aim to throw one of the rings over a reindeer’s antler. The winner gets to snaffle a sweet! Make sure the reindeer is not breakable or sentimental!
5. Pics of Christmas Past
This can be great fun. It’s a guess who game. Before the big day, ask your family and friends to send you pictures of themselves at Christmas parties when they were children. Tie the photos on a piece of tinsel and then take it in turns to guess who! With COVID restrictions in place, you may have to ask for pictures of people who may not necessarily be in your home, but who is known to all who will be visiting.
6. Would you Rather?
This is dead simple. If you have children, chances are they will ask you the “would you rather” question. For example, would you rather eat a fried worm, or stand on an upturned piece of lego? You can turn this into a game. Get an empty jar and some paper. Cut the paper up into squares big enough to write on and ask everyone to write something – as horrible as you wish! Pop the folded pieces of paper into the jar. You then take it in turns to pull out two pieces each. The question is “would you rather…”, and then you have to choose between the answers. Keep it clean and be careful with what is written if you have young children!
7. Knock the Snowmen Down
Fun, and yet sometimes annoying, this game is simple to create. Use some white polystyrene cups turned upside down. Draw snowman faces on each one and then stack them up. You and your guests then have to use a ball of cotton wool or scrunched up wrapping to try and knock over the snowman.
You can get creative with your children with this one. They will love creating the faces of the snowmen.
8. Draw the Carols
Cut up some paper and write on each one the name of a different carol. Divide your guests into teams of two. One teammate picks out a piece of paper and then has to draw that carol – their teammate has to guess the carol. You can play this game as individuals or in pairs. If in pairs, alternate, whoever does the drawing element.
Christmas is a time for fun and family, particularly this year. Making it even more fun is vital for children, but games don’t have to break the bank.
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Who doesn’t love the festive season? One of the best things about Christmas is getting to lug the decorations out of the loft and scatter joy around your home.
But when you’re selling up, Christmas decorations need to be handled in the right way. The trick to decorating your home when it’s on the market is to keep things clean and simple. There’s nothing worse than scaring off a potential buyer with an overbearing amount of Christmas Santa’s in the hallway!
Without being a bah-humbug this year, here are six stylish Christmas decorating ideas for your home that won’t scare away buyers!
1. Wrap Up Ornaments
Instead of putting away the ornaments on your shelves, how about turning them into presents? Choose a simple colour scheme (like brown, silver, blue or gold) for your wrapping paper and replace your ornaments with beautifully wrapped presents.
2. Add Eucalyptus Accents
Fake or real – eucalyptus adds a splash of nature to homes at Christmas. Add a few accents to your bathroom, dining room table or living room to create a fresh and stylish look. You can even add a few accents to your Christmas trees!
3. Go Bold
Just because it’s Christmas, that doesn’t mean you have to stick to the traditional red, green and gold colour schemes! Be bold this year and do something different. Grey, blue and white, and even yellow colour schemes are popular choices for people selling their homes. Their neutral feel creates a bright yet festive atmosphere that looks fab and won’t deter buyers.
4. Scatter Logs
Give your home a rustic feel this Christmas! If you have kiln-dried burning logs, pile them up at the bottom of your tree or near your fireplace. The simplicity of firewood can make your home look cosy and comfortable this Christmas and both you and potential buyers will appreciate it.
5. Create a Festive Bar
Just because you’re selling at Christmas, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a drink or two! Create a space you and your guests love by reserving an area for festive drinks. If there’s a lonely cabinet in your living room or an area of your kitchen you don’t use often, add a few sprigs of holly, some festive glasses and a few coffee (or alcoholic) syrups to make your own DIY bar.
6. Add Fresh Amaryllis
Fresh amaryllis is a growing trend! Chances are that your local supermarket packs the shelves with these luscious plants at Christmas time. If you want to create a stylish look in your home this year, choose a vibrant red or crisp white flower. They’ll look stunning throughout the festive season. Plus, they’ll prove to buyers that there’s enough natural light in your home to keep plants alive!
Selling Up This Christmas?
Christmas time is just as good as any to put your house on the market. If you’re thinking about selling up this Christmas, we’d love to talk to you! Here at Alex Jones, our team are experts at selling homes in any season – including yours!
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Buying and owning a rental property in Tameside should be treated as a business. Even if you are not planning on having a huge portfolio of property that you rent out, it’s imperative that you cross the t’s and dot the i’s.
It may seem complicated at first, but it need not be if you plan out what you need to do, when and how. You should also seek the advice and support of professionals, whether that’s a mortgage broker, an estate or lettings agent, or an accountant.
We have four essential top tips for you to think about when it comes to buying a rental property.
So, what are the four steps to buying a rental property
1. Get your ducks in a row!
There are many things to think about when buying a property to rent out, but the most obvious is actually having the money to buy one in the first place! This could mean that you already have the means to buy a property, or you’re seeking a buy to let mortgage.
Either way, being able to show an estate agent that you are in a position to purchase is essential. Speak with potential lenders and outline what it is you are hoping to achieve and how much you need to borrow. There are forms to fill in about your income and your outgoings before the lender is able to tell you whether or not they are likely to give you a mortgage offer.
Remember, an agreement in principle will help you show estate agents and vendors that you are serious about purchasing and have the means to do so..
Top Tip You will need to have information to hand about your financial affairs, so make sure you know all the details.
2. Speak to the right people to get the right advice
Buying a property entails a lot of legal work. Unless you are trained in such matters, you will need a solicitor who knows the buy to let property way of doing things. If you’re buying as a limited company this is another difference too, so someone experienced in such matters should be engaged.
An accountant who understands your financial position can work out the correct taxes that need to be sorted when the time comes. Buying to let may be a sound financial investment but get the tax side of things wrong and you could be in for an unwanted and hefty bill at some point.
Top Tip Do your research and ask people for recommendations.
3. Location, location…yield
So, you’ve got your ducks in a row, and you’ve spoken with your mortgage and financial advisers. Now, what about the property?
- What sort of property do you want?
- What sort of tenant do you want?
- Do you want students, an older couple, a famiy or professionals?
- Will you allow pets?
All these factors have to be taken into consideration because it affects where the property is and what type of property it is. Student properties may have a good annual yield, but you may not want the hassle of dealing with students, some of whom may be known for having parties!
You may also be set on a certain location, but a good lettings agent will discuss the right areas with you and advise whether or not your investment will be sound.
Top Tip Know your goals and what sort of a landlord you will be. Remember, it’s a business so it has to make business sense.
4. To manage, or not to manage?
When you have a property you are renting out, there are all sorts of things you have to do. Like maintenance, for example. Sometimes, a tenant will call you to say that the boiler has stopped working or that the fridge is broken. Then, you have gas safety certificates to sort, and now electrical safety certificates too.
So, what sort of a landlord will you be? If you don’t really have time or the skills to do the work, then you should consider a managed letting service. By this, we mean an agent will find you a tenant, do the checks, and make sure the deposit is secured where it should be, and then manage the property for a fee. If you employ a lettings agent to manage your property, this could save you a lot of time and take a headache away from you.
Top Tip Be honest about how you want to run your property, and make a choice that suits you.
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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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Welcome to our round-up of some of the property news stories that have caught our eye this past month.
Don’t forget, if you need to know about property in Ashton Under Lyne we’re more than happy to help.
Prices Remain Strong
The average price of a house is still on the up, according to analysis of the figures by Halifax.
Looking at all the stats, the bank noted that through September the average UK property price is now priced at a record £267,587. What’s more, annual house price inflation is up to 7.4 per cent, from 7.2 per cent.
This is interesting because the Stamp Duty deadlines have passed, and so it is good to see prices still buoyed.
The slight fly in the ointment might be the fact that the Bank of England figures show the number of mortgages approved to finance house purchases fell in August 2021 by one per cent.
Perhaps there is a slight softening of the market overall.
Here in Ashton Under Lyne , we are still selling properties for, or above, the asking price. What’s more, it is only taking days for some properties to sell, and just hours for properties to rent out.
If you’ve been thinking about doing something with your property, now is still a good time.
Overall though, supply is still down.
An ongoing issue in the property market has been further highlighted in a report that looks at key trends in the sector.
Landmark Information Group’s Property Trends Report shows that for a fifth consecutive month, there has been a low number of properties coming to the market. Demand, as they say, is outstripping supply.
There could be a number of reasons for this, but we would say that if you really want to sell, get your property on the market now. There will be interested parties lining up to look around and any one of those could be a potential buyer.
Around 64 per cent of UK homebuyers and renters say they feel confident negotiating over property prices, reports PropertyWire. But six in 10 admit “the biggest challenge is timing and knowing when to negotiate”.
It’s an interesting one. On the one hand, people say they are confident but actually, they don’t really know when to negotiate.
It’s what one might call a paradox. But, there’s a way through. Use an estate agent who can use their knowledge and expertise to negotiate at the right time.
We can do that for you! We know the Ashton Under Lyne inside out and so are able to take action when we need to.
Going Green Paying Off
Have you installed eco-friendly systems in your home? If you haven’t, you could be missing out.
This has been written about by many, including Property Reporter, which says that property website Rightmove has looked at house prices and Energy Performance Certificates.
It’s been reported that people who have “upgraded their rating from an F to a C, are adding an average of 16% to the price achieved for their home”.
That’s a huge jump, but before you do anything, have a look at the costs involved and the efficiencies made. You’ve got to make sure the figures work for you. If you need any advice on this, give us a call on 01612929223.