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Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat…you won’t sell your house while it looks like that!


While the whimsy of festive folk songs may conjure images of capering ruddy-cheeked children, of twinkling tree lights framed behind snow-frosted latticework and of plump, steaming turkey breasts, dripping in trimmings and set on grand dining tables just ready to be carved; the reality is a little more Dickensian fact than fiction.


The kids have churned the grass into a mud bath, the house looks tired and worn once the glamour of the Christmas decorations has gone and the house still smells vaguely like turkey curry a week on from Boxing Day.


But sometimes, needs must.


Panic not. If you are selling your home this festive season, take a look over our top tips to help you market your home more successfully over the wintertime. 

1. Play to winter’s strengths.


Take advantage of the seasonal weather by creating a cosy sanctuary from the cold…your viewers might never want to leave!


Fight the impulse to close the curtains as soon as the sun drops. Instead, light your table lamps to create a warm and inviting glow through the windows.


If you have a log burner or open fire, now is the time to light it. Be sure that you have cleaned the glass on any multi-fuel stoves prior to lighting and that your hearth has had a good sweep and polish. Nothing beats the rustic allure of a crackling fire on a cold winter’s night.


For the icing on the (Christmas) cake, prepare some homemade treats to welcome your viewers.


Gingerbread is a fairly simple and seasonal recipe; not only does it store well, but the spicy smell of fresh-from the oven gingerbread can thaw even the coolest customer. Top tip – reheat premade biscuits in the oven just prior to viewing to release that enchanting aroma.


Freshly brewed tea in a pot, hot chocolate with a swirl of whipped cream and freshly mulled wine are other reviving refreshments with which to welcome visitors.


2. Give your garden some love.


You’ve tended your bedding plants lovingly all summer, your free-flowing hanging baskets have been the talk of the town! But now that summer is over, and you’ve tucked your garden up for the winter, do remember to check in on it from time to time. For working homeowners, the garden may barely catch your eye over the winter months; particularly if you’re up and away before the sunrise and home well after it sets.  

However, whilst potential buyers may not be out to scrutinise your flowerbeds on a winter viewing, the subliminal effects of a tatty garden can contribute to that make-or-break moment in a viewer’s mind.


Consider your garden as an additional reception room. Hoover it of any dirt and debris in the same manner, with a quick rake up of leaves and blitz any green fuzz off the patio with a power washer.  If you have an edging spade for the lawn, neaten up the edges for a crisp overall aesthetic appeal.


 A bird feeder placed nearby a lounge or kitchen window can be especially charming on a viewing (who doesn’t love a Christmas robin?) but remember to keep the feeders cleaned and stocked.


Finally, a simple wreath of leaves and berries on a traditional front door can really set the mood around Christmas time.



3. Winter-proof your home.


If you’re thinking of putting your house on the market over winter, a seasonal tune up might be in order. Nobody needs a boiler backfire on viewing day!


Consider employing a professional to sweep the chimneys of any open fires or log burning stoves. This is particularly important if your stove has not been used over the summer, in case of nesting birds or blockages.


Fountains and ponds may be switched off for the wintertime, but ensure they are also drained, cleaned and stored carefully over this period. Clean and store any pumps or filter systems ahead of spring, to ensure that gentle splish-splash is ready to herald the spring again in a few months. Patio furniture should also be carefully cleaned and stored, to prevent damage. Ice can cause glass tables to crack, whilst upholstered chairs will encounter water damage in the inclement weather.



4. Turn up the heat.


No need to treat your viewers to sauna-level temperatures, but try to maintain a comfortable warmth throughout your home.  This is particularly important if you will be out at work whilst viewings are taking place; time to get to grips with that pesky timer!


In spare bedrooms and lesser-used rooms, try to compensate for any stale energy and brighten the mood with a lit, seasonally-scented candle or even a small pot plant.


A warm welcome can also be created with a lick of paint in any tired rooms. This can particularly come to light in the post-Christmas period. Once the decorations have come down, see your spaces in a clear light. Is it time for a facelift?



5. No muddy shoes (or dogs) allowed!


Some of us are stricter on our ‘no shoes indoors’ policy than others, but to secure that winter sale, it’s time to get militant.


This can be particularly challenging if you have younger children, pets and no porch; but don’t despair!


In addition to dirt and odour, muddy shoes can wear out good carpets. Why not invest in a set of ‘house shoes’? For those with mobility issues and those not partial to slippers, this can be a great way of keeping your feet warm and snug at no detriment to the carpets.


Outdoor lifestyles don’t necessarily go hand in hand with cream carpets, especially for those with no boot room or porch. However, by installing a traditional boot scraper and brush by the front door, you will remind yourself to knock off the heavy-duty muck before entering.  If in doubt, treat your carpets to a professional clean!




All done? Snuggle up and get ready for that sale. ‘Tis the season, after all…





As we hurtle towards Christmas, is it just a waste of everyone's time keeping your home on the market during December - especially with a general election to contend with? Or could you be missing a trick if you take it off the market until the New Year? Let's take a look.



That might not have been your main concern. But now that the uncertainty in the housing market caused by Brexit has been multiplied by an impending general election, you’re probably wondering what to do next.


Should you say enough is enough, call it quits, take your house off the market and look to start marketing again in the Spring? Or should you sit it out and stay on the market for sale ?


More people search online over the festive season


Although an election and Christmas aren’t the best conditions for selling a house, it isn’t a complete write-off. There is evidence that people use the festive season to make plans for the new year ahead.


Rightmove says straight after Christmas day people start thinking about property. The real peak in activity happens after Boxing Day. Over the weekend between Christmas and New Year 2018, Rightmove tweeted that it enjoyed 25,147,701 pages viewed on Boxing Day.


This online viewing is a good proxy for buyer activity.


Homeowners who decide to sell their properties but do nothing about it until January could be missing out; many people make moving one of their new year’s resolutions, especially if intending to change jobs early in 2020 so often start looking in December.


The Christmas holiday is also a time for visiting relatives and friends in unfamiliar places which gives an opportunity for prospective purchasers to check possible moves away from their present area. You may not want prospective purchasers viewing your property while finishing turkey leftovers but most estate agents will be open every day except the public holidays if you’re up for it.


And if you’re afraid prospective buyers will interrupt your Christmas? Then just let your estate agent know the days and times when you don’t want viewings.


People are still buying and selling


Let’s look at some other reasons to keep your home on the market in December:


  •  - There is a market! Yes it is suppressed – but demand still outstrips supply
  •  - While we are seeing some reductions on asking prices, this also means you should be able to negotiate a discount on the next house you buy or your onward purchase
  • - Mortgages continue to be very affordable as interest rates stay low which is good for your prospective buyers
  •  - And not everything comes to a stand-still in the festive season. Last December, HMRC revealed the number of house sales year-on-year during December increased by 3.6% to 102,300


So if your house is presented well and priced appropriately it should sell now.


And if you do take your home off the market…


If you have had your property on the market for a few months and decide to take it off the market over December, you should ask your estate agent to put it back on in time for Boxing Day.


You could also take this opportunity to reflect on whether you’ve had the experience you had hoped from your estate agent. If you are worried your house has been languishing on the market for months and haven’t had the guidance or feedback from your estate agent then you could switch estate agent.

If we can help you on your journey please do get in touch simply pop in to one of our offices or email us at - we have lots of Guides to help you get moved easily.



Photo Source: Free photo 104569948 © creativecommonsstockphotos -



In a world where you can pick your spouse-to-be from a directory of online photos at the swipe of a finger, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd.


If seconds count when dressing to impress on dating apps; microseconds count when it comes to wooing a potential buyer on Rightmove.


So, with the clock ticking, how do you ensure your home is the pick of the pics?


Discover our secret formula to fabulous photos below…


1. Professional eye.


When scouring Rightmove for properties, buyers make up their minds in seconds; so, you need your pictures to stand out for the right reasons.


Whether you plan to use a professional photographer, or intend to take the snaps yourself, proficiency is the key to bagging those all-important clicks.

If you plan to be behind the lens, why not book on to a photography course? Often readily available at adult education centres, they range in cost and will ground you in the basics. Investing in a tripod is an essential to ensure crisp, sharp images with no hand-held blur.

Of course, there is no replacement for experience and knowledge.

For total peace of mind, a good professional photographer will be able to capture your home at its very best.

Best of all, accompany them on the shoot. Discuss your thoughts and ideas with the professional. With their skillset and with the intimate knowledge you possess of your home’s best features (and potential flaws), it’s a Batman and Robin recipe for success!


2. Perfect planning.


As the old adage goes, ‘failure to prepare; prepare to fail’.

This is particularly key if you have lived in your home for many years and have accrued a lifetime’s worth of possessions and clutter along the way.

Work out a timescale and stick to it, spring cleaning and de-cluttering in ample time before the big shoot.

Are there any blemishes that need dressing prior to photographs being taken? Make notes of your rooms’ ‘bad sides’ (we all have them) and find ways in which to compensate. Perhaps a light-coloured throw to counter a shady bedroom, or a mirror to make an entrance hall seem wider?


3. Clean ‘til it gleams.


Not so much of a tip as a reminder to focus on the details.

To clean before a photoshoot goes without saying, doesn’t it? However, you may be surprised by how much of your home’s daily detritus passes you by.

Be sure to emphasise light and reflected shine in every shot by polishing surfaces ‘til they sparkle.

Windows are an absolute must; if you are short on time, a professional cleaner should guarantee a gleaming shine.



4. Stay on trend with the season.


 You’ve seen it. That one tired house in your area that keeps cropping up on Rightmove searches. The one with the snow-covered hedge and holly tree with its bright red berries in the foreground.

At Christmas it was quaint. By spring it was out of sync with the surrounding shots of daffodil-lined lawns. By summer it was a stark reminder that the home still hadn’t sold and, more concerningly, a bargaining chip for under-asking-price offers.

Make sure your external photographs stay on-trend and up-to-date with the season. This may mean recalling a photographer to take a few choice snaps of your vibrant purple trailing wisteria in late-spring.

Well worth the effort to stay fresh and ahead of the pack.


 5. Dress for success.


In an Insta-perfect world, gone are the days of the candid camera. It’s time to primp and style each room so that it’s dressed to impress.

Now for the fun part…

Each room should be de-personalised (remove all your half-empty shower gels and colour-correcting conditioners from the bathroom) and ‘dressed’ in its finest.

Garnish the kitchen worktop with a succulent cheeseboard, refreshing jug of Pimm’s or a homemade carrot cake.

Replace worn and faded bathroom towels with a set of fluffy, colour accent ones. Avoid over-cluttering the shot, instead opt for elements that hint at luxury, comfort and offer a warm welcome.

Pay close attention to creating a cosy bedroom setting. Iron out any creases in the bed linen (plain, not patterned) and dress with symmetrical, colour-coordinated cushions and even a rustic handwoven throw for that ultimate comfort-blanket appeal.


6. Light up the room.


Light infiltrates so many aspects of our lives, affecting the way we function from dawn ‘til dusk. Ever thought much about the phrase ‘it’s like a light went on in my head’?

Light is synonymous with enlightenment; so be sure to illuminate your viewers as to the wonderful features of your home by providing key lighting throughout the shoot.

Lighting equipment should be within the remit of your photographer, but do be sure to point out any furtive dark corners to them. You are, of course, the expert when it comes to your own home.

The early bird catches the worm; but the night-owl photographer captures the sunburst of twilight. Study your home prior to the shoot and analyse how and where the light hits your home at different times of the day.

Dawn light can be a fantastic medium for photographers, whilst twilight shots, with all the lights on indoors and curtains open, weaves its own alluring spell on viewers.


7. Be part of the process.


For estate agents, picking the right photographs for marketing is second nature. They have the added bonus of impartiality; they don’t have the emotional ties to the home that you have after all.

However, your home is your castle. Who knows it and loves it better than you? Ultimately, nobody is better placed to scrutinise and assess the final shots than you, the homeowner.

Take direction from the agent and listen to their valuable advice, but let your heart and instinct lead you. Point out the unique features that captivated you on your first viewing; show them to the gin and tonic terrace where the light hits perfectly at twilight.

Aim for a selection of shots; a mixture of lifestyle, full-width and feature.


Armed with your seven magic ingredients to fabulous photos, your home can’t fail to get snapped up.


To download our FREE GUIDE TO MAKING YOUR PHOTOS LOOK FABULOUS simply contact us on and we will email it straight over to you.



Getting a mortgage if you’re self-employed




Self-employed people often worry about getting a mortgage because it isn’t always easy for them to demonstrate they have a stable income.


Around 15% of the UK’s working population, equivalent to 4.93m people, are currently self-employed, according to latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).


It used to be the case that those working for themselves could ‘self-certify’ their income when applying for a mortgage. In other words, they could simply tell the lender how much they earned without having to prove it. Self-certification mortgages are no longer available due to stricter lending regulations, so now anyone who is self-employed must be able to show lenders proper records of their income and outgoings.


This can be difficult for those who’ve only recently started working for themselves and don’t have several full years of accounts available, or whose income varies greatly from month to month.  Recent research by Kensington Mortgages found that 68% of Britain’s self-employed workers are finding it tricky to get a mortgage, with one in five (22%) of self-employed renters claiming that they’ll never be able to get onto the property ladder due to their fluctuating income and steep house prices.


However, self-employed people typically want to borrow much less than most lenders would allow, according to Kensington’s mortgage application data, making them a safer bet than many first-time buyers.



Ways to boost mortgage chances


Self-employed people can boost their chances of having their mortgage application accepted by making sure they’ve got all their paperwork in order.


Lenders will usually want to see proof of earnings for the last two to three years. However, some are prepared to accept only one year’s records for those who’ve only recently become self-employed.  They will typically accept self-assessment tax calculations (SA302 forms) and a tax overview, rather than a full set of accounts. They may alternatively ask the accountant responsible for preparing the applicant’s accounts to certify their income.


Any paperwork supplied must be recent. Usually the most recent year-end documentation mustn’t be older than 18 months prior to the date of the mortgage application, or it may be rejected. This means that figures for the 2017/18 tax year are now no longer acceptable as the latest year’s figures, so self-employed mortgage applicants will need to submit figures for the 2018/19 tax year.



Other paperwork


Proof of income isn’t the only paperwork that lenders will need to see from self-employed mortgage applicants. Everyone who applies for a mortgage, regardless of whether they are self-employed or an employee, must show proof of their identity, such as a passport or driving license, and proof of address, typically a gas or electricity bill or a council tax statement showing the applicant’s name and address at the top.


Applicants must also submit current account bank statements showing their outgoings, such as the amount they spend on childcare each month, any pension contributions, utility bills and so on.


Lenders will usually want to see the last three months’ statements, although some may ask to see statements for the last six months.


For more information about which mortgage might suit you simply click here or give us a call on 01364 652652.










Is it the right time for you to move?


It comes to us all. That defining moment. It can be brought along on winds of opportunity, on the back of financial necessity, or because we have simply outgrown our comfy shell; but it comes to us all.


 All men must move house.



But sometimes, what do we say to the god of moving? Not today…



Moving house is often cited as one of the most stressful stages of life, aside from getting married, that we as humans can experience.



Maybe that’s because when it comes to selling your home, you need the same levels of commitment as you do in marriage. To succeed, you need to be 100% motivated ahead of this next big step.



After all, for better or worse, there are many hurdles to overcome along the way; it is not a process for the fainthearted.



From the minefield of surveyors’ reports, negative feedback, Rightmove statistics and low offers, to the constant cleaning ahead of each new viewing, you’ll need to be in the right frame of mind to face the challenges ahead.



Here we shed some light on factors that could help you decide whether the time is right to go on the market.



1. Wish or whim?



How long have you been thinking about moving on?



Is this a deep-seated spark of desire that has been on the slow-burn and is now catching fire? Or is it a sudden, snap reaction to other external factors?



Has your friend recently moved house and you’ve caught a sniff of fresh-start frenzy?



Take a moment to consider the pros and cons and implications, both financial and emotional, that moving house right now could have.



A friend of mine has been toying with the idea of relocating from the city to the countryside for the past twelve months. Finally, he decided to bite the bullet and has handed in his notice at work.



Fortune, we are told, favours the brave, but, with his notice period ending in July and his second child due in August, is this move down to his long-held wish to move, or based on an idealistic whim?



Whilst a growing family can often be the spur behind a house move, timing that move so that it causes the least financial and physical disruption to your family is key.



2. Why do you want to sell?



Are you preparing to downsize, relocate or are you planning a family?



The reasoning behind your potential move is crucial, as is the timing of its execution.



For downsizers, the decision can be a tricky one. Perhaps you have recently said farewell to the last of the brood to fly the nest. The house suddenly seems so quiet. Is now the time to take your life plans off the back burner and make that move to a smaller, more economic home?



Spending less time cleaning empty rooms will certainly be a plus point. Perhaps you want to swap those three double bedrooms for a studio where you can finally sketch that masterpiece, or realise that ambition of becoming an amateur photographer. It might make sense to make the move now, before the next chapter begins and grandchildren are in the offing!



If you are planning to have children, it is only natural to desire more space for your expanding family. For those already with children, the ages of your nippers will factor greatly into the timing of your house move. Keeping disruption to your child’s education, particularly if you are locating to a new area, is crucial to a successful move.



Pros and cons exist for moving at all ages; babies and toddlers are malleable and can handle the changes with ease – yet older children are able to help with the packing! For teenagers with close local links, timing is crucial.



No move is without its traumas, but do take the time to consider exam dates and how a move will impact on your child’s school life, hobbies and interests before putting up that for sale sign.



3. Which season is best for selling your home?



Your mind is made up. You are moving house. But when is best to move?



Historically speaking, spring is oft cited as the premium time in which to put your home on the market. Key ‘hot points’ occur around the Easter and May bank holidays.



The benefits to selling at this time of year are easy to recognise: the days are long, the sun is (usually) shining, the blossom is blooming and properties generally look at their finest.



House hunters are out in their droves, and – dream of dreams – if you price your house competitively, you might even prompt a bidding war!



What about summer?



If your target market is families, summer has traditionally been perceived as a troublesome time to sell. With the school holidays in full flow, trips abroad and entertaining the wee ones tends to leave the streets devoid of house-hunters.



Getting your house on the market at the start of summer should help you avoid the peak holiday dates, when your target market will be abroad. Of course, if you happen to have a home with a large garden and pool, summer could be the ideal time to sell.



Autumn is the season of change and that goes doubly so for house sales, with people keen to move on before Christmas. If Christmas leaves you raring for change, turn over a new leaf in January.



4. Monday’s house is fair of face…



Want to get down to the real nitty gritty of timings?



You might feel sluggish when the alarm clock goes off at 7:00am on a Monday morning, but according to Which?Money analysis published in 2017, Monday is the best day of the week to sell your house!



According to the survey, properties listed on a Monday took only 176 days to sell compared to an average of 191 days.



So, if you were planning on leaving it until the weekend to amble down to your estate agent to give the green light for your launch, think again. The same research suggested that properties listed on a weekend took longer to sell, with Saturday listings taking an average of 203 days to sell and Sunday homes taking 213 days to sell.



With much at stake emotionally and financially, finding the right guidance when selling your home can make all the difference. If you want to know whether now is the right time for you to start a fresh chapter, just pick up the phone. We’re waiting to hear from you.


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